Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sunny Day Sunday

Well, it seems there is no nose picking advice and possibly no end in sight. Charming.

I wasn't going to write about this parenting fail because I am so ashamed of myself, but then I thought, what the hell. Possibly other people also make mistakes? Could that be true?

We went to Earth Day celebration in Forest Park on Sunday. It was lovely. The weather could not have been better. My friend Erin went with us so adults outnumbered kids which made things easier than they might have been. David wore Coco in the Ergo carrier and Zuzu ran around like a nut. She was actually being kind of a pill all day--she really wanted a coin purse and was not satisfied with the hair clips made from swimsuit remnants that I purchased for her. She only wanted to hold hands sometimes and although she made a show of putting on her listening ears (she really does touch each ear, it's super cute), they appeared to be not functioning very well.

Anyway, we walked around the booths and peeked in at the Montessori classroom, and picked up coupons and samples for green cleaning products and essential oils (I'm actually going to a class on essential oils tonight because I'm a crazy hippie). Then we got lunch and I was so happy that my favorite restaurant, Lulu's, had a food truck there.

We sat at a picnic table over looking some water and there were a lot of kids playing in the water and Zuzu wanted to get in on that action (of course) so David took her to walk around over there (she was wearing her rainboots) while I finished lunch. I sat with Coco on my lap and noticed that we were getting a lot of direct sun, so I draped a blanket over her head. A few minutes later, David came walking back over to the table, carrying Zuzu, who was screaming and flailing in his arms.

She'd wanted to get in the water, he said no, she kicked her boot in the water, he had to step in the water to get it, so basically they were both soaking wet and pissed off (for different reasons, obviously).

It was clearly time to leave, so we headed back to the car.

I left David at home with the girls and went to a coffee shop to work on the mountain of essays I have to grade. When I got home, I walked in the kitchen and Coco turned in her high chair to look at me and I gasped. Her face was BRIGHT RED. I asked David if it was a sunburn. David said no, she'd been crying before I walked in, so her face was red from exertion. I wasn't sure, but she didn't feel hot. I smeared lotion on her face before bed and hoped it would be faded in the morning.

The next morning proved him wrong. I almost cried when I saw her sunburned little face peering at me from her crib.

I really try not to judge people on their parenting choices. I know parents who let their kids cry it out love their kids as much as attachment parents do and blah blah blah. Basically, the only parenting choices I will judge are (1) giving pop to your baby and (2) not protecting your kids from the sun.

The thing is, it was 65 degrees out! We were all wearing long sleeves and pants! There was a cool breeze and warm sun. We were walking in and out of the shade. It was the most gorgeous day! And it's only April!

But both the girls got too much sun on their little faces.

Monday morning, I doubled down on moisturizer and sunblock (they loved that) and sent them to school in jackets and sunhats.

I feel absolutely terrible about the sunburns (and embarrassed that all the daycare teachers witnessed the evidence of my neglect). I wanted to be mad at David for not noticing all the sun Coco was getting, but I should have thought to put sunscreen and hats on both of them.

Lesson learned!

So... parenting mistakes you've learned from? Can you make me feel better about this? (By Tuesday, the burn had faded and I was able to joke to David last night that I wish I had a golden tan like Coco--but I also bought new sunscreen at Target and loaded up the diaper bag and the basket we keep by the back door.)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me the News and Answer All These Questions Also

Colette's nine-month check up isn't until next month (nine months! what?!), but April is World Health Month and the American Recall Center (a resource for drug and medical device recalls) contacted me because they noticed my "passion for a healthy lifestyle."

I'm pretty sure that my passion for a healthy lifestyle must be reflected in my post about how I ought to make myself do a 10 minute core workout every now and again and also maybe walk outside sometimes came up on some kind of google search. I don't know how algorithms work.

But yes, of course, health is important to me. And the health of my kids is hugely important to me, and certainly not something you take for granted after losing a baby. I'm getting better at taking coughs and colds in stride, but I have huge anxiety about fevers. So I decided to see what you guys think about their recommended questions-for-your-doctor.

We've been enormously lucky that our girls have been healthy so far. This has been a huge relief for me because each of my girls started daycare part-time at about 5 months old and I worried about all the germs that live anywhere where little kids hang out. (Side note: If someone can tell me how to get Zuzu to seriously stop putting her finger in her nose and then LICKING IT, I will be eternally grateful because that is so freaking disgusting I can hardly even handle my life when she does it.) I attribute their good health mostly to luck because the other things I do to try to keep them healthy--breastfeeding, serving reasonably nutritious meals, putting DoTerra On Guard essential oil on their feet at night during cold and flu season, singing the ABC's while washing hands--these are things that MANY people do, and the fact is that it doesn't always keep your kid from getting sick.

Zuzu has had only one stomach bug that lasted more than a day, and so far Coco's experience with illness has been limited to two ear infections. Both of her ear infections required antibiotics and she was really great about taking her medicine the first few days and less enthusiastic the last few days. (No idea why! Shouldn't it taste the same?).

Anyway, medicine and little ones is never a fun combination, but before I try to wrestle them into taking medication, there are a few important questions we should be asking:

(1) Exactly how much and how often?

Zuzu was a spitter when it came to medicine, so after we discovered this charming response to our healing efforts, I wanted to know if I had to absolutely make sure she got .5 ml in her belly, or if I should administer .5 ml and not stress out if some dribbled out down her chin or got spit back at me in a demonic fury. If it says "once a day" can I go ahead and give a dose that evening and then start giving it to her each morning? I like to be very specific. For the medications my kids have taken, the timing hasn't been too big of a deal (every 12 hours is pretty easy since that's basically breakfast and bedtime for Coco), but I still have to set a timer on my phone because my brain is useless.

(2) How long does she have to take this?

Until the whole bottle is gone? Or a week and then dispose of what's leftover? I know it's important not to shortchange it even when baby is obviously feeling better. It took about 48 hours on antibiotic for Coco to be totally back to 100% normal, but we kept slogging away with the syringe full of medicine because the doctor instructed us to finish the full regiment of medicine in order to make sure the whole infection was taken care of and wouldn't come back as some kind of raging antibiotic-resistant monster ear infection (obviously a scenario we want to avoid).

(3) What are the side effects?

This is a question that I think is easy to skip because we assume the doctor would just tell you without being asked. When I went in for strep throat I did not want to talk at all, let alone have an extended conversation about potential side effects. But of course I needed to tell them I was breast feeding and make sure there weren't any side effects that could interfere with that. Plus I tend to get queasy if I take medicine on any empty stomach, so I always want to ask about taking it with food and whether a glass of wine is off limits... Inquiring minds want to know.

(4) Have their been any FDA warnings or recalls on this medication?

I confess I haven't actually ever thought to ask this question, which is why I agreed to post these recommended questions here. Because wouldn't you assume if a medicine got recalled, it would not be prescribed? But I guess that's sometimes not the case? So obviously a better-safe-than-sorry situation, right?

I think the real lesson with all of these questions is that even though you should have a solid and trusting relationship with your physician, you always have to be an advocate for yourself and your child.

I still feel terrible for not speaking up when Coco was given the wrong blood test as a teeny baby. People make errors and it's better to come off as high maintenance and full of questions than to not say anything and regret it later. Being polite is important, but if you're uncertain about anything, you should say something. No health care provider should be too busy to walk you through every step in layman's terms. And if a doctor doesn't automatically know the answer to this question, that's a red flag worth investigating!

Other advice? Questions you wished you'd asked? Questions you always ask? Advice for curing nose-picking in contrary two-year-olds?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Around My House

In my fridge you'll always find:
Organic whole milk, cheese, and fruit 

Favorite family recipe:
Grandma Vance's chocolate waffles 

Favorite junk food:
Movie theatre popcorn

I'll do anything to avoid:
Grading papers!

My secret cleaning weapon is:
Vinegar and water (nontoxic, cleans everything, and I actually like the smell!)

Before company arrives, I hide:
Kiddie toys and the pile of mail on my desk

I love to shop for:
clothes for the girls

I hate to shop for:
Jeans for myself

Bad habit:
Procrastinating on grading 

I just learned:
Peaches are the ovaries of the tree. (This came up in a discussion of T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" when a biology major in my class was commenting on whether or not Prufrock would eat the peach.)

Stuff I can't live without:
Burts Bees lip balm, nursing tanks, girlfriends, and the power of reverse psychology on stubborn two-year-olds

Weird housekeeping compulsion:
I always keep the toilet lids down when not in use. I got a massage one time at a crunchy/hippy spa and they had a sign in the bathroom asking people to put the lid down after use because it helped with feng shui. I don't know much about feng shui, but I figure it can't hurt and now it's a thing--it drives me crazy if the lid is up.

On bed making:
I love when the bed is made. It feels soooo much better to be in a room with a made bed, and better to climb into those sheets at night. And it only takes about 45 seconds to yank up the duvet and toss pillows on top! But if Coco is having a clingy morning, I'd rather skip making the bed than put her down and make her cry for 45 seconds. So basically her moods decide whether our bed gets made or not.

Personal motto/mantra:
Be grateful.

I wish I could tell my younger self:
Chill the eff out.

Do you put down the lid to the toilet? Do you let your baby dictate whether or not you make the bed? What's always in your fridge? What advice would you give your younger self? Spill it.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Work Out Plan

So... exercising. Bah.

It reminds me of my dissertation in that I hated doing it, but I loved having done it.

I also remember this little technique I used when finishing my dissertation--I changed the way I talked about it. Instead of saying, "I have to do some work on my dissertation today," I would say, "I want to do some work on my dissertation today."

So I'm trying that mind game with exercise. Forget the "I should be working out more" or "I really need to strengthen my core." I'm replacing that with "I want to do a quick workout today!" and we'll see how that goes.

The truth is that I don't always have time for things I want to do (see the recorded episodes of The Good Wife, languishing unwatched in my DVR, and my copy of Wolf Hall which I still haven't gotten very far through, despite my plans to reread it before watching the PBS series of the same name). (Spoiler: I watched a couple episodes of Wolf Hall this morning while Coco napped and I WORKED OUT AS I WATCHED IT).

I was talking with my friend Kristin (by which I mean e-mailing and blog commenting even though I did also see her in person yesterday but we talked about more interesting things than my core) and she proselytized about her gym membership. She's pretty persuasive, but right now I don't want to pay for a gym membership just to take a couple classes a week (this may change when the girls are a bit older and can do more stuff at the Y) and I just don't want to spend ninety minutes exercising in the evening when I'm away from my family at work all day (this is not just a philosophical thing--it is mostly because of breastfeeding).

So I've decided not to bother with thinking about yoga classes until I'm no longer nursing a baby. Once Coco weans, I'll commit to yoga class once a week and maybe something else. I'd love to try a Barre fitness class. My awesome yogi cousin Bekah does yoga everydamnday and I am super jealous of her skills and her dedication to yoga practice, but she is also a darling hipster grad student with a different set of cares and responsibilities and schedules than I currently have right now (once upon a time, I did Pilates like it was my second job...).

The issue is what can I reasonably want to do right now. And by "right now," I mean between now and July 25. I'm setting the goal of my brother's wedding, not because anyone there will be judging me or probably even notice what I'm wearing, let alone whether it's a size bigger or smaller than what I'm wearing now, but just because it's happening in about three months and I feel like that's about the only extended length of time that seems reasonable for me to commit to anything--should be long enough to get into the habit and see results, but not so long that I can't pretend the end is in sight (Although, the idea is that the "end" will just be switching things up rather than giving up entirely. You know, because I'll be totally fit and buff by then. Hahaha. Ahem. Yes.).

A little TMI: I don't like jogging right now because breastfeeding makes my boobs ridiculous. So instead of telling myself I should be jogging but I can't because I don't have a bra that fits, I'm going to (1) make the investment in a $40 sports bra that fits me NOW, and (2) do a lot of fast walking. I'm pretty sure there are studies that say walking briskly is good for your heart and also burns calories and it's got to be better than nothing, so I'm just going to do it.

I'm not going to even think about a treadmill because walking on a treadmill in my university's fitness center sounds disgusting. And smelly. (Not me, the dudes.) Plus part of my thing about not working out is that it's more time away from the girls on work days. So the solution is obviously to push the stroller on a walk. Before work is just not going to happen because hahahaha so after work it is.

My new plan is to pack my workout clothes and change into them before I leave the office. Then after I pick up the girls, I'll push the double stroller for a 25-minute walk. (Why 25 minutes? Because it sounds way shorter than half an hour. I'm going to pick 6 songs I want to walk to that's it.)

I can easily go to Forest Park or Tower Grove Park on our way home, both of which are absolutely lovely and have plenty of walking trails that don't have a clear view of the playground (because then you know it's all over). I may have to give Coco some boob time before we leave daycare, but as long as she gets a quick fix and I remember to pack a snack for Zuzu, this should go smoothly. Plus, walking briskly while pushing 45 pounds of kid in a double stroller is serious business.

Bonus: Fresh air for everyone! And you know I'll be in a better mood after, which is probably the biggest win.

I'm going to plan to do this twice a week. I could probably do it three times, but right now I'm going to say I get Fridays off.

The other trick that I'm employing from my dissertation days is the old "You only have to do this for 15 minutes" thing. When I couldn't get myself to start, I'd set a timer for 15 minutes and make myself sit down for just that length of time. Invariably, the timer would get off and I'd already have the momentum to keep going. It was just the idea of 15 minutes that made it palatable.

The same applies to working out, except in this case it's 10 minute Pop Sugar workout videos. If all I can do is squeeze in 10 minutes, then that's fine. In most cases, I can do two 10 minute videos back to back.

And let me tell you, if I do two 10 minute core videos back to back, I am FEELING it.

The other one I do is Tracy Anderson's 8 minute arms. (I think it's a segment from a longer work out--I searched Tracy Anderson 10 minute arms on youtube and it came up, but really it's 8 minutes. It will be the longest 8 minutes of your life. And I say that having birthed a 8 1/2 pound baby without meds less than a year ago.) Her workout doesn't require weights and it is killer. I can barely finish it right now. But when I do, I feel like a badass. (Bad ass-ness is relative, I do realize.)

So that's my plan. Long walks with the double stroller twice a week. 10 minute workout 5 times a week.

I get that it's not much. But it's something. It's something I can actually DO instead of just beat myself up for not doing. And I do believe it can make a difference, at least in how I FEEL if not so much in how I look.

(Particularly considering I ate a donut for breakfast today.)

(It was delicious.)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

SIDS Research

We've been keepin' on keepin' on here. It's been a busy week--David has late nights, I have stuff going on at work that's keeping me busy, Zuzu's still been hitting (and occasionally missing) the potty, Coco is trying new foods every three days like it's her job, Cooper is barking his ass off at anyone who walks by our house or drives a large vehicle by our house, and has just barked himself right outside because it's nap time and they are both sleeping at once and NOBODY BETTER RUIN THAT FOR ME.

Today was my first stay at home day in ages that I didn't have a ton of grading to do, which meant I've almost caught up on laundry piled up downstairs (missing last weekend's laundry session, plus Zuzu going through more than one pair of pants per day is keeping our washing machine busy) AND I managed to mop the kitchen floor. My bare feet are thanking me because it was seriously kind of gross. Cooper is a great clean-up helper, but it turns out that for the really clean feeling, you need more than a dog's tongue mopping up spills. (You can quote me on that.)

I also cleaned and organized the refrigerator because I DON'T KNOW WHY. Actually, I think it's because I did a 10-minute core workout and after I do that I feel weirdly productive and also kind of smug. Until I try to put on real pants and then I see how much core work there still is to do and I think I should just eat Thin Mints and watch TV.

Anyway, this is all lead up completely unrelated to what I actually wanted to share, which is an article about recent research in SIDS. I hope so much that this doctor is able to determine a specific cause, and most importantly, to develop a way to screen newborn babies for it in the hospital.

I remember all too well those moments when the baby was sleeping just a little too still, or her hand was placed in a certain position, or she'd been napping for so long that I'd peek in on her, and there would be a moment when my heart was in my throat because it was impossible for me not to imagine the worst. To be able to prevent SIDS would be an incredible gift to families all over the world.

This other article includes a link where you can donate to his research--I haven't done it yet, but my friend Laura got a thank you e-mail from the doctor after she donated. I'm impressed, and really hopeful this is something we see solved in the near future.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Oh Hey We Spent The Last Few Days Doing All This Stuff

We had an eventful three day weekend. I even took a nap on Saturday!

(Let's all pause to reflect on the fact that my ability to take a nap (1) was noteworthy enough to get mentioned in the opening paragraph (2) evidently merited use of an exclamation mark (3) probably won't happen again until 2020.)

We drove to my parents' on Friday. The day started out not-so-great. I had to work on Friday and didn't get out of there as early as I'd hoped (story of my life). Coco woke up Friday morning with eye gunk and I just KNEW she had another ear infection even though she had no other symptoms (same story as two months ago). I scheduled her an appointment for Friday afternoon and David offered to take her while I finished packing.

Of course packing for three people at the last minute is not easy, and even though I tried to plan ahead, I actually under-packed for the girls, forgot my tennis shoes, and packed Coco's size 9-months pink leggings for Zuzu to wear. Oops.

Anyway, after the doctor appointment and my frantic packing process, Coco got her meds, we got the car loaded, and we finally hit the road.

Oh--but we had one other factor to consider.

Zuzu potty-trained herself on Thursday.

I really can take no credit for this. After my frustrating attempts at 3-Day Potty Training, David and I decided we would just scale back. Basically, we put diapers on her when convenient, and let her wear big girl panties at home, encouraging her to go to the potty and cleaning up a LOT of messes. It was so aggravating because I had all these awesome prizes for her and she didn't even have ONE success so she could get a taste for bribery.

But I decided to just chill out about it and pretend that inconsistent parenting was actually the pathway to potty-trained.

So Thursday morning was a stay-at-home day for me, and when Zuzu got up in the morning, I asked if she wanted to wear big girl panties. She did.

But she also wanted to wear this:

So I told her she could wear her Elsa dress, but she'd have to keep it dry. Because if she peed in her big girl panties, the dress would have to be washed and she wouldn't be able to wear it anymore.

Little did I know, I actually had landed on the ONE THING she cared about not peeing on.

That kid peed in the potty every single time on Thursday, even when I would forget to prompt her. (Which was every time. Because I was in the practice of being inconsistent.)

She told me when she had to go, we hustled to the potty, and I busted out the Peepee Prize Box in all of its glory (in case you're wondering, Peepee Prizes include character figurines from Frozen, Minnie Mouse stickers, applesauce pouches, princess glubs, a tiara, a personalized canvas bag, crayons, and a notepad sent by Crafty Cousin Amanda as an Easter present but confiscated by me for potty training purposes, a hand-me-down purse from my friend Erin, packets of fruit snacks, and Skittles).

She loved the personalized bag so much, she slept with it. In our bed, because of course.

I was SO happy that things went well on Thursday. Gleeful. I sent her to school in big girl panties on Friday and she only had one accident on her way to the potty, and ACTUALLY CARED. Her teacher texted me, "She almost made it and she was really sad, so I told her that accidents happen and gave her a sticker for trying."

I texted back, "OMG I am so happy that she is sad!"

And then had to explain, "I mean, I'm just really happy that she cares she didn't make it and she wants to TRY!" But I still kind of sounded like a monster.

We haven't had a perfect record since then (to be pefectly honest, three out of five Duckworths pooped or peed on Grammy's carpet over the weekend--and Cooper was the most ashamed) but we are not buying any more diapers!

Anyway, we put Zuzu in a pull-up for the car ride because we are not crazy. But she kept it dry and actually peed in the big potty at Taco Bell (!). We ended up with an hour delay at Taco Bell because we walked in right after a team of softball players had already ordered but not yet received their food so we placed our order without realizing we'd be there FOREVER. Or at least long enough for Zuzu to peepee on the potty and get comfortable enough there to try to run circles around the restaurant shouting, "I peepee on the potty!"

We finally made it to my parents at 11:00pm. Zuzu was so excited she had actually managed to stay awake until 9:50pm in the car, and then she rallied to hang out with my parents for an hour before we headed up to bed.

Coco showed off her crawling and pulling up skills as I was changing her diaper right after we arrived. She pulled herself to standing at the love seat with a bare little baby butt and then tinkled all over the carpet. (Just making up for what they are missing since Little "I Pee Wherever I Want" Mac is no longer with us.)

At 8 months old, she stands around all the time now.

Coco also spent the weekend forgetting all her good sleeping habits and has now regressed from sleeping all night or waking once to wanting to nurse three times a night. You can guess how much I love this.

Saturday morning we went to a pancake breakfast at the Catholic school. We knew it was time to leave when I caught Zuzu trying to shimmy up a large cross in the dining hall. At least Jesus wasn't hanging on it.

After breakfast we took the girls out to get their photos taken for the annual Little Cutie contest. Two years ago, Zuzu got an Honorable Mention, which obviously means we got robbed. Last year we didn't make it to Nevada at the right time to get them taken, so this year I wanted to have both girls.

The photographer had an adorable tea party table set up and Coco was doing such a good job of sitting in the chair.

Until she face-planted off of it onto the hard floor.

I was RIGHT BEHIND her and ready to catch her, but she'd also broken a tea cup right before she dived off the chair and I'd picked up the broken pieces so I had them in one hand and when she tipped forward, I just couldn't move fast enough to grab her. I slowed her fall, but couldn't keep her from bonking her head on the floor.

She had a big red spot on her forehead and I felt terrible, even though she didn't actually cry that much.

Zuzu was reasonably cooperative, and Coco did quite well even with interrupted morning nap time and a head injury. #MOTY

With a little luck, I think the pictures are going to be really cute. And of course that's all that matters, child welfare aside.

After that debacle, I needed my nap. It was blissful.

Coco slept while I slept and Zuzu made Moon Clay/Kinetic Sand with my mom and also dumped a bunch of gold glitter on the carpet. Cooper ate a bunch of the sand outside, so he had fun, too. Because glitter really is the herpes of the craft world, we're still finding gold glitter in unexpected places, included a very sparkly deposit Cooper made last night on our walk.

That evening we attended Dancing With Our Stars, Nevada, which is a charity event in which local couples compete in a dance competition. It was so much fun to watch. My high school boyfriend's little sister was in it, and his other sister has a baby boy who is just a month younger than Coco (but taller!) so I got to see both of them and their kiddos, which was great. I'm trying to convince David that we should see if non-residents can compete next year because I want to enter the dance contest! Not that we are great dancers. I just think it looks like fun.

Zuzu was really into the dancing but had no patience for the talking in between each performance. And when dancers came up from the crowd to join the couple performing "YMCA," Zuzu thought that the audience got to go up on stage whenever they wanted and she was DETERMINED to get up there. So the second half of the show was a little more challenging in terms of keeping her corralled in our seats. But she ran off a lot of steam "dancing" at intermission and enjoyed the high school swing choir's performance at the end.

We took the girls to church on Sunday which means that I barely got to listen to the sermon and Zuzu peed twice and "tried" to pee three times while we were there.

After church we went to the White Grill, where Zuzu rejected suzy q's but ate some of her grilled cheese and part of the bun of Grammy's burger (the kid loves bread but not potatoes). We also saw my BFF Monica's mom there, which was a fun surprise. Also I had a coke, which was an awesome treat since I never drink pop and it is SO delicious. And somehow tastes better in a styrofoam cup with crushed ice.

David and I caught a community theatre matinee show that afternoon, and then we hung out with my cousin Brandi and her daughter Mesa and had dinner with them and Brandi's parents and my Papa. It was a really nice afternoon, and we were sad to load up in the car after dinner to head home.

We'd decided to head back to St. Louis Sunday night because we had tickets to the Cardinals home opener, so we thought it would be easiest for the girls to sleep in the car, then get up and go to school as usual the next day while David and I played hooky from work and had another "day date."

Zuzu told me her tummy hurt as we were leaving and I asked if she had to poop (because all we talk about is pee and poop). She said, "No,

I sad." I said, "Do you mean your chest hurts because you miss Grammy and Bop?"

She nodded, "Yes. I miss Grammy and Bop."

I said, "I miss them, too. So we need to remember that they are coming to see us soon! They're going to come to our house in St. Louis."

She smiled and said, "That make me happy!"

So sweet.

The ride home was uneventful (lots of sleeping in the backseat, no stopping!) and David and I had a great time at the ballgame, although we underestimated the traffic, ended up making a crazy left turn across two lanes in bumper-to-bumper traffic under an overpass, and parked so far away that we had to climb a chain-link fence to get to the brewery where we had a beer before walking the rest of the way to the stadium. It was a fun date!

We left the game early to make it back to daycare before it closed for the day, so we missed the sad end to the game but had a great time in the crazy atmosphere even though we missed seeing the Clydesdales because the lines to get in through the metal detectors were SO long and slow.

We took the girls to the park last night and then to Ted Drewes because it didn't feel like a Monday, it felt like a VACATION day! 

She likes swinging, in case that wasn't obvious.

Except really we went to Ted Drewes for us because Coco's not eating ice cream and when I offered it to Zuzu, she said, "I no like ice cream."

I said, "You don't like ice cream? What kind of kid are you?"

She looked at me like she was kind of hurt and said, "Zuzu."

Now it's back to real life. I came into campus to meet with students and get organized and David has a lot of late nights this week which means I'm on my own for dinner which is the worst. But! Only four weeks until my semester is over! And plenty to keep me busy in the meantime. Like grocery shopping by myself with both of them. (Actually they did great--but man it's hard to get organized after bring out of town for a weekend.)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Easter Portraits

This is my last post about Easter, I swear! I was looking back at Zuzu's very first Easter portraits, and wanted to post this year's cuteness.

Zuzu is wearing my old Easter dress (made by my mom) from 1983. Coco is sporting a bunny jacket that belonged to the daughter of a teacher at David's school.

I love this photo of Zuzu. The basket she's holding is a Longaberger basket I got as a bridesmaid gift when I was in Crafty Cousin Amanda's wedding. Normally I keep Chapstick and lotion and whatnot in it by my bed, but it made a cute little Easter basket.

The eggs were borrowed from the photographer. They were foam and Zuzu was obsessed with how cool they were. In fact, when it was time to leave, leaving the eggs behind caused serious problems. It was an epic meltdown--one of the worst ever and definitely the worst one she's ever had in public. I was changing Coco, so David got the brunt of it, including a bite on the shoulder that left a wicked mark (he had the bruise for days, even after the teeth marks faded).

But she sure looks sweet holding that basket!

Coco was actually not at all smiley for this photo session--I swear it was the only morning in her life she wasn't full of smiles. 

I know the studio portraits are a little cheesy, but I love capturing special outfits, and it's so affordable. Worth the hassle, as long as I can avoid getting bitten.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In Which We Ruin Otherwise Lovely Photos of Flowers and Chickens

We took the girls to the Botanical Gardens on Easter. It was such a lovely day and things were blooming and I thought that we'd take lots of charming pictures of the girls in front of flowers. David took most of the pictures (no comment) and I thought that we would have several really good snapshots. I mean seriously, we must have taken like 300 photos. These are the best of the bunch. I wish I were kidding.

On the upside, I was pleasantly surprised by how many lovely flowers were already blooming, and it was really such a nice day to be there (just a little chilly in the morning, but a perfect opportunity for Zuzu to wear a little Easter sweater I'd picked up for her at a resale shop) and--as long as you weren't trying to dine in their restaurants--it wasn't at all crowded.

I climbed with and chased Zuzu in the Children's Garden and it was so nice to not be pregnant and to be able to keep up with her. Last summer I felt so hot and heavy and slow, but on Sunday I was able to go across the rope bridges and duck into the corners of the little cave.

I swear Coco had more fun than it looks like she's having. Zuzu was obviously too busy to pose for photos. I don't love that David and I have sunglasses on in all the photos, but I also don't like squinting. It was still a beautiful day at the gardens, though.

Skipping along, but refusing to look toward the camera.

Seriously, Coco? Is it really that bad?

They're both looking in the same direction. This is as good as it's going to get.

Pensive baby, face oddly shadowed. Flowers are pretty!

Not looking!

Happy baby tongue.

Mama and Coco. Took about 50 photos to get this one.

This basically sums up the reality of the photo session.
Close up on the sweater. Isn't it sweet?
Coco is so over us.
Close up on Coco's face. That lip!
Oh, hai, baby. Thanks for the wave.

Running away at the Children's Garden. Not pictured: meltdown when it was time to leave.

After the gardens, we headed back home to have lunch. We were already late for nap time, so we decided to skip it and had another Easter egg hunt in the backyard. Then we busted out the new chickens.

The old chickens are alive and well, but no longer laying for us because they are lazy bitchez. So they are going to retirement on a farm owned by one of the teachers at David's school (that's not a euphemism).

Easter egg hunt at home.

Singing to the chickens. Like ya do.

Grandma Peppa shows Zuzu how to pick up a chik'n

Making chik'n friends

I don't think I'll ever get the perfect, smiling-yet-candid shots that I envision when I try to do these little photo sessions of and with the girls. But even with the drama, the pouting, and the singing, I love that we are able to capture a little bit of who they are right now.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Egging

We had a really low-key Easter, but it was really the most fun. Zuzu was really into it--even more than she was into Christmas.

And my heart is a lot lighter at Easter than it is as Christmas, so it was easy for us to get excited, too.

Coming at the end of spring break didn't hurt, as the week was pretty relaxing overall. David's grandma was in town and we fit in some fun activities and some downtime.

Thursday was rainy, so we made a trip to Central Library and Zuzu got her very own library card!

On Friday we went to the science center. We didn't think about the fact that it was Good Friday and all the schools would be out. It was way too crowded for my taste, particularly because Zuzu didn't want to hold hands with anyone. She stayed pretty close, but it was such a zoo as we tried to navigate with Coco in the stroller. We did run into another St. Louis blogger who recognized Zuzu from my IG feed, so that was fun, but I was more than ready to go after about an hour. Still, Zuzu seemed to really enjoy herself, even if she was too little for a lot of the displays and activities.

Helped Daddy build the arch!
On Saturday, David decided he wanted to add more landscaping bricks around his garden in the backyard, so he and Zuzu made a trip to Home Depot. It turned out that Home Depot was having an Easter egg hunt, but there were very few people there, so David told Zuzu she could pick up six eggs. They gave her a bucket and she gathered her eggs and when she got home, she was still SO EXCITED about it. It was really adorable.

He had to make another trip back to Home Depot for the second load of bricks and his grandma decided to ride along, so she and Zuzu walked around and an employee told Zuzu she could pick up Easter eggs (she was still carrying her bucket from the first trip). Gma explained that Zuzu's dad had told her she already had a turn and wasn't to pick up any more eggs, but the lady said Zuzu could pick up as many as she wanted.

You better believe she FILLED that bucket!

We don't let her have bubblegum or jawbreakers, but she got plenty of Skittles and Starburst, so she was pretty freaking happy. She did try a piece of chocolate and then spit it out and said, "I don't like clock-clot!"

At bedtime on Saturday, she was so excited about the Easter Bunny coming to our house and hiding eggs that she had a hard time settling down. She was super excited to find eggs when she woke up in the morning.

She spotted an egg the Easter bunny had hidden near the fireplace
She and David put out a carrot for the Easter Bunny and she was delighted to see the bunny had nibbled on it!

Her Easter basket contained an Elsa dress, a doctor kit, a Mr. Pencil (that goes with an iPad app), some bubbles, a book with the characters from Frozen and a pair of shorts. No candy! I did put Skittles and yogurt covered raisins in her Easter eggs, though. She probably would have been more excited if they'd contained berries.

I actually had more things for Zuzu's basket, but I transferred them to the PeePee Prize Box.

(She has collected a few prizes--but far fewer than she should have. I'm going to leave it at that.)

(I wish I got a prize for peeing, although Zuzu's positive reinforcement is quite charming: "Good job, Mommy! You peepee on the potty!")

Coco's Easter basket had a swim suit and sunglasses, a book, Where Are Baby's Easter Eggs?, pacifiers, and bubbles. She was pretty fascinated by the empty Easter eggs, though.

My parents gave the girls some Minnie Mouse pots and pans and utensils for the play kitchen, and their adorable Easter sleepwear.

After the excitement of the baskets and the egg hunt, we ate homemade cinnamon rolls and had a fun morning with David's grandma.

The weather was so beautiful we decided to take the girls to the Botanical Gardens. More on that (and photos) to follow later.

I'm loving the girls at these ages. They can really test my patience, but they can also be so, so sweet. I feel very lucky to be their mama, and so glad we had an easy going break and a very happy Easter.

P.S. What I was writing about two years ago: Easter in Arizona

What I was writing about four years ago: four months without Eliza, my favorite tree, and my mom

What I was writing about six years ago: why I didn't change my name

Thursday, April 2, 2015

April Flop

So I planned this hilarious April Fool's joke for David. I stole the idea from Heather at The Spohrs are Multiplying and decided that Zuzu and I would trick David when we made lunch.

We took the girls to the zoo on Wednesday morning. The weather was gorgeous, so we got there early enough to beat the crowd and left at 11:00am. David asked if we wanted to walk through the River's Edge section, but Zuzu and I were more than ready to go. She had a meltdown on the carousel because she wanted to ride the giraffe but it was already taken.

(Sidenote: She is currently really into giraffes, based in part on this book Giraffes Can't Dance that David reads to her almost every night these days. So she's always talking about Gerard the Giraffe and when we got to the zoo, she immediately said, "I want to see Gerard!" Last night when I was reading the book to her--while David was at his THIRD fantasy baseball draft--I realized that the giraffe's name is actually Gerald. Regardless, we strolled out of the zoo with her sobbing, "But I want Gerard!" I've decided Gerard the Giraffe is Gerald's sophisticated older brother.)

Anyway, we got home from the zoo and David took the girls upstairs for changes and hand-washing, and I scurried around to make grilled cheeses. I'd started carefully planning this on Tuesday when I went to the store.

Step (1): I bought a pound cake. I peeled the sticker off so it didn't say "pound cake" and casually mentioned to David that I'd picked up some good bakery bread for grilled cheeses.

Step (2): I bought a container of buttercream icing. It already has a yellowish tint, but I added red and yellow food coloring to it to make it velveeta-orange.

Step (3): When I started lunch, I sliced the poundcake and toasted two pieces of it in the toaster oven. Then I spread the frosting over, adding plenty so that it smooshed out the sides just bit and looked like melty cheese. (It obviously didn't look quite right, but if you were expecting grilled cheese and didn't look at it too closely, it totally worked.)

Step (4): I put some potato chips on the side and told David his sandwich was ready.

David wanted to watch part of a ballgame, so he took his plate into the TV room. Zuzu and I tiptoed into the dining room to peek around the corner and watch him eat. I'd told Zu that we were playing a trick on Daddy and to get ready to yell "April Fools!"

So we watched as David ate a chip.

Then he took a drink of water.

AT LAST, he took a bite of sandwich.

I stifled giggles and waited for his reaction.

He chewed, swallowed, and TOOK ANOTHER BITE.

No comment, no weird expression.

I said, "Are you KIDDING me?" and started cracking up.

He said, "What?"

I said, "How's your grilled cheese?" (Zuzu was also giggling even though I don't think she knew what was funny, but I couldn't stop laughing.)

He said, "Kind of sweet."


He said, "I wondered why I couldn't really taste the cheese."

And that, my friends, is an April Flop. We yelled "April FOOLS" anyway, but it wasn't quite what I'd been imagining.

I'll never beat the year that I convinced him the shed had collapsed in the backyard right after he spent two days painting it (he still talks about it). I think I need to give up the practical jokes and go back to drama/acting if I really want to trick him...

Any good jokesters out there? I considered saran wrapping the toilet, but let's face it: we are cleaning up enough pee as it is around here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Spring Breaking

We are on Week Day 2 of Spring Break and it's been a pretty good one so far.

Today, for example, David and I had a "date day." I hear people talk about "stay-cations" and I kind of roll my eyes at the idea, but today we did it and it. was. awesome.

We slept in (as late as you can sleep in with a baby and a toddler) then took the kids to daycare and went to the art museum. We wandered around and I made David play my hypothetical games: "Which of these paintings would you put in our house?" "Which of these artists would you want to paint our family portrait?"

We went out to lunch at a little vegetarian eatery that is my new FAVORITE restaurant and I plan to return there as soon as possible. Maybe this weekend.

We wandered down the street from the lunch place and ordered gelato and sat outside soaking up the sunshine and eating gelato.

And then we went to the grocery store and bought Easter egg filler (yogurt covered raisins and fruit snacks for our child who is missing a sweet tooth) and beer and pancake mix. We forgot milk.

We came home and hung up frames in the big girl room and our bedroom and the nursery (since some of the nursery art work moved with Zuzu to the big girl room) and then I picked up the girls from daycare and dropped them at home and David hung out with them on the patio while I ran back to the grocery store to get milk.

I've also managed to attack my reading list. I graded essays the first day of break, and I still have a bunch of exams to grade, but I'm also (finally) doing some reading. I read Citizen by Claudia Rankine and texted my BFF from high school and told her she absolutely MUST order it and read it right this second because it was taking my breath away as I read it. (She did order it. And a copy for her sister. I love that about her.)

I also raced through the thriller The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. It was intense. I figured it out before the end, but I still liked it enough to finish reading it under the covers with the flashlight on my iphone because David was whining about the lamp being on. [Edited to add: This book involves a dead baby. It isn't central to the story, but it's definitely disturbing. I mean, the whole book is somewhat disturbing, but if that's a trigger for you, skip it.]

As far as thrillers go, I think I liked The Farm by Tom Rob Smith even more. Creepy and intriguing and a cool narrative set up. I basically neglected my family to finish it, which is the sign of a great book.

Speaking of the family: Coco has started crawling, which is exciting and also exhausting (for me, not her!). She's a week shy of eight months old and is on the move about six weeks younger than Zuzu was when she crawled (Zuzu started crawling Easter weekend two years ago!).

She spoiled us last weekend by sleeping through the night two nights in a row. She's continued to do pretty well since then, but still wakes up once or twice. I almost think it would have been better if she'd never teased me by sleeping all the way through at all. She really is the sweetest thing, though.

We've had some issues with Zuzu pushing Coco over onto her back from a sitting position. She's never hurt Coco, though obviously it could bang her head, but it does infuriate Coco (and me, because Zuzu KNOWS she's not supposed to do it). When Coco cries, Zuzu then tries to dramatically cradle her in her arms and whisper words of comfort. It's become clear that she's still acting out the early scene in Frozen when Elsa hurts Anna and then cradles her sister and says something like, "It was an accident!"

This imaginary play is really adorable, but I also feel compelled to keep poor Coco from being the victim every time.

I've finally decided that I'm going to keep hurting my back until (1) I quit lifting small children or (2) I get my core back in shape. So now I'm doing daily core workouts. It makes me remember my grad school days when I paid the student rate to attend Pilates classes once or twice a week and I thought holding a plank pose for one minute was NO BIG DEAL. Ha. I'm hoping that muscle memory is a real thing and my ab muscles start to remember that they once existed.

Okay. Should we talk about potty training? We had two full days of ZERO success (I mean nada, nothing, not even once, unless you count the time I caught her in the act and she peed down my leg on the way to the toilet but then was still going when I sat her on the toilet so... she halfway made it? But I had to change my pants and hers, so not really a win.). I was ready to just give up. Instead, we decided to chill out as best we could. Instead of making it an all or nothing thing, we're just trying to make it work and using diapers when necessary for our sanity.

Tonight, we were in the back room and she came walking in carrying her Thomas the Train potty chair (it lives in the bathroom, where potty chairs belong). She was already in her pajamas and night-time diaper. We asked what she was doing. She said nothing to us, set the potty down on the floor next to me, pulled down her pants, removed her night-time diaper, sat down and peed in the potty.


She got three Skittles and a prize from the Peepee Prize Box--she selected sunglasses.

The problem is that now that she's demonstrated how capable she is, I will feel even MORE frustrated when she refuses to go to the potty tomorrow. But I'm trying to remember this is a process. A process that requires lots of laundry and plenty of wine.

Aside from failing at potty training, reading novels, cursing doing core workouts, and going on day dates while my children are being cared for by others, I also got a massage yesterday. So what I'm saying is spring break has had its ups and downs, but the ups have been pretty great.