Friday, March 27, 2015

Rainy Stay at Home Day

Thanks for all the thoughts about a land line. I'll keep you posted on what we decide after we do more investigating over spring break. It sounds like so many issues (911 locating capabilities, soft dial capabilities, connection during storms) are specific to particular locations, so we need to figure out how things work here in St. Louis.

This has felt like a long week--maybe because I am more than ready to have a week off. David called me on Tuesday afternoon. I was at home. It had been a frustrating morning--Cooper disappeared on me while the baby was napping, and wouldn't come when I called for him. A quick check of the backyard showed no sign of him, but revealed that the back gate that appeared to be closed actually wasn't latched, so I got kind of panicky. Coco was sleeping, so I quickly ran down to the restaurant on the corner to make sure he hadn't somehow launched himself into their garbage, and forced myself to peek out on the busy street to make sure he wasn't there.

Not wanting to leave the baby alone any longer, I went back home and spent the next twenty minutes trying not to cry, imagining every worst-case scenario, thinking about how I'd yelled at him over the weekend, pacing the living room, e-mailing our neighbors to alert them that our dog was missing, and wondering if I should go ahead and go wake up Coco so we could go out to find Cooper.

When Coco woke up from her (very short) nap, I bundled her up to go out in the stroller, in the rain, to look for the dog.

And after getting her into her hoodie and rain jacket and finding a blanket to wrap around her, when I opened the backdoor, there was Cooper. Filthy--coated in mud--and looking very ashamed of himself.

I'm not sure if he'd been in the chicken coop or the garden or if he'd gotten out of our yard and ventured somewhere else through the alley, but he had to have a bath, and Coco didn't want to be put down, and when David called me back to see how things were going, I vented about the naughty dog and the clingy baby and complained that I hadn't gotten any work done. I needed to read a play for class and write an exam for Friday and I hadn't factored in the dog bath and the baby only wanted to be held, so nothing was getting done.

David told me that I should just take Coco to daycare and get things done so that I could enjoy my time with her once I was finished.

He has a point--I do believe that I have much more fun with my kids if I'm not stressed out about what's not getting done.

But then Coco fell asleep on my chest like she used to do when she was a teensy newborn. And I remembered why I'm doing this stay at home thing two days a week.

Yes, it can be frustrating. But having a sleeping baby curled up on your chest on a rainy Tuesday afternoon while listening to the dog snore and thinking of questions to ask your students about Romantic poetry is pretty much the greatest way to work ever.

Even if not much work gets done once she's awake.

P.S. What I was writing about 5 years ago -- adventures as a "dog mom" (makes me miss Little Mac!)

What I was writing about 3 years ago -- sick and pregnant with Zuzu

What I was writing about 1 year ago -- my thoughts on Truth vs. Happiness

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Land Line

Like many people living in the twenty-first century, we dropped our land line. We had one for a while when we were in our old house, but as we started relying more and more on our cell phones, eventually it got to the point where the only people who called the land line were solicitors and David's grandma. For some reason, it was kind of hard for me to let it go, but David convinced me that it was silly to spend money every month on something we didn't use. And so we dropped it.

I haven't missed the landline at all. We've never had one in this house, and we've never needed one.

But I have a tendency to go over worst-case scenarios in my head, and with two little ones, many of these worst-case scenario visions/fears/anxieties involve having to dial 911.

Except, what if I can't find my phone?

At least twice a day, I find myself hunting for my cell phone. It's just too easy to set it down when I get distracted by something (read: someone) and then I forget where I put it. I'll find it a little while later in a closet, on top of the towel rack in the bathroom, next to the olive oil on the kitchen counter.

The point is, I can't always put my hands on it immediately. And I often put it somewhere that Zuzu can't reach it. Plus I'd have to teach her how to use it. Not to mention that she doesn't know the passcode to unlock it.

Anyway, lately, I've been thinking what would happen if... And I was worried enough about it that I talked to David about maybe getting a land line again.

I asked a few friends about this when we got together for a BBQ over the weekend. Of the five couples there, only one had a land line. And all of those who relied on cell phones only had worried about the 911-emergency issue as well. I mentioned that we were seriously considering getting a land line, if only to give me some peace of mind about it.

Jamie pointed out that you don't have to unlock a cell phone to dial 911, so a kid could do it without knowing your passcode (though she admitted that she's never shown her 4 1/2 year old how to do that). The emergency feature on the phone does solve the problem of not wanting your kids to know your pass code, but doesn't do a lot of good if you can't FIND your phone in an emergency.

Beth's husband, Curt, came in during our conversation and made a pretty brilliant suggestion. Instead of paying a monthly fee for a land line, he suggested we could each buy a pre-paid cell phone and keep it in one place in the house, designated for emergency use only.

I really like this idea! I would definitely feel better knowing there is always a phone available (and not buried in the bottom of my purse or sitting on the ironing board in my closet), should I need to use it. My cell phone could still be off-limits to Zuzu, but eventually we can teach her how to dial 911 on the emergency phone.

What do you think? Would you buy a pre-paid phone just to have in case of emergencies? Do you have a land line? If you have older kids, have you taught them to dial 911 on a cell phone? Do you freak out about not being able to find your cell phone in an emergency? Do you have another solution? (Please don't say hip holster!)

Updated to add: We'll be contacting our telephone provider this week to see what our options are. (And by "we" I mean David because in the division of household duties, "Talk to strangers on the telephone" falls in his column. Also, he owes me for the Code Brown Bathtub Situation I had to deal with last night while he was out to dinner.) 

I also found this post really helpful, and, unfortunately, Missouri is not on this list of "soft-dial" states.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Nothing to Report Here

I feel like I have gotten lost in the minutiae of day to day life.

David was out of town over the weekend and my parents came up to help but left Saturday after lunch. A friend of mine came over Saturday afternoon and (perhaps sensing my desperation?) ended up sticking around to help me with the bathtime routine before bed.

I kept thinking that having multiple kids would not be so challenging if they were always (maybe even sometimes) in sync with each other in terms of eating/sleeping/playing, you know?

Sunday morning, I had some lofty goals. I wanted to get the house picked up and vacuumed, I wanted to jog/walk to the park with the girls and the dog, and I wanted to get myself showered and dressed in time to pick up David from the airport at noon.

Coco also had some goals: She wanted to lose her bloody mind and scream anytime I left the room without her and refuse to nap except (briefly) in the stroller.

Zuzu also had some goals: She wanted to build a pillow fort on the rug while I was vacuuming, go down the slide two more times after I said "Last time," and also shower with me.

Coco achieved her goals. Zuzu achieved two of hers and then was thwarted because I did NOT have time to negotiate around her while trying to take a super quick shower.

Instead, I showered while listening to my children finally doing something in sync: screaming and crying.

Coco was pissed that I was behind the curtain and out of her sight. Zuzu was pissed that she was not with me. Zuzu won't leave the baby alone when she's eating or going down for a nap, but she wants nothing to do with her when I could use THREE minutes to shampoo, condition, and rinse my hair. Coco will arch her back and contort herself in order to see what her sister's doing when I'm trying to nurse her, completely ignoring me in the process, but when I set her down outside the bathroom door for JUST A MOMENT, you'd think I'd destroyed her hopes and dreams for the future.

We were SO READY for David to get home.

Anyway, between picking up David and having lunch at a restaurant (the girls were magically well-behaved), we managed to get all the Sunday Duties taken care of--laundry, bottles prepped, diapers gathered--and we went to my friend Beth's house for a BBQ that was really nice except for the part that it's kind of hard to sit down and have a conversation with a bunch of kids under the age of five running around, needing various levels of assistance with different activities, and wanting to report on their dramas and squabbles. Zuzu was actually less interested in socializing and more interesting in exploring the vast toy collection that Beth's girls have accumulated, so she kept herself pretty well entertained and didn't bite anyone (win!), although I thought she might have a meltdown when it was time to leave. (Beth managed to coax her out to the car for me.)

She fell asleep on the way home, and I was celebrating what I was pretty confident would be a successful sleeping transfer from carseat to bed at 7:30pm as I carried her in the house, when I realized that she smelled terrible and I was  feeling the cold smear of a leaking poop diaper on my hands. She did not sleep through the diaper change, and what I thought was bedtime turned out to be a 30 minute power nap between 7:00pm and 7:30pm. Not ideal!

So now it's Monday morning and I don't feel very well-rested and I need to write an exam for Friday and I need people to respond to e-mails who haven't responded and I'd really like to get pictures hung in Zuzu's big girl room and that laundry that I finished didn't get entirely put away and I haven't done any reading for fun lately and I feel like I am just putting out fires instead of getting things accomplished.

Next week is spring break for both David and me, and we are MORE than ready for the break and psyching ourselves up for Potty Training, Let's Try This Again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patty's Day News

Happy St. Patty's Day! I had planned to do some fun things for the holiday--a fruit rainbow for breakfast, some chocolate gold coins left by a leprechaun for a treat after school--but as things turned out, I was barely functioning this morning.

I have been knocked OUT by strep, you guys.

It started with noticing that my throat was sore when I was getting ready for bed Thursday night. I thought maybe I was getting a cold, or allergies even, what with the warmer weather, so I shrugged it off.

It still hurt Friday morning, but I had to teach and then we were doing phone interviews in the afternoon for a new hire in our department, so I couldn't miss work. I didn't feel bad except for my throat--no headache or anything, and I wasn't especially tired (I mean, no more than usual, considering Coco is teething and has been up pretty frequently at night this week--but Thursday night she actually slept better than she had all week!).

My days at work are pretty nonstop--e-mail, pumping, meeting with students, class, lunch, class, pumping, and then phone interviews all afternoon. Those went until 5:30, so it was six o'clock by the time I was driving home. It was gray and raining and as I got in my car and exhaled for what felt like the first time all day, I realized how bad I actually felt.

I got home and immediately collapsed on the couch. Still, it's kind of normal for me to feel pretty drained by the end of the week. It was only when David said dinner was ready and I didn't want any of it that I knew something was really off.

I'd invited some co-workers over for a little mid-term potluck on Pi Day (#nerdalert) but when I woke up Saturday, achy and chilled, I knew that I was going to have to cancel. So instead of prepping for a potluck, I dragged myself to Urgent Care, got a throat swab, and it came back "really positive" according to the paramedic who looked at my tonsils. They sent me home with a prescription and then I went to bed.

For three days.

Last night I finally felt up to going downstairs and I sat out on the patio for a little bit to enjoy the weather. I was in bed by 9 and on my own this morning since David had an early meeting. I took both the girls to school today so I could have a little more time to rest and recover.

While I was busy doing my invalid thing yesterday, David came upstairs with a package that had come in the mail from my Crafty Cousin Amanda. You guys may remember her from the waxed paper capiz shell chandelier project or from her invaluable assistance with turkey art or maybe from one of these adorable dresses:

February 2014
February 2014
January 2015

Crafty Cousin Amanda also helped me reupholster a bench and sew pillow covers, and she's given me advice on virtually every crafty project I've tackled on my own. 

She really helped me do so much with Zuzu's nursery (she sewed the crib bumper as well as the chandelier) and so it's partly thanks to her that the nursery got featured yesterday on the Good Housekeeping website in a round-up of themed kids rooms!

Isn't that awesome? I admit--I was really excited when Good Housekeeping contacted me, and it made me realize that I need to get moving on finishing and revealing Zuzu's big girl room, and adjusting some wall art and details in the nursery to make it officially Coco's room.
Anyway, Crafty Cousin Amanda sent an awesome item to us this week. I know it's obnoxious of me, but I can't reveal exactly what she sent (yet) because it's a surprise for something later in the month (I'll post about it later, I promise).

But I CAN tell you that she has officially gotten her Etsy shop up and running! She's doing a lot of paper goods, but has some other things available, too (and her prices are ridiculously good--like I'm telling her she needs to raise them). 

She's already been doing well with orders and while she's not quite ready to quit her day job (yet, I like to say), she is always thinking about expanding what she adds to her shop. It totally makes me wish yet again that we lived closer so that I could bug her give her unsolicited advice request more things help her out.

Anyway, the best part about her Etsy shop? It's actually called... (wait for it...) ...  My Crafty Cousin Amanda. Isn't that awesome and hilarious? She said she had a hard time coming up with a name and then it just came to her in a flash of inspiration. 

I think I should convince her to do a little give away on my blog. That my friend Brandy will probably win because she wins all the free things. (Some people are just lucky like that, right?)

Anyway, considering I basically dropped off the face of the earth for three days with strep throat, that's literally all that is going on in my life right now. (Well, that and the Netflix binging I've been doing--more on that later.)

P.S. What I was writing about around this time...
four years ago (my pet peeve remains the same!)

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Because this sort of thing fascinates me, here's a side-by-side look at me, Zuzu, and Coco, all at six months of age (try not to let the psychedelic wallpaper of my nursery make you dizzy):

Zuzu is the baldest! And the drooliest, bless her heart. She didn't get a tooth until she was 10 1/2 months old, but she drooled like crazy until that tooth finally pooped through. I also remember she was so funny in her six month photo session with blowing raspberries and making funny noises--it was hard to capture her regular big smile.

This side-by-side kinda weirds me out because when I look at the girls now, I think Zuzu looks more like David and Coco looks more like me. But when I look at their baby pictures, I think see lots of similarities and differences with both of them--and I don't think they look very much alike at all!

Zuzu's head is shaped more like mine, but Coco has my smile and eyebrows. The little round nose (and big ears!) look the same across the board. The shape of my eyes look more like Zuzu's here, but I'm not sure that's actually true--I just think we both squint the same eye when we smile, but the size and color of our eyes is actually different. You can't tell from the 1980s photo, but my eyes are blue (and stayed that way). Zuzu's had turned hazel by six months and are really pretty much brown now. Coco's are blue (though one eye has a small brown stripe through it!) and I think they are going to stay.

Here's a side by side of the girls at seven months:

Both adorable, but definitely not identical!

Okay, here's head-shots of all of us at seven months:

My cheeks are different from both of theirs--and Coco has the roundest face. Again, I think Coco and I smile just, but Zuzu and I both have that one squinty eye!

And just for fun/reference, here's my mom:

I just realized that when I had Coco, I was 10 YEARS OLDER than my mom was when she had me. Considering I still feel like an incompetent child myself a rather large proportion of the time, I'm not sure what she was thinking having a baby at age 24, but you know. It was a different world in the 1980s. People had babies in their early 20's. People collected spoons and put them on their walls.

Here's present day me and Zuzu. She's not smiling in many of the photos we take of her these days because she NEVER STOPS TALKING!

It's my understanding that this may be a family trait as well...

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Conversations with Zuzu, Part VI

Scene: Zuzu walks into the living room holding a box of Mickey Mouse bandaids.

Me: How did you... (It dawns on me that she climbed from her stool up onto the sink and opened the medicine cabinet to retrieve these bandaids.) Oh, Zuzu. You are something else.

Zuzu: Yes. I a stinker!

* * *

Scene: We are in the living room. Furnace kicks on.

Zuzu: I scared!

Me: what are you scared of?

Zuzu: Danger.

* * *

Scene: Living room. David has decided to give Zuzu a lecture about her behavior in the library (when she ran away from me while I was checking out our books).

David: Let's talk about the library. Where did Mama ask you to sit?

Zuzu: In the chair.

David: And then what did you do?

Zuzu: ...

David: Where did you go while Mama was checking out books?

Zuzu: I go to Bayda* and see Grammy and Bop!

*her pronunciation of my home town, Nevada (pronounced Ne-vay-duh)

* * *

Scene: David ordering sandwiches at Jimmy Johns in the drive-thru.

David: I'll have a number 10, no tomatoes, and a number 6.

Drive-thru Guy: ok. Anything else?

Zuzu: (shouting from backseat) Strawberries and 'tatoes!

* * *

Scene: Living room. The girls are playing on the floor. I'm putting up Easter decorations. I have my back to them when Coco starts crying her for-real cry. I turn around and see that she's on her back and Zuzu is hugging/squeezing her.

Me: Hey! Stop that! Coco is telling you that hurts! You have to be gentle!

Coco: Waaaaaah! Waaah!

Me: Oh, poor Coco!

Zuzu: Oh, Mama. I just hurt her with my magic! We take her to the trolls. She be okay.**

** For those of you not up to speed to Disney animated films, this is the plot of Frozen.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Frozen Weekend

We decided at the last minute to buy two tickets to go see Disney On Ice Presents Frozen. We'd actually been talking about it for months--we thought about getting Zuzu tickets for Christmas. But we never pulled the trigger (the prices seemed really high to me) and there was the question of whether we would get a sitter for Coco so we could both go or whether one of us would stay home and instead of figuring it out, we just didn't do anything.

But then one of David's co-workers mentioned she might have extra tickets, and then my friend K saw the show and said Zuzu would love it, and then Zuzu started performing "Let It Go" with such emotional authenticity that it really seemed like we had to buy tickets.

Sunday morning David snagged two tickets and we decided that I would go and take Zuzu while he stayed home with the baby. Zuzu has been such a daddy's girl lately, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that Coco is a mommy's girl milk fiend so I haven't gotten much one-on-one time with Zuzu at all lately.

And after Coco got me up EVERY TWO HOURS last night, I was ready to kiss her sweet chubby cheeks good-bye and go see Frozen with the Zuzy-Q.

Those cheeks require hourly maintenance, or so she would have you believe.

So David bought tickets and went outside to shovel snow and I nursed the baby and then realized that I hadn't heard anything out of Zuzu in several minutes. I went downstairs to find that she was rifling through my purse--this is a favorite past-time of hers and annoys me to no end. I usually try to put my purse up high where she can't reach it, but had obviously neglected to do so.

I paid for this oversight big time, because Zuzu found a green dry-erase marker in my bag and scribbled all over the little fabric cube ottoman that holds blankets in the TV room.

Let me tell you--if we hadn't already bought the tickets, we wouldn't have gotten them after that. I was so pissed. The thing is, she had colored over this ottoman before and gotten in big trouble, but that was with a washable marker. This green is not coming out, even after blotting with rubbing alcohol. Little menace.

Fortunately, we both enjoyed the show--she was totally into it from the very beginning and her attention didn't waver. I had underestimated how much fun it would be for me to see her having such a good time. I guess that's kind of silly, since Disney has made billions on the idea that parents freaking love to see their kids having fun. But honestly, I got teary-eyed when Zuzu was just belting out "Let It Go" and waving to Minnie Mouse.

It was just so sweet and special for us to have a Mommy-Zuzu date, and to see her enjoy herself so much. She had her "listening ears on" (I think this is something they say at school because she mentioned it a few times and I started using the phrase and she responds very well to it and even acts like she is putting on special ears, which is really cute) so she was well-behaved and held my hand and didn't touch the stall or the toilet when we went to the bathroom (she also said, "Good job, Mommy!" when I went, which was nice positive reinforcement for me). David dropped us off so I didn't have to mess with parking, and then we walked to meet him afterward and she was a good sport about all the walking, too. We really had a nice day (colored ottoman aside).

The rest of our weekend wasn't half bad, either. My friend Erin came over for dinner Friday night. The girls adore her and I feel lucky to have a friend I work with all week and still want to hang out with on the weekends. She also saved us from calamity by showing up with beer and organic apples.

The above picture was Zuzu's reaction when I told her we didn't have any more apples. She has been on such an apple kick. She requests them multiple times a day. There was seriously one day when I heard myself encouraging her to eat a Valentine cookie instead of a third apple. This is a fairly new obsession, but it cracks me up because when I was pregnant with her, I craved apple everything. I ate chunky apple sauce, I drank apple juice, I slurped apple cider, I salivated over apple pie, and, yes, I ate lots of apples. I never had such strong or specific cravings with Eliza or Coco, but my first two trimesters with Zuzu were an apple-fest.

Anyway, we were out of apples, and Zuzu was melting into a pool of toddler disappointment but a quick text to Erin saved the day (since she was stopping at the grocery store anyway).

Saturday was my Grandpa V's birthday, and it's a family tradition that we all eat ice cream in memory of Grandpa each year on his birthday. Snow was coming down pretty good by the time Zuzu got up from her (late) nap, but we bundled up the girls and headed out to Dairy Queen.

I got a butterfinger blizzard in a waffle cone, David got a M&M milkshake, and we ordered a strawberry sundae for Zuzu since she seems to prefer fruit over anything else at this point.

Well, she heard "strawberry" and didn't know what a sundae was, and ended up being confused and disappointed that she wasn't actually getting an actual strawberry (she ate an enormous quantity of strawberries the other night--I had washed a container of them and had them sitting in a bowl on the counter to slice and Zuzu ATE ALL BUT TWO OF THEM). I tried to explain that the sauce had strawberries in it, but she had one bite of ice cream and then asked me for an apple.

Gpa V would not even know what to do with this girl.

I also managed to get some work done this weekend--I'm not quite caught up on grading, but close enough that I didn't feel bad about watching Downton Abbey this afternoon. I'm not caught up on the season yet, but I'm sort of savoring it by spacing it out instead of binging.

I read this thing a few days ago about how you should clean out your closet and only keep items that "spark joy." I'm holding off on a big closet clean out until I'm finished nursing and holding steady at one size again, but I decided to tackle my sock drawer and underwear drawer. Socks may not seem like much of a "joy-sparking" item, but the truth is that I definitely have my favorite pairs that get worn again and again, and I figured I might as well clean out and organize the drawer. I ended up getting rid of several pairs of socks and rediscovering some I'd forgotten about that I actually really like. It's the little things, right?

My underwear drawer was a sorry mess--I had told myself after I quit nursing Zuzu that I was going to splurge on new bras and underwear. But then I got pregnant again and just kept wearing the old, stretched out pairs I'd had forever. I sorted through a ridiculous number of undies and ended up throwing away FIFTEEN pairs of underwear--some of which were more than ten years old. Seriously. Who needs that many pairs of underwear? And why was I still wearing the pairs I don't like when I have plenty of pairs I DO like?

So those two small things made me feel ready to start the week. We've got a lot going on, and David and I both have some late nights scheduled for work, so it's going to be one of those weeks that feels long and goes by fast.