39 and change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, my actual birthday, was… less great.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basically: a damn birthday cake made me cry.

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

birthday cake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nice day for scootin' on the greenway.

Checking out the ducks and geese at the lake

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

Christmas 2014

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

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

Catie and Tracy hanging out with Spyro Jones.

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

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

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

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

That’s about the best picture we got.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catie was super excited about her Minecraft ender dragon

Lucy liked her giant Olaf

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

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

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

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

Hope you all had lovely holidays as well.

ice has a magic can’t be controlled

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mimi and Catie at Frozen on Ice

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

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

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

A video posted by Cindy W (@poobou) on

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

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

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Somewhat related and completely inappropriate anecdote:

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

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

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

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Not really related at all anecdote:

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

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

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

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

Her: “WHAT?! Santa can text?”

Me: “Of course.”

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

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

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

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

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Completely unrelated to anything Disney or Frozen or Santa Claus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

running, working, family-ing

I registered for a half-marathon. I’m kind of back and forth between super-excited and also completely terrified, because I have literally never done any kind of official race at all. Like, not even a 5K. And it’s not even about trying to compete with other people for me, because I know I’m an “average at best and actually pretty slow” runner. It’s more that I just want to prove to myself that I can do it — that I am capable of running 13.1 miles — if that makes sense.

The Betty Rocker workout challenge in October definitely helped boost me a lot, and I’m still using her workouts a couple days a week for strength training. I’ve also lost about 6 pounds since October 1st, which wasn’t something I was actively working on, but you won’t hear me complain about it.

In related news: all of my disposable income is now being spent at sporting goods stores (I need workout clothes so I can run through the winter months), which is further proof of how we change as we get older, and how 20-something me wouldn’t even recognize 38 year-old me.

(Oh, the race is next spring, after my birthday. So I’ll be 39 when I run my first half-marathon. That’s… probably not something normal people do, I’m guessing.)

I will try not to talk about it too much because blah blah blah nobody cares about my workout regimen. But it’s kind of A Big Thing that’s on my mind right now.

no1currr
(Added because it’s one of my favorite GIFs of all time.)

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I don’t talk about it much here, but my job has been so good lately. I changed managers a few months ago, when my manager moved to a different team (I can’t remember if I ever blogged about that or not). I was initially really nervous about it, because my new manager is a guy that I’ve worked with for the entire four years that I’ve been at this company, but I could never figure out whether or not he liked me. But the transition has been very easy, and we have a really great working relationship now.

Last month, I had my first performance review since changing managers, and I got some really great feedback, as well as a raise. I feel like I’m insanely fortunate to have a job that I enjoy, and get to work with people I really like.

Work has also gotten a lot busier recently, which is part of the reason the blog has been so quiet lately. But it’s all good stuff there.

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Oh, and I got more pictures back from our family picture day, and I just… my god, I don’t know how I got so lucky to have these two beautiful little girls.

girls_serious_faces

They’re so different, and so much alike. They are each their own individual little people, and they are delightful.

The other day, I thought about how when I was pregnant with Catie, and we first found out she was a girl, I was terrified, because I didn’t know if I’d be a good mom for a girl. I’m not a super girly-girl type, and I have so many body image issues of my own that I was afraid I’d project onto a little girl, and I just thought I’d be terrible at it.

(Funny thing: it was the opposite when I was pregnant with Lucy. By that point, I was scared of having a boy, because having a girl was all I knew. That time, I was relieved to find out we were having another girl. I was like, “oh, another one of these? Ok yeah, I got this.”)

I think Catie and Lucy are proof that we get the kids we’re supposed to have. Because they’ve expanded my horizons and my worldview so much, and the fact that I can now have extensive conversations about both dinosaur fossils and Disney princesses without batting an eye? I think that just makes me a more well-rounded person than I was before I had kids.

me and my girls

Oh, this guy of mine is pretty great, too.

me and Chris

(Side note: that picture was so awkward to take — “look over our shoulders at each other, say what now?” — but I really love the way it turned out.)

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to reading online reviews of running shoes, because apparently that’s the type of thing I do with my free time now. Yeah, I’m a weirdo. I know.

trick or treat!

This year for Halloween, Catie decided that she didn’t want to be a dinosaur, which she’s been pretty much every year since she was two. She got a lab coat from science camp, so she decided she wanted to be a scientist.

Lucy, like pretty much every other little girl (and some boys) in America, wanted to be Elsa. I decided that was fine with me.

Elsa and the Scientist
(I’m not sure why the pool noodle was involved.)

Lucy had actually not decided what she wanted to be up until the last minute: she kept going back and forth between “Princess Peach!” (referring to the poofy pink princess dress that my mom made her), and “Elsa! No, Anna! No, I mean Elsa!” Three year-olds are infuriatingly indecisive. So on Thursday, my mom went to Wal-mart and bought both Elsa and Anna. We figured we’d let her pick, and then return the other one. Turns out, she loved both, because after we got back from trick-or-treating, she wanted to be Anna.

After we got back from trick or treating, Lucy decided to dress up as Anna for a while. You know, for balance.

So, ok, fine. Now we have bonus costumes.

From earlier tonight: "I not real Elsa, I just Lucy-Elsa."
It was pretty funny that she was very clear about, “I not real Elsa, I just Lucy-Elsa.” Got it. Thanks for the clarification, sweet girl.

Catie had initially been resistant to the idea of Halloween at all. She had said she would dress up, but she wanted to stay home with my mom and hand out candy.

Dr. Catie the Scientist
She has important scientific discoveries to work on, you know.

I reminded her of the one neighbor’s house who set up their backyard like a spooky haunted house, which she loved last year. She said she’d walk with us, just to go see that house, but that was all. No trick-or-treating for her.

(Side note: that dude gives out FULL SIZE candy bars. His wife said he has a storage unit for all of his haunted house props for the rest of the year because they don’t have room for it in their garage. He’s either a huge Halloween enthusiast, or a little nuts. Either way, it was amazing.)

Of course, by the 2nd house, Catie was helping Lucy up to the door, and she was totally into it. I’m glad I made her bring a bag, because girl got a LOT of candy.

When we got home, I was thinking how weird it is that Catie wasn’t a dinosaur this year. Then she went into the bathroom to change, and came out like this.

Catie the dinosaur-scientist
“I’m a scientist who had an accident in the lab!”

Yeah, thaaaat’s more like it. (And kudos to Children’s Place for their costumes, because I bought that dinosaur costume in 2012, and this is its 3rd year making an appearance.)

Last year, Lucy only trick-or-treated maybe the first 5 houses before she got overwhelmed and my mom took her home. This year, she trooped all over the neighborhood like a champ. It was great.

Our little Elsa on the move

(Well: edit that. She made Chris carry her a little bit toward the end. But she did most of it all on her own.)

This is technically Dave’s weekend to have the kids, but there isn’t a whole lot of trick-or-treating to be done in an apartment complex. So I volunteered to take them out – because I love Halloween – and then dropped them off after we were done. I knew they were pretty well over-sugared by the time I dropped them off, and he texted me today that they didn’t settle down and go to sleep until sometime after 10:30. Which sounds about right. I’m glad they’re both old enough to really enjoy the holiday, though.

And then I got to go home and look at all my friends’ kids in their adorable costumes when I got home. Someone said Halloween and the first day of school are the best days to be on Facebook, and I totally agree.

And now it’s November. How weird is that?

state fair recap

This past weekend, I borrowed my mom’s minivan, loaded up my kids, Chris, and his kids, and all 6 of us set off for the state fair.

(Here’s where I admit that I am a suburban mom cliche, because I want a minivan SO BAD. I mean, I love my Subaru, and I’ve had it for 13 years now. But a minivan has so much room! The doors that slide open with the touch of a button! I want one. And I don’t care if that makes me middle-aged and lame.)

When we went to the state fair last year, we found out Lucy was too little to go on any of the rides. Even the baby rides required kids to be at least 36″ tall, and she wasn’t. So, this year, we had talked it up a lot, about how now that she’s a big girl, she can go on the rides! (I don’t think she remembers the incident last year where she was sobbing and pleading to go on the rides with Catie, but boy, I sure do.)

The first ride we hit were the kiddie motorcycles. As soon as it started, Lucy’s face just lit up.

Lucy's face on her first ride at the state fair. Pure joy.

I don’t think I have ever seen joy like that. As soon as it stopped, she yelled, “AGAIN!!!” I had to coax her off with a, “hey, let’s go see what other rides they have, ok?”

Chris and I took a divide-and-conquer approach to the fair. His kids wanted to go on the scarier rides that are meant for big kids, which Catie won’t go near, and Lucy isn’t tall enough to go on. So we’d make our game plan, like, “Ok, we’ll text each other at X o’clock to see where we are, and meet up for food then.” And it worked out really well – all 4 kids got to do all the stuff at the state fair that they wanted to do.

Race cars!

It’s funny that Catie is almost too big to go on the kiddie rides, but she’s my cautious girl, and she doesn’t want to go on anything that goes up in the air or spins her around too fast. This year, the big breakthrough was that I finally got her to try a fun house. She was convinced that it would be scary – I explained that it’s not the same as a haunted house, and nothing is going to jump out at her. And after a LONG time of arguing about it, she finally went in, and she loved it.

Sometimes it’s frustrating that she won’t try new things, but then I remind myself that I’m going to have to pay her car insurance someday, so it’s really ok that she’s so careful.

Lucy & Chris's son on the hot air balloon ride.

And for some of the more adventurous kiddie rides (like the hot air balloons that lift the kids several feet in the air & spin them around), Chris’s son was really sweet about going with Lucy on them, so she wouldn’t have to go by herself.

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One weird thing toward the end of the fair visit: Chris’s daughter had been having a blast, and had been bugging us to go on one more ride, and asking if we could just stay a little longer. You know, normal stuff for a kid who’s having a good time – they don’t want to pack up and go home.

Chris’s kids were supposed to meet up with their mom that night for some party, but the details were never finalized, and Chris didn’t think much about it. Once his daughter realized what time it was, and that she was late to meet up with her mom, she FREAKED OUT. She was going a mile a minute, trying to rush us out (you can only move so fast in a crowd of thousands of people), and asking Chris if she could call her mom. (He said she could call her when we got somewhere quiet. Which I thought was logical, because it doesn’t really make much sense to hand a 10 year-old a cell phone in the middle of a mob.)

It was weird how quick she started backtracking her story of the day, too. “I didn’t even have any fun at the fair! You made me go on baby rides all day!” Which, uh, no. She went on maybe 2 kid rides, both times because she asked to go on them. And she was having fun right up until the minute she realized she was late. It was like she was trying to rewrite the narrative out loud, so she could make sure she wouldn’t be in trouble with her mom later.

Once Chris promised her that it was ok because her mom would only be mad at him, not at her, she calmed down. We all went back to my house, the kids had pizza and watched a movie, and they played with Spyro Jones. They were fine, and it all ended well. It was just really upsetting to see how obviously terrified she is of her own mother’s anger. His kids are so sweet, and I really worry about them a lot.

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As for my kids, they were running on a sugar high until late on Saturday night. Lucy had missed her nap completely because of the trip to the fair, and she finally crashed sometime after 10 p.m. Catie was out a few minutes later.

What happens to a 3 year-old who misses her nap & spends 7 hours at the state fair.

Until next year, sweet dreams of funnel cake and cotton candy.

Queen City wedding

This past weekend, we drove to Charlotte for my cousin Renee’s wedding. We set off on Friday, with my parents in one car, and me, Chris, and the girls following in my car.

Charlotte is only about 150 miles from here, but we let my dad be in charge of the GPS, which in hindsight was the worst idea ever. He found the shortest route, and as most people know (but my dad didn’t), shortest does not always equal fastest. So, a trip that should have taken 2.5 hours (give or take) ended up taking well over 4 hours, because he had us go down some random back highway with a speed limit of 45, and frequent stop signs. (“It’s 30 miles less if we go this way!” Well, yeah, but the alternate route lets us go 70 mph with no stops, so…)

And really, the kids were SO GOOD the whole time — they didn’t fight, they played quietly, they didn’t whine — but it stressed me out to be in the middle of nowhere, doing the toddler potty math of “oh god, how long do I have before Lucy says she needs to pee and there is NOWHERE out here to stop?!” (Parents of 3 year-olds, you know what I’m talking about.)

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Eventually we got there, and we saw the house that my brother and his girlfriend moved into a few months ago, which was lovely. My parents stayed with my brother & his girlfriend at their place. I booked a hotel for me, Chris, and the girls, since that seemed like a lot to unload on my brother. It would’ve been even more fun if we could have brought Chris’s kids along too, but unfortunately it didn’t work out with their custody schedule.

After visiting with my brother for a while, we headed over to our hotel, checked in, and met up with our extended family who was in town for the wedding.

5 out of 7 (my mom's siblings)

I was trying to explain to my kids how Mimi (my mom) is one of 7 kids, so she has 2 sisters, and 4 brothers. (This pic is 5 of the 7 – it’s missing my mom & my uncle Brian.) Catie took a minute to process this, then said, “We aren’t going to have 5 more babies, are we?”

Which, HAHAHAHAAAAA NOPE. No, sweetie, we most definitely are not. I think I’m good with just the two.

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There was a little dessert reception thing at the hotel for out-of-town guests – not exactly a rehearsal dinner, but sort of a pre-wedding get together. That was a lot of fun, and the kids spent most of the time playing with their cousins, doing cartwheels in the hallway outside of the banquet hall.

It took the girls a while to get settled at our hotel room that night and crash.

It's way past bedtime, but we're out of town, & they've both been so good all day. I don't have the heart to make them stop when they're playing quietly next to each other.

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The next day, we got up, saw my sister for a few minutes (she got in late Friday night and the girls were dying to see her), then had breakfast with my cousin Cat (not the bride, a different cousin) & her family. Then we went to my brother’s house to gather up our people and head to the wedding.

I realized after the wedding was over that I had one picture of both of my girls all dressed up for the wedding, in their dresses that my mom made. (Having a Mimi who’s a retired seamstress has its perks.)

Realized I have exactly 1 picture of my girls dressed up for my cousin's wedding yesterday. Catie was mad about having her picture taken, and Lucy was... being Lucy.

Catie was mad that I was trying to take her picture. Lucy was… well, being Lucy. That picture cracks me up to the point where I’m thinking about framing it, because it sums them up perfectly.

waiting for the wedding to start with Mimi & Pop-Pop
Waiting for the wedding to start.

Catie wanted to sit with her cousin Elizabeth, and I wish it wasn’t disrespectful to take pictures in church, because the way they either sweetly held hands or had their arms around each other was completely adorable. They locked their fingers together during the prayer. It was amazing.

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The reception was at a museum in downtown Charlotte, and it was gorgeous. So was the bride, for that matter.

So my cousin is pretty much the most beautiful bride ever. And i love seeing her so happy.

It really makes me so happy to see Renee so happy.

We goofed around at the beginning of the reception. We ate yummy food, and Catie took this picture of me and Chris that I love.

My cousin's wedding reception, Catie took this pic & I love it.

Then the band started, and we danced like crazy people.

Lucy & Mimi dancing at the reception

I feel bad for not taking more pictures than I did. Like, I didn’t get any of my siblings, or most of my relatives who were there. But I was just… there. And sometimes I think it’s a good thing to put down my phone and go enjoy the moment, rather than worry about documenting every single second with a photo.

And I mean, I danced so much that by the time we got back to the hotel room, my legs were more sore than they feel after a 5 mile run. So I’d say I enjoyed the hell out of that moment.

At the risk of sounding corny, I feel like I’m just so incredibly fortunate to have the family that I have. They’re a group of people who I genuinely enjoy being around, and I always have so much fun with them. We don’t see each other as much as I wish we could, because we’ve spread out all over the U.S., but weddings & other reunions are always so much fun.

And lucky me, I have another cousin who’s getting married next spring, so I have that to look forward to, in just a few months. I already can’t wait.

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We drove back on Sunday, and got back later than planned, but it turned out ok. Catie really wanted to see Dave, and we’re trying to make sure she gets one-on-one time with each of us when we can swing it. So I dropped her off with him, and Lucy and I hung out for the evening. Even though three year-olds are difficult, having only one kid feels so easy compared to juggling them both.

We went for a walk, just the two of us, and she insisted she needed to bring her baby (and her baby’s diaper bag) along.

taking her baby for a walk

Then she discovered that crunching leaves is pretty much the most fun thing ever.

leaf crunching

And you know, there are times that I worry that I’m a terrible parent and I’m going to ruin my kids somehow. Nothing in particular makes me think that, it’s just that constant self-doubt that I think most parents probably have from time to time. But then, I’ll have a moment where I see them completely carefree and happy, and I think… yeah, we’re probably going to be ok.

After all, I have a whole family full of amazing role models to use as a point of reference.