Thursday, January 29, 2015

Micro-Blogging: Cora and Just Exactly This

Each of these could and probably should be their own posts, but that never seems to happen these days, so:

Cora is a Toddler and Toddlers are the Best.

New tricks include clapping anytime, anywhere you say "Yay!". Doesn't matter if the yay is for her, if she hears it coming from any direction she stops what she's doing and claps. It is so adorable that all four of us say "yay" all the time now. 


She also gives hugs. If you crouch down and hold out your arms, she runs and squeals and throws open her arms and attacks you. The momentum she gains is always a little shocking. This trick is even better than the claps.


~ ~ ~
Third Babies Are Also the Best


I occasionally have pangs at night when I think of how fast Cora's babyhood went by and how little I already seem to remember it. When I pointed this out to JP, he turned and said, "we can't keep having babies just because you think you can't remember their babyhoods" and while I'm not sure why not, it did make me feel better because I still have so much sadness and regret inside of me regarding Landon's first year, that it's actually a comfort to realize that Cora's is already blurring out the way his did, and I KNOW we loved and savored just about every single second of hers.

I also occasionally wonder if we spent enough solo time with Cora, but then I remember that part of the reason her babyhood was so great, besides her general awesomeness, was because we got to watch the big kids love on her so much.  She was basically the center of four people's adoration and she's more spoiled than first baby because of it.  And even now, it is heart-bursting to get to see the enthusiastic inclusion of Cora in her big siblings' lives each day. I try not to take it for granted.


On Tuesday night Cora had a bad cold and just wasn't feeling well and when we got home she kind of dissolved and began crying and sobbing and screaming and maybe tantrumming? It was hard to tell, but she clearly didn't feel good and was just as clearly VERY upset about it. As the crying/screaming jag got going in full force, Claire yelled out, "I can make it better!" and grabbed Cora's favorite book and began reciting, "A COW SAYS MOOOOOO" at the top of her lungs. She made her way to my shoulder while I struggled to hold a flailing screamy tornado, and continued reciting the whole book from memory at top volume. Landon ran and brought Cora's favorite bath toys and blankie and I felt my heart grow three sizes above the din and chaos.

With one baby your whole world is the screaming baby, but with three, it gets divided into two happy helpful parts and one screamy part and the happy part wins. Especially because by baby #3 you've learned that sometimes the only thing you can do is give yourself a break, so I put her in her crib/safe place and closed her door and set a timer for 10 minutes. In 2 the room was silent and I raced back in to find her fast asleep. It was a victory for everyone, especially poor Cora.


On Wednesday she was back to being the center of all joy in the house and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

~ ~ ~
Wanting Just This

This is the blog post I most want to write each night, but it's so simple and potentially smug sounding that it keeps not happening. But life is really good right now and I think that's part of why I'm writing less. I have a job that is challenging and prestigious enough that it doesn't hurt my career to hang out on this step a (long) while. I have discovered hobbies and a life and the joys of not being addicted to the false sense of importance and urgency that comes from a blackberry. At this point, I'm far more interested in becoming a certified yoga teacher than going back to the law firm and the me of a year ago, and definitely the me of three years ago, finds that shocking and maybe even a little disappointing. I struggle with that a bit sometimes, a feeling that I should want to move forward more than I do. But then I come home and make big dinners and play with the kids and go to yoga and snuggle on the couch watching The Wire with JP and still get a full night's sleep and think fuck the ladder, this life is amazing, I don't need to do/gain/earn/achieve more of anything, and that's a strange and new thing for me to think.

JP's business is going great, though another big chain swim school just opened a location in Fort Worth. That's a concern to him- he's built up a great reputation and customer base here and it's hard to think of that being leached away.  But as we've discussed, the goal was never to grow any more than he has. We have nights and weekends and flexibility in our life and I'm fiercely protective of all three. He also has a line of swim products he's developing, so now maybe he can just maintain his smaller practice and focus on the patents and manufacturing (my playroom floor is stacked with kickboard prototypes from China, so that's new) and marketing. His original goal was to save up to open a permanent location here in Fort Worth, but I love that he's restricted to only having lessons between 2-7 on M-F now (except in summer, but I can handle it for 2 months). He loves that he gets to work out, run errands, go to doctor appointments, and eat lunch with Landon at school each Friday, and I love all those things too. Our lives have a flexibility I never would have imagined and it is so awesome for us individually, for us together, and for our kids/family as a whole. I don't want more- we have enough of what's necessary and extra of the intangibles we didn't know we needed, and I just want more of this.

After a year with some challenges we'd never faced before, we're back on the even keel that is a fundamental, foundational part of who we are and who I am.  I don't know how to put it in words, but every night I lie in bed, tucked tightly in his arms while he falls asleep in his five seconds and I swim around in my mind for an hour and I know that no matter where my musings go, anytime I say I love you, he'll squeeze me and mumble it back, and I lay there and know that I've never been so wonderfully happy and perfectly peaceful as I am right now, and all I want is more of exactly this.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Joy of the Dragons

This past weekend dawned clear and blue with highs in the 60's. We kicked the kids outside at the earliest opportunity and didn't hear from them again until lunch. It was glorious for all. I went to yoga both days, JP swam, Landon didn't have a basketball game because his coach was out of town, Cora took marathon naps, and Claire delighted in being around all her family members all of the time.


On Saturday our big adventure was going to our local Central Market (a fancy version of HEB that I always forget we have because it's a few miles from the grocery store we usually go to and I prefer to drive 10 miles per day or less) to pick out something to grill for dinner and it was wonderful- both the trip and the grilling, and I delighted in once again having something in my pantry with an HEB label.


On Sunday we fulfilled our promise to the kids to go to the rodeo. Both JP and I hate crowds and hassles and paying for parking (paying for much of anything entertainment-wise), so the rodeo is very much not our scene, but we were pretty sure the magic of childhood lay inside $4/kid rides in brightly painted death traps, so off we went. Plus, I really like funnel cakes and any reason to put Cora in her bright pink cowboy boots.


After a failed attempt at a group picture, we loaded up and headed a couple miles up the road. We didn't have tickets to the actual stock show this year, and we didn't even make it to the area with the show animals because Cora slept too late and the sun was setting and the temperature dropped to freezing, so I think we really only went to a fair, but the kids LOVED it. And JP and I felt a bit of magic ourselves.


Mostly because I tried ribbon fries for the first time and ate the whole plate myself.


Magic indeed.


Claire made enormous strides in her carnival riding abilities. We last went to the rodeo in 2013 when she was a pig-tailed two-year-old and I wasn't even pregnant with Cora yet. She loved marching around the grounds with her pink boots and pink purse, but endured severe emotional and mental trauma on the dragon ride.


We skipped last year because we had a tiny baby (excuses! like we didn't drag that tiny baby all the heck elsewhere in town), and this year, after a false start or two and a warm-up ride on a sparkly jeep with Landon as co-pilot, Claire marched right up to the same trauma-inducing dragon and ROCKED it, resulting in my very favorite picture of the day.


When I pulled that pic of my camera last night and saw the joy and yes, magic, on her face, I had a small epiphany about Disney World. I've never been and have never had any desire to go- it looks so expensive and overwhelming and I hate when you have to research lots of things just to do a should-be-relaxing vacation properly, but oh dammit, we kind of have to go someday don't we? I mean LOOK at this face?


Landon, who finds joy in all things, even the most mundane, nearly vibrated with excitement the whole time we were there. He rode on two big kid rides and got to race JP down the giant slide just like last time, though this year, he won!


It was a really fun afternoon. Next year Cora won't be taking 4 hour naps and we'll be able to stay longer- and she'll be big enough to ride on and be scarred by her very own brightly colored dragon!  Magical childhood memories for all!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Angels and Demons and Cora

What do third babies play with?


Big knives and razor blades of course.


Cora seems like quite the big kid these days.  I had a minor freak out on Sunday that she wasn't a baby anymore and all these babyish things were gone forever and why must time more forward, etc. and then she ran into my arms when I was crouching down on the floor and she gave me the biggest hug- a real, fierce, purposeful hug!- and I remembered, for the one millionth time, that toddlers are kind of my favorite.


On Monday night the kids were playing Zingo and Cora wanted very much to play too.  Actually, I think she had assumed she already was playing.


But to make it Zingo-official, Landon set up up with a real board and playing pieces and Claire allowed it because she was pretty sure Cora wouldn't win.


It was adorable.  Having multiple kids is the best.  And not just because I didn't really want to play Zingo. 


Also on Monday (sorry, it's late and I just can't with the reorganizing all the blogger pictures; we discovered The Wire and Amazon Prime a week ago and it's making us very tired), Claire started her swim lessons.  Because it was a federal holiday (hooray!), I was dressed in civilian clothes and didn't object to lingering around JP's humid pool deck to watch for a bit. 


Cora paid particularly close attention to the instructor.


I got distracted by the hot coach across the way.


Landon is in a class at the same time as Claire and it is the best thing ever to drop them at the curb of the swim center and know that JP will be there, coaching Landon and supervising Claire, and then he will bring them both home.  It's almost enough to make me like after school activities.


Except Cora gets really bored when the big kids aren't around and was forced to settle for me and my cooking as entertainment.  She was not amused by my vegetable chopping process.  She quite liked the spaghetti though.


Earlier in the day (still on Monday; days off work are the best), we took a family walk/bike ride to our favorite park.  Cora went down the super big kid slide for the first time and was super intimidated by the experience.


Love that crazy baby girl.  That picture pretty well captures her approach to life: arms up, smile on, let's DO this!


Except when she's mad at me because it's 5:15 p.m. and I've only fed her two dinners while in the process of making the one she'll eat with the rest of the family and daddy isn't here and teeth are growing and everything is THE WORST and can toddlers get colic?  Because Cora now has it from 5:15 until the moment JP drives up in the driveway.  He's not even in the house and Cora perks up a room away from anywhere that could tell her he's on the property and looks at me like, well mom, the screaming's been fun, thanks, and runs to the nearest door to squeal and smile for her dad while I pour my second glass of wine and skip yoga.


I was joking with JP that she might be possessed by a demon for that one hour when she ran into the room holding a freshly decapitated baby doll and smiling and I thought, well, maybe I'm on to something.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Victory In Our Time

I have found the perfect pair of jeans. Real jeans, not just my beloved Old Navy Rockstar jeggings, which are still wonderful, particularly for $15 and everyone should have a pair, but they need to be washed too often to keep their shape (I find mine get baggy at the knees after one wearing and it annoys me). So after many an online order and in-store try on experience (and I HAAAATE trying on jeans; I don't know why, but I hate trying on jeans more than anything in the world and it is why I never have any that fit me), I have found them.


The Banana Republic Skinny Jean. Indigo. Size 25/0r. The only thing that would be better is if they came in longs, but Banana doesn't make longs for jeans below a size 4 which doesn't make any sense because tall people can have small waists/hips and "long" just means they throw 3 inches onto the inseam and why can't you do that on a size 0? And it's not like they're out of stock, they just don't make them. But it doesn't matter- short just means I don't need to cuff them with heels or flats and they're 40% if you order online and $58 isn't too bad for jeans that make you smile inside when you put them on. (Also, such is the power of modeling that I see that picture and think I want the whole outfit, but then I look closer and realize her blazer has a popped collar which is ridiculous and those shoes are ugly and the sweater is way chunkier than I like to wear, and yet still, my eyes are saying "you need all of those things!". Go marketing.).

So that was today's victory. That and only buying the jeans and not anything else my eyes got confused about wanting. I've been slowly weeding through my closet. I did a big clean out when I went back to work after having Cora. I took out everything that didn't fit. Knowing I wasn't getting pregnant again and didn't need the transitional clothes made it easier to say goodbye to things that would have annoyed me to re-buy in the future. Then I went back through and pulled out everything I hadn't worn since we moved here. That was a bit more painful. I have some beautiful clothes that I wore a lot at the firm and just never do at the SEC. Different culture, different version of me I guess, but while my closet is generous for a 1940's house, there is definitely no room for something I last wore in 2011. I was back at my pre-pregnancy weight when my maternity leave ended, so that also helped with the clean out- I felt like I was back to myself and would pretty much stay there.

But then I kept going to barre and discovered yoga and my body has changed again. I'm roughly the same weight, maybe a few pounds lighter, but I'm leaner and stronger and suddenly nothing that was supposed to be fitted fit at all. I'm a 0 now, full stop, which has never been true before, and the only things I owned that fit were workout leggings and a bunch of shift dresses. Luckily both are very much in style and easy to obtain, but then it got freezing and shift dresses and tights are no match for 30 degrees in a government office that inexplicably turns the A/C (A/C!!) on midday and I've been searching for pants ever since. Why can't I find work pants that I can wear with closed-toed boots? I have found lots of ankle pants and skinny pants, I even bought two pairs that will look great with heels and flats in the spring, but the whole point was that I was FREEZING and I need to be able to wear my closed toe low heel booties under the pants and you can't do that with skinnies. What do people wear in cold climates? Is there a magical way to wear ankle pants with boots or booties that I don't know about yet? Do stores up north sell more varieties of pants than the ones down south? It's been a genuine mystery to me for weeks. I actually just started wearing jeans to work with my tall boots and when no one said anything I kept doing it. But I only had one pair of jeans, so that wasn't a perfect solution either. But now I don't need one because this is Texas and it's back up to 68 today and Landon's running around in shorts and a sleeveless basketball shirt and suddenly the whole Great Pants Hunt of 2015 feels less urgent and the houndstooth skinny ankle pants I saw at Banana seem a lot less frivolous and a lot more necessary.

Speaking of clothes, I went to the mall for the first time in forever this morning (in search of the jeans/pants) and saw the Sunshine collection at Gymboree and nearly died. Cora needs ALL of those things. It was good I didn't have a coupon and thus forced myself to move on. But look at this:


It says "you are my sunshine" and SHE IS! There's a ton of other adorable stuff too. I need it to go on sale asap. Unfortunately Cora's getting closer to seasonally syncing up with Claire's old clothes- not that I don't still love most of Claire's old clothes, but it was fun to have the excuse to buy new things when they were off by 6 months (Claire was a June baby; Cora's November). The Sunshine collection may have to be a final fling.

And finally, back to me and while we're on the topic of clothes fitting, I asked my local moms facebook page for a good place to get a bra fitting (I know mine don't fit, mostly because they're 3 years old and all stretched out, but also because maybe they just never fit) and someone linked to this youtube video, and even though the woman doing it takes 5x too long to convey the basic essential information it was still tremendously helpful, as were the links she put in the description at the bottom. Just like she accused, I am TOTALLY wearing the wrong size bra. Like way wrong (36C corrected to 32D, what?!). And I ordered one in the right size from Nordstrom (after Christmas sale!) and it's amazing! A whole new world has opened up before me. So now I have one pair of jeans and one bra that fits. Oh, and shoes, because they always do. Not quite work appropriate yet, but it's a start.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Food Glorious Food

Another week another menu!

Last week took a lot out of me. I was SO out of practice for a whole 5 days of working and school pick-ups and doing all the things. By the time Friday rolled around Christmas break and the days of lounging in bed with JP till 9, going to yoga at noon, and lounging about the house reading about time traveling Highlanders and determining the perfect placement for my latest Homegoods purchases felt like eons ago.

~ ~ ~

I wrote the above on Sunday and apparently it took so much out of me that it's taken me until Wednesday to pick it back up, but I'm watching Top Chef as I type, so maybe my subconscious was just waiting until the proper thematic pinnacle could be achieved.

I was going to write about food and our menu. I am still loving doing all the cooking and talking to the kids while I do it. We'll go back in time a bit:

Sunday: Black Bean Spinach enchiladas (I think this might be my #1 favorite recipe; we all love it and Cora ate more than Landon and Claire combined; you should go make them), cilantro lime rice.
Monday: Chicken lasagna (this lasagna roll-up recipe morphed into lasagna because I didn't feel like rolling up the noodles, with PW's tomato cream sauce on top).
Tuesday: Teriyaki chicken meatballs (from Costco), simmered in TJ's soyaki sauce, with broccoli thrown in at the end; all over brown rice.
Wednesday: Pasta with this Tomato Sauce. JP wanted something simple and I didn't want to open a jarred sauce yet in my kitchen.
Thursday: Tacos, Mexican Rice (I love this rice).
Friday: TBD. Landon now has basketball practice on Friday nights and it's becoming tradition for me to feed the kids before, play with the girls for 90 minutes (kids' yoga video, a bath, and fingernail painting has been the agenda so far), and then have JP pick up Thai food on the way back in for us to eat on the couch with a bottle of wine after we tuck the wee ones in bed. I see no reason to deviate from that past practice.

~ ~ ~

Owning a small business in a smallish town makes JP a minor celebrity who gets free stuff a lot. It's awesome- not necessarily because of the free stuff, but because he's really part of our community and it seems like everyone knows him. Or knows of him. For the first time in our 13+ years together he's the one who knows people when we walk in a room (or store, or restaurant, or wherever) and I love it. I also love that one of the families he coaches owns the best donut shop in town and sends him home with boxes of them all the time. I also kind of hate it, but tonight I was in a donut frame of mind and inhaled a cinnamon sugar twist 5 minutes before skipping dinner to run out the door for barre. You think a giant twisty donut might not sit well during class, but I think it gave me that extra burst of energy to lift my leg up long after it lost all feeling. And then I got home and ate a glazed cinnamon twist in celebration. So, for full disclosure, that was my actual dinner tonight, not the more well-rounded meal I fed my family above.

~ ~ ~

Cora was home sick today. She had some tummy trouble yesterday (7 dirty diapers in 2 hours; maybe a new daycare record?), so she had to stay home for 24 hours to recover. Here's our little invalid out shopping with daddy. As his text to me stated, "best day ever!".


She woke up this morning bright eyed and bushy tailed and ran around the house clapping her hands over her head and screaming in joy. Good thing she was home recovering.


Luckily in our new life, we can roll with faux sick days. JP took her along on his errands this morning and then responded to emails while sitting on the floor in the playroom while Cora brought him all the food and big kid toys she couldn't figure out how to play with without her big sibs present. (JP said she kept wandering around the house looking for them; poor baby has pretty much never been alone). She napped, he worked more, and then I came home to relieve him when he went to the pool at 3 to coach. Cora found the whole day to be completely fantastic and didn't burden us with a single tummy-troubled diaper. Basically, she's learned the art of skipping school early.

~ ~ ~

Claire put together this outfit on Saturday and wore it while cheering on her brother's basketball game and running our errands at Costco and Target. Our rainbow girl garnered smiles wherever we went, which is pretty wonderfully typical for the Bear.


She carried it off so well I almost wondered how I could incorporate rainbow tutus into my everyday wardrobe. Almost.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Cooking All The Things

Since our kitchen was completed the weekend before Christmas I've cooked every meal for every day we've been at home and it has been glorious. JP and the kids may miss their daily Easy Mac ("Mommy, can we have that pasta that's in the cup again? I liked that one!"), but I am loving this using of pots and pans and fire and water. And JP bought me a very nice knife for Christmas, because he knows I hate making separate vegetable side dishes and thus have a burning need to dice at least four vegetables for every meal, so I am also working on my knife skills. Someday I will want to eat out again, but I have our menu planned for at least the next three weeks.

Here's a few of the favorite recipes I've made so far, along with a few new ones I've discovered.


On New Year's Day we did a brunch with the kids and I made this Cheesy Amish Breakfast Casserole with fresh berries, cheater Pilsbury cinnamon rolls that were more delicious than I remembered, and mimosas (faux for the kids - OJ and sprite, which JP also preferred, so I was forced to have about 6 mimosas all by myself, a hardship I stoicly endured). The casserole was REALLY good, definitely my new favorite in the breakfast category. But with four pounds of cheese, how could it not be?

That night we had our oven jambalaya, and then the rest of break is a hazy and happy blur, but I know I made my beloved Fiesta Quinoa Bake and JP's favorite Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce at some point. Oh and Giada's Chicken Stew - the broth is so good and it's a hearty soup that isn't creamy.

The menu for this week involves a few new recipes:

Sunday: Crock Pot Pork Tenderloin with Orzo with Parmesan and Peas. SO good. Both of them! I will definitely make both again, but the orzo was particularly good and would be great paired with chicken or just as a meal by itself.

Monday: Cheeseburger Soup. This was also SO good! I had to get over the weird name; all I could think about was the soggy bread of a cheeseburger dumped in soup, but the flavor of the broth with all the veggies was wonderful. We don't eat much red meat, so it was nice to have a new way to use one of our packets of the organic ground beef you can buy and freeze from Costco that wasn't tacos or chili (particularly since I don't really like beef tacos and my favorite chili recipe involves chicken). Plus, you get to make a roux! That always makes me feel very accomplished.

Tuesday: Verde Chicken Tacos. I took a few chicken breasts and put them in the crockpot with a jar of Trader Joe's verde salsa (LOVE that stuff) on low for 8 hours. When I got home I shredded it, turned the crockpot up to hi and added another halfish jar of salsa and about 3 ounces of cream cheese (trust me). It got all verde creamy and delish while I warmed some refried black beans and chopped up lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado, and then we served it all on tostadas or tortillas. So good! I rolled up the leftovers in tortillas, brushed them with a little olive oil, and put them in the fridge to bake on Thursday.

This all came about because I got home this evening and Cora was fussy and exhausted from being a Little Toddler all day at school (she just graduated from the baby classroom; she eats at a tiny table in a tiny chair with five other toddlers just like they're real people and sleeps on a nap mat instead of a crib; I'm ignoring all of it, but she is VERY excited about her advancement to the big kid side of things) and I didn't want to take the step of making my homemade white enchilada sauce. One roux is enough for the week everyone goes back to school/work.


still a baby

Wednesday: Leftover soup or pork, whichever individuals prefer. And a new big loaf of ciabatta bread for JP so he can find the soup to be properly filling.

Thursday: Verde Chicken Taquitos with assorted toppings.

Friday: Gnocchi with Vodka Sauce (TJ's gnocchi with this Vodka Sauce recipe)

Saturday: maybe I will finally let JP order Thai again? He's going through withdrawals.

Anyone else have any new recipe they've tried and love? I'm always looking for new ones!

(Also, is anyone else obsessed with Kresley Cole's Arcana Chronicles? Book 3, which I've been waiting for for over a YEAR, came out today and I just finished- loved it, though not as much as the first two in the series. Anxiously awaiting the promised book 4; why can't she write faster?)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The First Four Days

I am so sad our break is ending.  I'm sad every year, but as I watch Cora delightedly toddle back and forth between the four of us- she's so fun and growing so fast!, I'm particularly loathe to return to reality. I so love time when it's just the five of us together doing all of the things and none of the things all in the same day.  Lots and lots of time for the kids to just play and JP and I to do our own thing and occasionally eavesdrop and chuckle under our breath at whatever game they've created or serious topic they're discussing.  I think maybe my favorite thing in the world is watching them play together.


the kids are in there somewhere

In answer to a reader question from last week, we don't really do electronics- we don't own an ipad or any video games, the kids aren't allowed to play on our phones, and our one TV is for JP and I to watch after they go to bed (and occasionally for them to turn on a weekend morning when Cora decides to sleep past 8 and JP and I decide to go back to bed), and while I don't necessarily think electronics are bad, I am thankful everyday they aren't a part of our kids' lives.  At least not yet. They're only 7, 4, and 1- there's plenty of time for them to become obsessed with their phones (or whatever exists by the time we let them have one), and I think it's been good that they're unplugged for now. I think it's subtly taught them patience and how to pass time just doing nothing- like waiting for a doctor's appointment or table at a restaurant, something I think is a necessary life skill and one that seems to be lost, including by me, as I inevitably start to reach for my phone when waiting in line somewhere. And I think it makes their play more inclusive and creative.  While the fact that they don't fight is in part just who they are, I think it's aided by the fact that they spend so much time coming up with things to do together each day.  So while I'm sure electronics will worm their way into our lives eventually, and that will be fine- JP grew up watching TV and playing video games every waking hour he wasn't at school or in practice and he turned out great (though interestingly, he's far more anti-electronics than I am), I do love that for now, Landon just has a blank look on his face when our contractor asked him if he loved Minecraft.


So far this year we've baked and decorated our (very belated) Christmas sugar cookies, and since it wasn't Christmas any more, I used the opportunity to buy some new cookie cutter shapes. A high-heeled shoe was among them.



Cora tried a cookie, and after initially being very concerned when the icing came off on her fingers, she soon decided it was all DELICIOUS and I was relieved I wouldn't have to question her origins again.


After eating my traditional way-too-many cookies and feeling sick and going back for more, Claire trounced me in pick-up sticks. Is it her tiny hands?  Is it that I was never meant to be the surgeon I used to think I wanted to be? Or was it the sugar crash overwhelming me? After losing 4 out of 5 games, I'm still not sure.


Landon had basketball practice on Friday (ugh, I forced myself to sign him up again; he loved it last year and I have got to get over my dislike of all after school activities that don't involve me just dropping Landon off in the parking lot of a pool where JP coaches, and even those days aren't my favorite, and someday we have GOT to actually sign Claire up for something, but she loves coming home with me as much as I love not taking her anywhere, so a bilingual-musical-sports-star she is not, yet), so JP took him and I stayed home with the girls.  I asked Claire what she wanted to do and she said yoga, painting fingernails, and a bath.  So that is exactly what we did, with Cora's help of course.


Halfway through her yoga video, she kicked back on the mat, crossed her hands under her head and said, "Mommy, I'm just going to watch these people do the yoga for a while."


After yoga and before the fingernail painting, and free from certain anti-Taylor Swift male personages in the house, we decided to memorize the new Taylor Swift album.  But then we discovered this mashup of "Style" and "Blank Space" (our VERY favorite song that we listen to on repeat in the car between her school and Landon's when we have to switch to something non-Swifty) and we are obsessed.  After our 3rd listen, Claire said, "Mom, I just want to listen to this 2... no 5... no maybe 12 more times."  An unabashed love of Top 40 pop radio and a boundless endurance for repeat favorites?  That's my girl!


Yesterday the sun finally appeared, so we got to play outside for a bit.  Cora sat in Landon's old cozy coupe and watched the action while Landon practiced basketball, JP practiced his long jump (yeah I don't know, but I'm pretty sure he's measuring his jump here), and Claire tooled around on an old tricycle in her cowboy boots. Just a typical Saturday morning.



I ran out to get some things to make for the teacher's belated holiday gifts (the kitchen reno is to blame for all the belatedness) and then we made blizzard party mix, this year without the pinterest-deviltry of the Santa hats.


But I did drizzle a bunch of dark chocolate over one of the batches, so that's fancy. I wrapped them up in big glass jars and ribbon and heartfelt "thank you for loving and caring for our children" Christmas cards, to be delivered tomorrow. Who doesn't like the holidays to last a little longer, right?


I've gone to yoga and/or barre every day of this break and I am so sad to lose my perfect 12:00 p.m. workout time on Monday. At that time, Cora's asleep, the big kids are deep in some game or another, JP does his swim school work, and I can slip away for my time without missing much at all. I've loved it. I'll miss it. I like working, but there's no doubt that not working is way better, though it is wonderful to know I'm returning to a job where I get to do things like take off from Dec. 19 - Jan. 4. It's like a tiny maternity leave without a pregnancy or a newborn, and with presents, cookies, and all my favorite holiday traditions smashed in. I already can't wait until next year!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best Week Ever

Remember when that was a show on VH1?  Remember when there were things you would actually watch on VH1?  I barely do, but sometime during the day yesterday the graphics and tagline of that show kept running through my head.  I LOVE the week between Christmas and New Year's.  Ever since a huge case of mine disappeared in December of 2011 and I got to take that whole week off work and JP was in school so he was home and Claire was about 18 months and just old enough to really start playing with Landon, and JP and I got to do things like sit together on the couch and talk and snuggle and just BE in the daylight while the kids were AWAKE and a whole new world felt like it was opening up before us.

Fast-forward 3 years later and I've never again worked on this most wonderful of weeks.  It was this week that we hiked all of Austin in 2011, played in a castle and everyone else in 2012, and dragged an infant to all the parks and tourist attractions in Fort Worth in 2013.  Both JP and I always managed to be off, which takes being home with the kids for 9 days from potentially yelly and cabin-fever-inducing to free-wheeling and awesome.  Errands can be run, workouts can happen, and dinner can easily be made, and in the middle there is tons of playing and giggling and adventures and walks and games and sometimes just he and I standing together in a room smiling while we listen to the kids laugh and make up games in another.  It is the best week.


I found a new yoga studio- it's on the 2nd story of a building on the Trinity River and it's so peaceful to watch the water flow past and know those same droplets will end up in Lake Livingston and could flow right by my parents' house.  I've gone every day since we got back on the 27th.  Also, in a fit of reorganizing and redecorating inspired by the new kitchen, I've been to Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Homegoods, and Ross about 4 times and have updated the living room area.  I still need a chair for the corner and I'm not completely certain about my bargain side table, but I do love the updated look.

New art, mantle decor, and chest of drawers

Which table do we like better?

the bar stools are here!

As we settle in to the new kitchen, I realized we didn't have a good junk drawer or space to put all the things you inevitably set down on the kitchen counter when you walk in the door, so I moved the skinny chest of drawers to a new space and it now holds all the desk supplies, mailing supplies, thank you notes, and other odds and ends.  The bowl on top is for JP's wallet and keys and it's been working so well.  It was that move that inspired the rest of the shopping that brought me my beautiful new silver chest in the living room (housing art supplies and extra copies of photos and frames).  Homegoods is the best.

Relocated hutch on right; filled with all the things that I forgot we used to keep in an extra kitchen drawer

New chest! I love it, and I love that party and art supplies now have a home; 
still in search of a new non-wicker patterned chair.

We've been to the zoo, JP has gone to swim practice every morning, the kids spend a lot of time pushing a squealing Corabunny around the house on her new ride-on-toy, and we're going to belatedly do sugar cookies tomorrow.

 Once again the only people at the zoo



I've had many moments in the past few weeks where I've been deeply sad at getting increasingly close to not having a baby in the house anymore.  That this was our last Christmas with a baby.  That footie pj's and joyous baby claps and those soft heavy sighs a baby makes when they rest their head on your shoulder just before bed... that all of that was going to be a memory.  I've never felt this way before and the toddler years are my very favorite, so I know I have much to look forward to, but I just couldn't shake it.  I genuinely want to freeze Cora or at least reallly slow her down and I feel a little overwhelmed at times just how quickly her babyhood is flying by.  I think it's having the big kids around- the more trying aspects of having a baby are so diluted by having other kids to focus on and the awesome aspects seem magnified a hundred fold when you have three other people in the house so delighted by them.  And because we have big kids, we are out doing fun things all the time that you would never do if you just had a 13-month-old in December (like going to the zoo in 35-degree weather), but the big kids had a blast and Cora has fun and we're out of the house and it would really be best if she could just stay our walking, babbling, clapping 1-year-old mascot forever.  Pretty please.


But then yesterday I was watching her really play with Landon and Claire.  L&C had built a fort with their PBK chairs and new sleeping bags and Cora's slide was the exit ramp and Cora was going down it and screaming in joy and then crawling into their tent and sitting up, looking SO proud to be part of this very official Big Kid Game, and I remembered that this is fun too.  That 18 months is my favorite, as is 2 and 3, and all the kid years we've seen so far.  That for over an hour JP and I did our own thing while occasionally popping a head in the other room to make sure Cora hadn't wandered off, but no, there she was, in the middle of it all and having a glorious time.


Three kids is a party.  Mildly chaotic, but truly so much fun to be part of.  Especially when you can opt for a supervisory part while you lounge on the couch reading a book about romantic time traveling Druid Scottish Highlanders from the 16th century.

Alright time to google a fake New Year's Eve countdown for the kids before JP and I can light some candles, pop the champagne, and get on with our own fancy NYE Quartino night- the meat and cheese and dark chocolate desserts await!  Wishing you all a fun and safe farewell to 2014 and a fabulous 2015!