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.

oh that's right, I have a blog

While I’m trying to get my head together and think of something funny or profound or, hell, I don’t know, anything to write about, here are my favorite pictures from our 4th of July.

Catie & Elizabeth pose for me
Catie and her cousin Elizabeth. Those girls know how to work the camera.

Elizabeth & Catie, ready to see the fireworks on the 4th of July
The look on Catie’s face here cracks me up. She’s smiling, but there’s also a “what the heck is she doing back there? Is she touching me? Make her stop touching me!” kind of vibe.

the one halfway-cool looking picture of fireworks that I took
Pretty much the only cool fireworks picture that I was able to get. I need to figure out the manual settings on my awesome camera someday, because most of them were, uh, awful.

Hope everyone is having a great week. I’ll be back soon with something more.

Halloween round-up

Forgive the quick entry, I only have a few minutes to type this up.

1. My in-laws are coming today! Catie is super-excited and keeps saying, “Grandma and Grandpa Roger are coming to see ME!” With her hand pressed to her chest for extra “ME!” emphasis. Yes, sweetie, they are. And now excuse Mommy while she panics and tries to clean the whole house from top to bottom.

2. I’m not doing NaBloPoMo this year. I thought it was fun in previous years, but with the visit from my in-laws and my entire family coming for Thanksgiving, there’s just no way on earth that I’m going to have time.

3. Halloween was so much fun! We went over to Cat & Tony’s neighborhood so the kids could trick-or-treat together. Catie had so much fun getting to hang out with her cousins, I think she’ll be talking about it until next Halloween.

And since I have to get to my last-minute frantic clean-up-a-thon, here are some of my favorite pictures from Halloween. The whole set is here.

Catie the dinosaur

Elizabeth the cowgirl & Catie the dinosaur

this picture makes me laugh every time I look at it

Elizabeth as a cowgirl riding a unicorn


Elizabeth in her chariot-wagon, Catie running alongside

for what it's worth, Cookie Monster is still my favorite

We’re having one of those weekends where it feels like we’re doing a good job of keeping Catie on the move. Last night we met up with my cousin Cat, Tony & their two little ones to listen to an African tribal drum band. It sounds odd, I’m sure, but it’s very kid-friendly. They bring a big bin full of rhythm instruments for all of the little ones to play with: maracas, tambourines, etc. So you can play music with the band, or you can dance, or you can just sit and listen and eat. (The concert is in sort of a food court area of an outdoor mall. We had Greek food for dinner and Coldstone Creamery for dessert. Nice.)

Catie found some bongos that the band didn’t happen to be using at that moment, and went to town on them.

Catie & bongos

I love that Elizabeth will smile for the camera when I ask her to, even if all I had was my crappy iPhone camera.

Elizabeth at drum night

(Actually the iPhone camera isn’t that bad, I just wish it had features like zoom, or a flash.)

Catie & Elizabeth at drum night

The girls had a really great time, and so did the parents. We figured that with all the activity, surely Catie would sleep well that night. Ha! We’ve had to move her to a Pack n’ Play in the guest room while her ceiling was being replaced (which just reminds me that I think I forgot to blog about that, but basically the A/C in the attic was directly over Catie’s room; it died, water leaked everywhere, her ceiling turned to mildew, and they had to tear the whole thing out and replace it. But they had to replace the A/C first. So I have had random repairmen in my house WAY too much over the past few weeks. Anyway, digression over, sorry!). I think the change of scenery has sort of thrown off her sleep patterns. Sometimes she’s fine, but if she wakes up in the middle of the night, she’s all confused and freaked out and can’t get herself back to sleep. And that’s usually when she ends up in bed with us, because at 2 a.m., the ONLY thing in the world that I want is to go back to sleep, and if letting her sleep in bed with us is what’s going to allow me to do so? FINE. I realize this is lazy, but whatever. YOU try living with someone who interrupts your sleep on a regular basis for 2 1/2 years and see what kind of adjustments you make to YOUR parenting philosophy.

So yeah, Catie was up at 1 a.m. and ended up in bed with us. Then she was up again at 6 a.m. And then I had to get up at 8 a.m., because… (drumroll)… this morning we went to see ELMO! LIVE! On stage! I know you’re jealous. You are, aren’t you?

Love this pic

It was actually not a bad show. It was just maybe a little bit too long for the average toddler attention span (an hour and a half; includes a 15-minute intermission, but still). Cat and her family came with us, and Elizabeth was absolutely enthralled. She was an angel during the show, she was obviously having such a great time. So sweet.

Elizabeth at Sesame Street Live

Catie was sort of into it, but was also a little freaked out.

Dave & Catie at Sesame Street Live

It was funny because during the second half of the show, at the end of every song, Catie would yell, “All done! Bye-bye, Elmo!!” She is not the most subtle creature; she was DONE and was ready for the show to be done, too. Luckily there were enough other screaming toddlers in the place that I’m pretty sure none of the Sesame Street characters heard her.

After the show, we all went out for lunch, and Catie promptly collapsed when we got home. After her nap, she played with two neighborhood girls who kept her on the run until she had an asthma attack. I was warning them to please slow down because I knew it was going to happen. Sigh. Kids. Luckily one dose of albuterol fixed her up and that was that. Still, I hate it for her.

Now I am praying that we all get a good night’s sleep tonight, because man, I am exhausted. Oh, and we have plans tomorrow too. Of course we do. More on that later. Right now I’m going to bed.

Raleigh March for Babies

The March for Babies here in Raleigh was today. We had a pretty big team marching for Maddie.

Marching for Maddie
From left to right, that’s: me, Catie, Dave, my sister Tracy, (sitting) baby Austin, my cousin Cat, Elizabeth (in the stroller), Tony, and Megan. We’d never met Megan before today (if you’re reading this, hi Megan!), but she was super fun and a very good sport about us lagging behind with our slow toddlers and general foolishness. (We really are sort of a goofy bunch when you get us all together.)

purple manicure
That’s right, I painted my nails purple for Maddie. And I felt the need to document it with photographic evidence, since it happens so very rarely.

Tracy & Catie on the March for Babies

The walk was good. It was a little hot, but not as brutal as the weather forecast predicted. Also, no thunderstorms – that was the other thing on the forecast that had us worried. We felt a few random drops of rain here and there, but not even enough to call it a drizzle.

I told Elizabeth to smile

The kids had the most fun after the walk. There was a DJ playing all sorts of dance music at the finish line, so the kids (who had either ridden in strollers or been carried for the entire walk) needed a chance to burn off some energy.

my girl makes a run for the DJ booth
I got Catie the smallest Maddie t-shirt I could get, and I still had to knot it in the back so it wouldn’t look like a dress on her. The part that broke my heart was that when Catie saw the shirt this morning, she pointed at it and said, “Maddie!” She knows her face from being on my lap so many times when I’ve read Heather’s blog. I almost cried then, but I just said, “Yeah, baby, that’s Maddie.”

Throughout the day, she kept pointing at her own shirt, or mine or Dave’s, and screaming “Maddie! Purple!” Yeah, sweetie. You got it.

after the finish line

Elizabeth in her purple ballerina dress

After a while the toddler energy was contagious, and we all had to dance too.
Catie on Tracy's shoulders

Dave, Catie & me

And we had to snuggle on some babies.
Austin & his mommy

There was one guy who came over to us to ask about Maddie’s story, because he read her dates on our t-shirts. I told him, and he told us that he has 2 daughters, both of whom were born around 26 weeks. One of his daughters is now 8 years old and the other is about to turn 13. He thanks the March of Dimes for them being here and healthy today. Talking to him for just a couple of minutes was really moving.

Oh, and I believe that when you factor in the almost $200 that my cousin raised through bake sales at her office, our team raised a combined total of almost $1,000 for the March of Dimes. So that’s a pretty great day right there.