digging in the dirt

I’ve been trying so hard lately to make the weekends our fun time. Call it a case of Working Mom Guilt, I guess. Labor Day weekend was a huge success, we had a blast all weekend.

This past weekend started off rough because I’m sick. I’ve had a sinus infection for over a week, and on Friday I woke up with pink eye. (Lawd, motherhood is so glamorous, y’all.) On Saturday I felt absolutely horrible, and the kids were so full of energy that they were practically bouncing off the walls. I took them both to a drop-in daycare near our house so they could play for a while, and then I went home and went back to sleep for 2 hours. It’s an expensive way to nap, but I was desperate.

(Normally I’d call my parents for help in a situation like that, but Mississippi State was playing a football game on Saturday, and if there’s one absolute rule in the universe, it’s that you don’t bother my dad when the Bulldogs are on TV.)

After I picked them up, we headed to my parents’ house (because the football game was over), and my dad kept Lucy busy, while my mom and Catie did some gardening together.

Catie & my mom gardening together

Catie the gardener. She & my mom planted chrysanthemums today.

I love that they have their special little thing that they do together. I can’t keep a plant alive to save my life, but Catie and my mom both love playing around in the dirt, so I guess it skips a generation.

Mimi's & Catie's feet stomping dirt

(If your kid asks you to take a picture of her foot and her Mimi’s foot while they stomp the dirt back in to the flower beds, you take the picture and don’t ask questions.)

On Sunday, I felt slightly better, and Catie has been asking for some one-on-one time with me, so I loaded up on DayQuil, dropped Lucy with my parents, and we headed to the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science.

ROAR! Catie is a dinosaur!

Cracking up at herself for roaring like a dinosaur in the previous picture

I think the high yesterday was about 79, it was so nice to be outside and not sweating for a change. The weather was perfect, and it was so fun to have a special Mommy and Catie Day Out.

Digging for fossils at the NC Museum of Life and Science

My kid clearly has a serious thing for digging in the dirt. She says she’s going to be a paleontologist when she grows up. She is such a wonderful, glorious little weirdo, and I had an absolute blast spending the day with her.

Catie & Mommy's day out at the NC Museum of Life & Science.

I know that with every age she reaches, I think, “Oooh, this! This is my favorite age yet!” But really, I think 5 year-olds are freaking awesome.

Some of the time that we were at the museum, I was thinking that I should’ve brought Lucy with us, because I know she would’ve liked a lot of it, but Lucy also gets worn out quickly, and there’s no way we could’ve stayed at the museum as long as we did if Lucy had come with us. We were there for well over 3 hours, which is WAY too much stimulation for a 15 month-old.

But I didn’t have to worry about Lucy. She had a blast hanging out with my parents. And apparently she decided that their bathtub is her new favorite place to play.

Lucy decided that my parents' tub is her new place to play

Wonderful, glorious little weirdos, both of them. And I couldn’t love them more.

bouncing babies

I’ve been so exhausted lately (due to Lucy’s sleep issues, which is a subject for another post) that I haven’t had the energy to do fun stuff with the girls, so I was determined to make this holiday weekend fun for us.

On Saturday, we went to the pool, which was a lot of fun because my parents and brother came with us, and the girls had a blast. I didn’t take any pictures because, well, my iPhone isn’t waterproof and I barely ever got out of the water. (If it’s over 85 degrees and I’m outside, I better submerged in a cool body of water or else I’m gonna be CRANKY.)

Saturday night, we all had a break. Catie went to spend the night with my parents, Lucy spent the night with her favorite baby-sitter (and she didn’t have to share the sitter’s attention with Catie, so that was a HUGE win for Lucy), and I had a date with The Guy. I got a good night’s sleep for the first time in weeks, the girls had a blast, and everybody was happy.

Sunday, we were planning to go to the pool again, but there were thunderstorms, so that was ruled out. Instead, I decided to take the girls to a bounce house place called Monkey Joe’s. Catie loves it there, but this was the first time Lucy had ever been.

(Ok, not true, she was there for Catie’s birthday party, but she couldn’t even crawl then, much less walk, so she wasn’t allowed to bounce at all.)

When we first got there, she was clearly super-excited.

Lucy was so excited to get the bounce house

(Note to self: maybe plan the outings after naptime. Oops.)

After she woke up, we had to walk around to check everything out.

Lucy scoping out the bounce houses.

She was really unsure about the bounce houses at first, so I crawled into one with her and Catie. (Adults are only allowed in the bounce houses if they’re assisting kids, and I was definitely assisting.) She sat in my lap and clung to me for a while, but after a few minutes, she ventured out on her own & decided that it was pretty fun.

Lucy & me in the bounce house. The extra pair of legs there belong to Catie.
(The extra pair of legs there belong to Catie.)

I have no idea what Catie just said to me, but I love this picture so much.

After a few minutes, she was a pro. She was all over the place and I had to stop her from climbing up the really big slides a few times.

Lucy playing in the bounce houses

So, yeah. Bounce houses are basically the greatest thing in the world for both of my girls. And bonus: that much jumping wears them both out so they actually slept really well last night for a change.

(Random, but it’s worth noting that Catie was terrified of bounce houses until she was about 3 1/2. Just goes to show how much tougher second-born children are. She sees her big sister doing stuff, and she’s determined that she’s going to do it too.)

Of course, as soon as we got home, I immediately dunked them both in the tub because those places are crawling with germs. I actually saw Lucy licking one of the inflatables at one point, so if we aren’t all sick in about 24-48 hours, I’ll be stunned.

Now, to figure out what we’re going to do with our last day of the holiday weekend. Hmm…

on big wheels and toddler classes

The family that lives next door to my parents’ house has two little girls that are close to Catie’s age (I think they’re 6 & 7). The parents are super friendly and easy to chat with, which I love. And the kids are so polite and sweet, and they always seem happy to have Catie around to play with, even though she’s younger than them, which I appreciate.

Catie & Lucy with Lexi & Arianna (neighbor friends

They had a tricycle/big wheel thing which they had outgrown, and they thought that my girls might like it. So they gave it to us, which was unexpected but just really nice and generous of them. Catie likes it even though she’s a little bit too tall for it, and Lucy loves it (her feet don’t reach the pedals yet, but I have a feeling it won’t be long until they do).

Lucy taking the big wheel for a test spin.

There’s no real point to that story, I just had these pictures of the girls and the big wheel, and I love that Catie has kids around that she can play with.

Catie & her friends


Also this weekend: my sister was in town, which was nice because she’s basically the easiest house guest in the world. I don’t have to play hostess with her – she knows where everything is, she helps out with the kids (more Catie than Lucy, but that’s because Lucy is still a little unsure of her and Catie wants Tracy all to herself), and it’s just really fun to have her around.

Then after the kids are in bed, we crack ourselves up talking about random stuff like old Spanish ladies who botch restorations of paintings of Jesus and laugh until we cry. (If you click that 2nd link? I think the Mona Lisa & The Last Supper are my favorites.)

So it was nice to have her here. And since Catie was distraught after she left (because my sister is her favorite person on earth), I distracted her by taking her to a playdate at a friend’s house. Her friend just got a brand new (teeny-tiny, completely adorable) puppy, so that worked as a distraction.

Although now I’m waiting for Catie to start asking when she can get a puppy, which… no. No, no, no. Between two kids and a cat, I am maxed out on the amount of poop that I have to clean up every day. We will not be adding a dog to the mix anytime soon.


And, about Lucy? Girlfriend is fully walking. Like, everywhere, all the time.

Anytime she sees her Pop-Pop, she takes off running to him.

She’s not entirely steady on her feet. You know how toddlers walk sort of like tiny drunks? Yeah, that. I’m pretty sure Lucy couldn’t pass a field sobriety test if she tried. But she’s walking, and that’s all that matters.

At daycare this morning, they decided that since she’s walking now, she’s ready to move up from the baby room to the toddler class. This was kind of a huge deal.

As the daycare director led her out of the room to go down the hall to the toddler class, I half-expected Lucy to look over her shoulder and yell, “Peace out, BABIES!” Instead she just waved and said, “Bah-bye.” But I knew what she really meant.

The strange part is that I feel like I should be sad about her moving up to the toddler class. Like it’s another loss of her babyhood, as she grows into her toddler years. But I’m not mourning the baby phase at all. Instead I feel like, “Whew, we survived that. Thank god. Next phase!”

Is that weird? I don’t know, I think I’m a better parent to kids that are mobile and have a firm grasp of the English language. They’re just easier for me to figure out.

Sisters sharing blueberries.

I really, really like my big kids. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

…and I think I overdosed on shellfish

I was really hesitant about our trip to the beach this past weekend. The last time we went, Catie was terrified of the water and spent the entire time building sandcastles, and she refused to so much as dip a single toe in the water.

This year, I think it’s safe to say that she’s overcome her nervousness.

Catie decided that she loves the beach

She still won’t dunk her head under water, but I wasn’t really a fan of that in the ocean, either. She went out a lot farther than I was expecting, and she had an absolute blast.

Catie jumping waves with Chris

My brother gets MAJOR cool uncle points not only for taking her out to jump waves, but also for spending ages helping her collect seashells.

Lucy was not so sure about the water at first either. It was windy, she hadn’t napped enough that day, it had the makings to be disastrous.

Lucy & me on the beach

Then my dad took her out and dipped her toes in the water. She decided quickly that this whole beach thing was pretty awesome.

Lucy decided that the beach was not so bad after all

They both had a blast. It was fantastic, and I can’t wait to take them again.

I think they both had a good time

Random aside, but a little backstory: back in 1943, when my dad was 7 years old, his father (my granddad) was enlisted in the Army during World War II. Instead of going overseas, though, he was stationed in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Apparently because my granddad was in his mid-30s at the time, he was deemed “too old” to actually go to the front lines. My, how times have changed, no?) So my dad & his parents lived in Florida for a year, then moved back to Mississippi. My dad often talks about living in Daytona and how he’d go to the beach and jump the waves every day after school. He really loved the ocean. The last time he went into the ocean was apparently in the early 1970s, before I was born. So this was long overdue for him.

Honest to God, I haven’t seen my dad that happy in ages. He laughed and laughed and jumped the waves like he was a freaking teenager, and not a 76 year-old man. He’s usually such a grump, it was great to see him downright giddy.

Pop-Pop & Lucy on the beach

Also, my favorite moment of the day was watching my parents hold hands as they walked out into the ocean to jump waves together. It was such a sweet moment between the two of them. I so wish I had gotten a picture of it, but I was holding Lucy and a bunch of other stuff and I couldn’t get the camera out in time.

Overall, it was a great day at the beach. Everyone had great fun and we completely wore ourselves out.

family pic on the beach

After the beach, we came back to the hotel, showered the sand off of ourselves, and went out to dinner. We happened to pass a little seafood restaurant a couple of doors down from our hotel, and we decided to try it out. If you’re ever in Wilmington, go to Hieronymus, because OMG the food was a-ma-zing.

That night, my brother earned even more Cool Uncle Points by helping Catie as she washed and sorted all of the seashells that she had collected on the beach that day.

Washing & sorting today's seashell haul in the hotel bathroom. My OCD kid is in heaven.

(Related: I now have to buy some kind of display jar to hold her seashell collection because holy crap we have a TON of them.)

…And Lucy eventually sacked out on my mom.

How the beach day ends. Good thing my mom doesn't mind being a human pillow for her grandbabies.

The next day, my brother headed home, and we toured downtown Wilmington for a little bit, then met up with Ali and her husband for lunch before we headed home. It was a short trip, but it was fantastic and definitely needed.

We’re already planning our next beach trip… I’m thinking next month when Catie is tracked out from her year-round school. Maybe we’ll stay two nights next time so we can allow for maximum wave-jumping time.

I can’t wait.

The world’s worst dueling trumpets

Hi there! How’s your day going? Good? Awesome.

By chance, do you have a splitting headache yet? Do you want one? SUPER! Let me help you out with what I like to call THE WORST SOUND EVER.

A little backstory: once upon a time, when Catie was about 2, we took her to the state fair and bought her a toy trumpet. It was one of those stupid first-time parent mistakes that you only make once. The thing makes a god-awful screechy noise, but she loved it. Lucky for me, she soon forgot about it.

Fast-forward a few years, and Lucy discovers the trumpet at the bottom of a toy box. Which, of course, launches Catie into a full-on, “She can’t have that! It’s MIIIIIIIINE!!!!!” meltdown.

So, my mother, who is otherwise a reasonably sane person, goes on Amazon, finds THE EXACT SAME AWFUL SOUNDING TOY TRUMPET, and buys it.

Because, as she put it, “Now they won’t have to fight about it anymore, because they’ll each have one!”

Only, you know, now I have to listen to THAT SOUND. In stereo, to boot!

(A friend of mine said she watched this video, and her fiance heard it from the next room and thought she was watching clown p0rn. You’re welcome for that.)

So, as revenge on my mother, the trumpets now both live at my parents’ house.

And I know, you’re probably thinking, what did my poor dad do to deserve this eardrum-splitting punishment? You want to know what he did?

My dad gave Catie a Mississippi State cowbell to clang around the house. (Some of you might not know just how loud those cowbells can be. Those of you who get that reference? YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.)

So, thanks, Mom and Dad. Enjoy the worst trumpet concert ever in the history of the world. Hope you didn’t forget to buy Excedrin.

Sunday at the park

July in North Carolina is typically not a good time to plan any outdoor activities, unless it involves a swimming pool. Yesterday, though, it was a little cooler than it’s been lately (temps in the mid-80s), and it was too overcast to go to the pool, so instead I loaded up the girls and took them to Pullen Park.

(Note that I am not being compensated in any way for this post. But if they see this and want to give us free ride tickets next time, hey, I won’t object.)

I’d taken Catie to Pullen Park once, way back when we first moved here, and we hadn’t gone back since it underwent renovations. The park is absolutely beautiful. Tons of playground space, a train ride, kiddie boats, and old-timey carousel… It’s basically kid heaven.

And oh, how my girls did love it.

Hey look, it's Levitating Catie!
[Side note: this picture happened when I told Catie to show me how high she could jump. I was not expecting a picture that basically looks like she’s levitating off the ground. If I knew how to use Photoshop, I would cut her out of this picture and then just randomly insert “Floating Catie” into all kinds of other photos, because I think it’s freaking hilarious.]

Lucy on the baby swings.

This was also Lucy’s first merry-go-round experience, and she… well, she hated it. She wanted NOTHING to do with sitting on a giant fake animal, so instead I ended up holding her on my hip while we stood next to Catie the whole time. She had a very worried look on her face, and every few seconds, she’d say, “No no no,” and shake her head. She didn’t freak out or cry, it was just a very matter of fact, “Ok, y’all, I do not like this one bit.”

The train ride was slightly more successful since I was sitting with both of them, but mostly she just looked confused by the whole thing.

This sums up their reactions to the train ride pretty accurately. Catie: "COOL!!" Lucy: "...the hell?"
Catie is all, “This is SO COOL!!!” And Lucy is all, “…the hell?”

However, it did give me the chance to snap this picture, which I love.

Holding hands with both of my girls.

The absolute favorite part of the park for both girls was the kiddie boat ride. Seriously, I could’ve let them do this all day, probably.

This was their favorite part of the whole day.

Lucy & Catie on the kiddie boat ride

Catie was slightly annoyed that Lucy went on the ride with her, because she wanted to ride by herself, but once they were both there, Catie snuggled up to her baby sister, and they had a fantastic time.

Lucy is very intent on steering. Catie is very intent on ringing the bell over and over.

The best part of the park? It wore. them. out. Lucy was asleep by 7:30 last night, and Catie crashed not much later. And they slept so hard, I had to drag them out of bed this morning so we could get Catie to school on time.

If the park can do that every time, it might become our regular Sunday afternoon outing.

Edited to add:

(My mom asked me to upload this video. Everybody else probably won’t care.)