Monday, July 27




That's the way that Ani pronounces "hot." My cup of coffee? Stuff on the stove?


Big kids have their last week of swimming lessons. We found out who their teachers are for the upcoming year.


We cleaned out the basement a little of recycling and donations for Goodwill. And while we did this, we mapped out how to turn half the basement into an entertainment area/could be mini-apartment someday. There's a corner big enough for a couple of small couches. A television could go on the wall. A little mini-counter could go on one side and maybe wee bistro seating opposite it. If we could fit a half-bath (or maybe a small shower?) in the other corner: hey, somewhere for the kids to host people and be out of our hair!

Because that time will come, no?


Friday, July 10

Pressure’s on, kid

Ani first family meal at the table

As I took this, the Big Kids pointed out Ani has eaten at the table before. I explained “she has had snacks at the table, but this is her first dinner.” (Shut up, jerks-who-think-you-are-right-all-the-time.)

Also, what really got me is a moment before, she had looked over at Zoe and how Zoe had her elbows on the table and Ani made this concentrated effort, one elbow at a time, to hoist hers up as well. Emulating her big sis. IT WAS A MOMENT.

Cash keeps bringing me the insert that came with a set of Chima legos. Like “I want this one and this one and this one.”

Sure, we can look for that on the internet. And I keep telling him his option is one gift and a party or a bunch of gifts and no party but he can have a friend come spend the night.

Because I am over planning kid parties, you guys. How many do I have under my belt now? (I can’t just add the kids’ ages since I didn’t have Zoe until she was 4 and we didn’t start parties for each kid until they were at least 3.) BUT A LOT OF KID PARTIES.

Though I wasn’t trying to push much. He knew where he wanted to have a party. But these Chima legos. Siren call. I think he’s caving.

(Zoe hasn’t caved yet. She still wants a party.)

I feel certain I can get Ben to cave in March. He’s pragmatic.

“What will we do for Ani’s birthday?” Zoe wants to know.

“I hope she’ll be talking well enough by then to tell us what she’d like to do,” I answer.

Ani’s done well eating at the table this week. Sayonara, high chair.

I’d let her out of the crib sooner except for how her toddler bed will be in Zoe’s room which is right next to the staircase and I have “but what if my three year old falls down the stairs in the dark” fears that weren’t in place for the boys because their room is down the hall.

There’s that family age thing, too. I think it’s unusual for a kid of 3 to still be in a crib? But for a less than 18-month-old, not odd at all. (Ani has been home for about 15 months.)

So. We’re still in the mode of Waiting for her to Master Speech > POTTY TRAINING > Move to Zoe’s room. Because once she can use the toilet, she can no longer sleep in the crib.

AND THEN I GET MY ROOM BACK. And maybe won’t spend so much time in the guest bed? We shall see.

Monday, July 6

This year


When you get a three-day weekend for the 4th of July, you sort of count on sunshine and blue skies. It was a bummer to wake up to rain each day.

Cash had asked when we could go to the movies again, so on Friday I sent Kris with the big three to see Inside Out. They had a nice time (and I had a nice time finishing a book on the sun porch while Ani napped) but they were bummed that I couldn’t be there, too.

“Then we need to teach Ani how to watch TV,” I told them. (I just don’t peg her for sitting still in the dark that long when she wouldn’t be watching the movie at all. Plus, she still turns into a crazy person in the afternoon/evening with no midday nap. So. No movie for moi.)

But when it came to hitting the Finlayson pool for the 4th, she was all about it! (Last year, she spent the whole time either in the Ergo or the playpen.) Her new favorite thing is Commandeering An Adult and she played this game many, many times. She commandeered both Jennifer and Brook and also many of their guests.

The swam her in the pool, fed her fruit, bounced her on their laps. She had a great time.


Her speech is at that place where other people can sometimes tell what she’s saying (like Liz, Jennifer and I all knew she was saying “dog” but none of us knew what she meant — “I want to see the dog?” “Keep me safe from the dog?” “Yep, that is a… dog?”) and sometimes only Kris or I would know what she said. “She wants you to ‘sit down.’”

The big kids skipped back and forth between the pool and the hot tub for hours. But the boys began to tire out and whined for an hour that they were tired until we gave up and came home. So no fireworks this year. Maybe next time.

(Sometimes, it bothers me big time how I can’t dictate my own schedule. What if I wanted to stay up and watch the fireworks, huh? But mostly, I’ve crafted a way to stay sane where I am. “Great, let’s go home. Sooner you guys go to bed, sooner I can read that new chapter my Tumblr buddy just posted.”)

I didn’t get to pester Chris about Sense8 because he had to work (boo, adulthood!) BUT Liz had watched it and so I got to pester her instead! Win.

Kris got to put up the posts and lights on the deck as he wanted to for years now. And it is glorious. A veritable fairyland. You can’t really bask in their wonderment until 8pm, but this fall, man, the deck will be a delight.

New party deck lights. Ooo. I can't wait to try them out!

A photo posted by Kris Catoe (@kriscatoe) on

The Big Kids start summer camp at the YMCA this week. Ani had her second week attending Kids Church instead of hanging out with Kris in the run room. We are thinking of putting the high chair on the curb to keep us from using it as a crutch. (She is about to outgrow it, but man, she still spills a lot of food. It’s easier to tether her to the chair for such mess.)

Tuesday, June 30

On the house

Friday night, Dad and Patsy were keeping the big kids overnight and we planned to see a movie before we came to get Ani.

When it’s a Thrift Store Date, we hit Asahi. When it’s Taco Night, we meet people at the Mayan restaurant. What comes pre-movies?

“I have a gift card to the Fish Market,” I told Kris. (I’d done some graphic design for them awhile back.)

Fish it is!

For the movie, the contenders were Ultron, Mad Max & Jurassic Park. I had planned on messaging a Tumblr buddy to see if she had a vote and the very same day, she tagged me in a review of Mad Max. Decision made!

Made it @bethanyactually

A photo posted by Laura Catoe (@damecatoe) on

I was going to Instagram a photo of my movie ticket and tag her, but we didn’t get tickets! A friend was working the counter and let us in. Aww.

Date night on the house.

Saturday, there was a pool soiree at the Hyatts’ new home. I warned my littles within an inch of their life (they were WAY CRAZY the weekend of the wedding and Emily’s pool party). The warning stuck and they were little angels!




Monday, June 22

A wedding weekend

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Three of my wee ones were in a wedding on Saturday. Ani had a solo playdate with Kris' dad during the wedding, because I was shooting the photos. (This is probably the last wedding I will shoot. I'm just not set up for it anymore!)

Kris did Jordan's hair and my dad performed the ceremony. We were all over these nuptials!

For Father's Day, we went to Fultondale. The cousins were there. Monk bought them all water guns. We took a watermelon. They were eight little watermelon vampires.


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On Saturday night, Cash informed he was changing his name when he grew up and it would include two Juniors.

"Oh?" I asked. "What will it be?"

"Sharkblade Junior Junior."

Good to know. I bet he'll have a real snazzy business card.

Thursday, June 18

Pew pew


Have I like, not only forgotten to blog, but how to blog? Like, I mean to update the portfolio blog and I haven't shared the Art of Beer logo yet, but I am also "meh, I'll get around to it." But I also mean to update this one with kid stories I don't want to forget, and yet I feel like I have nothing to say?

I am always telling Jaimie that the best kid stories revolve around what they say. And as the Big Three get older, they talk better and so there are less stories about cute things said. And Ani isn't talking-talking yet, so...

But I don't want to forget the way she says "thank you" — it sounds like "pew-pew" like she's making a phaser noise. Yeah, it doesn't sound like Thank You at all, but you can tell by the inflection and when she says it that that is what "pew-pew" means.

Cute stories aside, the kiddos have been wracking up Summer Adventures. Like playing at the Pickles' pool:

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Attending birthday parties and going on field trips:

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Then there was VBS:


Vineyard VBS

VBS day three

There have been playdates with the Wilborns, Zoe went to the eye doctor, Ani is still doing well at her new school...

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Minecraft boys

They will be in their first wedding this weekend. Father's Day visit with family on Sunday. Another birthday party on Monday and three more field trips. Summer is going well.

Friday, May 29

A culling


Ani plays so well now! At a very-nearly-age-appropriate level. I went around the house collecting all the more babyish toys we’d acquired for her to bag them up. I don’t want to hold her back. (And yo, like there’s ever a toy shortage at our house.)

Kris wanted the big kids to get in on the action. A culling. (“What’s a culling?” they asked.)

We made bags of trash and broken toys. We made bags of things to give away.

“But I like the…” Thing that you never play with any more? Yeah, I get it. You have fond memories of it. But stuff is always getting added to the mix and then it all just becomes junk. It’s not really a favorite, it’s just something you used to like.

We are not monsters, of course. We took them all to the thrift store and even as we loaded up the donation box, we let the kids pick out things to take home. (So now we have a snorkel and a new rubber vampire bat. Awesome.)

Ben needed some shorts, and I had him help me pick them out. He chose all athletic shorts. That boy is into comfort.

Zoe had a rough day. I think she was tired from a busy weekend and change is overwhelming to her. This has been a season of minor-to-major changes.

I’m blonde now. We have a different van. A different computer. Ani goes to a new school. Etc., etc.

She was upset that we love the boys more because “they were on the Earth longer.”

Kris and I explained that no, she has been on the Earth the longest. Yes, they have been in our family longer, so we have loved them longer but not more.

It’s a rough deal. I can’t make it better. I can’t make it even.

So I just say that I don’t like it either. I go over her story with her. She wants to know if I had the same computer when I got Ani’s file that I did when I got hers. “Y’know, I don’t remember. I was in my office upstairs when I got your file and my office downstairs when I got Ani’s. I don’t remember if it was the same computer.” (Nah, surely not? I swear, you can never guess what kids will ask.)

I decided to re-do Zoe's lifebook. I ordered Ani's in hardcover, and Zoe's was a paperback. Plus, I found all those extra images via Baidu. And I know Zoe so much better now. I know more of what kind of stories to include and what stuff she doesn't care about.

And if anybody remembers that we waited MONTHS AND MONTHS to find out if we could adopt another little girl from Zoe's orphanage that also had albinism (so long that our home study expired and had to be re-done and we said we were open to other files and then boom! got Ani's...) — her adoptive family is in China now. She is theirs. So her world turned upside down, but she has a forever family now.

That makes me happy.