Thursday, June 28, 2018

Birthday Magic: A Shimmer and Shine Birthday Party Divine

My Zuzu has not quite turned six yet, but we celebrated her birthday last Saturday because I have to go out of town for a conference on her actual birthday this Friday.

You may remember that I'd wanted to have her party in the art room of a local bookstore, but she was bound and determine to have it at our house, even when I told her she could only invite four friends. Honestly, as much as I went back and forth about only inviting a few kids versus her entire class, it was the perfect number. One friend's little brother ended up being a last-minute add on, and that wasn't ideal (because I had six of everything prepared) but it worked out fine. 

She wanted a Shimmer & Shine theme. For those of you lucky enough not to know who Shimmer & Shine are, please see below:

It's a show on Nick Jr. in which the two genies grant wishes, screw something up by taking a request literally, and then work together so their mistakes turn out great. I suppose this is a positive message, but it is THE EXACT SAME plot every time. I also noticed on Pinterest that most of the Shimmer & Shine parties were geared toward four-year-olds, which I think is their target audience. But Zuzu has not tired of them yet. She prefers predictable, non-scary, not-intense TV, so this is her sweet spot. (We saw The Incredibles 2 in the theater last week and she sat on my lap almost the entire time.)

I outsourced the part of the party planning I don't enjoy as much (baking and decorating cupcakes) to my friend the chemistry professor slash amazing baker. She decorated them with Shimmer & Shine rings and fake jewels and the kids were VERY impressed. I was impressed with the Nutella filling. 

Once I got going, the party was easy to put together and less expensive than renting out a place. I decided the main activity would be decorating treasure boxes. This is perhaps only tangentially related to Shimmer and Shine (honestly I'm not sure I've ever watched an entire episode because it is so inane I can't handle it). But they are really into jewels. 

I picked up wooden hinged boxes for $1.99 each at Hobby Lobby. Of course, my local HL only had two of them, the other location had zero in stock, and my mom ended up buying four of them for me when she was passing through Jefferson City, so it all worked out. And cost me a total of $12. 

I used craft paints that I already had on hand and picked up a couple more colors for $.50 each at Wal-Mart. I don't love shopping at Wal-Mart, but they have the Shimmer & Shine party stuff, so I also bought a plastic table cloth, paper plates and napkins, a birthday banner, and dangling decorations. It probably ran me about $15 total. Then I added in sticker jewels from their craft/scrapbook section and I probably spent another $5 there.

When the guests arrived they played outside and had a snack right away. That was not the plan, but I was trying to be chill about it (even though I was totally annoyed because I'd written out the order of the party and David just ignored all of my plans when the kids asked for snow cones). It turned out fine in the end, but I'd hoped they would paint first so that there was plenty of time for the boxes to dry.

David borrowed popcorn and snow cone machines from his school, which was fantastic. The only expense was buying the snow cone syrup--cotton candy and blue raspberry. We set them up on our back patio and got lucky with nice weather.

After snow cones, they headed inside to paint their treasure boxes. All the party guests attend the same Montessori preschool, so we were laughing about how they were calm and concentrating on their work in spite of being sugared and hyped up at the party. Every kid had two paint brushes, a paper towel, a paper plate paint palette, and a big bandana to use as an apron. (Those bandanas were also $1/each at Wal-Mart).

My biggest expense was ordering six beaded bracelets from Etsy in pink and turquoise beads with dangling genie lamp charms. $3.49/each. They came in individual little bags. I wanted the kids to have something to put inside their jewel boxes. I could have made something (or had them make it) but it felt a little ambitious since our guest list included 3, 4, 5, and 6 year olds.

After painting was the treasure hunt. I hid the bracelet bags in a secret location (under a chair in the living room) and then created a treasure hunt with clues. I drew simple pictures and wrote words kindergarteners could read so the idea was that they could figure out the clue on their own. And they did a really good job! Zuzu was more interested in trying to interpret the picture rather than sounding out the word, which led to some confusion regarding the bathroom sink (she was sure it was a kitchen cabinet). And one of the four-year-old guests really didn't get the game at all, but the others ran around like the wild pack I had imagined, following clues in and out of the house, and Zuzu told me later it was her favorite part of the party.

Once the treasures had been collected, we sat back down to eat cupcakes--and sing "Happy Birthday," of course.

Zuzu finished her cupcake pretty quickly (plain vanilla, please), so then she opened presents while her friends were still eating. This worked well. I'd asked a few people about whether to open presents at the party, but my friend Beth was adamant that it's important for kids to do this to practice good manners and being appreciative. So in the days before the party, Zuzu and I had had several conversations about being polite while opening gifts and looking the gift giver in the eye to say thank you. Because we'd just invited four guests (one set of twins who gave a combined gift), there were just a few presents to open and I was really proud of Zuzu. I had to say, "Is there anything you'd like to say to Gemma?" at one point, but Zuzu did a good job. My favorite was when she opened the gift bag from the twins that had diving rings and goggles and water balloons in it and she clapped her hands together and said, "Thanks, girls!"

When she finished opening gifts, the treasure boxes were pretty much dry (another 10 minutes would have been perfect, but that's how it goes). So I busted out the packs of sticker jewels and the kids decorated the painted boxes with pink, purple, blue, and clear gemstones. (The extra guest decorated a wooden bird house because I happened to have that on hand in the basement--thank goodness for Joann clearance aisle). 

Then Zuzu's bestie asked me what was next and I said cheerfully, "Now it's time to go home!" I had scheduled the party from 1-2:30 and we wrapped up exactly on time. 

I'm not going to lie, even though everything went smoothly and the parents stayed and the kids were well-behaved, I still found it kind of stressful and exhausting. 

There was a time in college when I thought I wanted to be an event planner and now I think that I must have just been drunk when I watched that J-Lo movie The Wedding Planner and thought her job looked fun (or maybe I just liked her hair?) because events are actually the worst. I don't mind the planning and the shopping ahead of time, but it is the coordinating of things and serving of food during the event that I find stressful. This is why outsourcing birthday parties to other locations where people do that for you is ideal.

So I recharged after the party by putting up my feet and reading for a bit and Zuzu and Coco played with gifts and then we went to dinner with my parents at the Old Spaghetti Factory (because you only drive downtown and pay to park to order plain noodles with butter for very special occasions).

She opened gifts from us and my parents back at home after dinner, and while we did get her some Shimmer & Shine themed gifts (the mermaids were a big hit), she also loved the vintage jewelry box that I got for her at an estate sale, just as I hoped she would!

In the end, I do think the party was really what Zuzu was hoping for. I tried to have her in mind with every choice I made, and I think it was the day she had imagined. I hope that she has good memories of it. She seemed to truly enjoy herself, and had a huge smile on her face (except when she was really concentrating on painting), so I'm calling it a win.

Six years of celebrating this rainbow girl. We are so lucky.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Reckoning with Laura Ingalls Wilder

I follow The Conscious Kid on Instagram. This account gives lots of great book recommendations and commentary on social justice, especially as it relates to children. I saw this morning that they had posted an announcement from the Association for Library Service to Children. This group gives out the "Laura Ingalls Wilder Award" annually to authors whose work has made a lasting impact on the world of children's literature.

Only now they've changed the name of the award.

It will be called the Children's Literature Legacy Award. The Association wrote in a statement, "This decision was made in consideration of the fact that Wilder's legacy, as represented by her body of work, includes expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC's core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect, and responsiveness."

I wrote a while back about reading Little House in the Big Woods to Zuzu, having forgotten all the talk about guns. I've actually referenced the Little House books a few times, always in my whitewashed (see what I did there?) remembrance of them.

As The Conscious Kid included in their post, Ma Ingalls makes the statement in on ebook, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." Pa also does a blackface minstrel show. Moreover, the whole premise of the family's move west is built on themes of white American supremacy and manifest destiny.

If I'm being honest, my initial, impulsive, gut reaction was "NO way!" And then I sat with that feeling and realized how sticky it was. The truth is, if I were raising a black child or a Native American child, I don't know that I would want them to read those books. And that kind of makes me feel sick to my stomach.

I was a huge fan of the Little House books. I loved the idea of being a pioneer and that one story where there's a snow storm and a bear and they have to go outside to pee... it was thrilling! But in reading these books on my own, I never interrogated or questioned the racist content of her books other than to think to myself that "That was a long time ago. People aren't like that anymore." But some people are like that. And even if I believed that the way Native Americans were depicted in the book was wrong (and I distinctly recall reading these books in second grade, so I was not really looking at anything through a sophisticated lens), I undoubtedly absorbed some of that message--particularly the part about it being our destiny to explore and settle the wild west. I did not question that at all. It corresponded with all the "You can be anything you want to be!" messages that we got at school.

It's uncomfortable to admit that I love (loved?) something that is undeniably racist. It's uncomfortable when childhood nostalgia corresponds with racist content (hello, Shirley Temple movies set in the South).

On the one hand, I don't advocate for completely erasing such books. I think we need to reckon with our shameful history rather than avoid it entirely. I may read the books again with my kids some day with the intention of having some of those difficult conversations. I think there are ways to read these books that can be valuable and can appreciate their worth in other areas. But we can't pretend there's not really messed up stuff in them.

In spite of my initial reaction to this award name change, upon further reflection, I completely support it. I do believe libraries and institutions should be moving in inclusive and welcoming directions. Arguing to keep that name as the name of the award is not unlike the arguments to keep the name of Confederate generals as names of elementary schools. Sure--it might be historically accurate, but if it's also currently harmful, then it needs to go.

I think what made me feel sad wasn't the name change itself, but having to reckon with the fact that books that I loved and still feel all kinds of nostalgic about are part of a narrative of white supremacy. And probably that's why a lot of us (white people) suck at doing the work of being social justice advocates and anti-racism allies--because we have to constantly confront the uncomfortable truth that the things we LIKE, the things that make us think of happy childhood memories, the things that connected us to our grandparents, are sometimes the very same things that are harmful and hurtful to people of color or other marginalized people. And that feels pretty gross. So we may find it's easier to say "No! Shut up! It's FINE." When it really isn't fine.

And it's not about blaming Laura Ingalls Wilder for absorbing and reflecting the popular discourse of her time. She is a product of her time and place. But that doesn't mean we should still idolize her two hundred years later. When we know better (and we in 2018 know better), then we should do better.

(This article is a great take on it.)

P.S. If you like the era of Little House but would like something less racist, another IG commenter recommended Louise Erdrich's Birchbark series. I haven't read these, but I am familiar with Erdrich's adult novels, which depict tensions between Native Americans and whites in pretty heartbreaking stories (she is a Native American writer). I'll be checking out the Birchbark series for Zuzu.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

3:30 AM Thoughts on Babies Separated from Their Parents

I usually don't have trouble sleeping, but I woke up at 3:30am this morning and my mind went back to the stories I've been reading about immigrant families separated at the boarder. About children--toddler, preschool age children--crying for their parents. About a breastfeeding mother separated from her infant. Like many people, I feel angry and helpless.

It also feels like a hard place to find a middle ground. I'm baffled by the fact that this is a partisan issue--that Democrat senators have signed on to support a bill that will prevent this from happening and no Republican senators have. I read that 60% of Americans are against the separation of immigrant families... which means that 40% of us think this is okay?

This past semester I had an international student in class. She is from Honduras. She happens to be one of the brightest students I've ever taught--including the many brilliant and privileged students I encountered at Wash U. She's smart and her writing is remarkable. She took a creative nonfiction course with me and some of her essays were about her home.

Confession: I don't know all that much about what's going on in Honduras. Or, I didn't before this past semester. I think I'm fairly well-informed. I get a daily news e-mail that I read. I listen to NPR before work in the morning. True, I've mostly stopped listening to Pod Save America because I felt that it was raising my blood pressure in unhealthy ways during my commute (not the podcast itself, but the political events they were covering). My news consumption is lower than it used to be--I get so frustrated by much of what the Trump administration has done (and, mostly, the lies they tell) so I have decreased some of my NPR listening, especially with my kids around. But I'm still reading and listening. And yet I had no idea what was happening in Honduras. I mean, I would have been able to tell you that the country is politically unstable and some people are seeking asylum, but I didn't have much sense of what that meant on the ground level. Not the way it affected individual people.

And then my student wrote an essay about a girl she went to school with getting kidnapped off her school bus to be held for ransom. She wrote about protests that turned violent, about unarmed civilians being shot, and the fear of families in neighborhoods that had always been safe and protected by wealth and affluence. She wrote about the anxiety of going anywhere alone, about the danger of ordinary life in her country, even for people who had previously been comfortable.

I'm embarrassed that it took a college student writing about her own experiences for me to understand the gravity of the situation there, but it suddenly made clear to me why someone would flee everything familiar in order to seek asylum in the U.S.

I know there are people who don't want "foreigners" in our country. I know there are people who are worried that their position or their comfort in society could shift if we allow people who look different or speak differently to enter our country. I think is fear is ignorant and misplaced, but I can at least recognize that the unknown is scary. And yet, I don't understand people who think these migrants should just "go home." I don't understand why they can't see that no one wants to move to a place they've never been, knowing they will not be welcomed. But as Glennon Doyle wrote on IG, "Parents will take their children and run from a burning building, even if it's illegal to do so." I recently poem by Warsan Shire called "Home" and it made me feel so heavy and weepy as it captured the impossibility of this situation for these immigrants.

"Home" by Warsan Shire

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.

i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

So I was up at 3:30am, thinking about this poem and crying, traumatized children with no one to comfort them and feeling sick to my stomach. 

I made a donation to RAICES (an organization to reunite parents and children) and to Together Rising (Glennon Doyle's nonprofit that is funneling money to similar efforts). I still feel angry and helpless.

I read a blog post on Design Mom (one of my favorites--she's so smart and the cross sections of home decor, parenting, and social issues is like my sweet spot of interests right now) and one thing she invited readers to do is to participate in a letter writing campaign:

A reader named Alexis emailed me today and said, “I’m writing you from New York City where my friends and I are working on a letter-writing campaign — gathering notes to elected leaders regarding the cruel act of families being separated at the U.S. border. The letters will be hand-delivered to government leaders later this week. We’re hoping to gather hundreds with representation from every state.

We’d love to extend the invite to submit letters to you and your readership. All letters can be emailed to by Wednesday, 6/20. They should include at least the zip code of the writer. We’ll take care of printing and delivering the letters.

All you have to do is email. They’ll take care of the printing and postage.

I love the idea of stacks of mail being delivered. Writing a letter doesn't feel like enough, but it's something tangible. I hope you'll consider joining me!

If you still have questions about exactly what's happening at the border, or why it's happening, or how our government is attempting to justify it, I recommend reading Gabrielle Blair's entire post at Design Mom or Joanna Goddard's post at Cup of Jo. Both offer helpful links and answer frequently asked questions (like Isn't this the law that Trump is just enforcing? Nope.

(Also, you know what else was a law? Concentration camps in Germany. Sometimes laws and entire governments are so wrong you would think it would be obvious to everyone.)

I'd also encourage you to read this essay by Meg Conley (which I shared on Facebook) because it basically broke my heart wide open and also this statement by the United Methodist Church

I guess that's it. I hoped writing about this would make me feel a little better, but honestly sitting here in my own comfort is what is making me feel so sad right now. Guess I'll give Senator Roy Blunt another phone call...

(Quick update: I just saw here that Roy Blunt issued a statement that says separating families doesn't "meet the standard of who we are as a country" so I was able to leave a message for him complimenting his statement and asking him to work with Democrats in order to stop this policy.)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Three Things On My Mind

(1) Marriage (Meh-widge)

I listened to a podcast about do's and don't's for marriage and it got me thinking about my own experiences (almost fourteen years of them!) and my own advice... Here are my top three do's/don'ts:

1. Do talk to your partner like you're talking to a co-worker.
I guess this assumes you have a healthy work environment and you're not, say, Harry Weinstein, but I know how easy it is to be short or sharp with the person you've become permanently yoked to. I actually called David out one time in a fight for being nicer to the people he works with than he was to me (dramatic, but possibly true in that specific moment) and I realized that unfortunately that same accusation probably applied to me, too.

When I have a problem at work, I make an effort to be courteous when I ask for help and to express appreciation for my coworkers. Even if I wanted someone to take over a part of a project, I would say, "I could really use your help with this" rather than, "OMG I'm doing EVERYTHING here can you just take care of this one thing?" (and a lot of it has to do with tone, obviously). It's really about being polite and respectful of their time and energy, and when you're under stress or in the trenches of parenting, that's not always easy to remember!

2. Don't keep score.
I think this one is pretty standard. It's just about recognizing that your spouse may be doing more than you give them credit for (although you are obviously doing the MOST work) and not feeling resentful about what's not getting done. This also connects to "don't assume s/he can read your mind" which David and I both have also been guilty of (although, honestly, him more than me as I'm very comfortable expressing exactly what is on my mind so he doesn't have to wonder--haha).

Sometimes I feel bitter about the loads of laundry (not the doing it so much as the putting it away) even though D does all the yard work and a lot of the cooking and it's easy--especially when we're busy--to feel a little tit for tat about who's doing what when and who's getting a massage or playing a ball game or going to yoga or going out with friends or always on bed/bath/toothbrush duty (I don't mind bath time at all, but I loathe supervising the toothbrushing, particularly if someone else is lying around looking at his phone at the time...). But we're both contributing and trying to make life better for each other, so scorekeeping does not help.

3. Laugh while you fight.
I can be for real pissed at David and still dissolve a little of the tension when one of us makes a joke or talks in a stupid voice. Sometimes when I'm angry, instead of yelling, I just text him the middle finger emoji. While were are standing in the same room having a "discussion." And then we both laugh because how stupid and immature is that? But also? He gets that I am still mad. You can be funny without giving in on an issue that is important to you (like the fact that your partner ALWAYS skips the flossing part of the kids' toothbrushing and that is NOT COOL).

We are both pretty good at diffusing tension with stupid jokes and I think that knowing you can be silly with this person even when you are legitimately angry about a specific issue is a reminder that it is the issue rather than the person that you hate.

I think those are my top three tips for staying married without losing your mind. Any you would add to that list?

(2) Avocados

You know what I'm tired of everyone making a big deal about like it's some kind of amazing super food?


They are smushy. They taste like a weird kind of smushy leaf. They are perpetually underripe or overripe.

I'm over them.

(Also I barfed every time I ate guacamole when I was pregnant with Coco--three times... I'm a slow learner--and now I just want to avoid avocados.)

(No need to defend avocados in the comments. I trust that my moratorium on them will not harm the avocado industry. I'm just saying... NO THANKS, green mush.)

They may be healthy and you may think that avocado toast with sea salt is god's greatest gift to the kitchen, to which I say: girlfriend, you need to try Nutella.

(mic drop)

(3) Summer Nights

Here's the thing about an 8pm meet up with a friend on a weeknight. In January, this would feel absolutely impossible. In June? It's fun and totally manageable. Daylight savings in the summer is my best friend. I love how summer days stretch on forever. I've always said that 8pm on a summer night is my favorite time of day. 8pm in February is bedtime. 8pm in July is happy hour.

I may try to cultivate more of a summer mindset this winter... we'll see how that goes. I think the best thing about living in the midwest is the seasonal shift... it's possible that each season gives us something we need, but this year spring was so late coming and winter was an unending January, so I'm not entirely sure about that. 

I'm curious... for people who work 12 months out of the year--does summer feel the same for you? Like it's still a bit of a vacation even though the basic routine is the same?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Overdue Conversations with Zuzu and Coco

Thoughts on Scissors

Coco: I can't have zizzers because I cut my hair. And if you need zizzers to cut your hair, a grown-up has to get them. And if you eat your hair, that would be uh-skusting!

Thoughts on Magical Creatures

Zuzu: For my eighth birthday, can I have it at a park so I can catch a glimpse of a unicorn?

Coco: I saw a unicorn outside. I really did. But you didn't see me because you didn't turn your head. And the unicorn's name was Rainbow Sparkle Dash.

Thoughts on Snack Time

Coco: When I was a baby, what was my favorite food?
Me: You really liked blueberries.

Coco: My belly is getting full. But it's still kind of squishy.

Thoughts on the Beauty of Nature

Me: Okay, watch me!
Zuzu: I really like looking at nature more than you.

Thoughts on Time Travel

Coco: When I'm a baby, I'm going to face backwards [in the carseat].
Zuzu: You're never going to be a baby again.
Coco: YES I AM.

Thoughts on Sibling Rivalry

Me: Coco is really good about letting me put chapstick on her.
Coco: AND I like Kumon.

Thoughts on Carpet Stains Caused By Poor Choices

Coco: There's anything back here! [behind the chair]
Grammy: You mean nothing?
Coco: (nods) Nuffing.
Grammy: (suspicious) Is there really nothing?
Coco: A spot. [of mommy's lipgloss, stolen from her purse and smeared on the carpet]

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

No Comparison

Here are things I don't say to my kids:

Zuzu is the artistic one.
Coco is the puzzle-solver.

Zuzu is the more challenging one.
Coco is the people-pleaser.

Zuzu is the messy one.
Coco is a big clean-up helper.

Zuzu is the fearless one.
Coco is the more cautious one.

Sometimes, I confess, I think about them in these broad strokes (I realized over Memorial Weekend when Coco was helping sweep the porch and clean the windows that one of her favorite toys in the broom and I've never seen Zuzu actually use it). But of course they are such unique little people, even as they often take cues from and imitate each other.

Right now, Coco is still struggling with being overtired on a daily basis, which means we are all struggling with Coco being overtired on a daily basis. I'm not sure she's caught up on sleep from the late, late nights over the past weekend at Grammy and Bops's house. But I think it was worth it for a night at the carnival with their little cousin Mesa, and a night spent on the lawn of the courthouse listening to a Little Texas concert. The weather was perfect. Zuzu spent the entire evening drawing pictures in a notebook. Coco spent the evening dancing and pushing her stroller in order to keep herself awake.

This week Zuzu is at art camp. I mentioned a while back that I signed her up for it but wasn't sure how it would go. Much to my delight, it has been a breeze. Drop off yesterday was the easiest it has ever been for us in a new place where she doesn't know anyone. There were a few other children there when we arrived but they were all coloring quietly, so Zuzu joined right in and a counselor came over right away to engage her in making a name tag and after camp she told me she had fun ("unless for the heat!") and couldn't wait to go back tomorrow.

Coco had a meltdown at drop off because she wanted to be the one to carry Zuzu's backpack over to the registration table, but Zuzu wanted to wear it because she felt the "counselors might be confused" so Coco was furious and really couldn't recover. Instead of a sweet just-the-two-of-us date at Starbucks, I used the drive-through to get my iced tea and then we went to the grocery store. She pulled herself together enough to use a mini shopping car responsibly and was pretty good the rest of the morning, but I guess bedtime was a disaster (I was out having a drink with a friend because I live a footloose and fancy free lifestyle!). After brushing her teeth and getting ready for bed (or as ready as she was willing since she refused to put on underwear or pajamas and just slept in the buff), Coco asked David for a piece of gum (they got gum from floats in the Bushwhacker Days parade while we were visiting my parents). Coco is obsessed with gum and I've never let her have it before but she promises me she won't swallow it, so I let her try it out. Now she wants gum all the time.

Anyway, she was devastated that bedtime was not a time to chew bubble gum and David said she basically wailed herself to sleep.

I am so not sad that I was having a glass of rose and adult conversation during that time!

Sort of related to Coco's desire to be all things grown up... my friend Michelle had been posting on social media about her church's vacation bible school. I thought I'd send the girls, but realized it conflicted with Zuzu's art camp. So we didn't sign up. But after Coco's rough day yesterday, I asked her if she wanted to go to her own camp. She totally did! It was hard for me to send her without Zuzu being there, too--she has never gone somewhere like that (daycare, school, camp, whatever) without her big sister!

But she was totally game. She insisted on bringing a backpack loaded with all the same supplies Zuzu has to bring to her outdoor art camp--water bottle, snack, hat, sunscreen--even though her "camp" is inside a big church. And she held my hand really tight during registration and the walk back to the classroom, but the hand off to a classroom helper went smoothly and I now have FREE TIME all morning long! For the next three days, anyway.

Summer really is the best. And three hours in the morning is just long enough to make me miss those crazy kiddos and look forward to picking them up!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

O, Summer

We had an idyllic first day of summer break and then reality set in. It turns out that my kids don't always play beautifully, entertaining themselves by designing paper earrings and then putting them up for sale. They also fight a lot.

Coco is in an awkward place where she really needs a nap and also she will DIE before she takes a nap. She still napped at school but home with me is a different story. When this was the weekend situation, it wasn't a big deal. She was kind of wrecked by Sunday night, but she just went to bed early, napped on Monday, and all was right with the world again. Now she's just kind of wrecked every day around 3pm and I need to figure out something...

Also the toilet is currently overflowing. (I won't say who's to blame, but her name rhymes with Loco.)

Come to think of it, I'm kind of wrecked by 3pm myself. You know what gets to me? Part of it is feeling like I am constantly cleaning up the kitchen (Zuzu must be going through a growth spurt because she is constantly asking for snacks or seconds and my pet peeve is when she throws open the doors to the refrigerator and just surveys the contents like she is the quarterback in a teen TV show about to eat everything in sight). But most of what wears on me is the onslaught of "Mom. Mommy. Mom." I mean, YES, I am so lucky to have them and be here. But also, this is my life:

Oh mercy. Even watching it makes me twitchy like "WHAAAAAATTTTT????"

I think I mentioned that one of our summer rules is "Be kind to your family" and another is "Don't be cranky."

As a result, the girls are constantly screaming at each other, "DON'T BE CRANKY!" or tattling on each other for being cranky.




Yesterday we took Cooper to the vet. I don't want to shame him, but you guys, he is so dramatically overweight. He held steady at 39 pounds for several years. He's now... 10 pounds heavier than that.

Coco had to use the bathroom at the vet's office, and the tech came out and called Cooper's name while we were in there. The vet tech told me later that Zuzu came out from around the corner and said, "I'm with Cooper!" and proceeded to tell her the names of everyone in our family. Then when we came out of the bathroom, she said, "This is my sister Coco, and this is Brooke." LOL.

We have always taken Coop to the vet in my home town because we like the guy and because it's considerably less expensive. But when I called to make an appointment, they couldn't fit me in during the time we'll be home, so I decided to just make Bubba an appointment here. Considering that he's 12 years old, I feel more comfortable with him having a local vet in case of an emergency. Of course we had to do some bloodwork and get all his shots and it was a pricy visit. AND he needs to have his teeth cleaned, which is SO expensive because anesthesia.

While I was talking to the vet, the girls were wandering into the waiting room, playing with some of the toys there and complimenting every dog who came in. (It really is a sweet quality of theirs that they compliment every dog and every baby they see with "S/he is soooooo adorable!"). They also eavesdropped on and inserted themselves into plenty of other conversations between pet owners and vet techs, but the receptionist told me when I left that they were "very friendly and well-behaved" so I am taking it as a win overall.

And now Cooper is on a strict diet regiment--down to 2 cups of food per day from 2 1/2 and eventually moving to 1 1/2. I'm also going to quit giving him grain-free food. I thought that was the best choice, but the vet said he probably wants some fiber to fill him up, and I've seen him eating grass which is another indication that he wants fiber! She told me that most dogs require calorie restriction rather than increased exercise in order to lose weight, and she said he's in excellent health overall (no arthritis, good muscles, heart sounded good) and his activity level should perk back up once we get some weight off of him. Yay, Bubba!

(Update: in the time I've been writing this, Coco took our return address stamp and stamped it all over the kitchen floor. Staying home is SO FUN.)