Goodbye 2013. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out…

Mads and me at Trail of Lights

Mads and me at Trail of Lights

Poor 2013. I’ve been a little unfair to it recently.

Luke and Mads at Turkey Trot

Luke and Mads at Turkey Trot

I mentioned to Luke and Madeline that I was glad that 2013 was coming to an end — that it had sucked. But in truth, that isn’t fair. It’s not even true if I really sit down and think about it.

Sure — professionally it was really hard. There was a point in the past year (more like 3 or 4 months) when I was really concerned and I felt like I was fighting a losing battle. And true, personally there have been some really tough points the past year as well.

But there has also be a lot of really great stuff. No — AWESOME stuff.

2013 Highlights

  • Luke turned 7!
  • Madeline turned 3!
  • I figured out what I want to be when I grow up
  • Luke is reading
  • Madeline

But really, there’s so much more. Standing here on the last day of 2013, I feel like a new person — a totally different person to the one who stood here on the first day of the year. I have learned so much about myself and my family. And though all of the pain points, I learned what is most important to me and what I am working for: Luke and Mads. They’re the best.

Luke at Trail of Lights

Luke at Trail of Lights

I’ve started doing an exercise every night to check in with myself. I write down 5 things I’m grateful for that day. Sometimes the things vary, but often times the kids end up on that list.

I’m so grateful for life and my kids. So maybe 2013 didn’t suck that bad after all. I still have all of them.


Luke’s Awesome Dance Party

birthday cake

Luke’s birthday cake

It’s hard to believe Luke was born almost seven years ago. It seems like it was yesterday AND a thousand years ago.

Time has flown by, but I’ve gotten to know him and his wonderful personality so that it seems like we’ve known each other forever.

I think what I love most about Luke is his sense of self. He knows who he is and what he enjoys doing. He loves dance and all things related to dance. He decided he wanted a dance themed birthday this year.

To be completely honest, Luke wanted it to be a ballet. He had visions of everyone showing up in ballet shoes and leotards and him directing a gorgeous performance. I managed to talk him into something a little less formal, knowing that kids that age are more likely to want to dance the way they like — not everyone loves ballet.

I made a playlist on Spotify, and when his friends showed up, they started running and screaming and playing with the balloons Andy had blown up. A couple of his friends turned up in their ballet costumes. And there was some dancing, but it turned into more general play.

Luke had a great time, but after everyone had gone, he gave me a sad look and said, “No one danced…”

I felt a little bad for him. I know how much he had wanted to dance for his birthday party. I hooked up the playlist to the stereo again, and turned it on.

“Let’s dance now!”

Andy, Mads, Luke and I started dancing, and it was great fun. We must have danced for an hour — we were up well past the kids bedtime. And Andy and I finally collapsed on the couch, our feet sore and our bodies aching. All four of us had huge grins on our faces, and we all fell asleep quickly.

The next day, I told Luke we should take a walk with the dogs in the evening.

“Maybe, Cindy, when we get home, we could dance for a short time? Again?”

You bet, kiddo. Happy birthday!

Here was our playlist:

Carrots to snack on

Carrots in the fridge

Carrots in the fridge

I shouldn’t complain too much about what my kids eat.Sure — they love sugary treats (what kids doesn’t?!), but they’re pretty good about choosing and eating vegetables. We’ve kept baby carrots in the fridge forever, but lately we’ve had to buy more and more so they don’t run out. Hey — I’m cool with that!

Enjoying the summer slow down

Luke does a cartwheel

Luke does a cartwheel

To say that I’m a huge fan of summer may be a bit of a stretch, but I do love how much life slows down when school is out and vacation begins. Summer is flippin’ hot in Texas, which is why it’s not my favorite season. Plus, I don’t get summers off. Work goes on.

But the kids are less busy, so my schedule seems much less busy than it is during the school year.

It makes life feel a little slower — a welcome change from the rush of the fall, winter and spring.

Summer projects

Andy and Mads assemble the deck box for the front porch.

Andy and Mads assemble the deck box for the front porch.

As a result, we can do things we don’t normally take time to do. Like revamp the front porch.

I got sick and tired of feeling like the front porch was a dumping ground. We took a bunch of stuff to the curb for bulk collection, clearing off the front porch. I was able to pick up a couple of chairs, a table, a bench-box and some plants. I just wanted to be able to sit outside and work while the kids play in the yard. They’ve been asking for so long.

Luke, Mads and Andy indulged me on my quest to jazz up the front porch. The kids dove into picking out plants and helping me set up the furniture. Andy had a bemused look on his face, almost to say, “Whatever you need, hon.”

But later, after it was all done, he mentioned that the front porch seems more welcoming now. I smiled.  There is still more work to do, but now I can sit outside and work while the kids play out front.

A side benefit is being able to sit out there, drink my coffee and enjoy the sunrise. Even when it’s hot, the porch is still relatively pleasant as long as it’s shaded.

Holiday weekend

The holiday weekend has been lazy and lovely. We’ve relaxed at home, entertaining a school friend here and there and venturing out occasionally for errands. As a result, I’ve caught up on home and work projects yet still managed to enjoy time with the kids. I’m a little sad there’s only one day left of this mini-vacation. I wish every day could be like this.

We finally cleaned out the fish tank, which has been running – fishless and dirty – for months. Mads helped me clean out the tank, then the kids went with me to pick out fresh gravel and plants. We’ll pick out new fish next weekend, after the tank has had a chance to settle down and get the water just right. Luke wants a reptile or amphibian, and I told him he needs to take care of the fish and tank in order to show he’s ready to care for another pet. Andy’s keen to raise a snake. I’m not, but I’m not going to say no.

All I want for Christmas…



Luke shows off his wider gap after losing another tooth.

Luke and I ventured out Friday night to a Round Rock Express game. The team hosts a fireworks display every Friday night, and Luke had asked to see fireworks around the Fourth of July.

During the game, Luke was snacking on a soft pretzel when his front tooth, which had been loose for weeks, finally came out. His other tooth had fallen out last month, and he now has an awesome gap. I can’t believe how fast he’s growing up!


Summer in the city

Luke and Mads

Luke and Mads

It’s been a year and a half since my last post, and as you can imagine, we’ve changed by leaps and bounds.

I’m constantly amazed by how fast my kids seem to grow, both in physical stature as well as maturity. Madeline, in particular, is developing her personality more and more. It’s fun to watch her come into her own.

How is it that two kids can seem so similar and yet so different? They play so amazingly well together, and yet they each have their own, distinct interests. Luke is passionate about dance and science. Mads loves dance, too, but I can see how she is already moving toward a different path of interests.

In early June we visited Houston with my folks and stayed with my cousins. We made the trip because Andy and I had scored tickets to a Houston Ballet performance of “Journey with the Masters” for Luke. He and Andy went, and really enjoyed themselves.

The next day, we took the family over to Space Center Houston. I couldn’t help myself imagining one or both of my kids working at NASA somewhere down the distant road. It’s so inspiring to see what humans have been able to accomplish.

Space flight! I mean — come on — that’s pretty awesome!

Growing up so fast

Mads, Cindy & Luke on dark backgroundI’m ashamed at how long it’s been since I updated our family blog. So much has happened since March, that it would take me weeks to get everything updated.

So I won’t try.

Needless to say, it was a full 9 months. Full of hugs, tears, and a lot of growing.

I started a new job full-time. Luke had a ballet recital AND a violin recital. We took a vacation — a road trip actually. Andy and Luke both started Crossfitting. And after a very hot, but relaxing summer, autumn snuck up on us and our busy school year routine started up again.

Mads celebrated her 1st birthday, and we had a very small party with just us and our very close nanny, Michelle.

The holidays were fun this year since Mads is older.And I worked very hard to make our holiday celebrations all about the experiences, rather than the “stuff.” In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we participated in numerous holiday-type events, from the downtown stroll & sing-along to spinning under the Zilker tree (which is where you see us in the above photo.)

This year promises to bring even more changes. I can’t believe my kids are growing so fast.

Junior ‘Dillo run

Luke runs toward the finish line in the Junior Dillo

Luke runs with Andy toward the finish line in the Junior Dillo -- a mile long course..

Luke ran in his first race (not in a stroller) on Saturday — the Statesman Junior Dillo!  It was a mile-long course at Auditorium Shores.

I wrote about it in Red In the Face and there are more photos there.

Tomorrow is my turn!  I’ll be running the Cap10K with my running buddy, Jenny.  Wish me luck!

First foods: Banana

Mads is eating solid food!

Luke smiles as he feeds MadelineWe decided to start about a week or so before Madeline turned 6 months old to introduce solid food because she was giving signs that she was ready.

Her first food?  Banana — mashed and mixed with breast milk.  She took it surprisingly well.  Luke has even helped to feed her, as you can see from the photo above.  It’s awesome seeing them interact.

We’ll be taking it slow on introducing new foods.  The next one will be avocado, and then we’ll move into white fruits.  I’m actually looking forward to making baby food again — it was so easy!

Kites over Austin

March is transitionally one of the busiest months in Austin.

It seems like EVERYTHING is happening this month — South by Southwest, Rodeo Austin and the Zilker Kite Festival, just to name a few.

Andy and I are going to SXSW Interactive this year, which means next weekend will be especially busy, so we decided to pack of the kids today and take them down to the kite festival.

Skyline kites

It was a gorgeous day, but the wind didn’t seem to be helping people keep up their kites.  There appeared to be more people than kites this year.  And it’s true that we did not bring our kite, but we still had a great time.  I mean, how can you not have fun when there are kites, cupcakes and fun houses?

If we had really wanted to, there were kite-making crafts in one of the tents or we could have bought a kite from one of the vendors.

For us, it was all about the sunshine.


A visit to the Austin Zoo

For the first time since Madeline was born, Luke, Madeline and I made a fun outing that didn’t involve errands or school or extra-curricular activities — without Andy.

We visited the Austin Zoo, which is a great place to take small children, although Mads is a bit young to really get into the animals.  But we had fun anyhow.

The trails are really rocky, so I had to bust out with the jogging stroller to help keep the bumps under control.  Madeline ended up in my sling anyway, and I pushed the stroller through the zoo one-handed.  Not an easy task.

It seems like the Austin Zoo has received some donations and made some improvements since we visited a year ago.  There’s a new wolf playard and information signs about the animals on almost every enclosure.

The Austin Zoo is small, but they really try to educate the public about proper animal care and why exotic animals do NOT make good pets.  It’s definitely good for a few hours of downtime with the kids.