10

Today is Catie’s 10th birthday.

Catie is 10!

I don’t know what to say about this amazing little girl. She surprises me on a regular basis with the things she knows. She comes home telling me about books she’s read at school, and so many of them are books that I loved at her age – a lot of Roald Dahl, “The Chronicles of Narnia,” etc. She recently discovered my old “Calvin & Hobbes” and “The Far Side” books. She laughs at all of them, and explains the jokes to me. It’s so great.

Catie is reading my old Far Side and Calvin & Hobbes books. Big kids are awesome.

(Caveat: a lot of Far Side cartoons have very dated references in them – Reagan, baby Jessica, etc. – that I have to explain to her. She still loves it, and was bummed that I only had two of their compilation books. I’m getting her another for her birthday.)

We took the kids to the Women’s March in Raleigh this past weekend, and we talked about why it was important. It’s odd when your kids are old enough to understand politics. Catie was very worried about Donald Trump all during the campaign cycle – she came home upset one day because some kids on the bus told her that when Trump won, he was going to send her friend Mohammed away and she’d never see him again. (This was long before November 8th, and I foolishly assured her that she had nothing to worry about because OF COURSE Trump wasn’t going to win. Haaaa, I’m an idiot.) She’s also been worried about her friends at school who are Mexican. I keep assuring her they’ll be ok because they’re American citizens, but she still worries.

She said she thought the Women’s March was “a little boring because all you do is walk around,” but then she asked when the next march will be. And if we can make more signs for the next one. (Answer to the former: I’m not sure, but I’ll find out. For the latter: heck yeah, we can.)

Her class saw a play about Harriet Tubman, and she understood the connection between that and what’s happening now in the world. She asked me what we could do to help make an Underground Railroad for Muslims and undocumented immigrants. She has more empathy and compassion in her little finger than most adults I know, and sometimes it’s hard for her to process all of it, but I absolutely love her sweet, compassionate heart.

I don't own a pantsuit, but I threw on a blazer with my t-shirt & jeans. Happy to spend a historic Election Day with my girls. #pantsuitnation  #imwithher

Happy birthday, my sweet Catie-bug. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next.

January 27, 2017Permalink

summer recap

I just realized I haven’t blogged anything since Lucy’s birthday, which was nearly 3 months ago. So! Recap time!

First, Lucy graduated from her pre-k program, and yes ok, it’s stupid to do the whole cap & gown thing for 5 year-olds, but this is the daycare where Lucy has been since she was 11 weeks old, and where Catie started going when she was only 2 years old.

Lucy getting her diploma from Ms. M

The girls may go there for the occasional track-out week, but other than that, we’re done there. It felt like the end of an era, that place has been such a big part of our daily lives for so many years. So I admit it, I cried. A lot.

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Summer vacation!

The kids got to hang out with their cousins, which they loved. (God bless my aunt Susie, who somehow managed five kids without murdering or losing any of them.) We spent a lot of time at our neighborhood pool. Like a lot. We’re at the pool pretty much every weekend that the girls are with me. Because the only way I can tolerate being outside during a North Carolina summer is if I’m submerged in water.

The pool is open!

We went to see the fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Waiting for fireworks. Happy 4th of July!
(I love this picture so much.)

Oh! And my parents and I took the girls on an overnight trip to the beach.

Girls on the beach

While we were at the coast, we went to a “princess story hour” event with the company that we’ve used to hire the princesses for Lucy’s last two birthday parties, so that was fun. (Well, it was fun for Lucy. Catie was very sweet about helping Lucy get the various princesses’ autographs, since Lucy was too shy to ask for them herself.)

And we went to the aquarium at Fort Fisher, which was cool. Eh. Scratch that. It was the opposite of cool. It was like 95 degrees that day. The inside of the aquarium was fine, but all of the outdoor stuff – like the big dinosaur exhibit – was soul-crushingly hot.

The aquarium has a dinosaur exhibit. A++.

But hey, the kids had fun, and that’s why we do these things. #CherishEveryMoment and all that, right? (…she said as she stuck her head in the freezer to try to stop sweating.)

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On our year-round school calendar, our summer vacation is basically the month of July, and that’s it. The downside is that it feels like there’s never enough time to do all the stuff we want to do. But overall, I feel like the 9 weeks on/3-ish weeks off schedule works out better for us. Just around the time kids start to get burned out on school, it’s time for a nice long break. And then on the flip side, just around the time they start to whine about being bored? Back to school you go!

So, here we are. Kindergarten for Lucy, and fourth grade for Catie.

Kindergarten and 4th grade!

Catie breezed into 4th grade like it was nothing. She’s been doing great, her two closest friends are in her class this year, and she’s been coming home from school and doing her homework without me twisting her arm to do it.

I knew Lucy’s adjustment to kindergarten was going to be pretty rough, and it has been. It’s all new people (kids and adults both), new school, new routines. It’s a lot for any kid to process, but especially for Lucy, who tends to be really shy and quiet in new situations. And while she’s been great at school, I know she’s overwhelmed by all of it, because she comes home absolutely exhausted. We’ve had to scramble our evening routine, because now there’s a mad rush to get Lucy some dinner at “early bird special” hours (you want to eat at 4:30 p.m.? OK SURE!), and then bathed and in her PJs, so when she inevitably falls asleep on the couch at 6:30… well, at least she’s fed and clean, so all we have to do is move her upstairs to bed.

(Last night, Lucy slept eleven hours. ELEVEN. I’m not sure she’s ever done that before in her entire life. And she slept so hard, she didn’t even wake up to climb in bed between me and Chris in the middle of the night, like she always does. I mean, hooray for kindergarten if it gets her to stay in her own bed all night. But poor baby girl is TIIIIIRED.)

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Everything outside of the kids is pretty standard. Chris is good, I’m good, our jobs are going well, we spend a lot of our free time going back and forth between watching election news (OMG y’all, this year) and binge watching different shows (just started season 2 of “Bloodline”). My parents are doing well. As for the pets: Spyro Jones is still around, Roxie is sweet and adorable, Beaumont got sick and scared us, but he’s on the mend now. He has hyperthyroidism and dropped a lot of weight really fast, but we have medication for him that should fix him up.

Oh! My brother got married in early July. He lived in Charlotte for years, but earlier this year, his job transferred him out to Salt Lake City, and Mandy (his then-fiancee, now wife) went with him. They eloped, no big wedding ceremony or anything. But they seem really happy, and it’s kind of cool to be able to say that I have a sister-in-law, because I’ve never had one before. And the girls love that they now have TWO aunts! (And although they love their Uncle Chris & Aunt Mandy a whole lot, I’m pretty sure my sister is still their favorite. Hell, they prefer my sister over me most of time.)

So, all is well. If my sparse blogging trend continues, I guess I’ll post another update sometime after Thanksgiving. We’ll see.

August 25, 2016Permalink

Texas trip

Catie recently had her 3-week spring break, so we decided to do like we did last year, and go to Texas to visit my sister and brother-in-law.

The flying part of this trip felt like a big deal, because it was the first time I’d flown with my kids without bringing along a stroller. I was a little worried that Lucy might pull a “my legs are tired!” meltdown and force me to carry her plus our carry-ons, but I talked it up about how she’s a big girl now, and created a little reward chart, and both girls were great. (I wasn’t worried about Catie – for all of her tendencies to freak out at new situations, that kid is the easiest traveling buddy ever. She’s a champ. But I can’t promise a reward to one kid and not the other, because they are all about equity at this age, so Catie and Lucy were both on the reward chart.)

Survived the first half of our journey. Now we're boarded on our flight to Austin!

Before our trip, my sister had emailed me a link to the Exotic Resort Zoo, asking if I thought the kids might like it. It looked fun, so we decided to check it out.

The Exotic Resort Zoo is in Johnson City, which is a little over an hour from Austin. And it was amazing. You ride in a covered trailer through the park, and all of the animals come up to the trailer so you can feed and pet them. (You buy a bucket of feed before the tour, you can’t just give them regular food.) They had llamas, zebras, buffalo, camels, ostriches, emus, rams, elk, antelope, gazelles, and a dozen other things I’m forgetting. It was so fun.

Highly recommend the Exotic Safari Zoo in Johnson City, TX. We got to feed and pet llamas, zebras, camels, deer, elk, buffalo and a dozen other animals. SO COOL.

Catie spent the entire tour halfway leaning out of the trailer trying to pet every animal that came near us. Lucy is a little more unsure about animals, so she spent most of the time picking up big handfuls of feed from the bucket and throwing it out of the trailer for the animals to catch.

We also took another trip to downtown Austin to try to see the bats when they fly out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk.

Catie, Lucy & Tracy waiting for bats

And look, BATS!

Bats!

(As I kept reassuring Lucy, these are not scary bats. These are bats who eat all the mosquitoes. These bats are our friends. In fact, I’m wishing I could set up a bat colony in my backyard.)

We did a lot of other fun stuff: had dinner with my aunt and uncle, and the girls got to play with their cousin Jackson who they hadn’t seen since Tracy’s wedding. We got to try out some fun local restaurants. We went to Mt. Playmore twice, and I’m still so jealous that we don’t have a place like that here, because it’s so much fun.

And on our last day, on our way to the airport, we found longhorns! (Lucy was tired & wouldn’t get out of the car for a picture. And you kinda have to zoom in a LOT to see the longhorns behind Catie. But they were there!)

We found longhorns!

The flight home was pretty uneventful, the kids did really well again. Chris picked us up at the airport and brought us home. And even though Chris took good care of the pets while we were gone, Roxie was so happy to see us that she did literal back flips when we got home. She stood on her hind legs to do her little happy dance, but her tail was wagging so hard that she kept falling over backward.


(This is what we call the Roxie Happy Dance.)

Catie’s back in school now, but it was a fun trip and I’m really glad we were able to go.

April 25, 2016Permalink

Catie is 9

I used to have a habit of blogging about big milestones for me and my kids, but somehow I completely forgot to sit down and write about Catie’s 9th birthday. Which was 3 weeks ago.

Catie and Roxie

We had her birthday party the weekend before her actual birthday. It was scheduled for a Saturday, but we ended up with a snow/ice storm that required us to bump it to Sunday. Most of her friends were still able to come, which was great.

She wanted a Jurassic World theme for her party, and thanks to online party supply websites and the Publix bakery, we were able to accommodate that wish.

Jurassic World birthday cake

I used to think having a birthday party at the house was a big stressful thing that required tons of pre-planning. After having both Catie’s and Lucy’s birthday parties here, I realized that whatever activities I have planned mostly go to waste because the kids just want to do their own thing. So now I’m just like, “ok, your friends are here, go play and I’ll call you when it’s time for cake.” Boom, done.

(Lucy, however, still wants Disney Princesses to come to her party again. Although maybe not Anna and Elsa again, she might want Rapunzel or Jasmine or Sleeping Beauty or…. yeah. I told her we can decide when it’s closer to her birthday.)

Her actual birthday was on a Wednesday, and we had birthday brownies at my parents’ house that night. She didn’t complain.

Officially 9 years old today! I told her she's halfway to being an adult. She told me how when she's a grown-up, she & her cousin are going to get an apartment and get jobs making Minecraft mods. ???

Like last year, I don’t want to write too much about her because it feels like an invasion of her privacy. I will say that age 8 was significantly easier than age 7. She’s smart, she’s hilarious, she’s sensitive, she has more empathy than most people I know, and she’s a total nerd for the stuff she loves (dinosaurs, Star Wars, Minecraft, Harry Potter, etc.). She’s fantastic. I tell her she’s one of my two most favorite kids on this planet.

On her birthday, I told her that 9 meant she’s halfway to being a grown-up. (That thought actually freaked me out a little.) She told me that when she’s 18, she and her cousin Elizabeth are going to go to college together, and live in the same apartment, and get jobs making Minecraft mods. I told her that sounded like a great plan.

I can’t wait to see what 9 brings us.

February 14, 2016Permalink

halfway through November by the time I blog about October

Apparently blogging is something I only do every couple of months now. I’m not sure why, it’s just hard to think of stuff I want to write.

So hey, let’s talk about October! Catie was out of school for the first three weeks of October, so I tried to take advantage of it and maximize the amount of fun stuff we did. Pardon me while I post a zillion photos now.

On a random Wednesday when the weather was nice, I took a vacation day, and we went to the zoo. (My manager was also on vacation that week, so the timing worked out well.) Chris couldn’t take the day off work, but my parents came along, and I’m so glad they did, because I think it was a lot of fun for all of us.

Girls & my mom with a sea lion swimming by.

The NC Zoo is BIG and involves a lot of walking, and I knew my mom would have trouble getting around. She has scoliosis, arthritis, and a lot of other health issues that cause her chronic pain. The zoo rents out mobility scooters, and at first she didn’t want to get one, but she finally relented. (Mom: “That would be embarrassing!” Me: “Who gives a crap what anyone at the zoo thinks about you?”) About halfway through the day, she said she was so glad she got the scooter, because otherwise there was no way she would’ve been able to keep up with us.

(My dad is 10 years older than my mom, but since he’s been a golfer all his life, walking is no issue for him. He trekked all over the zoo with us without any issue.)

We happened to make it to the zoo while the dinosaur exhibit was still out. We saw it on our last trip to the zoo (which I realize after going through the archives was THREE years ago! Lucy could barely walk & was still drinking out of a bottle! We need to get to the zoo more often), but they’ve improved the dino exhibit since the last time we were there.

And it led to this picture of Catie, which I think might be the most perfect Catie picture of all time.

Catie & the T. Rex

Catie and a T. Rex. Yep, that’s my girl.

We also went to Green Acres Farm, where we went on a hay ride, and the girls generally ran around like maniacs for a couple of hours, and made friends with animals.

Making friends with a goat.

Chris said later how strange that trip was for him, because he grew up on a farm, and he didn’t understand why people would pay money to visit one. He said, “I joined the Army to get away from that.” I tried to explain that it’s a novel concept to kids from the suburbs, he just shook his head and laughed.

Also in October, the NC state fair comes to town. I hate going to the state fair on weekends, because the crowds are insane, and the kids spend more time standing in line to go on rides than actually going on rides. So instead, I took off a few hours early one weekday (can I say again how much I love my job and how grateful I am for my flexible schedule?), and we went.

Girls on the Monster Truck ride.

Catie is still a little bit of a chicken about rides, and generally only wants to go on the little kid rides. Which is FINE, I have no need for either of my kids to be a daredevil, I’m already prone to anxiety attacks as it is. And there are some rides at the state fair that scare me just to look at them. So the fact that Catie doesn’t want to ride the big scary rides is A-OK with me. Instead, she rode the kiddie rides with Lucy, they were both happy, and I didn’t need to take any sedatives. Win-win-win.

Lucy the lion & Catie the giraffe
Random photo from the state fair that has nothing to do with anything, it just makes me laugh.

Last thing for October: Halloween! As per our usual tradition, we went to my parents’ neighborhood for trick-or-treating, because the lots in their neighborhood are a little smaller, which means the houses are closer together, so they can get a bunch of candy in a shorter amount of time. And there are tons of kids in their neighborhood, so Halloween ends up like a mini-street party, and it’s a great time.

This year, Catie was Spyro from the Skylanders game, and Lucy decided that since she was Elsa last year, this year she would be Anna. (If you thought she’d outgrow her Frozen obsession anytime soon, you’d be wrong.)

Happy Halloween from Spyro the Skylander, and Princess Anna!

One nice thing: I didn’t have to buy any costumes for Halloween this year. Catie got that Spyro costume back in March when we went to Comic-Con, and she’s grown so much in the last 6 months that it *barely* fits her now. The Velcro in the back kept popping open like she was the Incredible Hulk ripping her way out of her clothes. And Lucy got the Anna costume months ago as part of a potty-training bribe. It was nice to have a holiday where I didn’t have to drop any money.

Overall, October was an A+ month. Now Catie is back in school and we’re back to our typical daily routine, and there aren’t a ton of fun events in November. But I’m pretty good at coming up with fun stuff for them to do on my weekends, so I’m sure we’ll figure out something.

November 9, 2015Permalink

the past 2 months

I haven’t blogged in 2 months, which is weird for me. I keep thinking of things to write about and then I get distracted. So, here’s a bunch of random stuff that’s been happening lately.

We’ve been doing fun stuff on the weekends the kids are with me – now that summer is over and the neighborhood pool is closed, we’ve been going to the science museum and the playground more often.

Science museum. Have to pose with the shark jaw.

Those giant indoor trampoline places are fun on rainy days, too.

My levitating children at the Launching Pad.

I try to keep us busy on the weekends, it keeps the kids from fighting if we get out of the house and do active stuff.

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Catie update:

Catie finished her first term of 3rd grade and she’s now on her 3-week track-out break. (Let me take a moment and say again how much I love year-round school. Just around the time they start to get burned out on school, they get a nice long break. And then, just when they start to whine about being bored: time to go back to school!) She’s been spending this track-out break with her cousins; my aunt Susie is in town taking care of my cousin Cat’s kids, so I’ve been dropping her off every morning at their house and she’s been having a blast.

Third grade has been interesting because the two teachers split the day – one does math and social studies, the other does reading, writing, and science. So the kids spend half their day with each of them. Catie seems to like both teachers this year, which is pretty lucky.

Oh, and Catie got new glasses. She picked them out herself, and they look fantastic on her.

Catie got new glasses

Catie’s eye doctor is concerned about one of her eyes being significantly weaker than the other, so she’s now wearing an eye patch. She was upset about the idea of wearing it to school, because third grade girls can be mean about teasing, so I relented – she wears it from the time she gets up in the morning until she leaves for school, and then from the time she gets home until bedtime. She has it on for several hours each day, and hopefully that’s enough. We have a follow-up appointment in December to see how much progress she’s made.

And because she was constantly complaining about how her hair was making her hot, we decided to cut off several inches and give her a bob.

Catie's haircut before & after

She looks adorable, I absolutely love it. Between the haircut and getting her bangs off her face (both girls are growing their bangs out), she suddenly looks so grown up. Although maybe that’s partly due to her recent growth spurt. Girlfriend is now 4’5″ – she’s grown over 2 inches in the last 6 months.

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Lucy update:

Lucy has started taking a weekly dance class at her daycare, and I wish I could spy on it because I’ll bet it’s adorable. They email a newsletter to talk about the stuff they’re doing in class, so I’ll ask her to show me something (like pli√® and relev√©), and it’s a riot.

She also takes a weekly soccer class at daycare, which she really likes. I’m glad our daycare has these types of extracurricular activities, because I’m not sure how we’d make it work on our own time.

Lucy had a fever yesterday, so she's staying home with me because she needs to be fever-free for 24 hours before she can go back to daycare. She's obviously feeling better, so we're playing with hairstyles.

She’s gotten to a phase where she’s suddenly shy around new people, and her daycare teacher even says that she’s one of her quiet kids, but when she’s home, she’s still my hilarious little goofball.

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Me update:

I had a rough few months over the summer – there wasn’t any reason for it, just out of the blue I was suddenly anxious and jittery more often than not. It’s gotten a lot better in the last few weeks, for which I am thankful.

I’ve also been enjoying my weekends when the kids are with their dad. I get to sleep late, Chris and I can go see a movie or go out for dinner whenever we want, without worrying about anyone’s schedule. Yesterday, the weather was so gorgeous that I ran for nearly 5 miles, which is the first time I’ve gone that far since the half-marathon back in March. The combination of an injured foot plus the summer heat made me scale back on running, but I’m getting back into the longer distances and really enjoying it. I’m also doing the Barre3 28-day challenge with some friends, which is kind of fun just as a way to mix things up.

Work is good; I had my annual performance review a couple of weeks ago, and I got a raise. I asked Chris if it made him feel emasculated that I now make more money than he does. He laughed and said, “Sweetie, you go ahead and make aaaaall the money you want, the more the merrier.”

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Today it’s been 3 years since my divorce. I don’t think I would have remembered it, except the Timehop app on my phone reminded me. It made me think of this conversation I had with Lucy a few weeks ago:

Catie was with my parents, and I went to pick up Lucy from daycare. We were leaving when we saw a man waiting in a car in the parking lot. I recognized him as one of the teacher’s husbands – they only have one car, so he drops her off and picks her up.

Lucy: “That’s Miss Nikki’s husband.”
Me: “Yep.”
Lucy: “Just like you have a husband.”
Me: “No, I don’t have a husband anymore.”
Lucy: “You used to have a husband but he died?”
Me: (thinking: WTF, that’s morbid) “No, baby, I used to be married to Daddy, but we got divorced.”
Lucy: (genuinely shocked) “You used to be married to DADDY??!!”

Dave and I split up when she was only 2 months old, so of course she has no memory of us ever being together. And I guess in one way, it’s sad that she had no idea that was where she came from. But at the same time, I’m relieved that her only conscious memory of her parents is the two of us as friendly co-parents. We could’ve done a lot worse.

This doesn't happen often, but I love it when it does.

Because these two kids? They’ve turned out pretty spectacular so far.

October 12, 2015Permalink

and we didn’t even see a single shark

I had been thinking about taking the girls to the beach back in July, when Catie was on her summer break, but there were all kinds of stories in the news about people getting bitten by sharks, and it kind of freaked me out. I fully realize that it’s statistically far more likely that we’d get hurt in a car accident or a million other ways before anything involving a shark. But I already have a weird phobia about open bodies of water – I’m fine in swimming pools, but I hate boats, and at the beach I don’t go in the water past my knees. So just the idea of sharks was enough to keep me away.

Then last week, I realized it was August, it’s been weeks since there have been any shark incidents on the news, and I really hated the idea of skipping out on something that’s become an annual tradition for our family. So, on Saturday, we loaded up the car and went to Wrightsville Beach for the day.

It’s about a 2-hour drive to the coast, which isn’t that bad, although it’s long enough for the girls to really get on each other’s nerves and start fighting. At some point I felt like the cliche of every parent on earth when I yelled, “I will turn this car around and we will go back home if you do not leave each other alone FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!” (My mom would probably find that hilarious, since it’s pretty much verbatim what she said to us on countless road trips when I was a kid.)

Once we got to the beach, the girls had a blast, and you’d never know from the pictures I got that they were at each other’s throats in the car just mere moments prior.

Beach!
See? Total angels. Ha. Haaaaaa.

Catie has been taking swim lessons this summer, so she’s gotten a lot braver in the water, but she’s still very careful in the ocean. She found some other kids around her age and hung out with them, building sand castles and jumping waves.

Catie in the ocean

Lucy is a little more unsure about the ocean, but she had fun lying on the sand and waiting for the waves to roll up over her. She also had me carry her out to jump waves, which was fine, since we stayed in the very shallow water.

Lucy kept lying on the sand, waiting for the waves to roll up over her

After about 4 hours, when they’d completely worn themselves out, we loaded everything back into the car, grabbed some dinner, and headed home. Both girls slept most of the way, and I hated to wake them up when we got home, but they both needed showers after playing in the sand for so long. They got to bed way later than normal, but since it was a Saturday night, no big deal.

That night, around 2:30 a.m., Lucy came into my room and said, “Mama, I throwed up in my bed.” Chris stripped the sheets off her bed while I cleaned her up. She spent the rest of the night and most of Sunday feverish, puking, and miserable. Poor little goose.

Fortunately, it was just a 24-hour bug, because by Monday morning, she was completely fine. I kept her home on Monday anyway, because daycare wants them to be fever-free for 24 hours before they go back to school, and I wanted to keep an eye on her. Kids bounce back so quickly, though, she really was completely fine all day. And she was excited that she got to come with me up the street to meet Catie at the bus stop, since she’s normally at daycare and doesn’t get to do that.

A series of "waiting for Catie's school bus" selfies.
A series of “waiting for Catie’s school bus” selfies.

Unrelated to anything: I’ve decided I’m tired of the girls having bangs, because their hair grows so fast and their bangs constantly need to be trimmed. So we’ve started growing them out. (Hence why Lucy’s hair is pinned back in those above pics.) It’s an annoying process, always trying to find hair clips in the morning, and convincing Lucy not to pull hers out halfway through the day, but I think it’ll be worth it in the long run. I know I’m biased and all, but I happen to really like seeing their entire faces.

August 12, 2015Permalink