Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Few Completely Unrelated Thoughts

1. I can't access anything fun from my work computer. It is amazing how much you can accomplish in eight hours without gmail, facebook, blogs, youtube, or anything else interesting besides the news. I'm way behind on personal emails and I'm now a terrible member of the blogging commenting community (I'm still reading though!), but there's no doubt it's good for my law life.

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2. I'm losing weight. The pants I put on this morning, which fit a few weeks ago, were bagging all over the place. There will always be a part of me that feels happy at the idea of weighing less, but I really don't have the time, money, or interest in re-buying my work clothes, so I need to make an effort to eat normally. I'm a stress non-eater, I just lose all appetite and my stomach gets all angry and anti-sustenance, and I suppose life has been a little stressful lately. I didn't think I was feeling stressed, but pants don't lie.

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3. We've given away all our baby stuff. I'm still holding on to some of the clothes, and Claire still has her crib and changing table, but we sold the swing, jumperoo, and pretty much everything else before we moved. Every time we sold something I waited to feel sad, but I just... wasn't. I felt good, light, happy. I hate hanging on to extra stuff in general, but as those specific items left our attic, I felt a growing sense of peace with the fact that we're done. Or at least I'm done. Landon and Claire - those are my kids and this is my family and it's great. I'm content in a way my ambitious always-looking-the-next-thing younger self never imagined I'd be. Oh, I'm still ambitious, but I'm also happy to focus on the day, the moment, in a way I wasn't before, and our happy, easy home life is a huge part of that. But while I felt better and better about our family of four, JP got sadder and sadder with every item we gave away. His thoughts run along the lines of, "we made two awesome kids, we should make two more!". I'm not completely foreclosing any future possibilities, but I'd be surprised if Claire ends up a middle child. And a little sad we have to re-buy a dozen pieces of plastic baby gear.

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4. Claire still sobs (SOBS) at daycare drop off. It is ripping my heart out morning by morning. JP is taking her tomorrow because I need a day off from the emotional trauma. Landon, on the other hand, adores his class. I don't even get a hug goodbye anymore- I'm lucky if he throws a wave over his shoulder as he skips in to the room. Unlike her brother, Claire really would prefer to spend her days within 2 feet of JP, me, and/or (preferably "and") Landon. She's both 10x feistier and 10x clingier than her brother. As JP and I say, Claire is just more. More of everything- good, bad, loud, injurious... everything. Landon loved being with us, but he never preferred one of us over the other and he never minded being left in the loving care of someone else. Claire wants me, mama, all the time. Holding her, touching her, sitting next to her... me. And while it can be a little (lot) exhausting, sometimes at night, post-bath and pre-book, while Landon flits about collecting all his tiny plastic animals that must be in bed with him, and we're both on Landon's bed, silently watching him, our cheeks will touch and we'll sigh at the same time and we'll just be. And I know that this is one of the happiest moments of her day, because the whole family is in the same room and she's touching me, and it's one of my happiest moments too. And it's nice to just sit and revel in that.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


This was our first full weekend in the house that didn't involve waking up to a tower of boxes and a whole lot of "where is that? have you unpacked that? where should this go?". Oh there was still boxes and unpacking (I gave up on waiting for JP to get to the garage so I suggested we attack it first thing Saturday morning. It's now done.). But there was fun too.

We went to a party on Friday night. One of my new co-worker's invited us over for pizza with his neighbors and all of our collective children (8 under 6). He is the one who recommended our great realtor, our contractor, and pretty much everything else, so it was great to hang out with him and his family (and see his house- Roger the Contractor re-did pretty much every room of his too) and to see our kids rum amok.

Today we want on another long walk. I took pictures along the way:

Here, they are trying to hold hands while moving down the sidewalk. They still make my heart melt on a regular basis.

And we thought we'd be giving up our creeks and nature walks when we left Austin. This is less than a mile from our house.

Guess what the front of his shirt says?

(It involves the words "Texas" and "Swimming." Much like every single other t-shirt he wears.)

Our caravan. Claire rejected the stroller after about 2 miles, and then opted back in after walking about a quarter mile on her own.

Me and my girl. Because I feel that JP fully represents Texas Swimming for the two of us, I only have one old swimming t-shirt and rarely wear it (also, I just very rarely wear t-shirts). This one is out of the drawer because our washer and dryer has been disconnected since Monday.

We came upon a turtle. At Landon's request, I have 65 pictures of this turtle. I selected this one to share with you all because it perfectly captures Landon in Big Brother mode, stopping his sister from getting too close to an animal with unknown personality and dangerous intent. Claire just wants to poke its nose.

And this series perfectly captures the way Claire, despite being the feisty domineering one, also very much looks up to her big brother and wants to do everything he does:

Climb rocks.

Run about the playground.

Climb up the top of the slide.

Oh wait, I can't do that one!

After we got back from our 90-minute, 3 mile journey, Tex collapsed in the grass and the kids wanted to go for their inaugural dip in the pool.

The loved it.

It's nice to take a few moments and just relax.

Especially when you still have boxes, to-do lists, and drywall exposed in multiple parts of your house. But the garage is done, more tile has been selected, erranding has been accomplished, and homemade meals have been made for the week. And we found a cheap and delicious Mexican place a few blocks away that has killer margaritas, an outdoor patio, and live music on Saturday nights. It's been a great weekend.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Before/The Beginning

My house, which was largely unpacked and generally clean and organized on Sunday, is now a construction zone. Our contractor is great and is working as neatly as possible, but when you're ripping up tile and concrete there's a fine layer of dust that just floats in the air and lands wherever it pleases, often 2 rooms away. The good news is, it should all be done by mid-late April. The bad news is, it won't all be done until mid-late April.

master bath, tub area

Selecting tiles and fixtures and trying to find and follow an overall design when you have no design experience or background has been rather stressful. For one, both JP and I have full-time jobs that require our full attention. We're both trying to impress a lot of people- me because I'm new, JP because he's trying to convince his bosses that teleworking can work. This does not mesh well with 2-hour visits to tile warehouses. Also not helping is the fact that I am incapable of visualizing anything without a picture. Anything at all. Spatial reasoning is something I was simply born without.

future new, greatly expanded master shower

Weirdly enough, JP told me tonight at dinner that Roger, our contractor, made some mention about how I come across as intimidatingly smart. This shocked me because (1) I do not think I am at all intimidating for any reason and have actually worried in professional, opposing party type situations that I come off as too friendly and (2) the only conversations I've had with Roger involve measurements and picturing things that aren't yet built and I am absolutely terrible at that. We had to put a piece of paper on the floor and draw a diagram of our master shower from two different perspectives- that's how much I couldn't grasp the concept of our new bench. I think it must be because he's only seen me in suits and heels whereas he sees JP working in burnt orange basketball shorts and a t-shirt. The same burnt orange basketball shorts and t-shirt ever single day. I had to explain last night that "working from home" is not an excuse to forgo bathing and laundry.

new laundry room wall thanks to a pipe leak and rotted walls

In the midst of everything else, I got sick over the weekend. I lost my voice on Sunday and by Monday I could only squeak. This was awesome, as I got to meet the other 80% of the office that was out for Spring Break the week before while sounding alternatively like a munchkin or a bull frog. That's also the voice I got to use while meeting the teachers at daycare, talking to utility companies, and ordering tile and plumbing fixtures. My voice has improved (though I talked to a friend today who thought I sounded terrible- she has no idea, I didn't squeak or drop sounds once on that call!), but most of my co-workers have no idea what my normal voice sounds like.

the most hideous guest bathroom ever

The kids started daycare on Monday. Landon is doing GREAT. This class is much more school-like, with way more learning (his teacher was appalled at how few words he knew... this was one issue with our old daycare; it was the warmest, most loving place on earth, but academics were not a focus -- which was fine until now, but it was time for Landon to start learning things while we paid $1,000/month for "school"), and he's loving it. He told me he has 15 friends (i.e., the whole class) and the teacher said she was amazed at how quickly he fit in with the group (basically, in the first 2 minutes). He loves the work and is so excited to show me his sheets and projects when I pick him up. On the first day, I picked up Claire first and then went up to his room. As I walked in the door a little boy ran up to me and said, "Is that Clairebear?!" He'd already told the whole class about her. Freaking love that kid.

floral wallpaper be gone!

Claire, on the other hand, is having a more difficult adjustment. On Monday she sobbed like her heart was broken at drop-off, reaching for me and crying with tears rolling down her cheeks, screaming "mama mama, no mama, no mama". I got to the car and said "fuck" about 6 times in a row with tears pricking my eyes before I could drive the 6 blocks to my office, where I sat in the parking garage for about 10 more minutes before I felt I could go upstairs and smile and laugh and introduce myself to 50 new people. Dropping off a sobbing child just flat out fucking sucks and there is nothing I can do to spin it more positively. Each day has been the same- I actually made JP drop her off today, even though he has to drive downtown right past by building to do it, because I needed a day off from the emotional trauma. The good news is, of course, she has a great day and is extremely happy and smiley (and busy!) when I pick her up. We really like the teachers and the director and Claire already has many fans, so I'm hoping she'll adjust soon.

really, everything be gone- we're starting over on this one

Things are good overall, especially given that today is only our seventh day living in an entirely new city. My job is awesome, I just wish I had a voice and didn't feel like crap. JP's transition is going well, I just wish he wasn't working till midnight every night (as does he). Landon is doing fabulous in the new school, but has managed to get himself sent to his room every night we've been home. Claire is doing slightly less awesome with the new school transition, but is absurdly adorable in the evenings. The house is a mess, but will look great in a few weeks and I will force myself to deal with it until then. On the upside, we closed on the sale of our Austin house today (we think- funds get transferred tomorrow).

future master tub faucet that I spent way too much time selecting

But still, I'm really looking forward to next month's "After" post.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The End of Spring Break 2012: Unpackapalooza

And so ends our most action packed (and possibly least fun, though it has certainly been exciting) Spring Break ever. We'll take this last day in pictures.

Morning. Skylights make it hard to sleep in. Two kids who are super excited to be sleeping in the same room make it harder. Me and my aching back, legs, and arms are up at 6:30.

Watching cartoons IN A BED has not yet lost its novelty.

Unpacking continues. Finished the kids room. No decorating yet (lots of plans there- probably won't be put into action until their birthdays this summer though), but everything is in place, functional, and comfortable.


Family walk to a nearby park we saw on our way to dinner last night.

This park is AWESOME and reminds us a lot of Austin.

We kept walking and walking and walking and finally realized we must be pretty far from home. Thank goodness for my iPhone and google maps- after hiking up the steepest residential hill ever, with a stroller with a flat tire, we made it back.

Landon needed a little help for the last 1/2 mile, but he walked the other 2.5 on foot! (We hadn't unpacked the garage yet and couldn't find his helmet. JP is in charge of that room. I expect it to be unpacked and organized just before summer. Maybe.)

Unpacking and errands. JP took Claire to the grocery store to stock up on food for the week. I attacked the family room. It looked like this at noon.

And this at 4. Yay!

In the middle of that we got a visit from some new neighbors who brought over champagne, fresh flowers, and their adorable 2-week old baby. So incredibly generous- with a newborn in the house, it should have been us bringing them something!


Then there was more unpacking. We got rid of all the boxes via craigslist to some poor sole packing up her whole house by herself to move to Ohio. In the midst of this we got another knock on the door and it was another new neighbor with a full dinner for us! Delicious homemade Williams Sonoma crispy beef rigatoni with a salad and garlic bread. Between the park and the food and the friendly neighbors and the new squishy baby right across the street, I'm in love with our new neighborhood!

We headed to my office after the kids woke up from their naps to pick up the daycare forms I need for drop-off tomorrow, and to get my nice strong husband to deliver and set-up my fancy new 5-gallon water dispenser. So far my only cons for government work are no relocation expenses and no water. NO WATER. I was so dehydrated by the end of the week last week my lips were cracking. Now I have 5 gallons of hot/cold/room temperature water right next to my desk. I feel so fancy. There's also a park in the lawn in front of my building, so the kids had a great time with that.

(no pictures because my iPhone was left behind on the kitchen counter)

We got home, unpacked the wine (it had mistakenly been placed in the garage, which explains why I hadn't unpacked it yet), and sat down to a nice home-cooked (neighbor's home anyway) meal. Lovely.


Bath, book, and bed for the kiddos. Walking dead and design magazines for the grown-ups. Tomorrow at lunch I have to pick out all the tiling for our master bath tomorrow by myself. It's a lot of pressure. Tomorrow is also the kids' first day in the new daycare. I wasn't able to attend the mandatory orientation yet, so I'm hoping they'll let us in... Montessori's seem like sticklers for these things, but I'm sending JP to get orientated for us tomorrow. I hope the kids have a good day. Landon's uniform is all ready to go and Claire is wearing her favorite outfit with little bumblebees on it.

It's my first full week of work, JP's first week working from home, the kids first week at the new school, and a contractor's first week doing some demolition and remodel work in our house. Cheers!

Saturday, March 17, 2012


It's been two very long, overly productive days, but we're here and we're settling in. Yesterday morning began at 7:01 a.m. when 6 movers arrived at our door. We gave them a walk through and they jumped into the packing. Landon came downstairs around 7:30 and we found him silently standing on the landing of the stairs, clutching a stuffed duck and looking at boxes and paper and tape and strange men, with a complete expressionless face. I have no idea what was going on in his head. We shuffled him back to his room to change into clothes and let another mover get in to pack up his furniture and closet. I finally woke Claire up a few minutes later because they needed to get into her room. She was displeased, but when I got her downstairs she yelled out some cheerful "HI!!!!!"s and then went to the garage to sit on Natalie's extra set of car seats for a while. I think they wanted to make sure they'd be packed into the van with the rest of our stuff.

I tried to get a final picture of the kids in front of the house, but Landon flat our refused and Claire wasn't much better.

The rest of the morning was a blur of daycare drop-off (and tears when I said goodbye to the kids' teachers), a bank trip for the biggest cashier's check I've ever requested (down payment and closing costs), two goodwill drop-offs, a few craigslist sales, and then an in-home closing with a traveling notary and our lender. We signed a million documents at our kitchen table while JP tried to work (he couldn't get the day off, which was awesome) and the movers packed and loaded everything around us. The kitchen table was the last thing in the truck at noon.

I took off with the original documents to bring to the title company in Fort Worth. The two trucks and three guys JP picked up the kids from daycare, dropped the Austin keys at the realtor, and delivered the cable box and modem to Time Warner. Then he remembered the attic above the garage. It wasn't packed- we'd told them about it, they'd asked about it, and then at some point in the 5-hour pack and load madness we both forgot. I frantically called the moving company, which tracked down the trucks, which sent one back to meet JP back at the house. The truck got caught in traffic, JP waited with two kids missing naptime for two hours with no furniture or food. JP and the mover got the attic stuff loaded and left Austin about thirty minutes before I arrived in Fort Worth.

Where I exchanged the loan documents for keys and garage door openers! I drove to the house, met truck #1, which realized all their loading equipment- ramps and dollies- were tucked away in van #2 that was still 3 hours away. They persevered, carrying in everything themselves, while I directed and unpacked. This house is almost the same size as our Austin house, but the layout is completely different and it's missing quite a few of our old extra rooms (and nearly ALL of the closets).

Sometime later (time had lost its meaning) JP showed up with truck #2, Tex, and the kids. (The kids who were now hungry with two parents who had no food for them.) Now the unloading went into hyper speed, and we just tried to find places to put all the boxes (and keep Claire out of the pool). At one point, when Landon was asking again when we'd be able to eat, he let out a long sigh with "Mom, this day is not fun at all." Fair enough, though he did enjoy helping the movers.

JP ran to the store for some staples and a frozen pizza. I held Claire for over an hour because every time I'd set her down she'd burst into tears and wail "up! up! mama! up!" We ate the frozen pizza (baked on foil, removed from the oven with a towel, and turn into pizza). Landon dissolved into tears around 9 p.m. when we didn't know what a "moneybank" was and he kept asking about it. Finally at 9:30 p.m., after 14.5 hours of labor, the movers were done. We tipped generously, made up the kids' beds, and tucked in their exhausted little bodies. JP and I took one survey of our disaster of a house and went to bed ourselves. Not even I could contemplate tackling any part of that until morning.

And then this morning came. The kids got to watch cartoons in our bed (we've never had a TV in a bedroom before- it blew their minds) and then we began Unpackapalooza 2012. In which JP unwrapped, I put away, and Claire and Landon got to do pretty much anything they wanted that didn't involve bodily harm or breaking anything:

We made a lot of progress:

Time lapse camera: 8 a.m.

10 a.m.


3 p.m.

6 p.m.

We have completely unpacked and organized the kitchen and pantry (oy), the master closet, master bath, kids' closet, kids' shared bedroom, and JP's office space. In the midst of that we had an appliance delivery (fridge, washer, dryer- they're so pretty! and you can't even see the scratches and dents that saved me over $1,000 on them), a long visit with our contractor (because we now have a longer list of projects, including a demo of our laundry room due to a water leak and newly molded walls), a visit from a friendly neighbor, a trip to Lowe's, and two trips out for food at delicious local restaurants (living so close to a university is awesome- we walked to dinner!). We also entertained the kids and kept them alive and unharmed while we unpacked (and met with the contractor, etc.). I'm exhausted, but I'm pretty darn proud of ourselves.

Tomorrow I plan to unpack pretty much everything else in time to prep the kids lunches for their first day at the new daycare and peruse all the kitchen/bath magazines I bought at Lowe's. The contractor arrives at 8 a.m. Monday morning and I'll be at the tile superstore with him at 11 a.m. to make all our design decisions for the 3 bathrooms. We don't do things slowly, but oh I can't wait to see how great everything is going to look when it's finished!