Thursday, March 31, 2016

Conversations with Zuzu

Frozen, Now With a Creepy Incestuous Plot Twist...

Zuzu reading Frozen (the little golden book) out loud:

"And then Anna said, 'Can I marry Hans?' and Elsa said, 'No! You have to marry me!'"


Just in case I needed a reminder...

On our way home from Dairy Queen, I'm pushing the double stroller, the girls are eating ice cream bars.

Zuzu: Mommy, you wanted to have three little girls! But you only have two because Eliza die-ed.


Looking forward to this in twelve and a half years...

Zuzu: When I'm a grown up, I'm going to be a Mommy!

Me: You are? You are going to have babies?

Zuzu: Yeah! When I'm SIXTEEN I am!

Me: Wow! Sixteen? Are you sure?

Zuzu: Yes. That's SO MANY. And this is how many babies I will have. (Holds out her hand, thumb tucked in.)

Me: Four babies? When you're sixteen?

Zuzu: Yes! And they will be all girls and one boy.


When your hands have a will of their own...

Me: What happened to Coco?

Zuzu: Well, I pushed her. But I didn't really push her! My hands just shot out like this (pushes hands forward forcefully) all by themself! (pause, while I try to think of something to say and try to keep a straight face) Is that pretty funny?


Melting my heart into a pile of goo as we sit in the rocking chair, holding Coco.

Zuzu: (gently pats Coco's cheek) I just love this little baby.


Watch out for those leprechauns!

Backstory: On St. Patrick's Day, I'd told Zuzu that if we didn't wear green, little leprechauns would come and pinch us (I decided on this version of the tradition to avoid encouraging her to pinch others).

Zuzu: (to Coco, who is climbing up on the couch, trying to get Zuzu's characters) Coco, if you don't stop it, the leprechaun is going to come and SPANK YOUR BOTTOM!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

An Unexpected Ugly Cry

A couple of weeks ago, I was working on this book project, and I remembered that, in the very early days of grief, I'd received a letter from the mom of my best friend in elementary school. My friend and I had kind of drifted apart after college (and more so after I quit FB), but we had been really close when we were kids, spending lots of nights at each other's houses. Her dad used to make the best buttered popcorn, and once we were playing tether ball in her yard and I made her laugh so hard she peed her pants, which made me laugh so hard I almost peed mine as well.

I knew that she'd had a little brother who'd died when he was a baby. I remember they had a hallway in their house with a gallery of frames, and I can't remember what was framed--a photograph or a handprint or just his name--but I remember standing in the hallway, looking at the gallery wall, and my friend telling me that she had another little brother, besides the one whose naps we had to be careful not to disturb. She told me his name and said that if she had a son someday, she was going to name him after this brother.

We were probably eight or nine years old. When she told me, I don't remember feeling sad for her exactly, and it certainly didn't occur to me to think about how tragic this must have been for her mom. Instead, I felt sort of awed and impressed. This was a serious thing, to have a baby brother who died. Nothing that intense had ever happened to me. I was glad that she had told me about it, like it was a special sort of secret. I wondered what it would have been like for her if she had two living brothers instead of one. Then I wondered if her first brother hadn't died, if her second brother would have been born at all. The brother that I knew was six years younger than us, which made him a sweet, pudgy toddler with blonde hair and dimpled hands. I thought he was adorable, and I felt a strange little chill at the idea that he might never have existed.

I remember this moment really vividly. I can recall the carpet in the hallway, and the door that opened out onto her deck, and her parents' room at the end of the hall with the Nordic Track machine. There was also a door that led to a bathroom with antique Ivory soap advertisements framed in it. I don't think I'm projecting adult feelings back on it. We were immature in so many ways, but I think we were just old enough to think about life and death with some complexity.

Anyway, when her mom reached out to me after Eliza died, I was profoundly grateful. At that time I didn't know very many people who had lost a baby, and I was desperate for someone with experience to reassure me that I was going to be okay.

I decided that I wanted to include an excerpt from her letter in this section I was working on, so I went to the bookshelf and pulled down the wooden box that contains letters, cards, and the autopsy report that we received after Eliza died. I have another memory box I keep upstairs in our room that contains her clothes, handprints and footprints, a blanket, and some photographs, but this box was the collection of things other people sent us.

I started rummaging through, looking for the letter. I remembered that it was tucked inside a greeting card, but I didn't recall anything else, so I had to open lots and lots of cards.

I began this process without thinking, really. I was focused on locating one particular letter so that I could keep writing.

And before I knew what was happening, I was sitting on the floor, surrounded by small stacks of greeting cards and notes and those tiny envelopes from flower arrangements, and I was sobbing. Wailing, really. Fat, hot tears rolling down my face. It was a big, huge Ugly Cry.

I can't remember the last time I cried like that. Not on her fifth birthday, or in the days leading up to it. I really think it had been years.

I hadn't touched this box ever, really, except to crack the lid and slip in a few cards or letters each year around her birthday. As I looked back over those notes, seeing the familiar and unfamiliar handwriting, the people who shared their grief or simply expressed their sympathy... it took me right back to the first time I'd opened the cards, desperate for the connection in the middle of my isolating grief, but unable to find the comfort I needed anywhere. I remember sitting on that plaid couch in my living room, feeling gutted, hollow, my eyes blurring with tears as I glanced at signatures and then put the cards away, the room spinning, my stomach clenching with heaving sobs.

And here I was--more than five years later--reliving that same feeling in so many ways, minus the plaid couch. It wasn't the same, of course. It was sort of a reminder of how far I've come in this time, but also how great this loss remains.

I Ugly Cried so hard that I felt spent and exhausted for the rest of the day. I was sluggish and unable to concentrate--sensations I hadn't experienced in ages, but they still felt incredibly familiar.

I did find the letter, and it was worth the effort and the tears. My friend's mom told her story--which I'd never known in full--and then added,

... To go home from the hospital without the baby that you’ve poured all your thoughts, hopes, dreams and love into—is probably the hardest thing you will ever have to face.
            But with that devastation comes unlimited love. The bond between a husband and wife who go through the loss of a child can be even stronger than it was before. This is a time that only the two of you can truly share together. The raw pain and utter emptiness for each of you will recede with the deep love of the other. This is a tragic event in both of your lives and only the two of you will ever know the depth of the feelings involved. That piece of your personal histories will pull you closer together forever.

I remember clinging to those words, looking at them as a promise, as David and I struggled to find our way (and people kept telling me about the 80% divorce rates of couples who have lost a child, because that's SO helpful to hear!). Now, I hold her first son close in my heart, along with so many other babies who aren't here, but whose presence--or absence--continues to make a difference in ways I never would have been able to imagine as an eight year old, awed by my friend's dramatic story about her first baby brother. 

I am not sure why my emotional reaction to the cards and notes was so unexpected. I probably should have seen it coming--but if I had, I may have procrastinated looking for that letter. I think there was something cathartic in having a deep, wailing sob fest (and fortunately, I was home alone when it happened). I may have come a long way in the last five years, but I haven't forgotten how difficult this road has been. And every once in a while, it's still overwhelming enough that there's nothing to do but Ugly Cry. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Thoughts on Identity and Theft

We got a call from our credit card company on Thursday. Were these purchases made at a Walmart in Texas ours?

They were not.

Our credit card company canceled our card and is sending us new numbers, and obviously we won't be responsible for those charges, but it was a little unsettling.

Then I got an e-mail from Walmart. My order was ready for pick-up!

A 36" plasma TV. Ready to be picked up. In Midland, Texas.

Evidently this purchase went through, in spite of my credit card company shutting it down?

I got on Walmart's website and logged in to my account. Not only could I see the record of that purchase, but there was the name and phone number of someone who was coming to pick it up!

I did an online chat with their customer service people. I'd already changed my password on there, but they shut down my account completely (now, should I want to place an order at walmart online, I'll need to use a completely different e-mail address). The woman I talked to said they contacted the store in Midland to inform them of the issue.

I figured that the closed account was a mild inconvenience (I must have ordered something online at one time in order to create an account, but it's not something I do regularly so it's not really an issue).

I was feeling paranoid, though, the way you do when someone steals your freaking identity and buys a plasma TV, so I decided to go ahead and change all my online passwords, which is something I know you're supposed to do regularly, but it's SUCH a pain.

Ninety minutes later, I got an e-mail from Walmart. Thanks for picking up your order!

What the WHAT?

Now, this isn't really my problem, since I'm not getting charged for this plasma TV, but I still felt a kind of righteous indignation at this injustice. I TOLD THEM that this was a fraudulent order, and they STILL let a thief walk out of the store with a stolen TV.

I got back online with their customer service to let them know what had happened, but their website kept screwing up on me (I hadn't had this problem at all earlier, so I can only assume it was their website and not my connection). So I guess this issue just goes unresolved. (Though I plan to send them an e-mail today).

I remembered that I'd seen the name and phone number of someone in Texas who was going to pick up the order, but it wasn't in the e-mail. It had been online in my Walmart account, which no longer existed. So, that was it, I guess. Some A**hole has a new TV, and the rest of us absorb that cost (because I'm pretty sure Walmart is going to be just fine).


Speaking of identity, I came across this poster "About Me" that I created in eighth grade. An excellent use of construction paper and index cards, to be sure.

As I examined the details of what was evidently my eighth grade identity, I realized what a mystery my thirteen-year-old self has become.

This poster is puzzling for a number of reasons... Why did I include my blood type and SSN on an "about me" poster? (SSN redacted with a torn strip of paper for blog post). Why did I pretend the Pittsburgh Pirates were one of my top 10 favorite things? Why did I include "talking" as a hobby and a favorite thing? Why did I cut out letters from a magazine to make it look like a ransom letter?

One thing I do remember very vividly is posing for the Polaroid photo in our dining room. I felt confident that if I held our cat, Frances, that I would look so much cooler. #nailedit

Here are the details that you would have learned about me, had you been in my third-hour English class in eighth grade:

I live with my mom, dad, my 10-year-old brother, Brandon, my dog, Rufus, and my two cats, Frances and Posey. I moved to Nevada from Independence when I was six. I love to eat popcorn and I spend a lot of time talking and reading.

(The last sentence remains accurate, but I still find it odd that I included "talking" as a way to spend time.)

10 Favorite Things
* roller coaster rides
* mint chocolate chip ice cream
* shopping
* acting
* reading + eating popcorn
* writing
* animals
* sleeping late
* Pittsburgh Pirates
* talking

(I no longer enjoy roller coaster rides the way I used to. I still like mint chocolate chip ice cream and shopping. I haven't acted in a play since college, but I do miss it sometimes! I still enjoy reading and eating popcorn, though it's funny to me that I listed these together, as though the activities are inseparable. Obviously I still like writing, and animals (vague), and sleeping late. It's bizarre to me that I listed the Pittsburgh Pirates because I guess I decided to be a fan after my brother started liking them, but I think I was probably just trying to seem cool, which is even weirder, because it's not as though liking the Pittsburgh Pirates makes you cool, no offense to Brandon and Jo. And "talking" again! It's one of my ten favorite things.)

A Perfect Day in 1993
9:00 - get up and get ready
9:30 - eat a breakfast of frozen waffles (still delicious)
10:00 - fly to Scottsdale, AZ in a really fast plane (clever to cut the flight down to an hour!)
11:00 - go shopping at Fashion Squares mall in Scottsdale and shop till I drop! (cringe)
3:00 - go to a Pittsburgh Pirates game (this is a total lie)
5:30 - go to a show on Broadway (no comment on the AZ to NY travel time)
8:00 - ride a roller coaster (perhaps on Coney Island?)
8:30 - eat dinner in an Italian restaurant (this seems legit)
9:30 - go swimming
11:00 - relax, read a book
12:00 - sleep!

I am...
Books, Friends, Pets
I like reading and acting in plays.
Humor, Understanding, and Creativity 
are important to me.
I am Brooke.

(I think this was a specific fill-in-the-blank poem assignment we had to do. Or I was just feeling oddly inspired to write a haiku-esque poem.)

Vital Statistics
birthdate - July 28
height - 5'2"
weight - 95 pounds
hair - brown
eyes - blue

On my hand, which is so nicely detailed with creepy old lady knuckle lines and a ring. I've included my address AND my social security number, as well as my blood type. Just in case you need to check me into the hospital, I guess! Other random information: nickname - "Wook." And then words that seem to be a list of hobbies: acting, reading, writing, collecting hats and porcelain dolls.

(Collecting hats? I had one hat with a flower on it--inspired by Blossom, so I guess that counted.)


The eighth grade version of myself is pretty painfully dorky, especially when you consider that this was a carefully cultivated poster-persona. None of it is untrue, necessarily, but all of it was chosen to make me appear smart/funny/quirky/cool and, oof. Eighth grade.

On the other hand, I'm not sure all that much has actually changed. Blood type and SSN still the same! I still think taking a picture with a cat is cooler than taking a picture by yourself. Also: Humor, Understanding, and Creativity are important to me.


And I still can't believe those a**holes got away with that plasma TV!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Time Crunch and Crunches

David and I were reflecting on the fact that a year ago at this time--the week before Easter--his grandma Peggy was feeling good and came up to stay with us. She and Zuzu did an Easter egg hunt at Home Depot and played with baby chicks in our backyard.

One of the things his grandma was known for (besides her housekeeping) was her insistence that we "get our money's worth" out of whatever it might be. She would guilt me into taking three trips to the Chinese buffet--gotta get your money's worth! She once returned a toaster oven (immaculately clean and in mint condition) that stopped working eighteen months after purchase. The store no longer carried the model, but they still let her exchange it for another one.

Perhaps it is this influence that has me registered for twelve fitness classes over the next month.

I bought a Groupon back in January for twenty classes. It was SUCH a great deal--but the kicker is that I only had 90 days to take all 20 classes. And now, of course, nearly sixty days have gone by and I'm not even halfway through my Groupon and I want to get my money's worth!

The good news is that I might be able to see my triceps again by the end of April.

The bad news is that I'm signed up for a core fusion yoga class at 6:15 AM tomorrow morning.

(I'm not a morning person.)

Making time for exercise is such a pain in the butt, and I like to use mom-guilt to justify not doing it. I already spend so many hours at work, how can I leave my precious snowflakes for another hour in the evening?

Then I remember that they have another parent, and he never expresses a feeling of guilt when a personal hobby takes time away from the kids. (He'll say he misses us when he has class on Monday nights, but he doesn't feel guilty about it.)

And there's the fact that I'm happier and have more energy when I work out, so, yeah. They can handle me taking a few exercise classes over the next four weeks.

Cramming all these in is also making me try a variety of classes--plenty of barre, but also circuit training, yoga at a park, boot camp at another park, and some high intensity interval training thing that sounds terrible and may include doing burpees, which is a problem because I have a personal pledge to never, ever, do a burpee.

Monday, March 21, 2016


Using weekending as a verb makes it sound almost like summering... and suggests that we spent our weekend doing something luxurious.

Which we did.

If by "luxurious," you mean spending eight hours in the car with two small children, taking a big outing to an indoor play place, and meeting the Easter bunny.

It's hard to be as glam as I am.

The girls are keeping up their "good travelers" streak (just enough to get us making summer vacation plans with the kind of confidence that will come back to bite us), although Coco definitely pushes it more than Zuzu does (Zu's freakish pleasantness in the car helps to counterbalance some of life's other challenges). Anyway, they were exhausted from three days of Grammy Time that involved early mornings, slightly-later-than-usual bedtimes, and abbreviated napping, so they literally slept from Wentzville to Independence. David zonked out on the drive also, but I didn't even care because I was listening to Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell (which I resisted for a while in spite of a trustworthy recommendation because of my snobbery toward both the title and the author's name, but it's so great and it makes me nostalgic for college).

Zuzu was bouncing with excitement at the prospect of seeing her friend EK, and I was looking forward to seeing Monica as well, though I told David that it will be even MORE FUN when we get to have a weekend together without our kids constantly interrupting our intense conversations about milk paint vs. chalk paint and whether we'd rather buy five pairs of Target shoes or one pair of more expensive shoes. I dropped David off with his best friend from college where they would spend all afternoon on Saturday doing their ridiculously elaborate fantasy baseball draft, and then headed on to Monica's.

We let the girls stay up crazy late on Friday (read: almost 10:00pm). They played exciting things like Three Elsas Have a Picnic. The big girls were actually very sweet about including Coco, though she was also pretty content to do her own thing. I hoped my girls would sleep in on Saturday, but of course they didn't, so we met the day at 6:30am.

We had breakfast and then headed to the indoor play place.

I used my mom's facebook page to check in because you got a discount off your admission if you checked in on facebook, and they asked us to post pictures (because free advertising). But in the first five minutes we were there, Coco went down a super fast slide and managed to bonk her face on the side of it. I was slightly alarmed at the way it puffed up (and of course she wouldn't let me hold ice on it), so I took a picture to send David. Somehow, I don't think this was the kind of FB advertising they were looking for...

She rallied after the face bonk and ended up having a good time. Eventually, we left the play place and headed for lunch at a Mexican restaurant. My girls did NOT have their restaurant manners and wanted to eat the snack popcorn Monica had packed instead of actual lunch. I payed $4.99 for a kids meal that Zuzu didn't even TOUCH, except to eat three bites of the soft taco shell (none of the filling). Fortunately, my veggie quesadilla minus the mushrooms was delicious AND there was free cheese dip, so it was still worth it.

I was so sure that the girls would crash after lunch, and Coco and EK did exactly that, but my Zuzu just cannot settle down when she's pumped up. It's not like we had a dark and quiet bedroom (those were occupied by EK and Coco), but I tried to get her to settle down with me on the couch and I told her sleepy stories in my sleepiest voice. I nearly put Monica to sleep, but Zuzu just would not let herself relax. So she played (quietly and happily) through nap time, and then (just as I feared) around 5:00 pm she started to transition into a demon from the hellmouth an overtired preschooler and had a couple of ridiculous altercations and meltdowns while playing with EK.

The upside was that Zu was asleep before 7:30 pm and Monica and I actually had time for uninterrupted conversation about milk paint vs. chalk paint and how to ask people how they store the guns they have in their house and what we'll do if Rhymes-With-Hump actually wins the election and various other topics.

Sunday we headed to Monica's church for the Palm Sunday service, followed by an Easter Egg Hunt and a meet and greet with the Bunny himself.

Zu wouldn't entertain the idea of going to Sunday School without me, so I ended up hanging out in the Sunday School room with her and EK and Coco. It was fine, although Sunday School teachers are truly the most wonderful people in the world because you have to be fun and try to teach the kids something and you can't really be strict or discipline them in any way even if they are total little brats and just being in the room with eight three- and four-year-olds (plus Coco) made me feel tired.

EK just melts my heart because she's really sensitive and she's a total Hermione and she just reminds me of myself. I don't know why Monica's kid is more like me than my own. I was telling my mom how EK just gets so upset if she thinks that a grown-up is upset with her, and then I asked Zuzu how she feels if a grown-up is upset with her.

She thought for a moment and then said, "Hmmm. Happy?"

I don't think she understood the question. Or maybe she did.

The palm parade into the sanctuary was a bit of a fiasco because I had three coats and our big diaper bag and Zuzu and Coco clinging to me and I didn't really know what I was doing or where we were going to be sitting and I wasn't with Monica because she was doing her pastor thing in the baptismal font, but we managed.

Rather than trying to keep the girls quiet during the service (already a bust because Zuzu took advantage of the first quiet moment in the sanctuary to ask loudly in her shrill little voice, "Where is the Easter Bunny?" we headed back upstairs for Playtime Free for All. Coco ruled the sandbox like a little boss, and Zuzu played with a doll house and then sat with EK and me to read books.

It was chilly outside for an Easter Egg hunt, but we made the most of it. Zuzu told David that he could have all of her chocolate, which meant that although she picked up a ton of eggs, after giving away the chocolate, she ended up with three jelly beans, a packet of Starburst, and some stickers. She was totally pleased.

We've never sought out pictures with the Easter Bunny because I always think the costumes are hideous and mildly terrifying (and I'm an adult), but since he was there and there was no line, I decided that I wanted to get a pic of the girls with the Bunny. Of course Coco was having NONE OF THAT, so a nice lady offered to take a picture of all three of us, and this was the best we could do. Hashtag thanks for the memories!

We picked David up after his extensive fantasy baseball draft weekend and the girls slept all the way to Columbia but remained pleasant travelers after waking up from their naps. David drove, so I entertained myself by eating some of Zuzu's Easter candy. We got home early enough for David to get online for another fantasy baseball draft (I wish I were kidding--I keep telling myself that he could have worse habits, but I can't help but think that all this time, effort, and energy could be spent on something far more productive, something that's NOT a FANTASY). I fed the girls dinner, got started on the neverending laundry, then put Coco to bed early so that I could finish writing my Modern Poetry midterm.

This week is David's spring break and a four-day week for me, and then my spring break starts on Friday. I'm ready to have a week off, but I have some projects in mind to keep me busy. I may be experimenting with this milk paint Monica was telling me about...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Backyard Antics, Car Keys Fiasco, Sassiness, and Tassels

Oh, hey, remember me? What happened? Midterms happened. I've just emerged from the cave of grading, but I still have a stack of ungraded papers on my desk. It never ceases!

At any rate, I'm here to write about Daylight Savings Time. No, not really. I swore I wasn't going to write a post about it, because what is there to say?

We lost an hour of sleep and we felt tired and out of sorts all day Sunday.

WI mean, that basically sums it up, minus the details about attending a get together with friends that consisted of day drinking white wine, and nobody took a nap even though we all needed one, and Zuzu had a hard time falling asleep but David fell asleep at 8:00 pm while lying down with her, and then she wandered downstairs and told me that Daddy told her to go downstairs if she was going to goof around, but he was actually unconscious at the time.

Did he say mutter this in his sleep?

Did she invent this on the spot?

Who's to say?

At any rate, she had a hard time falling asleep Sunday night and (surprise) a hard time getting up Monday morning.

Monday evening, though, we enjoyed the lingering daylight hours and the girls played out in the back yard after we all got home.

I was standing at the kitchen sink, slicing strawberries for dinner/snack prep, watching them out the kitchen window. They fought over the Cozy Coupe and puttered around the toy kitchen that David found out in the alley and dragged home (we love city living so much!) and busied themselves going in and out of the Little Tykes playhouse and running up and down the side walk. It was such a sweet scene, and I felt lucky on a weird number of levels--like lucky to have them, and even lucky to know how lucky I am, and lucky to be able to enjoy this moment.

So while I was standing at the sink, feeling a huge swell of maternal love and pride and marveling at my good fortune in a weird metaphysical way, I suddenly blinked in disbelief as I watched my three-and-a-half year old pull down her pants.

I called David to come to the window.

She hobbled around for a moment with her leggings and underwear around her ankles.

"What is she doing?" I asked David. "Go out there and tell her to pull up her pants!"

We laughed, watching her. She shuffled over to the Cozy Coupe and helped Coco close the door to the car, then shuffled back over to the edge of the sidewalk.

"What if she poops out there?" David joked.

"Go out there and tell her to get her pants up!" I said.

And then we both stood there and watched as she popped a squat and dropped a deuce in the backyard, just off the edge of the sidewalk, in front of God and everybody.

David ran outside (too late) to intervene clean up and sent her in to wash her hands.

"I'm sorry for pooping in the yard, Mommy," she said, very contritely. Then she giggled. "I just wanted to be like Cooper! I was like a doggie!"


I assumed that a rogue pooping incident would be the weirdest thing to happen to me this week, but then yesterday morning, my routine hit a snag.

It was the usual morning rush, which you'd think could easily be avoided if I'd just get up fifteen minutes earlier, but the problem with that is that then I have this sense of having allllll the time in the world to get myself together and I wind up just as late because I've let myself dawdle.

So anyway, I got myself and Coco up and dressed and downstairs and got coffee made and shared some yogurt with Coco and then we headed out the backdoor.

Except I couldn't find my car keys.

They are supposed to be hanging on a hook by the backdoor (I actually ordered a hook like this from Etsy with our initials on it so my keys always hang on the B hook). But they were not where they belonged.

I quickly checked all the usual places--in my work bag? On the dining room table? On the kitchen counter? In the cupholder in the arm of the girls' little recliner? On the floor behind the bench in the entry way?

Then I had to get more creative. Under couch cushions? Upstairs on my dresser? Somewhere in my closet?

THEN I remembered that I'd had them in my hand when cleaning out the backseat of my car (which had become a nest of discarded winter weather gear and Zuzu's artwork from school, as well as a collection of binkies and a couple odd receipts).

So I ran out to the car.

But it was locked.

Which meant my keys couldn't be in it, because I only lock my car with the remote lock button on the key.

I gave up the search and called David, asking if he'd seen my keys anywhere and explaining the situation.

"I thought I'd left them in my car," I explained, "But it's locked, so they can't be there."

"Uh, I locked your car with my key," he said. (No explanation as to WHY he would do this, since he never DROVE my car.)

I walked back out to my car and peered in the back windows. There were my keys! Resting in the door handle of the backseat passenger side door.

(Side note: David never apologized for locking my keys in my car, and claims he doesn't need to apologize because it was my fault for leaving them in the backseat. The real issue, though, is that he views an apology as an admission of fault rather than an expression of regret for causing someone else undue stress/injury/inconvenience. And really the issue is that he's an entitled white dude who doesn't like to say he's sorry ever because... he's an entitled white dude. We've agreed to disagree on this issue, which I feel comfortable doing only because (1) I'm right and (2) I can passive-aggressively discuss this on my blog at length.)

Anyway, called our insurance company, got road side assistance, and got the car unlocked. Got to work an hour and a half later than planned, but didn't have to cancel class, so everything worked out just fine in the end. Except I felt frazzled all day.


My mom is in town on her spring break to hang out with Zuzu during her spring break (and keep Coco at home too just for the fun of it). This morning, she was helping get breakfast for the girls and Zuzu was whining and harrassing Grammy for more pancakes or yogurt or whatever.

I said, "Listen, Grammy is busy right now and you need to be patient and polite."

Zuzu said, "Mommy, you need to leave for work!"

The sass, you guys. It's so aggravating, but it also makes me laugh.


Final question: Have any of you saved your tassels from high school graduation?

My mom brought me my tassel and the ropes I wore over my gown at high school and college graduation, and I don't know what the heck I'm supposed to do with them. WHY? WHY would I keep these? (Except keep them at my parents house where sentimental things I don't want to bother with should live for all eternity, like a museum to my youth.)

My mom suggested the girls might want to "look at them someday."

Just like how I was always wanted to look at her high school graduation tassel.

I mean, seriously.

Maybe I can incorporate them into gift wrapping?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Books and TV

I assumed that Coco would be our easy-going child.


But seriously. It's not that Coco is "difficult," it's just that, like her sister, she has a mind of her own, as they say. Very specific and clear opinions that are clearly expressed, in spite of that fact that her language is still rather limited. Often, these ideas are expressed by nodding or shaking her head emphatically. Other times, it's a pouty lip. Occasionally, she will throw things. And once in a while, she expresses herself by kicking, shrieking, and going boneless.

Girlfriend loves books, and she specifically loves books about Old Macdonald's farm. We have two of them. She requests them by saying, "Book? Book?" and then when I say, "You want to read a book?" she nods and said, "E-I-E-I. E-I-E-I." (It took a while for me to decipher that "E-I-E-I" was Coco-speak for Old Macdonald.)

If you are, perhaps, TIRED of Old Macdonald and his farm full of "moos," "oinks," and other nonsense animal sounds here and there and everywhere, you may try to suggest (or even insist upon) a different book. Coco will shake her head, yell "NO!", attempt to throw the book you'd like to read, and then resort to a full-out thrashing fit in your lap while she screeches for "E-I-E-I!".

So we're reading a lot of Old Macdonald these days, specifically in the form of this book and this book. (Side note: my friend Angie gifted us the poke-a-dot book and both girls still love it and are entertained by it without always requiring a parent to read it. Highly recommend!)

Her other bedtime favorites are, fortunately, books that I enjoy as well: Busy Doggies (this seems to be the newest version); the classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?and (my favorite, because it has a little bit of a plot and the most adorable illusrations) I Am a Bunny (bargain-priced and adorable to stick in an Easter basket!).

She's (finally) gotten over this counting ladybug book which is FINE, but tiresome when it comes to repeated readings.

(I will say, though, that initially the plot seemed to be surprising for a kids book--it starts with ten lady bugs and they encounter an animal on each page and then one lady bug "disappears" so you count down from ten to one. I wondered where they were going with this that didn't end in a lesson about survival of the fittest, but I can assure you it's a happy ending after all.)

When it comes to children's literature, I can appreciate a beautiful picture book, but my sweet spot is chapter books, you guys. I loved reading Little House in the Big Woods to Zuzu (animal slaughter and firearms notwithstanding). We are now reading an illustrated version of Heidi (I bought it used), which is overly simplified (in my opinion) but she loves the pictures (just as she liked the occasional illustrations in LHITBW), so I still think it's a good place to start. I'm looking forward to Ramona and Charlotte's Web and, of course, the holy grail of kiddie lit: Harry Potter!

Mickey Mouse's [Godforsaken] Clubhouse continues to rule as favorite show, but she'll also watch Sesame Street and recently she saw Super Why for the first time (it's sort of about reading, so I try to feel good about that). The thing about Sesame Street is that (unlike MM), watching it doesn't make me want to slam my head into a wall. Still, it's not like I would sit down by myself and turn on an episode.

Last week, though, I hit upon a family-friendly show that held Zuzu's interest, though I actually turned it on to watch myself.

Any guesses?

Did you guess Fuller House??? Are you watching it? Do you love it?

I heard a blurb on the radio about how they were bringing this show back and I knew I had to check it out. So Friday night after dinner when Zuzu was whining to watch a show and I was not about to sit through Mickey Mouses's [Godforsaken] Clubhouse, I popped over to Netflix and the Tanner/Fuller family.

I really didn't know if it would hold Zuzu's attention, but what's hilarious to me is that she laughs every time the 5-year-old kid, Max, delivers a line. As expected, the show is so cheesy and silly, but the first episode had all the right references and self-awareness, fourth-wall-breaking charm that it needed. I laughed out loud a few times! So it was rather pleasant to have a show that Zuzu and I both enjoyed. (Even David was laughing, after he groaned and protested having it on.) I mean, I'm not binge-watching this (although Zuzu would like to--she asked for another episode!) but it's fun to watch it with her. We've only seen the first couple of episodes, but I imagine we'll tune in again this Friday night.

So those are the books and shows we're into right now. Reading or watching anything good that I shouldn't miss? (I still need to catch up on the last two episodes of Downton Abbey!)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

But A Little More About Me

I recently finished reading Gretchen Rubin's Better Than Before, about how we form habits (and why we would want to).

I'm not sure I have necessarily cultivated any great habits since reading it (wait, that's not true--I've started wearing my retainer again at night #bringingsexyback), but one thing I really liked about it was the way the author offers a sort of personality quiz as she discusses the different tendencies and personality types, and how they affect the way you form habits.

I've written before about the four tendencies. I'm a Questioner, for sure, and David is an Upholder. After I read the book, we talked about the other categories and we were laughing at how opposite we are--hopefully in a complementary and not contrasting way!

In addition to the four tendencies (Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel), here are some of the categories she mentions:

Lark or Owl?

I'm more of an owl. It's not like I'm staying up super late late, but if I'm going to tackle an extra project--whether it's one more load of laundry or reading a chapter of a book or finishing grading papers, whatever--I'm more likely to try to squeeze it in at night before I go to bed than first thing in the morning. The idea of getting out of bed an hour earlier to have an hour to read/write/yoga/run sounds terrible to me. (David, on the other hand, gets out of bed super early so he can exercise before he goes to work.)

Marathoner, Sprinter, or Procrastinator?

One thing I liked about Rubin's book is that she points out that none of these tendencies is right/wrong or better/worse, but that if you become aware of which category fits you, then you can adjust your approach to habit-formation accordingly. This was a good example, because it seems like we're always told that a marathon-approach is the best way to tackle any project--plod along doing a little bit at a time (ie. write your dissertation in fifteen minutes a day!). The fact is that this method does work, but I actually think I'm more of a sprinter. I always tell myself I'll grade a certain number of essays or exams a day, but I am more productive when I set aside a bigger block of time and whip through as many as I can. I got over my procrastinator tendencies in graduate school, but if given the option, I'd rather dedicate myself to a project and get it done in one big chunk than spread it out over time.

Underbuyer or Overbuyer?

I'm an overbuyer, for sure. It's important to note that this doesn't mean spendthrift. I can stick to a budget, but I feel happier when the pantry is fully stocked with more than we need. If I'm picking up something like deodorant or shaving cream or trashbags or hand soap, I'd rather buy two and store than extra than run out and not have any on hand. Buying the big ass thing of toilet paper at Sam's Club makes me feel like I can breathe easy. (That is perhaps the weirdest sentence I've ever written.)

Simplicity-lover or Abudance-lover?

This probably relates to my overbuyer status, because I'm also an abundance lover. I love bookshelves overflowing with books. I love tufted furniture. I love fluffy duvet covers. I love gallery walls with lots of frames, gothic architecture, 800-page novels, and puffy wedding dresses. When it comes to most things in life--books, shoes, photos, seasonal decor--more is more, baby! (This explains the weird sense of sadness, confusion, and inadequacy I felt when reading Marie Kondo's book. Why would anyone feel happy by getting rid of the things that make them happy? Oh, because not everyone is happy surrounded by a bunch of things. But I am! Know thyself and then be yourself. (I should add that I admire minimalist decor, clean modern lines, and slinky wedding gowns--I've just come to realize that it's not my style.)

Finisher or Opener?

Oh, man. Here's one where I wish I were a finisher, but I am totally an opener. Starting a new bottle of shampoo or opening a brand new notebook = happiness for me. Squeezing out the last farts of lotion, or crimping the end of the toothpaste tube = the worst. This is how I end up with a bathroom cabinet full of lotion bottles with a dab left in the bottom and stacks of notebooks that are 3/4 of the way full of notes...

Familiarity lover or Novelty lover?

I kind of wish I were more adventurous, but the fact is that in a city full of awesome coffee shops, I return loyally to the one (awesome) coffee shop (shout out to Hartford!). I'm the kind of person who could eat the exact same thing for lunch every day of the week (in fact, in third grade, I did exactly that #peanutbutterandjellyftw). I'm more likely to suggest we go back to a restaurant I know I like than check out somewhere new. So this is a tendency that I do try to resist sometimes, because I think a little novelty keeps things interesting!

Abstainer or Moderator?

I'm more of a moderator. I can abstain from things, but after doing a spending freeze a couple of times, I found that it kind of makes me anxious. I do better sticking to a strict budget than doing no spending whatsoever. I have no problem having just one bite of dessert, or one glass of wine. (Although Caramel Delights a.k.a. Samoa Girl Scout Cookies are so delicious that I might have just eaten an entire row of them.)

It probably speaks to a remarkable level of narcissism that I'm fascinated by this kind of self-knowledge, but I'm also curious about you guys--anyone out there line up with me? Are you and your partner samesies or an opposites-attract kind of situation?