Sunday, July 7, 2019

rhode island and lake george

I checked another 2 states off my list!

In mid-June, we flew out to Providence, Rhode Island (my 34th state) to visit some of Dan’s college friends. We stayed with CJ and Catherine, and Mae was very excited to see Abby again! We only had one full day there, and we made the most of the perfect weather. Saturday morning, our group took a chartered boat tour of the bay and the canal that runs through the city.

After a pizza lunch and nap time for the kids, CJ and Catherine hosted a big backyard party for everyone, complete with a giant T-Rex sprinkler. The kids had fun running around in swim suits, while the adults stayed up late reminiscing and drinking (while displaying an impressive array of shorts colors).

Sunday morning, we went to church and then met everyone for breakfast downtown. Although the weather was a bit drearier, we enjoyed a tasty meal on the cute outdoor patio at Olga’s Cup & Saucer. Afterwards, we packed up our stuff and hit the road for Lake George (passing through Massachusetts, my 35th state, on our way).

I was fully prepared a cool rainy week at the lake, but we were pleasantly surprised by gorgeous, sunny weather on Monday and Tuesday. We spent lots of time digging and building in the sand, "fishing" with sticks, and tootling around on the paddleboard. The lake water was chilly (which didn't slow down Mae in the least), but the (heated) pool was nice and toasty. Mae had me chasing diving rings all over the pool and had fun splashing around in her puddle jumper.

Grampa took us on a short, speedy boat ride. I just love the feeling of being out on a boat on the lake! Mae loved going fast and watching the waves as much as always, although she is learning that wind and longer hair don't mix!

Wednesday and Thursday were rainier. The power went out Wednesday, so we drove into town for our essential trip to the arcade. We identified the cause of the power outage as soon as we got to the main road and found a large tree down, blocking our route. After a (somewhat) brief detour, we made it to the arcade and wrapped up the afternoon with a visit to Nina's Sweet Shoppe for ice cream and fudge.

We also filled a rainy morning with some good old puddle stomping. We found some very stomp-able puddles, and everyone ended up soaked. I think Archie had the most fun of anyone!

On Thursday, we had a big party to celebrate Gramma and Grampa's 70th wedding anniversary, plus multiple birthdays and an adoption! It was a fun end to a great little vacation!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

bring on the threes

We hosted a family birthday party for Mae over Memorial Day weekend. GranE, Batman, and Aunt Colleen visited all weekend, and my family came in town for the party on Sunday.

We had beautiful weather all weekend (except during the party) so we spent a lot of time outside. On Saturday we went downtown for a food festival, where Mae devoured a slice of pizza, while the rest of us chose more slightly adventurous cuisine (Cambodian for me, yum). Aunt Colleen snapped this photo of Mae playing on the slide in the backyard, and unintentionally recreated one of my favorite photos from Mae's second birthday party! Our little baby has grown into a big kid!

Even though the weather didn't hold out for the whole party, we kept ourselves entertained by coloring a big birthday sign for Mae on the floor. Washable markers for the win! (I think the adults colored even more than the kids.)

We ate cupcakes off the plates Mae chose: a combination of Disney princesses and Super Mario Bros (a.k.a. "Jumpy Guy"). Mae enjoyed her cupcake... and by that I mean, she licked all the frosting off and then handed the naked cupcake back to me, asking for "more cupcake."

She then opened her presents. I think the biggest hits have been the MagnaTiles from Grandma and Grandpa and the Octonauts shirt and toys from GranE and Batman. We've also had fun kicking her new soccer ball, playing with the vet kit, ringing up purchases at the cash register, and bubble mowing the whole driveway.

Mae and Ollie had fun transporting the Octonauts toys outside in their shirt "pockets" after the rain cleared up. Fortunately, we didn't happen to recreate last year's photo of two-year-old Mae and Ollie rolling baby Archie from their laps into the grass face first... but we were pretty close.

Thanks for helping us celebrate our little three-year-old!

Monday, June 3, 2019

i don't know, margo

Did you spot this skirt in my Easter photos?? I finished this outfit at the beginning of April. I'd planned to wear it for Easter but realized I didn't have anything to wear for a wedding a couple weeks before. I was hemming just a few hours before the wedding!

The fabric is an Art Gallery Fabrics rayon called Floret Sunkissed from the Blush collection. Instead of sewing a dress, I decided to make matching separates, because I figured I'd get more wear from something I can wear as a dress, a skirt, or a top!

The skirt is the Margo Skirt by Style Arc Patterns. I bought the PDF online and ordered the large format printout from, which was much less expensive than the last pattern I had printed at FedEx. This was my first Style Arc pattern, and I'm glad I had a bit of sewing experience under my belt before attempting it. The instructions are minimal with only a few diagrams and no recommendations on finishing seams. Fortunately, I had just sewn a lined dress with invisible zipper (Carolyn Party Dress) for Mae which had step-by-step instructions with photos for zipper installation. I followed similar steps for this skirt which allowed me to avoid hand sewing the zipper to the lining.

I love the style of the skirt. It's a hybrid of a circle skirt and a gathered skirt, which I think is very flattering. The lining has darts instead of gathers, which keeps the waistline from being too bulky. I did note a couple limitations of the pattern. The skirt has side panels and no side seams, so it would be challenging to add pockets. Also, the hem is curved and the side panel seams are on an angle to the grainline, so it's not possible to match patterns at those seams. They would look a bit strange in a striped or checked print. I did my best to match the pattern at the back zipper seam. I took a couple inches off the length and used smaller seam allowances on the waistband to give myself a bit of extra room. Either the waistband has stretched a bit or I've lost weight (I haven't), because it's just a smidge too big now and sits a little lower on my waist than I'd like. I'll probably take a small tuck in the sides to shrink the waist a bit next time I wear it.

The top is a heavily modified Biscayne Blouse. I omitted the placket in the front and made the front collar one piece. In the back, I added a facing with a v-shaped opening and extended the collar pieces into long ties. I took the sides in by at least an inch each to remove some of the blousy-ness.

We had a great time at the wedding. I snagged a couple of cute decorated fortune cookies from the treats table for Mae (used as bribes for the cherry blossom photos). Stay tuned for more sewing projects!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

caroline easter dress

Our bathroom renovation is well underway, and I am SO STRESSED about it! I wake up in a panic every morning over some little detail. It's going pretty well, so I can't even imagine how much of a mess I'd be if we were having big problems. Since I've been neglecting my house duties while our home is under construction (what's the point when everything gets covered in dust again?), I've had more time for sewing. I have lots of projects to share!

First up is Mae's Easter dress. I used the Caroline Party Dress pattern, which I also used to make her Easter dress two years ago. The fabric is an Art Gallery Fabrics quilting cotton print called Garden Walk Shine from the Wonderful Things collection. It has an allover light pink grid print with a magenta and yellow flower border along the selvage.

At first, I tried to add a dark pink bodice lining and underskirt, but it showed through the thin print and made the seams look weird. I think it would have looked cute if I could have figured it out, but it just wasn't working. You win some, you lose some. I switched to a white lining instead.

I also made a layered bow (smallest size) from the Made for Mermaids free tutorial. I stitched it to a small barrette.

We had a fun Easter weekend with my family. On Friday, we all went to an indoor swimming pool and the kids (and adults) had fun playing in the splash pad area. On Sunday, we hunted for our Easter baskets, dyed eggs, went to Mass and went out for a family brunch. Mae enjoyed dying eggs, but was very confused about the phrase. "Why the eggs DIED??" English is a hard language to explain.

Happy (belated) Easter! P.S. This post contains a clue about another recent sewing project. See if you can spot it!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

five years of blog

Happy fifth birthday, blog! You’ve gained 39 posts since last year, with this one being your 232nd(!!) post since I created you in 2013. Cheers to another year of blogging!

My favorite part about this blog is having the posts turned into a family yearbook at the end of each year. (My least favorite part is actually creating the book, which takes FOR.EV.ER.) It’s so fun to look back on all our trips, milestones, and projects since I started blogging.

Mae enjoys paging through them and talking about the people we know and the places we’ve visited. (Although she’s much less interested in years 2013-2015, the time before she starts showing up in every other photo.)

I have quite the collection of yearbooks and vacation books now! I might even need to clear some new shelf space soon.

Happy blogiversary!

Friday, May 17, 2019


Today is Mae's third birthday, and I thought she might actually explode from the anticipation this week! Yesterday, on the way to day care, she told Dan, "I go to baby school, and then I come home, and we eat dinner, and then I get a treat, and then we watch 'Octonauts, and then I go to bed, and then I wake up and IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!!" This kid was counting the minutes 'til she turned 3!

Mae woke up extra early today (too excited for her birthday), so we had a very full day! First, we baked cupcakes. Mae helped me measure ingredients and put all the cupcake liners into the tin. After breakfast, we got dressed and went to the zoo. When Grandma visited a couple weeks ago, we went to the zoo's bird show, and Mae was losing her mind over all the bird tricks (and slapstick comedy). We tried to go on Mother's Day, but it was rained out. Mae was devastated, so I promised we would go this week. She's been talking about the bird trainer Bob and the birds Coco and BG all week. I'm so glad the weather was nice enough today for a birthday bird show! After the show, Mae even got to meet Bob who gave her a feather from Coco as a birthday present (Mae told him that was her favorite bird).

I also took Mae to the cheetah show, which she loved! Needless to say, she had LOTS to tell Daddy when he got home from work today! (This photo is from our rainy Mother's Day zoo visit.)

We opened presents as soon as Dan got home from work.

Of course, we had to open and play with each gift as it was opened. First we fed the Hungry Hungry Hippos about 15 times. Mae got a huge kick out of this game. I have a feeling there are a lot of hippo feedings in our future.

Next we tried out some batting practice on the new t-ball set. We had to work on Mae's form a bit, since she was inclined to use the bat like a pool cue. She got the hang of it after a few rounds!

This evening, Lisa hosted a little pizza party for some of our friends. Since Anna and Isaac were there, we brought cupcakes so Mae could celebrate her birthday with friends! They had a great time playing on the swing set.

Happy birthday, Mae! I hope your birthday lived up to all your expectations... I sure had a fun day! (If it didn't, don't worry. We get a re-do next weekend for your belated birthday party.) We can't wait to see what three brings for you, sweet girl!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

all birds go to heaven

It is with much sadness that I share the news that my beloved parakeet Charlie passed away a few weeks ago. He had been showing signs of illness for a few days, so I took him to the local exotic animal hospital where they kept him warm, hydrated, and fed until he died. While I'm very sad to lose my little feathery friend, it wasn't completely unexpected based on his age (almost 10) and some physical signs he had been showing for the last year or so. I am glad he didn't suffer long, and that he passed away in warmth and comfort.

I bought Charlie from a local bird shop/breeder in the summer of 2009. I was living in a new city, recovering from a breakup, and mourning the loss of my goldfish Ichy (a faithful companion for 6 years). On my first visit to the bird nursery, I watched the group of newly hatched parakeets and tried to pick the most active and social of the bunch. I certainly couldn't choose based on looks... they had barely any feathers! Charlie came over to investigate me and peck at my fingers, and I knew he was the one. The shop owner put a dab of red marker on his forehead to mark him as "claimed," and I returned home to await the day he'd be ready to come live with me. A few weeks later, I collected him from the store in a little cardboard box and drove him home to my first apartment. In my first photos of him settled into his new digs, you can still see the remnants of the red marker on his head!

Over the next few months, I spent time training him to step onto my hand and to sit on my shoulder. I left the radio quietly playing for him when I went to work, so he wouldn't have to sit in silence. Though I could never understand any of his phrases, he did mimic human speech sounds, and I wonder if he was picking up things from the radio. Mostly he just sounded like R2D2.

Charlie always greeted me with a chirp or a little "weet?" sound. He had a distinct whistle for different people, often repeating my lower-toned wolf whistle back to me and using my mom's higher-toned whistle to greet her.

His favorite things were: taking showers in the kitchen sink, my watch, toes (both his and mine), and salty snacks. He wasn't alway the smartest bird, and spent his whole life trying to figure out how to open the door to the cage (something my first parakeet figured out very quickly). He also spent a lot of time hanging on the side of the cage, picking his toes off the wires one at a time, until he went crashing to the bottom of the cage. Not the sharpest crayon in the box.

Charlie even had his 15 minutes of fame when Dan was on Jeopardy! During the contestant interviews, Alex Trebek asked Dan about the pet parakeet, and Dan told him about Charlie's R2D2 sounds. Famous!

I miss you lots, sweet bird. I miss seeing you run to the side of the cage to greet me when I uncover you in the morning. I miss your constant whistling and chatter; the house is quieter without you... and not in a good way. Please don't read into it too much that Mae wants to immediately replace you with a new bird. ("No? Okay, how 'bout a doggy? No? Okay, we'll get a kitty.") I hope you are enjoying everything that birdy heaven has to offer. You deserve it.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

cherry blossoms

Mae has been a little resistant to having her photos taken recently. She's a total ham for my phone camera, but she pouts as soon as I pull out the DSLR. I think she senses my anxiety when I'm trying to get a "special occasion" photo.

When the cherry blossoms bloomed a few weeks ago, I took Mae to the park with the big camera. I led her underneath a beautiful cherry tree with flowers cascading to the ground all around us and took off my lens cap. Activate toddler defenses! She used every trick in the book: pouting, jelly legs, and running away while giggling (so cute, so frustrating.) I dug deep into my arsenal of bribes. (I'll give you a treat when we get home! We can go to the swings after we take photos!) But she didn't want pleading, stressed mom. She wanted silly, playtime mom.

We moved to another spot and talked about the flowers and the bees for a bit. Then we played one of her current favorite games, sure to induce a giggle fit.

Mae: Mom, sing a song.
Me (in a quiet, lullabye voice): Edelweiss, Edelweiss, every morning you greet me. Small and white ...
Mae: Sing it loud!!!
*cue giggles*

Mae also struck up a conversation with a couple who was out for a walk. She told them that daddy was at home because he has an ouchy head. They told her that daddy was probably suffering from allergies. I told them that a more likely culprit was the wedding we attended the previous night.

We finished our park visit with a ride on the swings. Plus, I gave Mae a pink frosted fortune cookie I'd snagged from the wedding reception. I think she earned both for this photo shoot.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

butterflies with granE

I have LOTS of blog catching up to do.

Last month, GranE came for a long weekend "maecation." We had a fun visit... hitting up the usual spots (coffee shop) and a new one (butterfly exhibit). Here's my interview with Mae about the highlights of the weekend.

Caitlin: I'm gonna show you some pictures from GranE's visit. Do you want to help tell me about them?
Mae: Yeah.
C: What are we* doing here?
M: Eating some jellaayy beans. (This kid has Easter on the brain.)
C: Jelly beans? That's not jelly beans. What is that?
M: Jelly cookie.
C: Jelly cookie. Where are you?
M: We're at the coffee store. Wif GranEEEEE.

*I finally got to tag along on the Mae/GranE morning coffee visit, and it was everything I'd hoped for!

Mae stayed home with GranE on Thursday while I went to work, so we got lots of fun photos throughout the day.

Caitlin: What were you doing in this picture?
Mae: Making some baby's food. Then it dropped on the floor and said "OH NO!!"
C: Ha. We took a good video of that didn't we.
M: GranEEE.
C: What did you make for baby for breakfast?
M: Salad and carrots.
C: And what's in the cup?
M: Coffee.
C: For baby??
M: Yeah.
C: That's silly.

*Interview pauses while we go outside to watch a group of runners pass*

Caitlin: What are you doing here?
Mae: Riding my bike by myself.
C: (Trying to prompt her about the cute new outfits that GranE brought...) What about your clothes. Tell me about your pants that you're wearing.
M: Hedgehog pants.
(Which doesn't make sense until you see her shirt in the following picture.)

On Saturday morning, we went to the butterfly exhibit at the conservatory. There were butterflies everywhere!

Caitlin: Can you tell me what we were doing in this picture?
Mae: Going to see the butterflies. GranE and Daddy and Mae and Mommy.

Caitlin: What did you like about the butterflies?
Mae: Papers.
C: What did you do with the papers?
M: Try to hold it up, but that butterfly, that one butterfly, doesn't come on the paper! ... I tooted.
C: You did.

Mae: (Eating a Kit Kat.) This is crunchy.
Caitlin: It is crunchy. What are you doing in this picture?
Mae: Hugging GranE!

Lastly, Here's some drawing Mae prepared for GranE's visit. This is Daddy, Mae, and GranE (from left to right). She has entered the "tadpole" drawing phase, where people are just large heads with stick limbs. I particularly love the large, staring eyes and blankly dissatisfied expressions. Each week the drawings evolve to have new details like eyebrows or toes. (So many toes...)

And here are my other favorite drawings from the week. Can you tell what they are?

I think the crab on the left is pretty obvious, but the guys on the right are neither caterpillars nor anthropomorphic spines. You have to use your imagination to picture snowmen with that many body segments!