Monday, May 23

Hot dog, Ani's 4

Rainbow Cake

I am so happy with how Ani's party turned out. Because while we celebrated her 2nd and 3rd birthdays, this felt like the first time.

Kris' dad picked Zoe up on Saturday morning for a manicure/pedicure. He'd promised her one for completing the 3rd grade and we will be gone next weekend. It was Cash's day to run errands with Kris, so I thought while Ben and Ani were the only kids at home would be a great time for Ben to show her the ropes of her new Kindle. So we gathered in the living room and gave Ani her present. She is still getting the hang of the present thing, but once she knew to pull it out of the paper, it only took her a moment to realize what it was.

"Ani Kindle!"


The weather had called for rain most of the week, but it all dumped out on us Friday, leaving Saturday clear. Bounce house! Ani knew it was "her" bounce house. She was so happy to have Chloe there.

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Ben and Cash were stoked to have their buds there.



Y'know what, I think we were ALL stoked.


I told Stephanie that the sub-theme of the party was "people that work for the City." Carol, Eric, Stephanie, Nicole, Jacob, Me... we all still do. Michael and Hilary have before. (Hey, maybe Wesley, too...)

Ani was pleased with all of her presents. Jordan and I moved them off the deck to the laundry room to keep them together and Ani was like "where are my bags?" And on Sunday morning, I didn't want her opening and strewing it all at once, so I separated some things out. But she wanted to be reassured it was all still hers.

And then Kris' parents gave her a pile of dresses. "Ani dresses!" Indeed, sweetheart. You racked up a great 4th birthday.

Wednesday, May 18

My 4th kid is FOUR


Kris wakes Ani up at 5:30am to get her dressed and take her to the bus stop for school. The rest of us get up after six.

He texted me midday yesterday to say he was a bad dad: he'd forgotten to wish Ani a happy birthday.

"Well, you did better than me," I thought. I had yet to even REALIZE it was Ani's birthday. (And I'd even written somebody a receipt and had to check the date!)

Her party is Saturday. I have ordered her long-promised kindle. We have been to Publix to order her a cake. (It's going to have a rainbow on it, to match some Rainbow Brite plates Kris got for me once. Ani doesn't know who that is, but I don't think she'll mind.)

I have invited some friends with kids and some of my kids' friends (because Ani doesn't so much have friends of her own yet). I got her and Zoe matching shirts to wear.


So last night, I tried to get one of those photos where the kid holds up how many fingers they are. Ani was confused. This is the best take.

I love that Zoe is still in the shot, molding her sister's fingers. This is what it is to be the littlest. Three big siblings to help her out. She cared far more to try and skate because Zoe and Cash were than to focus on having her photo made for her birthday.

We also celebrated her turning four by giving her a chore. All the big kids get at least a chore a day, so we gave Ani one last night. In protest, she would not get off the kitchen floor.

Ah, yes. It is good to be four.

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!