Thursday, April 28

Only a day away

Kris went to Ani’s IEP meeting on Monday. The biggest thing we wanted to know was how many days a week they will want her to go in August (because we assume Zoe will be attending in August, though the summer camp where she will decide/be admitted is not until June).

The school has been very excited about Ani’s progress. So much so that they want her to go five days a week not starting in August. STARTING NOW. (Which is just for another month and then school is out for the summer.)

This was unexpected.

We’re working everything out.


As her mom, I am just SUPER STOKED that she has potty-trained. There are seven dry pull-ups scattered around the upstairs, where she sheds them in the morning before getting out some underwear that she brings to either me or Kris to find the tag in the back for her. And last night she successfully pooped in the potty without being prompted to do so. There was much shouting of joy. (I was downstairs reading The Raven King, but man, the excitement was contagious.)

And the progression of her verbal skills is AWESOME. Like, the sheer joy that she can ask me things and tell us stuff.

Kris came in from his workout this morning and Ani shouted to him “I’m up, Daddy!”


(A little later, we prompted her to go wake up her brother. We heard her say “Cash, get up Cash.” Then there was some garbled mumbling and we heard “get ready for school.” Kris and I raised our brows at one another. She has so many more words now.)

Last night, she sat in the chair with me on the sun porch and asked “sun’ll come out tomorrow?” Which meant she wanted to watch YouTube videos of that song from Annie.

ANI HAS WANTS AND DESIRES. And I’m not over that they way I’m still not over when she delights in eating something.


She loves riding the “choo choo” at Noccalula, so we bought a season pass this year. The big kids had sort of outgrown it and Ani certainly didn’t care the year she came home. BUT SHE DOES NOW.

She’s into wearing dresses now. She wanted a Pokemon shirt because her brothers have one. Even though she keeps getting hit in the head, she’d rather play basketball with her siblings than swing and climb by herself. Every weekend, she wants to nap “in sissy’s bed” and every morning, she drags “sissy’s pillow” to our bed to sit between me and Kris while we have coffee.

And in less than a month, she's FOUR.


Friday, April 15


“Mommy... April. Ani... May.”

In addition to “Ani get Kindle birthday,” my youngest has learned that my birthday is in April and hers is in May. (I think it’s fun that our family birthdays go March-April-May, skip June, then July-August-September.)

My birthday was on Monday. Zoe asked if we were celebrating. “Not really,” I told her.

I mean, I “celebrated” by taking the time to read a book on Sunday. And watching Submarine so I could reblog this post.

I got some lovely messages from my friends. Facebook wall posts, texts, snapchats, a HARP-backed mp4 of the happy birthday song and some tumblr posts. All of that delights me to no end of course.

The ALLA convention was this week and it’s been an exhausting endeavor. (Multiply this by a bazillion for the actual Library employees no doubt.) I’m bitter that such a cool thing was in my city and I DIDN’T GET TO GO.

(There was an Author Expo and I have a long list of reasons why I didn’t buy ticket. But Rebecca was kind enough to take my copy of The Opposite of Everyone for Joshilyn Jackson to sign. And I got to see circus performers, which was super great.)

Imperial OPA Circus

So that book project Samantha and I worked on for weeks: SUPER POSITIVE RESPONSE.

(Though, oh man, weeks into the project I just wanted to BE DONE. And I didn’t wait for Samantha to do a final once-over, assuming all she’d catch was a comma outside a quotation or something. But no. Ani did a keyboard smash when I wasn’t looking & there’s a garbled paragraph on page 200. Aaaaaagggghhhhh.)

We hoped everybody would be pleased, but you never really know when, oh, swiping their work from the internet and packaging into a printed product. (Best Practices usually involve SOURCE THE WORK and don’t try to make $ from it. Y’know, if you’re looking for Fandom Advice.)

Tuesday, March 29

The Easters pile up


I told somebody yesterday that we'd just celebrated Ani's second Easter, and then I realized, no! Her third Easter. 2014, 2015, 2016.

Three Easters, still no egg hunt for Miss Boo. (Sometime before you grow up, Ani, I promise!)

But she did go to MawMaw's and have three helpings of Fried Okra, so we're at least getting some traditions right.

It was a rainy Easter morning, so we took the kids inside the Museum to borrow the brick wall and natural light on the second floor. (We've fielded several calls from moms looking for locations to take prom photos in inclement weather. Yes! If the weather doesn't work with your prom photos, come inside the Museum!)

But as soon as I tried to take photos of the kids, I realized they were all coming out somewhat blurry and there was no time to troubleshoot. So we just took pix with Kris' phone. Most turned out great:


But dude. Dude. The depth of field you can get with the "real camera." At least I captured Cash's fine mohawk...


I painted Zoe's nails a pale yellow to match her dress/leggings. And I did Ani's toes, which she was super stoked about. (She'd wanted me to do it the day before and I made her wait because we were getting ready to go somewhere.) Cash decided he wanted Easter nails, too: alternating blue and yellow. He is secure enough in his masculinity to sport nail polish. He knows he may get ridicule for it and shrugs it off.

The twins were both in Light Disapproval Mode about their brother's nails but they know better than too voice it too strongly. Likely because they don't want to listen to Mommy rant again about how nail polish and colors and self-expression are for everyone.


Thursday, March 24

Ben is NINE


To celebrate Ben's birthday this year, he opted for the Spend The Cash method: we gave him a budget of what we'd normally spend to book a party. We took him to the LEGO store. He loved it. Picked out two ginormous Star Wars sets and made a trio of MiniFigures.


We took this trip during the time the kids hang out with Kris' parents. Cash really wanted to come along, and we gave Ben the say. Like, would he prefer solo time with his parents or to have a buddy for the adventure. He chose solo and told Cash that he'd be okay with Monk and Mink.

I cued up Cabin Pressure as we drove. We heard the episode that features Yellow Car.

After the shopping, we stopped on the way home at Red Robin for burgers. (NEVER AGAIN. The ones Kris and I got KILLED US. But Ben chose a different one and he was fine. Whew.)


Yesterday, on his actual birthday, he asked me to make a Facebook post. (Aww, my Social Media footstep following son.) I made sure to show him all the comments that evening.

Kris' mom gave him $50 to spend, so we logged on to Amazon and he chose fifty bucks worth of Pokémon stuff.

It's good to be 9.

Tuesday, March 15

A package!


I received the Bestest Package Ever on Friday.

So you guys know I'm a big fan of Rainbow Rowell, right? Last fall, I started chatting with another of her fans over in England. She runs a tumblr devoted to all things Rainbow Rowell ( and she'd been reblogging some of the things I've made for Rainbow's books. When she realized I designed the Simon Snow bookspines, she referred to me as "Rainbow Rowell Fandom Royalty" and oh, was that a delight to me.

I decided to collect things and send her a package. She enjoyed the faux press pass I'd made, so I asked Monica at the Times if we could make another one. I took my banned books button (because Eleanor & Park has been banned some places) and a couple of rainbow bracelets I found. I designed a set of bookmarks and had them printed out. And I took some of the items that came in the Carry On party kit to send.

Now, the most important part was that I knew I'd be seeing Rainbow in Cincinnati for a book signing. So I took not only the books I wanted signed but also a little piece of cardstock to have it signed for fanbows. At the signing, they also had extra copies of the color-your-own book cover.

When I got back, I asked fanbows for her address, saying I got one of the covers for her. I didn't tell her about the rest, because I am VERY SNEAKY.

Well. Fanbows is apparently made of amazement, because she began collecting items. She asked for my address so she could send me something. I thought "oh, I hope she sends me a copy of that story that was only published in the UK." She did. ALONG WITH A WHOLE PARCEL OF PERFECT THINGS.

I 💜 this @tattydevine #mixtape necklace like an IMPOSSIBLE AMOUNT

A photo posted by Laura Catoe (@damecatoe) on

The Keep Calm & Carry On poster is now framed behind my desk at work. I am in love with the cassette tape necklace. I haven't read Kindred Spirits yet, because I was binge reading the Raven Cycle. And I haven't worn the Porky & Petunia socks because of the unseasonably warm weather we've been having.

The weather made for a great hiking adventure Saturday. The Museum was having a fundraiser at Moe's, so Kris wanted to do something with the kids while I was there. He made a scavenger hunt list and they set off. (He is such a great dad.) The kids took my two old "pursecams" to document the hike. Kris took a bunch of photos, too.

Adventure Walk

Sunday morning, we skipped church for donuts and haircuts. We wanted the whole family as invested in potty training as we parents were, so we promised the kids a Krispy Kreme run when Ani came out of diapers.


She's not 100% there, but she is MIGHTY CLOSE. Donut time!


Monday, February 29

Busy nerd

^Signage Nerd

I was a busy nerd this weekend.

It started last week. So there’s this story that my friend and I adore. It is only published on the internet.

For her birthday last year, what I wanted to be able to give her was a copy of this story in book form. (Because Book Nerds want to be able to lovingly choose a place on their bookshelves for favorite stories. Sometimes we just like to hold our favorite books for a moment. Like, say hi to them.)

ANYWAY. I didn’t know how the author would feel about somebody copying her whole story and having it printed out and bound. I abandoned the effort one chapter in, because do you KNOW how long it takes to typeset a whole book? It’s kinda an endeavor.

And then last week, I was checking Tumblr and saw that somebody sent the author an ask about printing the story out and she was like “yeah, sure, that’s probably better for your eyes anyway.” I messaged Samantha, like “hey, she says it’s okay with her, I AM ON IT.” I had an InDesign plugin downloaded within, like, minutes.

I don’t have huge amounts of time to devote to projects like this, but I sure as hell wanted it to be done well. I thought “you can’t go wrong with Garamond.” And I checked online to see how small a point size and margin width I could get away with. Like, I needed it to NOT be 400+ pages, but I didn’t want it to look shoddy either.

So every night, I typeset as many chapters as I could and then sent them to Samantha for editing/proofing. She would catch typos and missing or added line breaks. We made some stylistic calls.

A book’s gotta have blurbs, right? For these, I wanted some of the flailing comments people made about the story. I thought it would be most appropriate if the comments came from some of the author’s buddies, but the thing is, I do not know who her buds are. So I visited her main tumblr.

And I got sucked in to her posts about Zombies Run. I think it was the post where she said it had made her a hissing raccoon (you kinda have to be a fangirl to understand why that’s a selling point) — I paused my scrolling to go ahead and download the app. A page later, I saw where YadyKates had sent her an article about Zombies Run. So I screencapped my phone and sent YadyKates a message, telling her she’d share the blame if I got hooked on this. (She says I will love Sam. I trust her.)

Reading time; this one won the vote #ravenboys

A photo posted by Laura Catoe (@damecatoe) on

A book order I made arrived, as well. Oh man, four books! Which one do I start with? I posted this query online and The Raven Boys got the most votes.

From Tumblr, I keep seeing gifs or getting spoiled, so I knew I was behind on new episodes of The 100 and Agent Carter. And I want to watch the latest Vikings to see if Athelstan has a cameo. But a friend sent me a Dropbox link to watch a French television show and I really wanted to try that, too!

And then we got to Taco Night and Cookie lent me a book.

And then at Supper Club, Carol and Eric pointed out that since Ani signed us up for Prime, now we could watch that show they told us about.


So this nerd managed: three missions of Zombies Run, one episode of The 100, one and a third episodes of Versailles, to get a 185k+ story into EXACTLY 300 pages, finish book one of The Raven Cycle and order Book 2 (to be delivered in two days thanks to a toddler’s Kindle shenanigans). This does not count the weekend’s adventures in potty-training or Cash putting a bean in his ear. (Thank heavens for that time Justin put a pearl in his ear back in high school and that I still had one of the same tools that Jaimie used to save the day for her brother. Kris was able to get the bean out and we were only a little late to Evan’s birthday party.)

Wednesday, February 24

Two Years Ago

So you know how Facebook pulls posts from your timeline? This week began with Kris being reminded of how we woke in the dead of night to discover our flight to China had been canceled. Fun times!

Now it’s two years later and Ani is potty-training and I work at the GMA. The Museum had a field trip on Monday, and Dad and Patsy picked up the kids so Kris could go with me.


Sitting on the charter bus was so much like our flight to Beijing that it was surreal. The overcast sky echoed the smog.

(I listened to episodes of Radiolab while we traveled, which included the one where Tal and Amir were in Nepal getting their babies and there was an earthquake. See?
What can I complain about? There were NO EARTHQUAKES when we got the girls.)

A visit to the "Capitol" @atlantahistorycenter #maytheoddsbeeverinyourfavor

A photo posted by Laura Catoe (@damecatoe) on

Kris Googled our destination and discovered the Swan House had been used for scenes in the Hunger Games films. We enjoyed a nice lunch at the Swan Coach House.

In between eps of Radiolab, I figured out how to download and email a story on AO3 (written by a gal in Brazil, I think) to someone in the Netherlands. The fandom community is global.

From my Facebook feed today, I see other moms posting about the day they met their daughters and I think “oh yeah, when did we get Ani?”

Things I Cannot Tell You From suffering Fourth Child Syndrome:

When is Ani’s Adoption Day?

"Sometime in February. I’d have to check the blog." (It’s the 26th and we got her on the 24th.) But I know Zoe’s by heart: Dec. 20, 2010.

When is Ani’s birthday?

Hang on, I know this. Not May 12th, she was born in 2012.
“May 17.”

What is Ani’s Chinese name?

"Argh, I should know this! Something with an X!"* Again, I know Zoe’s by heart. Is this because I had ten months between getting Zoe’s file and getting her? And I learned a lot about her orphanage via LWB.

We got Ani’s file and then three months later, Ani herself! And I couldn’t find anything about her orphanage online.

Lest you think it’s just things about Ani that I blank on:

How old are you?

Last posed to me at the physical required before I became a City employee. I paused. And then I remembered posting a clip from Monty Python to my Tumblr on my birthday. “I’m 37.”

(But I know all my kids’ ages.)

*Not an X. A Q! I don't even remember that part right!