her favorite aunt

When we were kids, my sister Tracy and I didn’t always get along. She’s 5 1/2 years older than me, so she always treated me like a baby (which I suppose I was, to her). I went back and forth between desperately wanting to be included in all of the cool stuff she got to do with her friends, and being mad at her because she treated me like a baby.

Of course, we grew up, and things changed. I’m not sure exactly when, probably when we were both in our 20s. Now we’re pretty close and have an easy relationship with each other. Sure, sometimes we get pissy with each other, but it’s usually mild stuff that blows over within a minute or two (literally). I honestly can’t remember the last real fight that we had. I mean, I remember the time that I called her a bitch and it made her cry, but I think I was about 17 years old at the time. I can’t think of anything in the past decade.

And it particularly strikes me as odd, after spending the past weekend with my mom and her sisters. There are 7 kids in her family: 4 boys and 3 girls. And the brothers all seem to get along well with everyone; they’re the peacemakers in the family. But my mom and her two sisters… man. They have this competitive thing, this need to one-up the other and prove that I AM RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG WRONG WRONGITY-WRONG. They love each other, of course, but there’s a lot of sniping and eye-rolling going on too. And they’re all in their 60s now, so it’s not like that dynamic is ever going to change. So it’s strange to look at those relationships, and then see the relative ease that Tracy and I have with each other. It makes me grateful, to be honest.

Tracy doesn’t have any kids, and I’m pretty sure that if you asked her, she’d say that she’s happy that way. But when Catie was born, I think it made her second-guess that decision, even if it was just for a minute.

with her Aunt Tracy

It was hard when we lived in Seattle and we’d only see our family a couple of times a year, but Catie never went through a “stranger danger” fear with Tracy. It’s like she has always known that Tracy belongs to her.

bouncing in the bjorn

post-Christmas poop-out

When we moved from Seattle to North Carolina, my sister flew from NYC to Seattle, so that I wouldn’t have to attempt a cross-country flight by myself with an 18 month-old. That pretty much cemented her position as The Most Awesome Aunt Ever. (She even got to experience Catie’s motion sickness firsthand; and as a result of Catie’s epic backseat milk barf right as we were pulling in to the airport, I’m pretty sure Tracy’s name has been blacklisted from all Dollar Rental Car locations in the U.S.)

Catie practicing her "trust falls" with Tracy (whee!)

For us, moving to North Carolina was a little bit of a double-edged sword with our families. Sure, it meant that we got to see them more often, and that was great. Tracy was only a short 90-minute flight away in NYC. But it also meant that Catie’s tears were increasingly dramatic every time Tracy had to leave and go back home. It went from a few tears and sniffles and woeful moans of, “my Twaaacy!” from the backseat, to (at this last visit) a full-on screaming meltdown of “I GO WIF’ YOUUUUU!!!!” in which she tried to extricate herself from her carseat and almost made herself vomit from sobbing so much. It wasn’t a fun goodbye, to say the least.

SO happy to see her aunt Tracy

A few months ago, Tracy started talking about maybe moving to be even closer. The company she works for is international and has offices all over the place; after a little research, she found out that they have a branch office in Charlotte, which is only 150 miles from here (also, coincidentally, where my brother Chris lives). She asked about possibly relocating, and they said yes.

(Of course, in a perfect world, I’d prefer that she relocate to Raleigh. But her company doesn’t have an office here, and she doesn’t want to leave her job, which I understand. It’ll still be nice to be able to visit each other via car instead of airplane!)

I’ve been scared to blog about this for fear that it would fall through, but right now, as I type this, movers are loading up my sister’s NYC apartment. She is moving to Charlotte. Today.

I think Catie might like Tracy just a little bit

And I know one little girl who can’t wait to see her favorite aunt.

a hacky photo entry that requires no real forethought or editing

Catie & I doing downward-facing dog
A little toddler yoga. (Catie’s request, it’s her new favorite thing.)

At the top of the stairs.

Catie playing with "Britty's Bear"
Playing with “Britty’s bear.”

Catie loves her PB&J sandwiches
It’s peanut-butter-jelly time!

playing dress-up in Mommy's new shirt
Want a sneak preview of one of the shirts I bought for BlogHer? Here you go. Catie thought it’d be fun to play dress-up in it.

I love the contrasting hair colors
Contrasting hair colors.

Catie says "CHEESE!!"
Catie says, “CHEESE!!!”

More about the weekend later; I gotta get to work.

blogging as a means to not think about lasers in my freakin' eyeballs (which, FAIL)

My eye surgery is this afternoon. It occurred to me while I was getting dressed this morning that it was probably not the best day to apply both eyeliner and (non-waterproof) mascara, but it was too late by the time I realized it. I guess I’ll just look like a raccoon later when my eyes water it off.

And I forgot to say it earlier, but thank you to all of you who left kind words when I freaked out about the surgery last week. But I need to clarify, the surgery I’m having is not lasik. I’m still going to need my glasses after this is over. Basically what they’re doing is using a laser to poke a few holes in my iris (shudder), which will ensure that the fluid in my eyes can circulate. (If the fluid can’t continuously circulate, the optic nerve will die, hence the blindness.) You can read all about it here if you like – I started to read it and freaked out and had to close the window. But I think it’s relatively accurate.

Btw, I have no idea if they’re planning to drug me for this procedure or not. I forgot to ask beforehand. So I’m bringing my Klonopin with me, and if they don’t offer me any drugs, I’ll just go ahead and knock myself out, thank you very much.

And I have to say, it’s been a lot of fun having Brittany here this week. She has a great camera (that I totally want to steal) and we got some fantastic pictures of Catie, which I’m going to try to upload soon. As an added bonus, my sister flew in for the weekend last night, so I’ll have both Tracy and Brittany here to take care of Catie while I’m out of commission (and Dave will be, presumably, taking care of his drugged-up wife). Catie is in Happy Toddler Overload, she doesn’t know what to do with all the attention. So no worries on that end.

Oh, one random note: yesterday Catie was in a bad mood and I asked her if she wanted to watch a movie. She walked over to the shelf where all of her DVDs are stored, and pulled out “E.T.” (which I bought before she was born, but the cellophane was still on it because I rarely feel the need to reduce myself to a sobbing mess). I wasn’t sure if it would be too scary for her, so I skipped the beginning and started it at the point where Elliott and E.T. meet for the first time. She loved it. She walked over to the TV to pat Elliott and reassure him that he shouldn’t be scared, because E.T. was his friend. I can’t really say how great it is to see your kids enjoying movies that you loved when you were little, but yeah, it was fantastic.

random Wednesday stuff

1. It looks like we’ll be staying pretty busy with company for a while. My brother spent Saturday night with us, and shortly after he left on Sunday afternoon, Brittany came to visit. (Which, if you read her blog, you probably know exactly why she came on Sunday instead of on Thursday, which had been her original plan.) On Sunday night, my sister called – she had travel plans for this weekend that fell through, and she was wondering if she could change her plane ticket and come to Raleigh instead. Sure, why not! So we’ll have a continuous stream of visitors for over a week, which is actually kind of cool. Especially since it distracts me from the fact that…

2. Our house closing date is going to get changed. The closing depends on us receiving some funds from the UK (we’re taking out a business loan against a couple of pieces of property that Dave and his mom and brother own together), and we just found out from my mother-in-law today that it’s going to take longer than we thought, due to the fact that we have to wait for lawyers and surveyors and all sorts of legal mumbo-jumbo to finish up. And you know, that’d be fine, if it wasn’t for the fact that we have to be out of this house on July 31st, and if we can’t close by then, we’ll have nowhere to live.

So, we’re asking the sellers if we can rent the new house for the month of August (along with a letter from the bank in the UK promising that the funds are, in fact, on their way… at some point). And I’m crossing my fingers and praying that they say ok and don’t decide to walk.

3. In other real estate news, for the past two days I’ve been trying to help Brittany find an apartment in the Raleigh area. It’s been fun – her arm is all banged up and she’s taking Vicodin for the pain, so she’s been very giggly and stoned through the whole process. I’ve been her designated driver, and I’ve been taking lots of pictures of all of the apartments because I wasn’t sure she would remember anything that we saw. But we’ve found a few apartments that she likes, now we just need to narrow it down and pick one.

4. Today’s date is 07-08-09. Funny.

fun aunt Tracy

My sister’s visit this weekend was so much fun. It was really cool that she was able to join us for the March for Babies on Saturday morning. That afternoon (post-naptime), she and I took Catie for a little walk, then came home, made dinner, watched “Wall-E” (Catie’s current favorite movie, plus Tracy hadn’t ever seen it), and vegged out for the night.

On Sunday, we went out for brunch with my cousin Cat and her family.

Elizabeth & Catie at brunch
I love watching Catie and Elizabeth interact with each other, they’re getting very good at sharing and taking turns, and it’s just really funny to see.

Cat & Elizabeth

Catie & me

After brunch, we went to Target where Tracy bought Catie a few toys and some clothes – you know, as aunts are wont to do. And after Catie’s nap, Tracy borrowed my bike, helmet, and trailer, and took Catie for a bike ride.

Catie going for a ride in the bike trailer

Tracy and Catie going for a bike ride

They had a blast, even though it made me nervous as hell to see them riding away. (I don’t know why, I guess because they were going to be crossing some busy streets to go to the park, and that’s my pweshus widdle bay-beee in that bike trailer.) But they came home safely, red-faced from the wind and totally happy. Catie even insisted on joining Tracy in the shower afterward. I think that Tracy and I are pretty much interchangeable as far as Catie is concerned.

Plus, you know, Tracy has all the cool jewelry that she lets Catie wear.

Catie modeling Tracy's jewelry

After dinner, we had to take Tracy to the airport so she could pick up her rental car and drive to Rocky Mount, where her business meeting is today. Catie cried when Tracy got out of the car and said goodbye, which of course made Tracy cry too. She’ll be back in a couple of weeks, but poor Catie has no real understanding of time yet, so that didn’t really help.

This morning, Catie asked a couple of times where Tracy was, and I had to remind her that Tracy went bye-bye. We had some tears and hugs about that, but hopefully she’ll be over it in a day or two.

I love that we’re so much closer to our families than we were in Seattle, but sometimes I do wish that all of Catie’s grandparents and everybody (two uncles and one aunt) lived locally so we could see them on a more regular basis. It’s so much fun to visit, and always so sad when they leave.

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.