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.

Tuesday, May 26

First fandom friend visit

Adventure hikers

"Remember that time your friend Samantha came to visit?" Kris asked me this morning. (Because that joke never gets old: pretending something that JUST HAPPENED is a long-forgotten event.)

So this was a first. I have never had anybody come to Gadsden for the sole purpose of meeting me. What if she doesn't even have a good time? Nerves, man. (I think she had a good time.)

The weather was insanely cooperative. When does Alabama give you a balmy weekend in late May? Almost never, that's when. But it was. We mini-hiked, we sat outside. There were caught fireflies and watermelon slices on the backyard swing. (Well. Not for the grown-ups. But the kids looked pretty adorable.)

Cause that's thing: in order to visit far-flung friends, whole families are involved. You want everyone to get along. (They did.)

They got here late on Friday night, so we met up Saturday morning at the Falls. Y'know, show off our one local landmark. The kids managed free slushies. How even.

Slushie giveaway

I took Samantha to Tre Regazzi's for lunch (but then she wouldn't let me pay, so she took me?) mostly because of the line "is this pizza?" I showed her where I work.

I got to give her the Carry On manicure kit I'd made. I made a Tumblr post to go with it to (a) share my nerdery and (b) serve as a Fandom PSA in case anybody else wanted to snag a set.

They joined us for supper club. Eric barbecued some meat, Kris fried some green tomatoes, Carol made a divine lemon ice box pie... a lovely Southern meal.

Look who's here

We talked about all the things we talk about in emails and texts... only in person.

The kids delighted in there being TWO BENS. They wanted to take him to their grandparents' house on Sunday.

My sleep schedule is so wrecked (it has been for months — I get sleepy at like 7 but mentally revive at 9 and then can't fall asleep until closer to 11 and then get up at 4 and change to the guest bed until 6. It is... not conducive to good rest); I hadn't realized how much my body counts on weekend naps.

"I skipped naps for you." The new term of endearment.

Let's see, we also took them to the Thai place and said sorry, you have to plan another visit because we didn't make it to Frios.

(And yeah, I have already texted her like twenty times since they left.)

Friday, May 22

Promoted to 1st grade

Last day of kindergarten

Cash is the only one who wanted to wear the same thing for the last day of school as the first (something we have done in previous years). He was bummed that he doesn't own a lunchbox (I promised to fix that when we collect school supplies this year). He made do with a paper bag. (That came home with the things he packed for lunch anyway. I don't know why they insisted on packing a lunch the last day.)

We took their report cards to the bank. Ben finally let Kris buzz off his hair. I found this in one of his folders:

"I brought pickles" (cleaning out Ben's 2nd grade folder)

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Summer camp starts on Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 19

Ani is THREE

Ani's birthday weekend

So, Ani. The PLAN was to have your cousins over and celebrate your birthday with them like last year. But they live in a different state now and are having van trouble, so that didn't happen. It was too late to orchestrate something else.

Your brothers helped bake your cupcakes and your sister iced them. They were watermelon flavored, to match this little watermelon dress we found. They sang you happy birthday and Cash didn't really give you the chance to see if you could blow out your candles, as he was so eager to help you.

You seemed a little confused about the whole flaming wax and singing thing, but you TOTALLY DUG the cupcakes and had two. (You would have had three, but I didn't want you to feel sick.)

Ani's birthday weekend

I attempted a little birthday photoshoot again, and by that I mean I took "the real camera" to church and snapped some photos of you. Still not what I want (which would be a clear, in-focus shot of you that show your pretty eyes and your real smile) but hey, it went better than last year!

Ani's birthday weekend

While I do not have photos that document your sweetness, trust me, it is there. You climbed in my lap last night and let me read you three whole books. What even? Sunday morning, we played a game where I put my hands over your ears and made a noise, and your eyes would light up at the way the sound would muffle. You thought this was hilarious. (No doubt there were bonus points because it made me seem insane at the same time.)

Happy birthday, Amanda!

We ran a gazillion errands on Sunday. Taking Cash to Amanda's birthday party, procuring dress wear for the big kids to be in Jordan's wedding, finding a gift I want to give my friend Samantha when she visits next weekend and the usual visit to WalMart to stock up on yogurt. We... eat a lot of yogurt in the Catoe house.

2nd grade Awards Day2nd grade Awards Day

The school year has wound to a close. Awards Day was yesterday, but the last day of school is Thursday. This makes my littles SUPER ANTSY. They know their teachers don't want them at school. But we can't let them stay home. Maybe in middle school? At what age can I leave my kids home alone while we are at work?