Wednesday, February 10

Just Sew Rudy

So we got these stockings for the kids in 2013. A cool thing: we picked them out in November before we got Ani's file. By the time they went up that year, we knew where our youngest daughter was (a Beijing baby!) and were paperchasing the last steps to go get her.

From the time we bought them, we planned to have them monogrammed. So that didn't happen in 2014. Or 2015. (We didn't even put the stockings up during Christmas, because we felt like Robot would tear them down.)

"Before we put these away again, we should finally get them monogrammed," I told Kris.

"I think Ms. Smitherman does that," he said.


Look how great they turned out! Now I'm like "hmm, what else can I get monogrammed?"

Her Facebook page: Just Sew Rudy

Monday, February 8

The Thrifting Life For Me

Inside our front door, we have The Shoe Basket. It’s where the big kids are supposed to put their shoes when they take them off. (It gets pretty full with three kids, so we got a separate receptacle for Ani: she has The Shoe Bucket, next to the basket.)

On Saturday morning, Cash and I went through the shoe basket so I could ask him which shoes he no longer wears. We whittled out several pairs. (It really helps when they know their clothes are going to the cousins. They’re sad if I am throwing something away, but not if it’s being lovingly passed on.*)

Cash has several pairs of shoes. He has his own and ones he inherited from Ben. Last weekend, he got to pick out a pair of running shoes with laces because he learned how to tie his shoes.

Zoe has several pairs of shoes.

Ben has one pair of tennis shoes and his Crocs that aren’t really in season. (I mean, I will let the kids wear Crocs with socks in the winter, but it’s not really a fashion choice I support? I do, however, fully support them dressing themselves.)

The last time I was at the thrift store, I looked for shoes for Ben. I found some, but when he tried them on, they were too big. Okay, stick ‘em in the closet. (But oh! The pairs I found for me!)

It was Zoe’s turn to go with Kris to the grocery store, so I said I could take the others to Goodwill. (Kris was nice and took both girls with him so I’d only have to wrangle two.)

Yet again, we found a nice pair of shoes for Ben... that will fit when he grows into the next size. Okay, Crocs with socks it is.

But while I was looking for Ben, I saw a pair of Crocs in Zoe’s size. (She doesn’t wear Crocs nearly as often as her brothers as she’s a flip-flops girl, but she does like to own a pair since they have them.) And there was a pair of white heeled shoes and Zoe likes the tradition of having white shoes for Easter. (We Catoes are creatures of habit.)

I texted Kris: “does Zoe still wear a 3?” Yes.

As soon as she got home, Zoe made a beeline for me to ask why I wanted to know her shoe size. And then she immediately tried on her white shoes. (She’s worn the Crocs for two days, much to my fashion dismay.)

It wasn’t the weekend to do my hair and we were fully stocked on pull-ups (DON’T GET ME STARTED ON THE LACK OF POTTY-USING), so while the kids were with Kris’ parents, we went looking for Easter outfits. We aren’t the fancy frock type, but I enjoy doing Easter photos.

We ended up wandering around the Belk kids’ store saying things like “no, that’s off-white, the shoes are white” and “nah, too fancy, I want them to be able to wear them to school later” or “yeah, but is he still really a firetruck person?” But we got two cute frocks for the girls (on clearance!) and two handsome shirts for the boys that all kind of match in a way. Find some leggings and we’re set.

“What do these shoes look like anyway?” Kris asked.

“Little MawMaw white Easter heels,” I said.

The point is not what the shoes look like. The point is I wouldn’t go looking for them, but there they were. And I take it as God’s way of saying, all the time, in all kinds of ways “hey, I will provide for you what you need, even if you don’t know you need it.”

*We get things lovingly passed on from sources, too. Like the box of clothes from Alex that I stole this T.A.R.D.I.S. tee from (shh, the boys don’t even know what Doctor Who is yet...)

Stole something out of the box @vrokrob sent for the boys #momtax #tardisblue

A photo posted by Laura Catoe (@damecatoe) on

Saturday, January 30

Job title

I don't have business cards yet, but we've settled on the job title of "Communications & Marketing Coordinator." (Because Nicole is the Outreach Coordinator and Ray is the Exhibit Coordinator.)

Let me tell you about the bane of my work existence. It's called HTE. The system is very sound, but when I first saw it, I thought "wow, I haven't seen a screen like this since I played the Oregon Trail." (Which I did in the computer lab at Southside Elementary, so a HELLA LONG TIME AGO.) Here are some screencaps I found online of this program:

I haven't messed up on Payroll or Requisitions yet, but I haven't done Receipts Processing correctly even once. So... it's a work in progress. But Suzy at the library and Julie formerly of the library and Amy formerly of the Museum have all been really nice about fielding my questions. (All which have a super simple if counter-intuitive answer, like "you didn't hit Enter enough" or "put a negative after the 1" and "yeah, ignore that.")

We're on a mission to redesign the Museum's website, so I liquefied my brain last week re-learning the ins and outs of Wordpress. I used to revamp my blog/site all the time. Aaaaaaand then I wound up with four kids and it is a miracle if I even post to my blogs.

Several people have asked if I like my new job and yes, I do! I am still getting the hang of things. Like, yesterday somebody wanted to buy something in the gift shop and it's a good thing Ray was there, because I don't know how to make a sale yet. The GMA foundation met for the first time since I've been there and I had to figure out how to make the financial report for them.

It was a delight to take the kids by and show them my new workplace. They LOVED the Children's Gallery. Dad came by to visit. Kris has been twice to volunteer on Mondays.

Ani seems to be enjoying AIDB. She likes the bus. She liked riding horses on Monday. She's had another explosion of words. Last weekend, she was singing the "whoa-whoa-whoa-OHs" from Hamilton.

(I am trying to get all my coworkers to listen to Hamilton. I am a menace.)

Since we have had NO PROGRESS on the potty-training front, I've decided we should try not changing her diaper for her anymore. Like, I tell her to sit on the potty, she gets herself up there, does nothing and after awhile, I hand her a fresh pull-up and she puts it on herself. This morning, I had her clean up her own poop diaper. This was a longer process that involved removing all clothing and standing in the tub in case a big ol' mess was made. It wasn't. I held the trash bag for her and handed her the wipes.

Adventures in Parenting!

Robot has been neutered. When the weather warms up, we may try letting him venture outside.

I filed Jenny's 1099 this year. Filling out the form is no problem. But how to file it, the IRS website was not helpful. BIG SURPRISE, no? I screencapped this while trying to figure out the process:

The internet worries me sometimes. But mostly it soothes me. And tells me things like how to get a 1099 filed. (Yeesh, I hope I did it right. The IRS isn't gonna send a snippy email if I didn't.)

Tuesday, January 12

The New Year

New year, new calendar – in the GMA #giftshop @nightowlpapergoods

A photo posted by Gadsden Museum of Art (@gadsdenmuseum) on

The PLAN was to be a stay-at-home mom for a season, doing contract graphic design work.

Kris and I started talking about this in August; during September and October, we didn’t pay bills with my account. Could we live on Kris’ income alone? We’d have to buy health insurance, but we’d be taking Ani out of daycare, so cost-wise, it’d offset.

And then AIDB broached the topic of Ani going to Talladega for 3K. Hmm.

The bills turned out okay during those months, and starting in November, it would be time to fill out forms at work for 2016 insurance coverage, so I knew it was time to turn in my notice.

I told Carol at our Halloween party about my quitting and she asked if I’d apply for a part-time job at the library. They had one opening in January. That sounded great to me: I love the library and if Ani was going to be in Talladega, I’d go nuts at home.

It was nice to have an application to fill out — I haven’t had a résumé prepared in years! There were six blank spaces for work experience. You don’t, like, put your part time job from college down, y’know? But I wanted the spaces filled! I counted my volunteer work with Love Without Boundaries and the United Way. But what else?

“You used to be a landlady,” Kris reminded me.


“And hey, I paid all the bills while you owned the Moxie. That's like a business manager.”

Spaces filled.


Somebody at the Gadsden Museum of Art turned in their notice. This was unexpected.

So Carol suggested that I add to my application that I was applying for either part or full time work at either the GPL or the GMA. (Amanda is the Director of both.)

And then I waited.

Kris likened it to the adoption — where you commit to a process before a specific child. I committed to the idea of working for the City at either place, capacity to be determined.

The gal who was leaving the Museum was the business office manager and special events coordinator. And the Museum hasn’t had a graphic designer on staff in a couple years.

Amanda showed my application to the curator and she was interested in meeting me.

This part I am really happy about: the curator and I had never met. How, I am not sure, since we have so many of the same circles. But I already knew (and am friends with) everybody else at the Museum (and several people at the library!).

So the person who got final say (Amanda let Rebecca choose because it’s her team) wasn’t evaluating me as a friend, but as “does this seem like a viable candidate for the job?”

The interview was 20 minutes. I left thinking “that is probably not a good sign.” But no! Rebecca had already been asking around about me and people told her good things. I was the last person they met with that day, and Rebecca was like “I still want that one.”

With the transition happening over the holidays, it was weeks between when I found out I’d get the job and when I actually had it.

Now the dilemma is what to call my job title so I can get some business cards.

I have successfully submitted both payroll and a requisition (one time but C’MON, I TOTALLY DID IT), fielded calls about renting the 2nd floor but not booked one yet, designed posters and promos and such and wormed my way onto most of their social media platforms. What’s a good catch-all name for that?

Ani had her first day at AIDB yesterday. She did great. She will go two days a week for now.


Wednesday, December 30

2015? Still?

Remember that December where it was so warm, you could hang out on the deck in short sleeves at night? Good times.

Boxing Day on the deck

A photo posted by Laura Catoe (@damecatoe) on

Is it still December? Is it still 2015? Is it Wednesday? idek anymore

We think Ani is starting at AIDB next week, but we aren't sure. And nobody is at the school to ask.

I might be starting my new job Monday, but I am not positive. ("You probably start Monday." That's as specific news as I've gotten.)

[I want to write a whole big blog post on how the job happened, but that requires LINEAR THOUGHT, which is something I don't seem to have any spare amount of right now. So. Details forthcoming. In the New Year?]

If I am starting my new job Monday, I'm not even sure how to contact my new boss and explain that I have a post-adoption meeting with a social worker that day, scheduled before I knew I'd be working. (And difficult to reschedule, as the report is due by a certain time. It's Ani's 2-year-home report.)

Can you believe we approach the TWO YEAR point with Ani? I think we've already reached the point where she's been with us longer than she was in China. W00t!

This has been caught in my head on continuous loop for like a week:

I have finally seen the Les Mis movie. Thoughts:

This is too long. (Applies to every song: We get it — unrequited love! We get it — the Thénardiers are Awful People! We get it — moral quandary!)

Yeah, this is a good story.

Huh, Grantaire is actually in it more than I expected.

We must be close to the end.

My favorite part of watching it is that now all the posts I see on Tumblr have more depth.

What else? We've learned that bath bombs burn my children, Ani likes to sing "rock a bye, baby" and Zoe is mad at the weather for it being too warm to wear the matching outfits my Aunt Allison got for her and Ani. (It's dropping, today! Tomorrow, I promise!)

Scenes from a Christmas Vacation:

Xmas play

Untitled Untitled Untitled



(I'm pretty sure it's Wednesday.)

Tuesday, December 29

Pop culture summary of my year — 2k15

(based loosely on skimming my Tumblr archives)

January: The 100

February: True Detective

March: Saga

April: Daredevil

May: Check, Please

June: Mad Max

July: Sense8

August: I'll Give You the Sun

September: Radiolab

October: Carry On

November: Hamilton

December: How to Get Away With Murder, Vikings

Sunday, December 20

Things I should blog so I don't forget

Bunny by Ben @jordanmadelinemusic

A photo posted by Laura Catoe (@damecatoe) on

Zoe looking for the "quadrilateral lotion" when she had a bug bite. Yeah, that works as well as hydrocortisone.

This convo...

Cash: "Did you like Takis when you were a kid?"

Me: "I don't know if I would have; they hadn't been invented yet."

Cash: "When were you born?"

Me: "1978."

Cash: "Was it black and white?"

Me: "Was what black and white?"

Cash: "The 80s."


Took the kids to see The Force Awakens. A Saturday morning show and the place was packed! We split into two rows — me between the twins and Kris and Cash in two seats behind us with Ani in Kris' lap. She chattered through the previews,* ate some popcorn and then napped on Kris. She woke up for the last little bit and said "bye, TV!" when we left. Her first movie!

Ben turned to me at one point to tell me he loved me, which I translate as "I am so happy to be at this movie."

When we got home, the big kids made a beeline for the backyard to play Star Wars. Aww. (Ani just wanted to "ride bike?")

*Which included one with Travis Fimmel, so Kris and I mouthed "Ragnar!" at each other. (We are binge watching Vikings.)

Maybe I've been watching too much #vikings @falwyn @jess_a

A photo posted by Laura Catoe (@damecatoe) on