Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Buddha Board

Technically, the Buddha Board was an early birthday gift for Zuzu. It was small and easy to wrap and take to the beach, where we celebrated her turning 5 a few days early since our family was together and it was easy to have a party at the beach--all she required was blueberry muffins and five candles.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this item because although it couldn't really compete with the Shimmer and Shine doll set that she also received (insert eye roll), it is something that I'm confident will continue to hold interest. 

It comes with a small paint brush, and you "paint" the canvas with water. The picture darkens on the canvas, and then dries and disappears. Very zen, no? You can paint with water and contemplate the fleeting and impermanent nature of life, as Coco is undoubtedly doing here:

Serious concentration. Just ignore the laundry basket in the background. Taking it upstairs is a process that sometimes requires a pit stop on the couch.

I had never heard of a Buddha Board until I spotted one of these at a book shop in downtown St. Louis when I was attending a conference a few weeks ago and I picked it up. I think it was $13, which is also what the price is on Amazon. It is a simple and easy activity to have tucked away in a kitchen drawer for those times when you just need to occupy your kid for a few more minutes while you get dinner ready or finish drinking your chardonnay and watching the last five minutes of Veep (hey, no judgment here).

In all serious, it's also one of those Montessori-style activities, where there are few supplies, simple and tactile elements, and the child can set it up and clean it up all by herself. (Patting myself on the back here, thankyouverymuch.)

Anyone else used these? Coco's favorite thing to do is saturate the whole canvas and turn it dark pink (ah! A nihilist.) , but I can envision us using it for a long time, so we'll see what direction she goes in her artistic vision.

Also, I swear Zuzu likes it, too. She was just less cooperative about posing for me.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Ending on a Low Note

I want to write a nice long brag post about our lovely beach vacation and how relaxing it was (actually, I give it a 5 out of 10 for relaxation, but only because we had to share beds with children) and how beautiful it was (10 out of 10) and how nice it was to meet my little niece (she's also a 10). But right now I'm mostly thinking about how the trip ended. Which was NOT with a bang, but instead with a terrible sound that I will never be able to get out of my head--the sickening sound of an unconscious man falling flat on his face on the hotel floor.

On Saturday morning, we got up and left Holden Beach, NC for Atlanta. It was not exactly on the way home, but David had put in a lot of hours in a mini-van with my parents and seeing a game at the new Braves stadium was his only request, so I was willing to oblige. We checked into a hotel near the stadium, and David and I walked over to watch the game.

It was warm, but our seats were in the shade. After a few innings we decided to get up and walk around, and then we were ready to head out a bit early and meet my parents and the girls for dinner at a restaurant just outside the ballpark.

David and my dad had beer samplers with dinner. I had a sangria that I sort of shared with my mom and fish tacos. After dinner, we walked back to the hotel and got ready for bed early. I hadn't slept well the night before and was exhausted. As we got ready for bed, I realized I also wasn't feeling well. My stomach was killing me. And it straight up revolted right around 9pm, when I barfed up fish tacos, felt incredibly sorry for myself, then brushed my teeth and collapsed into bed.

Not the most fun way to end vacation, but I did feel better after puking and was just hoping that when I woke up I'd be back to normal. I figured that this would be the worst of it.

I had no idea.

I woke up at midnight, when I felt David getting up out of bed. Both girls had fallen asleep in the king sized bed in our room, so he lifted up Coco and put her down in the crib next to the bed. I heard him open the door to the bathroom, and I heard the bathroom door handle again. Then, I heard a sound I couldn't quite place. That sickening sound that made me wonder for a moment if David had walked smack into a wall or door. The room was really dark, so I called David's name, but I couldn't see him.

No response.

I flipped on the lamp and blinked in the light, trying to figure out what David was up to.

It took me a second to locate him, because he was LYING ON THE FLOOR in the hallway by the bedroom.

Just lying there. Motionless.

I leaped out of bed and knelt down to see that he was super pale but breathing. He was lying on his stomach, and I started rubbing his back and patting his cheek and saying his name over and over again in a voice of strangled hysteria. It was only a few seconds, but I was thisclose to dialing 911 when he started blinking and saying, "I'm ok, I'm ok."

On the outside, I was basically holding it together. I felt like I needed to take care of him, and that I didn't want to get completely hysterical in case the kids woke up.

On the inside, I was in a complete and raging panic. I'd already pictured the entire rest of my life as a widow. I had been sure that David was dead. It was all I could do to keep breathing and not pass out myself.

He sat up on the floor and I asked him questions (What were you doing? Did you pee? What happened? Where are we? Who is the president? What's today's date? When is my birthday? What are our children's names?). He was able to answer all my questions, and said he felt dizzy while peeing, headed back to bed to lie down, and just blacked out on the way back to bed from the bathroom.

I helped him get up and get over to the bed, where I took his temperature, felt for his pulse (I mean, he was talking to me, but STILL), and then once I was sure he was actually still alive, I started sobbing.

I thought we should probably wake up my parents and go to the ER, but he kept insisting he was ok. I texted my friend who is a nurse (a NICU nurse, but still...) and finally I agreed to let David go to sleep, but I woke him up an hour later to check on him. I didn't really think he had a concussion, though if he'd fallen just a few inches further to the left, he would have conked his head on the hotel safe. But I wasn't taking any chances.

David dozed off pretty quickly, but it took me hours to settle down enough so that I could go to sleep. My adrenaline rush was through the roof. I watched episodes of Rosemary and Thyme on PBS while clutching his wrist so I could feel his pulse under my thumb until 3:30am when I was finally exhausted enough to doze off for a couple of hours.

We drove all the way home from Atlanta on Sunday--my poor dad drove the whole way because David had a headache and my mom and I weren't technically supposed to drive the rental car. David still wasn't feeling great Sunday night (although, really, who does feel good after a 9-hour car ride and a terrible night of sleep?--not this girl!), but when he mentioned that his chest hurt, I told him we needed to go to Urgent Care. He didn't want to go and said he'd call his doctor the next morning.

I said, "So, if I passed out in the middle of the night, still had a headache all day the next day, and then had CHEST PAINS, you'd tell me it was fine for me to wait until the next day to go see my doctor?"

He said, "... Y-yes?..." and then protested that he was tired and he just wanted to lie on the couch and watch the cardinals game.

I stomped upstairs.

Fortunately, he came to his senses, came upstairs, and said we could go to Urgent Care if I really thought it was important to go tonight.

Ten minutes later, we were at Urgent Care (showing up 30 minutes before closing time--nice!), they called us back right away, and the doctor came in to examine him, then ordered a CT scan and an EKG as well as blood work and IV fluids. David's eyebrows went up when the doctor said that she wanted all those tests and he said, "Really?" and she said, "Yes. I want to be able to sleep tonight."

It was SUCH a huge relief for me to know they were running all of the tests. I just wanted answers beyond what I could google. And David was agreeable since they turned on the ballgame. (Don't tell him I posted this photo.)

Of course, it was even more of a relief when everything came back clear. They told us to follow up with primary care doctor, so we did that today. She ordered a couple more tests--a stress test and an ultrasound of his carotid arteries.

Both doctors seem to think that it was probably a vasovagal nerve thing. Evidently fainting after you pee in the middle of the night is a thing? David felt light headed after he lowered Coco into the crib and leaned his chest/stomach down on the side of the crib, which could have put pressure on this nerve as well. It could also have been some dehydration (definitely less water consumption when we're trying to drive long distances).

Basically, we're hoping it was just a one-off thing that will never happen again (I mean, really, I better not have to peel his unconscious ass off a hotel room floor again EVER), but we are doing all the tests to confirm that it wasn't caused by something else.

In the meantime, he's taking a few days off work to recover from the muscle soreness you get when you face plant unconscious onto a hotel room floor, and I'm trying to reel in all the worst case scenario flipping the eff out to remind myself that bloodwork and scans came back clear.

More on the beach--and a million other updates--to come!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


Zuzu is a sweet and empathetic girl. She is quick to comfort her sister when Coco gets hurt. She is willing to apologize when she accidentally hurts someone. She is usually willing to help out if I ask her to do me a favor or assist me with a chore.

On the first day of summer vacation, I painted her toenails. I know there are people who take their five-year-old the salon to get pedicures with them, but I am not that person. Zuzu asks me occasionally to paint her toenails, but I usually put it off. I did it once a few years ago, and she smeared the nail polish on the couch because she couldn't wait for it to dry. Anyway, I need to touch up my own toenails, and it was the first day of summer break so I was trying to be Fun Mom, so I offered to do hers as well while her sister was sleeping. She was very excited and she wanted pink and glitter topcoat.

Of course, Coco woke up before we finished, so I painted her toenails as well. Pink glitter for everyone! We did it out on the front porch and it was really sweet to see how excited they were about they matching sparkly toenails.

Zuzu asked me to paint her fingernails, but I said no and explained that she always puts her hands in her mouth and nail polish contains yucky chemicals that don't belong in our mouths. Zuzu has never sucked her thumb, but she chews her fingernails, puts her hand in her mouth when nervous, and often chews on her fingers (and sometimes toes!) when watching TV or being read to. So a manicure is just not something I was going to mess with.

Anyway, I didnt think much more of it. I put the nail polish up on the little windowsill at the bottom of the stairs where I put things out of little hands' reach that I will take upstairs later.

Fast forward to me going downstairs to switch laundry, to smelling the faint smell of fresh nail polish but assuming it's my own toes, and then seeing Coco shove her hands down between the couch cushions when I walk by. Something clicked (probably the wide-eyed guilty look on Coco's face) and I realized they had been into the nail polish.

Turns out that "out of reach" no longer applies to this windowsill. Zuzu had painted her fingernails and her sister's. And by "fingernails," I also mean most of their fingers from the second knuckle to the tip and also SOME OF MY BEDROOM CARPET.

This sneaky naughtiness is really hard for me not to completely lose my mind over. It's so deliberate. I tell myself frequently, "They are little and still learning" but I get so angry when she is (frequently) deliberately, intentionally defiant.

As a consequence, I removed all the fingernail polish and told Zuzu she has lost the privilege of painted nails, indefinitely.

I salvaged the carpet by actually snipping the drops of polish out of it. You can't tell at all, but I know it was there...

When I was removing the nail polish, crouched in our upstairs bathroom, scrubbing her little fingers with a cotton ball soaked in more nasty chemicals, I said to Zuzu, "You knew you were doing something that you were not supposed to do and something that would upset Mommy. Why would you choose to do that?"

She said, "Well, I just wanted to make myself happy."

As sweet, kind, and compassionate as she can be, girlfriend is also lookin' out for number one. Her priorities are very clear and consistent, actually. And making me kind of insane.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Childcare. It's Like a Full-Time Job.

Our "relaxing" stay at home summer officially started yesterday. My unofficial plan for the day (and most days) is to get out of the house for some activity in the morning, come home for lunch and Coco's nap, read with Zuzu and encourage her to do some quiet activity, then when Coco gets up, we go to the pool or play outside here.

In theory, this is great.

In practice, it's freaking exhausting and I got screamed at so many times yesterday that I was ready to go back to work.

I know it's just an adjustment period and we get used to the new routine, but holy moly. (It doesn't help that Coco asks me hopefully each night, "I go school tomorrlow?"

So anyway. I decided to start the day with a trip to the botanical gardens because the weather was gorgeous and it had been too long since we were there.

In the time it took us to get dressed and out of the house, Zuzu banged her forehead on the hardwood floors of her bedroom trying to hang upside down and flip over her bedframe. Coco fell down the stairs and got rug burn on her face from the stair runner. The sound of heads hitting hardwood is not my favorite.

The gardens were lovely, and the girls were able to run off in front of me and explore a little bit on the secret paths of stepping stones. They helped each other and stuck together and it was very sweet. There was some whining about when we'd go to the playground, but I wanted to walk through other parts of the garden first.

We got the playground and I gave Zuzu explicit instructions to stay where she can see me and I can see her. She promptly disobeyed, so we had the same conversation again, this time with the threat of leaving immediately. After that she was pretty good, except as we were getting ready to go, which was awesome because I could happily follow through with my threat of leaving immediately since that was already my plan.

We got home for lunch. The thing about kids is you have to feed them three meals a day PLUS SNACKS. It's actually really annoying because they are totally ungrateful. I'm emphasizing "courtesy and grace" and having them help with clean up, but of course that sometimes backfires as well when it's just easier to do it myself, particularly when cleaning up the kitchen is the only alone time I have all day.

Anyway, they ate lunch. Coco had a meltdown because they each asked for a blueberry muffin and she was absolutely FURIOUS when I gave her the muffin she'd already nibbled the top off but hadn't finished at breakfast. I mean, HOW DARE I serve her her own leftovers when there were perfectly whole muffins in the tupperware?

I knew she was tired, and she also knew, because after lunch she came back in the kitchen and straight up told me she was ready for a nap (bless her). So she went to bed and then Zuzu had a total meltdown because I wouldn't let her eat another blueberry muffin (she'd already had THREE at breakfast--her two, and Coco's--and one more at lunch, so FIVE muffins seemed excessive).

(Sidenote: Blueberry muffins are now a source of strife. They seem to be the only food that Zuzu gets obsessive about. She begs to make them and when we have them, she asks for one constantly and whines. As far as unhealthy snacks go, they could definitely be worse. But she'd eat the entire dozen at once if we'd let her. They finished off the last three at breakfast when Zuzu ate two and then convinced Coco to give her half of the one she was eating. I'm relieved they are gone. I don't want food to be a "thing" at our house so I pretty much let them eat whatever whenever, but the muffin thing was out of control.)

Anyway, after Coco got up from her nap the girls played happily for a while and then asked to go to the park. It was a gorgeous day, so we decided to go, but then Coco insisted on wearing Zuzu's skirt which was too big for her and after we got to the park I realized she also had on a pair of Zuzu's shorts underneath which meant that all of her clothes were literally falling off of her and she couldn't run around or climb and so I said we had to go home.

Cue another huge meltdown from Coco.

Zuzu must have been tired, because she didn't really complain about leaving the park. Also, I bribed them with a popsicle party so when we got home, we had popsicles in their playhouse in the backyard, which was fun.

It was time to make dinner and I was completely exhausted. I felt like a mom cliche, tired and cranky and having to make dinner and busting out a bottle of chilled white wine at 5:00pm.

But we survived the first day of stay-at-home summer!

We have big plans for summer adventures--parks and concerts and libraries and swimming, but some of my favorites is when the girls play together. Zuzu's imagination is so adorable right now, and Coco is right there with her, imitating everything. My favorite is when they pretend to be me. Zuzu will say, "Okay, I'll be Coco and you be Bwooke" and then they act out me helping Coco after she's hurt or leaving for a meeting.

True Confession: I'd still really like to have two uninterrupted hours to myself per day, without having to get up at 5:00am for them. Any thoughts on how to make this happen besides zombie screen time?

While we're strategizing, I'd love to know how to get them to stop whining, "Mommy..." at the start of every flipping sentence.

And if anybody knows how to keep them at almost-five and going-on-three for several more years, I'd greatly appreciate it. As crazy and tired as I was after that first day, they are pretty magical right now, and I'm already trying to savor this summer (and also this glass of chilled white).