birthday party post-mortem

Catie’s birthday party was on Saturday at a bounce house place called Monkey Joe’s. She’d been to birthday parties there before, and was so excited to have her own party there.

Catie meeting Monkey Joe

[Note that unlike when she turned two and freaked the hell out at the Chick-Fil-A cow, she is no longer scared of adults in giant mascot costumes.]

This year, Catie asked for a cake “with dinosaurs on it.” I learned from last year’s birthday party that most grocery stores don’t do custom artwork, so rather than stressing about it, I grabbed a bag of little plastic dinosaurs to use as cake toppers, and POOF! Dinosaur birthday cake!

Catie's birthday cake

She absolutely loved it.

Lucy had a pretty good time at the party too. She got to ride around on both me and her Pop-Pop…

Lucy hanging out on Pop-Pop

… and she got to roll around on a floor that was covered in oh my god I don’t even want to know so don’t make me think about it.

Lucy at the birthday party

(See that spot on my jeans? That’s where Lucy had been chewing on my leg moments earlier. Nice, kid.)

The kids ran around and bounced their little hearts out for a couple of hours, then had pizza and birthday cake. Then there were presents, and that was about it. Pretty basic, but so nice to not have to deal with clean-up and all of that other stuff that usually goes with birthday parties.

The last thing Catie got to do was the prize grab. She had seen her friends do this before, and she was absolutely terrified of it, but I explained that if she didn’t do it, she wouldn’t get a prize.

with the goggles, on her way to do the prize grab

She was so serious and obviously scared, but so ABSOLUTELY DETERMINED that she was going to get her damn prize, no matter what. So into the giant scary ticket grab booth she went.

Ticket grab booth

She ended up getting enough in tickets for two new dinosaur toys, so you know, WORTH IT. At least in her mind.

Overall, she had a fantastic party.

That is one happy birthday girl

(The whole set of pics is here.)

Then, there was the rest of the weekend.

Warning: things go quickly downhill from here.

Saturday night, we were all tired from the party. My brother Chris & my sister Tracy were both staying at my house for the weekend (they drove over from Charlotte for the party). Catie’s birthday present from Tracy had been a couple of new sets of princess pajamas, and Catie wanted to wear her new Little Mermaid PJs. It didn’t even occur to me that I needed to wash them first.

At bedtime, Tracy noticed that Catie was really itchy and scratching herself all over. She called me to check her out. My first thought was dry skin – Catie gets eczema in the winter sometimes. So I took her into the bathroom and slathered her with almond oil, which is mild and odorless and normally makes her skin feel better.

(Here’s a tip in case you hadn’t guessed: that was my major mistake. I basically took whatever was in the pajamas that had irritated her skin, and I sealed it to her. Which made things go way worse.)

The next thing I knew, Catie was screaming her head off that her skin was burning. She started to hyperventilate and have a panic attack. We went into my bathroom because she was freaking out so much I was afraid she was going to make herself vomit. I couldn’t calm her down, and my brain just kept thinking that she was having some kind of major allergic reaction to something, and I was worried about her asthma and breathing, so I yelled for my brother to call 911.

The EMTs got there within minutes, and were absolutely amazing. They checked her oxygen SATs (normal) and her lungs (all clear), and guessed that it was probably contact dermatitis from the pajamas. Since they gave her the all-clear on her breathing, we opted to not take Catie to the hospital, and instead I gave her a bath and tried to wash everything off of her skin, then gave her all new clean clothes to wear. Once I got her back in bed, she was asleep in minutes. The poor kid was exhausted (it was almost 11 p.m. by the time this was all finished).

On the plus side: Lucy slept through all of this. Even Catie’s screaming. So that was nice. But still? Yeah, that sucked.


Sunday, I sent both girls to hang out with Dave for the day. That seemed pretty uneventful. They had fun, and came home in the evening around dinnertime. We did the bedtime routine, yadda yadda. Normal as usual.

Around 1 a.m., I heard Catie scream, “MOMMY!!!” It was not a normal “I had a bad dream and want to get in your bed” yell, it was… THAT scream. The kind that all parents (or at least all moms) know. The “something really bad is happening” scream. I was out of bed and across the hall before I even opened my eyes all the way.

I ran into Catie’s room just in time to see her vomit all over her bed. Faaaaabulous.

She spent the rest of the night in my bed (she managed to puke into a bowl every other time except once, which required me to change the sheets on my bed at 4 a.m. Let me tell you, I am not a fan of that).

She doesn’t have a fever, so my guess is that it’s some stomach virus she picked up from the germ-factories that are those bounce houses. (She didn’t eat anything unusual, so it’s my best guess. A 24-48 hour incubation period is normal for these things.)


Both girls are with my parents today. My mom called a little while ago to tell me that Catie is keeping down tiny sips of Sprite, and that Lucy is officially crawling as of this morning. So, there you go. I’m sad I missed that milestone of Lucy’s, but glad that my parents and Catie got to see it.

To sum up: Hooray for birthday parties and baby milestones. However, illnesses and 911 calls and all that nonsense? Can suck it.

back and forth

We’re mostly all better here now, thankfully. I still have a little bit of a cough and Lucy still has a chronic case of Drippy Nose, but I think that’s more just because she’s a baby who goes to daycare. Sort of goes with the territory, right?

I don’t know, what do you think? She looks pretty healthy to me.

This one is apparently oblivious to the fact that her mama has to get up early tomorrow.

This week is chaotic in both good and bad ways. The good is that Catie’s birthday is tomorrow, and my big girl is turning FIVE. YEARS. OLD. A fact which she gleefully tells anyone who’ll listen. So we’re having a party at one of those bounce house places, because I really don’t need her entire daycare class plus all of their parents in my house. She is ecstatic.

[Aside: Can I rant about parents who don’t RSVP to birthday parties? I have 5 confirmed guests and about 11 others that have been given invitations, but I have no idea if they’re coming or not. And the party is Saturday. Rudeness!]

The not-so-good chaos is that Dave is coming for a visit, which means working out details about visitation and dealing with lawyers (because that’s the only way we communicate these days), and all kinds of things that I’d rather not have to worry about.

So, yeah. That stuff. Boo on that.

I also started this new diet thing this week because I decided that my jeans were getting too tight and I’ve had quite enough of that, thankyouverymuch. I don’t really want to talk about it too much because it seems like every time I do, I jinx myself. But that’s another added layer of chaos to my life, just because it’s something new and different, and changes are difficult, yadda yadda.

Lots of ups and downs, clearly. But overall, things are good, I think. Even though I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I’m about to be the mother of a five year-old child. How the hell did that happen?

Birthday Party Recap

Catie’s birthday party on Saturday was so much fun. The downside of Catie having a January birthday means that backyard parties aren’t really an option, and I don’t particularly want a whole slew of kids running around my house. So, if she wants a party, we basically have to host it elsewhere.

We had the party at a local place called Hopper’s House, which turned out to be one of the cheaper options as far as an indoor place with bounce houses and lots of other kiddie entertainment. Catie’s been there several times before and loves playing there, and I knew it would be a hit with the three and four year-old crowd. We had a smaller turnout than I had expected, around 10 kids, but it turned out to be perfect. (And trust me, ten kids? Make PLENTY of noise on their own.)

Elizabeth & Catie

Plus we had two of Catie’s favorite people there, my brother Chris and my sister Tracy (plus my sister’s boyfriend Everett). So that made it even better.

Tracy, Chris, Dave & Everett

Catie had requested a unicorn birthday cake, but I couldn’t find any stores that do custom artwork on cakes, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to attempt it on my own. So, thanks to a suggestion from the lovely Danielle, we got a unicorn cake topper from Birthday Express. It was perfect.

Unicorn cake!

Except for the part where the unicorn sank into the cake like quicksand and then fell over, but eh, whatever, it was fine. The birthday girl herself didn’t mind at all, it was exactly what she wanted. As evidenced here:
(Video bonus: you can see my pregnant self for like 0.5 seconds. Lovely.)

She was a very happy birthday girl.

One odd thing about birthday parties, and I don’t know if this is a local thing, or if it’s a new tradition everywhere, but it seems like kids don’t open their gifts at the party, they open them later at home? Now, I can think of a few reasons that would motivate this:
1.) You can’t rely on a four year-old to graciously receive a gift.
2.) Because the birthday boy/girl might be sad about the party ending, so hey, guess what? Now we get to go home and open presents! Yay!
3.) So other kids don’t feel left out. (Which is kind of lame, because, well, that’s part of life, you know? It isn’t always about you. Sometimes you’re the guest of honor, sometimes you’re the guest.)
4.) It’s a whole lot easier on the parents to keep track of who gave what for thank-you notes when it isn’t a gift-opening free-for-all.

While I don’t necessarily approve of this tradition, I can certainly see the motivation. So, since every other birthday party we’ve been to for the past year has done things this way, this is how we did it too. We opened presents at home, and I have to say, it does make things a lot easier. And I can ensure that all the kids who were there will get appropriately personalized thank-you notes this week.

Opening presents

birthdays are fun!

It took Catie a long time to settle down after her party, but when she crashed, she crashed.

Zonked out on the air mattress.

Catie spent almost the entire day on Sunday playing with her cousins, which was a great distraction to keep her from being sad about our houseguests leaving. And when we got home, she got to have leftover party pizza and cake for dinner. Can’t beat that.

All in all, it was a really great birthday weekend.

Autumn Weekend

I love fall. I’m a big fan of mild temperatures – not too hot, not too cold. This past weekend was perfect, and we took full advantage of it by spending as much time outside as possible.

On Saturday morning, we went to a birthday party for Catie’s friend Morgan. She lives across the street from our old house, so we got to see all of the neighborhood kids that we used to play with. Morgan’s mom, Kimberly, is a friend of mine, so our girls see each other on a semi-regular basis. But Catie doesn’t usually get to see the other kids from the old neighborhood, so that was A Very Big Deal. I was amazed that Catie remembered all of them since it’s been a year since the last time she saw them. One little girl in particular, McKenzie, has a very special bond with Catie, and always has. Catie absolutely adores her, and the feeling is mutual.

Catie & her 'Kenzie

A month or so ago, we ran into McKenzie and her mom leaving the grocery store as we were walking in. We said hi, and the girls exchanged hugs. A few minutes later, in the store, Catie sighed happily and said, “Mommy, ‘Kenzie is my favorite.” Believe me, she’s not lying. McKenzie is 10 now, and in a couple of years, I will totally hire her out to baby-sit. She’s a great kid.

When we finally got home from the birthday party, we both collapsed and took naps. When we woke up, we decided to go to the playground to take advantage of the sunshine and mild temperatures.

I know it's blurry, but this picture makes me laugh

That was a great day.

On Sunday, we met up with my cousin and her crew at the Green Acres Farm. BTW, huge shout-out to Andrea at Lil Kid Things for blogging about the farm because I would’ve never known that it existed otherwise! And it’s only a few miles from our house too, so we’ll definitely go back again.

Catie as a donkey & Elizabeth as a baby calf

After checking out the bounce houses and some of the other kid stuff, we set off to tackle the corn maze.

Catie & Elizabeth lead the way through the corn maze

The corn maze was… well. It was fun for the first 30 minutes or so. Then the dead ends start to get really annoying. And you get tired of saying, “Don’t touch the corn on the ground, please.” “No, you can’t pick that up, it’s dirty.” “Be careful not to whomp anybody with your flag.” (They give you a flag to wave in case you get lost and can’t find your way out.) Considering that we had 3 kids under the age of four with us, I think we did really well. But after close to an hour in there, I think I can safely say that’s about as close to The Shining as I ever want to get.

After the corn maze, we hung out on a tractor while waiting for the hayride.

The closest I got to a happy picture of all 3 kids.

Elizabeth and Catie on the tractor

The hayride was fun, and I think we all enjoyed having a few minutes to just sit down and enjoy the view after that corn maze hike.

After that, it was time for the highlight of Catie’s entire freaking year. Also known as the pony ride.

I think she's a natural-born jockey

Austin is only a year old, so he’s still too little for the pony ride. But Catie and Elizabeth absolutely loved it.

Elizabeth & Catie on the pony ride

After it was over, Catie cried and cried because she wanted to go again. The pony rides are $5, which is my only complaint about Green Acres Farm – that seems a little steep for a 3-minute pony ride. But I’m a sucker, so I caved in and let her go for a second ride.

I know I know, I should be more firm with her. But I thought of how much I loved horses when I was little, and how I would’ve felt if I had the chance to ride a real live pony, and… eh. It’s only $5.

Catie LOVES the pony ride!

Totally worth it.

the birthday party circuit

So, besides my girl deciding that she’s half-fish this weekend, we also had not one but TWO birthday parties to attend. This makes three birthday parties in less than a month. It’s pretty sad when you realize that your 3 year-old has a more active social calendar than either of her parents.

On Friday evening, we went to a birthday party at the Jump Zone for Catie’s daycare friend Cole. I tried out the iPhone’s video camera and got this (warning: turn down your volume, the Jump Zone is LOUD).
That’s 34 seconds of a tiny blonde blur right there. And it’s pretty much all I saw for the entire two hours we were there.

Finally, we managed to round up the kids and go have pizza and cake. The private room for birthday parties had a big inflatable throne, which I assume is for the birthday boy/girl to sit on, but all the kids took turns climbing on it.

Ava, Catie & Caitlin
(If you look closely, you can see evidence of the Thomas the Tank Engine cake. That blue frosting stuff requires soap and water to wash off, it won’t be contained by mere napkins alone.)

On Sunday, we went to a birthday party for Catie’s friend Ava at a local playground.

Catie at the playground

Of course, it was all fun and games until it was time to get the kids together for a group picture, at which point Catie crossed her arms and pouted. (She wanted to keep playing.)

Group pose time!

It’s a great park, and the party was a lot of fun, but I don’t know if there are adequate words to express how miserably hot it was. Ninety degrees, humid, and not a single breeze to be found. It was about as sweaty as you can get. Not that the kids seemed too terribly bothered by it.

Catie & Matthew

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this child more sweaty in her life. Before we left, I dragged her into the ladies’ room to splash some cold water on her face to try to help her cool off.

Roman and Catie
(If any of y’all remember the boy that Catie was caught kissing? That’s him. He’s a very sweet kid. And apparently he’s told his parents that when he grows up, he’s going to drive a mini-van just like his dad, and Catie will ride beside him. I think that’s the 3 year-old version of saying he’s going to marry her. I’m taking notes of all this for when they end up going to prom together in 15 years.)

The party was great, and I love that most of the other daycare parents seem friendly and nice. But it would’ve been a lot more fun in maybe a month or so when it’s 10-15 degrees cooler outside!

On the upside, though, spending all that time out in the heat made the pool feel extra-awesome on Sunday afternoon. So there’s that.