Friday, August 30, 2013

Pick Two

I hesitated to post this because Pinterest didn't take me back to the original sites for these images (my apologies to the original creators of these images for posting without proper acknowledgment), but after reading the comments on my last post, I'm realizing how true they are (and I'm glad I'm not the only one!).

This week I chose work and laundry.  Maybe next week I'll let the laundry go and try to exercise?

I also think this illustration sums up my current situation nicely:

This week I chose kids & pets and sanity, although sanity is hanging on by a thread.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

My floors are so clean you could eat off them. If you were a dog.

You guys, my house is filthy.  I was trying to remember the last time I vacuumed (first clue that the house might be getting kinda grungy) and I was like, "Oh, it must have been last weekend."  Nope.  We were out of town last weekend.  So...  Eep.  Been a while.

Actually, I know I vacuumed upstairs last Thursday and we ran Rosie in the TV room the other day but the wood floors are just resting quietly under a blanket of dust.

I hate when people complain about being tired because (1) it has an easy fix and (2) no one can fix it for you.  But.  You guys.  I am so tired.  This getting up with an alarm clock nonsense is killing me.  I bought this roller ball thing for under eye circles and I'm not convinced it's doing a damn thing but I have to try something.

And the thing is, the kid is sleeping well!  It's not even getting up in the morning that's hard--it's the staying awake in the afternoon!  I teach two classes each morning and by the time I finish lunch and do my office hours, all I want to do is stare at my computer screen and mouth-breathe.  I don't want to talk to students or reply to e-mails or organize English department events or print flyers or prep for the next day's classes.  I'm wiped out.  It turns out that work makes me seriously tired.  And this is NOT a slam on stay-at-home moms because I did that all summer and it is not easy.

But you know what else is not easy?

Working all day and then picking up a kid and doing the playtime-dinner-time-playtime-bathtime-bedtime scramble as soon as I get home.  Especially when I'm totally on my own because David is at school late.  My visions of working and then coming home all refreshed and ready to play with baby were not exactly accurate--at least not so far.  Although I actually made it to the grocery store this week (when I left work early one afternoon), I still couldn't figure out what to make Zuzu for dinner so I cobbled together sweet potato mixed with green veggies and then scrambled her an egg and then gave her a whole-wheat waffle with cream cheese and raspberries (she ate all of everything) and thank God for Cooper because he at least helps me clean up the kitchen floor.

But of course it's only the first week of the semester.  I need to get in a routine and then things will get easier, right?  It would also help to have David not working late tonight.  I mean seriously.  His school used to have a curriculum night and this year they decided to no longer pay the teachers to do the curriculum night so the teachers decided to do it FOR FREE just because they are super dedicated and great like that.  You know who is NOT super dedicated and great like that?  The principal's wife.  Which is why I've decided to have a brownie and a glass of wine for dinner.

If you'll excuse me, I have to re-read Act 2 of Hamlet and then maybe pick up some of the clutter strewn 'round the family room.  I'm hoping to relax and recharge over the three day weekend.

Oh--and I had a moment today that made me forget about being tired.  I picked Zuzu up to take her up to her bath and I hugged her and said, "Give Mama some love," and Zuzu squeezed my neck with her chubby little arms.

And then my heart exploded.

So yeah.  Life is not so bad.  I just really need somebody to mop my floors.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Birfday Boy

Today is David's birthday.

Think he looks a bit like Zuzu here?
I think my five-year-old self would have been in love with eight-year-old David.  Who could resist that face?

Eating ice cream in Hawaii, the day he asked me to marry him.  Irresistible, obviously.

A hottie and a pepper.  Hardy-har-har.
Happy birthday to a husband, dad, son, grandson, son-in-law, brother-in-law, teacher, coach, principal, baseball player, sports fan, friend, boyfriend, kisser, dancer, country music fan, urban farmer, project completer, neat-freak, jokester, underwear model, cook, diaper changer, dog walker, lawn boy, travel companion, and life-partner extraordinaire.  He's my favorite.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Back-to-School Scramble

The semester starts Monday.  My syllabi aren't finished. I haven't posted my online quizzes.  I haven't written a good portion of my online quizzes.  I haven't done the reading necessary to write my online quizzes.

I have a lot to get finished before Monday.  Like, a LOT a lot.

What have I accomplished this week?

I've eaten five donuts and a muffin and two mini-quiches over the course of four days of morning meetings.

I've attended 30 minutes of toddler-parent swimming lessons, at the end of which all the other moms had dry hair and I looked like I had been swimming underwater because my child is a gleeful and overly enthusiastic SPLASHER.  She also broke the rules and instead of waiting until "3" for me to lift and drop her into the pool, she actually flung herself into the pool NOT on my count.  Very uncool, Zuzu.  We are working on having respect for the water--her fearlessness scares me!

I've attended approximately 16 hours of meetings, approximately 30 minutes of which was relevant or useful for me.

I've improved my quality of life by putting scentsy warmer in my office.  It now smells like a "rustic lodge" on my end of the third floor.  You're welcome, everyone who walks by.

I killed a wasp with the undergraduate course catalog.  The catalog is still on the floor of myoffice with the squished wasp underneath it.  I'm sort of afraid to pick it up.

I've continued to ponder the investment of a new handbag for work.  David would roll his eyes and say I don't need it, but I think it's important not to undervalue the boost in morale that I get from purchasing a new bag for the start of the school year.  Hmm.  I may have just convinced myself.

I painted my fingernails only to remember why I don't paint my fingernails anymore:  They are all chipped off and terrible looking and it's only day 2.

I've managed to drop Zuzu at daycare and get myself to campus by 8:30am every day.  This is HUGE.  I win at being a responsible adult.

In other good news, Zuzu is doing well with the new routine.  She's been waking up around 7am, because I can hear her on the monitor, but she plays happily and entertains herself until I get her out of her crib at 7:30am.  Sometimes she wants to nurse in the morning, sometimes she doesn't seem to remember or care about it, so I just let her decide.  Drop off at daycare has been tear-free, thanks in large part to her eating breakfast there now.  (A brilliant move that has saved me TONS of time in the morning AND keeps her happy.  She's totally fine waving "bye-bye" to mama as long as there's a muffin in her hand.)

The only downside is that she's dropped her morning nap at daycare, which means she is exhausted by the time she gets home.  I've been putting her to bed between 6:30 and 7:00pm, which stinks because we would kind of like to hang out with her, and David usually doesn't get home until around 6.  But she's no fun anyway because she's so tired at that point.  I'm hoping that part improves as she gets more and more accustomed to the new set-up and sleeps longer in the afternoon.

I'm thinking about white-washing the paneling in our basement instead of painting over it.  Which reminds me that I never finished my house tour with the guest room upstairs or the basement.  I'll try to get on that.  After I dig myself out from the pile of paperwork, unfinished syllabi, urgent e-mails, and other back-to-school duties.

So...  look for that in October.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

WAIT A SECOND (Birthday Flashback)

I started this post a million years ago and just realized I never published it.  Whoops.  Better six weeks late than never, right?  Let's take a trip down memory lane to early July, when our great big 13 1/2 month old had just turned one...

Although Zuzu's rainbow party was a fabulous bash, we decided that we needed to have one more celebration for our girl back in my hometown with The Fam.  It was fourth of July weekend, so my mom decorated with a red-white-and-blue theme and it was super cute.  I managed to neglect to take photos of the adorable food and decorations, and I'm kicking myself for that.

Zuzu had a great time, and got many lovely gifts from family, including a miniature recliner, a baby that giggles and blows kisses, a Cozy Coupe, Legos, a barn, and lots of sweet clothes.

You only turn one once, so you might as well celebrate it twice, AMIRITE?

Captions by Zuzu:

OMG.  Another cake.  Another candle.  I'm beside myself.

Read my sign language: I haven't even started eating and I want MORE!

I'm eating strawberries.  Don't know what these two jokers are doing.

Just opening a few gifts with the help of cousin Lexi.  Lexi was not impressed with my relaxed style of gift opening.  She's far more aggressive than I am.  She also was dismayed by my lack of ability to properly sort shapes and animals into the barn.

Welp.  Time to kick back after all the gift opening work.

2 Girls, 1 Chair.  Hanging with my BFF, Ellie Kate.

Ellie Kate is six months older than me...  think I'll be that tall in six months?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

These Days

This age--13 and a half months--is so much fun.  I'm not sure exactly when it happened (sometime over the past two weeks), but Zuzu is now walking more than she's crawling.  She still stumbles and falls a lot, but the baby stagger is her primary means of locomotion.

She's at this amazing place between "baby" and "little girl."  I guess that's why they call this toddlerhood?  But I also mean in the way she looks--because she's still so bald, she looks like a baby.  Yet she has the attitude and aptitude of a toddler.  She's Ms. Independent, but she also still loves snuggling.  She is adventurous, but she's also a mommy's girl.  I kind of want to wrap her up and keep her just. like. this. forever...  but I also can't wait to see what she does next.

Thirteen Months
She's starting to "talk" more and more--the expressive babbles and shrieks have been part of her repartee all along, but we are working on sign language and I need to be more and more consistent, because when she signs me something and I get her meaning, her face lights up.  We started with "more" and "all done" but she's ready for some variety because now when she's playing and I say, "Are you hungry?  Are you ready for lunch?" she grins and signs "More," which does not mean "I want to play more," it means, "Feed me, already!"

When she gets whiny, I know it's nap time and at home she's still napping 2 hours after she wakes up in the morning and 3 hours after she gets up from that nap--like clockwork.  Now I can ask her if she's ready for "Night-night" and she'll repeat "Night-night" and happily lie down in her crib on her own (and I remember back in early June when I thought that would NEVER happen!).

When David gets home from work, she screams, "Hiiiiii Daddy!" which is seriously the cutest thing ever and the best part of his day everyday.  It's kinda the best part of my day, too, since it means it's someone else's turn for diaper duty.

I'm working on teaching her more signs because we had a miscommunication earlier in the week when she was signing more and I thought she meant more milk but when I refilled her cup, she was absolutely crushed with disappointment because (as I finally figured out from her crying fit) she actually wanted more sharp cheddar cheese.  (That's my girl!)  My eighth-grade class did a big unit on sign language and it amazes me how much I can recall.  I would have said I didn't know the sign for cheese, but suddenly it just clicked and I was holding my hands flat and twisting my palms together.  (Apparently eighth grade was a memorable year for me.)

Zuzu loves high-five now, and not only does she perform the high-five, she giggles like it's the funniest thing ever.  We had the entire check-out lane at Michael's laughing along with us just from high-fiving.

Her current favorite song is, "If You're Happy And You Know It."  I think they must sing it at daycare a lot, but we also sing it each week at swimming lessons ("If you're happy and you know it, splash your hands!").  When I start to sing it, she throws her head back laughing and immediately starts clapping.

She is mildly obsessed with shoes. (Again:  That's my girl!)  She loves to carry our tennis shoes around by their laces, and she'll find my flip-flops by the back door and carry them over to sit with her in her mini-chair.  This morning I found one of my Toms in the freezer, so Zuzu must have been "helping" me put groceries away last night.  When I have her three pairs of little shoes lined up, she chooses her favorites (lavender sequined t-strap mary janes) and carries them around until it's time to put them on.  Her feet have finally grown out of size 2 (3-6 months) and into size 3 (6-9 months).  She's probably more of a 2 1/2, but she can walk in the 3's without falling down.

Swimming lessons have been going well.  She's fearless in the water and has no trouble with the backfloat.  She swims underwater from the instructor to me and comes up for air with a huge grin on her face.  She "jumps" off the edge of the pool--I lift her up there, we count, and on three, I lift and drop her into the pool (letting her free fall actually makes her catch her breath as she hits the water).  I was a little nervous the first couple of times I dropped her into the water, but when I lifted her up after her second jump she looked at me expectantly and then started signing "More!  More!"  She really is a little fish.

We try to walk up to the park each night when David gets home from work.  The other night we didn't have much time before we needed to be back home, so we decided to make a short loop and cut through the middle of the park.  We planned to avoid going by the playground, but as soon as we got close, Zuzu spotted the swings and started squealing in delight.  It's pretty hard to resist that kind of request, even though she's also been known to burst into tears when it's time to get back in the stroller to go home.  She also wants to climb up the stairs and go down the little slide by herself, but I really don't trust her, so there's a lot of parent-hovering.  (Also parent-hovering required when NOT climbing the stairs since evidently mulch is delicious.)

A favorite joke is to take any toy (or finger puppet) and after making it dance and sing, we suddenly make it growl and "bite" her.  My mom started this game with the finger puppet book "Mary Had a Little Lamb," and Zuzu was belly laughing at the hilarity of being "attacked" by the little lamb.  Today we got a lot of mileage from Sophie the wild giraffe squeaking along and then suddenly turning vicious and growling.  #toddlerhumor

We are in such a sweet routine (keep in mind that the way time works with a toddler is that anything that has happened in the past three days is our new routine and feels like it's been happening forever and will continue indefinitely...  in reality, I think it was just last week she was fighting naps and fussing at bedtime). And she is at such a sweet age that I'm having lots of mixed feelings about going to work next week.  I have loved being home all summer, but being home has always been (in my mind) a vacation, a temporary thing, which I think is part of what makes it so much fun.  It's not my job, you know?  It's just what I get to do when I'm not working for the summer.  I honestly think I'd feel differently about it if it were a permanent situation.  I think I need a professional career to challenge me and make me happy and I am pretty sure it makes me a better wife and a better mom to NOT be a full-time homemaker/housekeeper/butt wiper.  Still, there's a part of me that envies stay at home moms even though I know it's not what I want for me.  Is that even possible?  To be envious of something you don't actually want?

My fall schedule has me teaching from 10-12 on MWF and from 9:30-12 on TR, and even though my other responsibilities (class prep, meetings, office hours, and the grading, oh, the grading) definitely make a 40 hour work week, I'm really lucky that a lot of that work can be done at home and my afternoons are flexible.  I know that it's the right thing for me.  It's important for me to show Zuzu that women can and should be part of the professional world.  I went to school for a zillion years and I want to DO something with all that book-learnin'!  But, damn.  I'm going to miss afternoons like this one, where I read a book outside while she puttered around playing with toys.  Funny how good days like this instantly make me forget all the exhausting/frustrating/irritating days that we've also had!  Also it could be that I'm lazy and I like sleeping until 8am and sometimes just watching TV during nap time (while I fold laundry...  I'm not a total slouch...).

If there's anything good about summer ending (besides crisp fall days, jeans, boots, hot drinks, red wine, pumpkin patch visits, and Halloween costumes), it's that I've really been savoring the past few weeks.  These are some of the best days we've ever had, but I suspect Zuzu is going to keep getting more and more fun.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Comprehensive and Detailed List of Must-Have Breastfeeding Accessories

(1) Boobs.

Okay, so that's really the only "MUST-HAVE" when it comes to breastfeeding.  But there are actually lots of "NICE TO HAVES" that can make the process easier.

I know, I know.  The point of breastfeeding is that you can be lazy and not have to buy a bunch of stuff.  And the truth is, it DOES get easier.  There's a steep learning curve, but after the first five weeks, it's awesome.  I'm so glad I stuck with it.

But let's be real.  Unless you live in the wilderness and walk around with no shirt on all day so your nipples are weathered and tough (Naked and Afraid, anyone?), you might need a few pain-relievers and maybe some other accessories.  So just in case someone out there is wondering what they should stock up on to start their breastfeeding career, here's what worked for me.

(After this, I'm totally done talking about boobs.)

(For at least a few weeks.)

- boppy pillow.  No surprise--I feel like this has become standard babyfare, but it was a good investment for me.  In the early days, I had to have Zuzu position just riiight and then not move until she was finished or things could get excruciatingly painful.  The boppy definitely helped make that easier.  I actually bought a used one, (which I washed and covered with this water resistant cover underneath the cute cover) but it had been stretched out by someone bigger than me, so I recommend getting this one new or buying/borrowing it from someone who's about the same size you are.  When I tried another one, it was so much better.  I highly recommend having at least two covers as well.  Zuzu was never a spitty baby, but my boobs were super enthusiastic about making milk--if she'd pop off the boob midway through her meal, my milk would spray everywhere--all over her face, the recliner, the wall, the pillow.  So having a back-up pillow cover (or two) makes life a lot easier.  Plus they are super cute.

- Nursing pads.  A friend of mine recommended the Johnson & Johnson pads in the pink box, and I agree that they are the softest and most soothing on sore boobs.  I also like that they are not individually wrapped (ain't nobody got time for that).  They are also uber-absorbant, which was good for my crazy milk supply in the early days--the boob not in use would not just leak, but spray while Zuzu nursed on the other side.  These pads kept it in check.  The downside is that they are kinda big, so wearing them under a tank out in public is noticeable.  I also got some of the Lansinoh pads, which are not as soft but are more subtle under clothing, and since they are individually wrapped, they are good to toss into a diaper bag for a switch.  For the first several months, I had to change pads after every single feeding.  My supply finally slowed down toward the end of her first year, but it took a while.  I'd originally purchased a few washable organic cotton nursing pads, planning to be crunch and cloth-diapery about it.  Hahaha.  I leaked right through those puppies.  And right through the ultra-absorbent hemp nursing pads.  And through the $30 wool nursing pads.  And then I finally said "eff this sh*t" and went back to buying box after box of the disposable Johnson and Johnson pads.

- Lanolin.  I smeared this on like nobody's business.  Just keep applying it even though it doesn't seem like it's working and then--finally--one day you won't need it anymore.  Although I have used it on diaper rash, blisters, and even small cuts.  It's kind of amazing stuff, and you don't have to wipe it off before the baby nurses again (which is great, because the idea of "wiping" sore nips is pretty awful).  I think one brand of Lanolin is much like another, but I'd say I preferred Lansinoh over Medela because the opening in the tube was slightly larger and easier to squeeze out (picky, picky, I know).

- Breast shells.  So there was a huge yowch-factor when I started breastfeeding.  And by "yowch," I mean cracked and bleeding nipples.  Which was absolutely horrifying (not to mention rather painful). A lactation consultant at the hospital gave me these shells, and they were great because they keep anything from touching sore nipples, which allows them to heal faster (thanks to air circulation) and keeps the Lanolin from coming off onto your bra or tank.  These things look super weird in your bra or tank and you can't leave the house with them in, but they are a great break for your poor, painful boobs.

- Soothing gel pads.  Speaking of relieving pain, slapping a couple of soothing gel pads on was the best thing I ever did for my boobs.  They offer instant relief (pro tip:  keep them in your refrigerator!).  They are resuable for a couple of days, then you want to toss them and use new ones.  I sighed with relief every time I applied this, and I think they helped tremendously.

- Milkies collector cup.  This is super weird, but kind of awesome.  I got one too late for it to be super useful for me, but I wished I would have had it in the beginning when one boob would spew an ounce or two of milk while the baby was nursing on the other side.  (Well, not the very beginning--I'd wait until it didn't hurt anymore and I was ready to mess with it.)  You just stick it in your bra and let it collect the milk that would otherwise be absorbed by a nursing pad.  An ounce or two per feeding adds up quickly over time, and you can easily have extra milk on hand for a bottle or even to freeze without the bother of pumping.  Things to remember:  Don't bend over or you'll pour milk out of it!  (This might have happened to me.)

- Burp cloths.  I made a bunch of these by sewing a thick strip of cute flannel material down the middle of an old-school Gerber pre-fold diaper.  I don't know how they would work as actual diapers, but they were great for wiping up breastmilk.  In fact, if I got caught without a nursing pad, I'd just stick the end of one of the burp cloths in my bra while Zuzu nursed on the other side.  I had lots of them so I could easily toss them in the wash, and keep several on rotation near the recliner and in the diaper bag.

- Big water cup.  I recommend investing in two big Tervis cups with lids (one for use, one for the dishwasher) and keep the refills coming.  I was soooooo thirsty, which I guess is nature's way of keeping you hydrated enough to produce plenty of milk.  I drank water like nobody's business.  I probably drank a 16 ounces of water during/after every single nursing session there for a while (multiply that by 8 times a day and you get: a LOT of water).

- Trail mix.  Nursing made me SUPER hungry.  I would get those big containers of trail mix and just keep them next to the recliner so I could shove handfuls of nuts and raisins and chocolate chips into my mouth while the baby ate.  Hungry = cranky for me and for Zuzu, so trail mix did a great job of keeping us both happy.

- Resources.  The advice I would give for breastfeeding moms is this:  Trust your instincts, and don't be afraid to ask for help.  I consulted my doula, our pediatrician, lactation consultants at the hospital where I delivered, other moms, a nursing mom's support group at the hospital, breastfeeding experts at a local "hippie" resale boutique, and La Leche League leaders with a zillion different questions about breastfeeding.  Eventually I learned to ignore the advice that didn't jive with me (like my old-man-pediatrician's suggestion to pump a lot in the early days when I had an oversupply) and I got over my trepidation about LLL and discovered they are not no-formula-Nazis but just super nice women who want other women to have a good experience with breastfeeding (in my opinion, they are as knowledgeable as any lactation consultant, will take the time to come to your house and meet with you one on one, and are doing so as volunteers so they don't charge you $60 an hour).  Sure, they're kinda crunchy, but I found their advice about plugged ducts to be invaluable.

-  It's a breastfeeding support website, with well-researched information and has links to other sources to help with everything from expressing the maximum amount of milk while pumping to what color your baby's poop should be.  Sometimes it can be information overload, and I am not sure how their search function works because it didn't always connect me to the most relevant articles right away, but is what first clued me in to the fact that I had an oversupply and could adjust could just feeding Zuzu on one side per feeding.  LIFE CHANGING.  (Of course, I confirmed that with a lactation consultant and then went to a LLL meeting to ask other moms about it because I'm a little crazy, but you do what works for you.)  It's a great resource when you need reassurance that your baby's neon yellow poop is totally normal.

- Nursing cover.  One of the best things about breastfeeding is that is super convenient.  You wear the right kind of shirt, and you can nurse your baby anywhere.  I have nursed Zuzu at Busch stadium, at the Arch, at the zoo, at Grant's Farm, at the mall, in many restaurants, and at church.  I remember one of my friends stressing out about meeting her mother-in-law for lunch and having to go home and nurse the baby first (who was also going to lunch with her).  I just couldn't handle that kind of inconvenience.  After a while, I was comfortable enough that if I had on a scarf or loose shirt that would hang down, I didn't care about a nursing cover, but for a long time it was easiest to cover up with a cute Bebe au Lait cover and let Zuzu have a snack, wherever I was.  Keep the baby happy!  I never had anything but neutral or positive responses to breastfeeding in public.  (Although David's seventeen-year-old brother turned bright red and bolted from the room when I started nursing Zuzu at David's dad's house at Christmas time).  I don't think anyone should feel uncomfortable nursing in public, but I also get that not everyone wants their boobs (or postpartum belly) hanging out.  So a nursing cover is a nice way to have some privacy without having to leave the room.

- A pump.  It's worth spending money on a good pump.  Says the girl who borrowed a good pump from a friend.  Borrowing pumps is somewhat controversial since it is possible that you could exchange fluid (read: breastmilk) with another user of the pump.  I borrowed a pump from a friend whom I am confident is HIV negative and with whom I'd feel comfortable sharing dessert.  Anyway, I bought my own tubing and attachments and never thought twice about using the same pump motor that she had used.  I also used Medela's steam bags at work (in the biology lab's microwave--much cleaner than the faculty lounge) to sterilize pump parts and the Medela wipes for a quick clean up when I was pumping twice a day at work.  I liked Lansinoh storage bags.

Because I was using a borrowed pump, I took it to a local boutique that sells pumps and had them test it to make sure the pressure was still where it was supposed to be.  They also fitted me for the flanges.  That was kind of a funny moment because the lady asked me if my nipple was larger or smaller than the tip of my pinky finger.  I stared at my pinky finger in bewilderment and she asked me if I'd be comfortable letting her look.  By this point I was over being shy and I would pretty much show my boobs to any woman who seemed the slightest bit maternal, so I stripped down and she recommended a size that didn't come standard with the pump.  I later ended up buying one size down because after Zuzu started eating table food and my supply slowed down a little, my boobs quit getting engorged before pumping and I needed a smaller flange.  Having the correct size made all the difference in how much milk I'd be able to express while pumping, so I highly recommend getting a professional opinion or just ordering a couple of different size flanges so you can experiment with what feels the best and gets the most milk for your money.

- Hands-free-pumping-bra.  This thing is a must-have for the mom who's pumping at work.  Because there's no time to sit around holding flanges up to your boobs when the bra could be doing it for you while you check your email or eat your salad.  One of my friends loved the simple zipper, but I personally thought it was worth having the hook and eye closure because as my supply adjusted I was able to move from the furthest hook to the tightest closure.  And the polka-dots are super cute -- I got the red.

Finally, and perhaps the only thing on this list that is actually a "MUST-HAVE":

- A supportive spouse.  David was totally cool with me breastfeeding.  I think because he'd read enough about benefits of breastfeeding, but mostly because he was stoked about saving money by not buying formula (haha, after this list of accessories I purchased, I'm starting to wonder if we actually saved any money at all...).  He showed his support mostly by bringing the baby to me when she woke up in the middle of the night for a feeding.  That way I could just lay in bed and whip out my boob, I could nurse lying down, and then when Zuzu was finished and milk drunk and I was sleepy from my relaxing hormone hit, David would put the baby back in her bed.  It was an awesome system.

So there is my comprehensive and materialistic list of Breastfeeding Accessories.  Have I overlooked anything?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Seven Surprising Perks of Breastfeeding (Perkiness Not One of Them)

Disclaimer:  This is a post about breastfeeding that is intended to be nothing more than a reflection of my own experience. I hope it's not controversial because it's certainly not intended to be.  I am personally not invested whether you breastfeed or not, although I'd generally recommend it just because it was (is) a great experience for me.  We all know that they say "breast is best" but the truth is that for a lot of people, for a lot of difference reasons, formula can be the best choice.  I totally respect that, especially because I know many women struggle with a lot of guilt about that choice.

All I'm saying here is that when I was pregnant (both times) I really wanted to breastfeed because of all the "good for baby" stuff that you read.  With Zuzu, I was lucky enough to be able to do so successfully.  And then I discovered some unexpected benefits that were not widely advertised, but contributed to making breastfeeding really kick ass.  SO HERE THEY ARE IN LIST FORM.

Seven Surprising Perks of Breastfeeding

(1)  The hormone rush.  After it stopped hurting and stopped being just-barely-tolerable, it got comfortable and then it got super easy and then it will seriously be kind of the coolest thing ever.

I know, it totally surprised me, too.

I did not expect breastfeeding to be especially pleasant or enjoyable, but there is an amazing hit of hormones that are as good as or better than any kind of exercise endorphins.  So peaceful, so relaxing.  Anxiety and annoyance melts away.  It's the easiest way to fall back asleep I've ever found.

(2) The power trip.  Breastfeeding was absolute magic for curing almost anything that ailed the bebe.  Milk drunks babes are the best and for the first few months of Zuzu's life, there was nothing a boob couldn't fix!

(3)  The lounging.  It's the perfect excuse to spend a lot of time sitting down.  No pressure to do stuff.  No laundry.  No emptying the dishwasher.  No making dinner (haha, that's what husbands are for).  Nothing to do but feed the baby, talk on the phone, watch TV, read, text.  I got so much reading done and indulged in my favorite TV shows.

(4)  The psychological benefit.  It was healing for me, after losing a baby that my body was supposed to be nurturing and protecting, to be able to fully provide for a baby and watch her grow healthy and strong and chubby just from the milk that I could provide.  I grew a healthy baby and then I fed her with nothing but my body for 6 whole months--it blows my mind!

(5)  Work breaks.  Pumping is a pain the butt, but it was also a great excuse to lock my office door and browse Pinterest or read blogs, uninterrupted.  (I know not everyone working mom has the luxury of an office door that locks, which can make pumping even more annoying--and sometimes nearly impossible.  If you're pumping at work, be sure you know your rights.)

(6) Good eating.  Breastfeeding gave me an amazing appetite.  (And evidently burns a lot of calories too).  To be perfectly honest, I haven't worked out regularly since Zuzu was born.  And I'm back in all my old clothes, in spite of the fact that I have also been hungrier and eaten more than ever in my life except for my brief stint on swim team in high school (before practices got in the way of the spring play and I dropped swim team for the stage).

(7)  Peace of mind.  It eased my anxiety about whether the baby was eating well.  Unlike some babies, who start strong with the baby food and then become picky toddlers, Zuzu was super slow to want anything but breastmilk.  She was at least 9 months old before she ate enough food to count for more than just tasting it.  I was a little worried about this, but I also knew that she didn't really need anything but breastmilk for the first year, so anything beyond that was kind of a bonus.  She has a good appetite now, but it's like a reassurance for me that my efforts at a balanced, healthy diet for her are boosted by a breastmilk nightcap (and morning wake-up).

# # #

Zuzu is now 13 months old and we are still doing the breastfeeding thing.  I'm shocked by this because even though I qualify as a crunchy hippie in some ways (I meet somewhere between 7 and 9 of the criteria on this list), I never expected to nurse her much past one year.  But here we are at 13 months and counting.  Every time I think she's losing interest, she changes her mind again.  We're down to two times a day--first thing in the morning and before bedtime--and that system is working for us right now, so I guess I'll just see how it goes.  I don't mind it, but it's not as peaceful as it was when she was a bitty babe (no biting, thankfully, but plenty of squirming). So we'll just see how long this goes on... (Plot spoiler:  Not to kindergarten!).

# # #

I feel compelled to add that I don't want any of this this to come off as insensitive to women who struggle with breastfeeding.  I say this because I know how fortunate I am that it was relatively easy for me.  Early on, I was kind of stressed out about whether I was doing things right, and I went to a support group where moms shared struggles and challenges that would have completely defeated me.  I can relate to the desire to want to have the "perfect" newborn experience, and I know I would have been devastated if breastfeeding hadn't worked out for us.  I also know that Zuzu would have been FINE.  I guess what I'm saying is, I know I'm really lucky in this regard and I'm not taking that lightly.

As for the downsides of breastfeeding, let me confess that I might be secretly ignoring all my feminist sensibilities and dreaming of a restorative boob job.  I'm just saying breastfeeding can be, uh, transformative in some not-so-fabulous ways, too...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Relief or Delight?

I did so much reading after Eliza died.  I read self-help books, books about the grieving process, memoirs about loss, and a lot of books about the Holocaust.  I needed to know how people coped with great tragedy, how I could possibly get the point where I cared about life again.  I needed to hear over and over again not that I would survive--that point was painfully clear to me each morning when I woke up with the sickening pit of grief in my stomach--but that eventually the mere act of being alive when my daughter was dead wouldn't hurt so. damn. much.

No book could explain how that would happen.

And yet, eventually, it did.  There's nothing but time that can really help, even though time can't change the depth and intensity of my sorrow, it can and does soften the edges, heal the rawness, and help me find a way more easily balance the weight of sadness.  As with all things, we get better with practice.

Words are woefully inadequate when we want to provide comfort to someone grieving the loss of a child, and as much as I want to reach out to someone who is hurting, despite the fact that I have written two-and-a-half years' worth of blog posts about grief, I sometimes feel like I have no idea what to say.  Or at least, what to say beyond I'm so sorry.  It's not fair.  You're not alone.  Your baby is loved and remembered.

Those words help--believe me they do, because I never get tired of hearing them.  Especially that last part.

But how do you help someone get through the day to day agony of breathing when their child has stopped breathing?  What strategies can we employ when we're feeling so lost and trying to find our way back to ourselves?

I was cleaning out my purse several weeks ago, and came across a small notebook I had filled up with various scribbles--shopping lists, things-to-do, book and movie titles I want to read and see, restaurant recommendations, a list of hilarious phrases I saw on t-shirts people were wearing when we were in Korea (that possibly deserves a blog post of its own).  And I saw this quotation that has been attributed elsewhere to Martha Beck, although I neglected to write down the author (poor citation skills!).

If I recall correctly, I think I saw the quotation in a Yoga magazine at my therapist's office.  At any rate, I have decided it is the best advice I can imagine for anyone who is grieving (including me):

When you're weary, find relief.  When you're strong, find delight.

As with a lot of good advice, it seems almost obvious once it's stated.  But in the dizzying and sickening world of grief, it was precisely what I needed to hear.

Grief is exhausting.  For the first six months after Eliza's death, I was nothing if not weary.  I was so very, very tired.  Tired from sadness.  Tired of being so sad.  All you can do is seek relief in whatever form it takes for you.  We watched a ton of television.  I probably watched more hours of television in 2011 than I had in my entire life.  I read a lot of nonfiction and then a lot of young adult fiction--starting with rereading the Harry Potter series.  I got pedicures.  I went to yoga classes.  I bought new clothes.  I wrote on the blog.  I made a grief journal filled with quotations and poems and song lyrics.

These were fleeting pleasures, and I'm not even sure I could call them "pleasures."  But they were brief respites, moments of relief from the relentless sadness and anger and disbelief and horror and anxiety that is life-after-baby-loss.  Sometimes I felt guilty about it--how could I possibly enjoy a foot massage when my baby is dead?  On the flip side...  My baby is dead.  Why the eff should I not go get a pedicure?  I literally had nothing else to do.

I've noticed that stress and anxiety, even when it's work related or not about anything personal, will often dredge up those intense feelings of sadness for me, and I'm still learning to simply seek relief when I am weary.  Sometimes it's as simple as an episode of Downton Abbey or a nap or a walk to the park.  Sometimes I need a glass of wine or an e-mail venting session with another BLM.  Or both simultaneously.  Sometimes I just need to let myself have a good cry.

Knowing that I'm seeking relief makes my actions feel less futile and reminds me that this feeling won't last for ever.  Eventually I'll feel strong again.

And when you're feeling strong, it's perfectly okay to seek delight.  I think sometimes it's hard to accept that--that I could feel happy and enjoy life again without Eliza.  I remember feeling conflicted about this especially on our trip to Canada six months after her death.  There was something really healing for me about being up in the mountains and surrounded by the beauty and wonder of nature, and yet I was also sad to be enjoying myself when I couldn't share the experience with Eliza.

Now I try hard to squeeze the joy out of life, because I know I've paid my dues in grief.  I still have days when grief knocks me down and makes me weary beyond belief.  If I'm feeling strong, I want to embrace that feeling and make the most of it--and I think living a good life is a way to honor Eliza.

And sometimes delight and relief look the same for me (Downton Abbey is absolutely delightful as far as I'm concerned) but most of the time when I'm feeling strong, I can be social in a way that I can't when I'm weary.  So now when I "seek delight," I try to do so by getting together with friends, by inviting people over, by making plans to get out and do things.  I hibernated for so long, which was a relief, but there's a lot to delight in now that I have the energy to get back out in the world.  The greatest gift Eliza gave me is the ability to more fearlessly connect with other people, to put my truth out there and find kindred spirits.  I want to celebrate that gift by nurturing friendships and having new experiences.

There is no way to shortcut through grief.  There can't be shortcuts when there's no finish line.  We're just meandering through, doing the best we can to stitch ourselves and our lives back together, and meanwhile the ebb and flow of grief can be overwhelming and frustrating:  How can I be such a wreck today?  I thought I was doing better last week.  What is wrong with me?

The truth is, there's no way around the ups and downs.  Grief is crazytown and it's messy and unpredictable and sometimes really ugly.  But thinking of it in terms of weariness and strength helps me to be able to evaluate whether I need to seek relief or seek delight, and then act accordingly.  It is a simple way to feel a little bit of control and make sense out of something that is so big and sad and scary that it feels impossible to survive at times.  It's not about good or bad, it's not about feeling better or worse.  It's about whether I'm tired or whether I'm restored, and I can give myself permission to act accordingly.

When you're weary, find relief.  When you're strong, find delight.

If you've dealt with enormous grief, do you think this jives with your coping methods?  Is there anything specific that you can count on to provide you with relief or delight?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Lavender's Blue, Dilly-dilly, Lavender's Gray, When I Paint Rooms, Dilly-Dilly, I Drive Myself Cray

Last weekend, we painted the dining room and the living room.  We also lowered the chair rail in the dining room, which made an even bigger difference than the paint color.  I mean, the paint color is different (the room is now blue...  sometimes I wonder if it's too blue?  Do we need to repaint???) but the chair rail had previously been 40" above the floor which was waaaaaaay too high. I did a bunch of research on "proper" chair rail height (28-32 inches) and we decided based on our ceiling height to put it on at 30" above the floor.  Vast improvement.  Huge.  I'm not sure the pictures do it justice, so you'll just have to take my word for it.  I literally feel better in there than I did before.

After.  Yup.  It's blue.  But I kinda like it.
We did not have quite as much luck in the living room.  I brought home a zillion gray swatches, narrowed it down to two, plus considered the gray I'd used in the nursery and bathroom upstairs.  Found all of these wanting and tried one more color (another shade of light gray).

There is a Fifty Shades of Gray joke waiting to be made here.
Thought the bottom stripe was the winner, bought a gallon, painted the room.

AND... meh.

It's gray...  and by gray I mean that in some lights it looks like a prison block, at other times of day it has all the warmth and luxury of an auto garage, and in the evening it turns Old Lady Hair Lavender.

It's still an improvement over what we had before,

but I don't LOVE it, you know?  And when you put that much time and effort into something, you want to LOVE it.

Man, it actually looks way better in pictures than it does in real life.  Go figure.  But you can still see the lavender, right?  (If not, you'll just have to trust me on this one.)  Also please disregard the total lack of styling.  We haven't re-hung many pictures or put the mantle back together yet.  I know, I know.  At this rate I will NEVER become a famous home decor blogger.  Let's all be sad about that together.  (Although seriously I wish Kohler would offer to comp me one of their fancy Sensate sink faucets because that thing is dreamy.)

I was ready to go! buy! more! paint! like yesterday, but David's not keen on repainting the living room RIGHTTHISSECOND, so we've compromised.  We're living with it until Sherwin Williams's next sale (which a little bird told me is coming up in mid-to-late September).  In the meantime, I'm trying to figure out where I went wrong.  After much consideration, I think it's because I was trying soooo hard to get away from the mustardy-beige-flesh tone that was on the walls before, so I went with grays that are too cool.  Overcompensated.  I need to embrace more of a greige--a gray with tan undertones.  I've read good things about Benjamin Moore's Edgecomb Gray, so I might even ask about color matching.  I helped my BFF from college paint her living room Perfect Greige by SW and I loved it in her house, but I think I want to go a shade lighter since our yard is so shaded we don't get much direct sunlight the way her house does.

I don't know why David doesn't want to spend another weekend painting since we had so much super helpful help:

We were finally like, you want to climb up on the stepstool so much?  MAKE YOURSELF USEFUL, CHILD!

Zuzu is totally onboard for repainting soon.

So the saga of Painting the Living Room is TO BE CONTINUED...

Or maybe I'll learn to love lavender-gray?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Closet Art & Custom Paintings

I happened across this website, The Painted Arrow, a few days ago and decided that I needed this print to hang in my closet:

Isn't that adorable?  To bring a little zing to a shared closet?  I love it!  (It didn't hurt that it was on sale.)

I also noticed that she does custom paintings with flowers, lettering, quotations, names, etc.  The prices seem really reasonable ($35-100), depending size and specifications.  It made me think of the hand-lettered art my mom bought us after Eliza died.  We now have that print hanging on the gallery wall in our family room.  We also have Eliza's name written in the sand by CarlyMarie hanging in our living room, alongside the pencil portrait by Dana.  In a house already covered with photographs of the vivacious (and remarkably photogenic) Zuzu, it's important to me that Eliza have a presence on our walls, even if it's not ever going to be in proportion to the huge space she holds in our hearts.

Anyway, I like the whimsical little flowers and lettering of The Pointed Arrow's paintings and prints so much that I'm bookmarking the shop so I can ponder what quotation I might like to have customized, or if I'd like to do something with family names.  It could also make for a nice gift for someone.  I think having a custom painting done that incorporates your child's name would be sweet to hang in a nursery or bedroom, but for bereaved parents it could make for a really precious memorial.

(This lady doesn't know me from Adam and is not compensating me in anyway--I just wanted to share.)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Master Bedroom

The master bedroom is enormous, and I am still brainstorming ways to use the space efficiently.  And it still needs some furniture. But I'm also enjoying the luxury of having a king sized bed!

Here's the view from the doorway:

Here's a view of the bed straight on.  When we bought the house, the walls were seriously the same color as the carpet.  It was like being underwater.  In dark, cloudy water.  We painted the walls the most fabulous color.  It's Sherwin Williams Sea Salt.  It's this perfect blue-green color with gray in it.  It changes color in the light, but I like it whether it looks more blue or more green or more gray.  It made the room look so much bigger and made the (sort of teal-colored) carpet tolerable.

The duvet cover was purchased on sale at Pottery Barn, and it's stuffed with a duvet from Ikea.  We are still in need of a headboard and desperately in need of bedside tables--how klassy is the clip-on lamp on the windowsill?  I have big plans for making an upholstered, tufted headboard via a Pinterest tutorial.  (How hard can it be, right?  Yeah...  I may be waiting for Crafty Cousin Amanda to come in town and assist me.)

Oh--and the bedroom has stained glass windows like downstairs but square instead of rectangle!

Here's my makeshift bedside table.  Don't you love it?

I am sentimentally attached to this stool, which was my great-grandma's.  I bought the basket after the pile of books and magazines kept sliding off the stool. It does the job.  But I'm on the hunt for bedside tables.  I need to get serious and start going to some estate sales.  I'd also like to find a storage bench for the end of the bed?

All the coolest people in the world do crossword puzzles.  FYI.

Here's a view of the door and the original (teensy) closet:

We really need to get some stuff hung up on the walls.  David keeps nagging me about it but we just haven't done it yet.  Because sometimes decisions are really hard for me.

And here's another view of the room from the doorway:

Yeah, the room kind of stretches on forever.  When the family room was added to the first floor, they ran the addition up to the second floor, creating this little sitting room and a huge closet off the master bedroom.  My comfy reading chair makes for a great reading nook (when it doesn't have framed pictures sitting on it to keep them out of reach from a certain little someone whose parents can't manage to hang them up on the walls) but the color is glaringly out of place up here.  Eventually, I'd like to get a new chair for up here and move this one to the basement .  I'd consider recovering it, but that seems too difficult for me to DIY and expensive to have someone else do it.  (Although I've never priced it?  So maybe it's not as expensive as I think?)

The type of chair (chairs?) I get will depend on how we end up using this space.

I don't want it to just be wasted space.  I wouldn't mind having bookshelves and a permanent reading nook up here, but I'm not sure I want it to be a home office.  So... library?  Sitting room?  Yoga studio?  Meditation space?  (This would require me to start meditating.)  Not sure.

Unattractive laundry nook with unattractive curtains: Not permanent!
The curtains are the same on both sides.  They make me gag.   I want to put up Roman shades instead but the kind I want (lined to block the light) are spendy.  So we're dealing with rolling shades and the ugliest curtains beige known to man in the meantime.  Also the room holds our laundry baskets. #keepingitreal

The pocket doors lead to the ridiculously closet. Brace yourselves.  It's crazy big:

I KNOW, right?

Would you believe I still have mornings when I don't have a thing to wear.  #firstworldproblems

David's side is much tidier but that's just because all of this clothes are the same shape--shirts, pants, polo shirts, suit jackets.  I have since purchased him a belt hanger:

View from the doors:

Jewelry, scarves, shoes, and the ironing board line the back wall.

So... projects for the closet.  The window in here needs to be frosted.  In fact, that's been near the top of my to-do list since we moved in and instead we just keep standing nekkid in front of an open window (don't worry--there is no clear view into the second story window, but still it feels awkward).

The light fixture is kind of fun in theory but weird in execution.  I like the idea of having a fancy chandelier in a closet, but I'm not crazy about this particular one.  I'd rather have something princess-fancy, like with crystal drops.  I mean, if you're going to have a chandelier in a closet, you should go whole-hog, right?  My fantasy closet also includes a double-sided dresser in the center of the room, built-in shelves for shoes along the back wall, and a pink silk chaise lounge (I'm not sure where we'd put it, but my fantasy closet is simply incomplete without a pink silk chaise lounge.).

Right now, we're saving our pennies to Elfa it out (when the Elfa closet systems go on sale at the end of the year).  I'm not sure a pink chaise lounge will be in the budget (or in the design specifications for the space) but I know that we're lucky to have so much space and I want to be sure we use it as efficiently (and beautifully!) as possible.

So the master bedroom as a whole could definitely use some work, but it's is also lower on the priority list since most people don't see it and my eyes are closed the vast majority of the time I'm in here.  I'm casually-but-constantly hunting for those side tables--a hunt complicated by the fact I don't know quite what I want:  Two matching ones?  Unmatching ones?  Small dressers functioning as side tables?  There's enough space for that...  But then what style?  Do I try to match the wood of the dresser (even though I don't love the dresser?).  White?  Mirrored?  I don't know if mirrored tables are cool--I just love how fancy they look.  But really anything will be an improvement over a basket perched on a stool, right?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Upstairs Bath

Writing the title of this post made me think of this creepy kids song that my mom used to sing:

Alice, where are you going?
Upstairs to take a bath.
Alice, with legs like toothpicks
and a neck like a giraffe!

Alice got in the bathtub,
Alice pulled out the plug.
Oh my goodness!  Oh my soul!
There goes Alice down the hole!

It totally freaked my shit out when I was a kid and instilled an irrational fear of getting sucked down the bathtub drain.  I told my mom not to sing it to Zuzu, but now I catch myself singing it.  Damn catchy tune.

Anyway, the house tour continues.

In the front door...

Up the stairs...

At the top of the stairs...

And in the upstairs bath.

This room is long and narrow, so it was difficult for me to get a good shot.  The lighting also makes it look yellowy, so I did some pictures with the vanity light turned off, which then makes everything look darker than it really is.  Go figure.

Although you don't get much sense of it from this photo, the walls are gray, the tile is bright white.  You can see that the sink sticks out like a sore thumb.  This also shows the only tower bar in the bathroom--a little white one, built into the tile, and sort of weirdly placed.  Works for hand towels, though.

Why they selected this sink instead of a white one, I have no idea.  Probably it was on sale?  There's nothing wrong with it except it looks terrible in here and matches absolutely nothing.  It's on the list to be replaced.

@!W@@WQ@cc v cvc cv  [I left my laptop unattended and Zuzu got ahold of it.  She was grinning so big when I turned around and saw her using the keyboard.  That's her first typing ever!  I cannot delete it.  It's so cute.  The exclamation point is my favorite.]

Back to the bathroom.  In this picture, you can see the over-the-door towel hooks since there is no normal-sized towel rack in this bathroom.  The other small door is a little closet.  This picture pretty well captures the color of the bathroom, including the bright-white-tiles, but the gray is a little lighter in person.  (It's Sherwin Williams Light French Gray--the same gray I used on the nursery walls.  Looks totally French and tres chic, no?).

And this is the inside of the closet.

It might not look like much, but it's actually pretty well organized in my world.  Top shelf is towels (obvy--could have stacked those better... c'est la vie), next shelf is first aid and basket of wash cloths, next shelf holds hair products, some make up, and twelve varieties of deodorant (I uncovered quite the collection when organizing).  Bottom shelf has bug spray, sunscreen, and bath products.

For more storage (you can never have too much, right?).  I added this cabinet above the toilet.

I stuck wrapping paper in the back for a little interest although I'm considering frosting the doors.  The cabinet also holds perfume, Zuzu's bath wash, and the pink bag holds the make up I wear almost every day.  I actually planned to "style" this cabinet a little more, but so far it's more for function than fashion (hence the possibility of frosting the glass).

And here's a picture of the shower curtain.  Same one from the old house.

The tiles are original to the house, and I was told by the previous owner that they were pink and yellow but she had them coated in white.  Which was fine, until she decided to add a weird brown sink with off-white granite top to the mix.  Not too much to do except replace the sink and add a window treatment.  There's not much space to add art on the walls, but knowing me I'll put something up, even if I tuck it behind the door, above the weirdly positioned towel rack.

And now I have to try to get that Alice-in-the-bathtub song out of my head.

# # #

Unrelated to the bathroom, I just have to share two things that made me SO happy this morning.

(1) I dropped Zuzu off at daycare and she did not cry!  I knew it made me sad to leave her when she was crying, but I was practically skipping out of there today and couldn't believe how much lighter my heart felt when I knew she was happy.  Such a relief.  Considering I go back to work in 20 days (gasp!), I really needed this.

(2) As I was filling out the drop-off form, I overheard two of the teachers in Zuzu's room talking about what they'd do if they won the lottery.  They were discussing donations to charity and one of them said that after working at daycares for so long, she'd donate to daycares because she knows they need the funding.  Caroline's primary-care-teacher jumped in and said she'd love to just buy this daycare and give it unlimited funding, and I just LOVED that this lady would still want to be involved at the daycare center even if she won the lottery.  I don't know that she'd still be changing diapers in the toddler room, but seriously it made me feel good to think about her teachers really loving the kids and loving what they do.  God bless daycare teachers.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Family Room / TV Room

At long last!  Photos of the family room slash play room  Cooper also felt like posing.  I didn't feel like decluttering much.

This is the view from the dining room:

You can see that the previous owners put hardwood floors leading from the backdoor to the dining room and carpeted the rest of the room.  It's okay--I don't hate carpet, although the color is kinda weird.  It's like a greenish blueish color and it's not heinous but it's not awesome.  We're thinking that we may decide to extend the hardwoods eventually, so we're not looking into replacing the carpet yet.  It is nice, thick, high quality carpet--because when you're buying your carpet in a weird shade of turquoise, you evidently only buy the best!

Speaking of buying the best, here's our sofa:

We purchased it on Craigslist.  From a very nice single girl who decided it was too big for her condo after barely using it.  It's super comfortable and the price was such that I'm not worried about dogs or toddlers climbing all over it.

Vintage side table came from my grandparents.

The brown recliner is the same one we had at the old house, purchased in preparation for baby and lived in by me during the summer of 2012.  Behind the recliner is David's bobble head curio cabinet and his collection of autographed baseballs and an adorable picture of Zuzu holding a baseball.

View of the TV.  That's the buffet-turned-TV-console that was also a Craigslist find.  The miniature recliner is still a Zuzu-favorite.  And the buffet cabinets also hold more Zuzu toys.  The play table in front was a freebie hand-me-down from our neighbors across the street.  Zuzu loves it.  Because it's ugly and makes a lot of noise.  Of course she loves it!

Closure view of the curio cabinet and--surprise--Downey the Rocking Duck!  (Birthday gift from Grammy and Gramps).

Entry way:

As you can see, I have a few bags.  The storage baskets seemed like a great idea in theory, but Zuzu loves dragging them out and unpacking them, which is somewhat aggravating because playing with shoes is gross.  I want to get a shelf to go above the hooks.  I also kind of want to paint the metal door with fake wood grain.  But what color?  I was actually thinking black (I don't want to draw attention to it, but I do not love the fake wood grain).  It's not a pressing project, though, so I'll ponder that later.

Picture of the gallery wall:

I actually like the paint color in this room.  It's Restoration Hardware paint (according to the bucket in the basement) which I didn't even realize they made.  I wanted to make the gallery asymmetrical, but David couldn't handle it.  So we ended up with this.  (For now.  Bwahahaha)

Remember when we had two dogs and our baby looked like this?

We were walking in the park the other day and I turned the corner and Cooper started going the other way.  I stopped with a jolt and said, "Cooper!  C'mon buddy," and a lady walking by said, "Is your dog's name Nipper?" and I laughed and said, "No, it's Cooper" and then she said her cousin used to have a dog named Nipper.  Which I think is kind of an awesome name.  A name and a warning all in one.  Like if we'd named Little Mac Little Batshit Crazy instead.  

(Speaking of Little Batshit Crazy, she continues to do well at my parents' house and does not appear to miss us or Cooper in the slightest.  In fact, every time we visit, she has an "accident."  Which is just about the most literal communication of "Piss off!" that I've ever seen.  I still love her though.  Perhaps even more since I can love her from a distance.)

Anyway, after we left Nipper's cousin, I started thinking about some of my favorite dog names.  David's great-aunt Betty has a crazed pug named Gator, which is so fitting.  One of my friends in grade school had a dachshund named Heidi, which was a very fitting German name.  David's grandparents' friends have a very smart sheltie named Abe, which is perfect for his long and serious face.  And when we used to go to the dog park (before Cooper embarrassed us one-too-many-times and we revoked his membership for being an a-hole), Coop used to socialize with an American bulldog named Dude.  Dude was not well-behaved either, and had a habit of aggressively showing his affection for his friends by humping them.  So his owner (an overgrown frat guy, as you might imagine) was always yelling, "Dude!  Quit humping him!  C'mon, Dude!  Cut it out!"  Ah, good times at the dog park.

I'm not sure how the post about the family room turned into a post about dog names, but I'd love to know the best dog names you've heard.  I'm kind of dreaming about the day Cooper gets another sibling.  Of the four-legged variety, obvy.