Austin’ed

Our trip to Austin was SO fun, now excuse me while I inundate you with pictures and a recap.

The secret for getting super-cheap flights? You end up on the flights that leave at God-awful times that nobody else wants. Our flight to Austin left Raleigh at 6 a.m. on Wednesday. That meant that I had to wake the kids up a little after 4 a.m., to make sure we could get to the airport by 5.

As much as the timing sucked, both girls were great.

On the plane. Everybody say "Texas!"
This picture was taken at 5:30 a.m., right after we boarded. I don’t know why they both look so happy.

There are no direct flights from Raleigh to Austin, so we had a connection in Atlanta. The flight from Raleigh to Atlanta is short, less than an hour. Then we had a pretty long layover, about an hour and a half, but it worked out perfectly. We had time to get breakfast and walk around a little, no rushing from one plane to the next. It was nice.

The flight from Atlanta to Austin is a little longer, around 2 hours. I was really hoping Lucy would take a nice long nap on the plane. Instead, she waited until about 15 minutes before landing to fall asleep.

Lucy did this approximately 15 minutes before landing in Austin. Two hour flight. She waited until the end to fall asleep.
Awesome timing.

I borrowed a stroller from Trish for this trip, which was a life-saver because I knew Lucy was going to get tired and not be able to walk the whole time. (My old stroller that I’ve had since Catie was a baby is broken. A spring snapped, so you can’t fold it closed. It currently lives in my parents’ garage, because my dad will still take Lucy for walks in it sometimes, but the child is nearly 4 years old, I’m not going to buy a new stroller at this point.)

When Lucy woke up after the plane landed, she was weepy because she was still tired from not getting a long enough nap. I needed to get us off the plane quickly, because she was just falling apart. The kids each had a backpack with their toys, books, and iPads in it; I had a backpack carry-on, plus my purse. When it was our turn to de-board, Catie put on her backpack and I told her to start walking, then I put on my backpack, grabbed Lucy’s backpack with one hand, my purse with the other, told Lucy to stand up on the seat and grab me around the neck, and I carried her plus all our crap off the plane.

And it’s weird, because I know I’ve gotten stronger with all the working out I’ve been doing over the past couple of years, but it was amazing to me that I was able to do that and not even get terribly winded. I mean, I didn’t do it for long, I just had to get us to the jetway, where the stroller was waiting for us (since I had gate checked it). But I honestly don’t think my arms and shoulders would’ve been strong enough to do that two years ago.

Tracy met us at baggage claim, and we went out to lunch before heading back to her house. She and Everett bought a house last year, so this was our first time seeing it, and it’s really beautiful. My sister’s house is the type that makes me feel like I’m still living like a college kid with random piecemeal furniture sort of thrown together. Her house feels like a grown-up house, everything is put together tastefully, and there’s no clutter, everything has its own little home. I’m kind of jealous, I don’t think I’ll have anything like that until the kids are grown and move out.

Trying to keep the girls quiet while my sister is on conference calls this morning. iPads & headphones are pretty much the best thing ever.
The kids wasted no time making themselves right at home, either.

We didn’t have a ton of plans while we were there. On our way to Tracy’s house, I saw a sign for a place called Mt. Playmore, and I asked Tracy what it was. She had no idea (stuff for kids isn’t typically on her radar), so I googled it and found out that it was an indoor playground. So on Thursday, we took the kids there, and it was AMAZING.

Mount Playmore in Austin is pretty amazing.

It’s basically three stories of climbing structures, everything is made of netting so it’s super soft, and it’s big enough that grown-ups can climb up in it too. Tracy and I climbed up with the kids a couple of times, and it was SO FUN. I found a tire swing thing that I could have stayed on for hours.

Thursday evening, Greis drove over from Houston to meet up with us for dinner. I haven’t seen her since Tracy’s wedding, and I was so glad she was able to come hang out with us for a little while.

You know you have a good friend when she drives hours out of her way to see you. @amazinggreis

After dinner, we took the girls to this famous bridge in Austin, that hundreds of thousands (millions?) of bats live underneath. Every night at sunset, they all fly out, and it’s supposed to be incredible to see.

About to go see some bats.

While we were waiting for the bats, Lucy needed to use the bathroom, so I left Catie with Tracy and Everett, and Greis and I walked Lucy over to this super-fancy Hyatt hotel across the street. I know hotel restrooms aren’t really open to the public, but let me tell you, when you walk in with a 3 year-old and ask for directions to the ladies’ room? No concierge in the world is going to risk an accident in their nice lobby. They will happily point you where you need to go. Just, you know, FYI for you parents of toddlers out there.

I didn’t think the girls would be that excited about seeing a whole bunch of bats, but when they all fly out in swarms, it’s pretty impressive. It’s dark enough that you almost can’t even tell that they’re bats, they could be just small birds, except for the squeaking sound they make. And they aren’t creepy bats that’ll bite you, these are the good ones that eat mosquitoes, so YAY BATS.

Greis came back to the house and hung out with Tracy and me for a while after I got the girls to bed, then she headed back to Houston.

Friday, I had made plans to have lunch with some of my co-workers who are based in the Austin office. These are guys I’ve worked with for nearly 5 years and never met in person, I’ve only talked to them on teleconferences. So it was kind of fun to meet them and put names with faces.

The office is near a big mall, so Tracy had dropped me off, and said she’d take the girls to the mall while I was at lunch. After lunch, my co-workers dropped me off at the mall, and I texted Tracy to ask where they were. She texted back they were at Build-a-Bear and I mumbled out loud, “Oh God,” because that’s a store I’ve intentionally avoided as long as I’ve had kids. I didn’t know much about it other than it’s crazy expensive.

And it is crazy expensive, but I guess that’s what fun aunties are for.

Solidifying her status as the Fun Aunt forever, my sister took the girls to Build-A-Bear while I had lunch with some co-workers. Catie got Toothless in a Jedi costume, Lucy got an Elsa bear.

Catie got Toothless from “How to Train Your Dragon,” in a Jedi costume. (He’s in his little carrying backpack in the picture, you can’t get the full impact of the Jedi-ness.) We’ve been joking he’s a Jedi (K)Night Fury. Lucy – surprise! – got an Elsa bear. They were both so happy, they wouldn’t set them down for the rest of the day.

That afternoon, Tracy and I took the kids to a children’s museum called The Thinkery, where a friend of Tracy’s is the executive director. It was a lot of fun, kind of like the Marbles children’s museum we have here in Raleigh, but a little more science focused. The kids had fun.

Story time at The Thinkery.

Friday night, we cooked dinner at Tracy and Everett’s house, and my aunt and uncle (who live in Austin) came over for dinner. That was fun, it’s always nice to catch up with them.

Saturday, we were scheduled to fly back, but our plane didn’t leave until after 4 p.m., so we took the kids to Mt. Playmore one last time to burn some energy before we had to get on the plane to go home.

Took the kids to Mt Playmore one more time before we had to get on the plane to go home.

Tracy and Everett then dropped us off at the airport, and we said our goodbyes.

We had so much fun in Austin with my sister & brother-in-law! Now on the plane heading back to NC.

The flights back were ok. The layover in Atlanta was way too long (2 1/2 hours), and it was late at night, and the kids were exhausted, but they were troopers.

Even when our second plane was delayed and the A/C wasn’t working and we were all sweaty, they didn’t really whine or fight with each other (much). They were just so great.

On the plane. God bless technology. (And Cheez-its. That bag of Cheez-its broke up a pretty big sibling fight. Truce through snack foods.)

They ended up not getting in bed until after 1 a.m. on Saturday night, but we had all day Sunday to recover, so it was ok.

A little over 3 years ago, when Dave and I had just split up, and I was alone with a baby and a four year-old, and I had no idea what my life was going to look like, I would sometimes daydream about fun things I could do when the kids were older. One of those was the idea of taking vacations together, just the three of us. Me and my girls, on our own, doing our own thing. So this trip kind of fulfilled that for me. And I know it’ll be easier as they get older – Lucy is still pretty high-maintenance when she gets off her routine, while Catie is old enough to roll with it (for the most part). This trip was great because I know we’ll be able to do this kind of thing again in the future.

Still, when Chris met us at the airport on Saturday night to pick us up, I was pretty damn happy to see him. Going to do stuff on my own with the girls is great, but I also really like having him around.

#whole30 week 1, done

I’m up to day 9 on Whole30, and I haven’t killed anyone yet. Sometime around Thursday (day 4), the “carb flu” kicked in and I started feeling awful. It really does feel kind of flu-ish, your head hurts and you feel achy all over and it’s just miserable.

Friday night (day 5), I went to Drag Queen Bingo with some friends, which should’ve been a blast. (It’s an outing with other grown women! I almost never get to do those! I got to dress up! And it’s bingo! And drag queens are hilarious and fun!) And instead, I just felt… tired and sad. When your friends are all sitting around with beer and snacks, and you just have a bottle of water? That’s pretty lame.

At some point, there were cupcakes. I TURNED DOWN A CUPCAKE. That may have been the hardest “no thank you” of my life.

The kids were with Dave over the weekend, so they didn’t have to deal with me being so horribly irritable. Only Chris had to put up with me, bless his heart. But I only snapped at him a couple of times, and I apologized afterward, so I think he’ll be ok. Saturday and Sunday (days 6 and 7) really were the worst – I expected to crave foods that I wasn’t supposed to eat, but I wasn’t expecting to feel so sad and depressed. It’s weird how much all of this has affected my state of mind.

But I’ve been feeling better since Monday/day 8, and hopefully it’ll continue to stay this way.

One of the things they say in the book is that when it seems hard, just repeat to yourself, “it’s only 30 days.” The problem is, that doesn’t really help, because it feels like FOREVER when you’re in the middle of it. The best analogy I can think of is when you have a newborn and you never get to sleep for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time. Obviously that stage of babyhood is finite and eventually ends, but it sure doesn’t feel like it at the time.

Tomorrow, the girls and I are flying to Austin to see my sister and brother-in-law. I don’t know if (or how) I’ll be able to stick to the Whole30 plan while we’re traveling. I have a bunch of nuts and dried fruit in my carry-on for the flight, and I figure I’ll just do my best. If I go off the plan, I’ll pick it back up when we get home. I’m trying not to obsess too much about it, because I really want to be able to relax and enjoy this trip.

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.

recovery week

The past few days have been a little rough for me while I recover from the half-marathon. I wasn’t expecting to be in as much pain afterward as I was. I assumed that if I could run 10 miles, 13.1 wouldn’t be much different. I was so wrong.

A few weeks ago, right in the middle of training for the half-marathon, I developed plantar fascitis in my left foot. My doctor is also a runner, and between him and all my running friends, I felt pretty ok about dealing with it. But despite all the precautions I took (ibuprofen, ice, stretching, sleeping with my foot in a really awkward brace contraption), it flared up with a vengeance after the half-marathon. I couldn’t put my left heel down when I walked, I had to walk on the tip-toes on my left foot. (Awkward, to say the least.)

So I’ve been taking it easy, doing some yoga/strength exercises to try to stretch my muscles out. I’ve gone on a couple of short runs this week, and I feel… ok-ish? My left foot still hurts if I’m on my feet too much (like last night when the girls and I went to the grocery store), but it’s manageable.

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Other stuff that’s been going on this week:

I had a parent-teacher conference with Catie’s teacher this week. Which was not particularly eventful, but there was one major surprise there: he mentioned that Catie is reading ahead of her grade level.

This is the same child who, 1 year ago, was so far behind her peers that the school had her working with a special ed teacher doing a “reading intervention” program. The same child whose first grade teacher told me that no matter what we did with private tutors, she was going to be behind the curve in second grade too. (I’m still angry at her first grade teacher for saying that to me and Dave. What the hell, lady?)

And now she’s ahead of grade level. Not by much, it’s not like she’s reading “War and Peace” or anything, but STILL.

I mentioned to her teacher that it surprised me because I still have trouble getting her to read at home, and he said, “Oh, that’s a shame, she’s a beautiful reader. That’s all she really wants to do in class is read.”

I’m still a little bit stunned by that. Although I shouldn’t be, Catie has made a lifelong habit of surprising me when I least expect it.

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On the Lucy side of things: I think most parents say that the “terrible twos” are really nothing compared to the “treacherous threes,” and based on my experience with Catie, I would have been inclined to agree. But man, Lucy is just hilarious and delightful and so… easy. Like, way easier than any toddler should be.

I keep half-waiting for her to turn into some type of toddler demon hellbeast, but maybe her daytime personality is easygoing to make up for 3.5 years of waking me up at night? Kids have survival skills and all.

And because I’m always worried that I’ll forget this stuff someday, these are a few recent Lucy gems:

* When something bothers her, she says, “it makes me annoying!” (I will never correct her.)

* Most mornings, she climbs into bed between me and Chris, and goes back to sleep for a while. There was one day that she had missed her nap and was up past her bedtime, so she slept HARD all night. It was a weekend, and around 7:30 a.m., the whole house was sleeping quietly, and suddenly a tiny voice yelled, “EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!” Chris and I were like, “Oh ok, guess Lucy is awake.” I don’t even know how she learned C&C Music Factory, since that song came out about 20 years before she born.

* When we went to see Cinderella last week, one of the plot points of the “Frozen Fever” short before the movie was that Elsa caught a cold, and every time she sneezed, her ice powers would go crazy and tiny little snowmen would pop up everywhere. So, on Monday, when Catie came down with a fever (she’s fine, it was a fluke 48-hour thing), I told Lucy that Catie was sick. Lucy said, “I think she might make tiny snowmans when she sneezes.”

I said, “No, that’s silly, Catie doesn’t have ice powers.”

Without missing a beat, she said, “Maybe instead she make tiny Steves.” As in the main dude from Minecraft.

I was impressed with how clever that was, because she knows Catie doesn’t care about Frozen, so she took the general concept and applied it to the thing Catie loves, Minecraft.

* She can spell her name, and I don’t know if that’s normal for a 3 year-old or not, but Catie didn’t spell her name until closer to kindergarten, so it seems impressive to me. (I take no credit, that’s all daycare.) She likes the trailer for the Scarlet Johannsen movie “Lucy” because they flash the name at the end, and she says, “L-U-C-Y spells Lucy, dat’s me!”

* Dave texted me the other night when the girls were with him, Lucy had her iPad and was trying to look up Frozen videos on YouTube. Catie will often ask for help spelling the names of whatever she’s looking for (like Skylanders videos), so Lucy was obviously copying Catie when she said, “How do I type Frozen?” Dave thought it would be funny to just tell her the letters and see what she did with it. She managed to get the keyboard open and she typed all the letters correctly except the N. It’s both amazing and a little unnerving when you realize that your kids will be more tech-savvy than yourself sooner than later.

* She sings, “Meeeeee in the skyyyyy with diamonds!” Dave taught her that one, and while I have never been a Beatles fan, I have to admit that it’s pretty damn cute.

princesses, geeks, and runners

I was thinking that the weekend leading up to my half-marathon would be lazy and involve eating lots of carbs. Turns out, I was only right about the carbs.

Friday, Lucy’s daycare was closed for a teacher workday. It just so happened that the same as last year, the teacher workday was also the day of Catie’s school Fun Run. So Lucy and I went to watch Catie and her classmates run around like tiny maniacs.

Catie at her school Fun Run.

Selfie with Lucy. And Elsa.

Lucy had to get Elsa in our selfie (of course). After the run was over, I was able to get a picture with my big kid.

Me & Catie after her Fun Run.

I love it when I get to go to school functions like that. I often feel like I’m phoning it in with school-related activities, because I have to let the stay-at-home moms do all of the classroom volunteering stuff. Just from a practical/work schedule angle, it never works out. So I get super-excited when I get to show up for something for her.

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After the Fun Run, I had promised Lucy that we would go see the new Cinderella movie. To be fair, though, Lucy didn’t care much about Cinderella, the only thing she really wanted was to see the “Frozen Fever” short before the movie. Like, she had to do a costume change between the Fun Run and the movie theater, so she could wear her Anna dress to the movies.

Daycare is closed, so it's Mommy & Lucy Day. We're waiting for Cinderella to start. But really, she only cares about the "Frozen Fever" short before the movie. ("How many more minutes?" every 10 seconds.)

It was fun, especially since she and I don’t get a lot of “Mommy and Lucy” outings, just the two of us.

As far as a movie review, “Frozen Fever” was cute, not as funny as the movie, and a lot shorter than Lucy would have liked. But hey, apparently they’re making Frozen 2, so I guess she’ll be set when that comes out.

As for Cinderella: I really liked it, and it made me cry more than once (damn Disney), but I’ve always had a few problems with that whole story. Cinderella is basically the girl at your high school who came from an abusive family, who married the first guy she could get as soon as she turned 18, just so she could escape her awful family. Those stories don’t usually end with a “happily ever after.”

And, I don’t know, there’s something that rubs me wrong about Cinderella’s “have courage and be kind” motto. Let’s face it, Cinderella is a total doormat to her stepmother & stepsisters. So sure, “have courage and be kind” is an admirable ideal for your life, but you don’t have to be (and probably shouldn’t be) kind to people who treat you like shit, and I think that’s a potentially damaging message to send little girls. It’s basically saying that you don’t have to stand up for yourself as long as you play nice, and that’s, frankly, a total crock.

Hey, what do you know, feminist beliefs conflicting with a Disney princess movie, how original am I? Honestly, the movie was fun, and I’d venture to guess that the vast majority of little girls grow up knowing that princess stories are make-believe and are smart enough to distinguish between them and real life, so whatever, let’s move on.

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On Saturday, Comic-Con was here, and I knew Catie would love it, so we went. I asked Chris to come along to help me wrangle the kids (I was worried Lucy would get overwhelmed or scared of some of the cosplay people, and it helps to have an extra adult there to tag team with). Chris isn’t the type who requires a lot of arm-twisting to get into nerdy outings, so he was game.

I had shown Catie pics of other Comic-Cons and people who dress up for them, and she decided that she needed to wear a costume as well.

Catie wore her Spyro (Skylanders) costume to Comic-Con.

She went as Spyro from the Skylanders video game that she loves. She ended up not wearing the feet part of the costume (made it too hard to walk) or the mask (too hot), but even still, a surprising number of people there knew exactly who she was.

I’d never been to any type of Comic-Con event before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was pretty fun. And it led to this, which may be my favorite picture of all time:

Catie and the stormtrooper. I am the proudest geek mom you ever did see.

Proudest geek parenting moment to date. (Lucy was a little freaked about the stormtrooper, but she high-fived him from a safe distance.)

The main thing (or, uh, person) Catie wanted to see at Comic-Con was David Tennant, who played Doctor Who. Unfortunately, getting a photo or autograph with any of the celebrities at Comic-Con is a separate charge from the general admission fee, and his was somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 extra. I might have considered forking that over, except it sold out before I could even make a decision. So, nevermind then. Catie can pay additional Comic-Con fees when she’s an adult and has her own disposable income to spend.

(It was only $80 extra to get a picture with William Shatner. And although it seemed like a bargain compared to David Tennant, I didn’t pay for that either.)

We kinda-sorta got to see David Tennant, because his VIP Q&A session was shown on a big projector screen in the main hall, so we camped out and watched that for a while.

Listening to the David Tennant Q&A session. (We didn't get in, but they had it on a big projector screen in the main hall).

It’s not the same thing as getting to see him in person, but oh well. I bought the kids their souvenirs (Olaf & Elsa toys for Lucy, Pokemon for Catie), and they left happy.

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Now for the half-marathon!

Saturday evening, I dropped the girls off to spend the night with my parents, so I could get to bed extra early and not worry about Lucy waking me up. (She’s a lot better, but still sometimes hit-or-miss.)

Sunday morning, I headed to Laura’s house, because she had a parking pass and offered to carpool with me.

As for the half-marathon bullet points:
* These things start stupid early. It was still dark outside. Why are there no half-marathons that start at, like, noon? You get up at a normal time, have a light brunch, then go run. That would be great!

* Did you know port-a-potties don’t have lights? So if it’s dark outside, it’s dark inside them? Let me tell you, if hell exists, some part of it will probably involve having to use a port-a-potty in the dark. That several hundred other runners have used. OMG. I just… I have no words.

* Related: one of my fears with this half-marathon was that I’ve never personally experienced the phenomenon of runner’s bowels, but I figured that with my luck, the first time it happened to me would be when I only had access to port-a-potties and there were several thousand witnesses around. As it turned out? It wouldn’t have mattered, because all of the port-a-potties smelled so horrifically foul that nobody would’ve known it was me anyway. (For the record, I was fine. I had to stop to pee somewhere around mile 8, because I’ve had 2 babies and my bladder is lame. But no horror stories.)

* The people who run this marathon are so incredibly nice, and the whole thing is set up really well. There were people cheering for us at various points, with big posterboard signs: “run like it’s the beginning of the Hunger Games”, “you run better than our government,” “the faster you run, the sooner you can get drunk”, and my personal favorite, “run like your iPhone is at 1%!” I was also impressed with how friendly all of the other runners were, with each other and with the volunteers. I had to get off the trail at one point to re-tie my shoe, and a couple of people asked if I was ok or needed help.

* Turns out that Sean Astin was in town for Comic-Con, and signed up to run the half-marathon at the last minute. Laura said she passed him and almost yelled “RUDY!” but didn’t. I didn’t see him, probably because I was not thinking about looking at other people’s faces while I was focusing on just getting through the run. If I had seen him, I was thinking about telling him my name was Frodo and asking him to carry me the rest of the way to Mordor. Either that a joke about The Goonies. Oh, missed opportunities.

* I gave my parking pass to Chris; he picked the girls up from my parents’ house on Sunday morning and brought them to meet me at the finish line. That was pretty awesome.

Ran my first half-marathon. Didn't die. Chris & the girls met me at the finish line. Pretty great day.

My final time for the half-marathon was 2:40. Which is probably not impressive by most people’s standards, but whatever. I finished. And that’s all that really matters to me.

(Even though Catie totally stole my medal for herself the minute we got in the car.)

winter weather, week 2

The crazy snow/ice stuff we’ve been having lately has resulted in this: Catie has been in school for 1 half-day in the past 2 weeks. Last Monday – 11 days ago – the schools had an early release day because of inclement weather. It was closed the next 4 days. School was open this past Monday, but Catie was sick, so Dave kept her home with him. School has been closed due to weather every day since then.

One half-day out of 10 school days. That seems insane. But, same as last week: Dave and I are juggling the childcare stuff back and forth, daycare has been open a few days this week (which has helped significantly because they have a school-age program for kids on break, so Catie can go there too), and generally, we’re fine.

I mean, of course it’s always frustrating to have your routine thrown off, but compared to a lot of people, I don’t have much to complain about. Our power stayed on, and nobody has been sick (other than the colds we all get this time of year), so it’s been ok.

Catie likes an audience when she plays Wizard 101 on my laptop. (And yes, they're both sitting on Chris's lap. Again.)
(Side note: I hate the wallpaper in my office, which is why it’s covered in kid artwork. If this house wasn’t a rental, I would tear it down so fast.)

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I will admit, however, that I am not at the top of my parenting game when the kids are home while I’m trying to work. They get way more screen time than they should, because it’s the easiest way to keep them quiet and happy so I can concentrate. Catie has played more hours of Minecraft this week than I can count, and Lucy’s new obsession is the movie “Aladdin,” which she probably watched at least 20 times.

And I mean, on the scale of annoying Disney movies, there are far worse options than “Aladdin.” Robin Williams as the Genie is pretty brilliant. But good lord, if I ever get the song “A Whole New World” out of my head, I will dance for joy. I would rather hear “Let It Go” all day than that song.

At least she’s moved on from her brief “Snow White” obsession, though. I had forgotten how high-pitched and screechy Snow White’s voice is. That movie was going to break me sooner than later.

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On one of our recent snow days, the kids were starting to get restless and whiny, so I suggested we do a Family Movie Night. I know, I know, more screen time, just what they need, but we were stuck in the house and I was dead from working all day.

We got “Big Hero 6” on pay-per-view, since none of us had seen it. Lucy was bored because there’s no princesses and no singing, so it wasn’t her type of movie. Catie liked it, even though it made her cry. And Chris and I both really enjoyed it, probably more than the kids.

I will say, my favorite thing about the movie was that there were two nerdy, science-loving girls who were totally badass and just as tough as the boys, and I kind of want to make Catie re-watch the movie every day just to reinforce that message. For a kid who already thinks of herself as weird for not liking “girl stuff,” I don’t think she can see that too much.

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Random and off-topic, but since I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time around my kids lately:

My favorite recent Lucy-ism is when something bothers her, she says, “it makes me annoying!”

Also, anything that happened in the past is “last earlier.” As in, “We went to the mall last earlier.” It could’ve been yesterday, could’ve been something that happened a year ago. It’s all last earlier. I have no idea where she got that, but I’ve heard it so many times that it kind of makes sense to me.

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While this winter weather break has been manageable, I would really like some warmer temps right about now. Not just because my work productivity plummets when the kids are home or because I’m worried about all the school they’re missing, but also because I am tired of running on my treadmill since the sidewalks and greenways are all covered in ice. A little nature would be nice. Hopefully it’ll be back soon.

haircuts and snow days

The last time I got a cut and color was close to six months ago. I’ve been long overdue for a while, and lately I’ve been really itching for a big change. I texted my hairdresser, Kim (who’s also a friend of mine), and set up an appointment.

In the past, when I’ve mentioned making major changes to my hair, Kim usually advises against it. And since she always makes my hair look great, I usually defer to her advice. This time, I was planning my argument in advance: my face has gotten less round/more oval with the weight I’ve lost, and I feel like the long hair is sort of dragging it down and making it look even longer.

Instead, as soon as I walked in, she looked at me for a minute and said, “So! How adventurous do you feel today?”

And this is why I love her: she gets me.

So. I kinda went and chopped many, many inches off my hair today.
The before and after shot.

She also re-did the color, with a few dark red panels underneath that only peek out if I’m in the sunlight. Nothing too severe or crazy, but enough that I felt like I got a major change (at least by my relatively tame standards).

I’ve gotten lots of compliments on it already, and Chris loves it. Funny story: way back when we first met, I remember that his dating profile said something about how he liked girls with short hair, and I kind of joked that if that was the case, I clearly wasn’t his type. Yesterday, I had told him that I was going to get a haircut, but I didn’t tell him how much I was taking off (I would normally just trim maybe a 1/2 inch), so this was kind of a surprise. And based on the way he couldn’t stop touching my neck last night, I’m going to venture a guess that he seems to be a big fan.

As for the kids, Catie said she liked it. Lucy gave me the backhanded non-compliment with, “Wow, Mommy, your hair sure is… different!” Um, thanks? But, you know, this is a child who says she wants “long hair like Rapunzel,” so I’m probably not taking my fashion cues from the three year-old.

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Completely unrelated topic jump!

This week has been insane, weather wise. The schools let out early on Monday because of snow in the forecast, and they’ve been closed all week because of icy road conditions.

I was kinda bummed that the kids are at their dad's on their snow day, so I didn't get to take them out to play. I'm glad he texted me these. (Catie looks like she's meditating on the ice, but she was just mad about having her picture taken.)
The girls liked the snow the first day. After that, they were just kind of over it. (JUST LIKE THE REST OF US.)

And really, I’m incredibly lucky because our daycare has been open a lot of the time that the schools have been closed, and even when they closed early (during the worst of the weather), my parents helped out, Chris has helped out, and Dave and I have managed to divide up the time with the kids, so we’re both able to meet our deadlines and not go crazy.

Making silly faces.
Well, ok, maybe a little crazy.

It’s been a stressful wrench thrown into our routine, but we’ve gotten through it fairly easily. I don’t know how other families with less of a support system manage when these things happen.

Really, though? I mainly want the snow to melt so I can get back to running without worrying about slipping on ice. And yes, I know that by comparison to other parts of the country, the amount of snow and ice we’ve gotten here is nothing. (Sorry, people of Massachusetts, but there’s a reason I only lived there for a year, and then moved at the first opportunity. Southern girls don’t do snow.)

And I also know that in another 3 or 4 months, I’ll be complaining about how hot it is when I run. The thing is, I don’t really mind the cold all that much, I can bundle up and still run. It’s just the ice. The cold weather can stick around as long as it wants, as long as the sidewalks and greenways are clear.

Oh well. I’ll stop whining now, go lace up my sneakers, and fire up my tablet so I can watch a movie on Netflix while I run on the treadmill. There are worse things in life, I know.