Friday, May 27, 2016

This Romper Has No Elephants

Yesterday I took the morning off from work so I could go to the kids' field day. I have never been to field day. Landon's Kindergarten year I had testimony I couldn't reschedule. His first grade year a semi truck hit me on the highway the day before and was sore and bruised and not into the idea of getting in a car. So this year I was GOING. And I went. And then it rained and field day was postponed for 5 hours, right when I needed to be back at work. Disappointed, but not about to let 3 leave hours go to waste, I went erranding to get ready for our New York trip (6 a.m. tomorrow!). It is much harder to prepare for a trip while also preparing for 3/5 of your family to remain behind in your house. It's like having guests and going on vacation at once. And we have a mix mash of childcare that is making things a little more complicated (my parents are coming late tomorrow and leaving early Monday, so we'll never see them; our nanny is filling in on Day 1 and 3). So there's a lot to do.

I gave myself 15 minutes in TJ Maxx to find a lightweight purse to carry around the city (done!) and maybe find something cute to wear during our city wandering on Sunday. I grabbed a few sundresses I didn't need and then once in the dressing room I spied an elephant covered romper from the juniors section hanging up on the go-back rack. I have never worn a romper. I've never even tried on a romper. A romper is far to hipster trendy for my staid self. But it had elephants and maybe the New York version of me IS hip and trendy? No one will know that I'm actually not. So I asked the fitting room attendant if I could try it and I fell in love. I'm not sure it's actually all that flattering on me, but it was cute and comfortable and light and airy and easy and New York me is HERE for elephant rompers. Plus it was $12 because it's from the juniors section at TJ Maxx.

So I bought it. And then I told my bestie coworker friend ALL about it and its elephant romperness and I was so into rompers by the time I went home I wondered if I maybe needed more. Later last night, post-barre subbing (we killed it; also, no one in my class had seen Centre Stage so I gave them all homework to watch it immediately, it's basically a barre pre-req), I started to have doubts about the romper. So I got it out of my closet to try on and there were no elephants. Not ONE! I was shocked. Disappointed. So genuinely completely confused. The romper I tried on that morning was covered in elephants and this romper doesn't have a single one.

I texted my friend immediately, not wanting any false claims of elephant rompers to be floating out there in the universe. I still don't know what sort of foul magic is afoot, but I've packed the paisley romper and will make a gameday decision on Sunday on whether or not New York Lag Liv wears paisley rompers. It's a whole new decision tree I need to work through.

In other sartorial news, my Rent the Runway dresses didn't fit. The one I picked out for the rehearsal dinner is too thick and scuba-y and the one for the wedding is too tight in the neck/upper chest. My upside down triangle proportions rear their ugly head again. I'm a 0 in the hips, 2/4 in the waist, and 6 at the top. All perfectly good numbers, just none of them the same and tricky to combine into a long gown. So I packed everything up to take to the RTR store in Manhattan to try on whatever they have in my size tomorrow afternoon. I've packed black shoes and silver shoes, 2 types of bras, my full eyeshadow palette, and will rent all the other accessories. It's weird to have a suitcase full of clothing I'm not going to wear. And that might include the paisley romper.

Other things are happening! The kids are in their final days of school (last day June 2nd!). Every day brings home new stacks of art, writings, and other treasures I need to find room for. More importantly, last weekend I got to play Life with Landon! It was a real mountaintop moment in my 9 years of motherhood so far. I LOVE board games. I love board games more than anyone loves board games and no one ever plays them with me and the kids are finally old enough to play REAL board games and it is so awesome. Plus, the conversations you have with your kids during Life are wonderful and hilarious (taxes, house insurance, car insurance, buying stock, naming spouses/babies, contemplating college v. straight on to a career). Landon's wife is Mary and his kids - and he was thrilled to pieces each time he landed on a baby spot- are named Carson and Sally. I would never have known that had we not played Life while Cora was napping and Claire was at a friend's house.

We celebrated Claire's 6th birthday at school on Wednesday. Her real birthday is 2 days after school gets out so we wanted to make sure she could bring a treat to her class. She chose donuts and was THRILLED to pass them out. Kindergarten has been such an amazing year for her- she's the youngest in her class but you'd never know it. She adores school and it makes my heart happy every time I see her beaming face ready and super excited to go to "Kiddergarten" each morning.

Thank you all for your sweet words about Tex. It was a tremendously sad day and we continue to look for him at random moments- I have yet to open our back door when I get home from work without expecting his furry body around the other side, excited to have us home and particularly excited to get his dinner. James still turns the flashlight on his phone every time he comes from the bathroom to our bed at night so he can avoid stepping on him. It's hard. But we are at peace knowing he's at peace and that he gave us some wonderful years. I was also able to donate all of his unused flea and heartworm meds (11 months worth; I was so optimistic when I placed that year-long order 2 months ago), brushes, and other accessories to a rescue organization in town which felt good and right. Cora has stopped asking  "Where my Texie go?!" a hundred times a day which is both sad and a relief.

James and I are off for the airport in 6.5 hours. It's weird to go somewhere together without the kids. I have feelings about it. I think because we both really, really like going places with the kids and I also maybe choked up a little saying goodnight to Cora. My last overnight trip was last May (James's last overnight trip was ~2010) and I've just gotten really used to always being here with them. But it will be wonderful to sit on a plane with only a kindle and a snoozing husband and to stroll through the city without worrying about anyone (CORA) running into traffic. And to dance at an uber fancy party with friends we haven't seen in years while I wear an amazing dress I don't have yet and James wears an amazing tux I haven't seen yet either (he has it, it's just wrapped up, he's several steps ahead of me in terms of wardrobe right now and it's weird). 

I'll keep you posted on the romper.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sweet Dreams Sir Tex

We said goodbye to our sweet Tex yesterday. In his mellow, easy-going way, he waited to tell us he was sick until he was so far gone he made all our decisions for us, but it was still really, really hard.

Saturday seemed to start out fine for Tex. He slept in, ate his breakfast in an enthusiastic 90 seconds, and took his usual long nap followed by long nap. He went on an occasional walk around the house to check in on things and spent sometime outside sitting in his favorite bush (literally in the bush; he liked to be one with nature, or at least that one small piece of it). He ate his dinner with his usual vigor. And then, at about 7:30, when we let him back in the house after his evening constitutional, he started whining.

And he basically never stopped until noon the next day when we said goodbye.

He paced around the house, sitting in his bed only to get back out again. Tex feels very strongly about his sleep, so even without the whining we knew something was wrong. We worried he had a roofing nail in his foot, but a thorough inspection proved the feet were unlikely to be the problem. He'd settle for a moment and then get up again. At 10 we realized it was not something he was going to walk off, so we googled a 24 hour vet, and at 11 he and I headed out. Looking back I'm not sure why we waited, I think we just kept thinking he'd shake it off like he had other small discomforts over the last few years.

He was taken back for an examination and 30 minutes later, a very kind vet with very kind, very sad eyes sat down in front of me and took a deep breath. "Obviously, there's a lot going on here."

There were many many words... intercranial disc disease... advanced age... cancer... swollen lymph nodes... increased ocular pressure... at least two masses under the skin... possible fracture in the cervical spine... possible fracture in the shoulder... intense pain in neck... can possibly give him a few weeks or even months... could wake up paralyzed... could improve... there's no wrong decision... he's outlived his usual life expectancy... there's no wrong decision... you didn't miss anything you should have caught, sometimes they just wait until the very end to let us know that something is wrong.

I decided, through a myriad of texts and phone convos with James, to take the vet up on her option to give him the best pain shots and pills they could give him and bring him home. To let us see if we could make him comfortable. I deeply appreciated her gentle point that while they could do all sorts of tests- they're a state of the art emergency and oncology facility- unless we planned to treat the cancer and other issues, there was no real need to know where the cancer was. It was almost certainly there. He was very clearly in pain. Let's see if comfort is possible, then figure out if doing more is right.

So he got a shot and I got some pills and at 1 a.m. I pulled back up the driveway shocked to have a dog who was rapidly and painfully falling apart.

The night was terrible. He was completely freaked out from the pain medicine- panting, pacing, crying, yelping every time he turned the wrong way and moved his neck. Finally around 4 a.m. we moved his bed to the small laundry room attached to our bathroom, hoping the smaller space would force him to calm down and at least minimize his movement. We called the vet and got approval to give him another dose of oral pain meds. He didn't seem to know who we were and started any time we moved towards him or tried to touch him. Around 5 a.m. I could still hear him whining as I finally fell asleep.

The kids were up at 6:30 and so was Tex. I don't think he ever fell asleep. The outdoors seemed to calm him a bit, but he didn't touch his breakfast and didn't want us near him. We talked to the kids about what had happened overnight. Landon mentioned he could hear Tex whining at 9 and 10 p.m. while he was half asleep. We called the vet and they said to come back in. We talked to the kids again. We said we didn't know what would happen, but it was possible that we might decide that the best way to help Tex would be to put him to sleep. That for a dog he had lived a long time. That dog's lives are different from ours- they live for each day, and while yesterday had been a good day, today was not. That there were unlikely to be good days again and Tex wouldn't be able to understand why. That we were talking with doctors and we would all try to make the best decision for Tex because he was telling us he was hurting and it was our job to fix it.

I asked if they wanted to pet him or get a picture with him and they said yes. They seemed to understand what was happening- the fact that Tex hadn't eaten his breakfast was deeply unnerving for them. One of the kids has fed him his meals for the last 5 years and he inhales it with gusto each time. We were able to get a few gentle pictures, though Tex was skittish, particularly about his neck.

James took him to the vet, and unsure of what else to do on this thoroughly fucked up morning, I started a load of laundry and piled the kids in the car to go run errands. I was in Target when James called with an update. Basically affirming what we heard last night, except now we knew two common and effective pain meds were not helping in the least. Again, there was no wrong decision. The vet mentioned a cocktail of drugs they can use trial and error to create that can sometimes buy weeks or even months of relative comfort. But for what, we wondered? Tex was 13 or 14 years old. In our case, it felt like those extra days would be for us and not him. And the phrase trial and error made me think of more nights like the ones before and there was no way he could do that. We started realizing that his intermittent whining at night over the past couple months hadn't been bad dreams or the occasional wakings of old age. A million other small signs all came together to paint a very different picture than what we thought we'd been seeing. He hadn't slept since the afternoon the day before. There was no wrong decision, but it felt like there was a right one.

I asked if he wanted me to take the kids home and find a sitter so I could be with him. James said he felt like he was okay, that the doctor was supportive, that he just wanted it done. I checked out at Target, finding it bizarre that less than a mile away my dog was being put to sleep and no one in the checkout line knew it. I explained the situation to the kids when we got home. I made them lunch. I looked at pictures of Tex and tears just kept pouring down my face. He was such a calm and unobtrusive presence in our house, how could I already miss him so much?

James got home about 12:30, eyes bloodshot and face red. "It was so much harder than I thought" he choked out, "It was very peaceful. It was the first time he was quiet and relaxed since yesterday. But it was so hard. I didn't think it would be so hard." I hugged him as we both cried in the kitchen. The first time I've seen him cry in 13 years.

As we clutched each other, James's face buried in my neck, both of us dripping, Landon yelled the first of 6,000 questions about how exactly Tex died, "did his heart stop first or his brain? how did the doctor do that? did he get lots of shots or one big one? where is he? did you hold him after he was dead?". Claire announced her intention to adopt a kitten and name him Tex. And Cora stood on her chair, waving her string cheese in the air, yelling her grievances about my incorrect opening of the wrapper at her dad so he would know my shame.

After a moment, one of us started to chuckle in our tear and now snot-filled hug. It was so absurd. The string cheese stick was clutched in an indignant toddler's first, being haphazardly waved in the air, while Claire adopted a kitten in Tex's honor and Landon delved into the biology and chemistry of euthanasia. Life in all its brutal beautiful glorious chaos. And in 10 minutes I had to go teach a barre class because all the other teachers were out of town though I could not POSSIBLY think of anything I wanted to do less. James had to get out to his outdoor pool to fix a motor in the pump room. I hadn't eaten since yesterday. We needed groceries and the laundry needed to be switched. Glorious chaos indeed.

We miss him. We adopted him as a middle aged man in 2008 (from this amazing organization), a week before I took the bar exam, and over the last 8 years he has been a steadfast friend, consummate gentleman, James's coworker, and highly tolerant big sibling to 3 curious and affectionate babies. When we adopted him, he had been at his foster home the longest of any dog. This sweet, calm, noble, happy gentleman. I'm so glad he was ours. I'm grateful his suffering was short and he made our decision as easy as it could be.

Rest in Peace sweet boy. We miss you.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

News in the No News

So I poured my heart and several hours into a blog post about having a third baby and gathered some lovely comments and a new reader or two and then promptly disappeared for more than a week. I'm not really sure why- I even had a story all ready to go on Friday the 13th about how I did Orangetheory that morning before work and burned precisely 666 calories which was clearly an omen for what happened a few minutes later when I stepped out of the shower in the tiny shower room and stood naked and dripping over my bag to find my jeans, a thin white tank, a breezy sheer tank, sandals, and NOTHING ELSE. My workout clothes were too sweaty to contemplate and I needed to be at work in 15 minutes.

Luckily, I had planned to maybe do yoga during lunch, and even more luckily I actually had a separate sports bra and tank packed instead of the support tanks I wear 99% of the time. Unfortunately these things were in my car, through a lobby filled with people, and across the parking lot of a shopping center. So I pulled jeans on over bare skin which is TERRIBLE and put on my tank (also over bare skin which was less abrasive but more bouncy), bounced my way through the lobby, etc. to grab my yoga bag, bounced my way back through the lobby, etc., back into the one small shower room that magically wasn't re-occupied yet, and wear a terribly restrictive running sports bra under my cute breezy tank. That was at 7:45 a.m. and by 4 p.m. my shoulders were permanently hunched forward, my ribs felt bruised, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't breathing as deep as I should be. Moral of the story- pack your bra and panties before anything else. I remembered an optional belt, multiple earring options, and a backup pair of flat shoes in case I ran errands on the way home and didn't want to wear heels. Pack your underthings before all these other things.

Muffins with Mom the day before;
all undergarments present and accounted for

But that was Friday. That night James and I went out for a date and superficially enjoyed a mindless and surprisingly entertaining Captain America movie while reeling from James's hour-old news that the Boys and Girls Club- the pool he rents each school year to run his swim school business- would not be renewing his lease in the fall. They don't want to pay to heat the water as high as he needs it for little kids lessons and are looking at likely eventually shutting the pool down. My mouth fell open as an invisible fist punched me in the stomach when he relayed the news. Three years of increasing enrollment, revenue, and hundreds of successes in teaching kids to be safer and better swimmers and he no longer has a pool starting in September. (He rents a different one in the summer, but it is outdoors and is drained at the end of the summer.)

So that's obviously the biggest news and I really don't know what to do with it. We talk about it constantly in short bursts, but there aren't any solutions yet (pool space is very hard to come by in Fort Worth) and I can't even contemplate his having to look for a job again. Plus he coaches our kids! I love that he's their coach because I love that they get to see their dad in the afternoon and I don't have to go to practice because we already have a parent there, but mostly I love it because he's amazing and I trust him to foster their love of swimming while focusing on perfecting technique without mindless yardage that would burn them out too soon. I love that he's home in the mornings- that Cora is his office assistant until 9 or so, that we can have deliveries at the house because he's there, that he has some flexibility and does breakfast, packs lunches, and gets the kids off to school each morning. I love that he's built something- that he's known in our community, that he's following his entrepreneurial dreams in a way that taps into a particular talent he has in coaching. And the swim school is doing so well financially we've been able to pay off more school loans and do other fun budgetary things. Losing that income will fundamentally change our lifestyle, plus the swim school 100% funds his real baby, the swim products company, and the idea of shuttering that is also devastating.

So. He has the summer session about to start at his other pool (that he also manages in order to use) and he is so crazy over-the-top busy with that it's hard to really absorb what's going to happen in the fall. He's putting out feelers and mining his now-significant contacts in Fort Worth and the swimming community. We hope very, very much that he finds something. We also know if there was a pool out there not currently being used, he'd probably already know about it. But still we hope.

In the mean time, the kids are awesome. Landon creates a new menagerie of clay animals every few days. Here is Monday's chameleon.

Claire's reading has completely taken off. She's turned that magical corner where every word goes from a a battle of individual letters and sounds to WORDS. Words that make up fully formed smoothly flowing sentences. It's amazing. She's taken over a large portion of Cora's nightly reading and everyone is very pleased with this.

Cora decided to learn English about a month ago and now talks NONSTOP and knows one million words, all shapes, all colors, and all songs. This leap forward has totally worn her out and Tara sent me this picture at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Tara had been working on homework with the big kids and looked up to see Cora tucked into Claire's old nap mat (stored in the closet) and her nighttime blankie (stored in her crib). Third babies are remarkably self sufficient.

Also, we got a new roof on Tuesday (major hail damage FTW!). And added a covered porch over our small patio with leftover roof tiles. It's going to be nice to have a covered area in our back yard.

We're having Claire's beloved Kindergarten teacher and her fiance over for dinner tomorrow night. I'm currently thinking Greek salad, Mediterranean marinated grilled flank steak, grilled pita bread, and homemade tzatziki sauce. Kind of different, but not flavors so strong or unique it could be objectionable. And dessert, of course. Probably tres leches cake with fresh strawberries. And maybe a pitcher of something delicious to drink while we sit by the pool before dinner? I love creating my hostessing menus- my biggest challenge is holding myself back from wanting to try too many new and untried recipes. Mrs. C was also Landon's teacher and we adore her (and have made her promise not to retire before she can teach Cora!) and I want everything to be homemade and delicious. At least I have total confidence in the cake.

eating a donut hole like a LADY

I'm teaching 3 barre classes in the next 3 days, gearing up for our NY trip (9 more days!), Claire's birthday, the end of school, and the start of summer camps and swim team. It seems like we have an event a night until mid-June, but as long as I don't think for long about James's impending lack of pool/business, I can remember that this is one of my favorite crazy super fun times of year and the present can be a joy even when the future isn't clear.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

FAQ: Should I Have a Third Baby?

One of my New Year's resolutions has been to get over the fact we can't have another baby and part of that process has been reflecting on how lucky we are to have three that we do, and how very much I love this life as a party of five. And then yesterday I got this email from a reader:

"First, I want to tell you that I absolutely love your blog. I have one too, and we have a number of similarities (started a million years ago, professional woman, obscenely cute kids :) ). I am, however, about a foot shorter than you and much less gifted at barre! There is something about your writing that I just love. It is so exuberant, glass-half-full, and brings out all of the happy things about life.

I wanted to ask how you decided to have a 3rd child, and whether there was any fear/ambivalence there. I am at a crossroads with a 2 year old and 4 year old. I am a very practical person and am having trouble deciding whether to go for #3. My heart wants it. My head feels like “ahhhh everything will be too crazy and I will never feel in control again”. My husband and I are both physicians; I work full time but fairly ‘regular’ hours (8:30 - 5 plus commute); he works more. We have an amazing nanny. I know we COULD do it, but I also know I will probably feel overwhelmed for quite some time. I also don’t loooove the baby stages, but everything after 2 I pretty much adore.

Was it a no-brainer for you? Or did you have any hesitation? To me the way you write about Cora it sounds like it has been maybe 2% stress and 98% joy — is that true? I found going from 1 kid to 2 kids much less of a big deal than 0 to 1. What did you think about 2 to 3?"

Well Shu, first of all, thank you! And second, I have been thinking quite a lot about this very post so thank you for giving me a reason to write it. Before we got pregnant with Cora, I would occasionally google "Should I have a third baby?". Obviously, this is an absurd thing to ask the interwebs. Your personal mix of wants, experiences, resources, children, etc. are far too unique for google to handle. But as I carefully picked my way through the results, mentally arguing with anonymous anyones who told me to stop at 2 and accepting as truth those who said to go for it, I found my answer anyway. And though everyone's circumstances were different from mine, I enjoyed the stories from those with three, reassuring me that having a third would not tip the family into madness and everything was going to be fine.

totally fine

And of course it has been so much more than that. Throughout today I would draft portions of this post in my head and I ended up crying every single time. Cora is the best thing decision we've ever made for our whole family. And since I'm now actively crying again (literally James just looked over at me and asked what's wrong), I will admit upfront that I can't give you a rational or unbiased answer. I am unabashedly pro-third-child. I understand that not everyone wants that many kids (or any at all!), and I would never try to convince anyone away from what they want or think is right for them. But if you are on the fence, if your heart is there but your brain is not, if you are truly asking me for my opinion, all I can say is DO IT. The rewards-- the glorious joyful laughter and love-filled chaos you bring to your house is so wonderful I can't believe we ever thought we didn't need it.

But, oh I had my doubts. We too were at a crossroads. There was plenty of fear. We'd had one easy baby and one baby who was so hard we both suffered from PTSD when we found out we were unintentionally pregnant with baby #2 and didn't talk about the fact we were pregnant- even to each other- for days while we processed going through all of that again. We loved having big kids. Landon and Claire were best friends. Claire was already potty trained. She was in a big girl bed! We'd given away ALL of our baby stuff when we moved to Fort Worth. We had a 3 bedroom house. James was unemployed. I'd just taken a significant pay cut. I didn't have a paid maternity leave. We were done with all the baby gear and schedules and hassles. We boldly left the house whenever we wanted without snacks, strollers, or diaper bags. I worried that having a third might interfere with Landon and Claire's tight relationship. It made my stomach hurt to think of being tired again, of getting up at 2 and 3 a.m., of not being in control of my own sleep schedule. I felt like James and I got a ton of time alone together and didn't want to lose any of it. I knew the world was built for groups of 4 and we love to travel and eat out and now we'd be an odd number that doesn't fit into anything. We were just FINALLY about to finish one kid's daycare career and get the $1,000/month raise when he started school in the fall. Our days were easy and calm and it made absolutely no sense to have another baby.

But. We both kept talking about it. We kept asking the other if they were sure we were done, as if we wanted the other to say "no, I'm not, let's go for it" I kept asking google to tell me my future. We constantly added the phrase "well, if we have another baby..." to all conversations about the future. Clearly, our heart was there. And quite frankly I don't think we ever got our heads totally on board. Having a third kid (or any kids) isn't a particularly rational thing to do. If we were being practical we would absolutely have stopped at 2. But, the heart. We wanted a big family. We're fairly isolated from mine and completely cut off from James's. We adore our little family life. We both simply wanted more- more for us, more for our kids, just more of all the things we love every day about having them.

And so we did the "let's toss out the birth control and 'just see'" thing. And after one month of not "just seeing" a positive pregnancy test I was 80% heartbroken and 20% feeling like we'd dodged a bullet, and I knew then I wanted that bullet. We got serious about the task at hand and two months later, I was pregnant and I was ELATED. Sure it didn't make sense, sure all the things I wrote above were still true, but we were having a BABY! None of that mattered anymore- it was happening, so let's focus on the positive stuff.

And oh my god, there is SO much positive. In all my "oh we don't want to go back the baby phase" musings, I didn't realize that we wouldn't be. We're still in the big kid phase. We still had a 6.5 and 3.5 year old who were super fun and funny and interactive. We still built our schedule around them and their interests and activities. We went on four vacations and eight road trips in Cora's first year. She went skiing at Keystone, hiking at Palo Duro Canyon, partying at a wedding in Austin, and sledding and hiking at Steamboat Springs. These were all planned because we have big kids and we LOVE traveling them. So we just piled Cora in the car too and it was great! We never would have taken vacations like that with one baby- it's a hassle and baby Landon wouldn't have gotten anything out of it, but big kid Landon and big kid Claire were the focus of the trip and tiny baby Cora was a smiley +1 who seemed to thoroughly enjoy being along for the ride. Her year was truly one of the best of my whole life, in no small part because we were always out and about and just having so much fun with our crew. I never felt like we didn't do something just because we had a baby, and while Cora won't remember any of those trips, I have wonderful memories of her at each one.

Another thing I didn't understand until we had Cora was that having big kids gives you such a beautiful perspective on the process of childhood. I also did not love the baby phase, but in Cora's bad baby moments (she had acid reflux, and there was that period where she hated the car seat and all baby entertaniment devices with a fiery pasion), you had this implicit understanding of how temporary all those struggles are- and you had two big kids to entertain and distract you. (The same is true for the tough toddler ones.) Your whole world isn't your crying baby, and rather than having multiple children add to the stress of the moment, I found it divided it. And in the happy moments- and there were SO many happy moments- the hard won knowledge of how fast everything goes helped me to cherish the day-to-day in a way I hadn't yet mastered with Landon and Claire. I loved Cora's babyhood in a way I couldn't before and when I sigh over how big she's getting now, it comforts me to know with certainty that we squeezed all the joy out of those early days that we could.

In response to all my practical concerns: we still have 3 bedrooms; the big kids shared a room until 6 months ago and now the girls share. It works great- they love being roomies and it's only made them closer. Adding five more years of daycare kind of sucks, but it's what it is- I don't ever look at Cora and begrudge that check. We haven't had to deal with the table of five issue yet because she still sits in a high chair on the corner of our table for four. But again, the idea now that I would ever look at her and begrudge that extra potential wait time in a restaurant is absurd. Plus, we live in Fort Worth, so no one waits for tables at restaurants anyway. Personal resource-wise: time, attention, patience- I just haven't felt like having a third is a strain. The vast majority of the time the kids are playing in their pack and the number of them is irrelevant; more just means everyone is busy and has someone to play with. And when one of them is off- fussy, tired, upset, etc.- you just focus on that one, same as before.

I know that not everyone is the same, but we found going from 0 to 1 to be incredibly difficult. And not just because our first baby was difficult. Adjusting your life from being two fancy free adults (albeit fancy free adults who are in law school and investment banking) to having the responsibility of a baby 24/7 with no sleep, no breaks, and no control over our lives or sleep was just an extreme shock for both of us. It was really, really hard. Going from 1 to 2 was nothing. We'd made the adjustment- we are people with kids and our lives are ruled by nap schedules and early wake up calls, throwing another into that routine just wasn't a big deal. Adding Cora was even less of one. I can't think of one time I thought having three was harder than two because it just isn't. It helps that our kids are spread out- when Cora was a baby they were almost 7 and 4; they could do most things themselves and we were pretty established in our daily routine of a family with young children. To the extent I see challenges ahead, it's more when they're older when we have three competing schedules of events or practices or games, but I'm sure we'll figure that out when we get to it.

The last thing I'll add on this list of "what I didn't realize until we went for it" was how very much our third baby would bring to us. It has been extraordinary to watch our older two love their baby sister so much. Rather than burden them with another sibling to further divide James and my time and energy, they were given a gift of another playmate, another person to love, a person who would idolize and love them back FIERCELY. They are her idols and she screams and races across the room for hugs ("HUGS!!") every time they walk in the door after being away.

I missed Claire's hug, but you get the idea; this is every. single. day.

So to answer your original question, having a third baby was not a no brainer. I had concerns, worries, and a long list of reasons not to do it, But just the fact that I kept thinking about it-- that those reasons were never enough to put the question to rest in my mind, told me that we wanted another regardless of all the reasons not to. And for us, the sheer joy of having a baby in the house again- of watching my older kids love their new sibling, of them celebrating her every milestone like she's the first baby to every smile or take a step-- that has so vastly outshone anything she might be taking away. The time, money, and patience I worried about aren't reduced by a third- there's times any of those things are affected for sure, but she also GIVES. And James and I have more to give in return. The joy in seeing my crew of three laughing, playing, and running around the house and yard isn't something I can describe. I love that they're a pack. Love that they outnumber us. Love that they have each other and will continue to beyond the time they'll have James and me.

When I was in my indecisive phase I emailed the only friend I knew with three kids and asked her if we should have another. I felt silly as soon as I pressed send- her life is quite different from mine and what was she going to say? no, it's a terrible idea? But she responded with a short and perfect: "We can't imagine our life without our #3- by far the best decision we've made for our family." And that's what I've tried to explain through WAY too many words above- expanding our family has been wonderful for our whole family. It didn't take anything away from anyone, it just made everything more. And for what it's worth, I just asked James what he would say if someone asked him if they should have a third baby and he replied, "Of course." and went back to work. So, there's that version too.

Best of luck to you whatever you decide!!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day: Sugar and Shades

Today has been a perfect Mother's Day. Low key, thoughtful, and full of my favorite four people and a bunch of my other favorite things (cookies! champagne! double-decker icing sandwich cookies WITH SPRINKLES! and then the rest of the champagne!).

But first, it started with my usual plan to sneak out of the house for hot yoga. I do Bikram once a week, at 8 a.m. on Sunday, and it is sacred. I love quietly walking out of a sleeping house and returning to pj's and smiles at 9:30. But today, I heard giggles in the living room and found the kids beaming over a table they'd gotten up early to decorate all by themselves with their cards, a tablecloth meant for a small circle table we no longer own, place mats, and a mix mash of leftover birthday decorations.

It was beautiful and they were so proud. Cora sang "Happy Birthday to You" over and over on repeat. I read all the cards, got hugs and kisses from everyone, and then sent them to wake up Daddy an hour earlier than expected. Happy Mother's Day!

Yoga was delicious as always and then I came home to an even more delicious brunch of French Toast Casserole, berries, and very full mimosas. Every year on Mother's Day James researches a new way to make my beloved French Toast and this year's was maybe the best. Probably because about 2 bags of sugar were involved.

The kids played, I drank another 2 3 mimosas and then James and I found ourselves in our room without any of the kids noticing we'd left the kitchen, so obviously we made the most of that. Later we got to facetime with my NEW NIECE. My sister had her baby on the 2nd and I am finally an aunt, to the beautiful Skyla Mary. The kids were SO EXCITED to see her on the iPhone screen, her poor tiny ears have probably still not recovered from the screams of love.

And then we headed to the mall (oh, we know how to party on a Sunday early) so I could pick out my Mother's Day present- new fancy sunglasses! After 15 years of wearing whatever I bought last at Ross or TJ Maxx, I think I'm finally old enough to wear nice sunglasses and actually use the sunglass case to keep them in. It's one of my last grown-up steps now that I've you-tubed "how to fold a fitted sheet" and given up entirely on ever liking coffee.

The kids LOVED the sunglass store. I let them each try on one pair and I feel like their selections fit their personalities.

The posing certainly does.

I went with the first pair I picked up- a beautiful pair of Burberry aviators that made Claire gasp and declare me perfect. Then she told me she's going to save up her birthday money for the purple Guccis.

There was a discount if you bought a second pair, so James got an early Father's Day gift! Which is great because he has a genuine love of sunglasses and he never lets me buy him anything. Sunglasses in hand (or really, in case because I am really REALLY going to try to use mine) we headed home, going out of our way to casually swing by Great American Cookie Company for some Double Doozies. Cora was given the honor of carrying our bag back to the car and I think she approached it with an appropriate level of gravity.

I inhaled mine hunched over in the car on the ride home and James, upon seeing the empty wrapper and crumbs all over my lap drly remarked, "You know no one was going to steal that from you, right?"

Now James and the big kids are swimming at the Y and Cora is napping and I'm relaxing on our new TV room couch sobbing my way through an accidental viewing of Steel Magnolias. We're at the cemetery scene and it's a good thing the kids are gone because I think the tears and strange noises I'm making would disturb them. Sally Field is a treasure, but she is destroying me right now.

[I've switched to the safety of ABC Family and The Parent Trap; it's nice to remember how adorable Lindsay Lohan was in the late 90's.]

And since we're switching gears, let's go back in time to yesterday. James had to spend the entire day at his outdoor pool (the one he manages in the summer in order to use it for his lessons) with his lifeguards getting the pool ready to be filled again. They drain it at the end of the summer and then it sits abandoned for 8 months, turning into a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie, until James and his guards come back to clean, scrub, mow, trim, and generally reclaim the Olympic sized pool and its wooded lot for human use. It's not his favorite day.

I got to teach my class (yay! thanks one of James's instructors coming over to play with the kids for a bit) and then the kids and I headed off to Landon's last meeting of the Texas Nature Club at our wonderful Fort Worth Zoo. It has been such an amazing program, though I do wish the one day parents were invited wasn't the one day James was gone, but we had Cora skip her nap and boldly headed out, superfluous stroller and all.

First up, we assembled a bat box!

I've been promised our future bat tenants will eat more than 3,000 mosquitoes a night, so I'm as excited about it as Landon. (You can get a kit here, if you love animals like Landon and/or hate mosquitoes like me)

After the program, during which we met an exceedingly handsome Screech Owl named Rufus, we wandered around the zoo, stopping in our tracks for Cora's favorite animal- DUBRAS!!!!!


I bought cotton candy, because it's one of my favorite things and it was almost Mother's Day. The big kids declared it delicious and Cora was horrified- spitting it out and insisting I wipe off her tongue. Her continued denial of delicious childhood pleasures is one of my favorite things about her.

It was honestly a great afternoon- the kids were so good and happy to be there and everything was perfect, and yet when I got in the car I found myself texting James "Margaritas for dinner?". I'm not even sure why, except that I pretty much never have solo outings with the kids and it was sneakily exhausting, and also I can tell the future, because this was what happened when we got in the car.

The trigger remains unknown.

I also texted that to James. Luckily, Cora pulled herself together after a lot of re-readings of "Hippos Go Berserk," which you wouldn't think she'd find so soothing. We did then go get margaritas and other foods for dinner and then capped it all off with the inaugural opening of our pool.

The evening was gorgeous with a cool breeze. The water was freezing. The kids didn't care.

I look forward to a lot more evenings just like that.

I love Mother's Day in the same way I love Valentine's Day. If you don't take it too seriously, it's a fun day to celebrate the people you love. I love my mom every day, but I don't always send her a card and note telling her why. And I have no doubt James and the kids love me every day too, but I don't ask them my their favorite things about me and write them down. Or dip a hand in paint for a memorialized print (obviously, the hand print was from James) and I'm glad Mother's Day makes someone else do it for me. But truly, while I'll never turn down an opportunity to shirk household duties and eat champagne and cookies before noon, I'm really just so, so lucky to be Mom, Mommy, and Mama to this sweet, thoughtful, crazy fun crew.

Happy Mother's Day weekend to you all! (And particularly to my MILS- the collection of amazing women I "met" online when we were all pregnant and in law schools all over the country. We've come a long way from balancing exams and term papers and baby naps! Xoxo)