Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hanging Out

I love Christmastime- the lights, decorations, music, food, cookies, traditions, anticipation, carols, school programs, picking out and giving of gifts, visiting family, and coming home again. But as much as I love all of that, I think these few days between Christmas and New Year's are my most favorite of all. At least when those days involve much lounging and relaxing and no working as they have this year and last year.


The kids got this pop up tent from my aunt and it is one of their new favorite things. JP read Landon his new chapter book in there Friday night.

Tia and Billy stopped by our house last night on their drive back to Colorado. It divided their 20 hour drive into 8 and 12 hour segments and we got a bonus night with them! Landon and Claire immediately offered Tia a place in their tent. It was an offer she couldn't refuse.


My mom surprised me with a stocking stuffer of a Teavana tea maker and sample of loose leaf tea. I'm obsessed with tea. I probably drink 8 cups a day on average (only the first cup has caffeine), but usually it's just Bigelow or Twinings bags. I hadn't used fancy loose leaf tea in many years and now it's like I have it on tap (I stopped by the store and bought a few more tins at 75% off on Friday; I'm ruined again for bargain tea). Claire likes it too.


My mom also gifted me with a snazzy new pair of workout pants and matching jacket (my mom never, ever gives a gift that doesn't involve matching; usually jewelry and shoes are involved as well, but I suppose even she realized I didn't need matching earrings for a jogging outfit). This has motivated to run not once but TWICE in the last two days. Tex and I are totally losing the 5 pounds we've gained in the last few months. (As long as we can lose it before I go back to work on Wednesday and immediately lose all motivation to exercise.)

Landon got a scooter for Christmas and it went with us on our 3 mile walk this morning. JP stole it on all the hills and Landon raced him on foot.


It was 30 degrees outside for this particular trek, but Eskimo Claire stuck it out on the swings for a whole 4 minutes before declaring it was time to go home and drink tea.


The rest of the day has involved JP tending to his fire pit (still burning through the wood he chain-sawed up after that huge branch fell on our gate in September; that branch was bigger than the biggest tree we had in our yard in Austin); Landon scooting circles around the pool before coming in to build legos and warm up; Claire alternating between snuggling with me and tending to her babies; and me writing thank you notes, playing JP in Ruzzle (and losing every single time; I scored perfect on the SAT verbal and have a pretty big vocabulary- why I am so terrible at word games?), watching The West Wing on Netflix (we are so fancy with this streaming DVD player thing- I love it!), and wondering which tea I should brew next.

The kids have now disappeared into their tent. JP is temporarily inside, smelling like wood smoke and filled with the pride of having made fire. And I'm loving this alternate reality of no school, no work, no unemployment- just us, in our house, in our pj's, hanging out.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry and Bright

So, Christmas! My favorite holiday has come and gone and it was wonderful. Simple, happy. Filled with family, silly traditions, puzzles, wine, and even a few presents.


We woke on the 24th to the most beautiful weather we'd have all week. So of course we packed up the cars and headed back to Kingwood. The boys were sad, but the ladies (i.e., my mom and me) were adamant that Christmas is not Christmas without Christmas Eve dinner in the dining room we've had EVERY Christmas Eve dinner since 1988 or without Christmas Eve service in the same church where we've had Christmas Eve service for nearly the same amount of time.


So we wrapped up the red neck chariot rides, put on our fancy clothes, and drank wine out of cut crystal goblets instead of plastic cups for a few hours.


Our delicious Christmas Eve dinner has evolved over the years, and is eaten in a room that has changed wall paper, furniture collections, chandeliers, and candle stick holders (particularly after my mom nearly burnt down the whole room when a taper candle ran amok during a bunko Christmas party in the 1990's), but you can always count on asparagus casserole and the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible before eating.


After dinner we headed to church, where I ran into old friends and new readers, and reminisced about getting married at the altar before me, 7+ years ago (while paying careful attention to the sermon, of course).


After chatting in the church foyer as long as the men and children could handle, we changed into our Christmas pj's, piled the dogs and children back in the car, and headed back to the lake for the Christmas Eve eating of cookies and opening of presents.


We take turns opening presents. This was Claire's turn.


It appears to be Claire's turn again. Landon was generally as excited when Claire (or anyone else) was opening a gift as he was when it was his own turn.


The kids each got a photobook from me. They may cost less than $30, but they are truly my most costly and special gifts.


Claire seemed to appreciate hers.


Fun was had by all.


We finished with the presents close to 10 p.m.- the kids had a blast but were so wiped out at the end, they forgot to put out cookies and milk for Santa, or even mention Santa at all! Luckily, he found them anyway.



And then, because we are gluttons for punishment, we stayed up way too late completing a jigsaw puzzle. Mom and I tried to convince the boys to go to bed, but the lure of one more piece kept us all crowded around the card table past midnight.


Christmas morning came rather soon, but what a lovely morning it was. Happy kids, surprise stocking stuffers, and very large glasses of loose leaf tea.


There was much caring for babies and building of legos.


There were foot races, scooter races, and the zooming of tiny remote controlled cars.


There was puppy wrangling.


And a lot of laughing, eating, and playing.

(scarf picked out by JP and the kids as my Christmas present)

Cousins came over bearing gifts, more eating and puzzling and playing was had. The temperature dropped below freezing (it snowed in Fort Worth!) and we headed back to the more insulated walls of the Kingwood house. My mom and I went to see Les Miserables, sharing popcorn slathered in butter as she prefers. JP and I went out on a date, sharing margaritas as I prefer. We drove home today, spent a whirlwind 4 hours unpacking, finding homes for new treasures, and putting away all the Christmas decorations. Our house looks like our house again, and JP and I are cudddled up on the couch watching Season 1 of Downton Abbey on our new wi-fi enabled blu-ray player like the modern couple we're supposed to be (until tonight we'd never "streamed" anything; never used Netflix; never owned a blu-ray player; and never seen Downton Abbey.) It is exactly like 50% of the books I read and I can answer every single one of JP's questions regarding the English aristocracy. I believe he is now marginally more impressed by my reading material. I'm taking off work until Wednesday and little has felt more indulgent in the past week than pressing "next episode" when the last one ended at 11 p.m. on a Thursday night.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and may 2013 be merry and bright for us all.

Monday, December 24, 2012


The day the kids have been waiting for finally arrived- time to go to PapaGigi's lake house for Christmas! I had packed on Saturday, carefully laying out the kids' clothes for the trip in their room, and told them they could come to our room at 7:15, but they had to be dressed. At exactly 7:16, our door burst open and in bounced a fully clothed Landon and a completely naked Claire, clutching all her clothes to her chest and yelling, "IGOTOPAPAGIGI'STODAY!!" We were on the road by 8:20, Santa's sleigh (secretly) loaded down in the back with toys, family presents, suitcases, and a chubby labrador, who couldn't really move, but was very happy to be included nonetheless.

Yesterday was our only day with my sister and her boyfriend- they drove straight to the lake from Colorado to spend about 24 hours with us before continuing on to her boyfriend's family for the holidays. We invited his parents and sister up for the afternoon and we all had a really good time boating, playing games, and eating. We also took advantage of the extra guests to get a few impromptu family pictures, since my parents realized when making their Christmas card this year that they didn't have a single picture of all of us together from all of 2012. I think they turned out really well!

Full fam:


Original five:


JP, who rarely drinks and never drinks more than two drinks, got caught up in the festive atmosphere and his love of hammocks, and drank one or two very large glasses of very good bourbon. He ended up taking a little nap on the grass in the middle of a heated game of ladders.


Claire quickly put an end to that situation.


We went on a boat ride and Claire started out brave, but when Papa started going fast, she needed her Gigi, who was happy to oblige with some cuddles.


We opened the presents from Tia. First, the traditional holiday barbie for Claire. Unlike in years past when Claire had no idea what was going on, this year, she exclaimed, "Open it!!" We were about to when she opened up the present from Uncle Eric- a pretty pretty princess game, complete with jewelry, which knocked all thoughts of messing up Barbie's perfect coiffure from her head.


Landon got a lego set and bow and arrow, complete with lessons from a master archer:


A now-alert (and probably hurting) Daddy and his kiddos:

(the pretty pretty princess jewelry was popular with everyone)

And a few more candid portraits before dinner:

And a little preview of the rest of the holiday: red neck carriage ride around the property on Christmas Eve morning.


Pretty soon we'll head back to my childhood home for Christmas Eve dinner and church before driving back to the lakehouse for presents and Santa and lazy Christmas Days. It's two hours round trip to spend about four hours in Kingwood, but it's just not Christmas without flank steak in the dining room, reading the Christmas story around the dining table, and Christmas service at my childhood church.

Merry Christmas from the Lag Liv family to yours!

(Claire is not entirely sure she's in the right picture)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Big Little Good Things

This week started out rather downish, but due to a combination of big and little things (also, 1.5 margaritas), it has ended up on the up.

1. I met Legally Fabulous yesterday! Well, really, I feel like I met her years ago, but yesterday she came to my house, met JP and the kiddos (Claire complimented her on her knees, which were clad in striped tights, and did look quite fabulous), and then followed me to my favorite restaurant with my favorite margaritas where we proceeded to talk so fast and so furiously that 3 hours flew by and suddenly the restaurant was flashing all the bright interior lights in a subtle hint for the few remaining diners (drinkers) to GO THE HELL HOME. I woke up with a headache and a sore throat- signs of an excellent evening. We must do it again soon.

2. JP had a job interview today and it went well! And he met another guy tonight at the kids' school program who is hiring in his group that does business-y analytical things that JP used to do. Who knows if either of those two leads will end up in a job, but it's something positive after more than three months of nothing. Just listening to him talk to the guy at the program made me smile- I could hear the happiness and passion in his voice, and oh I have missed hearing those things.

3. I got a 2% raise! And it might be a 3.5% raise if our budget gets approved. So you know, that's a night out every now and then next year!

4. President Obama declared the 24th a federal holiday! Salvaging 8 of my precious, precious annual leave hours that will allow us to go camping again early next Spring.

5. I've read three new books and one of them, Poison Princess, by Kresley Cole is pretty much my new obsession. I've read it three times in 8 days. It's a YA Novel, but a seriously dark and excellently written YA Novel. The only downside to reading it is (1) you won't be able to put it down (I read it in about 6 hours, hiding my kindle under the covers, and then immediately re-read it to the chagrin of my poor bloodshot eyes), and (2) there is no publication date yet for book 2. I love Kresley Cole- her Immortals After Dark series is one of my favorites, but this Arcana Chronicles series could beat it.

6. Christmas cards! We've received so many this year and I love them all. Checking the mail is close to the highlight of my day and I'm going to be so sad when it goes back to just being bills and magazines I don't want.

7. The kids had their school program tonight and they did so great! They wore new fancy shoes (Claire in her first pair of Mary Jane's and Landon in new little loafers I forgot I bought a size up last year) that they love so much they've worn them every night around the house in their pj's, and their Christmas outfits (Landon reprising the exact outfit he wore last year, which somehow still fits), and both of them actually performed!

Quick pics before we left in a rush to avoid being late:


I had to bribe Bear with 2 m&m's to get her in that dress and 2 more m&m's to let me touch her hair. I am categorically opposed to bribery as a general parenting technique, but Claire was wearing a beloved old pair of jeans and sweatshirt of Landon's, unbrushed crazy hair, and crocs, and getting her out of all that in 12 minutes took drastic measures.


She looked cute though, no? And, after a few minutes of skepticism and eye rubbing (and searching for a mommy who learned from the ballet recital and was hiding behind chairs), she jumped in the spirit of Jingle Bell Rock. I was so proud.


Landon was ready from the start- his teacher said she put him in the middle because she knew he could be counted on to sing all the words and not run off the stage. His whole class did great and it was all exactly as adorable as I thought it would be.




Tomorrow I happen to be meeting up with another blog reader/fellow UC alum and then it's laundry and packing and heading to the lake house on Sunday! I can't wait! With family, presents I can't wait to give the kids, and 10 days off from work, I feel like this month can't really help but end well.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Today I Go to the Dentist!

Claire bounced in our room this morning, all smiles and pink blankie cuddles, yelling, "Today I go to the Dentist! Then I go to PapaGigi's house and then I come home and I see my friends!!" I blearily tried to explain that not all of that was happening today, but yes, she would be going to the dentist.

JP took her. It's always best that he accompanies her on experiences new or uncertain. With him she is sweet, loving, and brave. With me, she is all those things wrapped in a thick layer of clingy emotional need that takes a while to crack through with new people and situations (and ballet recitals).


It's weird because Landon acted exactly the same with both JP and me and rarely preferred one of us over the other (or really, anyone else who happened to be about- he was an equal opportunity toddler). And so, I experienced the first dental visit through iPhone pics and text commentary:

Claire meets the dentist chair, totally pumped about what she doesn't know is going to happen.


Claire grows skeptical as the process is explained.


Claire is under attack, but remains calm.


She moves to a better defensive position in the corner of the chair, leaving only her front exposed, her arm ready for a quick karate chop should things get dicey.


And then she was done. She seriously did great. The dentist originally said Claire's visit would likely just involve a walk around the office, an overview of the instruments used in a check-up, and maybe, maybe a counting of teeth, and even maybier, a practice round with the water pick and suction tube. But my brave little honeybadgerbear did so well she ended up with a full cleaning and set of x-rays! (X-rays that revealed she has her dad's pre-major-jaw-surgery underbite and pre-palette-expander overcrowded mouth! Huzzah!)


The dentist was amazed that she was able to do a full exam on a 2.5 year old. Landon was proud (he was there for moral support, having had his own appointment on Tuesday). JP, who needs a Xanax to go to the dentist, was just glad it wasn't him. And Claire, Claire was over it and just wanted to talk about her awesome glove balloon and new bouncy ball that is clutched in her chubby little fist even now as she sleeps. (The glove balloon is tucked in her bed as well- may she always love the dentist so much!).