Saturday, July 21, 2018

Checking In!

Note: I thought I published this on Thursday, but it never posted, so here it is. 

I'm back! We've been doing the Missouri summer tour... a few days in Branson with my parents, a weekend in Kansas City with friends... It's been a delightful few weeks, though this one is kind of unsettling because the girls have been at my parents' house since Monday. It's Grammy Camp! My mom and dad picked them up in KC and took them home and David and I came back to St. Louis in a very, very quiet car.

I miss them!

I'll tell you though, it's amazing what I can get done when I am not CONSTANTLY interrupted to answer questions, settle disputes, provide entertainment, or give someone a snack every five freaking minutes. We've turned the front closet into a mini-mudroom (installed a shelf, bench, and hooks), I've gone on a coffee date with a friend, had a meeting about a community organizing project I'm excited about, gone to a concert at the botanical gardens, attended David's ball game, baked zucchini chocolate chip cookies, read five books, and... (drumroll please...) finished my Eliza book project. (Finished a rough first draft of it, anyway.)

I don't know what happens now. I sent it to a friend to read it and get some feedback and then... I'll figure it out. I'll keep you posted. I really have no idea what--if anything--will happen (do I talk to an agent? do I self-publish on Amazon?), but I hadn't realized how good it would feel to complete it. I mean, it still needs some polishing and probably some work to make it a bit more cohesive, but I wrote it! And maybe someday someone else will read it? Wild.

I've been listening to this podcast called Seeing White that is really great. It's 14 episodes, but totally worth listening to. Episode 5 is about Dakota Indians in Minnesota and it's fascinating and (of course) sad.

David and I both have summer birthdays and this year we got really practical about gifts. He wanted an expensive pair of polarized sunglasses. (He found some at a store, and after my super googling skills, with the use of a promo code and ebates, I got the identical sunglasses for literally 50% of the retail cost of the glasses he tried on).

I wanted a kinda pricey bracelet set from Keep Collective. Speaking of (and this is NOT sponsored)... if you like these bracelets, my friend Beth's sister sells them and she's running a special through the month of July that all proceeds will benefit Pedal the Cause, which is the specific cancer research fundraiser that Beth and her family support each year--you can shop and order through Kate's page here. But if you find that overwhelming and you want to just ask Kate to design you a bracelet (which is what I did), you can contact her through her Keep FB page here. I told Kate I wanted two bracelets, I told her about how much I wanted (David) to spend, and I said that I wanted a bracelet that represented my family and I liked mixed metals and could she design something for me? I LOVED the ideas she came up with and forwarded my favorites to David. So, no romantic birthday surprise, but a gift I'm looking forward to getting.

I did just a bit of Amazon prime shopping--I ordered a hair dryer because I've been using a cheap travel dryer that folds except the handle is kind of broken so it folds of its own volition WHILE I am drying my hair, which is not especially effective and can be pinchy if my finger is in the wrong place. And I've been using it like this for about a year. I mostly let my hair air dry in the summer, but I figure I'll appreciate my forethought this fall/winter.

I also bought myself a drawing book. Is that super dorky? Probably. Here's the thing: I can't draw. I really don't have any natural talent for it. But I WANT to. So I figure the key to drawing (like yoga and anything else) is to practice. So I bought this little book and I'm going to set a goal to doodle in it five days a week. I think that there are many things I'm interested in (drawing, writing fiction) that I wish I had pursued in college but didn't because I was afraid of not being good at it, which is SO LAME. So I'll start with this!

I've been really good about daily yoga with Adriene, though I've slacked some in the month of July. Lots of travel, not much routine, and my groupon to a local yoga studio expired. But I am going to commit to it again because it really does make such a difference in my mental health. In fact, David noticed the benefits of me going to the studio on the regular in June (it turns out, when Mama is happy, everyone really IS happier) so he's encouraging me to buy a class card for the fall, which I keep putting off because it's so expensive.

Oh--but another thing I bought on Amazon that I am PUMPED about is this weird acupressure mat. I bought it for David for his birthday, but then I couldn't wait to give it to him because I wanted us both to try it out, so he got to open it last night. He thought it was too ouchy without a shirt on (weenie!) but I loved it and after ten minutes I got up feeling almost like I'd had a massage. Was some of it placebo affect? Could it have been related to the two glasses of wine I'd already had that evening? I dunno but I still liked it.

Today I stopped in to a consignment shop and bought the girls tap shoes in the size I think they'll be this fall/winter. (I find kid shoes so difficult--especially because my kids will tell me a shoe feels great no matter how big or small it is as long as they like the look of it. And I can never tell if I'm buying them with "room to grow" or absurdly too big. And I know I could go to a swanky kids shoe store here in St. Louis and get them fitted and all, but then I have a hard time buying the shoes because I KNOW I could find them cheaper online and then I think "but I'm paying for the service and supporting a small business" but I also think "OMG I cannot justify spending $60 on shoes they will outgrow in a few months" but then I think "Their feet are growing so fast and they need good, supportive shoes, and not stiff pieces of crap." So basically I overthink this all the time and then I buy used tap shoes when I see them and they seem to be roughly the right size.)

Related to this is the fact that my kids want to keep doing dance and have zero interest in organized sports and I asked David this week if he was disappointed in their lack of sportiness and if he thinks he should have married and procreated with someone sportier, so as to (probably) have sporty offspring. But David said he likes playing sports more than coaching sports so he'd rather have time to go play baseball than go watch our kids play (lol) and after working in schools and with parents and kids for so many years, he's really passionate about letting the kids follow their own interests without foisting our expectations upon them. For our kids, that's swimming and dance. So we'll go with that until they change their minds, I guess! I still wonder about things like violin lessons and Spanish tutoring and ice skating and what if there are things they don't know they love because we've not exposed them?

Zuzu did tell me she wants to do swim team next year, but I've decided not to have her do it until Coco can do it too (assuming she wants to) or until Coco can read independently because practices are 45 minutes every day of the week and I'm not going to entertain a bored preschooler at that every day. If I can sit and read a book for 45 minutes, sure, I will shuttle them there. But until then, we'll stick with lessons. I am going to let her take diving lessons next year, as she's been asking for those nonstop.

I went to the library today and ambitiously checked out too many books which I may not be able to get through before due dates because some are "hot reads" which have shorter check out periods and the girls will get home today so I won't be able to sit and read without interruption for hours at a time. But I'm looking forward to working my way through the stack anyway.

I'm realizing that I am in pretty good shape as far as my summer goals go... we got that closet finished and I'm ahead on my reading goals. I still need to paint our bathroom and I'm still not quite decided on paint color even though I have paint samples smeared on the walls upstairs. I did one color at 50% saturation and then at 100% saturation and the 50% feels too pastel and the 100% feels too bold, so I may buy a gallon at 75% and just go for it? Sherwin Williams's 40% off sale starts tomorrow, so I need to figure out something.

I also ordered wallpaper from target for our half bath downstairs, which I love. I can't find the pattern online now, but it's gray and white trees (small trees, not like tree trunks) and it's super cute, but the problem is that the bathroom is a creamy off-white--the sink top, the trim, the door, the mirror, even the toilet. And the wallpaper is gray and white-white. And I don't mind white-white with off-white, but I'm just not sure about it in this instance. Plus maybe if I'm going to do wallpaper I want to go bolder? Like something with birds? Peacocks? (David thinks I'm crazy for wanting wallpaper at all, so no comments from wallpaper nay-sayers, please. Let me live my dream.)

Library books are now calling to me. But it's nice to be blogging again.

Thursday, July 12, 2018


After Eliza died, I discovered Share, which is an organization for bereaved parents. This the group who hosts the candlelight vigil each year that happens to fall on Eliza's birthday. They also have support groups for bereaved parents and for pregnancy after loss.

Some of you may remember that one of the labor and delivery nurses who was with me for Coco's birth is also a baby loss mom. We've stayed in touch through the blog and facebook and she is involved with Share and recommended me as a contributor to their online magazine, Sharing. A managing editor e-mailed me and asked if I'd send something in each month. So I've been publishing a monthly article, and it occurred to me that I should share them here, too!

The magazine provides me with a general topic for each month, and then I freewheel my own thoughts on the issue and do my best to proofread before sending it on to them. I've linked them below if you're interested... and you are always welcome to link or share anywhere you'd like.

For July, I wrote about self care (otherwise known as survival).

In June, I wrote about Father's Day.

In May, I wrote about the history of Mother's Day.

In April, I wrote about letting go of our perfectly planned life.

And I started in March, writing about parenting after loss.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Reading, Watching, Listening


I have been moving through books pretty quickly this past week or so. Sometimes it goes like that, I guess. I read Dear Fahrenheit 451 and then American Wife and then a middle grade novel called The War that Saved My Life (loved it) and then The Book of Essie and now I'm starting this mystery called The Dante Chamber that apparently features Christina Rossetti (the nineteenth century poet) as its main character and sleuth. I also checked out The Eyre Affair because I'm a sucker for metanarrative.

I liked and would recommend all the books I read. I was so absorbed in American Wife and then I felt weird because it's loosely based on Laura Bush and I kept wondering how loosely and I guess she has commented in interviews that she hasn't read the novel but I wondered how I would feel if someone loosely based a novel on my life... including some of the most heartbreaking aspects, but then inventing other controversial plot points. I'm not sure! I dunno, but Curtis Sittenfeld has risen up and up my list of favorite authors. I don't think she is everyone's cup of tea, but she is definitely mine.

Dear Fahrenheit 451 is a librarian's collection of letters to various books and then a long list of recommended reads and it's amusing and a quick read but I wanted to have coffee and chat with the writer rather than read more of it, if that makes sense.

The War that Saved My Life was the kind of book that spoke directly to my 10-year-old self. Loved the story of a girl and her little brother in WWII England. It hits all the perfect tween elements--abusive grown-ups, nice grown-ups, horses, spies, and new clothes. (Am I the only one who is a sucker for the description of fancy new clothes when a poor kid gets something nice for the first time? I still love a good dressing room montage in a film because I am super basic and I just can't help it. Sometimes clothes make you feel really good.)

The Book of Essie is about a young girl in a conservative religious reality TV family. It was not quite the story I expected, but it kept me reading. I wanted it to be a little more salacious but the scandal in the story is mostly just sad. Still, it was satisfying all together.


I can't stop watching Father Brown which is so comforting to me it's basically the dose of melatonin I take at bedtime. I can't explain how it is a compliment to the show that it puts me to sleep, but it is/does. It's not that the show is boring, it's just so perfect. Set in mid-20th-century England in a small village with more than its share of murders, a kind priest bustles about getting into everyone's business and putting them right with God, regardless of the justice system and the local sheriff. It's just brilliant.

David and I are also watching Outlander on Starz which is amazeballs. Who knew a ginger in a kilt could stir up such intense feelings for me? But Jamie is absolutely adorable. (It's the accent. But also the curls. And maybe the scars...) The show is violent and a bit gratuitous what with all the times Claire ends up with her boobs out (I mean, really), but I still love it.

We also started season 2 of Marcella on Netflix. I watched the first episode and feel a little bit like I have no idea what's going on, but I felt like that at first with season 1, too. It all unfolds a bit slowly, but I like it. The main actress is just fantastic and sometimes I want to cut bangs like hers but then I come to my senses.

And whenever I need a little pick-me-up (which, let's be honest, is just about daily right now), I like to watch season 2 of Queer Eye. I love the fab five and I love the guys (and one woman!) they fix up and the girls sometimes watch with me, too. Coco really likes Jonathan because he has long hair and she likes when he wears it up in a bun (lol) and Zuzu and I like Karamo (ummmm because he is super handsome).


I am out of my podcast habits because I don't have a 30 minute each way commute on the daily. I'm a couple weeks behind on Young House Love (like new clothes for poor children, I also love a home makeover) and I've been listening to Sorta Awesome which is totally a mom-podcast but it's like having coffee with your mom friend whose advice you always want to take and whose product recommendations you always want to try. The host, Meg, has the best radio voice.

I did make a drive to KC for the weekend and listened to the audio book Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan. Listen. It's so good. Are you in a book club? Your book club should read it. There's lots to talk about, but it's also easy to get through. It's divided into sections each titled things people should say and it covers marriage, parenting, grief, and all the deep and superficial things involved in each of these things. The audiobook is read by the author and it's truly perfection. I was literally laughing and weeping as I drove I-70 between St. Louis and Kansas City.

(PSA: If you don't have an app on your phone through which you can check out free audio and electronic books, ask your public librarian how to get it!)