the big 4-0

This past Saturday, I turned 40. I don’t typically make a big fuss about my birthday, but it’s one of those milestone ages that felt fairly significant. And for whatever reason, I just felt really sad about it. The rational part of my brain knew I was being silly: aging is part of life, right? This is how it goes. Either I turn 40 or I drop dead at 39, and the latter didn’t sound like a good option. But still, there was part of me that felt sad in a “damn, I feel old and this sucks” way.

A decade is a really long time, but still, I was thinking about how much my life changed during my 30s, and it sort of shocked me. When I turned 30, I had only been married a few months, I had no kids, and I was still living in Seattle. I’m pretty sure that if you told me that by the time I turned 40, I’d be divorced, have two daughters, be in a different-but-ultimately-much-happier relationship, live in North Carolina, with my parents less than 2 miles away (and that this wouldn’t make me insane, but that I’d actually be incredibly happy and grateful to have them so close), and that I’d own a dog, I’d have thought you were nuts. When Chris and I were talking about it and I was listing all of the things that are different now, I could only think of two things my life at 30 has in common with my life at 40: I still have Beaumont (but he wasn’t even my cat back then! He was Dave’s cat, and I just happened to retain custody of him after the divorce), and I still have the Subaru I bought when I was 25.

Speaking of my Subaru! I didn’t have the kids over the weekend, so for my birthday celebration, Chris and I went to test drive cars. Random, I know. But Chris’s Nissan is basically dead (it’s 16 years old and has over 300K miles; it needs repairs that cost double what the car is worth), and I’ve been wanting a bigger car with third row seating for a long time now. Since I’m in a better position to take on a car payment than he is, we decided that he’ll pay me the trade-in value for my Subaru (which is not a lot – Subarus are great and it still runs like a champ, but it’s a pretty old car), I’ll sign the title over to him, and then I’ll get a new car.

Test driving cars was a pretty fun way to spend the day, and it distracted me out of my little “black cloud” mood. Afterward, we went out for dinner at one of my favorite Italian places. Chris came up with the idea that instead of having cake, we could drive to downtown Raleigh to get fresh Krispy Kreme donuts for my birthday, which sounded awesome to me. We got extra for my parents, to thank them for dog-sitting Roxie all day while we were out. (My dad is pretty much in love with Roxie, so he doesn’t seem to mind when I ask him keep her.) On the drive back, Dave texted that the girls were upset about not seeing me on my birthday, so we did a quick FaceTime chat, which was really sweet.

On Monday, I got the girls back, so we went to my parents’ house, and did the actual cake and “happy birthday” song and all of that. And Chris gave me tulips, because he’s good at that kind of thing.

I didn't have the girls this weekend on my actual birthday, so we did cake tonight at my parents' house.

And now, a few days into this whole 40 thing, I feel ok about it. I mean, I’m not thrilled about the prospect of getting old, but I did a whole hell of a lot in my 30s. I’m kind of interested to see what the next decade has in store for me.

new family member for a new year

My dad is going to be 80 years old in a few months. He had a dog when he was a little boy – maybe 9 or 10 years old – but there’s a whole mystery over whether the dog ran away or whether my grandmother gave the dog away. She was not what you might call an animal person. Either way, his little dog Fido was gone, he was heartbroken, and he’s wanted a dog ever since.

My parents have always had cats. My mom told him he could get a dog when he was willing to clean up its poop, and my dad is… not a guy with a high poop tolerance. Like, he’s changed one diaper in his life. Three kids, two grandkids, one diaper. Ever. So the dog poop condition has kept him from getting a dog for years.

Last month, my mom’s cat had to be put to sleep. And I say my mom’s cat, because that’s what she was. That cat hated everybody on earth except my mom. She’s the only cat I’ve ever known who hated me, and she’d hiss when I walked in the room. Blanche, the cat, was 18 years old, so she had a long, happy, very spoiled life. Still, my mom was sad, and I know their house has felt a little bit emptier without her.

Since they had no other pets, I started searching on PetFinder for dogs that my mom might agree to. I figured that if I found them an older dog that was already house-broken and well-trained, she might go for it. But when I mentioned it to her, she said absolutely not. No dogs.

Then I started thinking: my kids have been asking for a dog forever, so maybe we should get a dog. They’d love it, and I wouldn’t mind having the companionship during the day while I’m working. And as a bonus, we go to my parents’ house at least a couple of days a week, so if we had a dog, he/she could come with us and let my dad feel like he had a dog, without dealing with poop clean-up. (After two kids, a cat, and a bearded dragon, I’m pretty immune to poop.)

When I mentioned this to Chris, he just kind of shook his head and laughed. I’m pretty sure he thought I was crazy, but he said he’d support whatever I wanted to do.

So for the last few weeks, I’ve been searching online for dogs. Several times now, the kids, Chris, and I have gone to meet dogs at different shelters and adopt-a-thon events. Then, on Monday afternoon, we met Roxie.

Hey everybody, this is Roxie*. She's coming to live with us.   (*Name possibly subject to change. Haven't decided if we're keeping it or not.)

I’ve always had a soft spot for Yorkshire terriers, because our neighbor had one and she was the sweetest dog. So when we met Roxie, it took me less than a minute to decide that this was our dog. We took her home that day.

And oh, she’s a sweet dog. She’s about a year old, mostly house-broken (she was completely house-broken at her former home, but adjusting to a new house means accidents, and I knew to expect that), she’s great with the girls, and she’s mostly ok with Beaumont. Roxie really wants to play with Beaumont, and Beaumont wants nothing to do with her, so they’re sorting out their boundaries. It’s an adjustment phase for everyone.

I think Roxie might be a little traumatized from being given away by her previous owners. She follows me from room to room, and seems to want to keep an eye on me all the time. Last night, Chris and I dropped her with my parents while we went to buy a crate for her. (I didn’t want to leave her loose in the house and risk her fighting with Beaumont while we were gone.) My mom said she sat at the door and cried for us after we left. I felt so bad for her, hopefully the separation anxiety will ease up over time.

Initially, I wasn’t sure if we’d keep the name Roxie or not, and I thought we might change it to something else. But I realized that she knows her name and responds to it, so that would be confusing for her. Plus Lucy calls her “Woxie,” which I love. And I have an excuse to sing “Roxanne” all the time now, and that’s pretty fun.

Lucy does the best photobombs of all time.

And I’ll admit, I’ve been having a little bit of that “holy crap, what have we done?” feeling like you get when you have a baby. Like: oh god, life will never be the same and nobody will ever sleep again. But I’m pretty sure that’ll pass as we all settle in and adjust. I’m pretty fond of her myself.

First selfie with my very own dog. This is weird and also great.

So, yeah, a new family member for a new year. Big changes, but pretty great changes.

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.

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.

road trip weekend

I think one of the keys of a successful relationship is accepting the fact that your significant other has interests that you find totally boring. I’m not sure what mine are that bore Chris (celebrity gossip and social media stuff, probably), but his is playing Magic the Gathering. If you’re not familiar, it’s a card game with wizards and spells and whatnot. Sort of like Dungeons and Dragons, but even geekier (if that’s possible).

And in the grand scheme of things, it could be worse. At least he doesn’t ask me to watch any type of sporting events on TV. (I have a lot of women friends who love sports, but I am not that girl. I would rather watch paint dry than watch a football or baseball game.) And when he plays, he has to go to a game store where they play in groups, so it’s a more social hobby than most.

This past weekend there was a big Magic tournament in Charlotte. Chris wanted to go, and I had the girls for the weekend and no big plans, so I thought it would be fun to tag along with him. My brother and his girlfriend recently moved to a new apartment in Charlotte, and they have a new puppy and kitten, so I knew we’d have fun visiting with them while Chris played in his tournament.

(Side note: there were something like 4,000 people in this tournament. Chris and I joked that if a bomb went off in that convention center, IT helpdesks across the Southeast would be virtually wiped out, because that’s the type of person who plays Magic the Gathering.)

Friday afternoon, Chris and I packed up the car, picked up the kids from daycare, and set off for Charlotte.

Picked up these messy-haired ragamuffin children, & we're road-tripping to Charlotte for the weekend. They're kinda excited.
They were pretty excited.

We stopped for dinner along the way, so we ended up not getting to Charlotte until about 9:30, well after the girls’ bedtime. They were so wound up from the trip, they ended up not falling asleep until after midnight.

Catie is totally in love.
Catie is totally in love with my brother’s puppy, Annabelle.

My brother’s girlfriend Mandy was trying to tell Catie how to get Annabelle to obey commands, and Catie obviously doesn’t spend much time around dogs, because she said, “Ok, Annabelle, if you want a treat, can you sit?” I tried to explain that dogs understand one-word commands better than full sentences, but it was very sweet that she tried to phrase it so politely.

Even Lucy, who is typically indifferent about animals, is pretty enamored with my brother's puppy.
Even Lucy, who is typically indifferent about animals, came around and played with Annabelle for a while.

Samson, my brother's kitten, wisely kept his distance from my loud children all weekend.
This is Samson, the kitten, who kept his distance most of the weekend. Most cats tend to be a little skittish around loud children, so I don’t blame him.

Saturday, Chris got up early and went to the convention center for his tournament. The kids and I goofed around for a while, then my cousin Renee (the cousin whose wedding we went to last October) came over and we all went out for lunch together. It was great to see her and catch up.

It was so hot over the weekend (in the mid-90s) that doing anything outside like a playground was just impossible. So after lunch, my brother dropped the girls and I off at a nearby kids’ museum so they could run around and burn off some energy indoors where it’s air-conditioned.

Flying an airplane at the kids' museum.
They had fun.

At the kids’ museum, they have a big stage in the middle of the main room, and every hour they have some type of presentation. One was a science experiment (which was pretty cool), and they also had a puppet show. We were sitting on the floor to watch it, and the emcee was trying to get the kids all excited. She said that the puppet show was going to be about the circus. She asked the audience, “What types of animals are in the circus?”

Catie leaned over to me and whispered, “Tortured ones.”

Which I mean… ok, I laughed. It was kind of a snarky and rude answer, but she knew that, so she just whispered it to me rather than saying it out loud. And it’s not like she’s wrong.

(As for how she knows about Ringling Brothers’ animal abuse: she once asked if we could go to the circus, and I said no, because they mistreat their animals, so I won’t give them any of my money. She obviously remembered that.)

Chris played in his tournament until pretty late that night (he got back after 10 p.m.), so in the meantime, the kids and I went out for dinner with my brother and his girlfriend.

In hindsight, I should’ve known that going out to dinner was a bad idea. (Foreshadowing!) Lucy hadn’t slept nearly enough the night before, and she’d skipped her nap that day, and she was starting to get kind of whiny. We walked to the restaurant (it was about 4 blocks from their apartment), and even though they live in a really pretty area, the walk was pretty unpleasant in the heat. Then we got to the restaurant and the hostess said it would take 30 minutes to get a table. Red flags everywhere that we were headed for Meltdown City, and I missed them all. Lucy is normally so easygoing, I just wasn’t expecting it.

We finally got a table (it was more like 45 minutes than 30), the waiter came over for our drink orders, and I ordered an apple juice for Lucy. The waiter said they didn’t have apple juice. And Lucy just completely freaking lost her mind. She was wailing, “Aaaaaapple juuuuuuuuice!!” over and over, and this was not fake tantrum crying, she was completely distraught, real tears and snot everywhere. I realized pretty quickly I wasn’t going to be able to calm her down because she was too far past the point of exhaustion. I told my brother what to order for me, and told him to have it boxed up to go. I left Catie with him and Mandy, and I carried Lucy outside.

And I carried Lucy – all 40 pounds of her – the four blocks back to my brother’s apartment. (In case you’re wondering, yes, my back still hurts from that.) She stopped crying once we were outside and lay her head on my shoulder, and I thought she might fall asleep while I was carrying her, but she didn’t. Near my brother’s apartment, there’s a Starbucks, and we stopped so I could buy her an apple juice. That seemed to help perk her up a little.

Once we got back, I got her bathed and in her PJs, and she fell asleep on the couch watching cartoons on Netflix. I moved her to the air mattress that she and Catie were sharing, and she kind of half-woke up when I moved her. She said, “I’m going to watch TV for a while, but when I go to sleep, I’ll stay in my bed all night. And if I have something to tell you, I’ll just tell you in the morning.” I stroked her hair and said, “Ok, baby girl,” and her eyes closed and she was asleep again within seconds. She didn’t make a peep until 7:30 the next morning.

I really hope that when the kids are older and I look back on these little trips we took, that I remember the fun stuff like watching them laugh running around together in a kids’ museum, or singing along with silly pop songs on the radio, and not the parts like Lucy losing it in a crowded restaurant.

Nice one, Lucy.
More of the good stuff like this, not the meltdown stuff.

And credit where it’s due: I always think of Catie as being my high-strung, more anxious kid, but she is an excellent traveling companion. The last several times we’ve taken trips, she’s been so easy, she doesn’t whine, she’s extra-patient with Lucy, and she’s just been great. She still gets stressed if her routine at home is thrown off, but I guess when we travel, she accepts that we’re going to be off routine anyway, so she adapts and it’s totally fine. I look forward to doing this type of thing when Lucy is a little older (past the “needing a nap” stage, anyway), because I think it’ll be even more fun.

Uncle Chris & Mandy's house has a big couch with a big TV. They've wasted no time making themselves at home.

On Sunday, we packed up our stuff, and said our goodbyes to my brother, Mandy, and the puppy and kitten (that was the hard part for the kids). We made one quick stop by the convention center downtown so Chris could get a couple of his cards signed by the artists who designed them. (It’s kind of a “thing,” and it supposedly increases their value. Like getting baseball trading cards autographed, I guess.) After that, we headed home. The kids slept in the backseat for a large portion of the drive, so it was a pretty easy trip.

Overall, it was a fun weekend, Chris enjoyed his tournament, the girls had a blast, and I’m glad we all went together. That said, it sure was nice to get back home last night.

summary of the latest happenings

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

1. EASTER

Easter 2015

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

Easter 2015

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

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

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

Lucy and her Easter eggs

Catie and her Easter eggs

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

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2. Lucy and Potty-Training

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

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

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

Oh. Ummm. Huh.

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

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

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

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

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3. Whole30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hot-lanta wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. & Mrs. McCourt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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