Monday, December 15, 2014

Not Tuesday Things

1. I have spent all day thinking it's Tuesday, so now having a Tuesday tomorrow is going to seem like a bonus. Normally you don't want a longer week, but I'm taking formal testimony on Thursday and my kitchen isn't done and my parents and brother arrive on Friday. An extra day will be GREAT.

2. My kitchen is supposed to be done tomorrow! I'm expecting Wednesday to avoid disappointment, but regardless, there is an end in sight and that end looks BEAUTIFUL and full of homemade Christmas cookies.

3. I got a new yoga mat in the mail (an early Christmas present to myself after hours of research and over 200 hours logged on my old cheap mat) and it finally motivated me to take a break from evening wine drinking to get back to the barre and my legs feel shaky and amazing. And also nicely supported thanks to the new yoga mat that is already clearly worth 5x my old one. Such support and cushion and down dog hand stickiness! Getting back to the studio was like reuniting with a friend and it had only been a week away. Barre is in my blood.

4. This song played in class and it is WONDERFUL. It also won't get out of my hand. JP already hates it.

5. Cora looked adorable and festive this morning so I tried to get a picture in the chair I always seem to stick her in when I want a picture and she was having NONE OF IT. She stood up immediately, yelled in joy for being awake and alive on this lovely Tuesday Monday morning and then made lots of Cora faces and then Claire asked for a picture of them together and Cora was like NO, I have SO much to do, you have no idea and toddled off in the direction of her duplo bin to dump it all out and bang two pieces together.

SO busy.

6. My hair has decided to grow two tiny curly devil horns on both sides of my head and they are making me crazy. Like all caps crazy, except I used a lot of caps in the last bullet. They stick up and curl and will not be contained with any combination of chemical, hair product, or hot iron. So I'm tamping them down with sparkly headbands. Loft had their hair accessories 50% off today and if you've grown horns lately, you should go get some. They're super cute and feel very festive, and no one has to know you're only wearing them because of the horn situation.

7. This my kitchen color scheme: walls (same as living room; Bird Bath Blue), trim/upper cabinets (Chantilly Lace, which looks much brighter than the screen cap below), and lower cabinets (Shaker Grey). The floor is chocolate brown tile with grey tones.

It's going to be great. And I'm not even saying that sarcastically anymore.

8. I don't have a single Christmas decoration in the house because they would only get covered in dust and paint spray, but it's making my soul sad to be so unfestive. Luckily the Christmas cards have begun arriving and they make me so happy. The stack we have growing next to the door is literally our only nod to the holiday season in the whole house, but I've already taken off work on Friday and I am going to whip this house into shape. I will unpack ALL the kitchen things and organize the drawers and pantry and unleash the Christmas decorations and tree. This house will be FULL of holiday spirit when the kids get home from school on Friday and it will be glorious. And then I need to figure out how I can make sugar cookies happen before the 24th. It's going to be a tight squeeze, but cookies and sugar (and tradition!) are excellent motivators!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

And then the peninsula broke off

So when talked last, I was lamenting my kitchen-less state and drinking a lot of wine to compensate. Well, a lot has changed, I've now kind of forgotten what it was like to have a kitchen and a house not covered in piles of stuff covered in piles of dust and while I'm still drinking a lot of wine, I've added some Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe's to my diet to soak it up. So big things! They're happening around here.

This past weekend was kind of terrible. Not having a kitchen is always terrible but not having school and work and the pool to escape to makes it so much worse. There's just dust and dirt and tarps and construction equipment and DUST everywhere. So for the first time ever I assisted with the yard work, raking and picking up leaves alongside our child workers. When I came outside and started picking up leaves in my lulu leggings and suede low heel booties, Landon exclaimed, "Mommy! I didn't know you could pick up leaves too!!" He was genuinely so excited for me to have figured it out. We spent about 8 hours raking and scooping and had 32 lawn bags to show for it. Giant oak trees, almost as awesome as kitchen renovations.

The primer was sprayed on the cabinets that day and it was the most terrible step of all. It smelled so unbelievably toxicly bad that when we got back from dinner we could smell the primer from the driveway while still inside the car with the windows rolled up. Should any of you ever redo a kitchen, I really highly recommend you just move the F out until it's done.

On Sunday, as we sat down to another dinner of microwave food (the congo line of items to be microwaved each night makes my soul wither a little more: Landon's meal, Claire's meal, Cora's meal, my meal, JP's two meals, steam veggie in a bag; it's like 25 solid minutes of microwaving)- the big kids in the play room because the kitchen table is now lost under the dust pile and they can't be trusted on the couches in the TV room, Landon joyfully exclaimed, "Mom, redoing out kitchen is great because we get to eat in such neat places!" Yep. SO GREAT.

There has been an enormous amount of counter top drama that I have spared you, gentle readers. We picked one and it was sold. We picked another that we knew was sold but they were getting more in from the same lot in a week. JP went to approve it before it was cut and sent me a picture that I thought was a joke. The only similarity to the one we saw before was that it was also made of stone. So, with visions of being countertop-less until 2015 threatening to make my mind unravel, I raced off to a different granite yard and found one I liked almost as much but it was 20% more expensive. But then the original place got another shipment in at 8 a.m. on Saturday that looked like the one we liked and they matched their original quote but THEN they couldn't install them until after Christmas and apparently the face I made at that news was so terrible and terrifying that without my ever saying words, he started flipping back through his book and fitting us in at 8 a.m. today. JP said it was nothing he's ever seen my face do before. I kind of wish he'd taken a picture.

So we have countertops! Our floors need to be grouted and we need a backsplash and the walls and ceiling and trim needs to be painted. And we need appliances and plugs and light switches and lights. But it LOOKS like we kind of have a kitchen and I'm starting to believe that one day we will and that little flicker of hope is giving me the will to start unearthing my living room from under the construction dust. JP kind of had a mental breakdown last night where he just sort of froze and asked for a dust cloth and then dusted for a solid hour. It's harder for him because he works from home all morning and the amount of dust and paint fumes in his lungs is probably equivalent to a short term chain smoker.

I did take a break from drinking and eating dark chocolate covered Oreo's to wrap all our presents last night, so that's something. And Christmas cards are going out tomorrow. And work is super busy. But mostly I'm drinking wine and reading a trashy new paranormal romance series in the bathtub. I haven't even been to barre all week because I've been so busy with the reading about fallen angels while drinking. So remodeling the kitchen has been super good for my health.

On Saturday night, after all the raking and coughing up primer fumes, we stopped at Kroger on the way back from dinner. JP stayed in the car with the kids and I ran in to buy a bottle of screw top wine, a set of four plastic wine glasses to keep it classy, and a pint of dark chocolate chunk ice cream. And that was it. If I'd had the energy after all that raking I would have judged myself.

On the upside, now that JP is on the other side of his breakdown, he's having a great time messing with me about the renovation process while I'm at work.

Our text convos today:

Me: How does the granite look? Send pics!

JP: Awful. Makes me want to puke.

Me: JP.
My heart can only take so much.

JP: No seriously.
It's like Mother Earth emptied the ugliest contents of her bowels.

Me: JP!

~ ~ ~

Later in the afternoon I was in a meeting, interviewing a potential witness, when I saw I missed his call. Since he never calls me during the day I was concerned and texted him with:

Me: In a mtg. What's up?

JP: The peninsula broke off.


JP: Tried to get back to Mother Earth from whence it came.
Contractor is using the kids glue as we speak to reassemble it.
Gonna look great.

~ ~ ~

Nothing shows my fragile mental state right now than the fact that I kind of initially fell for that second one.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Dirty Dances and Kitchen Renovations

Dirty Dancing is on TV right now. JP has never seen it and he is not as caught up in the magic of "will she do the jump or won't she?" as I expected him to be. Or at least as I was when I saw this in my tween years and declared it the greatest movie ever. Who knew it was entirely premised on a dance partner getting a botched pre-Roe v. Wade abortion and not being able to dance at the neighboring resort. That went RIGHT over my head on my first 100 viewings. Apparently the magic of the finale went right over JP's head too. He needs to watch it again.

~ ~ ~

So not having a kitchen is completely terrible.

I can't muster a single positive word about the situation, but I also feel like I can't complain because I have a lovely home and what is going to (SOMEDAY) be a beautiful kitchen. But OMG the interim is so so terrible. It's more terrible than Cora thinks of cake and snow and leaves combined. SO TERRIBLE.

Coming home at the end of the day makes me stressed and sad and dusty. I hate walking in the door with hungry kids and not knowing if the fridge will be accessible that day or not. I'm tired of paying to eat at restaurants when we'd rather be at home and very tired of judging myself when I check out at the grocery store with a stack of microwave meals. I'm tired of dust on everything and everything being everywhere; I'm staring at a turkey roaster on the TV stand while I type. There are currently no uncluttered surfaces of my house. It'll be worth it, but it's been 3.5 weeks and I feel like maybe having a wall between the living room and kitchen wasn't so bad after all. SO MUCH DUST AND SO MUCH CLUTTER. My heart rate actually increases when I walk in the door.

This is not my life.

~ ~ ~

I finished my Christmas shopping today and I'm so excited about everything I picked out. I was very careful this year and thought a lot about my list of ideas (started via iPhone Note back in February) for each family member and kid and I even have a few things I'm really excited to give to JP and he is SO hard to shop for. I love gift giving- finding that perfect thing gives me more excitement than opening up anything for myself. One of JP's gifts involves fire and there is no one who likes making fire more than JP. He's going to love it and I'm totally going to regret giving it to him, but such is the cycle of perfect gift giving.

(A co-worker gifted Cora with a set of musical instruments for her birthday; I barely even notice the extra bit of chaos.)

~ ~ ~

Cora got sick back in Steamboat and finally decided to be better yesterday. She became so quiet and sleepy and snuggly that I'd almost forgotten how happy-screamy and joyful she normally is. She woke up a little early this morning (a sure sign she was feeling better; she's been sleeping in like a teenager) and when I brought her back to my bed to cuddle she clawed at my face and screamed in my ear and clapped and crawled and basically had a party in my bed. There was a lot of joy contained in a tiny little body and though I was tired (I got sick on Tuesday night) it was lovely to see.

So thanks to Cora being sick and doctor appointments and being sent home from daycare and my throat swelling up all red and angry, I only worked one full day this week. It's been a long transition back from Thanksgiving with a lot of extra time spent in my construction site of a house. If not for the bonus Cora snuggles, I honestly would have rather been at work.

~ ~ ~

We got home from Colorado to a sea of leaves in the front yard. After JP and the kids spent a few hours raking (Landon doesn't complain, but has noted that we are maybe the family in the world who makes our kids do yard work. Just noting.), they promptly destroyed all their work by leaping into it from a great height. Chores and giant Red Oak trees can be fun.

We even tried to recreate one of my favorite pictures from last year, but Cora has opinions now and hating leaves is one of them.

Leaves are the worst. And she didn't even have to rake them.

~ ~ ~

I think I'm drinking more wine, but I can't tell because the plastic cup I'm using is so big that any amount I pour seems small in comparison.

Kitchen ETA is late next week. I'm afraid to hope, but I really can't wait to be able to show you the finished results. And make my Christmas cookies, drink out of a real wine glass, and never eat out again until midway through 2015. Seriously, can't wait.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Snow Fun Family Turkey!

We got back from Steamboat last night at 10:30 p.m. after 15 hours of driving and I can't even complain about it. The kids were so good, even though we left our DVD holder with all our movies back at the condo (we had The Santa Clause, which my parents had just given the kids, so we watched that twice), and Cora was so good, even though she was sick and running a fever every time the ibuprofen wore off, and JP drove the WHOLE way and I barely ever even had to crawl in the back and do anything to pretend to be busy. So I read a book and voluntarily listened to college football games on XM radio and squeezed JP's hand every few seconds to let him know I cared and that he needed to stay awake.

It was such a fun trip. Our vacations are always fun- we love going places with the kids, but Colorado is particularly magical. I really don't know why we don't live there.

There's just something about vacations that makes memories brighter. We always enjoy the kids, and our weekends at home always seem fun even at their most mundane, but vacations are just more.

More fun.

More vivid.

More of all the best things. They really do contain my brightest memories of each year.

We spent Wednesday hiking in a winter wonderland of deep powder and partially hidden frozen ponds.

I asked Claire if this made her just like Elsa and she said maybe, but we need a castle. And we should be wearing beautiful dresses.

Cora was rolling her eyes during this conversation.

We stopped in downtown Steamboat Springs to walk around and Cora was really excited to be inside the stores.

As it turns out Cora thinks snow is about as awesome as cake. And by awesome I mean completely terrible.

Luckily there was a cozy condo with a cozy crib and she took a 4 hour nap each day and slept for 12 hours each night. Tolerating vacations is exhausting. While she rebuilt her strength, I prepped dinner (SO happy to be in a functioning kitchen again) and JP took the kids out back to play in the snow.

And by play in the snow, I mean spend 5 hours constructing an awesome sledding course with ramp system and the greatest snow fort every created.

Claire sled for 4 hours without pause.

Landon too.

And JP built this entire snow castle with his bare hands (plus a pocket knife to cut out the door, window, stairs, and slide).

I ventured out every so often to sled a few times and compliment the architect and by 5 p.m. it was nearly dark, Cora was still asleep, and I was drinking wine on the balcony watching the construction and sledding continue below. It was wonderful.

My parents and brother arrived about 7 and my sister and Billy arrived a few minutes after and everyone was eating my dinner and drinking wine and sledding in the dark.

On Thursday we set out on another hike, a much longer one with even better views.

Claire got a few assists, but hiked the majority of it herself.

Thanksgiving dinner was catered and delicious and then there was lots more sledding and some outdoor swimming (heated pool!) and then Cards Against Humanity playing after the kids were in bed.

On Friday we went on a snowmobile tour (Cora went to Steamboat kiddie camp) higher up in the mountains.

Landon rode with my dad and Claire bounced between me and my mom. We stopped at a point where you could see 170 miles into Wyoming. Beyond beautiful. We capped the day off with a trip to the Old Town Hot Springs. JP and I raced down the giant water slides about 20 times (Landon too) and everyone boiled themselves in the outdoor pools. My sister made dinner, the ladies dominated at Cranium, and then JP set a World Record in the Paper Bag Pick-Up Game (sadly, not pictured). Then we woke up at 6 a.m. and packed up the car and drove 950 miles home.

Snow + fun + family. What could be better?!

(Other than avoiding the drive and just living there in the first place.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Heaven, Fireside

I write this curled up in an over-sized chair in front of a fire. Feet up, jammies on, music playing softly in the background- a glass of red wine to my left and JP to my right, in a gorgeous condo in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It's our Thanksgiving vacation and it's wonderful.

~ ~ ~

We left yesterday morning at 7:30 a.m. Leaving the dust and chaos and kitchenlessness of Fort Worth behind, we drove to Colorado Springs, making it in time for an early dinner at maybe the best and most charming Colorado brewpub we've found yet! The Bristol Brewing Company, housed in a schoolhouse from 1916 and offering a fab honey wheat beer, some of the best giant pretzels I've ever had, and a delightful chicken and goat cheese and who knows what else sandwich on homemade focaccia. You should go. They have other things too, like homemade wheat crackers. Cora recommends them.

The car ride went great. And at only 10.5 hours, it was a pretty easy day. We stopped twice, for gas and potty breaks, watched 1 movie, and did a lot of coloring (kids), reading (me), and making Cora giggle (all of us) before arriving in town for dinner at 5. We then went to our hotel- the first hotel room we've ever stayed at with the kids (it's not a vacation unless we have separate bedrooms, I believe this FIRMLY and thus hotel rooms are never an option, but JP REALLY wanted to hike the Manitou Incline again and the full 16 hour drive to Steamboat seemed a little much, so I bent a little, just this once, and ended up in a room with all of my children and the lights off 8:15 p.m.). The big kids were blown away by the luxury of our $75 room- our own bathroom! an ironing board in the closet! a tiny fridge! an "old timey phone!!"

Landon picked it up and couldn't figure out why it made noise when he hadn't pressed any buttons and I realized he's never heard a dial tone before. Crazy. We got a crib set up and as soon as Cora saw it she tried to climb in. I know I've said this, but she is seriously the best baby. She was so good in the car- when the kids were watching their movie (Home Alone 2; after the roaring success that was last year's car trip purchase of Home Alone 1), she would laugh every time they laughed, even though she can't see the screen and had no idea what was going on- like huge rolling belly laughs and it was so fabulous we all kept laughing harder.

It was the most joyful car ride I've ever been a part of. And then she was so good at the restaurant, eating her food and smiling at all the men nearby, and then so good at the hotel- splashing in the bathtub while the big kids went to the indoor pool with JP, and then practically begging to be put in her crib in the corner, falling asleep instantly, and not moving or making a sound until 12 hours later, despite the big kids coming in from the pool and all of us getting ready for bed 2 feet away. She's a freaking miracle.

We woke up early, which was fine since we went to bed at the same time as the 4-year-old, ate breakfast and headed to the Manitou Incline. Except I had to google it to get the address and found out it was closed! For many months. And reopening on December 1st, six days away! JP was crushed. I googled another hike and we headed to Cheyenne Canyon instead. It was really kind of a blessing; I don't know what I would have done with the kids one-quarter way up the stairs in the freezing cold and heavy snowfall while JP ran up 2,000 vertical feet. And I was getting worried about the rest of our drive up to Steamboat Springs in increasingly bad road conditions, so we did a short hike around Cheyenne and pressed on. But not before JP held all the children and jumped over something.

I love that picture, it captures almost all of JP's favorite things in the world, with the exception of me, swimming, and dessert buffets.

We only had another 200 miles to go, which should take about 3 hours on the highways, but the roads were a mess and it was 5 hours of white knuckle 15 mph hairpin turns instead. Fun! Luckily JP is an incredibly good and calm driver, who just makes his way along, never seeming stressed or tired or possessing of a split headache and/or in need of a glass of wine. Those things are all just me. The kids were SO good- quiet and happy as always, and I would just close my eyes and/or climb into the 2nd row to play with Cora and let him know each time we ticked off another 10 miles. I was so thankful for the four wheel drive car we bought this summer; there is absolutely no way my Highlander would have made it, and since I still have nightmares about the number of times we about blew off the road this past February, I have never ever begrudged the new car payment.

But we made it! In a car encrusted with a layer ice packed snow that JP had to hack at in order to open the back door to let the kids out.

Steamboat is a new ski town for us, so that's been really fun for JP and me. The condo belongs to one of my family's closest friends (they're actually Landon's god parents) and my parents, brother, sister and Billy are all joining us here tomorrow. We have 7 bedrooms to share between us, so it is going to be real vacation where everyone gets to sleep in their own beds. After we arrived and kissed the snowy ground we got to walk on, we piled back in the car (ugh) to get groceries and sleds and then walked around to the back of the condo to get a little energy out. And trudging through deep powder will do that.

As always, Cora was skeptical, but good natured.

She was not so sure about the sledding, so after about 15 minutes, we came back inside where I got to cook dinner! From scratch and without using a microwave at ALL! Seriously, so exciting. Usually on vacation we eat out for dinner because that's what makes it a vacation for me too, but not this time. All homemade meals all the time baby!

Can we go inside now?

The big kids stayed out back by the ski lifts with JP for nearly an hour in what looked like a blizzard to dig out a fast sledding race track. I could hear them laughing and screaming from the back porch and it made me smile. Cora and I were dancing to Taylor Swift in the kitchen, occasionally popping our heads outside to make sure everyone was still accounted for, and JP and the big kids were having a blast getting soaking wet and freezing cold in a snow drift.

There are so many vacations I want to take with the kids and so very many places I want to see, but there is really nothing like a Colorado vacation for our family. It just suits us and I can't wait to wake up and explore more tomorrow!