Lucy is 5

Lucy’s 5th birthday was yesterday. Which is weird, because I could swear I just gave birth to her like a week ago. But no, apparently it’s been five years.

I swear, I blinked and this happened. Happy 5th birthday, Lucy!

The girls were with me this past weekend, so we had Lucy’s birthday party a few days early. Last year, I found a company that hires out princesses for birthday parties, and we had Elsa and Anna come to her party. She asked if she could have a princess at her party again this year.

And ok, hiring a princess for a kid’s birthday party definitely qualifies as a frivolous expense, and she would’ve been fine if I had said no and that we were only having her friends over to our house. But you know, there are only a few short years where you can make special occasions magical for your children, so why not? Bring on Rapunzel.

Kayla, Sophia, Lucy & Rapunzel

(The funniest part of this whole thing is that I legitimately had no clue until the party was over – when my mom pointed it out – that Rapunzel was the exact same girl who played Elsa at Lucy’s party last year. I guess I figured that they had one girl who always plays Elsa, one who always plays Rapunzel, etc.? But no, apparently they’re multi-talented. I feel like an idiot because I was talking to this girl for over an hour with no clue that she’d been in my house and met my kid a year ago. But Lucy didn’t notice either, so we’ll call it a win.)

Lucy and Rapunzel

The kids all had a blast, and Catie got to hang out with her cousins, so even the non-Princess-loving crowd was happy. Overall, A+ birthday party.

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Funny timing: Lucy officially turned 5 yesterday, and tonight we have kindergarten orientation at the school where she’ll start going in two months. (TWO MONTHS! She starts the first week of August!) I know she’s nervous about going to “big school” because she won’t know anyone there, and she’s extremely shy with people she doesn’t know well. Hell, I’m nervous for her. But I’m trying to make it as exciting a transition as I can. (“You’re such a big girl now! You get to go to big school with Catie!”)

Her daycare is having their pre-K graduation program at the end of June. And I know the whole notion of pre-K graduation is silly. It’s not like she’s finishing college. But this marks the end of us going to the daycare where one or both of my kids has been for the last 6 1/2 years. Catie started there right before she turned 3, and Lucy’s been there since she was 2 months old. This place has been part of our daily lives for so long, it feels like the end of an era.

Lucy's pre-k graduation photo

And yeah ok, I’m super-excited that I won’t have to pay for daycare anymore. (Mama’s getting a raise!) But not gonna lie, I’ll probably cry during that graduation program.

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Happy birthday, Lucy Goose. I always think that it’s no coincidence that your name, Lucille, means “light” – you are an absolute ray of joy and sunshine in our lives. We love you so much, and I cannot wait to see what this year brings for you, my sweet girl.

Lucy is 4

Yesterday, Lucy turned 4 years old.

So, that Timehop "then & now" feature... Wow.

We had her birthday party on Saturday, and since I learned at Catie’s birthday that having a party at our house is actually not all that stressful, we decided to do Lucy’s party here too. (Until Catie’s party, I’ve always farmed out the birthday parties to different venues: a bounce house place, the science museum, whatever. Playing hostess stresses me out beforehand when I’m trying to get my house clean and organized, but it ends up being a lot more fun.)

There were 4 kids from Lucy’s daycare who came to her party, and because it’s Lucy, everything had to be Frozen-themed. And since we were going with that anyway, I decided to go all out with a couple of special party guests:

Lucy with Elsa and Anna

There’s a local company where you can hire any of the Disney princesses to come to your child’s birthday party – I get the impression that they’re mostly college girls with licensed Disney costumes – so we had Elsa and Anna come to Lucy’s party. And I have to say, if you have a princess-obsessed little girl, and you have the opportunity to hire a “professional” princess for your kid’s birthday party: DO IT.

hugs with Anna
I MEAN COME ON.

The princesses were great, they have a whole little agenda for birthday parties: they had story time, they had a little arts & crafts project, Elsa put eye shadow & little sparkles on all the girls, Anna painted their nails, we went outside so they could get “sprinkled with pixie dust” (which I’m 99% sure was glitter hair spray), and then we sang happy birthday and had cake.

It was so fun. Lucy keeps asking how far a drive it is to Arendelle, and when Elsa and Anna can come to our house again.

doing a group photo with a bunch of 4 year-olds, this is about as good as it gets
Best group picture I could get. They’re only 4, you can’t expect too much.

The 3 little girls who came to the party were TOTALLY on board with the princess thing; the one little boy there wasn’t into it at all, and he mostly hung out with Catie and they had play swordfights. Although it’s funny that he was the only boy Lucy wanted to invite – she calls him “boy Jackson” because there are 2 kids at her daycare named Jackson, one is a boy and one is a girl. (The girl is, obviously, “girl Jackson.”) They’ve been in the same class since they were 2, and they adore each other.

As Jackson was leaving the party, I asked him and Lucy to smile for a picture for me. They automatically put their arms around each other and Lucy put her hand on his chest, and I swear this is the pose of every senior prom portrait ever taken.

I asked Lucy to smile with her friend Jackson & they defaulted to Prom Pose.
Totally saving this for their wedding slideshow someday.

The weekend was also great because my sister flew in, and my brother and his girlfriend drove over from Charlotte for the weekend. (My brother and his girlfriend just recently adopted both a puppy and a kitten, and brought both along. Catie went nuts over them; Lucy was pretty much indifferent – if it isn’t a baby or a princess, it doesn’t hold her interest.) It was fun to get to visit with them, and the girls love having them around.

Sunday was Lucy’s actual birthday, and since we did the party on Saturday, and my siblings went back home on Sunday morning, we spent the afternoon at the pool with my cousin and her kids.

Lucy's party was yesterday, so we celebrated her actual birthday with a couple of hours at the pool with her cousins.
Lucy didn’t seem to have any complaints.

A couple of years ago, when Lucy was two, I remember saying that I wanted a fast-forward button so I could skip ages 2 and 3. The toddler tantrum years are my least favorite, potty-training is the WORST, and I just wanted to skip ahead to 4. Four is so fun! And what do you know, we finally made it here at last.

Happy birthday, Lucy Goose. You are a ball of pure comedy, joy, and delight, and I couldn’t be happier to be your mama.

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:

shut_up_eat_lettuce_be_sad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know, I know. I’ll stop.

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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.

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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.

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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.

summary of the latest happenings

I have a whole bunch of things I want to talk about, so let’s break this into sections:

1. EASTER

Easter 2015

The kids were with me for Easter weekend, so we did the whole Easter bunny thing, which they loved. Lucy got a(nother) Elsa doll, Catie got a Skylanders coin purse, they both got tons of candy. On Sunday morning, we went to church, and afterward I got this pic of the girls with my parents that I love.

Easter 2015

Catie is looking off to the side and my dad is squinting from the sun, but whatever. I still think it’s great. I don’t know if I adequately express how grateful I am that my parents moved up here to help me out with the kids after Dave and I split. I honestly don’t know how I’d get by without them.

Normally, on Easter Sunday, we do the big Southern meal that’s kind of like a Thanksgiving remake. Ham, green bean casserole, dressing, sweet potatoes, etc. I just couldn’t get excited about the idea of cooking all that food, and I asked Chris and my parents if they’d be ok with just grilling out instead. They all said that sounded good, so instead we did grilled chicken, veggies, burgers, and hot dogs. It was yummy, and it was a really beautiful day, so I didn’t mind being out on the deck at my parents’ house, working the grill all afternoon.

Last year, we had to do a mini-egg hunt inside because of rain/mud, but this year it was dry enough that my mom was able to hide the eggs around her yard, and let the girls have their own Easter egg hunt.

Lucy and her Easter eggs

Catie and her Easter eggs

(It was in the mid-60s, I don’t know why Catie kept insisting she was cold and refused to take her hoodie off. I think she just really likes the hoodie.)

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2. Lucy and Potty-Training

This is a subject I’ve kind of avoided, because I worry about what I write here that might embarrass my kids when they’re older. But here’s the summary: Lucy has been partially potty-trained for well over a year. She got the peeing part down immediately, but she never could get the hang of pooping in the potty. I thought she was just stubborn and holding it forever. She would have what she’d call “funny toots,” which were basically… well, sharts. (Which, FYI? Not funny at all when you’re the one who has to clean it up.)

And I mean, I tried everything. Bribes, threats, reward charts, you name it. And it wasn’t location specific – she had just as many accidents at my house, Dave’s place, daycare, my parents’ house, etc. It got to the point where she was having so many accidents every day that Dave and I both were about to lose our minds.

It finally occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t intentional? She’s old enough that she started to seem kind of embarrassed when it happened. So I googled her symptoms, and literally the first thing that comes up? Lactose intolerance.

Oh. Ummm. Huh.

Out of curiosity, on Friday, we switched her to the Lactaid lactose-free milk, and added probiotics twice a day, and LITERALLY OVERNIGHT, she started pooping in the potty and having no accidents. Just like that. Poof, she’s cured.

Today, we went to the pediatrician to follow up. Our doctor said that something like 80% of the world’s population can’t properly digest cow’s milk, so it’s entirely likely that Lucy is one of them.

And I realized, this might also explain why Lucy has always had such a big belly. I shrugged it off as just part of the way she’s built, but I swear that in the past 5 days since she’s been off lactose, her tummy has started to shrink. Even Dave noticed it too.

Now I just feel like an idiot for not googling it sooner. All the pain and suffering (and laundry detergent) I could have saved.

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3. Whole30

I started Whole30 on Monday, so this is day 3, and I’m kind of… fine? I keep waiting for really bad cravings to kick in, but so far I’m ok. I had a really terrible headache yesterday, and I wasn’t sure if it was because of a weather front that came through, or because of sugar/caffeine withdrawal. Maybe both? But I feel better today.

The biggest challenges for me so far have been that (a) I’m used to having a hard candy or a mint after I eat, and I miss that little sweet fix, and (b) practicing “mindful eating” and not eating in front of my computer or TV is a lot harder than I expected. (And BORING. It’s so boring.)

Recipes I’ve tried:
* Sweet potato hash – this is basically sweet potato fries in hash brown form. Highly recommend. Chris and I both loved it, and this will likely be added into our regular recipe rotation even after Whole30.

* Asian meatballs – I made this because of Melissa’s suggestion when she did Whole30. I had the same trouble she had finding the recommended brand of fish sauce, so I used coconut aminos and I still thought they were really good. Chris didn’t care for them, but he isn’t much of a red meat eater. (That’s a new thing, in the last year or so, that every time he eats red meat, it makes him sick.)

* Cracklin’ Chicken – Big thanks to Laura for this recipe, we tried it last night, and it was SO GOOD. (Chris liked it too, and he usually doesn’t eat dark meat at all.)

The biggest surprise discovery? I really like kombucha. Which is funny, because when I bought it at Earth Fare last week, Chris smelled it and laughed at me. He was like, “You’re never gonna drink that crap.” But it’s good! It’s kind of fizzy like Sprite.

I can also see how people in 12-step programs should stay away from it, because the bottle says it has “trace amounts” of alcohol in it, but it gives me that lovely warm fuzzy feeling in my neck and shoulders like when I have that first sip of a cocktail, so I can see how it would be dangerous for some people.

As far as exercise, I’m trying to ease off running until my foot feels better, so I’ve been doing the Betty Rocker 30-Day Challenge workouts. Some days I’ll do 2 of them back-to-back – for example, one of her ab circuits, followed by a “full body burn” cardio workout. Her workouts are short (about 15 minutes each), but they’re hard. It feels like enough to keep me active and not lose my endurance level while my body adjusts to this new eating routine.

I mean, I figure that if I can run for over 2 1/2 hours, I can certainly manage a 15-minute workout, even if I am suffering from the “carb flu.” (That’s not my term, that’s what the Whole30 people call the withdrawal symptoms that people go through when they cut out sugar and processed foods.)

So, 3 days down, 27 to go. Doesn’t feel unmanageable so far, but ask me again in a couple of days and I may have changed my mind.

princesses, geeks, and runners

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

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

Catie at her school Fun Run.

Selfie with Lucy. And Elsa.

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

Me & Catie after her Fun Run.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Now for the half-marathon!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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