Saturday, February 27, 2016

My Zuzu

She spit on four friends at school one day this week (Sticking out tongue and blowing kind of spitting, not hocking a lugie spitting). Disgusting and embarrassing, but at least she wasn't biting!

She argues with me when there's nothing to argue.

She wants to wear the same damn dress every day. She'll put on a dress and then say, almost shyly, "Do you like me, Mommy?" 

She fishes for compliments, but she doles them out generously--especially to her sister, and occasionally to me. "You're exquisite, Mommy. And your hair is cute." "Oh, Coco, you're so beautiful."

She still has no shame, no fear of authority, no embarrassment about disappointing adults. She's totally matter of fact about sitting in the school director's office at the end of the day.

She loves Popsicles and the park and Mickey Mouse's [Godforsaken] Clubhouse and dresses that twirl and sparkly pink shoes and her grandparents. 

She asks me "Is it tomorrow today?" When she's looking forward to something. She asks me if Daddy has a vagina. She asks me if we can call Grandma Peppa in heaven. She asks me if I peed my pants when I was a little girl. She colors on her hands with markers and then tells me she's wearing "glubs"--in this case, Spider-Man glubs.

She tells me that she'll have boobies when she's a mommy. She tells me that I'm talking in a mean voice when I say something she doesn't want to hear, no matter how gentle my tone. She tells me that she loves her teachers and her friends, and I hope with my entire being that they feel the same way, because I know how challenging she is, and I have to send her out in the world, and I want the world to love her spirit and not break it down, even when she's pushing spirited over the line into bratty. 

I nod when her teachers call her a "firecracker" and I pray that her enthusiasm makes up for her defiance.

She climbs fearlessly and runs fast. She loves to be chased. She colors inside the lines and then draws all over her arms and legs and hands when we're not looking. She plays with her "characters," making them talk to, rescue, and marry each other. 

She likes me to make up stories at bedtime--stories involving friends, always her sister, and often butterflies, princesses, glass slippers, and Mickey's clubhouse.

She likes to talk. Her voice is so loud and shrill and she talks almost incessantly. But when something is funny she says, "That's kidding!" The first joke she understood was, "What has a bottom at the top?" "A leg." She laughed and I laughed at her laughing at her first joke.

She has a best friend at school and she is already planning her birthday party and she does a really good job of "reading" her favorite books or even new books with interesting pictures. Her stories often take place on the "eve" and the next day turns out to be "a lovely day." They often include "childwen" and "gwandpawents" and I hope she never ever says her R's exactly right.

The day she was born was the happiest day of my life, and that's taking into account that the fact that I was broken-hearted at the same time. She looks like her father, she talks about her sister Eliza, and she loves on, and occasionally smacks, her sister Coco. She's naughty and ill-behaved. She's stubborn and willful. She's bright and loving and funny and affectionate.

She's my first rainbow after the darkest storm and I love her so much my heart can barely take it. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Snow Day

After temperatures in the mid-70s on Saturday, we're currently under a winter storm warning. Zuzu's school was canceled today, and my university pushed back the start of classes so that none of mine is actually meeting today, which is a relief since I don't know what I'd do with Zuzu. David's school is in session because his district is at the edge of this storm, so they're getting rain while we're getting blanketed with thick, wet, slushy snow that's making a disaster of the roads and taking out power lines. Fortunately, we were not affected by that at our house.

What I am affected by? My neck hurts from sleeping on it wrong and my back hurts from picking up a 22 pound baby to haul her downstairs this morning. I need to wear one of those support belts that dudes who work in warehouses lifting heavy things wear. Also I need more core strength, more yoga, and a massage. Working on it!

The girls are in a sweet spot for playing together (dress up in Elsa and Anna dresses) but also in a shit spot for hitting each other. It's so irritating. Coco has a temper and throws things when she's angry; meanwhile, Zuzu has a TERRIBLE habit of making an ugly, loud hissing/growling sound when she gets in trouble and it drives me crazy. I'd throw them both outside to play in the snow, but it's so wet and slushy that it's not even fun. Also Zuzu's snowpants are at her school. And my back hurts.

Update: Coco has changed out of her Princess Anna dress. She wants to be totally naked all the time. She takes off her clothes and then tries to rip off her diaper. WHY??? It's not that I'm a prude about nakedness. I'm just afraid she'll pee on the new carpet.

Update on Little House in the Big Woods: Not only have we learned about making bullets and shooting guns, we've also been taught that blonde hair is preferable to brown, that naughty girls get whipped with a switch, that baby calves must be killed in order to make cheese with their stomach lining, and we've seen naughty cousin Charley get stung by an entire nest of bees (Zuzu was already terrified of bees, so thanks, Laura Ingalls Wilder, for solidifying that anxiety). Basically, I'm rethinking my first chapter book choice, but we only have two chapters left, so we will move on to something a little less, uh, violent? (I actually skipped over the calf-slaughtering part of cheese making AND the sister-rivalry over hair color.)

This re-read has really made me want to read Pioneer Girl, so I may bribe myself with that as incentive for my next session of grading. First, though, I need to finish Better Than Before, When Breath Becomes Air, and Between the World and Me. I'm really excited about all three books, but there's some heavy stuff in there, so I think I'll be ready for some fiction.

I went to a housewarming party last Saturday for friends who are married with no kids and their house was SO lovely. The kind of lovely that includes a white sofa and breakables at toddler-height. I had a good time at the party--although their rum punch was wicked and my head hurt the next day!

It's nice to go to someone's house and then see your own space with fresh eyes. It made me realize what a difference light fixtures make. I've looked online at light fixtures and the prices have made me put that change on the back burner of home improvement, but it really makes such an enormous difference! And all of their light fixtures were from Ikea except for one awesome vintage piece in the dining room. So it doesn't have to break the bank.

Looking around their house also made me envy their white trim... I'm still not ready to paint mine, but I'm thinking about it hard, particularly because we don't have crown moulding and our baseboards aren't in awesome shape--they've been paint splattered and knicked and scuffed a lot over the years.

Coco had her 18-month check up yesterday. She weighted 22 pounds 1 ounce and was 30.5 inches tall. This put her in the 40th percentile for weight and the 10th percentile for height. Her head circumference was in the 79th percentile, so she's just a wee bit top-heavy. But off the charts adorable! Her doctor also remarked on her gross motor skills and speech being good, and it's always nice to hear that baby is on track, especially because I pay so much less attention to developmental milestones than I did with Zuzu.

Okay--I'm off to finish the last two chapters of LHITBW and try to keep the the sister-smacking to a minimum. I'm also accepting recommendations for good places for reasonably-priced light fixtures, fiction I should read next, and chapter books that will hold the interest of a 3.5 year old without traumatizing her. I may take Crafty Cousin Amanda's recommendation and try Heidi next.

Friday, February 19, 2016

OMG, I'm such an ADULT sometimes

First of all, thanks for the encouragement on the possibility of writing a book. I'm going to let the momentum carry me--I had actually sketched out an outline already, so I'll start getting more specific and see how things unfold. I'll keep you posted on the blog, and will undoubtedly be asking for your input and ideas.

This week has been busy, and in addition to scheming about writing projects, I've been acting like a total adult.

Here are adult things I have done:

* stayed home from work with sick child
(Zuzu was so pitiful with a fever and a cough and just a sad little lump for two full days. On day three, she was ALL OF A SUDDEN better and asking me if we could go to the park and arguing with me about everything and so I was like, "Okay, you're healthy and going to school tomorrow!")

* contacted an attorney about creating a trust and healthcare directives
(My favorite thing the lawyer said: "Well, you're much more likely to be incapacitated from a car accident than just die." Mm-hmm. THANKS FOR THAT.)

* gone on date night with husband to dinner and then concert
(Jason Isbell! Was great. "24 Frames" is THE BEST. Also his electric guitar player was the cutest skinny hipster guy ever and I kind of have a crush on him.)

* ordered two four ounce pours of beer at dinner
(I wish beers came in four ounce sampler sizes always--go to The Bridge to get them. The only weird thing was that one of the beers was made with habanero peppers--it was delicious! But spicy!--and later my eyes were all red and itchy and that's the only explanation I can come up with, based in part on David's previous experience with habaneros)

* gone to dermatologist
(My weird freckle on my toe is not a concern and the strange bumps on my elbows are dry skin. Also, wear sunscreen and come back in a year.)

* graded a million papers
(an ongoing project.)

* attended a meeting
(Least favorite use of my time.)

* labeled file folders for papers in my office
(I love office supplies and the illusion of power, control, and organization that they offer me.)

* watched Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
(and liked it)

* attended a barre fitness class
(I like them even though my muscles are shaking like crazy through the whole class. "Embrace the shakes!")

* thoroughly cleaned the bathroom
(After I did this, David was like, "You know, I cleaned the bathroom yesterday." And I was like, "Not the tub, though?" And he was like, "No." And I was like, "And you didn't mop the floor." And he was like, "No." And I was like, "So you didn't actually clean the bathroom at all.")

* stayed up late and got up early
(Concert, speaking event on campus, and Samantha Bee. The upside is that (knock on wood, cross myself, spit in the devil's eye, Coco is FINALLY sleeping through the night--only took 18 months--so I am actually getting some sleep.)

It's cool that adults get to drink beer and go to concerts on weeknights, but the physical upkeep and legal paperwork is kind of daunting.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

So, I'm Thinking About This.

So here's something I'm thinking about.

Gah. This feels all nakedly confessional and awkward and I'm kind of embarrassed for myself because I think if I read this on someone else's blog, I'd feel that embarrassment you feel for people who maybe don't know well enough to be embarrassed for themselves. (David handles that kind of embarrassment really poorly, which is why he has a hard time with certain sitcoms.)

Anyway, I was thinking about how I still get e-mails from people--not too frequently, but more often than you might think--who have found my blog after a recent loss.

I write so much now about Zuzu and Coco and life five years in, that I'm not always sure my blog would even be very helpful to someone whose grief is fresh, though most of the time they mention that they have gone back into the archives so they are reading about 2011, otherwise known as The Black Hole of Grief. (What kills me most about those posts, which I can hardly stand to read, are the ones where I'm trying to be, like, cheerful. As though I can convince myself things are getting better. Because I really thought they were. But when I think back to those months and I know how miserable I still was, I want to go back and pat my old self on the head and say something like, "You're not feeling better yet. You will, but you're gonna need to give it more time.")

Anyway, I was thinking about how grateful I am that there are resources for people who have experienced loss now, and how the internet is a magical place.

But I was also thinking about books, and how I turned to them in desperation, seeking answers. I remember looking on Amazon and cringing at how heartbreaking the titles are, and not wanting to be one of those people who needed a f*cking book about stillbirth.

I loved reading Elizabeth McCracken's AMAZING memoir, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination. It helped me see that someone who was something like me had gone through this experience and survived it. (I also hated it, because WHY did this happen to her? And then me?)

It helped to read about someone else's experience. It helped most of all to connect with other people who were living it.

But I also wanted a guide. Like a handbook. Something like How to Be Okay When You Are Never Going to Be Okay Again. or What the Hell to Do When Your Life Completely Falls Apart and You are in Danger of Drowning in Your Own Tears. Maybe also How to Navigate Friendship When You Basically Hate the World. Basically, What to Do When the Entire World Conspires to Make You Believe You'll Bring Home a Baby, and Then You Don't. I wanted it divide up in specific categories--maybe how to survive, month by month. Or how to handle going back to work, ways to honor your baby's memory, what to do when you and your spouse are grieving differently and you're annoyed by how stereotypically gendered your expressions of grief seem to be. And I wanted the guide to be written by someone who felt real, like someone I could be friends with in real life, but who also maybe had some wisdom and understanding that I was missing.

There are some great books out there, but I don't think this book exists.

And I don't think I could write this book exactly. But I think maybe I could construct a framework and put out calls and ask a bunch of different people to help me write it.

I don't know that a book like this could get published. It seems doubtful, in fact. But it could sure as shit get self-published on Amazon so that someone who is desperate could put in the search terms to find it.

So that's what I'm thinking about.

I don't know why I'm thinking about it NOW, when it's 5+ years since my loss, except that babies keep dying and parents are still bewildered and overwhelmed and slogging through grief feeling isolated and desperately sending out e-mails to strangers on the internet because we have to find each other, because we need to hear someone tell us that we'll survive.

Also maybe because I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic, and she talks about how when ideas come to you, you shouldn't ignore them or they'll leave you and they're a gift you might not be able to get back. This little idea keeps nudging me, even when I think it's stupid, or only three people would ever read it, or it would be so much work to end up self-publishing it and there would probably be typos I would miss and then people would be judgy and I don't even really know how to begin, and--most of all--I'm probably not the right person to take this on.

I could name a million reasons why I should just forget it. But I'm still thinking about it.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Few Remarks on Little House in the Big Woods and Beyonce

I've started reading Little House in the Big Woods to Zuzu. I've been pleasantly surprised with her attention to the book that doesn't have many pictures. What has also been SUPER adorable lately is how much she is into "reading" books herself, or reading them out loud to Coco. She sticks pretty close to the plot and sometimes even remembers the rhyming words in Madeline. And there's nothing like discovering her curled up with a book to basically make my heart explode.

I read the Little House books so many times when I was a kid, yet somehow I failed to recall that the first sixty pages of LHITBW is about killing and butchering a pig (I did remember the part about playing with its bladder), killing a bear, cleaning Pa's gun, and making new lead bullets.

SO.... Yeah. I was waiting to let Zuzu ask me questions, which she never did, but after thinking about comments on this post, I figure that I needed to start a conversation with her.

Last night, we had a conversation that went like this:

Me: Do you know what bullets do?

Zuzu: No.

Me: Do you know what guns are for?

Zuzu: Yes. They shoot things. To make them dead.

Me: (flustered) Uh, oh, um, okay. Yup! That's right! So...

We talked about what to do if she saw a gun, but it was clear to me she doesn't understand the difference between a toy gun and a real gun, so obviously this is a topic we'll need to revisit. Who knew Little House in the Big Woods would open up these conversations?

Maybe for some additional context, I'll show her Beyonce's "Formation" video (which is so kick ass I can't stop watching it) and we can discuss the symbolism of the little boy dancing in front of a row of law enforcement in riot gear.

Ok, the video is not really appropriate for the preschool crowd, but I really am kind of obsessed with it and all the Southern gothic imagery, and my friend Kristin sent me this article about it, which is really great.

Definitely not my party, but I still appreciate how cool it is.

(Also the part about Adele throwing white girls a party and how much Midwesterners love ranch dressing made me laugh.)

I also really love the conversations that happened in the comments on the post about the watergun at the playground. Sometimes the internet seems to be full of hateful anonymous people, but you guys are best.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Year and a Half of Coco-Puff

Coco at eighteen months is a friendly, feisty, funny little peanut. She's still very much a mama's girl, but she's also Zuzu's shadow. You'll frequently find her clomping around the house in one high-heeled shoe, putting her babies to bed and tucking them in, or flipping through Brown Bear, Brown Bear, or any book about animals, especially ones with textured pages. She is obsessed with animal books right now, and barely tolerates books that feature anything else. Her favorite way to read is on my lap, leaning back against me and helping to turn the pages.

She's still a big fan of mama-milk, though we've negotiated our way down to twice a day (instead of 3-4 middle of the night nursing sessions!). It's still the sweetest way to end and start the day, so we're going to roll with this for a while, I think.

I was telling my mom the other night that when Zuzu was 18 months old, I had a written-out list of all the words she could say. I definitely don't have that for Coco, but she is talking quite a bit these days. "Mama" is often "Mommy" now. Every dog is "Bubba!" and she can also say "Cooper" and (of course) "Zuzu." She can say Minnie, ball, wash (sounds like weesh--and handwashing is a favorite activity, demanded every time Zuzu pees on the potty and washes her hands), binky, Bops, banana, apple, milk, kitty, shoe, sock, mitten, bye-bye, owie, brrrr, nigh-night... (Okay, the list is long enough and not interesting to anyone but me.)

She cracks us up because she'll frequently reply, "Huh?" to something that we say. Zuzu will repeat the question or comment over and over and Coco will continue to respond with "Huh?" as though she's just completely bewildered.

Picking her up at daycare is always so sweet. Zuzu is frequently with me, and when Coco spots us, she gets the hugest smile on her face and runs over us, hugging Zuzu and then turning to me with outstretched arms. When I pick her up, she squeezes me tight and then pats my back gently.

She will still wake up usually once during the night, requiring mama's assistance retrieving the binky and patting her back to sleep.

Her appetite is enormous right now--maybe it's a growth spurt? She eats more than Zuzu does and will often finish off Zuzu's meal! Favorite foods include little cuties, meatballs, apples (both girls like to gnaw on them whole), "icicles" (popsicles), cheese, broccoli, bagels, pancakes, and crackers. She has much more of a sweet tooth than her sister does.

Speaking of teeth, she's got a lot of them, though just three front teeth on the bottom row, which gives her a very cute, just slightly lopsided grin.

She loves dogs so much and was enthralled by the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet that played before the Superbowl. Cooper is really rotten about trying to snatch food from her hand, even when she's in her booster seat, so often her first reaction to getting a snack is to look at him and say, "No, no, Bubba!"

Zuzu often incorporates her into games, and Coco obliges playing chase and mostly cooperates when playing Frozen. In fact, I was surprised at how excited she was to put on the dress-up Princess Anna dress that she got for Christmas. She really seemed delighted with it, and will often choose to wear a tiara around the house, though she still won't tolerate headbands of any sort, and doesn't keep a hat on for long unless it's really cold outside. She also wants to be barefoot all the time.

Seeing the two of them play together is one of my favorite things ever, and I'm especially grateful for the way Zuzu is really patient and loving with Coco the vast majority of the time. Sometimes she's too demonstrative for Coco's taste, but aside from the occasional squabble over a toy, they really get along so well. I like to imagine it will always be like this, but from what I've heard from friends who have sisters close in age, I expect there will be some epic disagreements in our future!

Coco's bedtime routine is the easiest right now. She and Zuzu take a bath together. Coco likes baths, but doesn't love the water the way Zuzu does, and she's always ready to get out first. Her favorite part is running around naked after bath! I usually have to wrestle her into a diaper and jammies, and then she kisses sister and daddy good night, and we read three books (all featuring animals), then turn out the light and have mama milk and singing time. She pops a binky in and we snuggle just a minute longer before I lay her in her crib and pat her back for a minute or two to get her settled in.

Some mornings she's up and calling for me. She usually gets fussy if she wakes up before I'm in there. Other mornings she's still snoozing by 7:00am when I go in and open her curtains, and then she wakes up and grins as soon as she sees me. I love picking her up when she's all warm and cozy in her footy pajamas and she buries her face in my neck and cuddles me.

She is rarely cooperative about diaper changes, which is both irritating and puzzling. I don't remember this issue with Zuzu at all, but Coco is the squirmiest! I try to explain that it would be over fast if she would JUST HOLD STILL. But to no avail. At least she still lets me pick out her clothes without argument.

Drop offs at school are always smooth, which is such a relief. She loves her teacher so much, and is always content to go to her and sit down for breakfast when she arrives at school. Sometimes she waves goodbye to me, other times she's too focused on eating her second breakfast of the day. She sits at a little table with her little toddler friends and looks all grown up except with her funny baby hair that's filling in a bit faster than Zuzu's did, but is still pretty sparse on top!

Coco moves really fast these days. Her short little legs can really get her places. She still crawls up and down the stairs (thank goodness). Her round blue eyes are still pretty enormous, but she scrunches up and squints her entire face when she sees me taking a picture with my phone and says, "Cheeeeeese!"

Cold February days always have us looking forward to spring, to warmer temperatures (and baseball season), even though this has been a very mild winter (though today temps are freeeeezing and we have a bit of snow). I'm really excited about this spring and summer though, as the girls are older and I think will have so much fun playing together. I'm already envisioning trips to the botanical garden, to splash pads, and of course lots of walks to our neighborhood park with two little girls in sundresses.

In the meantime, we're doing the bundle-up thing. Coco laughs and says, "Brrrr!" anytime we step outside into the cold wind. It's so cheesy, but holding her close and hearing her giggle... well, it warms me up every time.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Playground Play... Am I Anti-Fun?

We had nice weather this past weekend (around 50 degrees), so I took the girls to the park Saturday morning. The sun was shining and we had a very pleasant time. They are in a big swinging phase, so we spent 2/3 of our time with me pushing them in swings (Zuzu is learning to pump her legs and was trying to teach Coco, who ignored her and giggled every time I pushed). Once they hit their fill of the swings, Zuzu headed for the big-kid equipment (the one that says "for kids ages 5-12") and Coco wandered around holding Cooper's leash, content to walk the dog and then play for a little bit on the little kid equipment.

The playground wasn't crowded, but there were several families there, enjoying the sunshine. I saw Zuzu talking to a little boy who looked just a bit older than her, and she must have told him her name because they were playing together and he kept calling for her to chase him, but she would then act shy and duck her head. So I watched them play for a while and then decided it was time to head home for lunch and Coco's naptime.

Zuzu has gotten SO MUCH BETTER about leaving the park without fuss. We talk about it on the way there, I give her a lot of transitional reminders "5 minutes," "2 minutes," "choose one more thing and then we're done," and then I throw in a positive incentive: "We're going to go have lunch and icicles!" But we've always tried these strategies, so mostly I think she's just gotten older and that's helped.

Coco, on the other hand, is now in the back-arching fit-throwing phase, so she fusses as we leave the park each time, and Zuzu sits next to her in the stroller acting all morally superior as though she weren't the one throwing the EXACT SAME FITS just a few months ago.

Anyway, I had just delivered the "Choose one more thing and then we're done" (thank you, Daniel Tiger's Mom, for all of my best parenting tactics), when another kid came onto the playground. He was there with his dad, who took a seat on one of the nearby benches. There were probably a dozen kids running over and around the equipment, and this kid (probably in fourth or fifth grade?) was older and bigger than almost all of them.

He was also carrying a toy gun.

It was OBVIOUSLY fake. It looked like a water gun--it was a bright neon green. But it wasn't one of the tiny little water gun pistols. It was like a super-soaker machine-gun style. You know the type. My brother and I had guns like this when we were kids. We had plenty of water gun fights in the backyard. They are awesome because they can shoot a stream of water really super far.

This gun did not appear to have water in it. At least, he wasn't shooting water at anyone.

But he was definitely pretending it was a loaded gun. At least, he was lurking around, hiding, running, carrying it,and pointing it like it was a real weapon.

And as I write this out, I think What's the big deal? He was a kid on a playground. Playing with a toy. 

But it TOTALLY creeped me out at the time.

I think it was because he was playing guns, but he was the ONLY ONE with a gun.

He was a big kid with a (toy) gun and there were all these little kids running around without (toy) guns, and we were on a playground and I didn't see him actually POINT the gun directly in anyone's face, but it was still freaky, I swear. He wasn't confrontational and the kids were paying no attention to him, but as I watched him act like he was sneaking and jumping around corners while carrying a weapon, my stomach felt all twisted up.

It's not like he was doing something WRONG, but it also wasn't something I really wanted my three-year-old to see. It was just weird. And I don't know if I was being hypersensitive (particularly given the fact that gun violence is obviously on my mind), but I really wanted to tell him to stop it.

I even considered going over to his dad, and asking him if he thought it was really appropriate for him to be pretending to use a gun around all of these kids who were unarmed.

I didn't do either of those things. I just thanked my lucky stars that Zuzu was in a cooperative mood and loaded the girls up in the stroller and got the heck out of there.

When I described the scene to David later, I asked him if he would have said anything to the dad, and he said no. I mean, what is there to say? Uh, could you tell your kid to stop PLAYING on a playground with a TOY? Maybe if someone had been scared, but none of the other children seemed bothered (although we left almost immediately, so I didn't stick around to see if he interacted with any of them). It's not like he was breaking any rules or anything. It just felt so inappropriate to me, though I was probably the only one there who cared. Am I crazy?

So what do you guys think? Am I overreacting to kids being kids? We actually HAVE water guns, even a couple of the small super soaker ones. I sometimes shoot Zuzu with one while she's in the kiddie pool (birthing pool, haha) in our backyard. I'm definitely NOT anti-water-gun. It was just SO CREEPY, the way he was acting. But now that I'm writing this out, it seems silly. What would you have done in that situation?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Conversations with Zuzu

These conversations mostly took place in the car, and they reflect Zuzu's recent obsessions: how people are related to each other and her upcoming birthday (in June).

Scene: Dropping Coco off at school. Coco is sitting with her friends, getting ready to have breakfast. Zuzu kisses her good-bye.

Zuzu: You are so beautiful, Coco.


On the way to school this morning, driving in the car.

Zuzu: (apropos of nothing, sounding frustrated) But Mommy, we've had a LOT of sleeps!

Me: Okay...?

Zuzu: So it should be my birthday!


Scene: Same conversation, just a bit later.

Zuzu: How old will I be after I'm four?

Me: Five.

Zuzu: And then I'll be a grown up?

Me: No, then you'll be a bigger girl.

Zuzu: And I'll get to go places by myself?

Me: Where do you want to go by yourself?

Zuzu: *silence*


Scene: A couple of weeks ago, in the car after picking up Zuzu from school. She's very cheerful and chatty.

Me: You must have had a good day at school today!

Zuzu: (suspiciously) Did [my teacher] tell you that?

Me: Uh... No. You just seem happy. (pause) Would [your teacher] tell me that if I asked her?

Zuzu: (pause) Maybe.


Scene: Once again, driving in the car after picking Zuzu up from school, talking about our plans for the weekend.

Me: And then I'll meet up with my friends Erin and Megan to do some work.

Zuzu: I have a teacher named Megan!

Me: Isn't that interesting? You have a teacher named Megan, and I have a friend named Megan, and Daddy has a sister named Megan.

Zuzu: No, he doesn't!

Me: Yes, he does.

Zuzu: No, you're daddy's sister!


Scene: In the car. On our way home from school.

Me: Remember, Bops and Grammy are coming to see us today.

Zuzu: Bops and Grammy are your parents?

Me: That's right.

Zuzu: And they're my grandparents. (pause) And Bops will be my bride!


Scene: In the dining room after dinner. Zuzu is recalling a story my mom told her about riding her bike with me in a baby seat when I was a baby. I didn't have on a helmet (because it was the early '80s), and she wrecked and the bike fell over. I believe the purpose of her telling this story was to encourage Zuzu to wear her helmet.

Zuzu: When you were a baby, and you rode a bike with Grammy, and you fell and hit your head. And did you cry?

Me: Uh, yeah, probably.

Zuzu: Did it hurt a LOT?

Me: Well, I really don't remember.

Zuzu: You should ask Grammy.


From deep in the archives:

Unrelated, but somewhat reassuring evidence of how some things never change, here's a list of 25 things about me that I made in 2009 that are pretty much all still true.

From 2011--a post that is evidence of how much things can change in five years.

And yet, in 2013, there were still ALL THE MIXED FEELINGS that I carry forward today.

And last year at this time? We were in the process of reactivating Faces of Loss, thanks to the leadership of my friend Brandy.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Two Out of Three

David has this ancient CD we like to put in on road trips. It includes the classic "Total Eclipse of the Heart," a little bit of Guns and Roses, and and a couple of random rap songs from the '90s. There's also this Meatloaf song about a guy who says he wants and needs his significant other, but he's never going to love her. The chorus goes, "But don't be sad / 'Cause two out of three ain't bad."

It's ironic, right?

The kind of ironic where the stated meaning is the opposite of the intended meaning. Like sarcasm, but without the tone.

Because being in a relationship where you're wanted and needed but not loved is obviously bad.

Sometimes two out of three is pretty damn good.

Other times, it's heartbreaking.

* * *

We visited friends over the weekend and the girls met their baby for the first time. It was ADORABLE to see how smitten Zuzu and Coco were with the baby. They haven't really been around a baby before and this little miss is about four months old.

I remember being in the hospital with Coco after she was born, and as much as I missed Zuzu, I felt a tiny bit of dread about going home because I just didn't know how I would keep up with both of them and balance both of their needs. Zuzu at age 2 year and 5 weeks had a LOT of needs.

Now, at 3 years and 7 months (OMG!) she's remarkably self-sufficient in many ways. Still challenging, no doubt, but also in a place where she can be a great helper to her little sister.

As I watched them peer into the car seat and coo at the baby and elicit dimpled grins from her, I couldn't help but think about what it would be like to have just one more baby.

* * *

You remember Plan A? It was two kids with an option for three.

Kid number one at age 30. Kid number two at age 33. With the option to slide in Kid number three just before 35.

I thought it was the perfect plan. (hashtag broken record)

Now here I am. At 35. Three pregnancies under my belt (or should I say, still muffin-topping out slightly out over my yoga pants). Two babies at home.

I have three kids.

I have two kids at home.

The math doesn't work. You guys know that.

* * *

Maybe I want three kids at home?

Do I want to have another baby?

I know I'm jealous of people who have three living kids. I'm not jealous of their mini-vans (haha), but I am definitely jealous.

I looked at that adorable baby girl, I looked at my girls fawning all over her. They were SO CUTE. I thought about how amazing it would be to have a trio of little girls. (In my mind, all my babies are and forever would be girls.)

But even as I sat there, smiling wistfully at the three of them, I wasn't longing for another baby. I wasn't feeling nostalgic for newborn diapers and middle-of-the-night breastfeeding and endless snuggles (uh, possibly because Coco is still serving that role in my life). I wasn't thinking back sentimentally to pregnancy, that's for damn sure.

I was looking at these three little girls and my heart was all twisted up.

I was happy. And I was absolutely aching for another baby: my five-year-old baby.

The thing is, I do want three kids. But I want the three I already had. And I just don't think that having a fourth would fix that.

* * *

Now, don't be sad. 'Cause two out of three ain't bad.

Dammit, Meatloaf. That song is ruined for me now.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I Don't Want to Think About This, But...

We had active shooter training on campus a few weeks ago. It was a voluntary program. I couldn't go to the first half of it because Coco got sick and I had to pick her up from school early, but I went to the second day, which was when we actually had role-playing scenarios.

We were all in a classroom. One faculty member acted as the professor, the rest of us were in desks as students. And then the police officers and security personnel doing the training acted like different variations and levels of human threats.

It was terrifying.

Honestly, I thought that I'd go and hopefully learn something, but also slouch in the back and be snarky with a couple of my friends. (Basically the same approach that my students take to class.)

I certainly didn't expect that my adrenaline would shoot up, that my heart would be thumping, that my eyes would be sweeping the secondary-story classroom and wonder how long it would take me to bust open a window with a desk chair (the windows don't open).

At one point, I crouched in a tiny closet, my heart in my throat, listening to the computer-tech guy on campus yell-whisper for all of us to get down because he saw a gun.

During another scenario, we managed to escape the classroom (the goal is ALWAYS to escape--nobody stays alive by crouching down under a desk), but the exercise science professor in front of me paused on the way to the "safe zone" of the stair landing. Fueled by adrenaline, I actually SHOVED her with both hands and yelled at her to run.

When the shooter surprised us by being in the room, one of our "classmates," my instinctive reaction was to vault over a desk--literally, like I put my hands on it and swung my body over it (in wedge heels). And then I wondered about how much my choice of footwear could handicap me in a life-or-death situation.

Afterward, I talked with my colleagues about what we would do if we were in our offices and heard shots in the building. My office door has frosted glass, and my windows open out onto the roof. It's a bit of a drop, but I might try to block my door by shoving over a bookcase and then exit that way because in these big old buildings with plaster walls, it's hard to tell where the shots are coming from. And when people are running in panic, it's hard to know which way to go. I don't want to think about it.

I don't exactly feel safer having taken the training. I'm also not living in fear every time I'm in the front of a classroom. But I do think about door locks and barricades and the fact that the training--which I KNEW was fake--was so freaking scary.

I think about the fact that David's elementary school practices intruder drills and lockdowns. I think about the fact that he's in the front office and would probably try to be a hero. I don't want to think about it.

I think about the fact that Zuzu will be in elementary school in a year and a half. I think about her doing intruder drills. I think about her being scared and away from me. I don't want to think about it.

I think about the fact that Coco's daycare, which has babies from 6 weeks to preschool, has a lockdown drill. I know Coco and her baby-friends are oblivious, but I don't want to think about it.

I don't want to think about these things.

and it just about brought me to my knees.

The thing is, I grew up in a rural community where a lot of people hunt. A lot of people I know (including my immediate family) own guns. David has a shotgun--not loaded--in a case on the top shelf of a storage closet in the basement. My favorite sister-in-law is an avid and responsible hunter. You all know I can't do killing animals, but I've had fun shooting at tin cans balanced on fences. I'm not anti-gun.

(And the people I know who own guns are good citizens who would still be able to purchase them even if such purchases were well-regulated.)

But still. I'm scared of what guns can do. And I'm terrified that the people I love most in this world could become targets for some psychopath's misplaced rage.

I wish I had a solution, but I don't. I am joining the conversation, though. Even though they're talking about things I don't want to think about.