Friday, May 30, 2014

23 Months & Party Planning

We're exactly one month out from Zuzu's second birthday! We've waffled a bit on whether to have a party or just do a family celebration, and last weekend we decided that we want to do something simple that makes Zuzu happy, and I think we have a great idea in mind. I'm requesting no gifts and even though I had a lot of fun decorating for her Rainbow Party, we're really going to streamline things this year and keep food and decor as easy as possible. I've picked out invitations (my favorite part!) but haven't worked out any of the details yet. I'll keep you posted as those plans develop...

Zuzu at 23 months. I love when she scribbles with a pen on scrap paper. Partly because she's so seriously cute about it, and partly because she's quiet, content, and confined!

Planning birthday parties will always be a little bittersweet for me. It still feels like such a joy and a privilege to celebrate the day Zuzu was born, and doing it in the summertime means there are lots of possibilities for places and types of parties, especially for a girl who loves being "out-sigh!"

I felt lucky to have a July birthday when I was growing up and always felt kind of sorry for kids (like my brother in October) who had to go to school on their birthdays. (Treats at school didn't make up for summer days of fun, in my opinion). I frequently got to have pool parties or parties that involved being outdoors in some way.

When we were expecting a winter baby, I remember thinking a lot about how we would celebrate a birthday in the cold months, and dreaming of things like ice skating in Forest Park, taking groups of giggly girls to the movies, making a special trip to the American Girl doll store, going to the Fox theatre, and even renting a room at a hotel with an indoor pool. I knew we might have to get creative, but I was pretty sure we could come up with eighteen amazing ways to celebrate our girl, even if it was snowing outside.

Now we will (hopefully) have two summer birthdays to celebrate, and I will be thrilled to have two summer babies and two summer parties to plan. My grief is lighter this time of year, and that makes the whole process easier (although my heart will always ache for my good friends whose losses come in the sunny months of spring and summer). Birthday party planning may be easier when the weather is warm, but I'll always miss those winter celebrations I so vividly imagined. December 6th will never go by when I won't wish that we were figuring out how to throw another party for Eliza, instead of marking another year without her here.

Every year with Zuzu is a reminder of what a gift we've been given, but it's also a reminder that our other daughter didn't get to celebrate any birthdays, and there's just no way around the fact that it's really hard to deal with that mix of joy and grief. I ugly-cried after Zuzu's birthday last year because it had been so great and it was heartbreaking to think of the stark contrast between it and the one year anniversary of Eliza's birth.

But joy and grief are not a two-sided coin. I don't choose one or the other. I carry them both with me always. I'll never allow my grief for Eliza to prevent me from fully celebrating and appreciating Zuzu. But in much the same way, the joy that Zuzu brings us will never diminish or make up for losing her big sister. It's not a zero sum game, after all. One life doesn't balance death when it comes to babies or anyone we love. We just do the best we can to honor Eliza's short life and all she taught us about unearned, unconditional, unending love--and one way we can do that is by pouring that same love into planning a day to party like a two-year-old. (Hint: it will involve splashing!).

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Come and Paint On My Door

You may remember when I painted the inside of the back door?

And then I repainted it, but evidently I didn't blog about the re-paint. Anyway, inside it was a light gray (Martha Stewart Seal) and now it's a dark gray-blue (Sherwin Williams Peppercorn).

The outside of the door remained the faded fake wood grain. I was so over it. Going up to our backdoor was like entering a beige vortex of boring.

Caution: the beige vortex will suck you in with its blandness
So I decided to spice things up a little bit. A couple weeks ago when David and I went to Lowes by ourselves, I mentioned that I wanted to get some paint swatches.

Then my eye fell on a Pantone swatch called Haute Red and I realized there were no other colors. Every other red was too pink or too maroon or too orange. Haute Red was the perfect red. So I decided to throw caution to the wind and just buy the paint right then without taking home any swatches at all. Can you believe it? I'm such a risk-taker.

I asked for a quart of the red in semi-gloss and explained that my backdoor faces east and gets some pretty harsh sunlight in the mornings, so I wanted a paint that would hopefully resist fading. She recommended Valspar's Reserve Line, which is kinda pricey, but since I only needed a quart of it, I agreed. (Still, a quart is $18!)

When I came back to pick it up, there was a whole gallon of it waiting for me, and she explained that they didn't have the deep base I needed in the quart, so she gave me a gallon at the same price (normally a $50 gallon of paint!). I was super stoked about my good deal even though I don't really have anything else I'm planning to paint red at this moment. But after my mom saw the door finished, she decided to borrow the gallon to paint her front door.

The paint is an interesting texture--it's almost like a gel, which is awesome because it keeps it from dripping but still spreads really easily. Ideal for door-painting when you don't want to take it off the hinges.

Friday night, I filled up a bucket of soapy water and washed the door from top to bottom to make sure I had a dirt- and pollen-free surface.

Then when Zuzu went down for her nap on Saturday, I opened the door, put down a big piece of cardboard underneath, and got started.

I used a brush to get all the crevices in the panels and then used a small foam roller to get a nice smooth coat. I got great coverage with one coat, but it definitely needed a second coat. Then I just had to touch up just a couple places that I'd missed with my brush. We were fortunate that the weather was cool because we don't have a storm door and the door just had to stand open while it dried for four hours between coats.

Because the sun beats down on the door, I also wanted to put up an awning. However, awnings are pricy and with David landscaping the front yard, I didn't want to spend a few hundred dollars MORE on an awning for the back door. So I decided to make my own.

We followed pretty vague directions I found online to build the frame (my dad actually did most of that part of the project). That was the easy part.

Cooper models the frame

David models the frame
Then I totally guesstimated how to sew the awning out of outdoor material. It was not the easiest thing I've ever sewn. By a longshot. The actual sewing was a little tricky just because the material was bulky, but the hard part was figuring out how it would attach, how I could pull it tight enough to function as an awning, and how to do all of this and make it not look totally crappy. I thought I was cutting the two sides symmetrically but they ended up being uneven, which was really frustrating. That's why I don't have pictures of this part of the process. Because I was feeling stabby. (I actually had to walk away from it for about a week because I was so frustrated that I nearly slashed it to pieces with my sewing scissors at one point).

The problem was that I couldn't find a good online tutorial, and I wasn't sure how to put the cover together, so I just had to make it up. I ended up sewing a large hem that would slide over the top part of the frame horizontally and then attaching ties so that I could pull the cover taut and tie it tightly to the pipes. This works okay, but I am concerned that it's not taut enough across the top. We'll see how it holds up in the rain.

Things I would do differently if I were doing it over again:

- Buy 1/2" instead of 1" PVC pipe for the frame. We went with 1" because I thought it would be sturdier, and it probably is sturdier, but it's so big I think the piping is more noticeable.

- Spray paint the frame. I would have ORBed it to make it look like metal. Honestly, I could still do this since my canvas cover just ties to the frame, but that will require some motivation that I'm not sure I have.

- Have my Crafty Cousin Amanda help me cut and sew the canvas cover. I used muslin to try and make a pattern but I quickly lost patience with that and ended up flying a little too fast and loose with the canvas.

- Spray the canvas cover with polyurethane instead of (or in addition to) Scotch Guard. Which I could still do as well, assuming I ever get motivated enough to take the awning back down.

In the end, I think it looks okay, but only just okay. Definitely not like a professional awning. It does protect the backdoor from the blazing sun, and provides a bit of shelter from rain, but I don't expect it to last more than a season. I do have to say that it turned out better than I thought it would there for a while!

So it may not be most favorite DIY creation ever, but I believe all the materials came in around $60 total, which isn't bad, considering that the awnings I was looking at online started around $300. It will probably require upgrading in the not-too-distant future, but I'm calling it finished for now.

And I think it's still an improvement over where we started:


Monday, May 26, 2014

Meet My Lawn Boy

We took advantage of a three-day weekend and free babysitting (in the form of my parents being in town) to tackle some projects around the house.

David has been wanting to re-do the landscaping in the front of the house since the day we moved in.  Last summer, it looked like this:

What you can't really tell from this picture is that the garden bed in front of the house was messy and overgrown and a mishmash of things that we transplanted from around the backyard and brought up front. It's anchored by two large azalea bushes which bloom nicely in the spring but had not been pruned or cared for at all, so they were actually a tangled mess and the underneath was all brown and dead-looking. Last summer, David put a peony bush in the front and split and transplanted several hostas from our old house. So he made the yard look nice, but he had much bigger plans in mind.

He started with the big tree that is in front of our house next to the street. We'd had to pull out the ivy that had been growing around it because another vine had gotten in there and was strangling it all. At that point, David decided that he wanted to surround the tree with a small landscaping wall.  He promised me he was taking before and after pictures, but this is the closest "before" shot we got:

This was the smallest area he worked on, but it took the most time and energy. He had to cut away at a couple of big tree roots, but also countless small roots from the tree, the ivy, and other plants that had presumably been planted around the base of the tree over the years. Our neighbor The Block Captain, who is something of an amateur landscaping and doesn't mind doing some hard work to help out her neighbors, came over to lend him a hand and was a huge help.  Eventually, we ended up with this:

David's already seeded the dirt on the outside of the bricks so we're hoping grass will fill in pretty quickly. He planted liriope or "monkey grass" all around the tree because it's a very hardy ground cover and should grow well in the shade of the tree.

Once that was over, it was time to move to the house. David created a sketch, did a bunch of measuring, and placed an order for the stones he needed. His number would have been almost perfect except that he decided to make the far left wall higher in the end so that he could add more dirt above the roots of the dogwood tree we have in front of the house. So he had to make one more trip to the hardware store for 11 more stones. I was still very impressed by the accuracy of his calculations.

And I can't even tell you how hard he worked over the past three days. He was up early every day, digging out plants, stacking the stones for the edging, and carrying countless heavy bags of topsoil, sand, and mulch.

And looked good doing it!
David sketched out the shape of the garden based on leaving the azalea bushes in place and working around the dogwood tree. Everything else was up for grabs.

The Block Captain's teenaged son and a few of his friends arrived home and got roped into carrying bricks from the sidewalk up to the front of the house--they made quick work of what would have taken us much longer! We pulled up a lot of plants (being careful to save them) and started with a pretty blank slate.

The azaleas look pretty puny after being cut back, but they had to be trimmed up so that they'd fill in nicely. They had been neglected for too long.

Zuzu is always glad to be Daddy's helper.
Eventually, it was obvious that his hard work was paying off.

He was pretty worn out by Monday afternoon, but had managed to completely create, plant, and mulch the entire garden in the front of the house! And he had a lot of help from our neighbor, but still did much of this single-handedly.

view from the front porch
view from the front walk
The street-view makes it a little harder to tell what a significant change he made, but in person it looks absolutely gorgeous. And it's only going to get better looking as the plants grow and fill in.

I'm still kicking myself for not taking my own before pictures so that you could really see the difference. You'll just have to take my word for it.

I think this is David's version of "nesting." I kept suggesting that maybe we could just hold off and tackle this project next summer, but he pointed out that we'll have our hands full next summer and he really just wanted to git 'er done.

So that's our big Memorial Weekend project! I wish I could take credit for it, but this one was really all David.

And speaking of David's winning ways, a friend of mine attended graduation back in my hometown of Nevada, MO and texted me that David a.k.a. "Coach Duck" had gotten a shout-out during the graduation ceremony.

Some of you may remember the story of how David and I met. He spent two years teaching PE in Nevada before moving to St. Louis with me. Although he was only there a short time, he evidently made quite an impression on his students. The class president fondly recalled "Coach Duck" as the most memorable part of their kindergarten year and said IN HER SPEECH AT GRADUATION, "Even back then, we knew he was a hottie!"

What can I say? I'm a lucky girl to have this guy for my Lawn Boy.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Because I'm Not Writing Enough About Poop

Let me preface this story by saying that it is amusing only in retrospect because I really was not feeling well yesterday. I don't think Zuzu was either.

At least, I'm using that explanation as an excuse for the colossal meltdown she had when swimming lessons were over and it was time to get out of the pool--she tried to run and jump back in the pool without me, and when I wouldn't let go of her arm, she went boneless and lay on the concrete next to the pool, screaming and writhing. I had to pick up the wet and slippery and screeching toddler and carry her back to the dressing rooms, where she can reach the door handle (whose design idea was that, I'd like to know), and she continued to scream bloody murder when I prevented her from opening the door and running out of the room while I was in various stages of undress.

She was not pleased and just wanted "More swim!"

My mother is so cruel. Also, thirty minute swim lessons are a rip-off!
I'd texted David after swimming and asked him to please come home from work ASAP because I was really not feeling well. He ignored my text because evidently his job is important he had better things to do he enjoys coming home from work late and getting into an instant fight with a cranky pregnant lady who has a sore throat and has been dealing with a challenging toddler on her own.

Zuzu continued to push my buttons and do things that were deliberately naughty, like climb into her doll stroller (she's been told not to do this on multiple occasions after already getting stuck in the stroller TWICE). Sure enough, I was fixing dinner when I heard screeching and found this:

"Cuck! Cuck!" means "My meaty thighs are stuck in this doll stroller, please help!"
I valiantly tried to redirect her behavior. We played with her new pegboard, read a few books, watched an episode of Daniel Tiger, and after her "snack supper" of hummus and cheese and fruit (she still won't eat veggies), I collapsed on the sofa. 

So I'm lying there, wondering if I can get myself a popsicle without having to share it (for germ reasons, not selfish ones!), when Zuzu walks into the dining room, says, "Nasty poop!" and then proceeds to take off her own cloth diaper.

(By the way, we only use the word "nasty" to describe chicken poop when I'm telling her not to step in it in the backyard--she then started using the word to describe her own poops. This was a VERY ACCURATE description.)

This poop was not solid and the diaper was FULL. Gag-o-rama. But poop was also clinging to her butt and oozing down her thighs. And it SMELLED terrible. Gag. Gag. GAG.

So I drug my not-feeling-well self off the couch and picked up the disgusting diaper, trying not to dry-heave. I told Zuzu to come upstairs so she could get cleaned up.

Instead, she ran to the backdoor. Just to be naughty.

She can now reach the deadbolt, so we have to buy one of those childproof doorknob covers but that hasn't happened yet, which means that by the time I caught up with her, she was out on the patio, half naked and literally covered in shit.

Hello, neighbors!

I was not about to pick her up because then we BOTH would have been covered in poop, and I was already holding the revolting poopy diaper at arm's length. So I coaxed her back inside and up the stairs, promising "splish splash" time in the tub. She scurried upstairs and I trudged behind her, breathing through my mouth.

I decided to snap a picture of her hind-end to show David what I had to deal with while he was STILL AT WORK. I said something like, "Zuzu, please don't get that poop on the carpet." And she turned around, saw my phone, and posed like this with absolutely no prompting:

Sassy hand on the hip. Poopy butt blocked. You're welcome.
Clean-up required a shower because a bath would have been too disgusting. In fact, I still need to clean the tub when I get home today.

After bath, she didn't want to put a diaper on, and instead pulled these diaper covers out of her drawer and insisted on putting them on herself: "No, mine!" (This possessive covers a wide range of meanings, including "It's mine," "It's yours but I took it," "It's yours but I want it," and, "I'll do it myself!") The process kept her out of trouble for a few minutes, so I let her give it a go.

Hmm... Are both my legs supposed to be through the same leg hole?
I seem to feel a bit of a breeze on my backside...
To her credit, perseverance paid off and she finally got them on right:

This is right about the time David got home.  How convenient.  

Anyway, since she seems interested in putting on undies and not interested in carrying poop around in her pants, I'm hoping that I can get her excited about Big Girl Panties, and then we'll really be onto something... I'm keeping my expectations realistic, but it would be really awesome if she were out of diapers before Rerun joins in the pooping party.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

First Non-Stressful Non-Stress Test

This week marks 28 weeks and the start of the third trimester with Rerun.

My belly is big. As can only be expected from three pregnancies in four years and my abdominal muscles being super lazy.

Today I had two people tell me I was carrying the baby very well, which is sweet but I think mostly has to do with the fact that I'm wearing a black t-shirt and it really is slimming. Tricking the eye!

I was genuinely appreciative of those comments today, mostly because I remember getting a similar compliment from a woman at Trader Joes when I was pregnant with Eliza. It's nice to finally be able to think about being pregnant with her and remember some of the sweetness without it being entirely clouded by the sadness that followed.

Anyway, I had a doctor appointment today. I arrived a bit late for my appointment due to circumstances beyond my control (a train STOPPED on the tracks at the railroad crossing) and when I got there, an old lady at the front of the line was holding things up. Evidently she'd arrived for her appointment but the ultrasound tech was gone for the day, so she had to reschedule. She was NOT happy about this and she wanted to know who the tech would be at the next appointment and how old she was (she didn't want someone in their 30s--she wanted someone older). She wanted to talk to her doctor, but her doctor had also gotten called out on a delivery. I took this opportunity to go to the bathroom and leave my pee sample. When I came back out, she was STILL standing at the window, complaining to the receptionist. She didn't know why someone couldn't have called her. Jessica at her other doctor's office is always really good about that. She doesn't know if she should schedule this other appointment. She hasn't seen the doctor since October. Can't they see her sooner? What if this appointment gets cancelled? How long has this ultrasound tech been out of school? Is she really any good? Blah blah blah. So this conversation goes on and on and on. Since I got out of line to pee, another lady is in front of me behind the Complainer. Pretty soon there are two more girls in line behind me.

As we stood in line waiting, a really old lady was sitting on the bench next to the check in window. She was quite feeble and had a walker and a health aid worker there with her (who was also in line behind me on behalf of the Feeble Lady). The Old Feeble Lady asked me about my due date and whether it was a boy or a girl and told me that her granddaughter is due in September and is also waiting to find out. She also said she thinks I'm having a boy based on the fact that I'm carrying all out in front. But then she guessed that the girl behind me in line was due in November (she's due June 17th) and that the girl behind her was having a girl (nope, a boy). So I don't think she's psychic...

Anyway, we have these conversations while the Complaining Lady continues to bitch rescheduling her appointment. It really was ridiculous, but what are you going to do, right?  Well,the feeble old lady realizes that we're all pregnant and waiting and says SUPER LOUDLY, "WOW, THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WAITING!"

She then turns and stares pointedly at the Complaining Lady, who totally ignores her.

So then the Loud Feeble Lady looks at me and says, "I THINK SHE MUST BE DEAF."

I started giggling and exchanged glances with the lady in front of me.

Loud Feeble Lady says again, even louder, "THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE WAITING IN LINE."

Complaining Lady totally ignores her, and asks if Dr. W. is seeing a patient. I pipe up, "I'm here! I'm his patient!" but Complaining Lady ignores ME and the very nice receptionist fetches Dr. W. so he can talk this lady down (dealing with difficult patients is his speciality--trust me, I know!). Meanwhile, Loud Feeble Lady says again, "SHE MUST BE DEAF BUT SHE SHOULD BE ABLE TO SEE THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE WAITING!"

Complaining Lady finally turns around, totally ignoring Loud Feeble Lady, and addresses her daughter, who is sitting in the waiting room, asking if she should reschedule (LIKE THERE'S ANOTHER OPTION?). Her daughter says, "Yes, Mom, just take the next appointment. There are other people waiting."

Loud Feeble Lady joins in, "YES. THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WAITING. MY GOD."

So now I'm cracking up but trying not to be obvious about it so I busy myself digging for chapstick in my purse and the whole waiting room feels tense and super awkward.

Finally, Dr. W. appears and tells Complaining Lady that he thinks it was a great idea for her to reschedule and there's nothing to worry about and they will make sure her June 11th appointment went smoothly.

Loud Feeble Lady threw one more, "MY GOD THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE WAITING" out there, so finally her health aid worker was like, "Shhh." and she was like, "IT'S NOT RIGHT TO KEEP ALL THESE PEOPLE WAITING."

Basically the most entertainment I've seen in the OB waiting room ever.

Once I got in to see the doctor, it was my first non-stress test. 28 weeks is pretty early, but we lost Eliza at 34 weeks and 3 days so early monitoring seems like a very good idea to me.

I was scheduled to have a doctor appointment the day after Eliza was born, having previously seen my doctor at 30 weeks. Everything had been fine at that appointment, and at the two ultrasounds I'd had at 20 and 24 weeks (I had a second ultrasound only because she wouldn't let us get a good look at her heart at 20 weeks, but it appeared perfect at 24 weeks). In the meantime, I'd had no unusual symptoms or felt anything out of the ordinary until I went into labor.

Eliza weighed 3 lbs 9 ounces when she was born, which is a bit teeny for 34 weeks--babies are expected to gain about half a pound a week the last six weeks of pregnancy, which would have put her at around 6 and a half pounds if she'd continued to grow on schedule to 40 weeks, which is well within a normal range, but considering Zuzu was 8 pounds at 39 weeks 6 days, I just feel strongly that Eliza was smaller than she should have been at 34 weeks.

Based on that information, it's pretty clear that whatever went wrong occurred between 30 and 34 weeks, but because of her size, I think that something may have happened between my 30 and 32 weeks (I have no idea WHAT may have happened--I just think she was the size of a 32-weeker). I know that doesn't mean that we could have saved her--her autopsy results found no apparent cause of death, which is fairly common for stillborn babies--but I also know that there are babies born earlier than 32 weeks (some even before 30 weeks) who turn out to be just fine.

Anyway, all this means is that the first half of the third trimester is the scariest time for me, so I am all about the early monitoring so we can track how things are going for the entire last trimester and see if anything gets wonky. Of course, hopefully this will be as uneventful as it was with Zuzu. (Or, even better, LESS EVENTFUL).

(Side note: One weird thing about not finding out the gender ahead of time is that there is a bit of a disconnect for me between my pregnancy with The Deuce and Zuzu the Actual Baby. It's almost surreal to think back on the stress and anxiety I felt and realize that the baby I was carrying in my belly turned out to be our healthy, strong-willed, hilarious little girl.)

The plan this time around is to do weekly non-stress tests (last time I did them twice weekly, mostly to keep my anxiety at bay). If I need to move to twice weekly as my due date approaches, we'll do that. So I arrived at my appointment today a few minutes late, having gotten caught by a train that actually came to a FULL and COMPLETE stop on the railroad crossing. I called ahead to let them know, and the office was very nice and accommodating.

It was actually a surprise to me that I was able to do the non-stress test in my OB's office. They got a new machine to allow for this, which was a really pleasant surprise. Last time I had to have my monitoring done in the perinatal center at the hospital, which is huge and impersonal and full of techs who never looked at my file and just said, "Why are you here?" forcing me to say at the start of each visit, "My first baby was stillborn," which inevitably made me cry. JUST READ MY EFFING FILE ALREADY.

Then there was the issue with the less-than-stellar bedside manner of a certain doctor...

This way, I hang out by myself in my doctor's office. This means I do not have to listen to high-risk pregnant women COMPLAIN about having to be monitored (I understand that it's not easy to work a weekly appointment into one's schedule. I also understand that a minor scheduling inconvenience is preferable to having your baby DIE so SHUT THE F*CK UP.)

And my own OB is the person who is always reading the results. Last time (after the incident with the condescending butthead doctor), my OB hooked me up so I always had a follow up appointment with him immediately after my non-stress tests so he could see my results on the computer and go over them in detail with me. This way we have the same set-up, except I don't ever have to leave his office.

So I hung out for 30 minutes, checking my e-mail, eating a sucker, and listening to the sweet sound of baby heartbeat, my doctor said everything looked good, and I trust his opinion because he was there with Eliza and he knows what we've been through. It was such a relief.

And that's where we are. Third trimester. First non-stress test behind us. Nothing to do but wait and worry.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Return to Zero

Just a reminder that the film Return to Zero premieres on Lifetime this Saturday at 7pm. I wanted to write more about the film, but my friend and Cale's mom wrote this beautiful piece so I'm just linking to it because, yeah. What she said.

I know watching this movie will be hard. I will have to find an evening to do it after Zuzu has gone to bed when I don't need to function especially well the next day. I already have my DVR programmed to record it as we will be out of town this weekend.

It really sucks to know that most people--INCLUDING ME--won't want to watch a movie that is about the reality of my life. I hope people watch it anyway. Because it matters that we try to understand things we haven't experienced, and it matters that we are able to talk about and express experiences that are painful and difficult and heartbreaking. Watching this film matters, no matter when or where you do it.

David works late tonight and then has a man-date with one of his friends to go to the Cardinal game, so Zuzu and I are having a girls' night. As long as my energy keeps up, this will include laundry and cookie-baking and packing for a weekend in which the temperatures in Kansas are expected to shift from 75 degrees on Sunday to 98 degrees on Tuesday. Which is great because I love it when my under-boob gets sweaty. I mean, WHO DOESN'T?

In other news, Zuzu has very strong opinions about my singing, although they are entirely inconsistent. Sometimes she follows up an especially strong rendition of "The Ants Go Marching" or "Wheels on the Bus" with clapping and "Hooray!" Other times she stops me mid-chorus by screeching, "No, Mama!" It's only a little bruising for my ego.

I've also discovered Zuzu's first phobia: bees. Her daycare teacher is terrified of bees and was evidently "chased" by one outside in front of the kids. She spazzed out and even though the other teachers were laughing at her, Zuzu was evidently traumatized by watching her teacher freak out. The other problem is that Zu doesn't have a clear concept of what a bee is. So this morning, she starts screaming and crying in the kitchen, I race in to see what's wrong, and she's pointing at an ordinary housefly and sobbing, "Bee! Bee!"

I swatted the housefly and killed it and then tried to tell her that it wasn't a bee, it was a fly, and bees are our friends and bugs are nice when they are outside. It was a somewhat confusing mixed message, I realize ("This fly won't hurt you! Watch me kill it!"). She does recognize cartoon bees and pictures of bees in books but any bug with wings now seems to strike terror in her heart. I mentioned this to her teacher today, so I'm hoping we can work to un-do this irrational fear. Otherwise, it could be a very long summer in the buggy Midwest.

I have SO MUCH grading left to do. I've actually made great progress, but with 80-some students taking exams or handing in final essays, it's a slog to get through. I'm at the office this morning and heading to a coffee shop near campus with a couple of friends/coworkers this afternoon, so I hope to make good headway today. If I can get myself off the internet, right? Hmm... I need to prowl around campus and see if someone brought in donuts.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Action Verbs

I saw this a while back on another blog and thought YES that is what I should do instead of grading. You're welcome.

Making : Comments on student papers. A lot of, "I see much potential here, but this essay fails to meet some important requirements."
Cooking : If by "cooking," you mean "scooping ice cream," yes. Every evening.
Drinking : Water with lemon.
Wanting: to buy a lot of cute summer clothes that wouldn't fit over my belly
Looking: very pregnant, according to everyone and their dog, who seem to think I'm inviting them to comment on my stomach just by putting it out there in the world. My neighbor actually said, "I don't know how you can get any bigger!" Yikes.
Singing: "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed." Zuzu heard this song in the car on toddler Pandora radio and demanded "More! More!" then had a meltdown because Sorry, honey, Pandora doesn't respond to your voice commands! Me singing it for her in the car was insufficient: "No, Mama! No!" But this morning she asked for monkeys so we sang it during breakfast. She joins in on the doctor chorus so she can shake her finger, "No more monkeys!" 
Sewing: An awning cover (hopefully!) for our backdoor. Details to follow. Also on the agenda... summer dresses for Zuzu and curtains for our bedroom?.
Wishing: I didn't have to teach a class this summer.
Enjoying: Feeling movement in the belly.
Waiting: For my students to finish their final exam.
Liking: Sunshine after a long winter, although this week has gotten cloudy and cool again.
Wondering: If Rerun is a boy or a girl.
Loving: My crazy husband and his insistence on landscaping our front yard. I think it's his version of nesting, and I'm going along with it even though I personally think our time, money, and energy, could be spent elsewhere (or saved!).
Hoping: That eventually I'll have time to watch the last half of this season of Scandal. I haven't seen it since March and I really miss Olivia Pope and her fabulous wardrobe. 
Marveling: At how quickly August is approaching!
Needing: A chair for my new desk in the front room. (Details to follow as I hash out some possibilities... And decide how much I'm going to let the husband weigh in... Probably not much.)
Smelling: The French toast that David made Zuzu for breakfast. It smells better than it is because it's made out of the super healthy whole wheat bread that we buy at TJ's and it just doesn't do justice to French toast.
Wearing: An outfit that coordinates with Zuzu's. I swear I don't do this on purpose, but my subconscious mind likes to pick out outfits for the two of us that coordinate. Does anyone else do this? It's not like we're matching, but I'll go with similar colors or levels of dress/casual. (Although my Toms are red and hers are pink.) 
Reading: I'm reading One Hundred and One Ways by Mako Yoshikawa, which a friend lent to me ages ago and I never managed to start until a few days ago. It's really great, but last night I decided to take a bath and I wanted to read in the tub but I think reading a borrowed hard-back book in the tub is not a good plan (even when one's enormous belly leaves plenty of dry ground on which to rest a book), so instead I grabbed a paperback copy of Divergent. The bathwater got cold and I was still reading it, so now I have two really good books fighting each other to get finished.
Noticing: All the little things I want to do around the house this summer. My list of projects grows longer!
Knowing: That summer is going to feel very short since I'm teaching a 4-week class and having a baby during it.
Thinking: About all the grading of finals that needs to be done...
Feeling: Glad that my job allows me to work from a coffee shop.
Bookmarking: Closet organization ideas. It's one of my summer projects. Reorganizing all the closets. I'm psyching myself up with cute shelf-liner paper and some other fun possibilities. Metallic gold tape? Just think!
Giggling: at Zuzu. On my way to drop her off in the morning, we pass by a school with lots of buses so we often sing "The Wheels on the Bus." Her two favorite verses are when the horn goes "beep, beep, beep" and when the babies go "wah! wah! wah!" And when she sings the baby part, she scrunches her face up like she's fake crying and it's so cute and funny to me. It never fails to make me laugh.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Are You a Mom? Yes/No/Maybe.

Over the weekend, my mom and I went to Old Navy. She was looking for capri pants and I had $10 in Old Navy rewards to spend, so I thought I could probably pick up a little something for Zuzu (sure enough--found her a St. Louis Cardinals t-shirt!). 

Anyway, they were running a special over the weekend for moms who spent a certain amount of money and got a $5 gift card as a Mother's Day gift.

(I'm sure this seemed like a really good idea in theory to someone high up in marketing at Old Navy.)

So I'm checking out and the girl working the cash register is a teenager. I pay for my stuff. Keep in mind that I am seven months pregnant and have gained 25 pounds, pretty much all in my belly and my boobs (the thigh-spread will come this summer as I pack on another 15 pounds--just wait).

The girl looks at me and says, "Are you a mom?"

I said yes, because I AM a mom and what the hell, it's a free $5 coupon. I also wanted to say, "Are you EFFING kidding me? I had to use your restroom even though I peed right before we left home because this baby is kickboxing my bladder. Do I need to give birth in the store for this pregnancy for make me a mom?"

But I also couldn't stop thinking about how I would have answered that question just a few years ago.

Would I be a mom if my only child were stillborn? Would I be a mom if I were seven months pregnant with my first child instead of my third? What if this was my first pregnancy after having a stillborn baby? What if an adoption I'd had my heart set on had just fallen through? Would I be a mom if I'd already started buying things for a nursery even though I'd had three miscarriages in a row? Would I be a mom if my child had died before coming home from the NICU? What if I weren't pregnant but a surrogate was seven-months pregnant with my baby? Does that make me a mom? I mean, WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME, Old Navy? How are you defining motherhood? Is there an option besides yes or no? Could I attach an explanatory essay? Is the angst that this question has produced even WORTH a lousy $5 coupon? (In a word: No.)

If I had been asked that question the May after Eliza died, or even the May after that, I can pretty much guarantee that I would have started crying. Maybe I could have made it the car before I burst into tears. Maybe not. 

The fact is that it's a loaded question for a lot of people, people who are desperate to have babies or people who are desperately grieving babies.

I know the girl who asked that question had NO IDEA the kind of emotional trigger it could be for a lot of people. I'm sure when I was 18, I thought that the question of whether or not you were a mom was yes or no, cut and dried, easy to answer. But that's simply not the case.

So, my suggestion, Old Navy, is that if you want to give away a $5 coupon, you just assume that every single person coming through your store is either celebrating Mother's Day or wishing people would shut the hell up about it and just give away the damn coupon without giving us an existential crisis about the definition of motherhood.

* * *

Later that night, David and I went to Lowes after dinner, leaving my parents to do bath time and bedtime with Zuzu. Like our Trader Joe's date the weekend before, going to Lowes at night (!) without Zuzu (!) felt exciting and almost romantic. (Yes, I know how sad that is.)

So, I mostly dealt with Mother's Day by keeping myself busy with projects (will update on that later--my main project is extremely frustrating so far, so we'll see how that turns out). This means that we were going to Lowes to buy a mirror (to replace the glass in the one that David's grandma bought me), to pick up PVC pipe and fittings, and some paint for the back door. All kinds of nice, distracting things.

Anyway, we were walking through Lowes and holding hands and feeling like we were on a date and as we checked out, the girl at the counter made conversation with me about my pregnancy. She wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl and how we were going to decorate the nursery if we didn't know. So I was answering her questions by saying that we just want a healthy baby and describing our gender-neutral nursery.

Then she leaned forward and said, "E-lizz-uh?" 

She was trying to read the names on the necklace I was wearing. I have a beautiful necklace that my BFFs from college gave me on Eliza's first birthday. It's a silver disc that says "Eliza" and has her birthdate on the back, and after Zuzu was born I bought a matching disc with her name and birthdate on it. 

I wear it pretty often. A stranger has never, ever asked me about it.

I touched the two silver discs on the necklace and said, "Oh! It says Eliza and Caroline. We already have two girls."

She handed me the receipt and said something like, "Well, maybe you'll get a boy this time!" and I left with the strangest feeling. To talk about Eliza and omit the fact that she was dead--it felt like I was cheating her death, somehow. Like I was living my dream-life, where I'd go home to two sleeping girls and we'd wonder how we were going to manage with three kids under the age of four. 

(Okay, confession: Three kids under the age of four is NOT my dream life, but I'd take it if it meant they were all alive and healthy. You get me, right?)

My friend Brandy said that when she's had encounters like this, she feels almost like she's gotten away with something. And it's a good feeling--like she gets credit for going through three full pregnancies and birthing three babies. I felt the same way. After all, we already DO have two girls. 

The shitty and heartbreaking part that I didn't share with the girl working the checkout counter on a Saturday night at Lowes is that we only got to keep one of them.

* * *

And that's where the weekend left me. A mama who's raising a baby and expecting a baby and missing a baby. Not exactly a blissful Mother's Day, even though I did get a pedicure with my mom on Saturday.

Sunday night I was getting Zu ready for bed. I put her in her favorite pjs. (She is starting to have opinions about such things--wanting to choose the bib and the hat and the shoes she wears--I'm already dreading her having strong opinions about clothes! I just want to dress her like a little doll who doesn't care what she wears so I can dress her to suit myself!). Anyway, the pjs have elephants on them and the shirt says "I love my family." 

So we talked about who is in her family. I said "Mama" and "Daddy" and "Bubba" and she repeated each name while pointing at us (David and Coop were also hanging out in the nursery). Then I said "Eliza" and she said "Eliza!" and pointed at the bracelet I wear everyday that has Eliza's name on it. Whenever Zuzu notices it or plays with it, I always say, "That's Mama's Eliza bracelet." 

She really loves to identify things and she was so excited to make that connection between the name I'd said and the bracelet I was wearing. So then I hugged her and kissed her and cried because that's her only association with her sister. And damn, Mother's Day is a grief minefield and getting through it wears me out.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mother's Day. Again.

I woke up at 3:37am last night. I had to pee. When I got back to bed, Rerun wasn't moving. I lay awake in the dark and tossed and turned until the reassuring kicks and jabs comforted me. But I couldn't turn off my brain.

In 2010, Mother's Day was May 9th. I wrote a blog post that day and saved it, waiting to publish it until first making this announcement in July.

I remember that day in vivid, technicolor detail. I remember the jeans I was wearing--my favorite, ancient pair of Abercrombie jeans with a hole in the knee. I remember the way my stomach flipped when I saw two pink lines, and how I'd thought I'd tell David in some cute or special way but instead I just came out of the bathroom grinning like a goofball and waving the pregnancy test around and feeling so giddy. Not only was I pregnant, but I even had a great story to tell. I became a mom on Mother's Day with that positive pregnancy test. How cute would that be to write in Baby Duck's baby book?

When I think about that day now, I see it from the outside. Like I'm watching myself, a sinking feeling in my stomach because I know where all that excitement and joy is heading. That was my only Mother's Day as a mom that was purely happy without any complications.

Now Mother's Day is more of a reminder of a certain kind of happiness that I'll never have. And maybe what I've gained in the years that have followed IS a kind of recompense for grief--the friendships, the connections, the understanding, the empathy, the love, and, of course, this:

But for all that has been gained, there has been too great a loss. I'm past the point of being able to make ridiculous bargains with the universe. There's no trading, and too much time has gone by to keep begging that it can be turned back. But I'll never stop wishing that Eliza was here, too.

* * *

I don't mind showing appreciation for my mom on Mother's Day. I like buying her a gift and picking out a card.

I love that Zuzu made me a gift at daycare that I'm supposed to wait and open on Sunday but that I might go ahead and open tonight because I really want to see what it is.

My mom and Zuzu are both great reminders of why Mother's Day should be celebrated.

But Mother's Day is also a brutal reminder of how innocent and optimistic and happy-without-complication or explanation or justification I was on that day in 2010. I had defended my dissertation and was looking forward to graduation. I had submitted my first academic article for publication. I was going to turn 30 that summer and everything that I wanted was right on track.

My friend Melissa wrote recently about how she still feels like her life got hijacked and I couldn't agree more.

For a while, everything was going according to plan--a plan that we had worked for and saved for and hoped for--and then, well, my life got hijacked. Everything fell apart. We didn't bring our baby home and I fell into the darkest winter of my life. Everything spun out of control and I didn't just lose my baby, I also lost the person that I thought I would be, the person that I wanted to be. Sometimes I still feel like I'm making my way back, only everything is different. Better, worse... those categories don't fit. It's more like trying to fit back into my old self and my old life, but without being able to or wanting to let go of this burden of grief I carry--a burden that sets me apart from almost everyone else.

* * *

Eliza's trees bloom in the spring time, and spring is not my season of grief.

In fact, given that it has marked the third trimester of my pregnancies with Zuzu and Rerun, it's really my season of hope.

Thanks for looking like you're pooping in this picture, Zuzu.
But then there's this one day in May.

On Mother's Day, as I miss Eliza, I also mourn the mom I might have been. I don't know if I would have been better or worse or mostly the same as the mom I am to Zuzu (honestly, I think I would have been mostly the same but maybe less neurotic about whether she's breathing at 3am).

But I would have been the kind of mom who, when asked how many kids she has, doesn't have to take a deep breath and decide whether to drop the dead baby bomb or keep quiet.

I would have been the kind of mom who doesn't cringe inwardly when people tell me how great or different or hard or fun things will be with "two kids instead of one."

I wouldn't have my excitement of Zuzu as a big sister tempered by the wish that I could have known her as the little sister.

The truth is that with all the twists and turns and loops life takes, it's impossible to know what kind of mom I would be now, if Eliza were here, or what our family would look like now. But Mother's Day brings out an ugly jealousy in me that I feel like is usually under control. I'm jealous of moms whose only associations with Mother's Day are happy ones. I resent those who can celebrate without reservations.

It's not nice and it's not fair, but that's just how it is.

At the same time, I know that Mother's Day is hard for a lot of people. People who have lost their moms. Mothers who have lost their kids. Dads who are raising kids on their own. Couples who are longing for a baby and grappling with the unfairness of infertility. People who would love to adopt but are limited by finances, age, or sexual orientation.

Being Zuzu's mom is my favorite thing ever. I celebrate it every day when I hug and kiss and squeeze and laugh at her and her crazy antics. I celebrate it every day when I say "No!" for the umpteenth time as she attempts to do something ridiculously unsafe, when she goes boneless and collapses on the floor because I won't let her eat two cereal bars for dinner, when I dig something ridiculously dangerous out of her mouth (an acorn, a penny, a bottlecap--where does she find these things? why does she want to eat them?).

So I'm just taking the pressure off Mother's Day. It's not going to be special or meaningful or full of jewelry. I have a gift for my mom I'll probably give to her early and we'll let Sunday be like any other Sunday. Because these days, ordinary Sundays are actually pretty freaking magical around here.

* * *

It was after 4am and I couldn't fall back asleep. I finally started crying. It seemed like it had been a long time since I cried for Eliza. I tried to be quiet, but David's a light sleeper and when he asked me what was wrong, I said, "I miss her. I want her to be here with us."

And he said the only thing there is to say: "I know. Me too." For this Mother's Day and everydamnone after that.

P.S. Mother's Day 2011, the first year after Eliza.

Mother's Day 2012

Mother's Day 2013 (almost the same title as 2011--didn't even realize that until just now!)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My Car Quacks and Other News

One of the toys Zuzu was given when she was born was an adorable white duck that quacks when you sit him down on his bottom. One morning she had it in her hand when we were on our way out the door, so Duckie came too. I convinced her to leave him in the car and not take him into school, so Duckie lived in the backseat for a while.

Now Duckie has migrated somewhere in the car (probably underneath a seat? possibly in the way back?). He continues to make his invisible presence known by quacking occasionally--but ONLY occasionally. A whole day will go by with no quacking and I'll forget all about him. And then the next day I'll be driving and turn a corner and it will be just enough to wake him up:  "Quack QUACK! Quack QUACK!"

I really need to locate Duckie, but I only think about it when I hear him quacking, which is always while I'm driving. I'm not exactly capable of bending over to dig around under the seats while sitting  behind the wheel, and the thought of locating Duckie completely flies out of my brain once I get focused on picking-up or dropping-off or carrying-in-all-our-crap after we get home.

So we can all expect my car will be quacking indefinitely.

* * *

My glucose test came back normal for everyone who was wondering. Normal is good. Rerun is moving and grooving in there. I'm relieved to know my sweet tooth isn't causing any issues since I like how active Rerun is after my brownie + ice cream desserts.

* * *

I burned my wrist taking brownies out of the oven. The only bandaids we have are ones I bought for Zuzu so they are brightly colored with stars, flowers, and teddy bears. I don't care, so I just slap on the bandaid, but Zuzu noticed the bandaid and is obsessed with discussing my injury. We have a lot of talks that go like this:

Zuzu: Owie! Owie, Mama. Owie.

Me: Yup. Mama has an owie. But it's okay.

Zuzu: Owie! Owie! Mama. Owie.

Me:  Mm-hmm. That's right. But it's fine. It doesn't hurt.

That's the extent of her conversational skills about it, yet she apparently enjoys having this conversation over and over and over again.

* * *

Our little hiking adventure resulted in me bringing home a parasite. I checked for ticks as I showered that afternoon, but the next morning I woke up and felt an itch on the underside of my belly (precisely where I cannot SEE due to the belly bump). I was pretty sure I felt a tick and thankfully I found it before David left for work so he was able to do the tweezer removal. We put the disgusting creature in a ziplock bag just in case I need to have lab work done, but so far the bite looks normal and I feel fine.

I just can't believe this is my SECOND tick bite this spring. Gross me out! This was a small deer tick instead of a big dog tick, which are actually MORE likely to carry disease, but I'm trying to stay off of Dr. Google and just trust that things will be fine. I know it's in my favor that it was on me less than 24 hours, but it's so soooooo nasty. And it itches.

* * *

Last day of school on Friday. Much to do this week, but my students are already checked out and I am even more checked out than they are, I think. And it's only Tuesday!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Parks and Gardens and Hikes

David's seventy-seven year old (now cancer-free) grandma came to visit us this weekend.

I am almost twenty-seven weeks pregnant.

Zuzu is trying out the "terrible twos" two months early.

The weather is making up for the longest winter since Laura Ingalls Wilder was a girl by getting up in the 80s today.

So, naturally, we decided to spend the afternoon hiking.

But let me back up. We were lucky enough to get wonderful weather this weekend and spent a bunch of time "outsigh!" which thrilled Zuzu to no end.

Saturday morning started out with a not-so-thrilling prospect for me: the glucose test to make sure I don't have gestational diabetes. I think it is a sign that my anxiety levels are much more manageable this time around that this time I was far more concerned about the needles than actually worried that I might have gestational diabetes (I've never had it, but with my second pregnancy I was convinced that Everything Would Go Wrong, so I expected I would have it.).

Anyway, it worked out nicely that David's gma was in town so she could hang out with Zuzu while David held my hand at the lab where they drew my blood. I was up and showered by 7:45am so I could chug that nasty orange drink and then we headed out to the appointment. There was some confusion because the lab seemed to think they needed to provide me with the drink, like I was going to show up for my 8:45 appointment and then sit around for an hour before the blood draw. But once I explained for the second time that I'd already chugged the stuff and they'd better just draw my blood already, things moved right along.

We hit Bread Co. for black coffee and a non-sweet bagel afterward and then did a kid-free trip to Trader Joe's when it wasn't busy at all. It was so nice it felt almost like a date. #ourlivesaresad #weneedtogetoutmore

We got home just in time to put my baked beans in the oven and let them cook before heading over to a park near Zuzu's daycare for a daycare BBQ. It was really fun to see Zuzu interact with her little friends and to meet parents and actually learn the names of people I'd known only as "Henry's dad" and "Charlotte's mom." Zuzu hung out with her girlfriends Margarita, Bea, and Paloma, and was also really excited to see Henry and Will. She is a fearless climber and went down the big kid slide multiple times. My heart raced watching her bravely climb up all those steps!

Zuzu and her friend Margarita scope out the juice box selection (Zuzu drank water because I am a Mean Mom and she doesn't know enough to care yet.)
She ate a good lunch. I'm so grossed out by hot dogs that as far as I'm concerned, Zuzu could go through her entire life without having one. So she ate bites of hamburger, lots of fruit, macaroni & cheese, baked beans, and thoroughly enjoyed her first store-bought cupcake.


The bubble machine was also a huge hit with the little ladies.

Hanging with her girlfriends.
We left shortly after lunch and headed home for naptime, which Zuzu protested furiously. She is not a fan of napping when grandparents are in town.

Once she was asleep, David's gma and I headed out to do a little shopping. A consignment furniture shop was having a big yard sale but I didn't score any great bargains there (probably should have gotten there when they opened!). I am still thinking about this little cart I saw that would make a great side table, though.

Then I introduced his gma to the glory of Home Goods. She had never been in one before, so we browsed and browsed. I've been wanting a large mirror to go over my fireplace and she bought one for me as a belated Christmas present.

I was so excited to get home and put it up above the mantle. I pulled in the carport, opened the back of my car, and the mirror slid out and hit the ground. Shattered. I knew it was a stupid thing to cry over--accidents happen, the important thing was that no one was hurt, blah blah blah. I was still really pissed. And I felt terrible that the money his grandma had just spent was now getting literally thrown into the dumpster in the alley. I tried to get over it, but I was pretty cranky all evening after that.

This morning David had found a piece of mirror the right size for $25 at a hardware store, so I think we're going to try to salvage the frame and see if we can make it work.

We got up today and went to the Botanical Gardens via World's Fair Donuts.

Ready to go after dressing herself in socks she dug out of our dirty clothes hamper. Photobomb by Cooper, the glowing mystic dog.
(Just in case I do have GD and have to change my diet, I figured I'd better fit in the donuts while I can.) Zuzu calls donuts "dot-dots" which is basically the cutest thing ever.

Let's go, Peppa! (Zuzu doesn't say "Grandma" so "Grandma Peggy" has become "Peppa.")
The gardens were lovely (and I hear they are rated #8 in the entire country!) and Zuzu had a blast in the Children's Garden. She climbed all over everything and slid down the big slide and kept us busy chasing after her.

Happy Birthday, St. Louis! #250years
In the afternoon, David wanted to drive out to see an air show at a local airport. He had the idea of going out to this trail we'd hiked before that leads out to bluffs overlooking the Missouri river. We could sit on the bluffs and see the airplanes and have a little picnic lunch.

It had been a few years since we'd gone out there, but we thought the bluffs were about a quarter mile or so from by the parking lot.

They were actually about a mile and a half.

We had imagined that Zuzu would be perfectly content to ride back-pack style in the Ergo on David's back.

She only wanted to walk or have Mama to carry her.

I'd told David to grab a larger blanket than the tiny picnic mat that came with the picnic backpack we were taking.

He brought the heaviest quilt we own. Made by his dad's mom, it is literally a patchwork of polyester leisure suits and must weigh ten pounds.

So, David spent the afternoon hiking with his pregnant wife (who was very anxious about the lack of restroom facilities in the area), his seventy-seven year old grandmother (who wore the picnic backpack on the way there because David and I were busy trading off Zuzu), and an uncooperative toddler (who was cranky since she fell asleep in the car and was woken from her nap when we stopped to hike).

Once we got to the bluffs, we realized that we didn't actually have a great view because of the leafy trees. I felt bad because I knew David had been really excited about it and now he was going to be disappointed. As it turned out, he wouldn't have been able to see that much of the air show anyway because Zuzu wanted to climb the big rocks like we were at a playground, so she required constant vigilance. When her antics weren't giving me a heart attack (David was in charge of chasing her since I don't trust my own balance these days), I was so thirsty from our hike that I wanted to guzzle my drink but I also kept thinking that my bladder had to hold out for the mile and a half walk back to the car. Stressful! And I was worrying about ticks and the poison oak that David's grandma kept pointing out.

It was not exactly a relaxing afternoon.

What, you don't find it relaxing to chase a toddler on rocky bluffs overlooking a river?
There was a very cool moment when the Blue Angel planes zoomed overhead, right above the treetops. They were so close it looked like they were going to scrape the trees above us. It was really amazing, but also super loud and kind of scary. I swear they snuck up on us! So then Zuzu was kind of afraid of airplanes instead of excited about them.

Watching airplanes with Daddy.
On the way back to the car, Zuzu said she would ride on my back in the Ergo, which we thought would be easiest, but it turns out that I couldn't handle a load of 25 pounds on my back with the additional 25 pounds I am currently carrying on my front. You'd think I would feel balanced, but instead I was panting in exhaustion after going a very short way. So we were back to trading Zuzu back and forth and then holding her hands and letting her walk, and then repeating. Except David wore the picnic backpack and I carried the weighted blanket because I felt like a 77-year-old grandma who'd just recovered from cancer could probably use a break.

This picture seriously sums up the day. David's grandma is looking for planes zooming overhead. Zuzu is trying to escape me and run off the trail. I've had my limit of walking and my bladder is ready to burst. #goodtimes
I was exhausted by the time we got back to the car, but amazingly my feet weren't swollen. I wish I'd worn a pedometer because I'm sure between the gardens and the hiking trail we walked at least five miles today. We should all sleep well tonight!