Monday, December 11, 2017

Adulting through Syrup and Sugar and All the Feelings

I have to work tonight because I have testimony tomorrow, so this will be short but it will bother me the whole time I'm working that I haven't updated the blog in too many days, so I'll pretend there are more hours in the evening than there will actually turn out to be.

at least someone is excited

[I tried to do the same thing last night and managed to only write out our meals for the week before giving up on the post, doing any real work, OR watching more of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel which is an AMAZING show and instead somehow wasted two hours before going to bed at 11:20 p.m. with nothing accomplished. I can't explain it. I did take a bath, but it was not 2 hours long. The hours between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. are a black hole of mystery to me these days.]

Kicking off this update I should share that last Thursday, the morning after I published the last post, began with Landon slamming open my door (can you slam open a door? Because that's what was happening) to yell at me for not purchasing popsicle sticks he apparently needed for school but never told me about. The morning devolved from there and ended with James losing his temper and driving Landon to school in shorts and short-sleeves on a 24-degree morning with the windows down because 10-year-olds have too many emotions and too few survival instincts and goddammit it was a rough morning. A morning I capped off by accidentally TAKING A SLEEPING PILL instead of the migraine medicine I badly needed after my 20 minutes of tweenage interaction.

A sleeping pill. At 8:15 a.m. On a morning I had to work.

The day did not go great. I moved as if I was living inside a vat of invisible syrup. This syrup also consumed my brain. Everything still worked, just slowly. Slowly and with stickiness. I was talking to a colleague at 3:30 and I literally felt the veil lift and the syrup drain away. Turns out, sleeping pills are set to last about 7 hours. Seems right and excellent timing since I had to get some freaking work done and then teach a barre class at 5:30. I had been talking to a friend earlier in the day who had seen Landon at school and was saying what an awesome kid he was and so smart and sweet and caring and I nearly yelled, "do you want him?! For a small re-homing fee he comes fully vaccinated and with many accessories." But I didn't, because my mouth was full of syrup and I couldn't form the words fast enough to seal the deal.

On Friday morning James had a counseling appointment and was like GOOD we can talk about something that isn't my parents. I was like, can you ask your doctor if Landon is a sociopath? Because every time he finally breaks me into pieces, like after hours of me being calm and reasonable and strong he finally just makes me cry in frustration and sadness because he's so randomly hellbent on ruining the day or whatever we're doing, so when I finally just cry, he fucking smiles and then skips out of the room like he's accomplished a great thing and now has joy in his heart and will then come back 5 minutes later being all normal and Landon-y and want to chat about what we're doing later that day and can we maybe get ice cream and I just stare at him with wide, broken, wet eyes and wonder where it all went wrong and if we should be worried he'll one day be on dateline.

James called me immediately following the appointment and opened with, "The good news is Landon's not a sociopath and he doesn't need therapy. The bad news is he's 10, he's acting like he's 10, and it's going to get worse and we just have to be better adults and change our behaviors because he is literally incapable of changing his right now."

So we're going to be better adults. We do not give orders. We give suggestions. We let him make his own decisions (even when they're dumb). We give him room to change his mind to a better one by not making him double-down on the bad choice in the face of our opposition. "It's 24-degrees outside. You might want to wear pants. Oh, you don't? Okay." We do not give cause/effect consequences when he's upset because his brain is no longer functioning and it's basically extortion; he cannot course-correct in that mode and you just have to leave. Don't make him make choices he will regret. Don't voice consequences you'll regret. Just leave. "It looks like you're getting upset. Yelling is not going to help, but I'd be happy to talk to you about it as soon as you want to. [leave the room]". Don't let him make you cry. I'm a "soft target" and that's why he's the meanest to me. Do not get wedded to an outcome and do not give him the power or burden of being able to ruin your day. "We're decorating Christmas cookies and would love for you to join us. [leave the room; enjoy decorating with the other 66.66% of your children.]" It is hard. It is SO hard. It is hard to make it seem reasonable that your child would purposefully set about to ruin something that is fun and important to you. It is hard to not give him the power to do so.

Saturday went well. It felt good to have a plan. It felt good to be on the same page, as James and I each silently shook our heads or made emergency "abort!" hand motions at each other over the head of the emotionally tornadic child to keep each other in check. Sunday was a bit of a shit show. It's like our little LandonRaptor woke up and decided Saturday went too well so he would push EXTRA hard to make us insane. By the skin of our teeth we hung in there. We were calm and spoke to him like he was an adult making a mildly regretful decision he might want to reconsider. He was redirected to his room and/or was abruptly left alone when needed. James had to walk him back on our family walk because he was sobbing in the street after Claire "looked at him like she was trying to make him mad." The girls and I pressed on. It was a bit like having a baby again; one of you takes the baby home while the other continues on with the fun activity. Landon missed a lunch out and 65% of our cookie decorating because he was busy yelling "I hate my life" repeatedly in his room. I did not do or say one thing I regret, I was calm and collected and a fucking adult the whole day, but we did not go see Santa as planned. I simply did not have the stamina. The wind might have blown the wrong way and moved a hair on his forehead and he would have had to emotionally blow up the Stockyards. It is hard to have so many feelings. I have hope they will start to settle now that his own feelings are all he has to deal with instead of our responses to them. We deal with those by holding hands and staring wild-eyed and silent at the not-yet-turned-on-TV for hours after he goes to bed.

I joke. Mostly. Around witnesses, at school, and/or in between emotional swings, he remains delightful. He's a great kid. He remains super academically responsible and independent. He's growing up. He can still be yours for that small re-homing fee. (hahaha... except for real, sort of)

Wrangler of the Month, 5 years running; no extra cost

But back to Saturday, the day we had a new parenting plan and we were able to surprise and flummox the tween with it. It was so nice. I got up early with my tea and my laptop and planned our meals for the week. I made my beloved sugar cookie dough. I went to a fabulous yoga class while James and the kids did the grocery shopping. I spent 100 hours rolling, cutting, and baking the beloved cookies.

As always, they were less beloved about 70% of the way through, but they got done!

James made another America Ninja Warrior course for the kids and more kids came to participate. He used the girls' giant stuffed unicorn as a battering ram to knock them off course.

We ended with beef burgundy stew I'd had cooking in the crockpot all day and all of us cuddled in the living room surrounded by twinkling lights watching Home Alone 2.

It was my favorite kind of day full of so many of my favorite things.

Sunday had some ups and downs, but I got to do some more yoga and spent quality time with the girls while Landon felt his feelings. We went on a long walk and then out for lunch. It was so nice. The girls were so sweet and fun and funny. It was nice to get away from the emotional maelstrom and enjoy them.

We went to Five Guys, a new place for them because I always forget we have one and we just don't eat out much anymore. Claire declared it the greatest meal of her life.

already inhaled the cheeseburger with tomatoes and ketchup, NO pickles

Cora had a lot of questions about why she's still "only four" and we spent a while discussing our favorite things and what we were most excited about for the holidays.

Later, my cookies were decorated. Claire gave me a festive headband and I vowed that I would be okay with the fact that Landon refused to join. And then I mostly was. My nostalgic childhood music was on (Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Whitney Houston; oh yes), my head decorations were on point, and the girls were so excited.

We got to work.

After a while, Landon came out to join and I'm glad for that. Turns out it's not so fun to stage a protest when no one comes to it.

James stepped up and decorated in to the double digits this year. I'm pretty sure he made exactly 10, but it's more than his traditional incredibly ornate 3.

Claire stuck with her usual few. Her enthusiasm was high and she was such a huge help setting up and cleaning up, she just wanted to talk about and eat the decorations more than she wanted to use them.

Cora decorated a total of five, but was thrilled with each one.

I caught her lazily licking her icing spoon towards the end so that was replaced and we had a discussion about germs. Much like 17th century medical professionals, she found the concept ridiculous.

As is traditional, I had to sacrifice my art for efficiency. I think I decorated 60? Mass produced sugary holiday magic right here.

I froze most of the cookies to take with us to Colorado in a couple weeks and I'm so glad because I inhaled five of the ones I put in a small counter container as soon as I got home from work. I have no control around these things.

I spent my Monday morning elsewhere in the metroplex for a witness interview and am taking testimony tomorrow in a different case, so I very much need to get working to prepare for that. I don't know how I used to work at night so often. Now I get home and by the time the kids are in bed I've been going non-stop for way too long and just need to sit on the couch within 3 feet of James to recharge while online browsing and re-reading a book on my kindle. I NEED that. Instead I'm spending tonight at the kitchen table with a mug of tea, my laptop, a binder of documents, a highlighter, and some sticky notes. ... and I'm blogging. This is law school level procrastination. Sigh. Time to act like an adult and read that 226 page contract I have to ask questions about tomorrow. It's 10 p.m. and I'll be on the record in 11 hours. At some point that reality is going to come crashing down.

But first, food! That's adultish! And then for real with the depo prepping.

Saturday: Crock Pot Beef Burgundy Stew, Mashed Potatoes

Sunday: Meaty Spaghetti (ground beef and some combo of onions, garlic, herbs, tomato sauce, and diced tomato to make something delicious), salad.

Monday: Skinny Chicken Enchiladas, refried black beans.

Tuesday: I'm taking testimony all day, so it's possible I'll come home and make a healthy dinner, but it's so unlikely I didn't even buy ingredients because we all know I'm going to R Taco.

Wednesday: Fried Rice (Trader Joe's frozen version + lots of extra veggies and fried egg thrown in)

Thursday: Fettuccine Alfredo with Prosciutto and Peas (one of my kids top 5 favorite meals; even cheese hating Landon. Prosciutto is powerful.)

Friday: Pizza, probably from Costco; let's not going to pretend this won't be a long week and really we'll just want to get through dinner to eat the rest of the cookies after.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Back to Our Sparkly Reality

So, in the present day in the land of Fort Worth, much is happening that should be discussed. But first, I redid my Travel page up at the top of the blog. I used to list out places I'd been and wanted to go, but now that I occasionally pretend to be a travel blogger (oh the dream!) I'm using it to link to all past vacation/travel posts. If nothing else it will be easier for me to send links to friends who contact me when they're about to go somewhere we've been. And it was super fun to go back and find those posts and read them again. You can tell in the timeline that we basically transferred our second daycare payment to a travel savings account when Claire started Kindergarten (2015! A most glorious year.). And while Landon mostly just hung out with us at home, Cora was an extremely well-traveled baby. Third babies, they're the latest in travel accessories. We're headed to Colorado (third time this year! which was really not on purpose, though it is the only way to see my niece and also we should probably live in Colorado) for Christmas so I already anticipated a few posts about that.

But back to the here and now and last Tuesday. We went to the TCU Christmas Tree lighting ceremony! I had a humble dinner planned to make at home when a friend texted me at work that they were going and meeting at my fave taco/margarita happy hour place for dinner and I was already accepting while figuring out what to do with the kids' swim practice. (We just skipped it, sorry Coach Dad.) Wearing shorts and sipping frozen margaritas isn't the most common way to attend a tree lighting ceremony in December, but here we are.

Always prepared for theme, Claire wore her Christmas dress and, having watched Elsa light the castle at Disney world, Cora felt her Elsa dress was most appropriate. Landon was, of course, in athletic shorts and a shirt. You can only do so much.

The ceremony included music, cookies, hot chocolate, and fireworks. We like all of those things.

It was a great super fun night with friends as well as our first time on the TCU campus as a family. We live less than a mile away and I now teach barre there so it was well past time. One of my 2018 resolutions is to go to more sporting events there. Claire went to a women's volleyball game with friends and LOVED IT. I want to do more of that.

On Thursday Landon got his braces off! He has more orthodontic work in his future (sigh), but this was a fairly short practice round and it's nice to see his full smile again.

Also on Thursday, Claire tried out for the talent show! As always I'm so thankful for Tara in our life since she handles basically everything between 3-5:30 p.m. and the kids adore her, but I feel like I'm going to throw up at the thought of singing in a talent show, so I'm not a super helpful energy to have around. Not that it would probably bother Claire. Tara took a video and sent it to me because she is the best.

I have no memory of Friday, but Saturday was a big day. First up was Cora's dance recital! She was SO excited. She woke me up at 6:30 a.m. JUST to tell me that "TODAY IS MY DANCING DAY!". She loves dance. She told all the princesses at Disney world that she does ballet. She LOVED her last three recitals. She COULDN'T WAIT until 12:00 rolled around and it was time to drive over. It finally came and we drove for 30 minutes and we got front row seats for the first time ever and ...

She didn't dance.

She refused the introduction.

She judged you and your waving.

She judged your choreography and would not lower herself to participate.

She couldn't even watch.

She was such a mess.

We got back in the car, with the $60 recital dress and our 30 minute drive back, and she piped up with "Can I see the videos of me dancing at my recital mom?"

"Um, no. You didn't dance in your recital, Cora."

She seemed genuinely surprised and then promptly fell asleep and took a two hour nap, continuing to sleep as we transferred her from the car seat to her bed. Being four is hard. We're all looking forward to her recital next Spring.

The big kids helped me with our Christmas cards (note: your stamp and/or return address labels are probably askew) and then we all got ready for big activity #2- our Casa Manana Children's Play!

This went much better.

Probably because all we had to do was watch. It was such a great play, as they all are, and we enjoy them so much.

We ate dinner out afterward, with a stop at a candy store after that to spend some treat money from Papa and Gigi for Landon being named Wrangler of the Month at school. He went with gummy eggs which he found to be delicious while reassuring me MANY times they did not actually taste like eggs.

Sunday (when I first started typing this) was errands and pink pancakes and 2+ hours of American Ninja Warrior Jr. on a surprise course James made while I was at yoga. He invited neighbors over and I came home to such a happy, busy scene (that I didn't take pictures of, but here's Claire, still practicing an hour later. James said they probably ran through the whole course 80+ times. You think this would make them tired. It did not. Because nothing does.)

Another highlight of my weekend was unboxing a new favorite lounge-y outfit. American Eagle has become my new place for cozy leggings and tops (and by "place," I mean their online store). I have these beautiful babies and these sequins ones and they're wonderful. Especially when paired with this cozy sweatshirt. And especially ESPECIALLY when all purchased for 50% off on Cyber Monday with a 6% Ebate.

$20 and they have a thin layer of fleece on the inside and sparkles on the out. I love them with my whole heart.

After a delicious dinner of vegetarian chili mac, we finally decorated our family tree in the TV room.

I love this tree. It's scruffy, possibly a little crooked, definitely purchased on clearance at Target for one of our first Christmases in Austin.

It holds our motley collection of personal ornaments- the vacation souvenirs, the baby's first Christmases, the random ornaments I don't know when or where we bought, and the precious handmade school and daycare items with their cut out chubby toddler faces and pipe cleaner angel wings.

Cora felt strongly that all the princesses should be grouped together, "because they're all friends mom." Sounds legit.

At the end of the night on Sunday I had a line of items to prepare for the week ahead: 2 wrapped gifts, an ornament, and white chocolate homemade chex mix for a party Monday night; an ornament and the makings for my friend's amazing cocktail meatballs for a PTA Board party Tuesday night; a wrapped gift for Landon's student council secret santa on Friday; a wrapped white elephant gift for my work party later this month; and a stack of 100 sealed and labeled Christmas cards for the mailbox in my building. Throw in my bag of work clothes, makeup, and heels to change after my early morning workout and I was loaded down like a freaking sherpa headed out to work at 6 a.m. Monday morning. Planning and packing. It's about 75% of my life.

Christmas card assembly line; Landon is skeptical of the unpaid labor

Monday night's party was super fun. The kids got to go to an extra swim practice and hang out at dad's pool for an extra two hours (yay for family businesses!) while Cora spent the 45 minutes between my party and the end of dad's lessons at a friend's house with her toddler. It takes a village. And a small parent-owned business.

Because sometimes moms need to have fun and exchange favorite things with their favorite people. Everyone brought such thoughtful gifts and the most delicious snacks and apps and champs. The only thing I didn't love was the 84-degree temperature that meant I was attending a holiday party in a sleeveless shirt and cropped pants.

tequila and margarita mix; I love when your friend's favorite things are also your favorite things

Yesterday's party was for our PTA Board. More delicious appetizers, more champagne, this time accompanied with a side of Board meeting and a topping of ornament exchange. Between Saturday and today I've had four holiday-type events and we have James's swim school dinner on Friday, but then I don't have anything until our last three parties between the 19th and 21st. So everything this year is early or late and leaves me two weekends in mid-December to bake some cookies and take the kids to see Coco, which is really quite perfect.

Oh! and for added fun, a water main burst and a sink hole developed (sunk? appeared? what's the verb there) onto our street Monday night while I was at my party, sending a deluge of water down our street and ensuring there was no water when I got home just before 10. I washed my face with a baby wipe and brushed my teeth by melting ice in the microwave. It was the first time I've ever regretted the fact we don't buy bottled water. The workers were out there all night with trucks, bright lights, LOTS of dropping large metal pipes on the road right outside my bedroom window and our sink hole was moderately filled and our water was back on by mid-morning. I am very thankful for their all-nighter because not having water is TERRIBLE. It is so much worse than not having electricity.

And now we have this lovely little topographic feature to add to our street map! So scenic and DIRECTLY across from our front yard. When we went to bed on Tuesday night James randomly said, you know, I've always had a fear of sink holes.

no fear.

I'm sure I'm missing things- December is so crazy and the last week has been VERY full, but I've got the Nat King Cole Christmas station playing and my sequin pants on while eating many handfuls of homemade chex mix (batch #6 since Thanksgiving; I have a problem) and if I ignore all of the news and twitter and the fact Trump is still president and the government (and my job!) could still shut down on Friday and I can't take my beloved nightly baths because I have psoriasis trying to turn me into a scaly dinosaur, I feel pretty good about things. I love this month. I love having sparkly things all over my house. I love that it is finally cold outside.

sequin pants forever; or just a random Wednesday night

Oh! and I LOVE these boots I bought myself as an early Christmas present for our Colorado Christmas trip. After many years of really terrible Walmart ones that were so generic they didn't even have a differentiated left and right foot and so thin my feet froze on our last trip, I have beautiful, warm, fuzzy, BEAUTIFUL Sorel boots (last year's color bought on clearance for less than $100!) and I LOVE THEM.

I keep putting them on and wearing them around the house. I can't wait to tromp in snow with them just to feel how NOT cold my feet will be.

So beautiful super warm boots. Sequin pants. And one million lights that James put up in our front yard that make my heart feel all shiny and sparkly when I pull up at night.

I love December.