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.

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.


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.

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.

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


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.


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.


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.

on being a nerdy girl

Catie’s best friend at school this year has been a little boy who I’m going to call A. She’s been coming home talking about him nearly every day. Once, she said, “Mom, I have to wear my Minecraft t-shirt to school tomorrow, because A is going to wear his, and we want to match!”

It was pretty adorable. She asked if he could come over for a playdate. She even mentioned having a crush on him, but when I asked her if she knew what that meant, it sounded more like a friend-crush than a romantic crush. I asked her, “Do you mean like you really like him and want to be around him all the time? Or do you mean hugging and kissing?”

She said, “Kinda just the first part, not the hugging and kissing stuff.”

*whew* Thank God, because I’m so not ready for that.

One night last week, Catie came home in a foul mood. She was picking fights with Lucy over nothing, being rude to me, and just generally not being herself. She knows how to push my buttons sometimes, and I was not handling her outbursts gracefully at all. She was yelling, I was yelling back, it was just a bad scene.

After the kids took a bath and we’d both taken a little time to calm down, I tried to talk with her. She said, “I’m not friends with A anymore.”

Ahh, ok, lightbulb. So that’s why she’s being such a pain in the butt, she’s upset about something completely unrelated. I should have guessed.

I asked what happened. Apparently they’d had a disagreement about some game they were playing, and she said when he got mad at her, “he told me that I should stop playing video games and just go play with Barbies.”

Yeah, so, pretty much the most hurtful thing you could say to an anti-girly girl like Catie.

She was just so sad about it. She said, “I feel like an idiot because I only like boy stuff.”

I told her that she likes what she likes, and I never want her to change what she likes because of what other people think. Because I think it’s awesome that she’s into science and video games, and those are not supposed to be “boy things” or “girl things.”

Wearing a Skylanders t-shirt while she plays Minecraft. Just so she has all her bases covered. I love that weirdo.
Wearing a Skylanders t-shirt while she plays Minecraft. Just so she has all her bases covered.

It was interesting because the conversation segued into talking a little about sexism in society in general, and I gave her sort of a G-rated recap of GamerGate. Obviously, I didn’t explain rape threats or doxxing to my 7 year-old, but I told her about how there are some men who think women shouldn’t like video games, so they say nasty things to those women to try to make them stop liking them. (Like I said, keeping it G-rated.)

And then that led a little into talking about my own career in IT, and how I’m often the only girl in the room at work. Which is fine, I’ve been working in the IT industry for about 15 years now, so I’m pretty used to it by now. But as much as I love my job (and I really do), it’s still sometimes a little uncomfortable to realize you’re always the anomaly in the group.

(At my office, there are about 100 people, give or take. Of those, there are 6 women. Three of them are in administrative, non-technical roles. And that’s not even unusual in my experience. So, yeah, I’d say women are definitely a minority.)

I also told her a story I hadn’t thought about in years, which is how I got started in the IT field in the first place. And I don’t think I’ve ever blogged this story, so here goes.

So, I got my bachelor’s degree in journalism. After I graduated, I found out that journalists make no money. I was offered a position as a reporter for a newspaper in the next town over from where I lived, and the starting salary was less than I was making as a secretary. That’s when I realized I was in trouble (student loans!), and started looking for other possible careers.

I knew I was good with computers (I had installed a modem in my parents’ Windows 3.11 PC, and learned how to set up dial-up Internet access… oh, the 90s). And I had a lot of friends who had jobs in tech support (as I explained it to Catie, “the people you call on the phone when you can’t get your computer to work, and they explain to you how to fix it”). So, I thought, well hey, I can do that.

Here’s the kicker: there was a guy I was sort of casually dating at the time, and he was one of the people I knew who worked in tech support. When I told him I was thinking about pursuing it as a career, he flat-out said, “You can’t do that, you’re not smart enough.”

Catie was horrified when I said that. “But you ARE smart!”

[Side note: That dude didn’t know that I graduated Magna Cum Laude, or that I was in the National Honor Society, or anything about my academic background, because he really wasn’t interested in knowing much about me. 22 year-old me had very poor judgment when it came to boys. If there was any area of life where I wasn’t smart enough, that was it.]

So, really? My entire career in IT can be traced back to the one guy who made me think, “Know what? Screw you. I’ll SHOW you that I’m smart enough.”

Last time I heard from that guy was years later, when I was living in Seattle and working at Microsoft, and he was still answering phones at a helpdesk call center in Memphis, so… I’m gonna go ahead and say I won.

Catie asked, “So how much more money do you make than him now?” I said I don’t know, but since I was smart enough to get a college degree and he wasn’t, I’m going to guess that I make a lot more than him. I mean, it’s a generalization, but statistically pretty likely. And I figured it was a good time to emphasize to Catie the importance of education and going to college.

As for Catie and her friend, nothing has really changed in the past week. It sounds like she’s been playing with other kids at school because she and A are still mad at each other. Maybe they’ll make up, maybe they won’t. But no matter what, I don’t want anyone to ever make my daughter feel like she isn’t brilliant and amazing just the way that she is. Because my god, is she ever.

Catie & her bearded dragon, Spyro Jones. (He's getting so big!)

emerging like the flowers in springtime

Oh hey, poor little neglected blog of mine.

I feel like I’m just coming out of a fog. The past few weeks at work have been intense. My boss warned me to expect my workload to get really heavy around the end of February, but I didn’t really know just how involved it was all going to be. For the last few weeks, my life has looked more or less like this on the days I had the kids with me:

* Get up, get myself & the kids dressed, get them to school/daycare.
* Come home, sit at desk, work work work.
* Pick kids up, feed them dinner, bathe them, and get them to bed.
* As soon as the kids are asleep, sit back down at my desk and work until 2 a.m.
* Get up at 7 a.m. and repeat.

On the days when the kids were with Dave, I’d just roll out of bed, plop at my desk in my PJs and work straight through until 2 or 3 a.m. There were days (DAYS!) without showers. I’m not proud.

It was insane. There was one other co-worker who was doing a lot of work on this same project, and we’d be sending each other emails in the middle of the night to check in. When we finished this project last week, he emailed me and said, “I feel like I just survived a war with you.” (Obviously an exaggeration, but… yeah.)

The weird thing is? As exhausting as it was, and as stressful as it got at times, I really loved it. I’m fortunate to have a job that I genuinely enjoy, and I loved feeling like part of a team effort, and getting positive feedback from manager-types that they liked what I had done.

So, everything officially finished and “went live” online last week. I took most of this week off, and I’ve been a lazy bum, and it has been glorious. I found a Groupon deal for a massage, which I desperately needed after sitting at my desk for so many hours (my shoulders were in knots), I got a haircut, I took naps. The downtime has been really nice. And hopefully when I get back to work on Monday, the pace will be a little more normal and not quite as frantic as it has been.


The downside to the crazy workload is that I felt like I was neglecting everything else in my life: my kids didn’t have my full attention when they were here, and Chris and I didn’t get much time either. So I’ve been trying to make it up to them.

Last Friday – the day after my project finished – Catie’s school had their annual Fun Run, and it also happened that daycare was closed for a teacher workday. So I kept Lucy with me, and we went to Catie’s school to watch the Fun Run.

Lucy and I found a spot where we could see Catie as she ran by, and she could high-five us as she passed.

Since people can sponsor the kids based on the number of laps that they run, they cap them at 35 laps. Catie ran 37 – the extra 2 were just for fun. She’s a better runner than I’ll ever be.

(It’s worth noting that because of my job, I almost never get to see these types of things, so this was a really special treat for all of us.)

After the Fun Run, Lucy and I headed up to my office (funny that I have a cubicle there, even though I mostly work from home) to pick up some Girl Scout cookies that one of my co-workers was keeping for me. Lucy had never been to my office before, so that was kind of fun. I had told her that she’d need to be quiet so she wouldn’t disturb anyone. As we walked through the office, she kept loudly stage-whispering, “We hafta be quiet so peoples can do their work!” Yeah. Nice job there, kiddo. Let’s grab our cookies and get outta here.

It was a fun day, although it sort of emphasized to me what it probably feels like to be a stay-at-home mom on an average weekday, and I realized that life is not for me. It feels terrible to say, but as much as I love my kids, I’m a much better mom when I get a break from them. (Plus the fact that I really do like my job, which I think helps.) By 6 p.m., I was tossing back Advil and ready for bed. I don’t think I could be a stay-at-home mom every day. Hats off to those of you who do it.


As long as I’m blogging about things that happened a week ago: last Saturday, we finally had some really nice spring weather, and my dad and I took the kids to our nearby greenway to let them ride their bikes.

Catie, my ever-cautious girl, won’t let us take the training wheels off her bike yet, but she’s getting a lot better at riding independently and not being scared of her bike, so we’ll call it progress.

When I mentioned taking the training wheels off, she said, “maybe next year when I’m 8.” Ok, baby, whatever you say. I’m not really in any big rush to make her hit those big-kid milestones before she’s ready.

Lucy, on the other hand, very much wanted to steer her tricycle all over the path, and she was a little annoyed that Pop-Pop had the handle in back and kept making her go straight and not veer off in front of random joggers and their dogs.


This weekend, the girls are with Dave, and I have absolutely nothing on my agenda. It feels foreign and strange and lovely. I’m planning to go for a long (or longer than usual) run, then hit up my local drugstore in search of Easter basket treats and a new mascara. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday, I gotta say.

This Week

Things that happened this week that I totally forgot to blog about because, hot damn, y’all, I am TIRED.

1. My brother and sister came over from Charlotte last weekend to hang out. That was fun, even though I completely forgot to take any pictures whatsoever.

2. Everyone (my brother, my sister, and my mom) went back to their respective homes on Sunday. We were very sad about that. Or at least, Catie and I were sad; Lucy honestly didn’t seem to notice much.

3. I survived 48 hours on solo parent duty with a four year-old and a newborn.

Um, Catie, that doesn't look very comfy for your sister.

That probably seems like nothing to some people, but for me, it felt like a pretty major accomplishment.

4. Dave got back from England on Tuesday evening. Thank God.

5. Also on Tuesday: I started back to work. And Lucy turned 6 weeks old.

Who, me? I'm not sleepy at all!
Whaaa? Where does the time go?

6. I moved Lucy to her crib, because she’s such a light sleeper that she wakes up if I so much as roll over or clear my throat. I thought maybe we might all get some more sleep that way. She’s spent the last 2 nights in her crib, and it’s been semi-successful. She’s gone from sleeping 2.5 hours at a time to sleeping 3 hours at a time, so… yay? I guess? I’ll celebrate once she’s consistently sleeping 4+ hours at a time. (Soon. Please, God, let it be soon.)

7. I’m finally starting to feel the post-partum crazies set in. I know that it’s just the accumulation of several weeks’ worth of exhaustion, and it’s all stuff that will pass as soon as I get some rest. But this has not been my best week, to put it mildly.

8. We have no plans this weekend, and I am so looking forward to that. I might not get out of my pajamas until Monday.

The 19 Week Belly

Last night, I was walking from the living room back into the kitchen, when Dave sort of looked at me sideways.

Dave: “So… Has anyone at work asked you if you’re pregnant yet?”

Me: “Nope.”

Dave: “Well then, they’re obviously just being polite, because, DAMN.”

Uh.. thank you, my love?

Here’s the thing: the office where I work? Is almost entirely male. And the guys are all nerds, which means they’re overall a relatively shy bunch, and I’m pretty sure they’d rather die than risk offending me by asking if I’m pregnant.

So, you know what? Fine. Let them wonder if maybe I just went balls-out nuts with the holidays treats this year. I’m not that bothered by it.

But something that has been bothering me, is the fact that my maternity clothes don’t fit me very well. My starting weight when I got pregnant with Catie was 20 pounds lighter than this time, so my old maternity clothes are mostly too tight, too short, or I feel like my boobs are going to fall out of them. (And don’t get me wrong, I don’t have giant pregnant hooters now. I’m just not used to having anything, so actually filling out a B cup is sort of mind-blowing to me.)

[Random aside: I was wearing one of the shirts that makes me feel extra cleavage-y the other day when I was helping Catie get dressed. I leaned over to help her get her pants on, and she put her hand on my chest and said, “I like your boobs, Mommy.” I was sort of dumbstruck for a response, but finally I said, “Thanks. Me too.”]

Since I worked crazy overtime hours yesterday, I decided to make up for it by taking off a little early today, and I headed to the mall to try to find some maternity clothes that fit me.

19 weeks pregnant

So, yeah. I think I might be showing a bit?

The crazy thing is that at my doctor’s appointment last week, the scale said I’d only gained two pounds so far. I don’t understand how a belly that large can only account for two measly pounds, and lord knows I have not been making any effort whatsoever at maintaining a healthy diet or exercise plan with this pregnancy. So I guess stuff must be redistributing itself from other parts of my body, but damned if I know.

But if this is how large I look at 19 weeks, I’m terrified to think of how huge I’m going to be in about three months from now!