eat your lettuce and be sad

So, I didn’t finish Whole30, and I’m not going to.

Here’s what I learned through doing it twice, and lasting about 10-14 days each time: I should probably avoid sugar and grains for the most part. Dairy and legumes aren’t much of an issue for me, but sugar and grains definitely affect my energy levels, and make me feel bloated and gross. So I guess it was a worthwhile experiment to learn what my “bad” foods are.

The problem is that foods containing sugar and grains tend to be my favorite foods (cookies! donuts! cake!), so it isn’t practical to avoid them altogether. But I’m trying to adjust my usual daily routine so that they become occasional treats rather than daily staples, and so far that’s working ok.

Also: artificial sweeteners. This is the first time in my life I’ve cut out artificial sweeteners completely. I was a Diet Coke addict from middle school until about 2 years ago. After I gave it up, though, I always put Sweet & Low in my coffee and iced tea. I’ve cut that out – I gave up iced tea completely, and now just put a little milk in my coffee. And I’ve noticed that since I started doing that, I have significantly fewer headaches.

(The Whole30 book mentions that artificial sweeteners are several hundred times sweeter per tablespoon than regular sugar, so they tend to trigger the part of our brain that craves more sugar. I don’t know how much of that science is true, but I’ve noticed that I have less frequent “OMG I need some Skittles” urges now, so that’s good. I mean, I still want the Skittles, don’t get me wrong, but it’s less… urgent? I don’t know. It’s odd.)

And yeah, this post so far can pretty much be summed up with this GIF:









I know, I know. I’ll stop.


So! Other stuff.

This weekend, the girls were with me, and Chris and I really wanted to see the new Avengers movie. I thought Catie would enjoy it, because she seemed to like the first movie, but she wasn’t in the mood. So, we left the girls with my parents on Saturday night, and had a little movie date night.

Obligatory date night selfie. About to get our geek on & watch the Avengers 2.

The movie was good – honestly, I never watched any comic book movies until Chris and I started dating (well, ok, Christopher Reeve as Superman when I was a kid, I guess). Now I’ve seen several of the Marvel movies, and I think they’re pretty fun. I mean, they’re not going to win any Oscars (except maybe for special effects), but they’re entertaining.


Thinking of other TV/movie stuff, here’s some random notes on things we’re watching:

* Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD – Sort of related to the Avengers thing. It’s more of a spy show than a superhero-y show, and it’s pretty light and fun to watch. (I mean, the superhero/alien stuff does come up, but it’s not the main focus.) Also, I kind of have a crush on Clark Gregg. But I tend to go for nerdy, funny guys, and he is a total nerd who gets the best one-liners.

* Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – I really didn’t think I would be able to get Chris to watch this with me, and even he thought it was funny. So, consider that a ringing endorsement if I can get the dude who doesn’t watch sitcoms to watch a sitcom.

* Justified – We started watching this on Amazon Prime recently, and we’re about to start season 2. I think I like it? Some of it is a little gory, and there are some highly questionable Southern accents being thrown around, but it’s good. And Timothy Olyphant is… uh… not hard to look at.

* Game of Thrones – I’ll be honest, this is Chris’s show, not mine. I can’t cope with the extreme violence, so I hang out in the room while it’s on, but I usually play Candy Crush on my phone, so I have something else to look at during the gross parts. (I don’t do well with violence/gore. We only made it 2 episodes into the Walking Dead before I started having nightmares and had to stop. I’m a wuss.) So, I watch it, and I’m curious to know what’s going to happen next, but I’m also still like, “wait, who is that guy and how is he related?” Chris says my confusion at Game of Thrones character names is how he feels at my family reunions, which I guess is fair enough.

* The Americans – It’s SO GOOD. Season 3 just finished, and dang. It’s also got some really intense violence where I have to cover my face, but the characters are so complex and the storylines are fascinating, and it’s just. so. good. First 2 seasons are streaming on Amazon Prime. Go watch it, if you haven’t already.

* Better Call Saul – I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Chris and I both liked it a lot. Already can’t wait for season 2.

* Once Upon a Time – I really loved this show for a while, but it’s now in season 4 and starting to get a little ridiculous. A lot of the plotlines lately are wearing pretty thin. I think it was pretty clear they were running out of Disney storylines when they brought in Cruella DeVil as one of the villains. I’m not sure if/how they can turn it around, but for whatever reason, we’re still watching it. I guess I just want to see how it ends.

* The Flash – This is the show Catie and Chris watch together, while I go play with Lucy. I don’t get it, but they both love it, and I like that they have a “thing” they do together.

* Blacklist – I don’t even know why I put this on the list, we started season 1 on Netflix and gave up. It’s absurd. Every single episode has at least one moment where one of us says, “well, that’s dumb, nobody would ever do that.” It’s got Mike from “Homeland”! And the girl who played Jess in “Bend It Like Beckham”! And James freaking Spader! And it still sucks. Sorry, I can’t.


Anyway, not much else going on here. Trying to get outside and enjoy this spring weather as much as possible before it gets too unbearably hot.

Sisters in the sandbox.

The kids don’t seem to mind too much either.

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.


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.


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.


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.)

six and a half

I know that lately all of my posts have been about my relationship or my boobs, but can I stop for just a minute here and talk about Catie?

Because, my god. That kid.

She is this amazing combination of toddler and teenager. She can still throw a tantrum with the best of them — although to be fair, she didn’t have them for a long time, it’s only been since Lucy hit the “terrible twos” that Catie has started acting out again (obviously a case of sibling competition happening here). At the same time, she can throw her hands on her hips and heave a sigh at me, and I swear it feels like a 14 year-old just showed up in my house.

She picks up on everything. I can’t spell words around her anymore because she’ll immediately figure out what I’m trying to say that I don’t want her to hear.

She’s tall and skinny and she’s all long limbs that she hasn’t quite mastered yet. She’s clumsy, like a baby horse trying to find its legs.

She hides from my camera now, and on the rare occasions when she does smile for a picture, she does it awkwardly.

The first time they both let me put their hair up on the same day

There are two missing teeth in that smile. Every day, she checks the mirror to see if her “grown-up teeth” have come in yet.

She loves Skylanders and Angry Birds and Plants Vs Zombies and a million other video games, and I have no doubt that she’s going to grow up to be a video gamer chick. Her favorite baby-sitter plays Legend of Zelda with her after Lucy goes to bed.

She’s a tomboy. She doesn’t like to wear dresses, and on the rare occasions when she does, she wants to wear leggings or shorts under them (which is FINE with me.)

She still says she wants to be a paleontologist when she grows up.

One of her favorite songs is “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

She loves “Eye of the Tiger,” and songs by Michael Jackson and Duran Duran. She had me put the entire Xanadu soundtrack on her iPad so she can listen to it over & over, just like I did when I was a kid. (Only, you know, mine was on a cassette tape.)

She also loves most songs on pop radio – she’s a big Macklemore fan. I love singing along with her in the car while we drive.

She still believes in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, although I know I only have a couple of years left for that. (I learned about Santa when I was 7.) One day, because of scheduling issues, she had to come with me to my chiropractor’s appointment, and he – being kind of an oddball dude – showed her a couple of magic tricks. She was amazed. It struck me that to her, there was no slight of hand or trick of the eye, that magic was all real to her. Which is pretty awesome.

But oh, she can be difficult. She’ll whine that I don’t like her because I only take care of Lucy and I don’t do anything for her, she’ll dig her heels in and refuse to try something new just because I suggested it, she’ll throw a fit because Lucy dared to pick up a toy that she hasn’t touched or played with in at least a year.

But then she’ll go the other direction and blow my mind. She’ll get out her old Halloween costumes so she and Lucy can play dinosaurs together…

Oh dear. Looks like there are dinosaurs in my bed.

…Or she, the one I’ve always called my Cautious Girl, will decide to go to some giant indoor trampoline place, which she would’ve been too scared to attempt even just a year ago, and she’ll launch herself off of a trampoline into a giant pit of foam blocks…

My super cautious girl getting ready to jump off a trampoline into a pit of foam blocks.

…Or she’ll sit down with Lucy to try to teach her how to write letters and color within the lines.

One of the few moments where they sit quietly next to each other without fighting.

She has so much empathy for people around her. A little boy at daycare stomped on a caterpillar and killed it when they were playing outside – no reason why, he was just being a jerk, I guess – and Catie sobbed. She said she scooped it up with a leaf and put it under a bush in the shade to “bury it.” And then she cried to me, “And I told him that I hope he has a happy life in heaven.” I told her that heaven needs butterflies too, so it was ok, but she was heartbroken for that caterpillar.

Before kindergarten ended, she came home from school one day and told me, “Everyone in my class says that [little girl’s name] is fat, but I think she’s the beautifulest.” Since I was one of those fat little girls myself, my heart just melted.

Yesterday, I had to get my hair cut, and I had my hairstylist also do Catie’s hair, since it was looking really long and shaggy. She gave her this really great bob cut, and suddenly she looks so much more grown up to me.

My hairstylist also cut Catie's hair. She looks so pretty I can't stand it.

Seriously, I do not know how I created a little girl that is this pretty. (I tend to not say too many flattering things about my ex-husband, but I think he gets the credit for most of her.)

She starts first grade in less than three weeks. I know she’s nervous about it, but she’s ready.

I hope she knows how proud I am of her. I tell her all the time, I just hope she hears me.

Because she is amazing.

On the new sleeping arrangements

To follow up on that last post, I have now set the girls up with a shared bedroom.

Oooh, wait! Funny side story about that: Dave was going to help me move furniture around last weekend, since he was in town. Then Friday night rolled around, and I had a date. Yay for me, right? This guy asked me out to dinner, and I think it’s important to note here that we had gone out once before, and he was still texting me daily, so it’s obviously not like he was completely repulsed by me.

So, we go out to dinner at this really fantastic sushi place, and the waiter is really prompt about refilling my Diet Coke, which is keeping me happy. We had met for dinner at 6:00, and then we finish eating, and I’m like, “So, want to go see a movie or grab a drink or something?” And he was like, “Nah, I’m really tired, I think I just want to go home and go to bed.” He walked me to my car and gave me a hug, and THAT, my friends, was very clearly the end of the date. It was over by 7:15 p.m. On a Friday night.

That’s weird, right? It’s weird. Oh, and then he continued to text me afterward. I swear, I do not understand dudes.

(Also: total waste of both mascara and leg-shaving.)

After the Comically Short Date, I went home and I was thinking that I might watch a movie or something, but I was ridiculously hyped up because I had consumed something like a MILLION Diet Cokes while we were at the restaurant. So, I decided to rearrange all of the furniture by myself. On a Friday night.

(Pro tip: Don’t ever try to move a queen-size bed by yourself, unless you happen to really enjoy any excuse to take muscle relaxers.)


So, the way I did this (for like the 3 people who read this who know what the inside of my house looks like):

* Lucy’s old room is now the guest room. (Which makes sense, because it’s right next to the hall bathroom, so really, it’s friendlier accommodations for my guests.)

* Catie’s old room is now her “office”/playroom. (I got a desk for $30 on craigslist and set her up with all of her art supplies up there. She LOVES it. And it keeps her crayons off of my kitchen table, so I love it too.)

* The former guest room is now the girls’ combined bedroom. I ordered a whole mess of vinyl wall decals, because it lets the kids personalize the room without damaging the walls or making me worry about my security deposit.


Catie chose the design aesthetic. It’s a combination of flowering trees, butterflies… and jungle animals. Because why not, that’s why.

My mom saw it and said, “I love it. I mean, it’s completely insane, but it’s perfect.” I think that about sums it up.

Lucy’s side of the room:
Lucy's side of the new room

Catie’s side of the room:
Catie's side of the new room
(Yes, Catie is a little old for a guard rail, but she is what you might call an “active sleeper,” so trust me, it’s still necessary.)

You may also note that each kid has their own Dream Lite pillow pet on their bed. Bedtime is like a freaking Pink Floyd laser light show up in here.

Anyway, since Dave has been in town, we’ve only had a limited test run with this experiment, but so far, 2 of the 3 nights that they’ve spent in the new room, Lucy slept through the night and didn’t make a peep.

Hang on a second, I’m gonna need to say that again and bust out the all-caps.


Last night was the first night we’ve had a problem, and it was because Catie was snoring like a damn lumberjack and it kept waking Lucy up. I finally remembered to turn on the humidifier – partly to help with Catie’s snoring, but also because the white noise would drown out the sound so Lucy could sleep, and then they both slept fine for the rest of the night.

So, I am being VERY cautious because I don’t want to get overly excited here and jinx everything, but I think we maybe, possibly, kinda-sorta miiiiight have found a solution that’ll work for us.

Now, quick, throw some salt over your shoulder or knock on wood or light a candle or something.


P.S. Gratuitous pic of my kid because it makes me laugh.

Lucy wearing her big sister's hoodie

Yeah. That face. I swear. She’s damn lucky she’s cute.

karate kid, week 1

On Tuesday, I picked Catie up after kindergarten and we headed to the karate studio for her first lesson. She was nervous, as I expected, and said that she wasn’t going to do it, she was just going to sit and watch the class instead. I gave a noncommittal, “Uh-huh, we’ll see,” and kept driving.

There’s a very sweet lady at the front desk, and she was expecting us. She got Catie a uniform and showed her around. The dojo itself, the dressing rooms, the bathrooms, the area where the parents can sit and watch the class. There was something about her, she just had kind of a grandmotherly vibe, and she immediately put Catie at ease. She got into her uniform, and I snapped this picture of her.

Catie's first karate lesson. The uniform is killing me, she's so cute.
(That’s the front desk lady standing next to her smoothing her hair. Like I said, just a really sweet lady who is obviously great with kids.)

We met the instructor, and when he said, “Ok, Catie, come on over here with the other kids,” she did it without prodding. Sometimes it pays to have a kid who likes to please authority figures.

The class starts off with a lot of basic exercises – running, stretching, jumping around, basically just burning off their energy – before they start teaching any actual karate techniques. And since Catie loves P.E. at school, that was right up her alley.

They separated the kids into small groups for the instruction, and it was just Catie and one other little boy working with a teacher. At the end of the lesson, they both got a stripe on their belts for doing the technique well.

She was so excited and proud of herself, and immediately started whining about wanting to go back. We went to my parents’ house to pick up Lucy, and she ran around in her uniform and showed my parents the new moves she learned.

So? First lesson was AWESOME. I was all proud of myself for how awesome I am at this parenting thing, and I was thinking how fantastic this was going to be for her.

You can all stop here to laugh at me now.

Thursday (last night) was her second class. She was all excited, couldn’t wait to get there and get her uniform on. We were a little bit early and she was all squirmy asking how much longer until class started because she just! couldn’t! wait! for karate to start.

Class started and the warm-up was the same as the previous class, and she seemed to be having fun. When they divided up the kids for the instruction, again it was just Catie and one other child, but instead of the main instructor (who she worked with on Tuesday), they put her with a teenage girl (who is a black belt and obviously incredibly gifted at what she does). But I could tell by watching Catie’s face that the lesson just wasn’t registering with her, and she was getting really frustrated.

At the end of the class, they do a run-through of the techniques they’ve learned to see if the kids are proficient in it. And Catie was… not. She wasn’t terrible, but she kept forgetting what to do with her left arm while her right arm was moving, and vice versa. She’s not a particularly coordinated kid (which was part of the motivation for getting her into martial arts in the first place), and you know, she’s new to all of this. It takes practice.

When it was all over, the little boy standing next to her got a stripe on his belt, and Catie didn’t get one. She wasn’t the only kid who didn’t get a stripe (I think that one little boy may have been the only kid in the class of eight who did get a stripe), but she saw him get his, and then she saw the instructor walk past her.

She ran over to me, buried her face in my chest, and burst into tears.

I took her into the dressing room to help her calm down, and also to change out of her uniform and back into her street clothes. She cried and cried. She said, “I just wanted to be better than all the other kids so you would be so proud of me, and I just did dreadful!”

(Don’t ask me where she picked up the word “dreadful.” I’m going to blame that on her British father. Or maybe she’s been watching Downton Abbey when I’m not looking.)

I told her that I was, in fact, SO SO proud of her, and that she wasn’t dreadful at all, she did really well, but she just needs to practice a little to learn these new things.

She said she hates karate and never wants to go again.


We got in the car, and even though it was pouring freezing rain with ridiculous wind gusts, I stopped and bought her an ice cream on the way home. I don’t typically believe in encouraging food as a comfort technique, but damn. Poor kid was having a rough night, and it really did seem to help.

When I was putting her to bed last night, I told her that I don’t want her to try to be better than all of the other kids, I just want her to do the best she can and have fun, and not to worry about how everyone else is doing. I said, “When we go to the bounce house, do you worry if the other kids can jump higher than you, or do you just go jump and have fun? And when you’re playing with dinosaurs at school, do you worry if the other kids know the names of more dinosaurs than you? Or do you just play with dinosaurs?”

I also reminded her that she was the only kid in that class who had been to only two karate classes in their whole life, all of the other kids had been going to karate for a long time, and it was because they practiced that they understood what to do better than she did, because it wasn’t all new to them like it was for her.

Now I’m second-guessing myself and wondering if I should have signed her up for one of those sports where all the kids get “participation trophies” just for showing up. She’s such a reward-focused kid, maybe that would work better for her? But I also believe that in the long run, rewards based on actual merit have more meaning, even to a 5 year-old.

I got her to agree to go to at least one more class. I’m going to try to practice some of the moves with her between now and then. Hopefully she’ll get her stripe next time and it’ll encourage her to keep trying. That was the whole point of doing this in the first place.

on trying new things

Despite the crud that won’t die, the weather this past weekend was gorgeous, and we maximized it by trying to spend as much time outside as possible. Sure, global warming sucks, but getting to wear shorts and flip-flops to the playground in January is pretty awesome.

We spent Sunday at the park with my cousin and her family, and my mom came along too. It was kind of awesome because it was the first time that I wasn’t hyper-vigilantly following both kids around the whole time. Catie had a blast playing with her cousins, so I didn’t need to entertain her at all, and Lucy has decided that she has no fear of climbing on play structures and going down slides by herself. So I sat on a bench, talked with my family, and watched the kids as they ran around and played their hearts out. It was fantastic.

Both of them were filthy and covered in sand by the time we left – Lucy even managed to get sand and bark in her diaper, which? Don’t even ask me how that’s possible. But they were happy and exhausted and everyone slept really well last night.

Little flirt.
Lucy has no idea what I’m talking about with that whole diaper thing. She’s completely innocent. Just look at that face.

But! Before that! On Saturday, since the weather was nice, my parents and I decided to take the kids out on their new bikes that they got for Christmas.

I didn’t get a picture of Lucy on her “bike” (um, tricycle, but she calls it a bike, so whatever), but here it is on Christmas morning.

Lucy and her new tricycle

She doesn’t know how to pedal, but it has a handle that I can push/steer with, so it works.

As for Catie, some backstory first: Catie is cautious to an extreme. The first time you suggest she try something new (a type of food, an activity, whatever), her initial reaction is always to say no. So she was actually kind of upset that Santa brought her a big-kid bike (it’s a two-wheeler with training wheels on it), because she didn’t want one. When I had floated the idea of a bike to her, she said she was “too scared of bikes.”

Once the bike showed up on Christmas morning, she eventually decided that she was ok riding it back and forth across my parents’ kitchen, but she still insisted that she would never, ever ride it outside.

So, my parents put the bikes in their van and brought it to our neighborhood greenway. Catie took one look at the bike and balked. No way was she going to get on it. We tried to reason with her, and she started to have a tantrum about it.

Finally, I said, “Ok, you know what? If you don’t at least try, I’m taking away your iPad for the rest of the weekend.”

The ultimate threat to a nerdy child: that you’ll take away their gadgets.

So she got on the bike, and she immediately loved it. She rode her bike all the way down the greenway to where it ends (at a park with a lake), and after the girls played there for a while, she rode it all the way back.

OMG y'all, she did it! (If you know how cautious Catie is, you know this was a HUGE deal.)

I’m so proud of her. It used to take her a long time to warm up to new ideas, but she’s really getting a lot better about it.

And to that end – the whole “building self-confidence” thing (which has been a problem at kindergarten, too; she just freezes up when she’s asked to try something new for the first time) – I’ve signed her up for martial arts classes. (Huge thank you to Marty for the pass that’s allowing us to try this out for free!)

Her first class is tomorrow. She has said that she doesn’t want to do it, and that she’s just going to watch the first class. Which… um, no, she isn’t. Sorry, kiddo. I’ll hold the iPad hostage again if I have to.

The other motivation for the martial arts class is because I’ve noticed that Catie has a lot of quirks that look like attention deficit disorder, which is not surprising since it runs in both sides of the family. But rather than leaping ahead to getting her tested and on medication, first I thought I’d work on developing her concentration and focus skills this way. I’d rather give her coping mechanisms than drugs.

Of course, I’m not judging and I’m not anti-medication. If it becomes apparent later on down the road that she needs ADD drugs, I’ll certainly give them to her. I just figure that if there are ways to avoid it (or at least postpone it), I should give them a try.

And I have to say, I already can’t wait to see what she looks like in her karate uniform.


(This post is a little rambly. Sorry I’m having a hard time collecting my thoughts lately.)

Dave flew back to Seattle on Sunday. All things considered, his visit here with the girls went exceptionally well. He texted me pictures of them when he took them out places (even the grocery store).

Girls take the wheel(s)! Look out!

In fact, one evening he came to pick up the girls a little early, and I had ordered pizza for them for dinner (because I thought he wasn’t coming until later and I knew they’d be hungry). So he hung out and we ate pizza together, and we talked about our kids and the upcoming election.

It was easy and familiar and completely freaking weird, all at the same time. I’d like to think that it’s the start of a trend, but I also worry that the other shoe is going to drop at some point. (It usually does, right?) But in the meantime, I have to think that it’s good for the kids to see us being pleasant with each other, so I’m hoping that we can keep it up.

On the nights Catie spent with him (we both agreed that Lucy is too young to spend the night away, she needs her crib and her normal bedtime routine), I made a point that I wanted to have a few minutes to either visit with Catie in person or Skype with her each day that she was away. It worked out really well.


One time after spending 2 nights in a row with him, she started to whine that she was homesick, so Dave brought her home to hang out with me. This just happened to be on Friday, which was my mom’s birthday, so she and I put on our matching aprons and made Mimi a birthday cake.

me & my girls on Mimi's birthday
Ignore the fact that I’m a sweaty mess in dire need of lipstick. Look how proud of herself she is!

Oh, one more unnecessary picture because it cracks me up.
Happy birthday, Mimi!
That was taken while we were singing “happy birthday” to Mimi. The WTF-ness on Lucy’s face just slays me.

(And yes, the cake looks pretty awful. I am not a very good cake decorator under the best circumstances, but with my tiny sous chef, it was even more challenging. Doesn’t matter, though, because it was DELICIOUS.)


So, that was Friday. Saturday, I took Catie to her cousin Elizabeth’s birthday party, and then the girls hung out with Dave for a few hours so I could take a nap (which was blissful). Saturday night, I had them both back at home because his flight left at 6 a.m. on Sunday.


At this point, I know I don’t really have to worry too much about how Lucy handles things because she’s still so young and oblivious. She won’t be soon, and believe me I know that.

But I primarily have to keep a close eye on Catie’s stress level. I’ve figured out a lot of her stress indicators (crying frequently, getting physical with Lucy and pushing her, etc.), and I try to be sympathetic while not letting her get away with too much crap. I mean, hey, I get that you’re upset that you haven’t seen your dad for a few months, but that doesn’t give you the right to shove your baby sister to the ground, you know?

I’m also trying to get her to talk about her feelings more. One of the things she frequently and randomly bursts into tears about is because she claims she misses Teenie, our cat who passed away in February. And I’m sure she does miss Teenie, but I don’t think that’s the whole issue. The last time she had one of these outbursts, I said, “Baby girl, are you crying because you miss Teenie, or because you miss Daddy?” She cried, “BOTH!!!” And sobbed harder.

It’s so hard for her, and I try to make it easier where I can, but we have moments like that where she just breaks my heart and I don’t know how to comfort her because I can’t fix it.


I knew it was going to be bad when he left, so I randomly said, “Hey, you know what? I know you’re going to be really sad after Daddy goes back to Seattle, so I think we should think of something REALLY SUPER FUN to do after he leaves, and I think you should pick what our adventure will be.”

She thought about it for a few minutes, and said she wanted to go see the dinosaur bones at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. She went there recently on a field trip with her daycare and she loved it.

Did I mention that admission to the museum is free? DONE.

Catie & Lucy at the NC Museum of Science

Almost every picture I took turned out blurry because both girls were having so much fun that they never stopped running the whole time.

I did, however, get one picture of my girl sitting with a dinosaur footprint.

My future paleontologist poses with a dinosaur footprint.

This is sort of how I see her as an adult, since she’s so adamant about wanting to be a paleontologist when she grows up. I can imagine her 30 years from now at a dig site in South America or God-knows-where, sitting just like this next to some brilliant discovery she’s made.

As far as distracting her from Dave’s departure? It kind of worked. She’s mostly been fine for the past couple of days. Maybe it’ll be a delayed reaction, I don’t know.


Last night, she said that she wanted to make Daddy a card. I gave her one of my blank note cards, and she asked me to help her spell out her words. (We’ve been doing this a lot lately since she’s been practicing writing at kindergarten. I help her sound them out and try to help her figure out the next letter herself.)

She wrote on the card:

“I miss you Daddy. Love Catie and Lucy.”

Then she covered it in stickers and asked me to mail it. Even though seeing those words printed out in her little 5 year-old handwriting made me want to hold the card to my chest and cry, I put it in an envelope, stamped it, and shipped it off.

I have no idea if it’ll break his heart like it did mine. I guess that disconnect to each other’s feelings is just one of many reasons we aren’t together anymore.