five years

Here’s a story that I should probably be embarrassed to share, but since it has a happy ending, eh, here goes.

Five years ago, I was separated and in the process of getting a divorce. Thanks to North Carolina’s mandatory “one year waiting period” before a divorce can be granted, that state of limbo seems to be longer and more torturous here than in other states. I had dipped my toe in the online dating world, but had only been on a few dates at that point.

This was before Catie started kindergarten, so both of the girls were in daycare full-time. There was a little girl in Catie’s pre-K class whose parents were divorced, and her mom, Tanya, and I became fast friends. Tanya sort of took me under her wing to help me through the process. We lost touch after our kids started school, since we live in different districts. But I think about her often, and I’m eternally grateful to her for some of the advice she gave me in the months after my separation.

In 2012, on St. Patrick’s Day, Tanya convinced me to join her and some of her friends to go out for dinner. My mom baby-sat the girls that night so I could go out with them. There were cocktails with dinner, then afterward, we ended up at a bar and had more drinks. (I guess it wasn’t really a bar – it’s normally a restaurant, but on Saturday nights, they have live music and it turns into sort of a dance club? It’s an odd place.) I’m a total lightweight with alcohol, I drink maybe 3 or 4 times a year on average, so it doesn’t take much to knock me for a loop. I don’t know how many drinks I had that night, but suffice to say, it was way past my tolerance level.

So, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and I’m drunk in a bar. You know, as you do. I decided it would be a good idea to text a guy who I had a lunch date with earlier that week. It started off as just a, “hey, I really enjoyed meeting you, we should hang out again sometime,” friendly chat, and then turned into me confessing that I thought he was really hot and a whole bunch of other things that I would never have had the nerve to say if I had been sober.

I ended up taking a cab home, and my parents had to drive me back the next day to retrieve my car. Which was kind of embarrassing for a grown 36 year-old mother of two children, but better than the alternative of driving under the influence.

The guy I had been drunk texting? He texted me in the morning to ask if I was feeling OK.

Five years later, that turns out to have been the best drunk text I ever sent.

Waiting for fireworks. Happy 4th of July!

Chris is the guy who takes care of me, deals with all of my crazy hang-ups and anxieties, loves my kids, does the dishes and takes out the trash without me even having to ask, helps with the pets, and does a million other things that I try my hardest to never take for granted.

Chris is such a good guy that even my dad likes him, and my dad is a hard guy to win over. In fact, my dad likes him so much that he has never once told me that he disapproves of us living together even though we’re not married. (One exception: he did once say that he didn’t want me to talk about us living together on Facebook, because he doesn’t want some of his conservative Christian family members to know that I’m “a fallen woman.” Which didn’t offend me, it made me laugh, because it’s such a hilariously antiquated expression. And my dad is nearly 81, so I get that he has some outdated worldviews that I don’t share.) Meanwhile, my mom loves Chris so much that she automatically assumes any disagreements we have are my fault. So, yeah. Both of my parents are big fans. My kids adore him too. Hell, even Dave likes him.

Happy five years, babe. There’s nobody I’d rather be shacked up and living in sin with.


P.S. Neither of us can remember the date when we met for that first lunch, other than it was a few days before St. Patrick’s Day. But 3/17 was the night of the drunk texts, so that’s what we jokingly refer to as our anniversary.

quick updates

So, I think I sort of forgot about my little blog here for a while. Here’s a recap on the major stuff that’s been happening around these parts:

Lucy and sleeping

Well… I guess it’s sort of better? I mean, she still wakes up at night and comes into my room and wakes me up, but she just asks me to tuck her back into bed or take her to the bathroom, she understands that she can’t get in my bed until morning. We have one of those day/night clocks in her room that’s blue at night and turns yellow in the morning when it’s ok for her to wake up, and she gets that. “I stay my own bed until my clock be yellow!” That’s right, baby. I mean, it’s lip service, and she doesn’t actually stay in her own bed until her clock turns yellow, but maybe after enough repetition, she’ll get it.

So, I guess we’ll call it progress.


I don’t know if I’ve really written much about potty training this time around. It was so awful with Catie, and I was dreading doing it again with Lucy. And, I think we’re basically… done? I mean, the other night, I heard her little feet scurry to the bathroom and her tiny voice call out, “there’s no toilet paper here!” And I realized that she hasn’t had an accident in weeks, and I think she’s pretty much got it nailed.

So, ok, fine. I know I always think of Lucy as my difficult child, especially when compared to my super-cautious Catie, so I guess we’ll file “relatively easy to potty train” as a win in her column. Although I think most of the credit goes to daycare for this one.

Visitation with Dave

Everything seems to be fine. There’s some adjustment, sure – Catie in particular is testing his boundaries, but I think that’s normal given the circumstances. But the back-and-forth has been pretty smooth for the most part, and getting those extra few nights of sleep is the BEST.

Catie and school stuff

Catie is still really resistant about reading and spelling, and I ended up talking with the head of the English department at one of our nearby high schools, who said she has “teacher cadets” (students training to become teachers) who help struggling students. And it counts toward their volunteer hours that they need to log for college, so it’s free. I’m so incredibly grateful for the help, I’m starting to feel like this might be a really good way to reach Catie. She’s always eager to please “older kids” – particularly teenage girls (like our baby-sitter) – and I think this might be the best route for us. Fingers crossed.

And when she gives me attitude about homework, threatening to take away her video game time is usually a pretty swift way to correct that.

Girlfriend loves her gadgets.

My job

Work is good. My boss warned me a few months back about a huge project that’s going to be launching in early March, and he made a comment about, “don’t expect to have a social life in the second half of February.” And he’s right, it’s been really busy, but it’s been a GOOD busy. A lot of times with my work, I feel like I’m kind of a one-person shop. But right now I’m feeling like I’m an essential part of a team effort, and it’s been both stressful and really good for me, if that makes sense.

Chris and me

All is well. Since Dave has been around, we’ve been able to have a few nights here and there that are just us, which has been lovely. I’m a big fan of “date nights.”

We also do our fair share of slothing around in our sweats watching shows that are completely inappropriate for children on Netflix when the kids are with Dave. That’s pretty fun, too. (Finally just started watching House of Cards, for example. Oh, and the Dracula thing with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers – that was free on demand, not Netflix, but still. NOT appropriate for kids, yeesh.)

So, yeah. Life’s pretty good here for the most part.


Thursday was my 38th birthday. I tend to think that past, say, age 21, any birthday that doesn’t end in a zero feels pretty unremarkable. And really, I spent way more time planning Catie’s birthday party than even thinking about my own. I guess that’s what happens when your child’s birthday is 11 days after yours.

But my birthday was good. The kids were with Dave, but Chris brought me flowers, and we went out for dinner.

He remembered tulips are my favorite. Points for that.

It was really nice just to have a little grown-up night off, where I got to dress up a little and not worry about whether or not the restaurant would have crayons or if I should bring our own from home.

After work on Friday, I picked the kids up and went to my parents’ house for dinner. My mom had gotten some fancy cupcakes from a little bakery here, and the girls blew out my candles with me. It was nice.

(And yeah, I’ll admit that I gave up on the detox diet long before the 3 week point, because I totally ate the hell out of those cupcakes. I’m still working on more “mindful eating” and I’m back to running at least 2 miles a day, and I guess I’ll just take it from there.)

Today, Catie and I dropped Lucy with my folks and went to see “Frozen.” After trying to take Lucy to the movies twice now (for “Despicable Me 2” and “Walking with Dinosaurs”), I’ve come to the conclusion that she’s really just not old enough to sit through a movie in the theater, because both times she got antsy and I ended up walking her around in the hall for a good 15-20 minutes to keep her from having a meltdown. So I think I’m going to add “movies” to the list of thing to reserve until she’s a little bit older and has a longer attention span.

Plus it was nice to have some alone time with my big girl, because that doesn’t happen often. And Frozen was a really, really good movie, so I”m glad we went.

So really? Yeah, ok, I’m one step closer to 40 and yadda yadda, aging, crows feet, whatever. But so far, 38 is off to a pretty good start. No complaints here.

trying to work with cartoons as my background soundtrack

Catie is still sick. This is fourth day in a row of school that she’s missed. Her fever was only 100.1 this morning, so I’m hoping that means that she’s moving in the general direction of recovery.

I’m extremely fortunate that my job is so flexible about allowing me to work from home. I don’t know what other single moms do in this position. How do you miss four days of work? I mean, really, what do you do?

And honestly, Catie is a pretty easy kid to take care of, even when she’s sick. I keep pushing fluids on her, and giving her Tylenol or Motrin to keep her comfortable, but she’s mostly content, as long as she has either a movie on TV or her iPad to keep her busy. She whines a little when she’s really miserable, but mostly she’s been ok. (If it had been Lucy that got this virus? WHOLE OTHER STORY.)

As much as my parents help out, they can’t really do much when the kids are sick. My mom is so susceptible to illnesses ever since she had chemo (btw, I realized I didn’t mention it, but she recently passed the “5 years cancer-free” point, so YAY MOM!!). The last time my parents took care of one of the kids when they were sick, my mom ended up in the ER after she caught it because it hit her so much harder. So I’m just not willing to risk it. My parents are getting up there in years, and I’d like to keep them around as long as possible. Keeping my kids quarantined when they’re contagious seems like an easy trade-off.


Chris’s birthday is next week, and then Christmas is the week after that. I have no idea what to get him for either occasion. I’m normally pretty good at gift-giving, but with him, I’m just stumped.

And although The Bloggess’ latest post about best and worst gifts has had me cackling, it still hasn’t helped me figure out what I’m going to get. Dang.


Also next week: Dave is flying in to visit with the kids for the holidays. The kids are really excited to see him. I, as usual, am looking forward to sleeping a lot while the kids are with him.


Aside from Chris, I think I have almost all of my Christmas shopping done, and I mailed out my cards today. This is surprisingly punctual for me.


Nothing else new, really. I’m just over having a miserably sick kiddo, and I’m ready for some downtime.

Tuesday nights at the Irish pub

(This post is in no way sponsored by anyone, but I threw in the link to the restaurant for any of you local folks who might be interested.)

On the rare evenings that we’re both kid-free, Chris and I usually like to go out for dinner, and we have a few regular places we like to go. One of them is an Irish pub near my house. I happened to notice that they had a special on Tuesdays: $5 for a burger and side, and kids’ meals for 99 cents. I pointed out to Chris this meant that all four of us could eat for about $12, and we were sold.

We went last week, and the kids really liked it. It’s not Chick-Fil-A or McDonald’s, there are no indoor playgrounds, but the food is good, and the kids sat quietly at the table and were very well-behaved the whole time. Plus, the restaurant happens to be next door to a Goodberry’s, so I told them that if they were really good during dinner, we’d walk over there after dinner and get ice cream. What can I say, bribery works really well on both of my kids.

Stopping for Goodberry's frozen custard on a Tuesday night because why not?

I had told my parents about it, and my dad – the eternal cheapskate – wanted to try out the $5 burger himself. So, last night, since it was a Tuesday, we all went out to eat: me, Chris, the kids, and my parents.

My dad says that it’s impossible to take my kids out to eat because they’re too hyper and won’t sit still, and I wanted to show him that their restaurant behavior is actually very good. To ensure this, I brought along their iPads (yes, they each have their own iPad now, Lucy got a used one on eBay that my parents bought for her and don’t even get me started, I know my kids have no concept of how spoiled they are). And they did really well. They played on their iPads until the food arrived, then they ate their dinner, and then they played on their iPads some more when they were done, so the grown-ups could finish eating and pay the bill. They were both sweet and lovely and we had absolutely zero fights or meltdowns.

I also really like when my parents are around and can see for themselves how crazy the kids are about Chris. Catie gave him a hug the minute he walked in, and Lucy ran to him with her arms up for him to carry her. Lucy sat in between Chris and my dad at the restaurant and spent her time alternately snuggling up on each of them. (Safe to say that Lucy is a very big fan of the dudes in her life.)

We got Goodberry’s after dinner again, because apparently I’ve established that precedent now. When it was time to leave, the kids wanted to ride in my mom’s car instead of mine. I’m not sure what it is, they both love riding with my mom. I call it Mimi’s Magic Minivan. Since my parents live less than 2 miles away from me, my mom said she’d just drive them over to my house & drop them off, so we wouldn’t have any tantrums in the parking lot about getting in my car instead of hers.

And this is where, I found out later, Chris and I got “outed.” While they were driving back to my house, Catie just casually blurted out, “Yeah, Chris spends the night a lot.”

I had told Catie to not mention sleepovers to my dad a few months ago, but as it was pointed out in the comments on that post: it’s a bad idea to tell little kids to keep secrets from grown-ups. I hadn’t said anything about it since then, so it was something that I knew would get out eventually, and it wasn’t entirely surprising that it did.

My dad’s reaction to Catie’s statement was just a simple, “Oh, really?

My mom called me later to tell me what had happened, in case he brings it up with me later. But since my dad would pretty much sooner die than ask me about my sex life, I’m guessing he probably won’t say anything.

Apparently, though, my dad said to my mom afterward, that dinner had been like what he imagined life would be like when they first started talking about moving to North Carolina, but he thought it’d be Dave at the table.

And I guess at some point, I thought that too. But I’m so, so glad it’s Chris. I can’t really imagine my life any other way.

anxious days

I have days where my anxiety will flare up for no apparent reason. I’ll be cruising along, job is going well, the kids are great, I’m eating well, working out, things are good with Chris, and then… boom. Suddenly my brain is spinning and I feel like I can’t catch my breath.

When this happens, and I tell Chris that my anxiety level has gone up to 11, he’ll very patiently say, “Ok, babe. And what does your phone have to say about that?”

That’s his gentle way of telling me to check my iPeriod app (because, yes, of course there’s an app for that). Nine times out of ten, my anxiety is related to my hormones (seems to happen both when I ovulate and when I have PMS, so I get hit twice a month – fun!). Knowing the source makes it a little easier to take. I can’t fix it, but at least I can remind myself that it’s temporary and that I’ll feel better in a couple of days.

Right now, though, I do have a justification in feeling anxious. I don’t feel like I have the freedom to tell this whole story, but there are about to be some major changes happening with Chris and the amount of time he has his kids. And it’s a good thing – he loves his kids and I know he’s missed them a lot over the past few months. But it also means a major shift in our little routine that we’ve fallen into, and it means we’ll be seeing each other less (or at least having a lot fewer sleepovers).

It’s ok. It will be ok. It’s just that I don’t know exactly what changes are going to occur. And although I’ll know more soon, I don’t deal well with uncertainty. I want to know what to expect in advance, and this isn’t something that I can predict in any way. And really, whatever happens, I know we’ll work through it and make it manageable. It’s just scary for me to not know.

To use sort of a clunky metaphor: the horizon is blurry and I don’t like it. But there’s nothing I can do about it except wait for it to get closer so I can see it more clearly.


Last night I realized that Catie may have inherited some anxiety from me. Although I wasn’t very anxious as a kid, so who knows. But she was in this worry spiral and I couldn’t pull her out of it.

It started with the carbon monoxide detector. Its battery ran low and it beeped, so I put new batteries in it. Catie asked what the carbon monoxide detector does. I explained that there’s a kind of gas that can get in the air sometimes that’s very bad for people to breathe, and you can’t smell it, so if it’s in the air, the CO detector will beep so we know to get out of the house.

Catie: Can the gas kill you?
Me: (thinking: well technically, yeah…) Most likely it’d just make you really sick.
Catie: And you’d have to go to the hospital?
Me: Right. But that’s why we have the detector, so we know to get out of the house before it makes us sick.
Catie: But where do we go?
Me: Just to the driveway. And then I’ll call the fire department and they’ll fix it and make us safe.
Catie: What about Beaumont? Can the gas make cats sick too?
Me: We’d take him with us when we leave the house.
Catie: You mean you’d put him in his cat carrier?
Me: I’d probably just carry him.
Catie: But what if he scratched you, and you dropped him, and he ran away because he was scared, and then he got hit by a car, AND THEN HE DIED?

Oh. My. God.

When I was repeating this conversation to Chris later, he started to laugh, and said, “Yeah, that whole ‘coming up with the most extreme worst case scenario’ thing doesn’t sound like anybody I know.”

Ok, fine. So maybe I do the exact same thing to him on a semi-regular basis.

Later, when I was putting her in bed and I’d finally gotten her off the damn carbon monoxide kick, she went in a different direction.

Catie: When is Tracy’s wedding?
Me: In November.
Catie: How many days is that?
Me: Ummm… about 40 days, I guess.
Catie: Is that a long time?
Me: I don’t know, Catie. You know how long a day is. Think of 40 of those. Is that a long time to you?
Catie: But… but… I have to get a flu shot before then and I don’t want to get a shot! (starts to cry)

Seriously, kid?

I tried to talk her down for a while, and finally I just said, “Baby, you are determined to find something to worry about tonight, and it’s going to give you bad dreams. So let’s just stop, and think about nice things so you can have good dreams when you go to sleep, ok? Let’s think about unicorns and rainbows and kittens and cute little baby bunnies that poop cupcakes.”

Catie stopped and looked at me with big eyes and said, “bunnies that… poop?… cupcakes?!!” The fit of giggles that ensued pretty much killed the Worry Spiral. And ok, maybe it wasn’t my best joke, but if you say the word “poop” in front of a 6 year-old, it’s pretty much guaranteed to get a laugh. So, mission accomplished there.

I should tell Chris to try that on me sometime, except I don’t find poop jokes nearly as hilarious, so I’m not sure that it would work. Ah well.

I’m a better mom when I’m not sweating

One of my favorite things about summer is when it ends. I am not really an outdoors girl and I don’t do well with extremely hot weather. If it’s over 85, I’m probably going to be cranky. But now is the time of year when it starts cooling off in North Carolina, and it’s my favorite.

Funny thing is, when the weather is nicer, I’m a lot better about having spontaneous outings with the kids. When it’s hot, I’m more like, “Ugh, let’s just go home where it’s air-conditioned and I don’t have to sweat.” When it’s mild out, I’m all, “Hey, I know I just picked you up from daycare and it’s technically dinnertime, but LET’S GO TO THE PLAYGROUND!!”

(In a couple of months, I’ll go back to being the Lazy Mom again. “It’s too cold, we’re only going somewhere if it’s heated.” Yes, I am a big whiny crybaby, I know.)

Yesterday, after our normal weekend trip to IHOP, I suggested that we head up to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham. The kids hadn’t been there in a long time — I wasn’t sure if Lucy would even remember it, it had been so long — and it seemed like the perfect day for it.

I forgot the stroller (it’s been living at my parents’ house for ages, since my dad takes Lucy for walks in it fairly often, whereas I almost never use it because hey little girl: YOU HAVE LEGS), but it worked out fine. The museum is big and spread out, but Lucy is a kid that needs to burn a lot of energy anyway. And when she needed a break, or when she just wanted to get up high to see the dinosaur exhibit, she managed to find a pretty sweet ride.

Lucy has the best view for checking out the dinosaur exhibit at the Museum of Life & Science.

By the end of the day, I was tempted to ask Chris to piggyback me around, but I was afraid that with his whole Southern Gentleman thing, he’d probably try it and end up injuring himself. I do weigh just a tad more than Lucy, after all.

(About the Southern Gentleman thing: Chris is the type of guy who still insists on opening car doors for me, and it’s gotten to the point where I don’t even argue or tease him about it anymore, I just stand there and wait for him to do it.)

In case you wouldn’t have guessed it: yeah, the dinosaurs are pretty much Catie’s favorite thing about the museum. (Same as it was last year.)

Making friends with Mr. Dinosaur.

The barnyard exhibit was probably Lucy’s favorite because they have real animals there (goats, pigs, a cow, etc). She was a little scared to get too close to them, but she pointed at each and told us what each animal says, and it was pretty cute.

Side note: Lucy was a little bit freaked by the butterfly house. Apparently butterflies are very pretty from a distance, not so much when they swoop down right in your face.

After we left at the museum, we stopped to get pizza for dinner, and then frozen yogurt for dessert.

"Mama, I wear you sunglasses!"
At the fro-yo place, Lucy said, “Mama, I wear you sunglasses!” Oh, child.

My plan to wear them out actually worked pretty well. Lucy fell asleep on the couch immediately after her bath, and Catie didn’t last much longer. Chris and I were able to lay on the couch and watched Breaking Bad together without any interruptions.

It was a really good day.

Hopefully the nice weather will hold out for a while so we can have more of them.