five years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waiting for fireworks. Happy 4th of July!

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

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

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

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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

March 17, 2017Permalink

4 months until kindergarten

Lucy starts kindergarten the week of August 1st. That means it’s officially less than four months away. That also means I only have 3 more daycare payments left, and OMG, it’s going to be like I got a huge raise as of August.

We’ve been talking a lot about kindergarten at home, and she’s very excited to go to “big school” with Catie. Although funny thing I realized: the girls will only be at the same school for 2 years. Catie will be in 4th grade while Lucy is in kindergarten, and the following year when Catie is in 5th grade and Lucy is in 1st. After that, Catie will be off to middle school. By the time Lucy goes to middle school, Catie will be starting high school. And by the time Lucy goes to high school, Catie will be in college. So, that’s it. Two years is all I get, and then I’ll have to start doing a lot more juggling. Middle and high schools start and end their days at different times than elementary, it’s going to be a lot to manage. I’m already overwhelmed just thinking about it.

It’s funny that as much as Catie complains about Lucy – which I think is part of the job description of big sisters, to complain about their little sisters – she’s actually very protective of her. She’s talked with Lucy about how next year, when they ride the bus home after school, Lucy can sit with her and Catie will make sure she’s ok. Those moments may be few and far between, but they’re very sweet when they happen.

Fancy girls on Easter

But while Lucy is this hilarious little goofball and a non-stop chatterbox at home, she’s a completely different child with the rest of the world. She gets incredibly shy and quiet when she’s around people she doesn’t know. When other adults speak to her (like if the checkout lady at the store offers her a sticker), she won’t answer, she just buries her face in my shirt and tries to hide. If Catie is there, she’ll answer for her, but I often find myself apologizing for her, so people don’t think she’s being rude. “Sorry, she’s a little shy today.” This morning, she saw a new doctor (a specialist for some of her GI issues), and she wouldn’t answer any of his questions. She’d nod yes or shake her head no, but she never spoke.

Last weekend, I took her to a friend’s birthday party, and she spent most of the party on my lap with her face buried in my chest. She eventually got up and went to play, but it was toward the end of the party. Afterward, I asked her why she was so shy when most of the kids there were her friends, and she said, “But I’d never been to their house before!” So, new environments throw her off.

Even at daycare, where she’s been going since she was 2 months old, it took several weeks after she moved up to the Pre-K class for her to adjust and get used to the new teacher. She (the teacher) told me later she was worried that Lucy might have some sort of speech delay, because she never talked. “But now she talks my ear off all day, so I know she’s fine!” And while it’s reassuring to know that she’s doing well in her class now, it’s still a little disconcerting that her teacher would think there might have been something wrong with her.

Lucy was upset we ran out of baby carrots. "What can I have with ranch on it?" (She is so my child.) Salad FTW! She's had 2 bowls & counting.

So, in light of all that, I’m a little worried about my baby girl starting kindergarten. It’s a big change going from a daycare class of about 6 to 8 kids to a classroom of 20+ students. She’ll be shy with the other students at first, but especially with the teacher. Before the first day of school, there will be a kindergarten orientation where we meet her teacher, and she can check out her new classroom and get a little more familiar with her new surroundings, but I think it’s probably going to take a while for her to settle in.

My mom called me out of the blue the other day, and said, “Oh my god, it just occurred to me: what are you going to do about Lucy’s lunch when she starts kindergarten? She won’t speak to the lunch lady to tell her what she wants!” Catie buys her lunch at school, but I was already planning to pack Lucy’s lunch for her, since she’s lactose intolerant and I don’t want to risk her eating something with milk or cheese in it. The other motivation for packing Lucy’s lunch – to keep her from needing to talk to strangers – hadn’t occurred to me, but I guess it’s an equally valid reason.

I don’t know if this is a phase or just who she is. Maybe she’ll always be shy around new people and in new situations. And that’s ok, we can adapt to it and help ease her along. But I hope that someday, everyone else gets to see the Lucy that I know.

Post-hair wash, wearing her shades and my fleece socks. As one does.

Because that kid is pretty fantastic.

April 8, 2016Permalink

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.

November 9, 2015Permalink

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 pliè and relevé), 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.

October 12, 2015Permalink

and we didn’t even see a single shark

I had been thinking about taking the girls to the beach back in July, when Catie was on her summer break, but there were all kinds of stories in the news about people getting bitten by sharks, and it kind of freaked me out. I fully realize that it’s statistically far more likely that we’d get hurt in a car accident or a million other ways before anything involving a shark. But I already have a weird phobia about open bodies of water – I’m fine in swimming pools, but I hate boats, and at the beach I don’t go in the water past my knees. So just the idea of sharks was enough to keep me away.

Then last week, I realized it was August, it’s been weeks since there have been any shark incidents on the news, and I really hated the idea of skipping out on something that’s become an annual tradition for our family. So, on Saturday, we loaded up the car and went to Wrightsville Beach for the day.

It’s about a 2-hour drive to the coast, which isn’t that bad, although it’s long enough for the girls to really get on each other’s nerves and start fighting. At some point I felt like the cliche of every parent on earth when I yelled, “I will turn this car around and we will go back home if you do not leave each other alone FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!” (My mom would probably find that hilarious, since it’s pretty much verbatim what she said to us on countless road trips when I was a kid.)

Once we got to the beach, the girls had a blast, and you’d never know from the pictures I got that they were at each other’s throats in the car just mere moments prior.

Beach!
See? Total angels. Ha. Haaaaaa.

Catie has been taking swim lessons this summer, so she’s gotten a lot braver in the water, but she’s still very careful in the ocean. She found some other kids around her age and hung out with them, building sand castles and jumping waves.

Catie in the ocean

Lucy is a little more unsure about the ocean, but she had fun lying on the sand and waiting for the waves to roll up over her. She also had me carry her out to jump waves, which was fine, since we stayed in the very shallow water.

Lucy kept lying on the sand, waiting for the waves to roll up over her

After about 4 hours, when they’d completely worn themselves out, we loaded everything back into the car, grabbed some dinner, and headed home. Both girls slept most of the way, and I hated to wake them up when we got home, but they both needed showers after playing in the sand for so long. They got to bed way later than normal, but since it was a Saturday night, no big deal.

That night, around 2:30 a.m., Lucy came into my room and said, “Mama, I throwed up in my bed.” Chris stripped the sheets off her bed while I cleaned her up. She spent the rest of the night and most of Sunday feverish, puking, and miserable. Poor little goose.

Fortunately, it was just a 24-hour bug, because by Monday morning, she was completely fine. I kept her home on Monday anyway, because daycare wants them to be fever-free for 24 hours before they go back to school, and I wanted to keep an eye on her. Kids bounce back so quickly, though, she really was completely fine all day. And she was excited that she got to come with me up the street to meet Catie at the bus stop, since she’s normally at daycare and doesn’t get to do that.

A series of "waiting for Catie's school bus" selfies.
A series of “waiting for Catie’s school bus” selfies.

Unrelated to anything: I’ve decided I’m tired of the girls having bangs, because their hair grows so fast and their bangs constantly need to be trimmed. So we’ve started growing them out. (Hence why Lucy’s hair is pinned back in those above pics.) It’s an annoying process, always trying to find hair clips in the morning, and convincing Lucy not to pull hers out halfway through the day, but I think it’ll be worth it in the long run. I know I’m biased and all, but I happen to really like seeing their entire faces.

August 12, 2015Permalink

how we spent our summer vacation

I haven’t blogged much lately, so I sort of forgot to mention that Catie finished 2nd grade a few weeks ago, and she’ll be a third grader as of Monday.

Last day of 1st grade vs last day of 2nd grade. She's grown so much this year, and Catie is now a 3rd grader!

At the same time, Lucy has moved up to the pre-K class at daycare, which feels completely surreal, because it’s the exact classroom where Catie was, 4+ years ago when I was pregnant with Lucy.

Show & Tell at daycare. Lucy opted to wear her Anna dress and bring her matching Anna doll, because what else would you expect? (...And a fruit snack for the car ride because carpool is long & boring.)
(She’s a big fan of Show & Tell day.)

Catie has pretty much outgrown the “school-age” camp at our daycare, most of the kids there are in kindergarten or first grade, and she didn’t want to go anymore. She was scheduled to go to Science Camp for one week (it was last week, and she loved it), but she asked if for the rest of her summer break, she could just stay home with me.

I should explain a little about my job here, because I don’t talk about it much: I work on a small-ish team at a large company. My team is maybe 70 or so people, but we’re spread out all over the U.S., and some people are in the U.K., Russia, and China. My manager is based in California. Because of time zone issues, working from home makes more sense than a set 8 to 5 office schedule. It has its downsides; I often end up working late at night after the girls are asleep, when I’d much rather curl up on the couch with Chris and watch the Daily Show. But it also means that my daytime schedule is super-flexible. I know most working parents don’t have this type of telecommute option, and I feel very fortunate that I can have this flexible schedule working at a job I happen to love.

So, Catie wanted to have some “lazy time” at home, and I don’t mind, because she’s pretty self-sufficient and easy to have around. The problem is that I didn’t want her to sit on the couch playing Minecraft all day. (I have no issue with Minecraft, I think it’s actually good for their creativity to build things, but there’s no video game in the world that needs to be played all day.) And since I’m working, I can’t completely disrupt my schedule to help entertain her with various projects.

She did this same thing during her 3-week spring break in April, and I made a deal with her that if she wanted to stay home, she was going to have to run with me, because at least she’d be getting SOME exercise and fresh air. And let me say, that was a terrible idea. The thing I love about running is that I can lose myself in it and zone out, and you cannot zone out when your 8 year-old is whining that it’s too hard and she wants to just walk for a while. So I’d get irritable and start barking at her like a drill sergeant, she’d get pouty, and it just sucked.

Now, though, it’s July and it’s too hot to run most days. (I have a rule that I don’t run if the heat index is above 85. I love running, but I’m not a masochist.) So on this summer break, our daily exercise break is to go to the pool; Catie plays while I swim laps. I’m normally hyper-vigilant about watching my kids in the pool, but Catie is so cautious, she never goes past the water that’s 3 1/2 feet deep because she doesn’t want to be in over her head, and there are always 2 lifeguards on duty. So she’s fine, she plays with the other kids and has fun, and for a few weird minutes I feel like one of those stay-at-home moms who can do nothing but hang out at the pool with their kids on a weekday. Except not, because I swim laps for about 30-40 minutes, then we come home and shower so I can get back to work.

[Side note: swimming is WAY harder for me than running, and I am ridiculously bad at it. With running, I know I’m slow, but I don’t care because: whatever, I’m running. With swimming, I feel like a baby elephant flopping around in a bathtub.]

Also, if she’s had too much screen time, I bought Just Dance 2015 for the Wii, and yes ok, it’s still a video game, but at least she’s up and moving. I’ve done it with the girls a few times, and that game is a workout. So, if she starts whining that she’s bored: ok, go try to beat your high score on “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry.

(I admit, I mainly bought the game because it includes “Let It Go.” Try to guess which one of my kids has the high score on that one. Go on, guess. Hint: it’s exactly who you think it is.)

And really, she’s been great. She hasn’t whined much, and she’s spent a lot of time working on little art projects (as the growing stack of her drawings on my desk can attest), not playing video games. It’s been really nice having her around.

At the same time, I’m excited for her to start school on Monday. Partly because I want to get back into our regular routine, but also because THIRD GRADE. She’s getting so grown up! It’s both weird and completely amazing to witness.

July 23, 2015Permalink

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.

June 15, 2015Permalink