family picture day

I try to get nice pictures of the girls every year, both for Christmas cards and just for general “family photo” purposes. Last year, I was a cheapskate and tried to take them myself. It really didn’t turn out so great. And because I was the one taking the pictures, I wasn’t actually in any of the photos.

The year before that, the amazing and talented Laura took pictures of us, and they turned out gorgeous. But Laura has retired her photography business (which I don’t blame her for one bit), so she isn’t an option for us anymore.

This year, I checked with one of my local Facebook moms’ groups, and saw people talking about local photographers. That’s how I found Maria at Mia Bella Expressions, and we set up a date to take pictures this past Saturday.

I’ve only got a “sneak peek” of a few of the pictures so far, I should get the rest later this week, but you guys. They’re amazing.

Lucy and Catie



Lucy and me

Catie is at the age where she hates having her picture taken, and when she does smile for the camera, it’s often a fake/forced smile. Lucy is normally a ham for the camera, but she’s shy around new people, so it’s hard to get her smiling and acting like her normal silly self with a photographer she’s never met. Maria was great at getting the girls relaxed and capturing them in that little millisecond when they were both smiling at the same time.

me and my girls

Initially, my plan had just been to get pictures of me and the girls. Then it turned out that Chris was free on Saturday too (which is unusual), so I asked him to come along.

And I’m so glad I did, because pictures like this? That’s basically my whole heart right there.

Catie, me, Chris & Lucy

I mean, look, he’s not their dad. He’s not even their step-dad, because we aren’t married and have no plans to ever get married. To my girls, he’s just Chris, and he fits with us so easily. They both love him, and he loves them. There’s no tricky blended family dynamics for us to sort out, it just… works.

(Side note on that whole “blended family” topic — as far as I can tell, based on what I hear from them, Catie and Lucy also love Dave’s girlfriend and her kids. Which is wonderful. Dave and I have been getting along great lately, and I realize that we co-parent as a team better now than we probably ever have in the past. I love that my kids can see firsthand that, even though their dad and I split up, all of the adults in their lives work together well for their best interests, and that they are loved and supported on all sides. It takes a village, you know?)

The only thing that would’ve made this family photo day better would’ve been if it had worked out so that we could have had Chris’s kids in the photos too. Because that big chunk of his heart is missing here.

me, Catie, Lucy & Chris

Maybe we’ll be able to do a make-up picture date sometime with them. Because it really was so fun, and dammit if kids don’t grow up so fast. It’s nice to have some of those little moments in their lives captured along the way.

And local folks, this is no way a sponsored blog post, but if you need family pictures, you should talk to Maria at Mia Bella Expressions. I could not be happier with the whole experience.

Christmas card outtakes

On Saturday, the weather was really mild and nice, and since I figured it might be one of the last nice-weather weekends we get for a while, I took the girls to a local park to try to get their pictures taken for our Christmas card.

I thought about having them done professionally, because I love the pictures Laura took for us last year, but she’s got a new job and is crazy busy, and when I tried to price out other photographers… let’s just say it’s not in the budget this year. (Um, y’all? Do you really spend over $1k on family pics? Seriously? Because OMG.)

So I figured, hey, I don’t need to include a picture of me, I really like the cards that are just photos of the kids, and I have a pretty decent digital camera, so why not? (I also have a really awesome DSLR camera, but I seem to have lost the battery charger for it, so until I can order a new one, looks like I’m stuck with my little point-and-shoot.)

I took close to 150 pictures, and this is how most them turned out.

"Could you guys just sit up and try to look normal?"
“Could you guys just sit up and try to look normal?”

Lucy looks cute, Catie is determined to NOT SMILE for the camera
Lucy looks cute, Catie is determined to NOT SMILE for the camera.

someone always has their mouth open
…Or Lucy has her mouth open.

"Hey, this is great! Can you just stand by the railing and...hey... dang it, Lucy!"
“Hey, this is great! Can you just stand by the railing and…hey… dang it, Lucy!”

Catie goes all "Superstar!" while Lucy is all, "hey look at that cloud!"
Or, they’re just doing two completely different things. In this case, Catie has gone all Molly Shannon/Superstar on me, while Lucy is daydreaming about clouds.

I have about 100 pictures of them running away from my camera
I also have about 100 pictures of them running away from my camera.

And then there are a few pictures I took, which I really love, even though they aren’t necessarily Christmas card-worthy.

sister sharing secrets
I thought this one of them sitting and talking was really sweet, but you can’t see their faces, so it doesn’t really work.

my girls walking in the park
And I like the “walk through the woods” picture, but again: not exactly what I’d put on a card.

Random side story: when we went to the park, Lucy had this tiny pink unicorn toy that she was carrying around with her. When we left, I realized she’d lost it, but since we’d been all over this enormous park, I had no way to re-trace our steps and try to find it. When I was looking through pictures later, I was like, “Ok, she’s holding the unicorn in this one… and in this one…”

And then:

when going through pictures, I figured out exactly where Lucy lost her toy unicorn
Damn. Unicorn down! Unicorn down!

We went back to the park the next day to try to look for it, since I had a pretty good idea of where it would be, based on that photo. Unfortunately, the unicorn appears to be gone for good – either he found his final resting place at the bottom of the lake (it was pretty windy on Saturday night) or some other child came along and adopted him. Either way, I think he cost all of $2, so it’s not like it can’t be replaced or is some huge loss for Lucy. But I felt like a detective piecing together a mystery when I spotted him in the picture.

I got a few decent pictures that will hopefully be enough to put together to make a card. We’ll see. I’ve got my coupon codes and I’ll see what I can whip up.

And next year, I might just shell out for professional photos. Because lordy, that was an exhausting way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

26 months and counting

Ok, that is quite enough time for those photos to hang out at the top of my blog. Moving on!

So. Two year-olds. Can we talk about how hilarious they are? Because my god.

Hanging with my short friend. She's a ham for the camera.

My dad commented recently that Lucy seemed a lot grumpier and he didn’t know why. I said, “Well. She’s two.” I mean, that pretty much sums it up right there. She is agonizingly TWO about everything. The tantrums are epic, and the drama is high. But on the flip side, her good moods are so much more fun now that she has this huge (and I do mean HUGE) personality.

There are so many times I think, “Oh man, that’s adorable, I should write it down because she’s going to outgrow this soon and I know I’ll forget it.”

Lucy dinosaur ROOOOARRR!!
Case in point: the way she roars and says, “I monstah!” Yes, baby, you’re a monster.

When I tell Lucy that it’s time to do something she doesn’t want to do – like, say, take a bath or a nap – she’ll shake her head and say, “No nap! I happy!” Basically, “I happy” is her way of saying “I’m all good.” Although it has yet to work on me (sorry, kiddo, you still gotta take a nap), I love the way she says it.

And as terrible as this is, I have a hard time not laughing when she realizes it isn’t working and she starts to cry. “No naaaaaaap! I haaaaaaaappy!” Yes, you seem delighted. Now goodnight.

She also invented “the fall-down game,” in which someone counts to three and then she faceplants on purpose. Fortunately she only attempts this on soft surfaces like my bed. It could end badly on the hardwoods.

(I love the way her hair sort of fans out when she falls.)

Her imagination has exploded in the last couple of weeks and she now tells me the backstory on all of her toys and what they’re doing. She tells me how her panda bear is sleepy and needs to go night-night, then she tucks him in with a pillow and a blanket.

Unfortunately, sometimes her imaginary play acts out when I’m not paying attention. She’s been working on potty training at daycare (more on that subject some other time), so a lot of her playtime involves talk about poop and pee and potties and diapers. Last week, she decided that her Brobee (from Yo Gabba Gabba) doll needed to use the potty while I was unloading groceries. From what I can tell, she sat Brobee on the potty and then let go… yeah. She came running down the hall to the kitchen, screaming, “Oh no! Bwobee wet! Bwobee wet!” There was a trail of water from Brobee that led straight back to the toilet. Awesome. Brobee needed to take a “special bath” in the washing machine with some Oxy Clean after that. Yuck.

It’s a lot funnier when she holds up her Barbie doll and says, “Bahbie pooped! I change her diapuh!” And then she demands a folded kleenex for a makeshift Barbie diaper. That’s pretty awesome. Although poor Barbie has a history of having bathroom-related incidents at our house.

Lucy apparently wants to potty train her friends. (Poor Barbie.)

Barbie’s having a rough time, man.

She still remains one of the easiest children to feed I’ve ever encountered. Catie is such an insanely picky eater and always has been. (Catie refuses to eat sandwiches, y’all. Sandwiches. WTF?) Lucy, on the other hand, will eat most anything that you put in front of her. The other day when we got up, I asked her what she wanted for breakfast. She went to the pantry and pulled out a can of green peas.

Me: “You want peas for breakfast?”
Her: “YAH!”

Lucy asked for green peas for breakfast. And she's eating them. #weirdo

Whatever, man, she ate them. No complaints here.

Chris and I took the kids to see “Despicable Me 2” a few weeks ago, and we’ve had a running joke since then that Lucy talks a lot like a minion. There’s a decipherable word here and there, but mostly a lot of gibberish. It seems like most toddlers have their own unique dialect, and it just takes a while to tune your ear to understand them. But either way, Lucy is pretty good at getting her point across, even when we don’t pick up on every word she’s saying.

I told her to show me a sad face. This is what I got.

She still doesn’t sleep through the night, but we’ve gotten things down to a manageable form of torture: I get Lucy settled to sleep in her own bed, and later, when I go to bed, I take an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack and a sippy cup of milk in it. Sometime around 4 a.m. or so, Lucy comes into my room and climbs into bed with me. (I can’t pick her up right now because I’m not supposed to lift anything heavier than 5 pounds for the first month post-surgery, so I put a step-stool next to my bed, and she can boost herself up with that). She snuggles up against me and I give her the cup of milk from the lunch bag, she drinks it down, and we both go back to sleep until my alarm goes off. It’s certainly not ideal, I would love it if she would just stay in her own bed all night, but for now, it works ok.

Side note: for the past few weeks, Chris has been spending more nights at my house than not, so it’s now become a total non-event for the kids to wake up with him here. When Lucy comes in during the night, she snuggles up in between us like it’s nothing. I have to say, waking up and finding her with her little arm across his neck and both of them quietly sleeping away? Kind of kills me with how sweet it is.

Me and my Lucy girl

So, even though she has her moments of being aggravating as all hell, she’s still pretty awesome. I think I might keep her around.


Warning: picture-heavy post ahead…

This past weekend was the only weekend in May that both my sister and brother could come to town, so we decided to have a little “pre-birthday” for Lucy.

She won’t actually be one year old until May 31st, but hey. What does she know about birthdays? She doesn’t care. And besides: CUPCAKES!!

We stripped her down to her diaper and put a sheet on the floor, thinking she’d make a giant mess.

Only, she didn’t. Make a mess, that is.

She was kind of just confused.

Lucy is all, "Um, what the heck is THAT?"

(Side note: The amount of baby chub in these pictures just about kills me dead. Y’all have no idea how often I kiss that belly. Pretty much constantly.)

She gave the frosting a little taste.

First taste of frosting

Then she decided, that eh, she’d had enough, and she wanted to go crawl off and see what other kind of trouble she could get into. Maybe smear some of those cupcake crumbs on her lips onto something valuable. Like her aunt Tracy’s “dry clean only” clothes.

Deciding she'd had enough of the cupcake, thanks anyway. I'll just crawl off & see what's over there.

(I’m starting to realize that she’s totally going to be a redhead, isn’t she? I’m going to have a redhead named Lucy. I DIE FROM THE CUTENESS!!)

Meanwhile, Catie decided she’d “help” Lucy out by opening all of her presents.

"What do you mean all these presents aren't for me??"


Basically, the entire thing was good practice for ten days from now (10!! OMG!!) when she actually does turn one year old.

My brother and sister left on Sunday. But not before I got this picture, which I think might be my favorite picture of my brother and one of his nieces ever:

Lucy's like, "Uh, who is this guy and why did you hand me over to him?"

I want to write little cartoon thought bubbles next to their heads.
My brother: WTF do I do with this kid??
Lucy: Who is this guy and why did you hand me over to him??

Catie was sad about them leaving, because she adores my siblings. Which is sweet, but it makes it hard when the visits inevitably end.

So my dad and I decided to distract her. We loaded up the girls and took them to the Got To Be NC Festival, which is like a slightly smaller version of the state fair.

(This was my first year actually going to the festival myself. Last year, my cousin took Catie to it while I thought I was going into labor. Spoiler! I wasn’t going into labor. Lucy had to be forcibly evicted. Freaking stubborn children of mine.)

They had pony rides. Catie immediately stopped being sad about my brother and sister leaving.

Catie on a pony ride

(Also, when did she get SO TALL?!!)

Overall it was a really great weekend. Fun with my family, great weather, great food, and homemade cupcakes. Oh, and I’m not 9 months pregnant this year. Yay! Can’t really beat that.