Friday, August 28, 2015

It's David's Birf-day!

I asked Zuzu yesterday who was older, Mommy or Daddy.


She said this definitively, absolutely sure of herself.


David is older, thankyouverymuch, and I'm clearly the much younger trophy wife, if you will.

Except the trophy is my brain. Hahahah.

Oh mercy. It's Friday of the longest week EVAH and I'm feeling a little slaphappy.

Speaking of which, I'm celebrating my husband's birthday by going to a happy hour with work colleagues and leaving him to do the whole pick up and pre-dinner hour by himself. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HONEY! Also, Good Luck.

Zuzu and I will be baking him a cake when I get home, though. German chocolate upside down cake, which she will get super excited about and then not actually eat. Her unwillingness to eat sweets will not stop her from raving about how delicious it is, which is one of my favorite things about her: the fact that she doesn't actually like cake or cookies does not stop her from being SUPER enthusiastic about them!

Coco's mysterious viral spots are clearing up. Zuzu was a great sister at the doctor's visit. She turned to the doctor very seriously and said, "We need you to get these spots off of her."

Much to our dismay, the doctor could not get the spots off of her while we were there, but I'm relieved that they are mostly faded and never caused any discernible discomfort or distress. So WEIRD.

There was some distress when Coco somersaulted backwards down four stairs last night. We are hoping it was a "live and learn" moment for her, but I was totally freaked out when I witnessed it happening but couldn't get across the room fast enough to prevent it. Poor little punkin. It's easy to roll down stairs when you're small and round.

Her spill did initiate her into the club, though, because now the entire family has fallen down the stairs at least once. Cooper being the exception to this rule.

I swear we're not especially clumsy. The stairs are kinda narrow and we like to move fast. Fortunately they're carpeted and no one has been seriously injured, aside from our pride and dignity.

(But we all know I don't have much of that left at this point anyway.)

We have some fun things planned for this weekend, so hopefully I'll have something to write about besides how tired I am, how I get too many emails, and how my students need to buy their freaking textbooks already.

(Obviously I am super fun to hang out with right now.)

Before I go, here are some things I want to watch/read/do/buy, but don't have the time or energy to watch/read/do/buy. Maybe in a couple weeks when the madness of the start of the semester has died down but the insanity of midterms has not yet hit?:

The documentary Tig about comedian Tig Natoro and her life after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Euphoria by Lily King and (don't judge) The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan.

Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park (okay--we are planning to try to do this tomorrow).

This shirt dress. So versatile, right? Plus it's cute and nursing friendly!

Anything else I should be watching/reading/doing/buying? Do tell. I need to know how much I'm missing out on by being too tired to function by 8:30pm.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

When I'm Crying (And When I'm Not)

I miss her all the time, of course. It's not the burden that it was. It's just become a part of who I am.

But now and then, I get teary. And whatever the initial reason that my throat gets achy and my chest gets tight, and even when I start out crying about something entirely unrelated, I always seem to end up crying for her.

I'm glad to say that most of the time lately, it's less of the self-pitying kind of cry than it used to be. For so long after she died, I was drowning in self-pity. I hated the thought of other people feeling sorry for me, and my therapist would tell me that people feeling sad for me wasn't the same as being the object of pity.

But I felt so sorry for myself (as well as sad) that I couldn't clearly distinguish the two.

I still have moments of feeling plenty sorry for myself--I haven't morphed into a saint in the past 4.5 years, and I still have my why me moments.

But now when I cry it's not so much about the way things are as the loss of the way things might have been.

I'm no longer crying because I'm a pathetic wretch and my life feels like a horror story. I'm crying because I have living proof (times two) of how delightful and hilarious Eliza would have been, and I have to miss out on her forever, and to wish things otherwise now is so complicated.

Things are good. Really good. But they could have been so different.

So in my mind, I combine the way things are with the way things might have been and it's so perfectly perfect. Not in a fake and unbelievable way. Just... the way I wish they were.


At my brother's wedding, I felt kind of teary because he was so dang cute and happy and obviously in love. And then I felt kind of teary because I've been married eleven years and I feel so lucky to have David. And then I was teary because I wished my Nana could have been there. She would have loved it so much. She would have loved Brandon's wife. She would have made them a wedding quilt. She would have been thrilled to meet Jo's family. She would have been happy to have her family all together. She would have been so delighted that Brandon had "finally" met the right girl. And then--of course--I cried because I wanted Eliza to be a flower girl. The oldest one, the bossy one, the reliable one.

You know what's cuter than two sisters in puffy flower girl dresses?

Three sisters in puffy flower girl dresses.


I went to the lake last weekend with my girlfriends from college. I didn't want to spend two nights away from Coco, so I drove down Saturday morning with Zuzu and my parents met us there and took Zuzu home to spend the night with them as a special big girl treat, leaving Coco and David to have some one-on-one time. (We enjoyed our own special big girl treats in the form of booze.) It was a great day on the lake, and a fun night out, and we laughed and danced to '90s hip hop and told old stories and caught up on each others' lives and my stress level decreased considerably.

We played Cards Against Humanity and--without going into the details of the game, which is intended to be funny, gross, AND equal-opportunity-offensive--before the game started, I said, "Okay guys, there's a card in here that says 'Dead babies.'" I was going to ask that we just put it to the side so it (or rather I) wouldn't be a total buzz kill, but Stephanie (who brought the game) quickly said, "No. There's not."

And I wanted to cry because it was so freaking sweet of her to pull that card out ahead of time. And I wanted to cry because she had to freaking pull that card out ahead of time. Because of me. And my dead baby. (Yeah... that would have been mostly a self-pity kind of cry)


On Sunday we said our goodbyes and I still had some time before my parents were going to be back with Zuzu, so I headed for the outlet mall. I saw a cute fall dress I had to get for Zuzu, and I decided to get a coordinating outfit for Coco, and since they were such a good deal, I decided to pick up another coordinating dress for my best friend's daughter, who is six months older and wears a couple sizes bigger than Zuzu.

So there I was, in the check-out line, buying three little pumpkin outfits in stair-step sizes for three little girls.

(Don't judge--I declared my "buy nothing new" code did not apply to kids' clothes.)

I loved it. I loved knowing that the checkout girl was assuming that I had three daughters who were going to wear these outfits together for photographs in a pumpkin patch. I even let myself pretend for a moment that they were. I liked it so much I started thinking that maybe I should buy more clothes in bigger sizes for Zuzu to grow into.

You know what's even cuter than two sisters in coordinating pumpkin outfits?

Yeah. You get the idea.

The way things are + the way things might have been.


I didn't cry that day at the outlet mall, but I'm kind of getting teary-eyed now as I type that because it seems sort of pathetic and weird to even think about buying clothes just so strangers who work in children's clothing stores will assume that all three of my daughters are alive and I can experience what that might feel like for the length of the check-out experience.

But I'm also teary-eyed because I just watched a video of kids with Down syndrome getting letters announcing they've received college scholarships (You know what really gets me? The pride in their parents' voices.). I watched an interview my friend Beth did on the local news. I'm tired from the first couple of days of being back at school and back in a new routine that involves earlier mornings and longer days. Coco has a rash the doctor says is viral. Zuzu missed her nap today for her doctor appointment and as a result was screamy and hitty all evening until she finally passed out at 8:30 pm. I just wanted everyone to fall asleep so I could read Pride and Prejudice with no one talking to me. But aren't these the days I'm going to miss when the girls go to college? And Zuzu will be 18 in just 15 years...

All of these things make me cry, and then, quietly lurking in the back of everything else, is the grief. It comes back when I'm tired. When I'm emotional. When I'm not parenting as patiently as I probably should. When I've spent time with friends whose kids are the ages that my kids would have (might have) been. When the air gets just cool enough in August to remind us that fall is coming and after fall comes my season of sadness.

So... I'm tired. I'm feeling a little stressed. It's a busy time of year. Tears come easy. With grief comes tears, but for me it often works in reverse just as well.

With tears comes grief. It's been there all along, just waiting for a release.

And even when I'm not crying, I wonder who Eliza, at four-going-on-five, would have been.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Ugh.This Week.

So a maintenance guy just opened the door to my office as I sit here at my desk.

With my shirt off.

Pumping milk out of my boobs.

I yelled, "JUST A MINUTE" and crouched below my desk. He closed the door in a hurry and then asked me (through the closed door) if they'd done any construction in my office.



My life is SO glamorous and not at all embarrassing ever.

I'm tired and stressed out and I don't feel prepared for the semester to start. My syllabus prep time this week has been taken up by teaching demos and professional development workshops that were useful, but they aren't going to teach my classes for me this fall, now are they? I spent all morning proctoring and assessing essays to place students into writing classes and my head is practically spinning and I still haven't finished and have more meetings to attend tomorrow.

Last night I was the most tired and stressed I can remember feeling in a long time. So, naturally, David and I got into a big fight about nothing important at all and I was SO PISSED that if we didn't have two small people to take care of, I would have thrown something at him and stomped out of the house and driven myself to go get ice cream.

But instead I had to act like an adult and talk to him in low, measured tones even though I wanted to be screaming.

And I didn't get ice cream.

Today was Zuzu's first day at her new Montessori school. She was very excited to go, all smiles at drop-off, and the director called me mid-morning to say everything was fine, Zuzu was acting like she'd been there her whole life, and when they went out to play, she was the first one up the climber. Girlfriend is adaptable! Much more than her mama.

As weepy as I felt this week, knowing that David would be doing drop off and would have all those cute conversations with her in the car in the morning, I have to confess that when they left the house and it was just me in the kitchen fixing my yogurt, the baby still sleeping upstairs, everything so quiet and peaceful except for the dulcet tones of NPR... It was really calming! Amazing how much more relaxed the morning feels without her little voice chirping at me a steady stream of questions, demands, and often-contrary remarks.

And I will be the one who picks her up in the afternoons, so we'll still get some car talk time.

Coco transitions next week from baby room to toddler room and by that time we'll have adjusted to the new morning routine and in another week it will be hard to remember the way things were before.

Which is probably what the poor maintenance guy is thinking now that he's seen me hooked up to a breast pump.

Oh, the indignity.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Let's Get Back to My Life

All I do is blog about kids anymore, and isn't this blog really supposed to be a modest and objective report ALL ABOUT ME and not about my remarkably brilliant and adorable offspring?


So let's get back to my life outside of and in addition to and okay yes probably also dealing with my kids, stream-of-consciousness style shall we?

For starters, I was thinking about the make-up tax on women, and then I was thinking about how many minutes of my life I spend running back in the house for one more thing I've realized we've forgotten just as we all get loaded up in the car. I do this almost daily. This morning, I did it THREE TIMES.

(1) binky (Coco's)

(2) sunglasses (mine)

(3) pump attachments (sonofabitch the worst part of this was that I was leaving daycare before I realized this bag was missing, so I had to circle ALL the way back--daycare is 13 minutes from my house and in the direction of my work) and was 15 minutes late for work. It's a good thing I'm not a surgeon. For SO MANY reasons. Namely the reason that when I see needles, I like to faint, but also the one where I inevitably end up 10 minutes late for everything, in part because I think nothing should actually start until 7 minutes after its declared start time. It's just a personal philosophy that I strongly believe in.)

Also after I dropped off the girls, I realized I still had Zuzu's bag with her towel, swimsuit, and watershoes, so I had to U-turn back to her school and then I literally RAN up to the gate and saw another parent going in with a preschooler and asked her to take the bag in for me and the sprinted back to my car. This mom happens to be pretty cool and I would actually like to be her friend so hopefully she doesn't mind maybe being friends with people who can't get their sh*t together.

And the thing is, I really TRIED to get organized last night. I made David help me, even. Everything was laid out and ready to go. The problem is I literally carry no fewer than seven different bags out to the car, so until I get a bellhop to attend me on a daily basis, something often gets lost in the shuffle.

The other thing is that I wasn't going to pump anymore because Coco turned one and I hate pumping, but I am really reluctant to stop nursing (probably because she's my last baybee and I am a motherhood cliche), also I don't like to be uncomfortably aware of my boobs, also sometimes it's good to have a legitimate excuse to excuse myself from meetings and go to my office and lock the door for thirty minutes.

In other news, I decided to make the most of our LAST DAY OF SUMMER yesterday, so by ten after eight (of course my goal had been 8:00am), we were headed up to the park. Zuzu wore her Rapunzel hair because nothing is more fun than wrapping a yarn earwarmer around your head when it's 90 degrees out. We did the park, then made it home in time to get to story time at the library where she made a superhero cape and mask, then we came home to eat lunch and then went to Target to buy Cheerios and have an excuse to drive around in the car until she fell asleep.

Turns out the general public loves a preschooler in a cape and Rapunzel braid. She got many admiring glances and comments at Target. Also she kept making loud and shrill pronouncements like, "This is a FUN place!" Someone should put her in commercials.

After Target, I remembered that I needed to pick up the thank you cards I was having made for Coco's birthday, so I stopped by the printing place. They'd e-mailed me the day before to say they received my order and it should be ready soon, so I just assumed that since it was a small order it would be ready for pick up.

It turns out, they were behind schedule, so they hadn't made my cards yet.

BUT it turns out that when you show up in person, and you're dragging a tired baby and a toddler wearing a yarn wig and a cape made from a plastic tablecloth who loudly announces that she has to go potty, they will graciously lead you through a storage room and printing press area that off-limits to the public so you can use the employees-only bathroom, and then they print your cards in 10 minutes while you wait.

I went to a snake oils class earlier this week, and roped a friend into going with me. I keep thinking I should do a whole blog post about how much I like using essential oils (while cloth diapering, feeding our backyard chickens, and swimming in my birthing pool--which has a leak, dammit!) but then I figure I'll just sound like a crazy hippie.

I mean, I'll pop an ibuprofen when I need to, but I have seriously found that peppermint oil can cure a lot of headaches, that lavender helps me sleep, that lavender added to the bathtub helps the girls go to bed a little easier, that lemon and lavender rubbed on my neck soothe a sore throat (seriously, I was a TOTAL skeptic but it worked for me), that lemon in my water makes me pee a lot (therefore: detoxifying), that On Guard smells delicious and nobody in my family was seriously ill this winter (except for me getting mastitis, dangit). So I'm just saying I like oils.

I also like pretending that I run an apothecary and fondling all the little bottles. David's obsessed with the Deep Blue muscle rub. If only they made an essential oil that cured cracked/strained ribs.

I don't think I've mentioned that David decided to come out of retirement and play baseball again this summer. He's slightly adjusted his pitching technique so that he's not straining his shoulder so much and evidently he's back and better than ever.

He always plays at the most inconvenient times (read: when I'm home alone with the kids and they are whiny and refusing to nap and a friend has invited me to do something fun like go to a thrift shop or watch Death Comes to Pemberly, (it's on Netflix you guys and SO GOOD)) and it always means that he's gone for at least three hours and then he comes home exhausted, filthy, and needed a shoulder rub which means basically that him playing baseball is more work for me. Plus an extra load of laundry for the uniform.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago he played a game that went into extra innings (because of course it did) so after he had to quit pitching, he was playing outfield. And he laid out to catch a pop fly, and he did catch it, but he landed on his ribs as he did so and has evidently strained something.

He's been in a lot of pain, and he consulted (outside the office) with a chiropractor who said that whether it's broken or cracked or strained, there's not really anything to be done about it.

Except be a total grumpy gus A-hole.

Seriously, David is not a whiner, but he has been cranky and short-tempered and not like his usual self because he is in pain all the time. Might also have something to do with school starting and not getting enough sleep, but mostly it's the rib.

Anyway, he thinks it's getting better. I sure hope so. In the meantime, I ordered a snake oil diffuser for my office that I'm super excited about. It will smell good! And healthy! And invigorating and/or relaxing! My scentsi will be jelly.

I've been feeling all the feelings about back to work and Coco turning one and all that jazz. Just when it's time for Zuzu to start her new school, I'm having serious second thoughts and may end up trying to convince David to keep her where she is. She has friends and I love the teacher in the classroom where she is now and it means I get more time with her in the mornings and change is hard and... ugh. I don't know what I'm doing.

Because I'm not buying any new clothes for myself right now, I want to buy ALL THE NEW back to school things. I'm holding out, though. My modified Buy Nothing New program is no new clothes for me or new stuff for the house (with maybe the exception of the right chandelier). I am not going to put new clothes for the girls totally off-limits, but I'm shopping consignment first (not that I really need to do much shopping for them at all--we are so fortunate to have hand-me-downs from friends and now they are making their way from Zuzu to Coco. Also, Zuzu is much shorter than my friend's daughters were at age 3, so some of the stuff they were wearing at age 3 doesn't even fit her yet.

I'm giving away some baby things to a friend of mine who is due in September. This has been somewhat emotional, but actually not as much as I would have expected. Partly because I've kept stuff that has sentimental value for me, with the thought that I might pass it along to a niece or nephew if/when my brother and his wife have kids, or I might even convince Crafty Cousin Amanda to make me one of those fancy baby clothes quilts.

Can we go back to Death Comes to Pemberly for a minute? I read the book earlier this summer (after my friend bought it for $1 in hardback at a thrift shop and then lent it to me). It's really pretty good, but the miniseries on Netflix is EVEN better. It's a follow up to Pride and Prejudice, starting six years after Elizabeth has married Mr. Darcy, when (gasp!) death comes to Pemberly in the form of a murder on the grounds and the dastardly Wickham is the chief suspect. The casting is superb (I love the actress who plays Elizabeth because she's pretty but she's not like Keira Knightley gorgeous so I think she better fits the Elizabeth Bennet of my imagination), and Lydia is fabulous and totally cute and the guy who plays Wickham is also on The Good Wife (he plays Finn the assistant ADA) and he's great. Highly recommend! (There is a living baby who comes into part of the plot, just FYI.)

Left on my to-do list for today: Finish up syllabus for at least one of my classes and get thank you notes from Coco's birthday mailed out. Guess I'd better get started on at least one of those.

August is a month of transition, which is perhaps why it's never been my favorite, despite the fact that two of my favorite people have birthdays this month. But we still have three weekends left in it, so I should make some plans for fun. (Preferably the kind of fun that will exhaust Zuzu early enough that I can sneak in an episode of Death Comes to Pemberly after she's asleep and before I go to bed.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Girls at the Garden

On Coco's birthday, I decided to take the girls to the botanical gardens and try to take some cute photos of the birthday girl (and her sister).

I had family photos taken around Caroline's first birthday, but since I knew we'd have a bunch of pictures at Brandon and Jo's wedding, I decided to postpone this year's family photos to the fall.

In retrospect, I probably should have just gone ahead with an annual summer family photo session since the girls were somewhat less than cooperative after the wedding, but live and learn, right?

Of course Coco was not really cooperating today, either. Every expression I captured appeared to be shock, focused intensity, or irritation. My smiley, happy baby was not smiley, and was frequently annoyed that my desire to photograph her conflicted with her desire to eat pebbles and mulch and climb over benches. I had one set of outfits in mind, but Zuzu wanted to wear a "princess dress," so then I just found one in Coco's closet that coordinated well enough. (Zuzu's dress is a Janie and Jack hand-me-down from her cousin Taylyn, size 3. Coco's dress is a hand-me-down from Zuzu, a Ralph Lauren purchased from Macy's on super sale.)

I keep making new year's resolutions to improve my photography skills, and I keep not doing it. These pictures illustrate the lucky moments and the not so lucky ones. You'll see that I didn't really know how to deal with the dappled light.

Overall, though, I was determined to keep it easy and fun. We avoided the children's garden and just wandered through the shady sections, stopping here and there to get out of the stroller and then I'd try to take pictures of them doing their things.

At the very end, I wanted to snap a quick posed shot of the two of them on a bench. You can see for yourself how well that went... But at least I knew enough to call it a day! We headed home for lunch and naps and I still ended up with photos that may not be professional quality and may not be the smiling, perfectly lit portraits I could imagine, but certainly capture the personalities of these girls.

Oh, hai! This was possibly my favorite photo of the day. Makes me laugh!
Cautiously standing. She started taking her first steps the night of her birthday, but she crawls much faster than she walks, so that remains her preferred mode of cocomotion (haha, you see what I did there?).
Sweet girl. No smile though.

I wish I'd gotten the lighting better here--those elephant ears are ridiculous, right? Zuzu genuinely put her hands up on her face and exclaimed, "OH MY GOODNESS!"

I actually love this photo too--it might be a framer. Always keeping up with sister.

Thoughtful Coco.

Acting like a princess by the fountain.
I'm not sure what I said that was so shocking.

Getting a good photo of the two of them is comparable to capturing a photo of Bigfoot.

My little daredevil

Wild child

She loved exploring these paths in the English woodland garden.

So did Coco--most of my photos here were blurry because I kept getting scared she was going to crawl right off the rock into the little stream.

Skipping across the stones

Sweet Zuzu girl
Sweet Coco babe


Things kind of went downhill from here--including my camera angle.
 And this begins a saga not unlike The Rape of the Lock.

I call it: The Theft of the Hairbow: a Story in Pictures.

Things don't turn out so well for the thief, do they?

It was clearly time to go home.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Updating Reading List

I've had this Good (Grief) Reads tab up on the page for ages now, but I just went through and added my thoughts on each of the books I have listed and asked for additional suggestions if you have them. Let me know of there's anything you'd add to the list. You can click on the tab at the top of this page, or just click here.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Oh, Baby! What a Delicious Year It's Been.

I chose the theme for Coco's first birthday because I was following an Etsy shop on Instagram (beachtownbaby) and first birthday shirt with a donut on it popped up in my feed.

I was sold on this theme for two reasons: (1) cuteness and (2) easiness. All I had to do was buy donuts! The adorableness made itself happen.

So I ordered the shirt (I actually love the baseball style, but got a short-sleeved onesie since we planned to be outdoors in August). It shipped quickly and the customer service was super friendly.

A quick Etsy search brought up a slew of donut invitations, and I thought this one was the absolute cutest (of course, not everyone is lucky enough to have the most adorable baby model, but I'm sure there are other babies who come close).

My friend Kristin volunteered to make donut cookies for favors (she is ridiculously talented and I had no idea how lucky I would be when I first e-mailed her and demanded that she be my friend).

Photo credit AND amazing cookie credit to Kristin - you can't really see the scale here, but the biggest ones were maybe the size of a quarter? a half dollar? Everything is cuter in miniature and these were so cute and tiny!
After that, everything else kind of fell into place.

I've learned a few things about myself and parties: (1) I enjoy making decorations and I want it to look "pretty"; (2) I don't enjoy food prep; (3) I have more fun if I have a drink.

So, I planned accordingly. I made decorations in the form of a Coco-face banner (of which I have ZERO photos because I was TERRIBLE and our camera didn't even come out of the bag--I snapped a few pictures on my iPhone but was mainly relying on my dad's pictures. He got some good ones of party guests, but it didn't occur to him to take pictures of the food or decorations. Bummer. I'm seriously sad about it, and next time I'll remember to ask a friend to document that stuff because my good intentions flew right out of my head once the party actually started--Kristin did this at Zuzu's party and she did a great job.)

Kristin snapped this photo of F and Coco and the awesome long john F selected. I was trying to have Coco stand next to F, but she insisted on sitting down right next to her, just like a big girl.
Aside from the Coco-face banner (it looks pretty much like this one, except with Coco's face) Since we were outdoors at a park pavilion, I was keeping the decorations really simple. I repurposed the Happy Birthday banner I created for Zuzu's first birthday (rainbow colors go with everything!). I did paint and decorate donut balloons, though.

I'd ordered these from Amazon (uh, but they have since quadrupled in price! yikes!) but when I first tried to inflate them, they were completely lopsided and looked like kettle balls (as several reviewers complain). I was ready to just give up, but then my dad managed to get them to cooperate. I gave them two coats of craft paint. They probably should have gotten a third coat, but I was running low on time since I did this the night before--I was afraid they would deflate if I blew them up too early. This fear was unfounded, as they are still going strong, so if you do this project, you can go ahead and paint them a couple days in advance (assuming you can get them to inflate all the way around!).

Once the paint was dry, I used a glue stick and glued on some tissue paper confetti to look like sprinkles. It was really a very simple project that turned out cute!

Of course they blew around in the wind and ended up facing the wrong way probably the majority of the time, but they made for a cute photo prop.

David's shoes make for a not-so-cute photo prop
(Until the birthday girl started picking off the tissue paper sprinkles and trying to eat them, and then the balloons had to be removed.)

I've also learned that it's more fun for me to start prepping way in advance. A few weeks ago, I was at Home Goods and I picked up three food tents since I knew we'd have sweet donuts outside and I wanted to keep bugs off of them. (Though I wish I had gotten these because they are collapsable!)

That same week, I found myself at Wal-Mart (I don't go there very often because Target is practically next door to me), and I happened upon their party aisle and decided to go ahead and pick stuff up while I was there. They had super cute quatrifoil patterned plates and napkins, coordinating table cloths, and inexpensive "Happy Birthday" tiaras.

Zuzu and Bop model the tiaras (which Zuzu kept calling "tortillas")
That just left food and drinks. Because I didn't want to do food prep, I decided to keep things very simple. It was a morning party (9:30am - 11:30am) and it was a donut party, so I was hoping that people would come just expecting donuts. We had glazed, sprinkles, long johns, donut holes, and those little powdered sugar donuts from the grocery store because damn those are actually really good. David also picked up kolaches (because they are my favorite), and we sliced up a watermelon. I debated on whether to have a bucket of popcorn to help cut the sweetness, but ended up skipping it and I don't think it was missed.

I filled up a big dispenser with ice water and sliced up lemons, and then put out juice boxes and milk cartons on ice. Finally, tucked away in a cooler, I had bottles of chilled champagne and orange juice for mimosas. (Because I have more fun at a party when I have a drink!).

I copied a Pinterest idea and filled little bags with Cheerios, then attached a cute tag and labeled them "donut seeds." I spread those down the center table, along with the party hats and tiaras, and stuck a mason jar with fresh flowers in the center.

I had cellophane bags for these and I COULD NOT find them. They disappeared the night before the party (still haven't turned up) so I had to use regular sandwich bags. Oh well. Still a funny joke that a few of my favorite party-goers appreciated.
I got to the park about 30 minutes early to start setting up. I chose Berra Park because it has a nice new pavilion (with nice, new bathrooms) and it is very compact--you can sit in the pavilion and see the whole playground (the big one and the "baby" one), plus the park has a fountain for water play. It's really the perfect party set-up, BUT you can't reserve it. It's just first-come, first-serve. I tried not to worry about this too much, because it's a small park in a little neighborhood and I have seen the pavilion open on lots and lots of weekends, but on my drive over there, I was still worried.

Fortunately, the pavilion was empty (save a guy on a bicycle filling up his water bottle) and I quickly got started with set up. A couple friends showed up early and helped me, which was a lifesaver (I probably should have brought my mom to help, but I left her at home to help out there).

Grammy and (sleepy) Coco
the pavilion - this photo taken from the playground
We'd almost finished getting everything out when another lady showed up and asked what time our party was--she was having a birthday party at 10am at the park! But obviously we'd taken over the pavilion. I genuinely felt bad for her (the pavilion isn't really big enough to split it in half), but she handled it super calmly and graciously (if our positions were reversed, I probably would have cried). Fortunately, there were a couple of picnic tables under some shade trees nearby, and she just used those to set up her party, so it seemed to work out okay. And I really appreciate how nice she was about it. But I wish the park would let you make reservations!

party guests

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As it goes with summer weekends, a few people we'd invited couldn't make it because they were out of town or (as with my friend Angie) pregnant and about to pop. They were missed, but we still had a nice turnout, including two sets of grandparents, and I enjoyed myself and felt much less frantic than I did at Zuzu's first birthday.

I think this one was easier because (1) it didn't start pouring rain right at party start time and (2) it wasn't at my house and (3) I requested no gifts, so while a couple of people brought gifts, I didn't feel like we had to make time to sit down and open them while everyone was there. Although I had to drag everything to the park to set up, it was actually much easier than hosting a big group of people in our house, especially since our backyard is so small.

I still wish I'd taken more photos, but I guess the way to think of it is that I really enjoyed being "in" the moment--I chatted with friends, I held the (sweaty) baby, I watched Zuzu run around the park with her bestie.

Zuzu appeared to enjoy herself
And thanks to our friend E, Coco got her share of playground time in, too.

look at that adoring smile!
Hilariously, we actually NEGLECTED TO SING HAPPY BIRTHDAY. I feel kind of terrible about that too (poor Coco, and her shoddy, half-assed birthday party). BUT since she'd actually turned one the day before, we'd made cupcakes and did the whole candle and singing event the night before. Do not fear! She really didn't miss out.

wanting to play with fire
the double point! (after a very dainty taste of frosting)
She flipped the cupcake over and attacked from the bottom, but overall wasn't super impressed. We thought they were delicious, so maybe she just prefers savory to sweet?
It made for a very low-key birthday party (next time, though, I'll make sure we sing!) and the only organized activity we had was the "Baby, choose your future!" game that we'd also played at Zuzu's first birthday.

A quick refresher: I chose five objects that represent five career paths (tiara = pageant queen; dollar bill and coins = entrepreneur; baseball = athlete; book = scholar; calculator = engineer). I lined them all up, then put Coco down so she could crawl toward them. The object she chooses indicates the career path she will follow.

At her party, Zuzu crawled immediately to the calculator and snatched it up, sealing her fate as an engineer (haha), but unlike her impulsive sister, Coco carefully scanned the row of objects, and truly seemed to be taking her time and making a decision. She paused very deliberately, looking back and forth between the baseball and the dollar bill, and then the tiara.

We were all waiting in anticipation, then she spent a long time she pensively watching an ant crawling near her hand. She watched the ant for so long we were ready to declare her a future biologist or entomologist, but at last she put her hand on the dollar bill, and all the people who guessed she'd be an entrepeneur were celebrating.

But, she left it lying there and crawled to me, fussing to be picked up. We declared her a future entrepreneur anyway, since that was the only object she actually touched. (Coco still wants to take two naps a day, and we were in her morning nap time window.)

Before this started, I had party guests write their name on a ticket and drop their guess as to which object Coco would choose into a little bucket labeled with the object and career path. Then I picked up the winning "entrepreneur" bucket and drew one of the tickets from there to give away the prize.

photo from Zuzu's birthday
The winner received a copy of Oliver Jeffers's book The Day the Crayons Quit, which is super cute. Our first winning name was Kristin's husband, at which point I remembered that their family already owns this book (should have planned that more carefully), so he graciously suggested I pick another ticket, and the prize ended up going to my friend Erika, who is expecting her first baby in September. So it was nice to add to the library of Coco's future friend.

The party favors were the sweet bags of cookies that Kristin put together (seriously, she should be a professional, they were SO adorable and delicious), so I sent people home with these:

another photo by Kristin - aren't the cookie bags adorable?
We spent the rest of the party just chatting, drinking champagne, and watching the kids play on the playground. It was a hot and muggy day, but it stayed pretty overcast and there was a nice breeze for the first part of the morning, so it was bearable to be outside but we were definitely ready to head into the AC by 11:30. (And poor Coco was so ready for a nap!).

Sweaty Lettie - so tired! I also like this photo because it more accurately shows off all the hair she has ON TOP of her head.
Most importantly, it was some of our favorite people, all gathered in one spot to love on Coco and celebrate the first year of her life. I'm thankful to everybody who helped out and everyone who showed up and made it such a festive little party. It truly was a sweet day to celebrate our delicious Coco-Puff.