New Year’s Meme for 2017

The end of 2016 was so depressing and bleak that I didn’t bother to do one of these recap posts, but so much has happened lately that I haven’t blogged about, that I feel like I should pick it back up.

1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?
* Chris and I got married!
* Related to the previous point: I officially became a stepmom!

Family Pics 2017

Honestly, this little blended family we’ve created is just about the greatest thing ever. We are so damn lucky.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No and no. I tend to think resolutions are just something you give up by sometime in mid-January. Changes don’t always happen on a set calendar timeline.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Several friends had babies this year, and my cousin & his wife had a baby girl.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
It feels weird to mention a cat here, but Beaumont dying back in February really knocked all of us for a loop. I’m pretty sure I cried more for that cat than I cried over my own divorce.

5. What countries did you visit?
Jeez, this question is always so depressing. I don’t think I even left North Carolina in 2017.

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?
A home of our own. I moved into this house with Catie and Lucy in 2011, after Dave and I split up, and it’s been a great landing place for us for the past 6+ years. But it’s a rental house, so we can’t change things like the ugly wallpaper, pastel blue siding, etc. I want to buy a house that we can really make ours. One where the kids have their own bedrooms, a fenced backyard for Roxie, and where I have a home office with a door I can close (I currently work in the dining room, and it’s really hard to work when the kids are home because I have no sound barrier anywhere).

7. What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
* January 21st – Participating in the Women’s March the day after Trump was inaugurated.
* February 15th – The day we brought home our new kittens, Fifi & Sunny.
* November 22nd – The day Chris & I got married.

Chris & Cindy's Wedding

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I’ve  been kicking ass at my job, and I’m really proud of a lot of my work there.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I’ve been more short-tempered than usual, and that’s been weird, because it makes me feel unlike myself. I know a lot of it has been related to my health (see below), but it kind of sucks when I have to keep apologizing for being irritable and cranky.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I hurt my knee, which kept me from being able to run for a while. That was not fun. I’ve also been having a problem with recurring headaches, but my doctor referred me to a neurologist, and I’m cautiously optimistic that it might be getting better.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I don’t know if you can say that I “bought” it, but we paid for a marriage license. That was pretty great.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Good journalists.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Until the day I die, I don’t think I will ever stop being angry that Donald freaking Trump somehow became president of this country. “Appalled and depressed” is an understatement.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent, groceries, kids. The usual.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
It feels weird to keep mentioning my own wedding, but: that. Also my kids’ birthday parties. Adopting 2 tiny kittens. The new Star Wars movie. The new season of Game of Thrones. Lots of stuff, I guess.

16. What song will always remind you of 2017?
I’m going to say “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran – not because it’s a great love song (although it is). The real reason is because listening to my daughters sing it is one of the sweetest, loveliest things I’ve ever heard, and gets filed under that category of “man, I hope I still remember this when I’m old and senile.”

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? I don’t know that I have an either/or answer for this. Can I say angrier? Because I am. I’m so angry at the shitshow my country has become. All of the feminist ideals that my parents raised me with have just bubbled over into this endless internal rage-fire that I’m not sure exactly what to do with.
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner by maybe 5 pounds, but not much. (Not complaining.)
c) richer or poorer? Well, I got a raise, and my company’s stock price is doing so well that I’m about to use some of my stock options to buy a house. So definitely richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Being productive around the house. I did the “40 Bags in 40 Days” challenge during Lent, and I’ll likely do it again this year, because we really need to declutter if we’re going to move sometime this year.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Same answer as the past years, worrying about things that I have no control over.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
The usual. Christmas Eve church service with my family. My kids were with me for Christmas morning, then went to their dad’s to do Christmas with him. I took a nap and went for a long run with Roxie. My sister and brother-in-law flew in for a few days. We’ve had all 4 kids here since December 26th, which has been great, and I’m already sad that it’s going to end on Wednesday.

21. Did you fall in love in 2017?
Nah, the same guy. He’s still pretty aces.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Game of Thrones.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Do political figures count?

24. What was the best book you read?
I’m going to plug a children’s book that a friend wrote: Bernadette the Brave by the amazing, lovely Allison Zapata. You should buy it for your kids. It’s really, really good. I’m not just saying that.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
He’s not new, but my kids got me into Ed Sheeran this year. It’s been a long time since I’ve had an album that I play on repeat. But pretty much everything on his last 2 albums has been my jam lately. (And yes, I’m probably too old to be an Ed Sheeran fan. Whatever.)

26. What did you want and get by year’s end?
I feel like Chris and I have been a good team for years, and I feel like our kids have been a blended family for a very long time, but having everything legal makes it all feel a little more solid.

27. What did you want and not get by year’s end?
A house. I wanted to buy a house last year, but it didn’t work out for a bunch of reasons. Chris & I decided to put off house-hunting until after Christmas, so we’re about to start searching again.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
I want to say “The Last Jedi,” but I also really loved “Wonder Woman,” and I have to admit that “Thor: Ragnorak” was great fun.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 41. I don’t think I did anything particularly special? I think I just had dinner with my parents and my kids. The usual.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
Athleisure. I own more yoga pants than any reasonable person needs. But I mean, I work from home, so it’s not like I have to dress up on a daily basis to impress anyone.

32. What kept you sane?
* Running.
* Having a partner who listens to me when I need to vent.
* A lot of various prescription medications. God bless medical science.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Chris Hemsworth as Thor, after his haircut. If you don’t get it, do a Google image search for pictures of Chris Hemsworth carrying his babies. You’re welcome.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
There is no way I can answer this succinctly. I’ll just gesture broadly at the world in general and say: all that stuff.

35. Who did you miss?
There are a few friends who live far away who I really wish I could’ve seen this year.

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 2017.
ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES. (*hyperventilates with rage*)

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Not a song lyric, just a quote that I think sums up my year pretty well:

“Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.”
–Oscar Wilde

And since I always finish these posts with a song, here’s an acoustic version of “Take on Me” by A-Ha, which I’ve listened to probably over 20 times, and I could easily listen to it 20 more.

Happy 2018, everyone! Let’s go kick some butt.

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.

so long, 2016

There’s a little Q&A thing I usually do at the end of each year, a sort of year in review thing. What did you do this year that you’ve never done before, what were your biggest achievements/failures of the year, etc.

This year, I just don’t feel like doing it.

2016 has been so awful on so many fronts. From politics (the election, Trump) and world events (Syria, Russia) to the loss of so many cultural icons from my childhood (I’m still upset about Carrie Fisher), to seeing friends and loved ones struggle with losses and heartbreak, and feeling helpless about the best way to support them.

At the same time, by any measure, my own life is pretty great. It feels gauche to even talk about it, but I have so many things to be thankful for.

  • My kids are healthy and doing great. Catie blows my mind with the stuff she learns at school. She comes home telling me about books she’s reading, which are the same ones I read at her age and loved. Chronicles of Narnia, everything by Roald Dahl, etc. That’s been so fun to talk about with her.

    Lucy had a little bit of a rough adjustment to kindergarten (she did great at school, but she would come home exhausted every day and she was mean as a snake), but she eventually settled into her routine. She seems to be outgrowing her interest in princesses, which breaks my heart a little bit, but she’s still the same hilarious little ball of light that she’s always been. And she can read now! She reads books to me every day, and she sounds out everything. We’ll be in the car and she’ll announce the name of the street we’re on because she read it on a sign.

  • Chris is awesome, and takes care of me in ways I usually don’t even know I need. Do you have a partner who brings you bakery-fresh apple fritters and then does the dishes for you? You should. It’s pretty great. He gives backrubs too. A++, highly recommend.

  • My parents are still healthy, and since we see them at least twice a week, I feel lucky that the kids get to have a close relationship with their grandparents as they grow up.

  • Dave and I have evolved into a pretty solid co-parenting team, and I think we’re doing a good job at making sure rules are generally consistent between our households. The kids know that if they get in trouble at one parent’s house, the consequences (loss of screen time or whatever) will be enforced at the other parent’s house.

  • My siblings are both happy and doing well – and my brother got married this year, so I have a sister-in-law for the first time. She’s probably one of the most genuinely nice people I’ve ever met in my life, so I’m happy for them.

  • We had one of the best Christmases we’ve had in years. I was so stressed about it beforehand, but everything just fell into place, and it was wonderful and fun and so much easier than I thought it would be.

  • I’ve been at my job for 6 years now, and I continue to learn new things all the time, and I genuinely enjoy it. I got a raise this year, and our company’s stock price has shot through the roof, so from a personal finance angle, I’m doing way better than I could have ever expected.

So all of that is really great, but at the same time, I look at the state of the world, and I feel nothing but dread for 2017. And I suppose that’s mainly due to the political climate. I worry about the world my kids are growing up in. I have so many fears, I don’t even know how to prioritize them. Will we end up in a nuclear war with Russia or China? Will repealing climate change regulations kill us all slowly instead? Will my daughters have any autonomy over their own bodies? How do you fight back against literal Nazis taking over your country’s government?

And then the selfish angle: do I cash out my stock options and use them as a down payment on a house, or do I put them into some type of holding account so I have access to it whenever the Trump-apocalypse hits? It seems like such a minor, self-indulgent thing to worry about, especially compared to other people who are in fear for their actual lives. But as I am often reminded: our fears aren’t invalid just because other people have it worse.

So, like everyone else, I will be glad to see 2016 make its exit at midnight tonight. But I also don’t feel a lot of excitement or optimism about the coming year. I sincerely hope I’m wrong about that, for all of our sakes.

for Mimi

Today is my mom’s 70th birthday, one of those big milestone ages. Last night, I cooked dinner and we had birthday brownies afterward.

Happy 70th birthday to my mom. We love you, Mimi!

My relationship with my parents is complicated, but for the most part, my mom and I have always been close. I know I went through a few years where I was an insufferable brat, like most teenage girls do (I think it peaked around ages 14-16 for me), and my mom deserves major credit for not murdering me at the time. But post-“Teenage Brat” years, I genuinely enjoy being around my mom, and I know I’m very lucky in that regard. I have a lot of friends with crappy moms, and I definitely lucked out with mine.

I will say, my parents living nearby has been a mixed bag. They help out so much, and save my butt with childcare all the time – just last night, after that picture was taken, I took Catie to her taekwondo class, and my parents took Lucy to their house to hang out, so she wouldn’t be bored sitting through Catie’s class. And sure, I could’ve left Lucy with Chris, or asked Dave to keep her, and that would’ve been fine, but Lucy loves getting her Mimi and Pop-Pop all to herself. I love that both of my girls get to be close to their grandparents as they grow up. Those are such important relationships, and I feel so fortunate in that regard. But my parents being local also means they unload on me more than they do on my siblings. Which is nobody’s fault, it’s just geography: my sister is in Texas, my brother is in Utah, and I’m a mile and a half away. They see me at least twice a week, so they’re more likely to nitpick with me about little things, and I hear about their squabbles (which are more frequent in an election year).

Both of my parents watch a lot of true crime shows, like Dateline and 48 Hours, and it makes them worry a lot more than they should. Chris and I joke that one of my mom’s catchphrases is “people have died!”

  • “You have to make sure your doctor always washes his hands before he touches you so you don’t get a staph infection. People have died!”
  • “You shouldn’t let the kids go on the crazy rides at the state fair. People have died!”

It goes on and on. We now use it as an inside joke for minor little things. “Better fold the laundry before it gets out of hand. People have died!”

Which is not to say that it’s all ridiculous, because it’s not. Some of the stuff my mom worries about is valid – like she worries about online predators with the kids. And hey, I worry about that too, but this is why I’ve already got a long list of rules: they’re not allowed to have any passwords on their devices that I don’t know, their iPads are configured so they can’t install any apps without my password, I won’t allow any social media until they’re teenagers, and they know that they can expect zero privacy because I can and will check up on what they do online. At this point, the closest thing to social media that Catie has is Google Hangouts, which she uses to chat with her cousins and a couple of friends from school. And she knows that I regularly check to make sure she and her friends aren’t talking about anything inappropriate. (They aren’t. They mostly talk about Minecraft.) So maybe I get the worrywart gene from my mom, because when it comes to my own kids, I tend to be a little overly cautious like she is.

For many years, I never saw my parents on their birthdays (and they didn’t see me on mine), because we didn’t live in the same area. They were in Mississippi, and I was in Memphis in college, then I moved to Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Washington, and eventually North Carolina. But I’ve gotten to spend their birthdays with them (and vice versa) every year for the last five years. It started in 2011, after Dave and I split up, when my mom moved in with me for four months while I sold my house and found a new one, and my dad sold their house in Mississippi and got ready to move.

Sometimes it strikes me just how huge that was. They lived in Mississippi for 40 years, from 1971 to 2011. Their entire lives, all their friends, all their routines – they gave it all up for me and Catie and Lucy. So yes, there are a lot of ways that my mom and I differ in our parenting styles, and I sometimes complain that she nitpicks about silly things. But I hope that if 30 years from now, one of my girls is having her life fall to pieces in front of her eyes, she knows she can call me and I will drop everything to be there for her without hesitation. Even if that’s the only thing about my mom that I emulate, I’ll consider myself to have been a damn good parent.

Happy 70th birthday, Mom. I love you. And your grandbabies think you’re pretty fantastic too.

in case you haven’t had nightmares lately

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this at some point, but my mom is one of 7 kids, so I have aunts, uncles, and cousins all over the place. And my grandfather was one of 16 kids, so I literally have cousins I wouldn’t even know if I saw them on the street.

(16 kids. Can you imagine? Three of them died when they were babies – I’m not sure why, just a lack of modern medicine in the early 1900s, I guess – but 13 lived to adulthood. My poor great-grandmother spent more years of her life pregnant than people spend in prison for murder.)

Back in May, my great aunt Juanita passed away. She was the last of the 16 kids of my grandfather’s generation. She was in her 90s and had been in failing health for a long time, but it was still sad. My mom and I flew to New Orleans for her funeral, and my sister flew in from Austin and met us there.

It’s rare to get my mom and all of her siblings in the same place at the same time, so at some point, we made them huddle up so we could get a picture.


(My mom is the front left, the black & white shirt.)

And this happened, which I think is hilarious because the boys are all standing nicely for their picture while the girls are complete crack-ups.


See that guy in the back right, the shirt with fish on it? That’s my uncle Mark. Remember him, he’s important to this story.

Mark has always been the practical joker of the family. When he was a kid, he poked holes in a tube of toothpaste with a straight pin and waited to see who’d be the next person to squeeze it and get toothpaste all over themselves. It was my mom. She still tells the story about how he ran and hid behind their mother when she was about to murder him. My grandmother’s defense was, “He has a scientific mind, he was curious to see what would happen!” My grandmother was basically a saint.

Because our family was so big, we used to do Christmas presents via a name exchange – instead of having to buy a bunch of small presents for everybody (because who can afford to buy 30+ Christmas presents?), we all drew a name at random and got one nice gift for whoever we picked. One year, Mark got my sister Tracy. She unwrapped this pretty velvet jewelry box, opened it, and inside was… a rubber cockroach. With a safety pin stuck through it. The roach brooch. Or just broach. I believe there was also a real non-prank gift, because he isn’t a complete jackass, but this gives you an idea of his sense of humor.

(Side note: that rubber cockroach came in really handy as a gag. If you had long hair, you could pin it to your shirt collar, then toss your hair back at some point and completely freak people out. Quick way to know who your true friends aren’t: the ones who ignore it and don’t tell you there’s a cockroach on your shoulder.)

Anyway, Mark and his wife (my aunt Pam) recently moved to a new house in New Orleans, and they’ve been cleaning out some stuff that belonged to my grandmother, which they’ve had in storage since she died. He emailed me a picture of a doll that belonged to my grandmother, and asked if Lucy wanted it because he knows she loves baby dolls. It was the most horrifying thing I’d ever seen – not even really a doll, more like a potato sack with a disfigured face embroidered onto it.

My reply to his email was basically, “Haha, yeah that’s funny, don’t you dare send that thing to my house.” I also told him that he should burn it, and bury the ashes somewhere really remote, so that when it re-animated itself, it wouldn’t be able to find him.

Last week, we went over to my parents’ house for dinner, and my mom said “Oh hey, Mark sent a box with all kinds of stuff in that you should check out.” There was a photo album on the top, and I thought oh wow, that’s cool to have copies of all of these old photos. So I picked it up, and underneath the photo album was this nightmare.


Not gonna lie: I screamed like I was in a horror movie. BECAUSE I WAS.

Apparently the story of this doll is that my great-grandmother (my grandmother’s mom, not the one who had 16 kids) made it for my grandmother when she was a little girl. And important side note: my great-grandmother didn’t know how to sew. OBVIOUSLY.

My grandmother was not quite a hoarder, but she had a hard time letting go of things. Like, her house was always tidy and clean, but the closets and attic were always packed to the gills. I suppose I should be grateful to have something that she deemed precious enough to keep all those years, but I just look at that doll and shudder. I’m waiting for it to come to life and strangle us in our sleep.

And for the record, my baby doll-loving Lucy looked at that doll and made a face. “What is THAT?” Even she knew something was wrong with it.

My aunt Michele made a comment about not having many things that belonged to my grandmother (her mother), so I’m thinking about mailing it to her. Preemptive apologies to the city of Atlanta when this doll comes to life and goes on a murder spree, but at least it’ll be a nice long distance from us.

In the meantime, I left it at my parents’ house. Just to be safe.

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.


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.)


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.)


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.

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!


(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.