Wednesday, August 16, 2017

School Days

Coco had a hard time settling down at bedtime last night. We've been doing a lot of talk about school starting for the past few days, but at dinner last night when I said, "We're going to take baths and settle into bed so you can get up early. Because where are we going tomorrow morning?"

She replied eagerly, "The Magic House!!!"

Erm. Nope.

She seemed to accept school as a replacement for her magic house fantasy, and she told me that tomorrow she would eat lunch at school. But I know she's been a little nervous about the first day.

She was up at 5am crying for me. David staggered in there to see what she needed, but she needed Mama to snuggle and while Daddy is usually an acceptable substitute, this morning that was not the case. So I went in and lay down with her (and Zuzu, they were sleeping together in Zuzu's room) and hugged her and snuggled and tried to get her to settle down and sleep for a couple more hours.

At 7am, I had to wake her up and she was cranky. Basically, she was pissed off and crying from the moment she woke up. She wanted to snuggle. No, she didn't want to snuggle like that. She didn't want to pee on the potty (she kept screaming this as her pee was coming out while she sat on the potty--she was so furious). She would not wear the dress I'd selected for her first day. I kept asking her what was wrong, but she couldn't articulate what she was really feeling (nervous? anxious? tired? worried?), so she just opposed every suggestion I made and when I finally walked away from her to go into my bathroom and get ready, she ran after me and pinched me while screaming and crying.

Fortunately, Zuzu stepped up and once she got out of bed, she got herself dressed without any problem and tried to help me with Coco. She kept saying, "Coco, are you nervous? This is going to be a BIG DAY." I'm not sure if that helped or not, but her heart was in the right place.

After breakfast (their usual breakfast of champions--mini pancakes (the frozen ones) with Greek yogurt (honey flavored) on top and a side of berries, plus a glass of milk), Coco had settled down. We talked about what they want to be when they grow up. Zuzu said she wants to be a doctor, and then changed it to animal doctor veterinarian (which surprised me, but whatever) but Coco just insisted she wants to be a kindergartener. Zuzu laughed and said, "No, Coco, like when you're Mom's age," which made me laugh and sounded like such an adult thing to say, but Coco wouldn't change her answer, so that's what I wrote on the board for her. Then we went outside to take first day photos. 

Zuzu was so wound up she could barely hold still for photos, and especially wanted to show off her new rainbow shoes, 

but I could hardly get Coco to smile

until Zuzu did something silly behind me and made her laugh.

Coco kept saying she was cold (it was 80 degrees outside this morning and she did not have a fever, I checked) and she wanted a blanket, but I think she just wanted a comfort object to hold. So I gave her a blanket for the car and then we loaded up.

And then the garage door would only open halfway, so I called David in a panic because my car was trapped in the garage. I was able to detach it from the opener and manually lift it, so we still got to school!

There were a couple of kids (and one mom) crying when we got there, which made me tear up, but Zuzu was so excited to be there that she nearly fell leaping out of the car, and she ran and hugged her teacher right away. Coco was only slightly more hesitant, and she was happy to hold Zuzu's hand instead of mine. Zuzu went right into this little mother-hen mode, which was so adorable that I thought my heart would burst. She held Coco's hand or put her arm around her the whole time, walked with us to find her cubby and I put her blanket and stuffie and extra clothes in it, then we hung her bag on her hook, and Zuzu kept promising her that she was going to have "a great day!"

And then I hugged and kissed them and Zuzu led Coco out to the playground, where they were promptly surrounded by little girls in sundresses yelling, "Caroline! I missed you!" and giving her hugs and saying hello to Coco. It was so adorable that I lingered, watching through the window (with the crying mom, whose kid seemed to be doing just fine out on the playground as well).

I told David last night that I feel like we kind of "cheated" kindergarten because we didn't have to take her to a new school full of new kids and new teachers--she's back in her Montessori school, and big man on campus as the kindergarteners are the oldest and the leaders of the school. So in some ways, the first day of first grade for Zuzu will pull at my heartstrings even more. But as worried as I'd been about Coco, she ended up being brave (while holding Zuzu's hand tightly) and it made me so grateful for their sister relationship.

The house feels empty without them here and as ready as we ALL were for school to start, I miss them. I can't wait to hear how it all went when I pick them up this afternoon!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Hey Kids, Is It Time for School Yet?

Coco has created a small domestic crisis every morning since she turned three. There was the eyeshadow pencil incident.

The "let's have breakfast outside" idea that turned into two bloody knees and a screaming three-year-old. The less explicable "woke up on the wrong side of the bed" grumpiness, the "Zuzu gave me a pedicure" morning

and on Saturday, the haircut she administered on herself.

This picture is the best "before" I have, in terms of showing length and bangs:

And "after" she chopped it herself.

You'll remember I was on campus at meetings Saturday, so I consider myself blameless for this one, but as a PSA, I will say that kids can reach drawers you think they can't reach, particularly when they carry stools in from down the hall. Coco is really interested in "zizzers" these days and she located the actual scissors I use for cutting their hair (I still cut their hair myself, based on years of intently watching my hairdresser to see what she does when she's cutting my hair, because I think it's fun and also I'd rather spend money on something besides kid hair cuts). Anyway, she used my super sharp purple hair scissors (in retrospect, I probably should have selected a less interesting color than purple) and she basically just trimmed around her ears and a little off the top in the front.

You know what style that is, right?

Yeah... So then I tried to trim it up. I took over an inch off the back, but it's not like I can cut a bob that hits ABOVE her ears. So she basically has a kind of pixie cut that's uneven around her ears and has a small chunk of bangs missing in front. Zuzu kept saying Coco has "boy hair" and I kept launching into gender fluidity lectures about how boys can have long hair and girls can have short hair and people can have any kind of hair they want, stop being so binary, obviously you've been watching too much Disney.

Coco as Prince Charming
Zuzu would appear to listen to these lectures and then turn around and say to Coco, "Let's play that we're married and you're the boy."

After bath... you can see the strategic comb-over that's mostly hiding a chunk of bangs she cut super short. We've been working on her bangs for THREE YEARS!

Anyway, haircuts aside, they played outside so much yesterday afternoon. It was a dream come true. David set up their little tiny playhouse in the woods and they gathered rocks and climbed on the swingset and just played while I sat and read a book (and also read stuff about Charlottesville on my phone and finally had to go put my phone away because the comment sections on FB were a reminder of why we're in this mess). It was really the sweetest thing to sit out in the perfect weather in August and watch the girls play and enjoy themselves just the way we imagined they would when we first talked about buying this house.

But after an idyllic afternoon, yesterday evening did not go well on the home front. We had been to a swimming party in the morning and Coco fell asleep in the car on the way home and Zuzu almost did, so they were both tired but of course no one wanted to nap after we were home, and I didn't insist on rests later in the afternoon because they were playing so peacefully in the backyard and I didn't want to throw off bedtime. But meal time was off because of all the donuts and fruit they'd eaten late morning, which made them not want any lunch and just ask for popsicles around 2pm. At 4:00pm, Zuzu came in and got mad at me over something (I truly have no idea what upset her) and she threw a lunch box full of markers all over the kitchen and as I stared at her, flabbergasted and completely pissed off, I realized she was probably hungry. Sure enough, they both ate fruit, cheese, bread, and two generous helpings of pesto pasta before 5pm, and then Zuzu was her sweet self again (she's basically one of those Snickers commercials).

As I was cleaning up the kitchen, they went on upstairs and I told them to get ready for baths. When I walked upstairs, I smelled something delicious, unusual yet familiar, but I couldn't quite place it.

I found the girls in my bathroom and the scent turned out to be the bottle of really nice bubble bath that had been a birthday present in honor of me having a master bathroom and a deep bathtub for the first time in my life.

You know who hasn't yet taken a bubble bath in the new house? Me.

You know whose entire bottle of bubble bath was poured down the drain yesterday? Mine.

I wanted to scream, but instead I just sighed in defeat, dragged the two of them down the hall to their own bathroom to get in the tub, and then declared my bathroom off-limits. No kids in there at all ever. I explained that they don't make good decisions in that room, so they can't go in there at all anymore.

In spite of exhaustion, soothing baths, and a million stories last night, bedtime did not go smoothly. Actually, Coco fell asleep while we wer ereading, which was the sweetest thing ever. But then Zuzu ended up waking her up, which made me feel so angry that I had to opt out of going upstairs because I was BEYOND my parenting patience threshold, so David went up there, but he couldn't get them to settle because he really wanted to be downstairs where had paused GoT to deal with their shenanigans and finally I went upstairs and said Coco would sleep in her own room because obviously they couldn't handle sharing a room, so then Coco was devastated and sobbing, and then I got her to bed and went to take a shower because Zuzu STILL wasn't settled/asleep, but then Coco was crying again, so David ended up bringing her into Zuzu's room and lying down with both of them until they were both asleep.

By that time, we were too tired to watch GoT.

So basically, it's been a fantastic summer. And now I'm totally ready for school to start.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


So we're having the kitchen repainted. The advice was basically unanimous, and since the color just looked seafoamy in my kitchen (and I think would look better with bright white trim as opposed to the creamy off white of these cabinets), it was needed for my peace of mind.

There are SO MANY greens and it was a tough decision. My friend Lindsey recommended a Glidden color called Fennel she says is the perfect green, but when push came to shove, I couldn't handle adding another card into the mix. In the end, I was torn between Benjamin Moore's Thicket and Sherwin Williams's Sage. David ended up casting a deciding vote for the lighter color (Sage) which is a little more gray and less brown than Thicket (or Dried Basil / Herbes de Provence, which also read more brown in our kitchen). I hope that it is authentic to its name and that we're happy with it in the end (because I doubt David will be eager for me to paint the kitchen three times in as many weeks...).

School is starting SOON. The girls go back on Wednesday, which is also David's first day with students. My faculty meetings start next Monday with classes beginning on the 28th, but I'll be working on syllabi stuff and class prep at Bread Co. after I drop off the girls on Wednesday. (I'm actually really, really looking forward to it!)

I'm in my office today even though it's Saturday because I have a meeting with adjunct faculty today and because I was ready to escape my house and feel like an adult who has time to think about things besides what the hell to feed my kids who want to eat all the time (Three meals a day! Plus snacks!). In all seriousness, I'm so excited to not be making lunch or cleaning it up for my kids in just a few short days. And in a burst of start-of-school-year organizing fervor and optimism, I'm even making a dinner plan to get us through the end of August (with the help of Blue Apron). (Not a sponsored post.) David and I are both going to be working longer than usual hours and the kids are going to be adjusting to a new routine (Zuzu can't wait for kindergarten, but Coco has been getting a little teary-eyed when we talk about school and asking, "But is Mommy going to stay wif me?" which then makes me teary-eyed, so I'm already dreading that drop off situation.). So the last thing we need is that hangry desperate feeling at 5:30pm when we don't know what's for dinner and we're too tired and hungry to do anything but pour bowls of cereal and pick fights with each other. I mean, I'm all for a cereal dinner now and again, but we probably need to be a little better fueled for the start of the school year.

Some things on my menu: tomato mozzarella sandwiches, pasta with spinach and roasted veggies, broccoli melts, quiche, and also take-out Chinese food (keeping it real, folks).

We STILL haven't found my essential oils OR our collection of Penzey spices. That's David's assignment for today while I'm on campus. Also I said, "Maybe you could like organize some of the toys in the basement?" hahahahahah #goodluck. Honestly, I thought that we were doing okay at keeping toys under control, but we have got to do some purging.

It seems like I should have another point to make here, but I'm tired from leading our department meeting (being NICE to everyone exhausts me) and I have to go to the grocery store on my way home and we were supposed to go to Grub & Groove in the park tonight, but I think we're going to just end up crashing at home. We've been getting the girls up early in the back-to-school prep mode and we definitely need early bedtimes to match. Plus, I'm really into Ozark on Netflix!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Radio Silence and Kitchen Paint

The blog has been so quiet this summer. Is it the chaos of moving? The busy-ness of having just-turned-five and now-she's-three -year-olds? The fact that there are other, easier ways to connect to people on my phone (Instagram, I'm looking at you...)? I started this blog a year before becoming pregnant with Eliza, but I needed it after I lost her, and now am I less inspired to write?

I want to document my kids' childhoods, and I worry about their internet privacy. I want to talk about house projects and get ideas and feedback, but I barely have time to do the projects themselves (this week's goal is to unpack books and then I will feel better about the house).

Anyway, I'm not hanging up the ol' blogger password, but I'm just trying to figure out how to use the space (and maybe whether anyone's reading). I know commenting just isn't done anymore (I barely do it), but I always hear from a loyal few, which is rewarding. And I'm NOT asking for a cheering section to tell me to keep writing--I'll do it regardless of whether people are reading (just look back at posts from 2009 for evidence of my willingness to blather on into the void). I dunno what I'm doing. Just sorting through brain cobwebs, I guess. I haven't been doing enough writing this summer in general, despite my good intentions. I haven't done zero, either, just not where I'd wanted to be now that mid-August is breathing down my neck.

Speaking of August (or "Hog-uhst" as Coco says it: "My birfday is Hog-uhst"), poor Coco's birthday got kind of lost in the shuffle. I put up a birthday banner that has fallen on one side and now I can't find the role of tape to fix it. We celebrated early with my parents--singing and cupcakes--then on her actual birthday had a friend over to play (who brought more cupcakes), and then we went out to dinner and she got to open presents from us.

Zuzu is the WORST secret keeper and will no longer be allowed to assist with wrapping. "Open the Barbie one first," she instructed Coco, handing her the presents. Coco did get a Barbie for her birthday, but it is a baby doctor Barbie. She also got more Magnatiles and a really cute book (from the We Stories curriculum--Thunder Boy, Jr. by Sherman Alexie). Oh, and a weird plastic lizard she was obsessed with at World Market and I made her put it back, then surreptitiously purchased it without her noticing, but now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure she left it at the Botanical Gardens today. Dangit.

We had painters paint almost every room in the house, and by and large it's a huge improvement. The previous owners seemed to favor dark, warm colors, and I just can't with rust, mustard, and tan (blood, barf, and bandaid). Zuzu's formerly yellow and lime-green room is now a lovely shade of sky blue, which coordinates with the rainbow theme she completely came up with on her own and is insisting on (I'm actually not opposed to it, but I'd negotiated to bring the darling curtains I'd made for her out of a shower curtain from the old house and she's not interested in the super cute pink, coral, mint green, touch of ochre color scheme we had going). So I ordered her a rainbow duvet cover and I think it will be pretty cute. I need to figure out if they girls are really sharing a room or not. Right now they're sleeping together at night, but bedtime is not going super smoothly, and Coco is still napping in her crib-turned-toddler bed in her own room because she just settles down in there more easily. She wants her room to be purple, so I will likely oblige her (with purple accessories, not purple walls).

Unfortunately, in my intense desire to lighten up the formerly rust-and-golden-mustard kitchen, I overshot and the green I selected is too pale and not what I want. I want something more sagey--not apple, but closer to herbs-de-Provence rather than seafoam. And I feel like I ended up in seafoam. David says I should live with it for a while, my mom says I should go ahead and repaint before we get stuff on the walls. I WANT to repaint it, like, yesterday, but I think David will win out not because his advice is better but because start of the semester will take priority to repainting the kitchen. Maybe I'll get a free weekend in late September? It's more annoying since we had painters do it and they did a great job and it cost us money rather than time, and I obviously mentally flagellate myself more for wasting money than I do when I waste time (see: the internet). I definitely can't freehand edge as quickly and crisply as they can. BUT I also know the power of paint and how happy it will make me to change the color, so it's going to happen. The question is just when...

In other news, I cannot find the box in which I have the back-to-school chalkboard, which is annoying because I SPECIFICALLY labeled it "back-to-school chalkboard" among other things. I have eight days in which to locate this.

Other significant things we cannot find at the moment: our vast collection of Penzey spices (David packed these near the end of the week before we moved and we both distinctly remember him emptying that cabinet and have no idea what became of the spices); my smaller but not insignificant collection of essential oils (I am NEEDING this); our full collection of bath towels (we have two... where are the others?). For awhile, ALL of my pants were missing, but they have since been located.

Things I'm missing about the old house: Knowing where everything is. The stained glass windows and arched doorways. The new carpets that weren't stained by someone else's kid's chocolate milk vomit. The faster drive to the botanical gardens. Francis Park within walking distance.

Things I'm enjoying about the new house: Main floor laundry (just off the kitchen). A huge basement playland in which my children are willing to go and spend about 30 minutes alone until one of them is injured or pissed off at the other. A master bathroom (I've never had one before in my life). An attached garage (ditto). The amazing yard. The fact that David texts "on my way" and shows up 14 minutes later. (That is the BEST, seriously.)

Today the girls and I spent the morning at the botanical gardens (20 minute drive--doable). Tomorrow my plan is to find the nearest library branch and make ourselves at home there. The girls have transitioned here really seamlessly, and I'm grateful for that (with the exception of bedtime shenanigans).

Ok. Tackling a book for book club on Friday in between staring forlornly at my seafoam walls and wishing they were sage. Would you paint now? Or see if pale green grows on you?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Three; Two Living

We moved into the new house. The girls and I ended up going out of town for the past two weeks, which was great but a little nuts as well. We stayed at my parents' for a week, then came home briefly, then went to visit my Uncle Tim in Indiana, then went to a family reunion float trip in Eminence (the girls didn't float, my aunts were sweet enough to babysit them). Then they went home with my parents and David and I came back to St. Louis to move. It wasn't ideal timing, but we made it work.

The big things went smoothly (no surprises at closing) but of course we've had a few hiccups. I'm still missing a shopping bag of little things I threw in at the last minute, like thank you notes and my favorite hoodie (WHERE is it????). Oh--and we still don't have running water.

NBD. It's not like we need to clean things. Or bathe.

I guess there was some kind of snafu/mixup/whoops moment when a call didn't get made (...???...) but whatever happened, the water got shut off instead of transferred to our name. We called about this on Monday and were assured it would be turned back on Tuesday. Welp. I'm typing this on Wednesday afternoon and I still can't use the sink or flush the toilet. AMAZING! I showered today at my friend Christine's house, which was a fabulous decision because I got to see her, her adorable son Joel, AND it just so happens that her master bathroom is like a fabulous spa with an amazing rain shower. I kind of wish I were still there. So, could be worse. I don't stink at the moment, anyway. But I'll tell you, we're going to need some flushing toilets up in the place pretty darn soon. (poop emoji; barf face emoji).

One lovely neighbor came up and dropped off some homemade cookies (because apparently we not only moved to the suburbs, we also moved back in time?? But seriously, I loved it.). She, of course, asked how many kids we have and I said we have two girls who are currently at my parents'. But then the AT&T guy came and he asked how many kids we have and I said, "Three. Two living." And he was SUPER nice and just said, "Oh, I'm so sorry about that" and I told him my kids names and ages and that we'd lost Eliza and he said he has three girls and his youngest is twelve and I felt like he really was genuinely sympathetic and understanding about what we lost. And also I was super jealous of him and his three-living-daughters family. BUT at least he's a nice guy.

I've gotten a little emotional because really this house is kind of stupid big and there's plenty of room for three kids in it but my interest in another pregnancy is virtually nil, so it's just sitting in the stasis of life after loss, which will always really suck even when other things are super happy/great and we have two amazing girls and we live in a house in the forest! But overall I'm patting myself on the back for having no hysterical tears or freak outs (decidedly an improvement over our last move!). The closest I got was when I was supposed to be packing up the fridge but I couldn't because we had NO BAGS OR CONTAINERS left. Mostly because my husband refuses to save Target bags because he is a monster can't handle the clutter in the hall closet. But we borrowed coolers from our neighbor slash real estate agent (truly full service in this case!) and it all worked out.

The girls are heading back today with my parents and they should all be here before too long. I've gotten Zuzu's bed made, but I can't find Coco's sheets, so I need to go look for those. I also got them a new shower curtain since they have their own bathroom now. It has mermaids on it and I think they are going to love it. I also lined the bathroom drawers with little duck wrapping paper covered with clear contact paper and it's so adorable I can hardly stand it. Kid bathrooms are really fun.

We are having painters come on Saturday, so I've been choosing paint colors. I'm having them do almost everyone room except the dining room because we don't have furniture for it and a couple bedrooms and the girls' bath upstairs. The bedrooms are already a neutral gray that's fine, and the bathroom isn't bothering me at the moment and I can always do it myself later on. I've been thinking about paint colors since we put an offer on this house because the current rust and mustard and tan is not doing anything for me. I can be pretty indecisive and insane about these things, but I'm sticking with what I like, which is lighter tones and lots of blues and greens. I thought I'd go navy above the white chair rail in the laundry room, but I've decided on a deep teal. The kitchen will be a pale sage green (Sherwin Williams Liveable Green, which is such a lame paint name). And I'm painting the master bedroom Sea Salt again because if it ain't broke don't fix it, you know? Doing a soft white in the hallway and family room, little fingerprints and hand smudges notwithstanding, and the ever-perfect Comfort Gray in the front living room and the halfbath downstairs. Oh--and the entryway no one will ever use because of the way our house sits on the lot is a nice blue color I just sort of landed on by happenstance called Breezy (sometimes the names really do influence me).

Anyway, lots of people are bugging me for photos so I'll be sure to put some before and afters on Instagram and post some here as well.

UPDATE: photos of the outside! The first is the front of the house, but because of the way it sits on a hill, we will rarely (never?) use that entrance.

This next one is our regular entrance--it's The side door that opens into the laundry room / mud room. There's also an attached garage that enters into the house there too. And that goes into the kitchen, which has a small dining area.

Now I have four more boxes of kitchen stuff to unpack (WHERE to put it all?) and I really need to dig up those sheets. More updates (and interior photos) soon!