…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.

Mother's Day 2012

This evening, I started thinking about how this Mother’s Day ranks in contrast to prior years.

I think last year might’ve been my worst Mother’s Day ever. I was nine months pregnant and my marriage was falling apart. Pretty hard to get worse than that, right?

By comparison, this year, my entire Mother’s Day weekend was really fun. And although I didn’t take nearly enough pictures of it, I’ve been thinking about all of the little moments from this weekend that I want to remember, and wishing I had snapshots of them.

These are my top ten snapshot moments that I want to remember (in chronological order, not order of importance… that’s just how my brain works).

1. Spontaneously deciding to take the girls to the playground with my dad on Saturday afternoon. The look on Lucy’s face in the swing. The look on Catie’s face the whole time.

2. Catie going for a sleepover at my parents’ house on Saturday night. She spent the afternoon and evening gardening with my mom. (Her report of it, later? “Mommy, we put POOP on the tomato plants!!” Ahh, thank you, fertilizer.)

3. Watching Lucy enjoy being the center of my attention for a few hours, and not having to share any toys whatsoever with her big sister.

That's her, "mama, you so crazy" look,
One of the only pictures I took. That face she’s giving me just cracks me up.

4. My “friend” (because I don’t know what else to call him) who came over on Saturday night and brought me flowers (“Because you’re a mom, and moms are supposed to have flowers on Mother’s Day”). He even knew to bring tulips, because they’re my favorite. He also brought me mango and dark chocolate, and he snuggled up on the couch with me and rubbed my shoulders while we watched a movie.

5. Deciding on Sunday morning to get Lucy and myself dressed, head to Fresh Market, buy some expensive-yet-OMG-delicious pastries, and take them to my parents’ house to surprise them.

6. Taking a nap with Lucy in my parents’ guest room while Catie and my mom planted more flowers in the yard.

7. Listening to Catie’s happy sing-song voice outside as I fell asleep.

8. Going to dinner with my parents, because my mom and I both decided that we weren’t cooking on Mother’s Day. The kids were both so, so good in the restaurant, which is freakishly rare. (Usually you’ll have one good one while the other melts down. It almost never happens that they’re both good at the same time.)

9. After bathtime, dancing around my bedroom to “Rumor Has It” by Adele with my girls. Catie and I both singing along to the song, while Lucy giggled and squealed with delight when I bounced her around to the beat.

(For the record, “Set Fire to the Rain” is Catie’s favorite Adele song. Which is kind of hilarious, to hear a 5 year-old sing a completely tortured love song. But she rocks out to it, and I love it.)

10. At bedtime, Catie hugging and kissing me and telling me that she missed me while she was at Mimi and Pop-Pop’s house, and that she was glad to be back home. And then immediately asking if she could spend the night at their house again soon.

Overall, yeah, this Mother’s Day pretty much kicked last year’s ass.

I hope all of my mama friends out there had equally fantastic Mother’s Days this year. Because God knows y’all all earned it.

Semi-Wordless Wednesday: "Happy Birthday, Pop-Pop" edition

Today is my dad’s birthday. This picture of him with Lucy makes me smile every time I see it.

Lucy & Pop-Pop going for a walk

And so does this one of him with not-quite-2 year-old Catie.
Pop-Pop and Catie

And as a throwback – this picture of me with my dad makes me smile too. But in this case, it’s more because of his sideburns and maroon leisure slacks. (Thank you, 1976!)
1976 - me & my dad

Happy birthday, Dad. Your girls love you very much.

timesharing the holidays

When I was little, I thought that my grandparents lived really far away. In reality, of course, that wasn’t the case at all. I grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. My dad’s parents lived in Meridian, MS, about 80 miles away. My mom’s parents were in New Orleans, which is about 200 miles from Jackson. Both sets of grandparents were a road trip away.

In hindsight, we saw them relatively frequently. Holidays were generally split. We spent Christmas with my dad’s parents – which I guess is fair, since my dad is an only child and we were his parents’ only grandchildren; my mom, on the other hand, is one of seven, so there were plenty of grandkids around during the holidays for her folks. A couple of days after Christmas, we’d go to New Orleans and usually stay there through New Year’s.

Flash-forward, and now I’m an adult with a child of my own. And Catie’s grandparents genuinely are far away. My parents are still in Mississippi, which is a good 800 miles from here. And Dave’s parents are in England. Both sets of grandparents require airplanes to visit, not short little road trips.

We’re lucky that Mags (Dave’s mom) has been able to come over for a few visits. But Catie has a granddad (Dave’s dad) who she’s never met. Heck, I haven’t even met my own father-in-law either, and Dave and I have been together for over five years. He & his wife haven’t ever come to the US, and Dave and I have never gone over there – which was first because of problems with Dave’s visa, and later because we had a new baby, and then we just couldn’t afford it with the move. There was always a reason that stopped us from going.

Now, though, Dave has a green card so he can freely leave and re-enter the country (hooray for that!), and we aren’t quite as broke as we were a year ago. So, we’re going to England for Christmas. Actually, we’re going for more than that – we’re flying out on December 11th, and we won’t be coming back until December 28th. Seventeen days. Hopefully that will be enough time to see all of Dave’s family, make a touring visit of his friends who’ve spread out all over the country, and also do some sightseeing, since I’ve never been to England before. How sad is that? I’m 33 years old, and this will be the first stamp on my passport (because they don’t stamp it when you go to Canada).

Obviously, we’re all really excited. It’s going to be weird for me because I’ve only spent one Christmas away from my family in my entire life, but I’m also really looking forward to this trip because I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

I emailed Dave’s parents yesterday to let them know we’re coming, send them copies of our flight itineraries, etc. Dave’s mom of course is thrilled; she and her partner, Roger, will be coming over for a visit in a couple of weeks, but she’s like any other grandma in wanting to get as much Grandbaby Time as possible, so she’s very happy. And Dave’s stepmom emailed me back to say that when she told Keith (Dave’s dad) that we’re coming, he got choked up and teary. He’s beyond happy that he’ll finally get to meet his only grandchild. Of course, hearing that he teared up made me all misty, because that’s just so damn sweet – and, well, also because I’m a big wuss.

And honestly, I’m feeling a little bit guilty that we haven’t made more of a concentrated effort to go there sooner. There probably was a time when we could have gone to England, and we didn’t. I guess neither Dave nor I truly realized how important it is to them. I think that in the future we’ll have to work harder at that.