Charlotte trip recap

The trip to Charlotte this past weekend was really nice. I don’t know how to summarize it in a normal way because it’s too hot for my brain to function.

So, hey look! Highlights!

1. We saw Beauty and the Beast on stage. It was The girl who played Belle was fantastic, but the Beast was obviously hired for his singing voice, because when he transformed back into a prince, all of the adult heterosexual women in the audience kind of went, “… Oh.” He was decidedly NOT hot. Sorry, dude. The guy who played Gaston was really good, and Lumiere damn near stole the show.

Of course, I hear the “Bonjour!” song at the beginning like this in my head:

(Warning: If you watch this video, you’ll never hear the song the same way again.)

2. I finally got to see the house that my brother bought. It’s lovely.

3. The plan to time our departure with Lucy’s naptime? SUCCESS!

Operation "plan the road trip around Lucy's naptime": SUCCESS.

4. We split up so it was boy’s house/girl’s house. This meant that my dad stayed with my brother, and the rest of us stayed at my sister’s apartment. Catie and my mom slept in my sister’s room (her room is huge, she has a queen-size bed and there’s plenty of space to also set up an air mattress), and I slept in the guest room with Lucy. I brought the pack & play, but Lucy started screaming after about 30 minutes there. I didn’t want her to wake up everybody, so I brought her onto the futon with me.

There are worse people you could have to share a futon with.

This meant that I didn’t sleep that great, but let’s be honest, I’ve shared futons with worse people.

5. My kids love my sister’s apartment.

Piano sisters. (My sister's apartment is so not kid-proofed.)

And more specifically, my sister’s cats.

My sister's cat Valentino is very concerned about Lucy taking his cat toy.

6. Overall it was really nice. The heat was brutal (110+ degree heat index, whee!), but we just altered plans and made it so that we stayed indoors as much as possible. The trip home was pretty easy too. Both kids slept for a good chunk of the ride home and it was fine.

7. The one bad part: I came home to a house with no A/C. Well, partially. I have a two-story house, so the A/C upstairs (where we sleep) is fine. But downstairs, which is, you know, where we actually live, was boiling. I called the landlord’s after-hours answering service, but they couldn’t get anyone out here on a Sunday. The service tech called me this morning and said he’ll be here this afternoon, but he wasn’t sure when. Fingers crossed it gets fixed soon, because no A/C in July in the South? No thank you.

Overall, though, A+ weekend. And it’s nice to know that I can take both kids on a road trip. It’s exhausting, sure, but totally manageable.

Scenes from the zoo

Because we’ve been back for two days and I still haven’t written about it (my brain, it is not cooperating with me these days), here are some pictures.

Near the entrance to the NC Zoo, there are these enormous life-size statues of elephants. We stopped to take some pictures. My mom saw this photo, and thought it was a real elephant, and she fuh-REAKED out. “Where’s the WALL?!! It could’ve KILLED her!!” Um, no, Mom. I’m pretty sure it’s not going anywhere.

Catie & the elephant statue near the zoo entrance

Although if the elephants were real, it would’ve made this moment with my brother all the more awesome.

my brother is funny

He’s hilarious. (We were trying to get Catie to agree to sit on the elephant’s trunk for a photo. She refused.)

As for inside the zoo…

Catie & a sea lion
Sea lions are awesome.

The flamingo exhibit was hands-down Catie’s favorite. She started asking for them the minute we got there, and she was so excited when we finally found them. She’s normally more of a giraffe/zebra fan, I’m not sure why the sudden obsession with flamingos? Maybe because they’re pink?

Catie & Tracy
I love this picture of my sister & Catie. I love their contrasting hair colors.

And then, of course, the obligatory “we’re going to take some damn family pictures before we leave here.”

Tracy, Catie & Chris

My very exhausted & sweaty family

I think it’s hilarious how my brother and sister both look all well-rested and healthy, while Dave and I look exhausted, puffy, and pale. Guess which ones are the parents?

P.S. Still no news on the job front. Hoping to hear something one way or the other this week!

Mary Hoppins*

*That’s how Catie says Mary Poppins. I don’t know why the “H” sound in front of her name, but she does this a lot. Like her cousin Austin is “Haustin.” And this month? Is “Haugust.” Don’t know where it comes from, but it’s funny, so I let it slide.

This weekend, we made a quick trip to Charlotte to visit my sister, who got us tickets to go see the traveling Broadway musical of Mary Poppins. Catie would’ve been excited to just sit in Tracy’s apartment for 24 hours, but getting to see the “concert” (her words) of one of her favorite movies was definitely a bonus.

Wait, let me back up because I need an excuse to post this picture. On Friday evening, we went to our monthly Drum Night, and I got this picture, which cracks me up.

A bunch of miscreants
What a bunch of miscreants and ne’er-do-wells. I swear there needs to be a “No Loitering” sign over their heads.

ANYWAY. So on Saturday, we drove to Charlotte. Catie napped in the car.

Driving to Charlotte makes us sleepy
Man, I wish I could nap in the car like that. (Also? Dave says that I do that exact open-mouth thing when I sleep. I say he’s a dirty liar.)

We hung out at my sister’s place for a while, then went out for dinner.

Tracy & Catie at dinner
Catie was very excited by the crayons that came with her kids’ menu.

Then we walked around. Or, in my sister’s case, got dragged around.

Catie dragging Tracy around
(I’m pretty sure Tracy didn’t mind being dragged. She didn’t seem to mind giving Catie a piggy-back ride either.)

Soon, it was time to head off for the show. Dave wisely headed back to Tracy’s apartment to chill out and watch movies while the girls went to the show. (Dave is definitely not a Broadway kind of dude.)

I only managed to take this one really awful picture before the mean old usher came over and fussed at me for using my camera. (It was before the show even started!!)

Tracy & Catie at Mary Poppins

I have to say, the flash on the iPhone 4? Kind of makes everyone look jaundiced. I’m not a fan.

As for the show, it was fantastic. I’m not generally a Broadway fan, but it was really great. My only complaint was that the matinee was sold out, so Tracy got us tickets for the 8 p.m. show. Which would’ve been fine if it’d just been us, but the show ended at 10:45, by which point Catie had dozed off on Tracy’s arm. (I woke her up so she could see Mary Poppins fly out over the audience, because MAN that was cool.)

Anyway, if the show comes to your town? I highly recommend it. It was so fun.

On Sunday, we got up, had brunch with Tracy, then drove home. Usually when we leave Tracy, Catie has a total meltdown. This time, I promised her that if she was good and didn’t cry when it was time to leave, I’d take her swimming when we got back to Raleigh.

She held up her end of the deal.

Driving home from Charlotte

And yes, I absolutely did take her to the pool as soon as we got home.

All in all, super-fun weekend. And my parents are flying up on Wednesday to visit for a few days, so we’re going to get lots of good family time this week, which is great. I predict that Catie will be spoiled rotten by the time Labor Day arrives. Ah well. What can you do?

Our Weekend

This weekend, Dave taught Catie how to develop game apps for the iPhone.

Catie's really into learning how to develop iPhone game apps

She’s totally into it, and taking it very seriously.

I love this because it looks like Catie has a freakishly large man-hand

She’ll probably design the greatest app since “Words With Friends.”

Oh, and I got an iPhone 4! Which shoots video! Related: we sang happy birthday to my sister, and filmed it since Tracy is currently celebrating her birthday with friends in Italy.

Of course, it didn’t really occur to me until later that my sister can only access her email on her Blackberry, which doesn’t have YouTube capabilities, so she won’t actually see it until she gets back to the US. Oh well. Happy birthday, Tracy!

We also watched a heck of a lot of Xanadu. (And I learned that if you turn the phone to a landscape setting, it automatically adjusts when you copy it over to your laptop. Nice job, Apple! I won’t make any more oddly narrow videos.)
(I’m still trying to get a video of her really singing it. So far, she kind of goes quiet as soon as she sees the camera. You can still see her lip-syncing it, but hopefully I’ll get a real video of it soon.)

(Also? This is how she always watches Xanadu – with lots and lots and lots of random questions about the plot.)

Sunday afternoon, we went to see the Wiggles in concert.

Catie & Dave at the Wiggles concert
At first, Catie wasn’t too sure what she thought about the whole concert thing. But she took the popcorn very seriously.

Honestly? That might’ve been one of the most fun kids’ concerts we’ve been to (and I’ve been to a lot of them). You can tell that these guys have been doing this stuff for 20 years, and they just have fun with it and throw in all kinds of improv lines here and there, which makes it really funny for the adults in the audience.

That said, I’m glad I didn’t take advantage of the chance I had to get closer seats, because Catie got a little claustrophobic from the crowd, so we spent a lot of the show toward the back where it was emptier. She usually reacts that way in crowds, same as Dave, so I wasn’t too surprised by it.

I did manage to get one decent picture of all three of us, although the weird iPhone flash thing makes it look like we’ve been dousing ourselves in self-tanner.

Catie, Dave & me at the Wiggles!

Also? Sweaty. It was HOT in there. I don’t know how those guys on stage do it.

Catie with the Wiggles

Overall, though? A pretty great time was had by all. But I can’t quite believe it’s Monday already.

beach weekend

Last year, Dave and I decided to take advantage of Memorial Day weekend and go check out the North Carolina coast. That trip came at the perfect time, we’d been stressed out and worried about a lot of things that were going on then, and we ended up having an absolute blast. It kind of sealed it in our heads: Memorial Day weekend, we go to the beach. A new tradition has been established.

Dave, me & Catie in the Atlantic Ocean

Of course, the problem last year was that Catie absolutely hated the beach. She hated the sand, and the waves, and all of it. But I’ve noticed that in the past year, she’s started playing in the sandbox at the playground, and she doesn’t seem to mind the texture of sand as much as she used to. So we thought it’d be worth another shot.

This time, we had much better luck.

Catie on the beach

Catie still doesn’t like the ocean. The waves came up way too fast for her, and the water was just a little too cold. But she had a great time building sand castles, digging big holes in the sand, and collecting seashells (most of which she threw back into the ocean, don’t ask me why).

sandy toes

This year we also decided to invite my brother and sister along, since they live in North Carolina too, and neither of them had ever been to Wilmington before. It’s a longer drive for them, but they took a shortcut across the southern part of the state and met up with us there.

It was great to have them there. It was a lot easier to make sure we had one or two adults on the beach with Catie, while the others were out in the ocean jumping waves. The higher the adult-to-kid ratio, the better.

Side note: At one point, Dave carried Catie out into the ocean. When she started to get a little bit scared, my brother Chris tried to make her laugh by acting like a goofball. And that’s how I ended up with this, one of my favorite photos of the weekend.
my brother trying to make Catie laugh
I love that I managed to get the picture of him while he was suspended in mid-air. Awesome.

So, yeah. We went to the beach, we hung out at the hotel pool, we ate a lot of delicious and fresh seafood, and we had a fabulous time.

jumping girl

How was YOUR weekend?

A weekend in Charlotte

Since both of my siblings now live in Charlotte, which is a mere 150 miles away, this past weekend Catie and I decided to pack a bag and make a mini-road trip to visit them. Catie’s pretty easy to travel with, and we thought it would be fun to check out Charlotte for the first time. I mean, I’ve been to the airport a few times, and I’ve driven through Charlotte, but I’ve never really checked out the city before.

Since my sister Tracy just moved from NYC (she lived in Manhattan, and yes I’m still slightly bitter that she moved in April instead of August, because I could’ve totally had a free place to stay for BlogHer!), she thought it might help her transition to life in the South if she moved downtown, instead of out in the suburbs. I think that makes sense, and it helps that Charlotte has one of the prettiest downtown areas I’ve ever seen (with exceptions for Seattle and Portland). She found this really cool building that had been a department store in the 1920’s or 30’s, and it’s now been converted to condos. It has these amazing huge ceilings with giant windows in her living room.

Tracy & Catie in the window

Playing peekaboo in the windows

Those windowsills are just about the only place to sit too, because Tracy has no furniture, since her movers are scheduled to show up with her stuff from NYC this week. But Catie travels with her own little suitcase full of toys for entertainment purposes, we had an air mattress for Catie and I to crash on, and we had a great time.

Catie & Chris playing peekaboo

I also got to see my brother’s apartment for the first time, which I felt slightly bad about, since we’ve lived in North Carolina for a year & a half, and this was our first trip there to visit him. (Forgot my camera for that part!) It wasn’t an intentional slight at him, just the way it works out. He usually comes to our house when we visit each other.

There wasn’t anything major that happened – we hung out together, we rigged up some iPod speakers and danced to silly kids’ music around Tracy’s empty living room, we ate out at a couple of really great restaurants, and we walked around downtown Charlotte a bit to explore Tracy’s new digs.

My view on the walk to brunch

yelling to Tracy & Chris to come see the "waterfall" (fountain)

And best of all, Catie got to hang out with a couple of her favorite people. (Two of my favorite people too, actually.)
Chris, Catie & Tracy

It was a really good weekend.

Easter weekend wrap-up

Our weekend:

Catie & Tracy
We got to spend some time with my sister. (Clearly, Catie was not in the mood for my camera. At all.) Tracy’s friend Renee was also here, helping her move, which was fun because I haven’t seen Renee in probably six years, and she’d never met either Dave or Catie. It didn’t take Catie very long to warm up to Renee. I’m pretty sure she was in Renee’s lap within a minute or so.

My sister’s cats were also here, which was definitely a high point of the weekend for Catie. Probably not so much for the cats. They spent the night cooped up in a guest room, totally freaked out.

Saturday night, the Easter bunny came to visit. I think Catie is a fan.

Catie likes her new bunny a lot.

On Sunday morning, we got all dressed up and went to church.

Catie & Mommy before church on Easter Sunday
My new favorite picture of us.

After church, we went to the playground and a local lake (with the intent of seeing the ducks and geese, but alas, there were none at the lake yesterday). Then we picked up lunch, came home, and took a nap.

Teenie finds this particular lap insufficient, but you know, any port in a storm

After naptime, we had a little impromptu Easter egg hunt in our backyard.

Reaching for a pink egg under a bush

After the Easter egg hunt, Catie heard some neighborhood kids playing outside and wanted to go join in. I walked her across the street so she could play for a while. It was very bizarre to me that she ran up and started talking to these girls who are about 8 or 9 years old, and they totally understood her. Apparently my toddler-to-English translation services are no longer needed. That’s new.

Easter egg hunts are fun

Hope everyone else had a nice Easter (or, you know, just a nice weekend, if that’s more your thing).