#Whole30 week 1, again

I had every intention to try to stick to the Whole30 plan while we were on our trip to Austin, and I failed pretty spectacularly.

There was pizza. And cupcakes (from a food truck! Oh, Austin, you so quirky). And a pineapple upside-down cake that even my health nut uncle had like 3 slices, it was THAT GOOD.

So, that didn’t work. And one of the rules with Whole30 is that if you cheat on the plan, you have to start over on Day 1. So that’s what I’ve done. I’m now on Day 3 of this second round, and so far it’s pretty good. I sort of feel like since I made it to Day 10 the first time, I kind of know what to expect now? I’ve found a few recipes that I really like, a few more I still want to try, and it feels manageable.

That is not to say that I don’t miss the hell out of bread and cheese, because LORD do I ever. But this is temporary. And I’m really curious to find out if my diet affects some of my other health issues, or maybe they’re completely unrelated, who knows.

Really, the hardest thing is that you’re not allowed to weigh yourself until you complete the program – the theory seems to be that you may hit a plateau, get discouraged, and quit, so it’s better to just do an overall before and after. But I’ve been in the habit of getting on the scale every day before I shower. Is that obsessive? I don’t know, it’s just part of my daily routine. I moved the scale to the other bathroom so I won’t forget & weigh myself by accident, but now I feel like I’m forgetting something. (I have my watch, my make-up is on, what’s missing…? Oh, right.)

It’s a small thing and it’s dumb, I know, but it’s weird.

On the exercise side of things:

Since the half-marathon last month, I haven’t been able to run more than about 3 miles or so. The plantar fascitis in my left foot has been hurting too much, and I didn’t want to risk making it worse, so I’ve been taking it easy. But we’ve been having such gorgeous spring weather here, and my foot was feeling a lot better, so yesterday I ran 4 1/2 miles. First time I’ve done that since the half-marathon, and it felt really good. My foot hurt a little afterward, but not too bad.

And I’m still enjoying the Betty Rocker 30-Day Challenge workouts. I try to mix them up – sometimes I just do the recommended workout for the day, sometimes I’ll do 2 of her workouts back to back – but I try to keep it so that I’m always doing something different every day. It’s been a pretty effective way to kick my own butt.

I admit, though, I don’t really care for her workout videos, she’s a little too perky for me (she’s one of those people who claps a lot when she talks), but I just program the moves into the SecondsPro app on my phone, and do them on my own. I prefer that, because I can also use my own music. It’s kind of fun.

So, yeah, we’ll see how this little Whole30 experiment goes.

Austin’ed

Our trip to Austin was SO fun, now excuse me while I inundate you with pictures and a recap.

The secret for getting super-cheap flights? You end up on the flights that leave at God-awful times that nobody else wants. Our flight to Austin left Raleigh at 6 a.m. on Wednesday. That meant that I had to wake the kids up a little after 4 a.m., to make sure we could get to the airport by 5.

As much as the timing sucked, both girls were great.

On the plane. Everybody say "Texas!"
This picture was taken at 5:30 a.m., right after we boarded. I don’t know why they both look so happy.

There are no direct flights from Raleigh to Austin, so we had a connection in Atlanta. The flight from Raleigh to Atlanta is short, less than an hour. Then we had a pretty long layover, about an hour and a half, but it worked out perfectly. We had time to get breakfast and walk around a little, no rushing from one plane to the next. It was nice.

The flight from Atlanta to Austin is a little longer, around 2 hours. I was really hoping Lucy would take a nice long nap on the plane. Instead, she waited until about 15 minutes before landing to fall asleep.

Lucy did this approximately 15 minutes before landing in Austin. Two hour flight. She waited until the end to fall asleep.
Awesome timing.

I borrowed a stroller from Trish for this trip, which was a life-saver because I knew Lucy was going to get tired and not be able to walk the whole time. (My old stroller that I’ve had since Catie was a baby is broken. A spring snapped, so you can’t fold it closed. It currently lives in my parents’ garage, because my dad will still take Lucy for walks in it sometimes, but the child is nearly 4 years old, I’m not going to buy a new stroller at this point.)

When Lucy woke up after the plane landed, she was weepy because she was still tired from not getting a long enough nap. I needed to get us off the plane quickly, because she was just falling apart. The kids each had a backpack with their toys, books, and iPads in it; I had a backpack carry-on, plus my purse. When it was our turn to de-board, Catie put on her backpack and I told her to start walking, then I put on my backpack, grabbed Lucy’s backpack with one hand, my purse with the other, told Lucy to stand up on the seat and grab me around the neck, and I carried her plus all our crap off the plane.

And it’s weird, because I know I’ve gotten stronger with all the working out I’ve been doing over the past couple of years, but it was amazing to me that I was able to do that and not even get terribly winded. I mean, I didn’t do it for long, I just had to get us to the jetway, where the stroller was waiting for us (since I had gate checked it). But I honestly don’t think my arms and shoulders would’ve been strong enough to do that two years ago.

Tracy met us at baggage claim, and we went out to lunch before heading back to her house. She and Everett bought a house last year, so this was our first time seeing it, and it’s really beautiful. My sister’s house is the type that makes me feel like I’m still living like a college kid with random piecemeal furniture sort of thrown together. Her house feels like a grown-up house, everything is put together tastefully, and there’s no clutter, everything has its own little home. I’m kind of jealous, I don’t think I’ll have anything like that until the kids are grown and move out.

Trying to keep the girls quiet while my sister is on conference calls this morning. iPads & headphones are pretty much the best thing ever.
The kids wasted no time making themselves right at home, either.

We didn’t have a ton of plans while we were there. On our way to Tracy’s house, I saw a sign for a place called Mt. Playmore, and I asked Tracy what it was. She had no idea (stuff for kids isn’t typically on her radar), so I googled it and found out that it was an indoor playground. So on Thursday, we took the kids there, and it was AMAZING.

Mount Playmore in Austin is pretty amazing.

It’s basically three stories of climbing structures, everything is made of netting so it’s super soft, and it’s big enough that grown-ups can climb up in it too. Tracy and I climbed up with the kids a couple of times, and it was SO FUN. I found a tire swing thing that I could have stayed on for hours.

Thursday evening, Greis drove over from Houston to meet up with us for dinner. I haven’t seen her since Tracy’s wedding, and I was so glad she was able to come hang out with us for a little while.

You know you have a good friend when she drives hours out of her way to see you. @amazinggreis

After dinner, we took the girls to this famous bridge in Austin, that hundreds of thousands (millions?) of bats live underneath. Every night at sunset, they all fly out, and it’s supposed to be incredible to see.

About to go see some bats.

While we were waiting for the bats, Lucy needed to use the bathroom, so I left Catie with Tracy and Everett, and Greis and I walked Lucy over to this super-fancy Hyatt hotel across the street. I know hotel restrooms aren’t really open to the public, but let me tell you, when you walk in with a 3 year-old and ask for directions to the ladies’ room? No concierge in the world is going to risk an accident in their nice lobby. They will happily point you where you need to go. Just, you know, FYI for you parents of toddlers out there.

I didn’t think the girls would be that excited about seeing a whole bunch of bats, but when they all fly out in swarms, it’s pretty impressive. It’s dark enough that you almost can’t even tell that they’re bats, they could be just small birds, except for the squeaking sound they make. And they aren’t creepy bats that’ll bite you, these are the good ones that eat mosquitoes, so YAY BATS.

Greis came back to the house and hung out with Tracy and me for a while after I got the girls to bed, then she headed back to Houston.

Friday, I had made plans to have lunch with some of my co-workers who are based in the Austin office. These are guys I’ve worked with for nearly 5 years and never met in person, I’ve only talked to them on teleconferences. So it was kind of fun to meet them and put names with faces.

The office is near a big mall, so Tracy had dropped me off, and said she’d take the girls to the mall while I was at lunch. After lunch, my co-workers dropped me off at the mall, and I texted Tracy to ask where they were. She texted back they were at Build-a-Bear and I mumbled out loud, “Oh God,” because that’s a store I’ve intentionally avoided as long as I’ve had kids. I didn’t know much about it other than it’s crazy expensive.

And it is crazy expensive, but I guess that’s what fun aunties are for.

Solidifying her status as the Fun Aunt forever, my sister took the girls to Build-A-Bear while I had lunch with some co-workers. Catie got Toothless in a Jedi costume, Lucy got an Elsa bear.

Catie got Toothless from “How to Train Your Dragon,” in a Jedi costume. (He’s in his little carrying backpack in the picture, you can’t get the full impact of the Jedi-ness.) We’ve been joking he’s a Jedi (K)Night Fury. Lucy – surprise! – got an Elsa bear. They were both so happy, they wouldn’t set them down for the rest of the day.

That afternoon, Tracy and I took the kids to a children’s museum called The Thinkery, where a friend of Tracy’s is the executive director. It was a lot of fun, kind of like the Marbles children’s museum we have here in Raleigh, but a little more science focused. The kids had fun.

Story time at The Thinkery.

Friday night, we cooked dinner at Tracy and Everett’s house, and my aunt and uncle (who live in Austin) came over for dinner. That was fun, it’s always nice to catch up with them.

Saturday, we were scheduled to fly back, but our plane didn’t leave until after 4 p.m., so we took the kids to Mt. Playmore one last time to burn some energy before we had to get on the plane to go home.

Took the kids to Mt Playmore one more time before we had to get on the plane to go home.

Tracy and Everett then dropped us off at the airport, and we said our goodbyes.

We had so much fun in Austin with my sister & brother-in-law! Now on the plane heading back to NC.

The flights back were ok. The layover in Atlanta was way too long (2 1/2 hours), and it was late at night, and the kids were exhausted, but they were troopers.

Even when our second plane was delayed and the A/C wasn’t working and we were all sweaty, they didn’t really whine or fight with each other (much). They were just so great.

On the plane. God bless technology. (And Cheez-its. That bag of Cheez-its broke up a pretty big sibling fight. Truce through snack foods.)

They ended up not getting in bed until after 1 a.m. on Saturday night, but we had all day Sunday to recover, so it was ok.

A little over 3 years ago, when Dave and I had just split up, and I was alone with a baby and a four year-old, and I had no idea what my life was going to look like, I would sometimes daydream about fun things I could do when the kids were older. One of those was the idea of taking vacations together, just the three of us. Me and my girls, on our own, doing our own thing. So this trip kind of fulfilled that for me. And I know it’ll be easier as they get older – Lucy is still pretty high-maintenance when she gets off her routine, while Catie is old enough to roll with it (for the most part). This trip was great because I know we’ll be able to do this kind of thing again in the future.

Still, when Chris met us at the airport on Saturday night to pick us up, I was pretty damn happy to see him. Going to do stuff on my own with the girls is great, but I also really like having him around.

#whole30 week 1, done

I’m up to day 9 on Whole30, and I haven’t killed anyone yet. Sometime around Thursday (day 4), the “carb flu” kicked in and I started feeling awful. It really does feel kind of flu-ish, your head hurts and you feel achy all over and it’s just miserable.

Friday night (day 5), I went to Drag Queen Bingo with some friends, which should’ve been a blast. (It’s an outing with other grown women! I almost never get to do those! I got to dress up! And it’s bingo! And drag queens are hilarious and fun!) And instead, I just felt… tired and sad. When your friends are all sitting around with beer and snacks, and you just have a bottle of water? That’s pretty lame.

At some point, there were cupcakes. I TURNED DOWN A CUPCAKE. That may have been the hardest “no thank you” of my life.

The kids were with Dave over the weekend, so they didn’t have to deal with me being so horribly irritable. Only Chris had to put up with me, bless his heart. But I only snapped at him a couple of times, and I apologized afterward, so I think he’ll be ok. Saturday and Sunday (days 6 and 7) really were the worst – I expected to crave foods that I wasn’t supposed to eat, but I wasn’t expecting to feel so sad and depressed. It’s weird how much all of this has affected my state of mind.

But I’ve been feeling better since Monday/day 8, and hopefully it’ll continue to stay this way.

One of the things they say in the book is that when it seems hard, just repeat to yourself, “it’s only 30 days.” The problem is, that doesn’t really help, because it feels like FOREVER when you’re in the middle of it. The best analogy I can think of is when you have a newborn and you never get to sleep for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time. Obviously that stage of babyhood is finite and eventually ends, but it sure doesn’t feel like it at the time.

Tomorrow, the girls and I are flying to Austin to see my sister and brother-in-law. I don’t know if (or how) I’ll be able to stick to the Whole30 plan while we’re traveling. I have a bunch of nuts and dried fruit in my carry-on for the flight, and I figure I’ll just do my best. If I go off the plan, I’ll pick it back up when we get home. I’m trying not to obsess too much about it, because I really want to be able to relax and enjoy this trip.

summary of the latest happenings

I have a whole bunch of things I want to talk about, so let’s break this into sections:

1. EASTER

Easter 2015

The kids were with me for Easter weekend, so we did the whole Easter bunny thing, which they loved. Lucy got a(nother) Elsa doll, Catie got a Skylanders coin purse, they both got tons of candy. On Sunday morning, we went to church, and afterward I got this pic of the girls with my parents that I love.

Easter 2015

Catie is looking off to the side and my dad is squinting from the sun, but whatever. I still think it’s great. I don’t know if I adequately express how grateful I am that my parents moved up here to help me out with the kids after Dave and I split. I honestly don’t know how I’d get by without them.

Normally, on Easter Sunday, we do the big Southern meal that’s kind of like a Thanksgiving remake. Ham, green bean casserole, dressing, sweet potatoes, etc. I just couldn’t get excited about the idea of cooking all that food, and I asked Chris and my parents if they’d be ok with just grilling out instead. They all said that sounded good, so instead we did grilled chicken, veggies, burgers, and hot dogs. It was yummy, and it was a really beautiful day, so I didn’t mind being out on the deck at my parents’ house, working the grill all afternoon.

Last year, we had to do a mini-egg hunt inside because of rain/mud, but this year it was dry enough that my mom was able to hide the eggs around her yard, and let the girls have their own Easter egg hunt.

Lucy and her Easter eggs

Catie and her Easter eggs

(It was in the mid-60s, I don’t know why Catie kept insisting she was cold and refused to take her hoodie off. I think she just really likes the hoodie.)

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2. Lucy and Potty-Training

This is a subject I’ve kind of avoided, because I worry about what I write here that might embarrass my kids when they’re older. But here’s the summary: Lucy has been partially potty-trained for well over a year. She got the peeing part down immediately, but she never could get the hang of pooping in the potty. I thought she was just stubborn and holding it forever. She would have what she’d call “funny toots,” which were basically… well, sharts. (Which, FYI? Not funny at all when you’re the one who has to clean it up.)

And I mean, I tried everything. Bribes, threats, reward charts, you name it. And it wasn’t location specific – she had just as many accidents at my house, Dave’s place, daycare, my parents’ house, etc. It got to the point where she was having so many accidents every day that Dave and I both were about to lose our minds.

It finally occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t intentional? She’s old enough that she started to seem kind of embarrassed when it happened. So I googled her symptoms, and literally the first thing that comes up? Lactose intolerance.

Oh. Ummm. Huh.

Out of curiosity, on Friday, we switched her to the Lactaid lactose-free milk, and added probiotics twice a day, and LITERALLY OVERNIGHT, she started pooping in the potty and having no accidents. Just like that. Poof, she’s cured.

Today, we went to the pediatrician to follow up. Our doctor said that something like 80% of the world’s population can’t properly digest cow’s milk, so it’s entirely likely that Lucy is one of them.

And I realized, this might also explain why Lucy has always had such a big belly. I shrugged it off as just part of the way she’s built, but I swear that in the past 5 days since she’s been off lactose, her tummy has started to shrink. Even Dave noticed it too.

Now I just feel like an idiot for not googling it sooner. All the pain and suffering (and laundry detergent) I could have saved.

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3. Whole30

I started Whole30 on Monday, so this is day 3, and I’m kind of… fine? I keep waiting for really bad cravings to kick in, but so far I’m ok. I had a really terrible headache yesterday, and I wasn’t sure if it was because of a weather front that came through, or because of sugar/caffeine withdrawal. Maybe both? But I feel better today.

The biggest challenges for me so far have been that (a) I’m used to having a hard candy or a mint after I eat, and I miss that little sweet fix, and (b) practicing “mindful eating” and not eating in front of my computer or TV is a lot harder than I expected. (And BORING. It’s so boring.)

Recipes I’ve tried:
* Sweet potato hash – this is basically sweet potato fries in hash brown form. Highly recommend. Chris and I both loved it, and this will likely be added into our regular recipe rotation even after Whole30.

* Asian meatballs – I made this because of Melissa’s suggestion when she did Whole30. I had the same trouble she had finding the recommended brand of fish sauce, so I used coconut aminos and I still thought they were really good. Chris didn’t care for them, but he isn’t much of a red meat eater. (That’s a new thing, in the last year or so, that every time he eats red meat, it makes him sick.)

* Cracklin’ Chicken – Big thanks to Laura for this recipe, we tried it last night, and it was SO GOOD. (Chris liked it too, and he usually doesn’t eat dark meat at all.)

The biggest surprise discovery? I really like kombucha. Which is funny, because when I bought it at Earth Fare last week, Chris smelled it and laughed at me. He was like, “You’re never gonna drink that crap.” But it’s good! It’s kind of fizzy like Sprite.

I can also see how people in 12-step programs should stay away from it, because the bottle says it has “trace amounts” of alcohol in it, but it gives me that lovely warm fuzzy feeling in my neck and shoulders like when I have that first sip of a cocktail, so I can see how it would be dangerous for some people.

As far as exercise, I’m trying to ease off running until my foot feels better, so I’ve been doing the Betty Rocker 30-Day Challenge workouts. Some days I’ll do 2 of them back-to-back – for example, one of her ab circuits, followed by a “full body burn” cardio workout. Her workouts are short (about 15 minutes each), but they’re hard. It feels like enough to keep me active and not lose my endurance level while my body adjusts to this new eating routine.

I mean, I figure that if I can run for over 2 1/2 hours, I can certainly manage a 15-minute workout, even if I am suffering from the “carb flu.” (That’s not my term, that’s what the Whole30 people call the withdrawal symptoms that people go through when they cut out sugar and processed foods.)

So, 3 days down, 27 to go. Doesn’t feel unmanageable so far, but ask me again in a couple of days and I may have changed my mind.

have you #whole30’ed?

Diets are a weird subject because they’re so person-specific – I’ve mentioned before, my theory is that in order to be successful on a diet, you need to find one that works for both your body and your brain. What works for one person may not work for another, and what one person finds easy may be completely unmanageable for someone else. We’re all special snowflakes, right?

The Whole 30 plan is one of those that’s been on my radar for a couple of years as various friends of mine have tried it, and I kind of shrugged it off as another low-carb fad diet. Then I learned more about it, as far as it helping with other health issues than just weight loss, and I thought it might worth trying.

Since the half-marathon, I’ve had to ease way back on the amount of exercise I’m doing, because of various injuries (not just the plantar fascitis in my foot, but it seems I’ve also done something to my right ankle, and I pulled a quadricep muscle that just won’t heal). And I was exercising for at least an hour (sometimes longer), 5-6 days a week, which is probably a little on the excessive/unsustainable side.

I’ve also had issues with my sinuses ever since the balloon sinuplasty last summer, and for the last several weeks, I’ve had headaches nearly every day. Not migraines (I’ve had those before and they’re horrible), but at some point every day, I get a dull aching pain my head. It’s not a sinus headache – those usually hit me right behind the eyes, and this is more toward the back of my head. It’s not debilitating, it doesn’t keep me from functioning, it’s just really annoying.

Essentially, between the exercise-related injuries and the sinus/headache issues, I’m taking ibuprofen at least once a day, sometimes two or three times a day, which is probably not ideal for optimal health.

I ordered the Whole30 book, It Starts with Food, and read it on the trip to and from Atlanta over the weekend. (Um, I read it when Chris was driving, in case that wasn’t obvious.) And I’m not sure that I completely believe 100% of their science, but I think it’s worth a shot. I’m curious about how dietary changes can help with other things like allergies and chronic inflammation/pain issues. I mean, it’s entirely possible that it’s a load of crap and it won’t help at all, but it’d be awfully cool if I could fix these issues myself.

The diet itself sounds a lot like the low-carb/detox diets I’ve done before where I cut out all processed foods & just eat meat, vegetables, and fruit. So I’m pretty sure that I can manage that. Whole30 is a little different in allowing some things I didn’t have on other low-carb diets, like regular potatoes. Those types of carbs are pretty essential if you’re exercising a lot, so that should help.

The main difference for me is that Whole30 cuts out all sweeteners, including artificial ones, so no more Sweet ‘n’ Low in my coffee and iced tea. I’ll probably just stop drinking iced tea altogether (because completely unsweetened = BLECCH), and I’ll drink black coffee to wake up in the morning. It also means I have to say goodbye to the little sugar-free mints that I suck on all the time. That’ll be challenging, for sure.

As for the weight loss side… well, I don’t know. I’m smaller than I’ve ever been in my life, and part of me thinks I should just be ok where I am. But I still see cellulite on my thighs and flab on my upper arms, and hey, maybe a healthy eating plan and a more moderate exercise plan (to allow my injuries to heal) would help with that. My plan the last few months has been more on the side of exercising like a maniac while also shoving all kinds of junk food into my mouth as fast as humanly possible, which is probably not the greatest way to keep a healthy balance in check.

I’ve also heard that it becomes so much harder to lose weight when you’re in your 40s, and I’m going to be 40 in less than a year. So maybe that’s part of it, this feeling like I have to hurry up and get in THE BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE because, I don’t know, my metabolism is just going to shut the hell down on January 16th, 2016?

That’s dumb, I know. I’ve been joking that the half-marathon was my mid-life crisis. I didn’t buy a sports car or have an affair, I just ran 13.1 miles. But in a lot of ways, I think it’s kind of true that all of this diet/exercise obsession probably is a little bit of a mid-life “thing” (not a crisis, because it’s not that dire, just a… weird mental speed bump).

So, I’ve decided to try Whole30, but now the issue is that I don’t know when to start it. Initially I was thinking the day after Easter, because I mean, these Cadbury creme eggs aren’t going to eat themselves, right?

Here’s the issue: mid-April, while Catie is on her track-out break from school, the girls and I are going to fly to Austin for a few days to visit with my sister and brother-in-law. (First time taking two kids on an airplane by myself! I’m both excited and scared.) There’s pretty much no feasible way to stick to this restrictive diet while we’re traveling: we’ll be spending many, many hours in airports, and I’m sure we’ll be eating out some while we’re in Texas. And this is not a “on the go” eating plan at all, you basically have to prepare your meals yourself ahead of time.

The rule with Whole30 is that if you “cheat” at all, you start back over on day 1. Which is fine, I can see how that would give you the incentive to stick to it for the entire 30 days. But do I go ahead & start it, knowing that I’ll only be able to do it for about a week and a half, take a few days off, then start over when we get back home?

If you’ve done Whole30 before, what do you think? I could basically think of the pre-Texas trip as a Whole30 sneak preview, then re-commit to it for the full month after our trip? Or is it better to not even bother until I can do the whole thing with no cheats?

* This is not at all sponsored by anyone, in case that wasn’t completely obvious. Just something I’ve been thinking about trying for a while now and I’m finally doing it.

Hot-lanta wedding

This past weekend, Chris and I drove to Atlanta for my cousin Cici’s wedding.

After the last two weddings we’ve gone to – my sister’s and my cousin Renee’s – I had decided that as much as I love my kids and enjoy hanging out with them, I really didn’t want to bring them to another family wedding unless I had to. I felt like I never got to have a real conversation with anyone because I always had one eye on the lookout for the girls, making sure they weren’t getting into any trouble. Either that, or Catie was whining she was hungry, Lucy needed someone to take her to the bathroom, that kind of thing. And we always had to leave early because the kids had to get to bed at a reasonable hour.

This time, I managed to trade off weekends with Dave, so he kept the girls with him for the weekend. I don’t think Chris and I have ever taken a road trip together, just the two of us, and it was really nice. We enjoy each other’s company a lot, so it was nice to just drive down on our own timeline, no major rush, and no worrying about nap schedules or potty breaks or anything. We got to Atlanta Friday night, checked into the hotel, and met up with some of my family. (My aunt and uncle hosted an informal get-together in their suite.) My family is made up of crazy loud talkers, but this time we had our first noise complaint from the hotel management by 9 p.m., which may be a record even for us.

My family is also large enough that we took up pretty much the entire floor of the hotel. Chris and I later joked that we couldn’t leave our room without bumping into one of my relatives – I went to the hotel gym on Saturday to work out, and I saw my sister and brother-in-law on the way there, and saw my cousin Renee on the way back. When Chris went to the hotel gym about an hour later, he ran into my dad.

Pre-wedding selfie (we clean up good).
Obligatory pre-wedding selfie.

The wedding was on Saturday evening at an old plantation home in the northern suburbs of Atlanta. It was an unusually chilly day for late March in Georgia (high in the low 50s), but the ceremony was outside in the sunshine, and it was just perfect. My aunt Michele was the officiant, and they kept the ceremony short and sweet.

Cici’s younger sister, my cousin Teresa, died about 10 years ago of cystic fibrosis. She was 19 years old when she passed away. Teresa was the baby of the family, the youngest of all us cousins, and it was emotional and hard on all of us when she passed away, but nowhere near what it was like for Cici to lose her baby sister. During the ceremony, besides the traditional vows, Cici and her husband Chuck exchanged vows in the style of Doctor Seuss (“I will love you in a house, I will love you with a mouse, I will love you here and there, I will love you everywhere,” etc.) as a tribute to Teresa.

And you know, I never cry at weddings. But there was something about that, that was so sweet and touching, it really got to me. I know I was not the only one there who teared up.

The reception was inside the plantation home, and it was really beautiful.

Mr. & Mrs. McCourt

We danced, we ate, and I actually got to have conversations with people in my family, where I could focus on them and not worry about where my kids were at that particular moment. It was lovely.

After the reception was over, Cici and Chuck had planned to have people meet up at a restaurant across the street from the hotel where all of us were staying. Chris and I went, and I had way too much to drink (which isn’t actually a lot, I just don’t have much of a tolerance level since I almost never drink anymore). It was kind of odd to be drunk in front of my aunts and uncles, and realize that I’m now old enough that I don’t have to pretend to be sober in front of them. I’m not a teenager sneaking wine at a family reunion, they don’t really care how many vodka & cranberry juices I’ve had.

At some point that night, Chris took this picture of me with Cici and my cousin Ryan.

My beautiful cousin Cici got married yesterday & I have no idea what is happening in this picture, but it seems about right.

I don’t even know what exactly is going on there (note the groom in the giant cowboy hat in the background), but I think this sums up my family pretty well. Buncha goofballs, all of us.

Every time we have some event that gets all of my family together, I’m reminded how lucky I am to be related to these great people who I really enjoy, and I wish we all lived closer so we could see each other more often. This was another one of those occasions.

And I’m just so happy for Cici. Even though she totally threw me under the bus 15 years ago and told her dad that it was my idea for her to get a tattoo when she was 19. (Long story, but it WAS NOT my idea!) Even still, she deserves all the happiness in the world, and I’m so glad we got to be there for her.

recovery week

The past few days have been a little rough for me while I recover from the half-marathon. I wasn’t expecting to be in as much pain afterward as I was. I assumed that if I could run 10 miles, 13.1 wouldn’t be much different. I was so wrong.

A few weeks ago, right in the middle of training for the half-marathon, I developed plantar fascitis in my left foot. My doctor is also a runner, and between him and all my running friends, I felt pretty ok about dealing with it. But despite all the precautions I took (ibuprofen, ice, stretching, sleeping with my foot in a really awkward brace contraption), it flared up with a vengeance after the half-marathon. I couldn’t put my left heel down when I walked, I had to walk on the tip-toes on my left foot. (Awkward, to say the least.)

So I’ve been taking it easy, doing some yoga/strength exercises to try to stretch my muscles out. I’ve gone on a couple of short runs this week, and I feel… ok-ish? My left foot still hurts if I’m on my feet too much (like last night when the girls and I went to the grocery store), but it’s manageable.

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Other stuff that’s been going on this week:

I had a parent-teacher conference with Catie’s teacher this week. Which was not particularly eventful, but there was one major surprise there: he mentioned that Catie is reading ahead of her grade level.

This is the same child who, 1 year ago, was so far behind her peers that the school had her working with a special ed teacher doing a “reading intervention” program. The same child whose first grade teacher told me that no matter what we did with private tutors, she was going to be behind the curve in second grade too. (I’m still angry at her first grade teacher for saying that to me and Dave. What the hell, lady?)

And now she’s ahead of grade level. Not by much, it’s not like she’s reading “War and Peace” or anything, but STILL.

I mentioned to her teacher that it surprised me because I still have trouble getting her to read at home, and he said, “Oh, that’s a shame, she’s a beautiful reader. That’s all she really wants to do in class is read.”

I’m still a little bit stunned by that. Although I shouldn’t be, Catie has made a lifelong habit of surprising me when I least expect it.

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On the Lucy side of things: I think most parents say that the “terrible twos” are really nothing compared to the “treacherous threes,” and based on my experience with Catie, I would have been inclined to agree. But man, Lucy is just hilarious and delightful and so… easy. Like, way easier than any toddler should be.

I keep half-waiting for her to turn into some type of toddler demon hellbeast, but maybe her daytime personality is easygoing to make up for 3.5 years of waking me up at night? Kids have survival skills and all.

And because I’m always worried that I’ll forget this stuff someday, these are a few recent Lucy gems:

* When something bothers her, she says, “it makes me annoying!” (I will never correct her.)

* Most mornings, she climbs into bed between me and Chris, and goes back to sleep for a while. There was one day that she had missed her nap and was up past her bedtime, so she slept HARD all night. It was a weekend, and around 7:30 a.m., the whole house was sleeping quietly, and suddenly a tiny voice yelled, “EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!” Chris and I were like, “Oh ok, guess Lucy is awake.” I don’t even know how she learned C&C Music Factory, since that song came out about 20 years before she born.

* When we went to see Cinderella last week, one of the plot points of the “Frozen Fever” short before the movie was that Elsa caught a cold, and every time she sneezed, her ice powers would go crazy and tiny little snowmen would pop up everywhere. So, on Monday, when Catie came down with a fever (she’s fine, it was a fluke 48-hour thing), I told Lucy that Catie was sick. Lucy said, “I think she might make tiny snowmans when she sneezes.”

I said, “No, that’s silly, Catie doesn’t have ice powers.”

Without missing a beat, she said, “Maybe instead she make tiny Steves.” As in the main dude from Minecraft.

I was impressed with how clever that was, because she knows Catie doesn’t care about Frozen, so she took the general concept and applied it to the thing Catie loves, Minecraft.

* She can spell her name, and I don’t know if that’s normal for a 3 year-old or not, but Catie didn’t spell her name until closer to kindergarten, so it seems impressive to me. (I take no credit, that’s all daycare.) She likes the trailer for the Scarlet Johannsen movie “Lucy” because they flash the name at the end, and she says, “L-U-C-Y spells Lucy, dat’s me!”

* Dave texted me the other night when the girls were with him, Lucy had her iPad and was trying to look up Frozen videos on YouTube. Catie will often ask for help spelling the names of whatever she’s looking for (like Skylanders videos), so Lucy was obviously copying Catie when she said, “How do I type Frozen?” Dave thought it would be funny to just tell her the letters and see what she did with it. She managed to get the keyboard open and she typed all the letters correctly except the N. It’s both amazing and a little unnerving when you realize that your kids will be more tech-savvy than yourself sooner than later.

* She sings, “Meeeeee in the skyyyyy with diamonds!” Dave taught her that one, and while I have never been a Beatles fan, I have to admit that it’s pretty damn cute.

March 20, 2015Permalink