Monday, September 30, 2013

My Daughters Today

Zuzu is fifteen months old.  Her little Converse Allstar tennis shoes (size 3) are lined up on our entry-way cubby, next to David's shoes.  It makes me so happy to see them there.  I love her little shoes.

When I pick her up at daycare (assuming it's not snack time) she runs to me, and as soon as I pick her up, she turns to look at her teachers, waves her little arm, and says, "Bye-bye!"  If I stand there talking for too long, she starts saying, "Bye-bye!  Bye-bye!" until I get the hint.  It's time to move on!

Tonight she decided the aluminum foil did not belong in its drawer, but instead belonged in the cabinet across the kitchen.  She was very businesslike about this relocation, and did lots of chattering and shrieking at the foil as well.  David wondered out loud what she was thinking--like what kind of determined little thought process is going through her mind?

I lost track of time when we got home this evening, and Zuzu got frustrated with something and dramatically threw herself down on the floor, fussing.  Then I realized we were twenty minutes past her usual dinner time.  I asked if she was hungry and she got up and started signing, "More!" which is also her way of saying "Yes!" emphatically.  Poor little punkin.  Just like her mama, losing her cool when her blood sugar gets too low.

This morning when I went in to get Zuzu out of her crib, she grabbed her little hane and held it up over her face, just like the baby in Where Is Baby's Belly Button?  I said, "Where's Zuzu?" and she pulled it down, beaming at me, her little grin peeking out around her pacifier.  "THERE SHE IS!" I said, and she laughed at our awesome game.

David was delighted that she started saying "ball" before she said "book" but now she says both, although usually we have to say them first and then repeats them.  She's started calling Cooper "Bubba" all on her own, which I think is hilarious since I called my brother Bubby and Bubs (now he's Uncle Bubs).  She'll tell us what the chicken says and what the duck says and sometimes what the horse says.  She says hi to random people and when we ask if she's ready to go night-night, she'll repeat it, "Night-night!"

I don't put her in jeans very often, but today she wore a little pair of (knit) Levi's with pink stitching and she was so adorable strutting around in them.

In her bath tonight, I sang, "If you're happy and you know it, splash your hands!" just like we did at swimming lessons and she splashed with glee.  I sang "If you're happy and you know it, blow some bubbles!" and she still hasn't quite figured out the bubble blowing, but she did bend down and put her mouth in the water.

My mom gave her this "talking picture frame" that has a photo of my parents and Zuzu in it and when you hit the button, it plays a recording of my parents.  Zuzu loves to hit the button.  She will now point at the picture and whine until I take it off the shelf so she can hear Grammy and Gramps talk to her.  She's going to be super excited to see them this weekend and we have lots of fun plans.

* * *

We went to a BBQ at a friend's house over the weekend.  There were five couples there.  Among the ten of us, there are nine kids.

(And one dead baby.)

Four of these couples (including us) were pregnant in 2010.  There was a little girl there who is five months older than Eliza would have been.  A little boy who is two months older than Eliza would have been.  Another little boy who is one month younger than Eliza would have been.

They are so big, these kids.  Big, and gorgeous, and funny, and they say big words and talk in whole sentences and wear big kid shoes and have hair that requires brushing and they ate dinner sitting in little chairs at tiny tables and not wearing bibs.

We had plans to have a Christmas dinner party with this group of friends the week after Eliza died.  David and I didn't make that dinner party.  Or any parties after that.  For a very, very long time.  We've gone to dinner with the adults in the group a couple of times in the past year or so, and I meet up with the girls on a pretty regular basis, but this was the first time since Eliza died that we were around everybody with all the kids.

It was fine--I didn't want to have a meltdown or anything.  It was nice to see everyone and to see how big the babies are getting--there's also a little boy who's a month older than Zu and a little girl who's a month younger (both have older siblings).  Zuzu and Evie even wrestled a bit over the Cozy Coupe.  But David and I talked on the way home about how much we miss Eliza when we are with all of these families-of-four.

It just never stops sucking.  The "big" little girls are taking dance lessons.  My friends are talking potty training and crib-to-bed transitions and where these kids will go to kindergarten.  I can listen to these conversations without crying (that's called progress, my friends!).  I don't even have to fake interest or pretend to be okay when it feels like my insides are melting.  I can really handle it.  But there is something totally surreal and breathtaking about watching my best friends live my alternative life--the one I might have had if both my babies had lived instead of just one.

These days, I don't feel bitter or angry or resentful about it.  I'm happy for them and I love their kids.  I just feel sad for me.  I just want it to be me, too, buying leotards and ballet slippers and princess underwear.  I just want Eliza in the mix.

It's a million times easier than it was--I mean there was a time when I couldn't be around any kids who were close to Eliza's age and not lose it.  But it also struck me what a life sentence it is that we're facing.  Their kids will always be doing stuff that Eliza will never do at precisely the time she would have done it.  Their lives will always be eighteen months ahead of mine when it comes to raising kids.  Their families will always be complete while mine will always have someone missing.

I remember my mom telling me about a classmate of hers who died in grade school, and how every milestone of his classmates--driving, prom, graduation, and then college graduations and weddings and class reunions--was one more thing his mom witnessed as a reminder of all her son had missed out on.

I would have never thought it would hurt the same for a baby who never lived outside my belly.  I could have never imagined that my love for her didn't require her to be alive.  I would have never understood how much I would mourn both my daughter's life and the life I would have had if she'd lived.

I'm grateful my friendships have survived the wreckage.  I think I need to try harder because my instinct for so long was to distance myself from things like family BBQ's and kids birthday parties (we haven't been to a single one besides Zuzu's since Eliza died) and I know we've missed so much.

It's just that we still miss her.  So much.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Walk to Remember

Our Walk to Remember is coming up in October.  The first year after Eliza died, I was still too crushed with grief to feel up to attending.  Last year, we showed up with her little sister in tow.

more pics here
 This year, we plan to attend again.

I've written about this before, but the first person I e-mailed after Eliza died was a woman named Kate, whose e-mail address was listed on the Glow in the Woods website.  It turned out that she hadn't contributed to the website in sometime, but she wrote me back quickly, kind and knowing and comforting words that were the first balm of shared experience on the great and gaping wound in my heart.

We didn't carry on a lengthy correspondence after that--just a few e-mails here and there--but since that first compassionate reply she sent, I've basically hero-worshiped her.

She speaks each year at the Walk to Remember in her area.  You can read her beautiful, moving, and painfully true words from this year's walk here.  Of course the whole thing is wonderful, but this was part when I felt like she was speaking to me, to the me who stills cries in my office on a Friday afternoon, to the me who feels like maybe it's been too long and nobody except for other BLMs wants to hear about how much Halloween hurts my heart, to the me who wants to know more than almost anything in this word if Eliza would have blue eyes like me, or hazel ones like her dad and sister, to the me who is sometimes still overcome by the sense of how much I failed her:

Don’t ever apologize for being sad. A child in a wartorn country does not need to say she is sorry for stepping on a landmine. Don’t apologize for making other people uncomfortable with the fact that you’ve just gotten gaping chunks of your body blown off. I’m sorry. I’m a mess. I’m so sorry. You don’t need to be.
Don’t apologize for speaking to the dead. Don’t apologize for hearing them speak back. This is ancient magic, the truest truth.

Don’t apologize for no longer fitting into the ideal—not even inwardly, to yourself. Don’t apologize to your baby, taking on what feels like the failure of your body. If you do, and if you listen, you will sense it: baby will say Mama, that is going too far. Be gentle, mama.

I still reread her speech from last year.  I don't exaggerate when I say this speech changed my life by giving me another insight into love and loss. I love every word of it, especially this:

Loss is the human baseline. What happened to you -- to us -- was a horrible trauma. Such an injustice. Extraordinary. But the effect of it brings us home to the most fundamental human state: suffering.
We mark it with these balloons, hanging onto it thanks to a ribbon that tickles your palm. You might feel a strange re-enactment of loss, a little twinge when you let go, and then awe and wonder as it goes up, and up.
We don't just honour our babies when we let go. We honour what we lived through as the people who loved them. We mark our loss of faith, of our innocence, our obliviousness, our grace. We mourn those things as we mourn our children.
But there are things we've found, through suffering, and we note them too, as we let go. We've discovered truths, and strengths, whether it feels that way right now or not. Through our babies, as with all babies, we were given glimpses of otherworldly things we never would have noticed before.
One day you’re able to pause, and nod, and say without collapsing: I remember you, baby. And you sense a nod back from some other place. Not necessarily from your baby but from the sky, the wind, the weather. They approve of the way you tip your hat and continue on with ordinary things like a desperate craving or an afternoon with a book or a good sweat.
After a good cry (which I just had while writing this post), I try to take a deep breath.  And then when I let it out, I send out love into the universe.

I know it totally sounds like a weird hippie-dippie meditation sort of thing, but regardless, it works.  Physics tells us that energy never disappears, that is must be recycled and reformed.  Faith tells us that our loved ones are with us even after they're gone.  And so I will myself to believe that she can feel my love, and I let it go.

Love for Eliza, love for the other babies lost, especially right now the September babies like Otis and Olivia, and love for that little Liam, whose mom promised me that broken wasn't the same as ruined forever.

She was right.  I can say it now, without collapsing:  I remember you, baby.  And this year, again, I will walk and remember.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Today is Zuzu's final day of swimming lessons.  I declare them a success since she loves them and is fearless about going underwater, although she's actually a little less manageable than she was at the beginning.  She is self-assured and strong-willed and if she wants to play with the octopus toy, that becomes her central focus, even if we're not to that part of the class yet.  And although she enjoys collecting the rubber duckies, she does not want to drop them in the bucket.  She wants to hoard ALL THE DUCKIES.  Sometimes I feel like Swimming Lessons could be more accurately re-titled on Aqua Power Struggles with a 15-Month-Old.

And I have to tell you, my work week kind of feels like a swimming-related metaphor these days.  I told David on Sunday that it seems like after the weekend we take a deep breath and dive in to the work week and we don't come up for air again until Friday night.  My days are a constant go-go-go of teaching and grading and meeting with students and meeting with colleagues and prepping to teach the next class, and then picking up Zuzu and playing and feeding and cleaning up after her and then we try to squeeze in a walk to the park before it's bath time and bed time and wine time for Mommy and then we get up and do it all again.  It's a good kind of busy, but it does feel overwhelming at times--mostly just because I'm only treading water at work.  Two of my three class-preps are brand new, so I'm not getting ahead and that is a stressful for me after my smooth-sailing part-time semester last spring.  I underestimated what this semester would look like.  But hey, we're already five weeks into the semester, which means we're practically halfway there!

I'm kind of glad swimming lessons are wrapping up because it's one less thing that I have to do at a certain time and place during my week.  At the same time, it's been really sweet to have Zuzu and Mommy time in a warm saltwater pool, even if it does involve four other toddlers and their parents.  Also, as I mentioned in a comment on Instagram, the locker room at the pool is Zuzu's new favorite place, with lockers being the new favorite toy/jungle gym.  This resulted in her first huge public meltdown last week when it was time to leave the lockers.  Actually, it was time to go into the restroom so Mommy could pee and while I was doing my business, Zuzu flung herself down on the floor screaming and tried to reach her hand underneath the door in a desperate bid for escape.  Perhaps so a passer-by would take pity on the chubby little hand and her wild banshee shrieks would attract a rescue? Or maybe she thought she could stretch and reach the lockers?  I'm not sure what the logic was because all I could think about was how disgusting it was that my kid was crawling on the floor of a bathroom.

Zuzu is not much about the cuddle time these days--she wants to be on the move constantly and then even at bedtime she's not much interested in quietly being rocked.  We read a few stories but once I turn out the light and start singing, she will literally lunge for the crib, like Just put me in bed, woman, and leave me alone!  (Or maybe it's a comment on my singing!  This has just occurred to me.  How embarrassing!)

I'm not complaining--I remember when I thought she'd NEVER go to bed without tears!  But it is a little bittersweet to not get extended snuggles every night.

She made up for it this morning, though, after getting dressed, when I hugged her and asked her to "give Mama some love" and she wrapped her squishy little arm around my neck, and patted my back with her other hand.  Swoon.

Nekkid baybee

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dumpster Diving FTW! Again.

So a long time ago, back at the old house, David and I were going somewhere and as we pulled out of the garage, I saw two little brown chairs by the dumpster.

They were nothing special, but they had simple lines and they were just sitting out by the trash, so I decided to rescue them, DIY blogger style.

David was not excited about this plan because he does not like half-finished or never-really-started projects sitting around, while my whole life is basically a series of half-finished or never-really-started projects that keep me busy.  Anyway, this was still in my post-Eliza haze and considering it was probably the first time I'd shown interest in anything beyond watching countless episodes of Say Yes to the Dress, David obliged me by pulling the chairs out of the garbage and putting them in our shed.

And they lived there for two years.

Not so cute.  YET.
I imagined painting them a bright cheerful yellow, and I even brought some navy flowered fabric to recover the seats, but we had nowhere to put them in our little house and I never really had the time or inclination to tackle this project.

When we moved, David wanted to leave them at the old house or throw them away.  I insisted that they move with us.  You never know!  They are my project!

So he loaded them up and moved them to the new house.

As he was putting together my Very Fancy Italian Marble Bistro Table, I was spray-painting our kitchen bar stools to cute them up a little so they wouldn't feel so underdressed next to the Very Fancy Italian Marble Bistro Table.

Looking a little blah.

All taped up and ready to go!
The paint job turned out really cute.

Looking shiny and new!
But I had a big "doh" moment when I discovered that 24" stools don't really work with a 30" table.

Should have seen this coming...
What a needed was a pair of small chairs.

DING DING DING!  I had the perfect pair of chairs, sitting out in the garage.  I believe they had been waiting their entire lives for this moment!

I've been waiting my whole life for this moment!
So David sanded them, I spray painted them, and then he helped me recover the seats.

The original seats were covered in a super ugly brown vinyl and there was no cushion to speak of.

Double U:  Ugly and Uncomfortable
I went to Hancock's fabric and, via a major texting session with Crafty Cousin Amanda, decided to buy two squares of 1" seat foam, a yard of batting to wrap around the foam, and a yard of gray and white home decor fabric that was 54" wide.

Decisions, decisions.
The foam squares were $7 but were on sale, the batting was $2/yard, and the fabric was 50% off which made it $12.99/yard.  Total spent was around $30.  Plus three cans of spray paint, which was about $18.

We decided not to remove the ancient vinyl, which was held in place by a ridiculous number of tiny little nails.  I just layered the foam over it and then wrapped and stapled the batting around it to keep the foam in place.

Foam, cut to fit the seat.
And covered with batting.
Then I cut the fabric to fit and wrapped it around the seat and the cushion just like I was neatly wrapping a present.

These are actually David's hands.
I definitely needed David's help because it took two of us to hold the fabric in place and staple it securely.

I hammered in a few staples to make sure they were flush.

Double C:  Cute and Comfortable
When we were finished, my little chairs salvaged from the alley had gone from this...

to this...

And now our breakfast nook looks like this:

At night because the light shining through the windows during the day makes my photos so backlit you can't see anything.
It's definitely a bright spot in our kitchen.

Breakdown cost of the table:
marble top: $40
table base (with shipping): $130
chairs:  $0 (salvaged from dumpster)
3 cans spray paint: $18
fabric and foam for cushions:  $30

Total amount spent:  $218 for a marble bistro table and two chairs.

Now I just need to work up the energy and find the time and convince my husband it's a good idea to paint our cabinets!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fashion Tips by Zuzu

If you are thinking about how to transition your summer wardrobe into fall, Zuzu would like to recommend legwarmers.

Rocking legwarmers before "school" today.

Is it just me or are they making the same face?

What else keeps you warm while looking so damn cool?  Even Cooper is impressed.

And while you don't necessarily have to choose pink chevron with ruffles, I can assure you that they'll earn you lots of compliments in the daycare circuit.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

You Might As Well Call Me Ma'am

Let's file this blog post under Reasons Why I May Possibly Be 100 Years Old.

I think I may be getting a head cold.  That also makes me cough.  But could possibly be allergies.  Or I may just be someone who constantly needs to have a kleenex tucked up her sleeve or down her shirt.

# # #

Today in class I had a back spasm.  Backstory:  (haha pun) I was gleefully throwing open windows in my house last week when the temperatures dropped and it appeared fall had arrived.  The window in my front room was stuck and I was standing on couch cushions trying to open it and as I wrenched it open, I also wrenched my back.  It hurt a lot for a while, then it only hurt a little, then I picked up Zuzu (this is why they say lift with your back, not with your legs), and then it hurt a lot again.  It's not been anything the occasional ibuprofen couldn't handle, but as I leaned over a desk today to help a student paraphrase Pope's Essay On Man (wearing heels, natch), I felt a shooting pain go through my low back.  If I'd been at home, I would have gasped and groaned and possibly fallen to the floor whimpering until David came to find me.  But since I was at work, pretending to be a Professional Working Adult, I continued to hobble around the classroom, talking students through their line-by-line paraphrases, and then when class got out, I went to my office to lock the door and do some yoga stretches and pop some advil.  I'm still in a lot of pain though.  Like maybe I need to see a chiropractor?  It's really ungood.

# # #

I made a passing comment to a student about how difficult research must have been before the internet.  He said something like, "Yeah, it must have been hard for you in college."  WTF???  I stared at him and then might have shouted when I said, "The internet was invented BEFORE I went to college!"  How old do these kids think I am?

Related:  My college freshmen talked a little bit about re-learning about September 11th.  They were first graders when the planes crashed into the twin towers, and they all said they remembered the day it happened, but they were in high school before they really were taught about what happened.

# # #

I've done some fun things this week--went to happy hour with work friends, played with Zuzu, watched Dexter with David--but one of the things that makes me happiest is referring to my list of Books I Want to Read and putting a bunch of stuff on hold through the library website.  The anticipation of getting the e-mail that my books are in, and going to the library with an empty bag to load up on books to read is enough to get me through the long days of grading student essays while having back spasms.

Related:  I'm on kind of a Bible kick when it comes to reading.  I'm not actually reading the entire Bible itself, although that's not a bad idea (maybe next year?), but I read A Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs, and I just put A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans on hold at the library, and Colm Toibon's A Testament of Mary will be waiting for me, too.

# # #

Okay, this one has nothing to do with me acting like an elderly person, but I have David's and Zuzu's Halloween costumes decided and now I have to figure out something for myself.  My university encourages faculty to dress up on Halloween.  I did not participate last year because Halloween was kind of a grief trigger for me and I was not in the best of spirits, but I am going to try to come up with something this year.

The thing is, I need it to be easy in the sense that I want to wear regular human clothes (no box of crayons or gigantic hotdog).  I would prefer to be a person rather than an object (in terms of Halloween and my general feminist philosophy, thankyouverymuch).

But it also needs to be kind of clever and also I'm thinking somewhat literary.  And I want it to be fairly easy to recognize.  So, for example, I don't want to be Emily Dickinson because I'd just look like myself with a bun and a Peter Pan color and no make up and people wouldn't know if I had on a costume or just wasn't feeling well.

I'm considering Medusa, which I think my students would think was funny (plus I taught Dante's Inferno last semester, so they should know who Medusa is!) but I'd have to figure out a toga?  And create a snake headpiece?

One of my friends suggested I be Mina Harker from Bram Stoker's Dracula, which is a possibility.  I'd just need fake blood to create vampire bites on my neck...  But I'm just not super excited about that idea.  And I'd look more like "anonymous vampire victim" or possibly "Bella Swan" instead of Mina Harker specifically.

Another friend suggested I dress up as Jonathan Swift and "modestly propose" that people eat lunch meat off a plate I could carry around.  It's a terribly clever idea, but (1) I don't have the wig for it; (2) it runs dangerously close to dead-baby-joke-territory so I can't really handle it; and (3) it would gross me out to have to carry around a plate of meat.

So...  any brilliant suggestions?  Bonus if it includes a cane to help me hobble around campus.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The It's Complicated

I have found myself thinking several times over the course of this past year, "I wish I were on"

I miss my friends from graduate school, who have moved far away, some of whom I know read this blog and keep up with me, but I miss out on their updates and photos and I especially miss their funny quips and clever observations and interesting links.

A couple of businesses I've been interested in purchasing from have pages instead of websites and you have to "follow" them on FB to get their coupons and discounts.

Many of my BLM friends have connected through FB and even have a private group for general kvetching and encouragement.

Many of my blogging friends also do FB and I'd like to see what they're up to on the days they don't have time to type a novel about it.

Oh--and I have to admit this is a HUGE one--to get Target's Cartwheel app on your phone, you have to sign in through  (I don't know when Target and FB got in bed together, but seriously.)

I had a FB profile before Eliza died.  I updated occasionally.  I "liked" stuff other people posted.  When I was bored, I used my phone app to scroll through and spy on people I knew from high school and was somewhat curious about but would never have wanted to have to actually talk to them.  (Just being honest.  You can probably see why I didn't win any popularity contests in high school.)

Deactivating my FB account was one of the first things I did in the early days after Eliza died.  I couldn't bear to post my loss on what was--for me--a superficial public forum.  I'd never taken FB seriously, and I felt uncomfortable when other people did.  I would "hide" political ranters (even if I agreed with them) because, DUDE, you're not going to convert anybody with your FB update.  I thought of FB as a shallow social network, a way to stay in touch but not connect deeply with anyone.

It was also a place to put forward an image of myself that was fun--lighter, easier, breezier than my real self.  It was like the abridged version of my reality, without any of the ugly or sad parts.

But when Eliza died, ugly and sad became my entire reality.

The day I got home from the hospital without Eliza, FB notified me that a friendly acquaintance from grad school who'd moved away the previous summer had sent me a message.  It said something like, "How are things going?  You're getting really close!  So excited for you!"

I went numb. I felt cold.  Then I started clicking frantically to deactivate my account.

Are you sure? FB wanted to know.

Yes, I'm fucking sure.

I'm sure I don't belong here anymore.  I'm sure I can't participate in a world of gleeful pregnancy announcements, what-I-had-for-lunch updates, unoriginal TGIF statements, vague song lyrics, chipper "I LOVE MY LIFE" statements (although, honestly, the more you say it, the less I believe you), smug I-ran-this-far-today reports, vacation photos, funny jokes, and general snark.  These things--all of which I had previously found at least unoffensive and at best amusing were suddenly hateful content, hitting me like a series of gut-punches without time to catch my breath in between.

Everything was about me and my grief and I had lost not only the desire but the ability to participate in a forum that couldn't acknowledge the depth and breadth of my loss.

I know a lot of people feel differently, but I've never been comfortable with FB as a place for sympathy or condolences.  Just like all the virtual strangers writing "Happy Birthday!" because FB told them it was my birthday, such comments felt meaningless to me, like people were putting on a show for someone else.

Maybe it was because I sometimes used FB in a snotty way--to roll my eyes or be judgy or feel lucky I wasn't in someone else's situation.  In my opinion, FB was a place to post silly things or funny things.  It wasn't a place to brag about serious accomplishments (I had a friend who wouldn't post about job interviews because she knew it might sting for other academics in the dismal job market) and it certainly wasn't a place to advertise your failures.

Pages dedicated to lost loved ones, RIP messages--they just felt out of place and inappropriate to me.  They made me uncomfortable because I didn't know how to respond to something so serious in a forum that I had never taken seriously.  (Do I "like" a comment about something sad?  Do I comment on it?  But I don't know what to say...  And I don't really "know" this person that well...  Why are they making me think about hard things when I'm just killing time on FB?)  Now I understood the desire in a way I never had before, and I know many people have found great comfort through communities on FB.  But I'd never thought of it that way, and I felt as though I'd gone from mingling at a party where we were all having fun to being cast out and marked as an object of pity--the only person in my friend list whose life had just been shattered.

(As for that well-meaning and friendly acquaintance who happened to send me a message on December 5th?  I'm assuming someone told her my baby died, but I never heard from her again.)

It wasn't like I was a total fake on FB, but it was a place where I put on my "public face."  There was nothing on FB that I wouldn't be comfortable sharing with my students or the dean of academics.  It was personal without being intimate.  It was a depiction of the surface of my life.  At its shiniest and most amusing.

Eliza's death wrecked the surface of my life and everything underneath it.  I couldn't put on a happy face with her gone, and I wasn't willing to share my most intimate grief with my FB "friends" either.

Also, there was this:  When Eliza died, lurking under my breathtaking grief and my gut-wrenching disappointment, I felt really ashamed.  Ashamed and embarrassed that something was wrong with me or with my baby and this pregnancy I had been so delighted in, so proud of, so happy about, had gone so wrong.  Something was wrong with me and my baby.  We never learned what that "something" was, but it wouldn't have made a difference.  I had failed.  I had failed to have a healthy baby.  I had been profoundly disappointed after being so smug and so sure that I would bring my baby home.  And I couldn't bear to post that failure on FB.

To be honest, there was also this:  I couldn't stand to see other people's success.  Pregnancy announcements, baby pictures, funny stories, potty-training complaints--oh, hell, complaints about anything related to kids--were suddenly too much for me.  I knew I couldn't take it.  And so I took myself out of it.  As much as I'd like the Target cartwheel app, I haven't regretted that decision.

But I've started to wonder...  Has it been enough time?  Could I handle it now?

I am pretty good at being able to celebrate other people's happiness with them.  I might grit my teeth as I smile, but I don't wish them ill.  My heart will always ache for my baby girl, but I don't begrudge my friends their healthy babies, and I was genuinely glad to hear recently that someone I know is expecting after struggling for a long time to get pregnant.  I could definitely deal with--and participate in--the superficial nonsense that makes FB fun.  And, as I mentioned before, I really would like to keep up with friends who are now far away.

But somehow, I'm not quite ready to get back on Facebook.  I'm not ready to reactivate an account that was frozen in time the day after my daughter died.  I'm not ready to look back at my timeline and see the person I used to be.

FB is not an accurate depiction of anyone's life.  It's certainly not a place to measure success and failure.  But for me, it's a measure of the difference between what I thought my life would be before December 6, 2010 and what it is now.

I have a good life now.  I'd go so far as to call myself lucky, even.  But I'm also a bereaved parent, broken-hearted and missing my first girl.  Most of the time, I'm starting to find myself resigned to this path, doing what I can to make the most of this life, and appreciating all the good things (and people) my life has in it.  It's just that FB throws into sharp relief the crushing disappointment of losing not only my baby but my entire future as I once believed it would be.

FB is a painful reminder of the moment that everything changed.  It's become more than it ought to be in my head.  It's taken on a larger significance than it deserves.  I'm kind of hoping that one day I'll get over myself and decide I want the cartwheel app more than I want to be freaked out by FB.  I know I can downsize my friends list and be selective and private and hide people and whatever.  I don't need to let it be bigger than it really is.  It doesn't have to be a metaphor.  It can just be what it is.  But... I'm still not quite ready for it.

It comes down to this:  I wish I could be the person I used to be on  It's just that nothing is that simple for me anymore and as far as I'm concerned, FB is not a place where I can explain why It's Complicated.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Weekend Update

This week my daughter rejected me for a piece of apple pie.

I picked her up early from daycare on Friday, but I happened to get there right at snack time.  Zuzu came running over to me and wanted to give me a hug, but when she realized we were getting ready to leave, she wiggled in my arms and reached for her teacher.  I handed her over so I could gather her things to leave, but then she started fussing.  She did not want me; she didn't want her teacher to hold her, either.  She wanted to sit at the table so she could have her snack.

We discussed the possibility of wrapping up Zuzu's pie and taking it to go, but she was getting pretty insistent about wanting snack (she and her friend Maggie were whining pretty obnoxiously while the other children sat quietly).  So I shrugged, told her teacher I'd be back after snack time, and I left and ran a couple of errands.

Fortunately she was glad to see me when I returned, so I tried not to let it hurt my feelings too much.  And the apple pie (fresh from the oven) did smell really good.

# # #

My parents came up this weekend and Zuzu had a blast playing with them.  Each time they are here, she has more and more fun.  Perhaps because this time they brought her a tent and a kid-sized table and chairs and two dolls?  And then they proceed to be totally available and willing to do whatever her heart desires.  Want to be pushed in the Cozy Coupe?  Done!  Want to have a tea party in your tent?  Done!

So she rides the Grammy-and-Gramps high for forty-eight hours, and then we basically have to detox after they leave.  It's not like we ignore her, but Mommy and Daddy are not nearly as fun as the grandparents.  Life is much harder after Grammy and Gramps go home.  For all of us!

# # #

Sherwin Williams is having a 40% off paint sale starting September 20th.  My living room is getting repainted.  David is not thrilled about this, but it has to be done.  I am determined.  Color is still somewhat TBD but it will be less of a gray and more of a greige.  Thrilling, I know.

I also might splurge for a quart of paint for the backdoor.  Votes for color are kind of inspiring me.  Maybe I'll go for kind of a wine-red?  Pinot noir?  Mmm.  Sounds good.

# # #

I pulled out some fall decorations today.  I like putting up fall decorations.  I can remember as a kid getting super excited to put up seasonal and holiday decorations at home, and I want to create similar memories for Zuzu.  I love all the stuff people love about fall--jeans, boots, hot drinks, cool evenings, pumpkin patches, and chili, but there's also a trepidation that comes with this season.  Fall decorations mean that winter will follow and before I know it, the cold dark days will be an unwelcome reminder of the coldest, darkest days of my grief.  And then it will be December and that month will find me not planning a third birthday party but bundling up to stand outside in the dark and light a candle for my other daughter--the one who doesn't get to celebrate Christmas with us, the one who's not here to get excited about pumpkins and black cats.  Seasons change but I never stop missing her and it never stops sucking.

But I do have some sparkly pumpkins on my mantle.  Zuzu and I both like sparkly pumpkins.  Sparkly pumpkins for the win.

# # #

Little Mac joined my parents for this weekend visit.  We usually pay for them to board her when they come here, but this time I said they could just bring and we'd see how she did.  She had no accidents inside, but I think that's mostly because the weather was so nice she enjoyed being outside.  If it had been cold or hot or rainy, it probably would have been a different story.  She got groomed while she was here so she left looking spiffy and she was out of our way for the greater part of Saturday, which was nice.  Zuzu found her quite amusing but didn't mess with her too much.  Still, between the baby terrorist and the many sets of stairs, it was clear to all of us that Mac's living situation with my parents is the best solution for everyone (except, perhaps, my parents!).

# # #

You guys.  Brace yourselves.  I don't think I'm going to make my Read 100 Books This Year goal.

I know.  Sad, isn't it?

But in retrospect, doesn't that goal seem kind of absurdly ambitious?  Why didn't I make it my goal to read 50 books this year?  Or 52?  A book a week.  Doesn't that sound impressive?  Instead I had to get all super goal setting and crazy and say ONE HUNNERT BOOKS and now I'm at this place where I can read 50 books this year and still be only HALFWAY to my goal.  50% is an F, in case you were wondering.  Ugh.

I've read 49 books as of today.  Not too shabby, really.  Until you consider that we are halfway through September--the NINETH month of the year--which means I have read less than half the books I am supposed to read and I have only 3 months to read 50 more books.  Actually 51.  I'm a fast reader, but there is NO WAY.

Plus I'm participating in NaNoWriMo again this year (I flunked out in 2011 but I swear that was only because I was newly pregnant with Zuzu and could not stay awake later than 8:30pm ever).  This year the English department at my university is making it our thing and having write-ins at the campus coffee shop, so I'm planning to participate again, which is great, but leaves little time for reading.

The lesson here is that reading books is great but I can't be as ambitious as certain blogger-friends I know.

My revised goal is 60 books.  If I read eleven more books in the next two and a half months, I'll call it good.  It's a D-.  That's passing.

# # #

I also packed away a few of Zuzu's summer clothes this weekend, and pulled out cute stuff for fall.  I've said before that I will never lament how fast she's growing up because I'm so eager for her to reach the next stage, to be here and alive and growing and excited about reading books beyond Good Night, Moon and I Am A Bunny (although I do love both those books) and I want to celebrate all her milestones since I've missed out on all those experiences with Eliza.

But you guys.  I get weirdly sentimental about clothing (just as David about the bin of t-shirts I can't bear to part with) and it kinda kills me to know that I'll pack away these sundresses and rompers and they may never get worn again--they certainly won't fit Zuzu next summer!

At least she has plenty of adorable clothes to grow into, thanks to darling hand-me-downs from our friend F.  That helps ease my growing pains.

I do adore Toddler Zuzu--her determination and her enthusiasm and her hilarious faces, but I do miss Baby Zuzu and her snuggles and quiet contentedness.  And you know I love a girl in a summer romper.

August 2012

September 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

To Cheer Yourself

I started reading the Happiness Project blog several months after Eliza died.  It was kind of a perverse experiment, I think, because I felt that I shouldn't try to be happy and yet I was so sick and tired of being sad.  I didn't think there were small things I could do to make myself feel happy when I still felt so overwhelmed with grief, and yet I was starting to realize that I was finding pockets of enjoyment.  I felt weird and conflicted about it--how could Say Yes to the Dress make me "happy" when my baby was dead?  But it was also such a relief to let myself feel something besides overwhelming anguish every moment of the day.

I sort of hated the blog--it often seemed like the self-assured privilege of someone who had never experienced grief like mine writing so confidently about how to be happy.  But sometimes there were things that reminded me that the reason we think about happiness is because we often--all of us--experience its opposite.  One of the things I happened upon was a list of "Nineteen Tips" for cheering yourself up--written by a guy named Sydney Smith to his friend, Lady Morpeth in 1820.  I don't know why Lady Morpeth was unhappy, and I wonder, when she received his letter, whether she felt his list was obnoxious and stupid.  If she was in the early dark days of grief, she undoubtedly did.  But if life was starting to hold a flicker of interest for her once more, she just might have started to realize that maybe there was happiness to be found in some of the things on this list.

The ones that really resonate with me are 3, 8, 15, and 17.

“1st. Live as well as you dare. 
2nd. Go into the shower-bath with a small quantity of water at a temperature low enough to give you a slight sensation of cold, 75 or 80 degrees. 
3rd. Amusing books. 
4th. Short views of human life—not further than dinner or tea. 
5th. Be as busy as you can. 
6th. See as much as you can of those friends who respect and like you. 
7th. And of those acquaintances who amuse you. 
8th. Make no secret of low spirits to your friends, but talk of them freely—they are always worse for dignified concealment. 
9th. Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you. 
10th. Compare your lot with that of other people. 
11th. Don’t expect too much from human life—a sorry business at the best. 
12th. Avoid poetry, dramatic representations (except comedy), music, serious novels, melancholy, sentimental people, and everything likely to excite feeling or emotion, not ending in active benevolence. 
13th. Do good, and endeavour to please everybody of every degree. 
14th Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue. 
15th. Make the room where you commonly sit gay and pleasant. 
16th. Struggle by little and little against idleness. 
17th. Don’t be too severe upon yourself, or underrate yourself, but do yourself justice.
18th. Keep good blazing fires. 
19th. Be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion. 
20th. Believe me, dear Lady Georgiana."

#3: I found solace in books--first ones that were all about grief, and then ones that were not about grief at all.

#8: I found comfort in talking freely about my low spirits with friends who understood.  It's true that "they are always worse for dignified concealment."  Nothing was harder than getting through a day (or a conversation) pretending to be okay when I wasn't.

#15: I diverted my attention from grief to repainting and redecorating my living room.  I was amazed that I was capable of distraction, and it was a relief to fall asleep thinking about curtains instead of crying myself to sleep.

#17: It was difficult not to be too hard on myself.  I often felt like I should be feeling better and then, occasionally, like I should be feeling worse.  Grief gets more complicated when guilt intrudes.  The idea of going easy on yourself reminds me of "When you're weary, find relief. When you're strong, find delight."  Once I gave myself permission to do that, it was easier to get through the bad days and the good ones.

Now that I find myself upon more even ground with my grief--always carrying it, but balancing it in a way that seemed unimaginable at first--I think it's kind of amazing that two hundred years hasn't done much to change what makes people feel cheerful.

A few of my BLM friends have hit the three year mark of their losses in August and September, and I think their anniversaries have stirred up a lot of sadness for me, as I grieve for them and for myself.

I miss Eliza so much, even though I think most of the time these days I feel pretty happy.  It's a strange place to be--to be constantly aware of an aching loss and still have the capacity to be cheerful and truly enjoy myself.  Like learning to walk after an amputation?  C.S. Lewis offers that metaphor for grief and it's one I've always thought apt for describing the colossal damage of having to live without someone you love so much.  The emptiness is there, but life hasn't lost its flavor.

And so I think I need to try to see as much as I can of friends who respect and like me, to attend to the effects of tea and coffee, and to keep good and blazing fires (weather permitting).

I also need to finish the chairs to go with my table so that the room where I commonly sit will be gay and pleasant.  That should cheer me up.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Doors

When I was in high school and my high school boyfriend broke up with me for a red-haired girl, I was super sad/mad about it so I did what seemed like the right thing at the time:  I started dating one of his friends.  This guy had a Doors poster up in his bedroom and I also liked the Doors.  Seemed as good enough a reason to go out with someone as any. Because people are strange when you're a stranger.  Or when you're a teenager making lame decisions.

Anyway, despite our mutual appreciation for the Doors, that relationship was ill-fated, as one less angry about getting dumped for a red-haired girl could probably have determined from the start.  After one disastrous date, we never went out again.

But today I've been thinking about doors, which made me think about the Doors, which led me to open this blogpost with an anecdote completely unrelated to the rest of the post, therefore resulting in this awkward segue.

Now onto the real stuff.  Here is the backdoor to our house:

(ignore the shelf with the one plant in the center--I'm not finished with it.  Also, hey Coop.  At least for once you're not photobombing with your butthole.)
I do not love it.  It is not wooden.  It is metal.  Metal made to look like wood looks like fake wood, if you were wondering.  It feels very "country" to me (much like the light switch plate next to it, which I'm so over).  We also put up bamboo blinds back here for just a bit of privacy and the whole room, with the brown couch and wooden entertainment center, feels so brown.

The door had to go.

I had most of a quart of gray paint (Seal by Martha Stewart) leftover from painting the front door at our old house, so I decided to just use that since it was (1) free and (2) available the moment I decided I could not want another moment to do this.  So on Sunday afternoon when Zuzu went down for her nap, I turned on season 2 of Scandal (I'm obsessed and I totally want the coat that Olivia Pope wears in this season) and busted out the painting supplies.

I ended up with this:

You can see I've "styled" this corner by adding a flashlight to the shelf, our swim bag on the bench, and a pair of flip flops, Coop's dog chew, and a pair of socks on the floor.  This style is called "lived in."
It's okay.  I like it better than the fake-wood-brown, but I don't love it.  I actually really like the color itself (if you're looking for a true, dark gray, I recommend it!), but I don't care for the way it looks with the wall color (they are a grayish color that I like just fine, except for next to the gray door where the previously-gray walls suddenly look... kinda brown).

The problem is, I'm not sure what I would like better on the door.  I was considering a punchy color--like a bright red, or maybe the slate-blue from the dining room--but I don't know that I want the door to be such a focal point since it's on a main wall in the family room.

Now I'm thinking I'll probably end up repainting it in the glossy black I had originally planned on.  (Too bad I didn't have black paint on hand.)

What do you think?  Keep it gray?  Paint it black?  Paint it blue?  Paint it red?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Kitchen Table

I've been on the lookout for the perfect kitchen table since we moved.  Our kitchen has a small space where the bay window pops out that creates a little breakfast nook, but "little" is the operative word.  I needed a bistro table, and it couldn't be more than 30" in diameter.

First, I fell in love with this beauty from West Elm (I found this image online but it is no longer available on their website):

formerly available here
I still think it's gorgeous.  For a while, I thought it was the only table in this world I'd ever love.  But then I met this one from Anthropologie:

available here
It's got a crank!  That adjusts the height!  Isn't it cute?  It's name is Kendall!

I pretended that I was trying to decide between these two tables, but the truth is that they each cost $500 PLUS shipping, and with shipping costing at least $75, that was significantly more than I wanted to spend.  So after a flirtatious online relationship that consisted of me looking at them everyday just in case they went on sale for 50% off, I broke up with both of them.  You see, I'd fallen in love with something else:

formerly available here
This was PERFECT!  It was my dream table!  It was everything I've ever wanted in a kitchen table and more!

The only problem?  It was available on One Kings Lane (a member's-only shopping site) back in November.  As far as I could tell, the table no longer existed.

But there was no going back at this point.  My heart was set on a white marble bistro table.  I could not let this dream die.  So I resorted to desperately googling "white marble bistro table" on a daily basis.

And one day, I thought that I had found my happy-ever-after at Crate & Barrel:

available here
Then I saw that it was 36" in diameter (too big) and cost $899 (way too much).

Then I pouted.

Then I returned to Craigslist for the umpteenth time to see if, possibly, someone happened to be selling their darling French bistro table with a white marble top.  For, like, $200 or less.

It wasn't happening.

A lot of people were selling marble-top tables, but they were coffee tables or side tables, not bistro tables.

Then I started thinking...  maybe I could get a side table that had a marble top in the right shape and size, and I could just put that top on a different base?

The stars aligned and, lo and behold, I found this gem on Craigslist:

It was round.  It had a marble top that was 30" in diameter.  Best of all?  The seller wanted $40 for it.  Totally in my price range!

I e-mailed the seller:  "I love this table!  Can I come pick it up tonight?"

She called me to let me know that she had someone coming to look at it already.  But if they didn't want it, she'd let me know.

I cursed Craigslist and my broken kitchen table dreams.

The next evening, I had just finished feeding Zuzu dinner and cleaning up her post-bean-burrito mess when I saw I had a missed call and voicemail.  The guy who had said he wanted to come look at the table was a no-show.  It was mine if I wanted it!

I called the lady back, all breathless and worried that since I hadn't answered my phone she'd moved on to the next person on the list.  Fortunately the table was still available.  After she told me her location, I said I'd have my husband come by after he got off work the next day (it was on his way home).  She was suspicious:  "Is he really going to show up?"  I assured her that he is very reliable and mentioned that he's an elementary school principal and therefore by definition not a criminal or a pervert.

I was super excited!  I was getting my marble table!  Well...  I was getting a marble side table.  That wasn't super attractive except for the slab on top.  And I wasn't sure how I was going to magically transform it into a kitchen table.

I started having second thoughts.

Where would I find a base?  What if I couldn't easily get the marble top off?  What if the thing is in totally crap condition?  What if it's fake marble?  How could I tell?  What is faux marble made of, anyway?  Is it going to look stupid?  Should I just keep looking for a bistro table already put together rather than trying to build my own?  Did I just waste $40 when I could have saved it toward a table I love?

I e-mailed Crafty Cousin Amanda and my friend K to get their thoughts.  They are both unafraid of DIY projects, and I admire their decorating styles, so I trusted them to tell me if I was going off the deep end.

But they both said that, for $40, the table was a good deal.  CCA told me I might as well get it and if I changed my mind, I could always sell it on Craigslist later.  And K assured me that I wouldn't have too much trouble finding a table base.

So David brought the table home.  It's not in perfect condition by any means--there is a small chip on the edge and a hairline crack that's a few inches long--but it's still a very pretty marble top.

 And it had this on the underside:

So now it is my VERY FANCY ITALIAN MARBLE table.  Number 6399.

I called a local restaurant supply store to ask about table bases but they had the very basic table bases, which, based on the guy's unenthusiastic description of an extra table base he thought was floating around their warehouse, I pictured looking something like this:

The price was right (the guy actually said, "If I can find it, I'll sell it to you for twenty-five bucks") but it wasn't quite what I had pictured.  I wanted to put my Very Fancy Italian Marble on a Very Fancy French Bistro Base, you know?

So I began extensively researching table bases.  By which I mean, I googled "table bases" and went to the very first site:

And I found a bistro table base that was exactly what I was looking for.  Black cast iron, and reminiscent of a Parisian sidewalk cafe (or possibly a Midwestern ice cream shop--whatever, I like both Paris and ice cream).  It was $115, plus $15 for shipping, which I thought was quite reasonable, considering that we needed something very sturdy to ensure that the heavy marble top wouldn't be at risk of tipping over (especially if a certain little someone decided to give it a good yank).  It still put my total investment at $170, which is considerably less than the $899 table I was drooling over at C&B.  So basically I just saved us $719 plus sales tax.  WINNER!

The base arrived yesterday and David assembled it first thing this morning.  Isn't it lovely?:

Then came the fun part:  disassembling the side table:

We decided to go ahead and re-use the wood top because it was sturdy and already the perfect size.  We found this scrawled across the top of it:

Well, it's upside down, but it reads "Associated St. Louis MO"
I don't know exactly what it means, but I like to think it was assembled locally.  From responsibly harvested wood.  (Just let me live my eco-friendly dream here with my repurposed second-hand furniture.)

So David popped the wooden top off the table.  It came apart easily and wasn't damaged in the process, but it was a little uneven where it had been attached to the side-thingies, so he sanded down the bottom of it so there wouldn't be any splinters or rough spots.  Then it was just a matter of drilling a few holes and attaching the base with thick, heavy-duty screws.

Once it was secure, we added the marble slab on top.  Ta-DA!

Not too bad for a Craigslist side table, huh?

Thursday, September 5, 2013


In the middle of August, on what was probably the hottest Saturday of the whole summer, my dad's family gathered together in the small town where I grew up and we had a memorial service for my Nana--my dad's mom.

Nana was diagnosed with lung cancer back in the spring.  We knew it was bad.  Nana made up her mind that she wanted to attend the family reunion over Memorial Day, be the featured quilter at Bushwhacker Days in June, and meet her youngest great-grandchild when my cousin had her baby in July.

Cancer was no match for Nana's willpower, and she did all of those things.

But then it was August.  Things got really bad really fast, and Zuzu and I made a mid-week trip home to say good-bye to Nana.  Even after that last trip, and after the memorial service, I don't think I will fully realize that Nana isn't here until we go home for Nana's Christmas.  I just can't quite picture it without her there, wearing that same Christmas sweater, her voice always carrying across the room--shouting over a game of dominoes, getting all riled up when she's teased by one of her grandsons-in-law, announcing that she loves us all but she needs a nap.  

Christmas:  When Nana forces everyone to pose for photos so she'll have something new to scrapbook!  You can see Papa is thrilled.
Nana was a big personality, a big presence.  She threw herself into her passions--sewing quilts, making scrapbooks, watching basketball, playing the slot machines at the boats, bragging about her grandchildren--and did these things with much creative energy.  She had no problem letting the boring things go--things like dusting, vacuuming, cooking--as she immersed herself in her hobbies.  (As a result, my aunt started hosting family holidays because Nana didn't want to bother with making her house presentable.  That meant she had more time for quilting, so we all got beautiful quilts for Christmas gifts.  It was really a win-win.)

I used to joke that Nana preferred the grandkids she gained through marriages over the grandkids who were actually blood-relatives.  The truth is that Crafty Cousin Amanda was always Nana's favorite (although my brother was a very close second), but it was also true that once you were in the family one way or another, there was no escape.  She was now Your Nana, too.  Even my high school boyfriend called her Nana.  I always loved getting a voicemail from her in her very distinctive voice:  "Brooke.  This is Your Nana."

At family holidays, Nana was always starting a game of dice or dominoes.  She was fiercely competitive, had no patience for those who got distracted by things like dessert, and she was not the kind of grandma who believed in letting the little kids win.  When I told my best friend from high school that Nana had passed away, she said, "I'll miss hearing stories of the funny and inappropriate things Nana would say."  Nana didn't have much of a filter.  Let's just say that a little name-calling over a game of dice was not unheard of.

At the family reunion in May.  I love the way Zuzu is looking up at her.  That dude who's not David is my brother.
Nana was stubborn and opinionated and kind of a spitfire.  She was also loyal and loving and she peppered her speech with the best adjectives:  "Isn't that marvelous?" she would say in response to good news.  Her verbs were great, too, and one of the last things she said to me, in a voice barely above a whisper, after I'd told her that Zuzu and I had to go back to St. Louis but we'd wanted to come and see her, was, "I'm so thrilled that you did."

Visiting Nana in July.  She lost her hair from chemo so she's wearing a fuzzy little cap.  Zuzu missed her morning nap so she snoozed next to Nana the whole time.
Her memorial service started at 11 o'clock in the morning and honestly it was so hot that I couldn't even really be sad about Nana because I couldn't focus on anything but the sweat that was literally pouring off my great-uncle's bald head.  Just as I was getting totally grossed out by my brother's soaking wet with sweat dress shirt, and squirming under a trickle of sweat running down my own back, there was a ruckus over to my right and we all realized that my cousin's husband--who had worn a suit jacket for the grave-side service--had gone ahead and passed out from the heat.  Big guys fall hard, and at 6'4", this one crashed.  

Nana would never have wanted for anyone to pass out from near-heatstroke at her funeral, but at the same time it seemed to sum up her personality--totally memorable, in unexpected (and kind of hilarious) ways.

Doesn't she look like someone who knew how to have a good time?
How do you sum up a life like hers?  Well, my aunt gave me all the info and I pieced it together here.

Photo quality is not great, but don't you love that chic veil and dark lipstick?
Nana would have gotten a kick out of seeing all the names of her kids, grandkids, great-grandkids listed (there are more than a few!).  She certainly filled up an incredible number of scrapbooks with our photos, newspaper clippings, letters, and drawings.

The best part of the day was sitting with my great-aunts, Nana's sisters, and listening to them tell stories about their childhood together.  (I'll have to post some of their tales another day, but suffice it to say that Nana was strong-willed from the very start--this appears to be a dominant trait in my family, as anyone who has ever butted heads with any of us could tell you.)

I would love for Zuzu to have this dress and this hair style.
I'm so glad Zuzu got to meet her Nana, and I'm so glad I have plenty of stories to tell her about the Nana who loved her so much but only got to hold her for a little while.

My favorite picture of Nana and Zuzu.  Zu was just two months old.
We miss our Nana, and we're so glad she was ours.