Monday, August 3, 2020

Early August: Birthday Recap, Nursery Plans, Pandemic Life

The summer seems to have slipped away in a whirlwind of... never leaving my house? I guess it's not quite fair to say that since we did take a road trip to West Virginia in July, but it continues to be months of mostly staying at home and definitely social distancing and while I have plenty of bright spots--including this face in particular:

like pretty much everyone else, the pandemic is wearing on me. I've recently had two different friends comment on how lucky I am to live with a cute and snuggly toddler, and I think about that all time because they are so right and also I had to stop in the middle of my yoga routine at 7am this morning because she wandered out of the room and I knew she'd be getting into trouble, and sure enough, she was on top of the kitchen table eating markers (literally eating them--she bites the felt tip right off). Just a little bit later, after I got her dressed and picked up her room, she opened the diaper drawer and started throwing diapers out on the floor and when I put my hand in the drawer to block her from being able to remove diapers, she slammed the drawer shut, smashing my wrist. All this to say, I'm so lucky to live with a snuggly toddler and also I feel like I'm just chasing her in circles. 

And so G has returned to her babysitter during the workday so that we can actually get work done at home and it is for the best for all of us. She truly needs an adult's undivided attention.

I don't want to write much about the stress and mixed feelings and angst about back-to-school, so I'll just say that our district had a hybrid plan where the kids could go two days a week but they have now shifted that so the kids will start fully remote for the first nine weeks. Which means we will all be home full-time until October 23 and there will be a re-evaluation in October. IMHO, I think it was the right call. Too many unknowns, teachers and administrators who are not earning hazard pay, so many big risks. But also... kids are suffering, teachers WANT to be back in the classroom (just, without significant health risks), and I think this article by a superintendent in Arizona really sums up the costs on both sides of a lose-lose equation.

My university still plans to open with modified face-to-face instruction and I'm expected to teach a class on banned books two days a week. Plenty of mixed feelings about that as well, since I'm excited to teach a small honors seminar on banned books and to have a reason to put on real clothes and leave my house. But also... I'm obviously the person who is exposing my family to additional risk, considering that I'll be hanging out with a dozen or so 18- and 19-year-olds for an hour and fifteen minutes two days a week. We'll all be masked and I'll be careful, but given that Covid cases are rising most rapidly in the under-30 age range in my area, it's a concern.

I have finally decided on a plan for G's nursery. I guess I've been waiting for the inspiration to strike. I feel so lucky to have had the chance to decorate a number of little-girl rooms in our different houses. I loved Eliza's yellow and pale-blue duck nursery at our first house, which became Zuzu's nursery. I loved the carnival-tent ceiling of Zuzu's nursery at our second house, which became Coco's nursery. Remember this? It brought me so much joy:

I also loved the pink girly-girl room with the gold polka-dot wall that was Zuzu's big-girl room at our second house. I love the girls' shared rainbow room at our current house. But G's room here--which she only moved into in May, when we finally moved the crib out of our bedroom--was a sort of catch-all... it still has a twin bed in it, plus the crib. We switched out the blue ticking-striped nursery rocker for the neutral-colored Dutalier glider because D thinks the glider is far more comfortable. It has a pink rug that came from Zuzu's old big-girl room and the window treatments are white roman shades with pink borders. The bed has a sweet duvet cover on it that has pinks and greens and a secret garden theme--bunnies, deer, plants, and golden keys. It's fine, but it doesn't feel particularly special, and I enjoy making the girls' rooms feel special. Here are pics of its current state:

What is has going for it is that it's full of things I like--the Jenny Lind crib, the still-cute-IMO rug, the classic Roman shades, the gallery wall of photos and sweet art prints. But it still doesn't really feel like Genevieve's room as much as it feels like a mishmash of hand-me-downs (which it is). So I've been considering an accent wall of wallpaper! Or maybe I need some kind of window treatment in addition to the shades? But I've finally landed on a plan, which is a scalloped paint treatment around the room. Here's an example from Pinterest:


I've decided that I'm actually going to keep most of the wall color the same sort of griege-putty color that it is currently. I think the scallops are so cutesy that keeping it a neutral color will balance it a little--kind of like the picture above. Plus the color blends really nicely with the backdrop of the duvet and will let the white trim pop. (I'll be painting the window trim and the trim around the door and the closet and baseboards.) I'm going to take the scallops up higher on the wall than the picture above--probably 2/3 of the way up, with the top part of the walls being white. So that's my next project!

I'm a few books behind of my annual reading challenge I set for myself. I wanted to read 65 books this year, but I really slowed down in March and April. I read two books over the weekend this past weekend, but I still need to catch up, and I'm not sure how that will go with having to read for teaching again. I guess I can count those books, but still. It kinda slows me down. Self-imposed reading challenges are kind of pointless except if it makes me quit scrolling my phone, then that is probably a good thing.

I should talk about celebrating my 40th birthday! I had a lot of mixed feelings about the day, but you know it was honestly an easier milestone than turning 30. At 30, I had a dead baby and was not pregnant and I remember being out on my deck--it was blazing hot--and painting a little table for our entry way and just crying the whole time because I was so sad. It had been over six months since we lost Eliza and I wanted to be pregnant again so desperately and I didn't know why it wasn't working and all of my friends were turning 30 and had little babies and were so happy because their lives were working out exactly as they had planned.

Now, of course that wasn't true of all of my friends, and of course no one's life works out exactly as planned, but that is distinctly the feeling that I had on that day. It is no exaggeration to say that it was one of the most miserable days of my life.

A decade later, my birthday was on a Tuesday. My bestie and her family came to town the weekend before and it was so, so good to see them. It had been months since we'd been together and the babies were such a delight (six weeks apart) and the girls had fun together and everyone got conversation and some space and David made themed meals (ball park food on Friday, upscale BBQ on Saturday, complete with a peach-pound-cake trifle that was out of this world). Plus we had champagne and an impromptu little birthday for me Saturday night.

On my actual birthday, David let me sleep in (until 7:40am!) and he and the girls had decorated the house with birthday balloons and the girls made sweet cards for me. I did yoga and worked from home and had one of my green smoothies, just like any other day, but we also did a pool rental for a couple of hours. The plan for that night was to pick up Indian food for dinner and watch Michelle Obama's documentary on Netflix as a family.

Instead, Coco and Zuzu were playing some kind of game they call "basketball" that involved the balloons (but no ball and no basket--go figure), and Coco fell and hit her forehead on the fireplace hearth in our living room. I heard her crying, but honestly Coco cries very loudly when her feelings are hurt, so I did not think it was an emergency. I was upstairs, logging out of my work computer, and then Zuzu came running up to tell me that Coco was "really hurt, really bad."

By the time I got downstairs, David had her sitting up on the kitchen counter with a paper towel on her forehead, but the paper towel was turning red and there were drops of blood on the kitchen floor. It was gross and alarming, and she was super freaked out. We got her mostly cleaned up and it turned out the cut on her forehead was pretty small--less than an inch across--but it looked deep. Of course it was 5:10pm at this point, so our pediatrician's office was closed. I called the after hours phone number and the doctor on call called me back right away (one of the many things I love about our pediatrician's office--also there are just two doctors, both women, and I feel like they both really know our family, even if one of them is our "primary" doctor). I explained what happened and she told me to text a picture to her phone. Then she texted back that she thought it needed a couple of sutures so we should probably go to the emergency room.

I was sitting on the couch holding Coco, so I told her that we needed to go have a doctor take a look at her head. David was just starting to make dinner for the girls, so he threw cream cheese on a bagel for Coco to eat on the way there and I drove her to the hospital. She was very brave and such a little trooper, wearing her mask, chatting away to the nurses and doctors and explaining what happened. At one point, the nurse asked who lives with her in her house and she named everyone, including Cooper and Clementine. 

She chose to watch Shark Week while we waited for the numbing cream to kick in on her forehead and then she watched a video on my phone, holding super still while the doctor put in the stitches. He complimented her on how still she was. Honestly, I think she really enjoyed the attention and having a fuss made over her. I texted the mom of her bestie to fill her in on what was happening and Evelyn sent Coco a couple of video messages, much to Coco's delight. And when the nurse brought her a popsicle, she was basically living her best life. 

I picked up Indian food on the way home and David had called the restaurant to explain I'd be later than we first expected because I'd had to take our daughter to get stitches. The owner came out to talk to me when I got there and then gave me a special smoothie drink to take to Coco. Ending the day with everyone home safe, eating chana masala, and winding down with G snoozing upstairs in her crib and the rest of us crowded on the sofa together to watch an episode of The Office was actually a really perfect way to cap off the night.

It was not how I expected to spend my fortieth birthday, but all I could think, snuggled up with Coco on the hospital bed as we waited for her to get stitched up, was that it could have been so much worse and I was so lucky.


  1. Serious question here and I totally understand that it might contravene you posting policy.You state clearly that you’re more than comfortable sending your baby to a sitter over keeping her with you while you’re furloughed. How do you reconcile that after losing a newborn? How do you balance that with not wanting to keep the kids close? Please believe my intent isn’t to upset or cause offence. I’m living a loss at the moment, so it truly is a genuine ask.

  2. Happy Belated Birthday! Sorry it was eventful in all the wrong ways! But yes, so much to be thankful for. My 40s have been my favorite, wishing you the same. 💜