Catie is 8

Yesterday, Catie turned 8 years old.

8! (Birthday party is on Saturday, we'll have cake then. Tonight: birthday brownies.)

Most years, I try to write a blog post talking about what my girls are like at this age, at this moment, to try to capture them for future reference. I mean, I never did baby books, so this is basically it, you know?

I don’t think I can really do that with Catie anymore. She’s gotten to this age where most of the time, blogging about her feels like an invasion of her privacy. She’s complicated, she’s challenging, she’s difficult, and she’s also amazing and wonderful.

Seven has been the hardest year we’ve had by far — possibly excluding the newborn phase when I was crazy from post-partum hormones and sleep deprivation. It’s really thrown me for a loop. I mean, the toddler years were hard, of course, but then I felt like we hit a groove around the time Catie turned four. Four was great! I could reason with four. And then from 4 through 6, each year got progressively more and more fun.

Then 7 hit, and it’s weird, I have friends who talk about how second graders are the hardest, and I’m starting to think that maybe they aren’t joking. Because this has been the year that made me question my own parenting abilities more than any other. 7 has kicked my butt.

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We’re not doing Catie’s birthday party until this weekend, and we’re just doing a little party at our house with her cousins and a couple of friends from school. But since yesterday was her actual birthday, my parents came over for dinner, we had Birthday Brownies (as shown in the pic above), and she opened her presents from us.

Funny story: way back at Christmas, Catie asked for a stuffed/plush bearded dragon. I searched online, but could not find one anywhere. There was a lady on Etsy who used to make them, but she closed her Etsy shop when she went back to graduate school.

So, I went on Twitter to ask if anyone knew where to get one. And lo, through the power of social media, a Twitter friend happened to know someone who can sew stuffed animals, she saw a picture of a bearded dragon, and said, “yeah, I bet I can make that.” I sent her a couple of pictures of Spyro Jones, and you guys, she even matched his color scheme and everything.

I couldn't find a plush bearded dragon toy anywhere, so a friend-of-a-friend made her one. God bless social media.

Needless to say, that was a huge hit. Catie loves him.

Watching Scooby Doo before school with her new toy bearded dragon.

She brought it to bed with her last night, and snuggled with him while she watched cartoons this morning before school. She asked if she could take it to her dad’s “for when I start to miss the real Spyro Jones.”

A girl and her dragon.
For reference, that’s the real Spyro Jones. He’s gotten slightly huge.

(And of course, yes, I let her take the toy bearded dragon to Dave’s. How can you say no that?)

I feel like Catie is just on the cusp of a lot of changes, most of them good, and I can’t wait to see what 8 has in store for us.

Happy birthday, Catie-bug! We love you to the moon and back.

January 28, 2015Permalink 3 Comments

39 and change

This past Friday was my birthday, I’m now 39. Which is only notable because it’s the last birthday where I can say I’m in my thirties, and the Big 40 Milestone is looming next year. (I’m actually not all that fazed about turning 40, but give me another 11 months or so and maybe I will be.)

This was my weekend to have the kids, so Chris and I went out to dinner on Thursday, the night before my birthday. This is how I’ve changed in middle age – I have no desire for more stuff in my life, so I don’t really care about gifts. But a really nice meal that I don’t have to cook? Yes, please.

(For the local people: we went to Dean’s. Every single thing we ate was delicious. Highly recommend.)

Funny thing, Chris was about an hour late getting home, and I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be worried or annoyed. When he finally got to the house, I found out that he’d been going from one store to another trying to find tulips, because he knows they’re my favorite flower. And it’s pretty hard to find tulips in January, since they normally bloom in the spring. But he persevered.

Birthday flowers the night before my birthday. He's good. (I am also cracking up that the florist lady wrote "2 lips" on his order instead of "tulips.")

I told him that while I appreciated his thoughtfulness (he remembered my favorite flower! That’s very sweet!), he really didn’t need to go to all that trouble. Leave the tulips for Mother’s Day, and just get whatever for my birthday. I’m pretty excited when anyone gives me flowers, it doesn’t really matter what type.

(Except lilies. I think they smell like rotting garbage. They’re pretty to look at from a distance, but I don’t want them in my house.)

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Friday, my actual birthday, was… less great.

Backstory: Catie’s birthday is 11 days after mine. She decided this year that she wants to have a small birthday party at our house – just her cousins and a couple of friends from school. I am completely ok with this idea, as is my checking account.

But! She also decided that she doesn’t want a grocery store sheet cake (she says they make her stomach hurt, which… ok yeah, that’s legit). She says she wants a strawberry cake with vanilla frosting.

Keep in mind that while I am pretty good with basic entrees and side dishes, baking is not my thing at all. I’ve successfully made a loaf of banana bread, but that’s about it. I don’t even own cake pans, the only cakes I’ve ever made were a straight-up box mix dumped into a 9×13 casserole dish.

So! I scour the Internet (well, ok, I asked on Twitter and a bunch of my friends sent me links) for recipes, and I asked my mom to dig through the box of my Grandmother’s recipes. My Grandmother made the most amazing cakes, and she always made them for our birthdays when we were kids. I remembered there was a strawberry cake that she would make for my sister, because that was her favorite. (My brother and I always asked for her chocolate cake. Which is another recipe I should get from my mom.)

My mom found my Grandmother’s strawberry cake recipe, and it turns out that it’s almost exactly the same as this one on Taste of Home. I also found a pretty basic recipe for vanilla frosting. But since I’ve never done anything like this before, I thought I better get a practice run to make sure I could actually do it, before the day of Catie’s birthday party. So hey, my birthday! Perfect excuse to make a practice cake, right? I bought some cake pans, borrowed my mom’s 10,000 pound KitchenAid standing mixer, and attempted to make a strawberry cake with vanilla frosting.

The actual cake part was fine. I need to buy some wire racks for cooling the layers, because the trays I used made them stick and tear a little (I made the torn side face inward on the layers so it wasn’t obvious). But then, the frosting. The damn frosting. The texture was all wrong, it was like dried-out crumbly Play-Doh, and I couldn’t spread it, and it was starting to tear up the cake, and I just… lost it. I kept thinking that if my Grandmother was here, she’d know what to do, because she was the cake expert, and I wished she was still around to help me.

Basically: a damn birthday cake made me cry.

Then I sucked it up, snapped a picture of it with my phone, posted it on Twitter, and asked for help. I got several good ideas – run my spreader knife under hot water to help with the frosting that was already on the cake. And for the remaining frosting, add a few teaspoons of milk and stir like crazy until the texture was more creamy, less crumbly.

birthday cake

I mean, look, I’m not at any risk of ending up on one of those competitive baking shows anytime soon, but I made a cake. With the help of social media, sure, but still. It counts.

When I picked Catie up that evening, I told her about how I’d done this practice cake for her birthday, and I was so excited because it meant that I knew I could make the kind of cake that she wanted. And I don’t know if she was just overtired or if all kids her age are unintentionally cruel, but she just laid into me that it was NOT AT ALL the kind of cake that she wanted, and I was going to ruin her birthday with my stupid cake that was not what she wanted, and why would I do that to her, and and and….

Normally I shut it down pretty fast when my kids are rude, but it had been a long day dealing with this cake thing, and after all that work and effort that I’d put into it? I started to cry. (Again! I cried twice on my birthday! Yay me!) Which made Catie feel bad, so she started crying and apologizing. So, you know, at least she’s capable of showing remorse and isn’t a complete sociopath? I’ll take my silver linings where I can get them.

We made up before we went to get Lucy at daycare, then we went to my parents’ house for dinner.

Birthday cake with my babies. Doesn't get much better than that.

And for the record? That cake was delicious. Not as good as my Grandmother’s, but that’s an impossibly high bar.

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The rest of my birthday weekend was nice. The weather has been so unseasonably mild, and we’ve taken advantage of it. Chris hung out with the girls on Saturday morning so I could go for a long run (7 miles! Also, the half marathon is less than 2 months from now! OMG!), and when I got back, he had cooked breakfast for all of us – bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, and French toast. Running for over an hour and then walking into a house that smells like bacon? Aaaaamazing. Later we went to my parents’ house again, so the girls could plant flowers with my mom.

On Sunday, we took their scooters out to the neighborhood greenway. We stopped to check out the ducks and geese at the lake, and went to the playground. That was pretty fun.

Nice day for scootin' on the greenway.

Checking out the ducks and geese at the lake

Aside from the stupid cake stuff (and I still haven’t totally figured out what I’m going to do for Catie’s birthday cake next weekend), 39 has been pretty good so far. Here’s hoping it stays that way.

January 20, 2015Permalink 3 Comments

First Night, First Week

Last week, Chris and I bundled up ourselves and the girls, and met up with my cousin and her family, then piled all eight of us into an SUV (God bless third row seats) and went to First Night, an event here where they do a New Year’s countdown and set off fireworks at 7 p.m., so the kids can get home and get to bed on time. (Well, sort of. Better than keeping them up until midnight, anyway.)

Catie & her cousin Elizabeth at First Night, downtown Raleigh
Catie and her cousin Elizabeth could not be more different, and they are crazy about each other. They walk down the street holding hands and it is the cutest thing.

And it’s funny that Catie is taller than Elizabeth, since the first time they met, they looked like this:
Elizabeth & Cate
That 4-month age difference ends up as a wash sooner than later.

I tried to get a selfie with Chris, but Lucy wouldn’t allow him to set her down, and she wouldn’t smile for the camera, so… yeah.
Lucy was NOT into this selfie at all.
Chris couldn’t find his regular knit cap, but it was super-cold, so he grabbed this hat that said “Veteran” on it. (He was in the Army for a while, but he can’t remember where the hat came from.) We joked that he looked like he belonged at an RNC convention with that hat, it doesn’t really fit his style at all.

Last year, after the fireworks, we stopped for Krispy Kreme donuts. This year, we decided that should become part of our annual tradition. The big kids went to watch the assembly line of donuts being made (it’s kind of cool how you can watch them on a giant conveyor belt), and Lucy and I snagged the first free table while the other grown-ups waited in line for donuts.

Lucy and I passed the time by goofing around with my phone.

Lucy wanted to take pictures while we waited for our traditional New Year's Eve donuts

New Year’s Eve was supposed to be Dave’s night to have the kids, but he had no interest in doing the First Night stuff (he’s not a fan of big crowds). Instead, I dropped them off at his place afterward, then Chris and I went home, got in our PJs, snuggled up on the couch and watched the midnight countdown on TV. It was quiet and lovely.

This week, I’ve started back to work, but Catie is still out of school for the next three weeks for her winter break. (Lucy is back at daycare, I think she missed her friends during the two weeks she was out.) Catie didn’t want to go to her regular daycare this time; she’s one of the oldest kids there, and I think she’s gotten bored with it. She’s old enough that she could theoretically stay home with me, because she’s pretty self-sufficient and doesn’t get underfoot too much while I’m working, but she’d be bored out of her mind.

Catie and my cousin Cat’s kids are both on the same year-round school schedule, and it just so happens that my aunt and uncle come up from Texas to help out with Cat’s kids (their grandkids) on track-out breaks. My aunt Susie said she’d be happy to take Catie too, so this week, I’ve been taking her over to their house in the mornings, and she’s been getting to play with her cousins all day. She’s had a blast, and she comes home happy and exhausted.

My aunt has even been getting Catie to eat foods that she normally never touches, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I’m not sure if she has some kind of voodoo mind power or what, but it’s fantastic. Not to mention that it’s saved me a ton of money that I haven’t had to pay for childcare, so I’m going to call that one a win all around.

So, hooray for having awesome family members who help out! It’s really great to have that support system when you need it.

How we do vacation
No reason for posting this, I just think it’s funny. Mainly because of Lucy’s face in the background as Elsa has a very serious talk with Ming-Ming from the Wonder Pets. And Catie is in love with that Zoomer Dino she got for Christmas.

New Year’s Meme for 2014

Time for another annual recap. (I feel like these might be boring for other people to read, but I love reading my friends’ posts, so why not?)

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
* I took both of my girls on a road trip to the beach by myself. (We met up with Chris and his kids once we got there, but still. It was just the three of us in the car, I didn’t have my parents for backup. That felt huge.)
* Voluntarily brought a pet reptile into my home, and learned how to feed it live insects. THAT is not something I ever thought I’d do.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No and no. I view New Year’s resolutions the way I view getting your lover’s name tattooed on your body: it’s pretty much a guarantee for failure. Why jinx yourself like that?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Lots of my Twitter friends had babies. No one in my family or immediate circle of friends, though.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?
I don’t think I ever left the state of North Carolina this year. That’s a little depressing.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
Less clutter in my life. The physical clutter is an ongoing process – I’ve been cleaning things out gradually for a while: had a yard sale, gave a lot to Goodwill, etc. I would also like less mental clutter that bogs me down with useless, unproductive thoughts.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Other than the usual birthdays and anniversaries, I’m not sure there’s one particular date that stands out this year.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I broke all kinds of mental blocks I had about running this year. I never thought I could run more than 2 or maybe 2.5 miles. This year is the first time I ran 3 miles, then 5, then 7, then 10. And I didn’t die.

9. What was your biggest failure?
The times I let my anxiety get the better of me.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
The “balloon sinuplasty” I had in June that was supposed to be a quick & easy recovery left me in terrible pain for about 3 months. And for all the “you’ll never get sinus infections again!” b.s. that my ENT gave me, uh, yeah. Let me show you what my medicine cabinet looks like right now to disprove that.

(I guess I should file that under “it was worth a try,” but I’m still really angry at my doctor for basically selling me on a procedure that didn’t help at all. Maybe I’m just a statistical outlier, who knows. But if I had known the outcome, I never would have done it.)

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I guess I should say Spyro Jones, because he has made Catie so happy. But honestly? The best thing I bought was headphones for the kids’ iPads. No more competing game sounds! They have their screen time in silence, and oh, it is glorious.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Chris, who lets me be crazy when I need to be crazy and never invalidates my feelings.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The entire GamerGate scandal and realizing just how misogynistic our society still is, and how much more progress women still have to make just to be treated as equals. That was pretty depressing.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Daycare, rent, bills, same ol’.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I registered for a half-marathon. Equally exciting and terrifying.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
“Let it Go,” and pretty much the entire Frozen soundtrack. It’s kind of on a constant loop in our house.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Last year I was pretty disgustingly happy, and I still am, so: same.
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner. (Yay running!)
c) richer or poorer? I got a raise this year, so technically richer, I guess.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I feel like I did a lot this year. I guess organizing my house and keeping paperwork from piling up is something I should have done more.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying about things that I have no control over.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
I mentioned this in my last blog post, but I spent Christmas morning with my entire family, then after everyone left, I took a nap and went for a run. It was lovely.

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?
*Fall* in love, no. *Still* in love, yes.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Chris and I have a few shows we watch together: Homeland, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Once Upon a Time. I really love all of those.

We also watched The Affair, but it’s one of those shows where absolutely none of the characters are even remotely likeable, and I’m not sure why I keep watching it. (I keep yelling at the TV, “You’re stupid and you make bad decisions!”)

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nah, try not to waste my energy on hate.

24. What was the best book you read?
Every year, I draw a blank on this question. Pass.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Nothing that everyone else hasn’t heard on pop radio a million times. This is the first year I broke down and admitted that I actually kinda like Taylor Swift.

26. What did you want and get by year’s end?
Lucy sleeps through the night in her own bed now! That was pretty huge.

27. What did you want and not get by year’s end?
I can’t think of a thing that I am lacking.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
We don’t see movies in the theater very often. Gone Girl was excellent. I liked Mockingjay a lot, and Guardians of the Galaxy was pretty fun. I just rented Maleficent and watched it with Catie a couple of days ago, we both enjoyed it.

I guess January of this year is when I took my kids to see Frozen in the theater, and it launched Lucy’s obsession that has lasted all year.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 38. Chris and I went out for dinner at a super-fancy restaurant where we would otherwise never eat. For dessert, we picked up bo-berry biscuits from Bojangles on our way home, because balance.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I’ve got nothing. I am incredibly fortunate.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Hit or miss. I spent ages trying to find a pair of jeans that fit me. I just learned recently that this is apparently because I’ve lost enough weight that I’m now a size 8, so I was trying on the wrong size. (I’ve never been smaller than a 10 in my life.) Who knew?

32. What kept you sane?
Running running running.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Oh, Justin Theroux, who I never really noticed until The Leftovers. That back tattoo? That… well. Yeah.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Same answer as last year: gun control, abortion rights, marriage equality, all the typical things us hardcore liberals get amped up about.

35. Who did you miss?
My grandmother passed away when I was 20 years old, and sometimes I look at my girls and think about how much she would have loved them. It’s not practical to wish she was still here – she’d be 104 years old – but I do miss her a lot.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
This feels unfair to try to single someone out. There are too many people I like.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
I can set goals for myself that seem completely impossible and actually achieve them. I need to remember that when I sell myself short.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“Don’t believe me, just watch.” –Bruno Mars

YouTube Preview Image

Happy new year, y’all!

December 31, 2014Permalink

Christmas 2014

It seems like I have an annual tradition of coming down with some terrible sinus infection right around Christmas. This year was no exception, and I almost completely lost my voice for a few days, but silver lining: it was better than the flu I had 2 years ago! That’s a weird way to frame it, I know. Sure, I felt terrible, but it wasn’t as bad as the time I ended up in the ER on Christmas Day. Call it a win!

Other than that, Christmas was really nice and low-key this year. My sister and brother-in-law flew in from Texas a few days before Christmas, and the girls loved getting to hang out with them. Tracy is basically Catie’s favorite person on earth – always has been – so she was particularly stoked to have them here.

Catie and Tracy hanging out with Spyro Jones.

And my sister impressed me by not being at all squeamish about Catie’s bearded dragon. (You never really know how people will react to reptiles, it’s not like something cute and furry.)

A couple of days before Christmas, Lucy decided she wanted to see Santa at the mall, like she did last year. Catie insisted we drop her off at my parents’ house first, because she wanted nothing to do with Mall Santa. So it was just Lucy again this year, and she insisted she needed to “wear a fancy dress” to meet Santa. So… she picked her Anna costume. And you know, I kind of just shrugged it off and decided that at the very least, it’d make a cute picture for when she’s older.

This year, she wasn’t quite as brave about meeting Santa, and she kind of hid behind me when we walked up to him. So I sat down next to Santa, and pulled her up into my lap.

Lucy chickened out about meeting Santa at the last minute, so I had to jump in with her.

That’s about the best picture we got.

Christmas Eve was probably one of the more stressful days for me, because that’s when we do our big family meal, and I did most of the cooking, which is no small feat when you’re feeding ten people. We ate, then went to church. And let me say, hooray for our church’s special “child friendly” service – it didn’t matter that Lucy was squirmy and kept asking where the real “baby Jeegus” was, because there were a few dozen other kids in the congregation doing the same thing. It was nice to not have to worry about my kid ruining anyone’s spiritual experience.

After church, we went back to my parents’ house to open family gifts. It’s funny how that changes when you’re a kid versus when you’re an adult. As a kid, it’s all about getting presents. But now, I’m more excited about watching other people open the gifts I got for them than I get about opening my own.

Chris and I are not big “surprise” gift people – I pretty much told him exactly what I wanted, and he got it. And I got him the things he wanted. I did manage to sneak in one little surprise gift for him, though. Since he wears a lot of random t-shirts when he runs, I got him a Los Pollos Hermanos t-shirt. (If you’ve watched Breaking Bad, you’ll get the reference.) He thought it was funny, and I think my dad (who’s a huge Breaking Bad fan) was actually a little jealous of it. But my dad doesn’t wear t-shirts, and they don’t seem to make Los Pollos Hermanos golf shirts, so he was out of luck.

And as much as my kids loved their Christmas Eve presents (Lucy got Frozen slippers! Catie got a Zoomer Dino!), Christmas Eve is the only night of the year that my kids beg to go home from my parents’ house because they can’t wait to get to bed so Santa Claus can come.

Santa was here. Cracks me up how different my girls' Christmas wish lists are - Lucy wants everything baby dolls & princesses. Catie is all about video games & science stuff. I love that about them. Merry Christmas, everyone!

It really does crack me up how different my girls are. Everything on Catie’s wish list was related to Minecraft or some other video game or science stuff. Everything on Lucy’s list was princesses and baby dolls.

Christmas morning, they had a blast checking out their loot.

Catie was super excited about her Minecraft ender dragon

Lucy liked her giant Olaf

My parents, as well as my brother and his girlfriend, had come over to my house super-early so they’d all be here when the kids woke up. I guess because they’re the only two grandchildren, Christmas morning is a really big deal for my family.

Chris and I made breakfast for everyone while the kids went crazy with their new stuff. My sister and brother-in-law flew out later that morning (they were going to visit my BIL’s nieces and nephews), and I dropped the girls off with Dave, so they could have Round 2 of Santa Claus with him. Later that day, Chris left to visit with his kids for a while.

It was weird, how quiet the house was after everyone had left. I took a lovely two-hour nap, then went for a long run. It was a beautiful day (sunny, highs in the mid-50s), and my neighborhood greenway was more crowded than I’ve ever seen it. Kids riding their brand new bikes, and families out walking together. I guess you hit that point late in the day on Christmas when you start to get a little stir crazy and need to get out of the house. But it was nice, because everyone was smiling and saying “merry Christmas” to each other. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled that much during a run. It was pretty great.

This week, I’m doing something I don’t think I’ve ever done in the four years I’ve worked at my company: I’m taking this whole week off (I have plenty of vacation days accrued, since I almost never use them), and I’m keeping the girls home with me. Daycare is open, but it’s nice to just have some lazy days with no plans. Like today, the kids haven’t gotten out of their pajamas all day. They’re in a phase where they mostly play really nicely together, and I only have to break up a minimal number of fights, so it’s been really easy and nice.

Hope you all had lovely holidays as well.

December 30, 2014Permalink

ice has a magic can’t be controlled

Back in July or so, I got an email about Disney on Ice. I had taken Catie to see Toy Story on Ice about four years ago when I was pregnant with Lucy, and we loved it. They really put on a great show. This year’s Disney on Ice show was going to be – what else? – Frozen.

I mentioned it to my mom, and she said, “Here’s my credit card, go order the tickets, we’ve gotta go.” We decided we’d make it a girls’ night – me, the kids, and my mom.

The show was this past weekend, and Lucy was SO. EXCITED. We’d been talking about it for ages in advance. Catie was iffy about it – she’s tired of Frozen, but she also really loves to watch ice skaters. And the skaters at the Disney on Ice show are fantastic, and it’s even more exciting to watch them in person than on TV. So she agreed to come along with only a minimal amount of complaining.

(Seriously, the guy that plays Kristoff did a freaking backflip on the ice. TWICE. Those skaters are crazy talented.)

Lucy asked if she could wear her Elsa costume to the show, and I normally don’t let her wear the costume out of the house, but I figured this was one place where she was surely not going to be the only little girl dressed up like Elsa or Anna, so why not. And I’m really glad I let her, because nearly every other little girl in the place was dressed up like a character from the movie (we even saw some Olafs!). So if I had said no, she could’ve (justifiably) been mad at me for that for YEARS. (Catie was kind of the odd-girl-out in her dragon t-shirt and jeans, but she didn’t care.)

Lucy and her Elsa light-up wand at Disney on Ice

Mimi and Catie at Frozen on Ice

We got our souvenirs (a sword for Catie, an spinning light-up Elsa wand for Lucy) and our snacks, and settled in to watch the show. It really was great, the skaters are phenomenal, and they stay true to the movie, with just a couple of plot tweaks here and there to make it translate to a live show.

And when the skater who played Elsa came out to skate to “Let It Go”? My first thought was that it was basically the equivalent of a One Direction concert for preschoolers. It was insane. Every kid in there was singing at the top of their lungs.

Lucy at Frozen on Ice. You can kind of hear the other kids singing too. It was nuts.

A video posted by Cindy W (@poobou) on

Catie was sitting on the far side of my mom, but she was singing just as loud. She talks big about how she doesn’t like the movie, but she still enjoys the soundtrack quite a bit.

To sum up: It was loud, it was crowded, it was over-priced, and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat to watch both of my girls have that much fun.

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Somewhat related and completely inappropriate anecdote:

This morning Lucy was playing in the car with her Frozen action figures, and a Wonder Woman action figure that was mine way back in the 80s. (I swear, my mom saved some of the most random crap from my childhood.)

From the backseat, I hear her say, “Look, Anna is sitting on Wonder Woman’s face!”

I almost swerved off the road trying not to laugh. I don’t think that was an intended subplot of Frozen, and I’m pretty sure it was never in the Wonder Woman comic books either.

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Not really related at all anecdote:

Last night, Catie made out Christmas wish lists for both herself and Lucy. (Guess what Lucy wants for Christmas? Pretty much everything to do with Frozen, including things that don’t even exist, like a Prince Hans doll. What the hell, Lucy, Hans is the villain! Nobody wants him!)

After Catie made out the lists, I made an offhand comment about sending them to Santa, and she said, accusingly, “Last year you didn’t, because I found mine still here after Christmas!”

Without missing a beat, I said, “Oh, that’s because I just took a picture of it and texted it to Santa.”

(Technically this isn’t a lie – I did take pictures of their lists, & I texted them to Dave, because that’s how we decide to divide them up and who’s going to buy what.)

Her: “WHAT?! Santa can text?”

Me: “Of course.”

Her: “How does his phone work at the North Pole?”

Me: “The best reception in the world is at the North Pole, because it’s the top of the earth. How else do you think he sends you those videos on the Internet every year?”

(I was referring to the Portable North Pole site, which if you haven’t ever used it for your kids, you should check it out because it’s fantastic.)

So, yeah, I basically blew her mind. I know I don’t have much longer for her to believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and all that stuff, but that little window of time where kids believe in magic is so short, and I just want to drag it out for as long as I can.

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Completely unrelated to anything Disney or Frozen or Santa Claus:

Today is Chris’s birthday. I mentioned it to Catie last night, and she decided that she and Lucy would both make him cards.

Today is Chris's birthday. Both girls made him cards. #love

I like that Catie took it upon herself to label Lucy’s, so he’d know who did which card. As if it isn’t completely obvious.

And I love everything about Catie’s drawing – that she drew herself in her favorite outfit and wearing her glasses, and Chris wearing the outfit he had on yesterday. I love their disproportionately long arms, and that their fingers look like Wolverine claws. She was upset that she drew Chris’s hair too long (he does keep it buzzed really short), but she had drawn it in marker and couldn’t erase it. I think it’s fantastic.

Inside the card, she wrote (the spelling is all hers here):

Happy Berthday!
We hope you had a good year and we hope you hav a good next year to.
By your frend Catie

The words are all surrounded by hearts. It’s adorable, and damned if I didn’t tear up a tiny bit when I read it.

Now I’ve just got to figure out dinner plans for the birthday guy.

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Yes, the title is from the “Frozen Heart” song that the ice miners sing at the beginning of the movie. It’s been in my head all day.

December 17, 2014Permalink

running with others, & the current playlist

As I’m sure I have mentioned plenty of times, I like to run by myself. As long as I have my music in my earbuds, I can zone out and I’m good to go. But, since I’m doing this half-marathon in March, I thought it might be good to try running with other people.

One of the marathon sponsors (GNC) hosted a 10K training run on Saturday morning. (For those of you who are not good with the metric system, like me, 10K = 6.2 miles.) I like to do my long runs on the weekends anyway, and I thought that sounded like a good practice run. And it would be a chance to try out running with other people around.

This was supposed to be Dave’s weekend with the girls, but Lucy came down with a fever on Friday, so she was super-clingy and didn’t want to leave me. Dave and I texted and agreed it was fine for her to stay with me on Friday night.

Saturday morning, I got up early and left her sound asleep with Chris and went to meet up with the running group. Chris is Lucy’s favorite snuggle buddy in the world, I knew she wouldn’t be upset to wake up and find me gone, if he was there.

I was a little nervous, mainly because I’d never run with other people and I didn’t know what to expect. But it’s not like this was a race or anything – it was just a training run, that’s all, not a competition. I knew I would be on the slower end of the spectrum, so when we started off, I stayed to the right of the sidewalk to let faster people pass me. Somewhere around the first half-mile point, I glanced over my shoulder and realized there was nobody behind me, and I was DEAD LAST. And the next closest group of runners were so far ahead of me that I could barely see them. So that felt pretty terrible and discouraging, and I had a couple minutes there where I wanted to cry, or turn around and go back to my car because what the hell was I even thinking with this whole half-marathon thing, I’m too slow and I can’t do this.

Then I decided, well, I might as well keep going, because I wanted to get my run that day anyway.

Eventually I caught up with a few of the other runners because they had gotten lost and had stopped to try to read the map that we’d been given at the beginning of the run. (This route was pretty close to my house, so I knew my way around fairly well.) I managed to keep up with them for the rest of the run, and chatted with them a little. They were friendly and very encouraging.

The route had a lot more steep hills than my usual running routes, so that was hard. I finished the entire 10K faster than I’ve ever run in my life, and I was still dead last, but I kind of stopped caring toward the end, I was just happy that I finished. (My legs are still feeling those hills, two days later. The half-marathon route is supposed to be much flatter, for which I am incredibly grateful.)

Meanwhile, Chris got Lucy fed and dressed, and drove her up to meet me at the end. It was really great to see their faces there at the end of 6.2 miles.

I guess my overall verdict is that it started out crappy, and ended up sort of fun. But if given the choice between running with a group or running by myself, I’d probably still pick going by myself. Which does leave me a little worried that I’m going to hate the entire half-marathon experience, but whatever, at this point, I’ve already signed up and I’m not backing out. Guess we’ll see how it goes.

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Semi-related, I’ve been getting bored with my running playlist, and I went looking for new songs to add to it. I found several blogs where people post their playlists, and I found it helpful for finding a few new songs to add to mine. So, in case any of you are looking for new tunes to get your feet moving, here are my current favorites. Some have been on my workout playlist for years, others are new.

“Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars
“Centuries” – Fall Out Boy
“My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” – Fall Out Boy
“Rock That Body” – The Black Eyed Peas
“Pump It” – The Black Eyed Peas
“Miss Jackson” – Panic! At the Disco
“Hey Brother” – Avicii
“I’m Shipping Up to Boston” – The Dropkick Murphys
“‘Til I Collapse” – Eminem
“Come with Me Now” – KONGOS
“Bleed It Out” – Linkin Park
“Can’t Hold Us” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
“Love Runs Out” – OneRepublic
“Shake it Off” – Taylor Swift

(General disclaimer that my workout playlist has very little to do with a song’s artistic merit, it’s just whether or not it has the right tempo. Hell, a good chunk of these songs I bought on iTunes because Catie wanted them, then I decided I liked them for running. So don’t judge me too harshly.)

December 15, 2014Permalink