Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Snippets

This has been a very busy week. I have five active investigations and will be taking testimony four times in the next 3 weeks. I stayed late at work Monday and Tuesday nights, arriving home at the shockingly late hour of 7:30, to the very minor irritation of JP and the complete disgust of my children. On Monday I was met with wails and tears and "where have you beens?!" and accusing tales of eating dinner with ONLY THREE OF US AT THE TABLE WHERE WERE YOU HOW COULD YOU. By Tuesday my arrival was barely acknowledged while they showered affection on their dad who was buried under them on Claire's twin bed reading books. This morning I tried to sneak out of the house at 6:45 before anyone woke up, planning to get my extra hours in early and be home before dinner, but as I went to open the side door, I looked up to discover a disheveled Claire standing tall and silent in her judgment, framed in the kitchen entryway, pink blankie, baby, and kitty in her hands, glaring at me in shocked disapproval.

I'm happy to report that I returned to their good graces this evening with my prompt arrival at 5:15 p.m. and participation in a nice family dinner. I realized two things in this week of overwhelming case work: (1) since JP and I can't afford date nights, never travel, and are always home together by 5:30, family dinners have achieved sacred status for our children and despite their horror at my absence this week, nothing could make me happier; and (2) clearly they remember nothing from my schedule in Austin and that makes me happy too.

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As I've alluded to a few (dozen) times, the Lag Liv family is on a budget. A budget that up until this month, we'd always passed by on day 20 or 21 of our 31 day budgetary credit card cycle, so it's been more aspiration than reality. We're trying, really trying, but the holidays and things like broken water heaters and the kids' feet constantly growing keep getting in the way. But finally, this past month, we were going to make it under by $200. From December 27th to January 25th we bought not one single thing besides groceries, a doctor copay for me, a small indulgence in a Mexican restaurant happy hour ($23 for 2 margaritas, queso, tortillas, and 2 entrees- worth every freaking penny on that particular Friday), and a trip to Costco to replenish all the household items we were suddenly out of because I can't be trusted in Target anymore. We can't follow such austerity measures every month, but my god we were going to make it this time! And then I got home early on the evening of the 25th, one day before the billing cycle closed, to join the family in a nice long walk before dinner. We bent down to put on Tex's leash and discovered a... wetness, an odor, a virulent flesh eating bacteria that had eaten away half of my dog's throat. Only a slight exaggeration and of course it had to happen the day before our triumphant fiscal month was to close. One trip to the emergency vet later and we had a nice $200 bill and a freshly shaved dog on three kinds of antibiotics. Because, of course.

(Tex is fine and never seemed bothered by the infection ravaging his throat. He has healed up nicely and remains thrilled with the extra attention the administration of two topical antibiotics requires; he also appears pleased with his new avant garde hairstyle.)

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I've read three books in the last four days, because that is what I do when I'm stretched and overwhelmed on every front: Again the Magic, Lady Sophia's Lover, and Worth Any Price, all by Lisa Kleypas. Again the Magic was my favorite; if you've read the Wallflowers series, you must read that one- it's basically a prequel that tells the story of Lord Westcliff's older sister, Lady Aline. Worth Any Price was a very close second favorite. All three have stolen all my sleep. I had to give in to glasses today because my eyes were too bloodshot for contacts this morning. In so many areas of my life I have extraordinary self-discipline; in reading, I have absolutely none. I suppose there are worse addictions, but I did not think so when my alarm went off at 5:45 this morning after reading till 2.

~~~

JP has an offer to start a swim school in Fort Worth through the local USS club team's head coach. The club wants it to exist and will support it however they can, but it would be JP's to own and run. It should be his dream opportunity. And yet his voice doesn't have any inflection when he talks about it. That stubborn against-all-odds enthusiasm that I'm realizing now was such an essential, elemental part of him seems completely snuffed out. Today I found myself verbally smacking down all of his dream killer objections to the idea - he was me, I was him - and I felt near tears by the end of our phone call, a feeling I seem to have after most of our phone calls lately. In-person is better, except sometimes when it's worse, and while there are so many moments of complete normalcy and laughter and flirting and happiness, so much of the whole job situation continues to suck so much I have lately wanted to hide in my office with the door closed for much of the day. I don't, but only through sheer will and a lot of acting to maintain the bright, sunny reputation I developed so genuinely my first several months here.

~~~

The weather jumped above 70 for two random days early this week, so I told the kids they could pick out short-sleeve shirts. At my notice (i.e. yelling down the hall to their room), I heard Landon exclaim, "Claire! You can wear your puppy shirt!!" and heard her scream of excitement in return. A friend of mine from Austin was in town a few months ago and brought along a few of her daughter's hand-me-downs. She knew of Claire's preference (insistence) on wearing shirts with animals on them, so she culled her stack down accordingly. Included among them is a light blue summer shirt with a puppy on it. I had no idea of her love for this shirt, but apparently she and Landon talk about it quite a bit. On that Monday morning when I stepped out of the shower and into my bedroom, I found a half-dressed Claire, bent over the shirt carefully spread out on the floor before her, saying, "Hello Puppy! Your ears are SO soft!", as she softly stroked its ear. Remembering that moment made me smile all day.

~~~

We took the kids to the TCU v. UT men's and women's swim meet. I love college dual meets- they're fast and spirited and so much fun. Diving competes too and you can watch both at the same time in the adjoining pools. We assumed the kids would only last a few minutes (a prediction Landon fulfilled), but Claire was ALL over it.


After 45 minutes I finally scooped her up to go home so I could start a late dinner (JP was staying for the whole meet) and she started sobbing on the way out the door. I asked what was wrong and she said, "But I was gonna swim too!" I think she genuinely believed she was going to do her floats and her kicks to the applause of the whole natatorium. Oh, to be 2.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lunch Menuism

On the board for dinner this week:

Sat: Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, with thick crusty bread and slices of sharp cheddar cheese.

Based on this recipe (which is based on the Panera soup), but with a few changes (of course; there is rarely a soup I don't want to add a bunch of veggies too):

Ingredients

1-2 cups diced carrot (I use 2+, my family loves carrots)
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced onion
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
5 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
~ 1 lb. cooked, boneless chicken breast halves, diced
2 packages Uncle Ben's long grain and wild rice (with seasoning packet)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4-1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup butter, divided
2 cups milk (I use skim)

Directions

1. In a large pot (I use my cast iron dutch oven) over medium heat, saute onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in 1-2 Tbl. of butter.
2. Add chicken broth, water, and cooked diced chicken. Bring to just boiling, then stir in rice, reserving seasoning packet. Cover and remove from heat.
3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in contents of 1-1.5 seasoning packets until mixture is bubbly. Reduce heat to low, then stir in flour mixture by tablespoons, to form a roux. Whisk in milk, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Cook until thickened, 5 minutes.
4. Stir milk mixture into broth and rice. (You could add in some white wine too if you have it on hand.) Cook over medium heat until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes.

Delicious.

Sun: PW's Brisket, fresh country white sliced bread from Sprouts, my mom's vermicelli salad, corn on the cob, and baked beans.

My mom's vermicelli salad is the stuff of legend. I don't know where the recipe came from, but it is always a hit and requested at all get togethers. I don't like pasta salads generally, I don't like raw celery, and I hate mayonnaise, and yet, I love this side dish:

Glenda's Vermicelli Salad (aka, "the verm")

Break 1 (12oz) pkg of vermicelli into 2" pieces. Cook, rinse, and drain.

Add and marinate overnight in the fridge (I dump it all in a gallon ziploc):
1 Tbl Accent
1 Tbl seasoned salt
3 Tbl lemon juice
4 Tbl oil

The next day, add the following and let set for several hours in the fridge before serving:
3/4 c. chopped green pepper
1/2 c. chopped onion (I usually use green onions)
1 to 1 1/2 c. chopped celery
1 to 1 1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 cans sliced black olives

It goes great with any bbq meal, as well as baked ham, smoked turkey, hamburgers, etc.

Mon: leftover Soup.

This soup, like most soups, is even better the second time you eat it.

Tues: leftover Brisket, with homemade macaroni and cheese, green beans, bread

Wed: Pierogi bake, peas.

I'm using onion and cheese frozen pierogis from Sprouts and I usually put them in a baking dish with pepperonis scattered around, top it with marinara sauce, and top that with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese and bake at 350 for 30 mins. Sounds odd, but I got it from the back of a pierogi box a million years ago and it's a yummy, filling, different way to serve them.

Thurs: Migas, fresh flour tortillas, black beans, fruit.

I make migas by breaking a bunch of eggs in a bowl, adding salt, pepper, and milk, and pouring the mix over a hot pan with a little melted butter (i.e., the makings of scrambled eggs). Then I add in diced tomato, diced onion (which I usually saute before adding the egg mix, except when I forget, which is often), and crushed tortilla chips (this is an awesome way to use up stale chips). Stir it around until the eggs are cooked and serve them with some warm tortillas, beans, salsa, and mexican rice. The kids love it and it feels like a little fancier way of doing breakfast taco night.

Fri: Take-out pizza with coupon JP carefully cut out from a flyer on our front door knob.

This place has good cheap pizza (and we get a free medium with the order of a large!) and $1 draft beer until 7. I'm looking forward to it.

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The 10 lb. brisket has been marinating since yesterday (as have the vermicelli salad noodles) and was transferred to the oven at 9 a.m. this morning. The kitchen already smells good. I'm also planning on making these Best Big, Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, but only if I actually do the barre class DVD that is sitting next to my TV.

As part of our budget reduction, I've been bringing my lunch to work every day (except Mondays; that is my work friends and my sacred Freebirds day and I'm holding on to my once a week $6 veggie burrito with diced avocado for dear life). I used to hate (HATE) packing and eating a homemade lunch. Lunch is my favorite meal of the day. The first thing (and possibly only thing) I became famous for in the office was my voracious lunch appetite. I out ate pretty much every guy I work with at an all you can eat Mexican food buffet (better than it sounds) and BBQ place. I love lunch. I don't eat breakfast, I don't snack, and I eat a small dinner. Lunch is my meal.

And yet, once JP lost his job, I could no longer justify spending $8-10/weekday on it (and with my own pay cut/job change, I could barely justify it before that anyway). So I convinced my newfound best work friends that they should bring their lunches too and now we eat together outside or in random offices Tues-Fri. And after a few months of forcing myself to pack my lunch box every morning, I now find myself actually enjoying it. Not as much as a Five Guys cheeseburger and fries, but at least I no longer resent my little pink lunch bag.

Part of my problem with packing my lunch has always been that I want a big, satisfying meal, and it was hard to make at home hours before I was actually going to eat it and every frozen lunch meal seems to have like 300 calories and that would never be enough. I now have a decent rotation of lunches, but if you have any ideas for good work lunch ideas (we have access to a fridge and microwave in the kitchen), let me know!

My lunches generally consist of:

- big batch of quinoa divided into 2-3 containers, with whatever diced up veggies, chicken, and cheeses I can find in the fridge, and a separate small tupperware container of dressing, oil and vinegar, bbq sauce, etc. to pour over the top when it's time to eat;

With 1 of these 2:

- turkey sandwiches with all the veggies I like on yummy ciabatta rolls, wraps, pitas, or other bread that looks interesting in the bakery section of Sprouts;
- crackers and sliced cheeses and turkey;

And 1 of these 2:

- fruit (whatever the kids are getting; this week it's blueberries, sliced apples, and little clementines);
- yogurt (I don't really like yogurt, but I'll choke it down if we're out of fresh fruit at the end of the week. The kids switch to apple sauce or little mandarin cups, but I like those things less than yogurt).

Healthy, satisfying, all of it travels pretty well, and most importantly, I look forward to eating it. And now time for my in-home barre class so I can get started on my cookies!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The A, part Almost Done

I pulled a few out of order because the answers were either too long or too hard, so if your question is missing, it is pending in part III.


Irrelevant, but fun from Monday

I would love to know some of your favorite quick weeknight dinner recipes!

I described most of them here. Now that I have time to cook (and we're not eating out), I've been making about 3-4 brand new recipes a week and filling in the other days with tried and trues: tomato cream sauce over pasta or ravioli, stir fry over rice, chilis and soups, and the occasional breakfast night. I try to do a night of chicken, a night of beef, a night of fish, and a few vegetarian meals. We eat a lot of pasta and a lot of vegetables, and when I do use beef, it is almost always for chili or a nice meaty pasta sauce. We usually do homemade pizza on Fridays. I have an easy crowd- JP loves leftovers (as I do) and the kids are great eaters. Landon told me last week when I made the Southwestern Quinoa Salad I described here that it was his "very favorite dinner" and we should have it every week. There is no way I would have touched that at his age, so I'm very thankful I have two kids less picky than I was (and probably still am).

Please do a post on your favorite/top blogs?

One of my big blogging regrets is that I no longer have the time to find new blogs. There are some great, frequent commenters on my blog and I'm sure I'd enjoy many of theirs, but I can barely manage to write in my own on a regular basis. Not having access to blogs and personal email during the day has really impeded my ability to waste time on the internet in the same way that I used to. But I do have a few long-time favorites that I try hard to stay up with:

  • Go Fug Yourself: celebrity fashion with a delightful amount of snark and talk of sandwiches
  • Tom and Lorenzo: high fashion, celebrity fashion, and the best television recaps on the internet (Mad Men, The Walking Dead, Downton Abbey, Project Runway, and others; they used to recap Glee, until it took a turn for the terrible a season ago).
  • amalah: because she's hilarious and curses in her blog as much as I do in my head
  • Academomia: PhD, three kids, funny as hell.  I've met her several times in Austin and have now hooked her up with one of my friends who has a little boy who might love weather nearly as much as Becca and her brood.
  • Magic Cookie: my first blawg, the woman I emailed the day before I started mine to ask, "hi, how do I start a blog and make people read it." and she actually wrote back. She had a baby in law school too and now has two kids and has lasted in BigLaw many months longer than I did.
  • And all the others listed in my blogroll in the sidebar on the right! I don't have any in there I don't still read every time they post.

You mentioned in a recent article an online savings account you used to save for you ski trip. I am definitely interested in something like this and would love to hear more about it!

We've had an online savings account at Ally bank for several years. When we opened it they were offering by far the highest interest rate in the market and we were banking all my summer associate money for 3L year when we planned to have a baby. Now their rate is pretty average (so, low), but we already have the account and they make it easy to set up autodrafts from your regular checking account into multiple Ally accounts. Plus, because it takes a few days to transfer funds between banks, it has kept us from dipping into savings too quickly in the past. For the 2012 ski trip, we had $300 drafted out of our checking account at the end of every month for a year into our "Family Vacation" Ally account. That account is now empty, but I hope we can get it started up again soon.

Any new shoes recently? :)

Sadly no. The shoe budget was the first casualty of the government lawyer lifestyle. I purchased one (1!) pair of shoes in all of 2012. A beautiful pair of tall, black leather, 3" heeled boots (with built in 1/2" hidden platform, so they're quite comfortable) that I ordered steeply discounted and magically in my size on zulilly with my grandparents' Christmas check. $55 for $150 boots. It was a Christmas miracle and I wear them a lot (with tights and skirts/dresses during the week and over skinny jeans on Fridays). Someday when I return to private practice I will glut myself on designer heels. Until then, I've unsubscribed from zappos, dsw, and katespade.com emails because the memories were just too painful.

I was wondering the other day what happened to Rosie? Did you ever talk about her?

Rosie has had a new mom in Austin since January last year. In short, we felt we were never able to give Rosie the bottomless amount of love and attention she needed (and after such a horrible early life, she deserved all of it) and when a friend of a friend was looking for a dog after her longtime canine companion passed away, we thought it might be a good fit. They are both very happy together and we continue to get the occasional picture and update. (And I think Tex likes having JP all to himself.)

Do you ever feel cheated / bad about not having had a natural childbirth (I do; you seem more balanced than me about it)?

Not even the tiniest bit. I'm really the wrong person to ask because I absolutely did NOT want a natural birth and would have been extremely upset (and unprepared) had I ended up with one.

Both of my birth stories were perfect for me. With Landon I had a midwife I adored- a woman who was calm, knowledgeable, and whom I trusted to help me make decisions regarding a process that yes, involved my body, but about which I had no training or experience. Working with a certified nurse midwife meant that all of my check-up appointments were scheduled in a block twice as long as the office's OB appointments (she worked in a practice with 5 other midwives and 4 MDs) and I just always got the feeling that she truly loved women and loved working with them. Illinois allows CNMs to deliver in hospitals, so I felt I got all the benefits of a midwife during my pregnancy and labor (she was in the L&D room far more than an OB usually can be, she let me turn the lights way down, she doesn't use stirrups and doesn't break apart the bed as OBs are more inclined to do, JP was a big part of the process and always felt very involved and welcome; I loved her) and I still got to deliver in a hospital (a definite deal breaker for me) and have an epidural (another absolute deal breaker). And, since I ended up going into labor a surprise 5 weeks early and Landon was born unable to breathe on his own (another big surprise), it turned out to be a damn good thing I was only 1 level up from a top notch NICU. As long-time readers know, Landon ended up developing very bad bruising covering his head, sides, and feet due to delivery trauma, spent 12 days in the NICU getting his heart rate to regulate and learning to breathe on his own (and get off the feeding tubes, IVs, etc.), and then a whole bunch of other bad stuff happened when it was discovered he had partially healed rib fractures at 10 weeks old. In the end, the only cause that was ever agreed on by more than one specialist was that the fractures must have happened during birth. And so we decided all future, hopefully full term babies were coming out into the world via a different route. Claire was a planned c-section and it was also a really great experience. I know some people really hate the idea, but I've had surgeries before (one on my hips in high school; they're narrow, turned in, and generally messed up, so it wasn't shocking that Landon probably only made it out because he was premature and still suffered damage along the way) and I am happy and comfortable with doctors and hospitals. I loved my OB, who took great care to get me full-term, and I felt the OR was full of excitement and happiness for the birth of our baby girl (who, they discovered was wedged up against my pelvic bone and had a deep groove in her forehead because of it; Claire was 1.5 lbs. bigger than her brother and had never dropped, she wasn't going anywhere). It was a perfect day and we got to experience the joys of a sharing our hospital room with our new daughter and taking her home with us when we checked out, two things we missed out on with Landon. Should we have another baby, it will absolutely be another planned c-section and the thought doesn't bother me in the least.

Have you done any depositions or in-person interviews at your new job? How did they go? You've mentioned before being more shy in person than you come across here.

I've done a number of formal interviews, in-person and over the phone, since coming to the SEC, but nothing on the record. It's amazing how much less scary it all becomes when you aren't charging $400 an hour with a partner charging $800 an hour standing over your shoulder with their steady stream of opinions about how you're doing it wrong. In the high stakes litigation my firm generally did, depositions were a really big deal and there was rarely a time the client was willing to let an associate do one. At the SEC, we take interviews and testimony all the time and we can bring the witness back as often as we need, so there's usually a lot less pressure surrounding the whole thing. You start to realize, hey, I'm smart, of course I can do this! And you do and it's good (and it's really fun to remind the witness that it is a crime to lie to an officer of the Commission).

(Also, to the last point, I don't think I'm more shy in person, I'm really not shy at all, but I think I'm less confident. Or I was. I'm not sure that's true now, after 4 years at the firm and nearly a year at the SEC I'm a lot more comfortable and confident in my role as attorney and signer of subpoenas.)

Are you sleeping better? If yes, what worked? I struggle with insomnia too and the times when you've had it, I've wondered if it's pure stress.

No, I am not. My insomnia is definitely exacerbated by stress, but falling asleep in less than an hour or two has been a lifelong struggle for me. Exercise helps some, a regular bedtime helps too, and drugs help the most but not always. It's a continuing battle (and/or cage match) and I'm the loser far too often.

Landon seems like an amazing big brother, but I wonder if he had any trouble adjusting when (and before) she arrived. Any act-outs? Any advice you have to impart for any parents transitioning from 1 to 2? Thanks!!

He really didn't. We didn't do too much prep before Claire arrived, mostly because I didn't think the baby would be real to him until she showed up, but we did read this book a lot toward the end. He loved hearing about "our baby" and how he was going to be a big brother and could help us take care of her at first and then play with as she got bigger. He was super excited about the whole thing and from the day Claire was born, has been her biggest fan (of course, he didn't have to get up with her at 3 a.m.). I think it helped a lot that he stayed in his daycare throughout my maternity leave. He loved school, loved his friends, and the LOVED getting home to check on his "babyclaire." He's also just a super mellow kid who wants everyone to come to his house, play with his toys, and like what he likes. Claire fit the bill with all of that and no one was happier than Landon to have her around. After 2.5 years of sibling love and adoration, they have just now started to purposefully needle each other for the pure entertainment of making your sibling scream. It's annoying, but it brings back memories of me and my siblings, and I know we had a good run of pure peace while it lasted!

You mentioned that Landon wasn't quite ready for kindergarten last year. How is his progress?

Great! Honestly, he probably could have started on time, but that wasn't clear back then (plus we moved here the week of Kindergarten sign-up and didn't know the schools yet, etc.). He's made great strides in pre-K this year with his letters and reading, but the biggest change has been his newfound interest in learning them at all. His love of school has started to expand beyond his love of people and playtime and I think he is going to love Kindergarten, which from my memory, is a great combination of all of the above.

Have you kept up taking barre classes?

I was! and I really liked it. Unfortunately my 10 class pass ran out and another one isn't in our budget of Not Spending Anything Unnecessary Ever (except the surprise pair of Tall workout pants at Costco), but I miss it and am thinking we might just have to make room. It's a great class and is the only form of exercise I haven't found completely objectionable or loathsome since I stopped swimming.

Would you mind listing the paint colors you chose in your recent bathroom and bedroom remodels?

Not at all! Our bedroom is Sherwin Williams Silver Strand. It was the color we used in our Austin bedroom and I adore it. Our bathroom is Sherwin Williams Divine White. I like the color, but I now wish we'd used Silver Strand in there too, just because the tile on the floor is already so light and neutral. Our living room is Kelly Moore Bird Bath Blue. I picked it during a 20 minute lunch break the day the room was supposed to be painted. I love it. The kids' room is Kelly Moore Simply Heaven, another quick pick, but a lovely shade of bright blue that looks great with the navy and bright pink comforters.
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And now, to bed, to fight the good fight against my body for the sleep my body so desperately needs. Last night I gave up around 1 a.m. and spend an hour reading the Downton Abbey wiki pages on my phone. I now know everything that is going to happen in Season 3, but it was better than staring at the ceiling or poking JP awake to tell him I'm not asleep yet. He loves it when I do that. Night!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Game On

I bought new workout pants and a matching top at Costco yesterday. We were there to pick up a new box of 12 cans of organic tomato sauce (a necessary part of my pantry floor) and walked right by a display flat with workout pants that came in Small Talls. Talls! Do you know how hard it is to find workout pants that aren't too short for me?! Very exciting and requiring of the $19.99 indulgence.

And so this morning I greeted the day, clad in my new pants, coordinating shirt, and running shoes and digital watch (from JP, for Christmas- because my 9 year old digital Target watch finally broke and I'm not supposed to wear my fancy wedding day watch when I do things like contemplate exercise) and decided to actually use my clothes for their intended purpose, rather than as an excuse to wear cute pants with a stretchy waistband. We walked our 2.6 mile walk. I used my free weights (with help from Optimus Prime). And then, when the kids were up from their nap and I was embarking on a 3.0 hour dinner-making odyssey, I joined JP and Landon outside for a game of soccer.

 

First, a story. I played one season of soccer when I was six years old. It was disastrous. My dad is an incredible athlete, and my mom is quite athletic herself, and they both came to my first game naively expecting their firstborn child to be the star of the team. I was not. I was terrible. I wanted nothing to do with the ball and I followed my coach's instruction to stay in a general position on the field so seriously that I absolutely refused to take a step in any direction, yelling at my poor father who tried to encourage me to move toward the ball when it was kicked past me that, "The Coach told me to stand RIGHT HERE." I think we lost every game.

And so, I had a lot of history up against me when I stepped up to the field in my front yard this evening while my beef burgundy stew braised. I think I looked pretty good. Landon found me hilarious and Claire just cried because I wasn't "holding you."

 

The rules of keep-away were a little murky to me at first, but I think I figured it out. It involves keeping the ball away from the person who keeps running at you and trying to kick your ball.

 

JP took pictures because it is rare that I (1) run or (2) engage in any game involving a ball.

 

I'm pretty sure I won, but it's hard to say, because I think all three of us were playing by different rules.

 

Claire, as usual, played by her own set of rules entirely.

 

And by "played" I mean, she would occasionally grab the ball and run away with it, glaring at anyone who dared approach her. She's totally my daughter.

 

I learned about 5 minutes in that running around in circles while laughing and yelling is really hard work. In the past few years I've attended a few random exercise classes and done a lot of walking and hiking and I'd completely forgotten how fit I must have been as a 10-year-old kid running around for hours behind my house. I'm an avid cheerleader and photographer for JP and Landon's front yard games, but I need to join in more often.

 

JP has no idea how to operate my camera.

 

When he had the ball I jumped on his back and tried to tickle him before remembering he isn't ticklish and he's big and strong enough to simply keep running after my stealth attack and eventually I had to give up and drop off. It is admittedly cavemanish of me, but I found that very attractive. But then he didn't let me win when I had the ball, so my attraction fizzled.

I retired early from my resurging soccer career to finish making our dinner. Tonight's menu featured turnips, our "new vegetable of the week" (a 2013 Lag Liv family initiative), in this recipe for beef stew, to which I added a bunch of red wine and removed half the beef broth. I made mashed potatoes with the potato ricer I gifted to myself for Christmas, bought a loaf of my favorite bread from the store bakery, and made this pear crisp with steeled oats instead of pecans because nuts ruin everything and you can't let them win. And even though I had to youtube how to cut and peel turnips and I peeled more produce than I ever have in one evening, it was worth it because everything was SO GOOD.

The night ended with tired kids in bed and JP and me on the couch watching last night's Downton Abbey. I love federal holidays. I love my new pants. I might like turnips. It was a good day.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The A, Part 1

Alright, the answers to your questions, generally in the order in which they were received:

What's the latest with your in-laws? Are you ready to share that story yet?

Nothing at all is going on with the in-laws. We last saw them in May 2010, before Claire was born (so no, they've never met her) and we last spoke with them in December 2010. I sent them a Christmas card, as I do for 145 other people, and they sent one back. For the first time this year, JP's dad added a personal note, writing, "Wish we were seeing you this Christmas, maybe next year?" But then, they never called over the holidays, have never called at any time, and I say the chances of a visit next Christmas are very small. JP loves that they are out of our lives, and even though I am generally an apologist for everyone, I must admit our lives are far less stressful without them in it (For example, I no longer have phone calls that literally make me want to scream and break my phone). But it's sad. It's a sad situation. I can't imagine what is going on in their heads or how they justify the fact they've never tried to contact us or arrange for any kind of reconciliation for a mess they created out of thin air. JP did talk to his dad once, about a year ago, and asked why his mom hadn't tried to call, if not for him, for the grand kids. And his dad said, "Well, you know her, she has her pride." So pride, pride over a meltdown she invented over a crisis she caused, is worth having two grandchildren who don't know she exists. That makes me sad and it makes me angry. The kids are so wonderful and have so much love to give. She doesn't deserve them.

Romance Readers Anonymous updates? I've discovered the Julia Quinn Bridgerton series and like it. (But why I can buy all bar the 5th book on Kindle is beyond me - it's not available to NZ!)

I should do a full post. I've mostly been re-reading lately, particularly the Wallflowers series by Lisa Kleypas (along with Then Came You and Dreaming of You by her as well), Immortals after Dark by Kresley Cole (love love them; she added a new spin-off book called Shadow's Claim and it was great), the Demonica and Lords of Deliverance series by Larissa Ione (the Lords of Deliverance are a particular favorite; she's adding a 5th one and I'm so excited), and Poison Princess by Kresley Cole (my favorite of the last 6 months; I'm completely irritated it's only the first book in the series and I have to keep re-reading it for lack of other options). Diana Gabaldon is finishing up her 8th book in the Outlander series, it should be out this Fall. JR Ward's next book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series will be out in March. And mostly, I just really need to find some new authors and series. (Also, the 5th Bridgerton book was my least favorite, so if you have to skip one, that's a good one to lose.)

Have you thought about doing any non-blog type of writing? I recall you were offered a book deal at one point?

Not really. I used to write a lot at work- formal legal briefs, memos, and articles. A very different type of writing than what I do here, but I enjoyed it and was good at it, or more importantly as an associate at a large law firm, was known by others to be good at it. I miss that. As for other types of writing, yes, I was approached for a book deal, but it involved the nightmare in Chicago and I just couldn't write about, market, or make money off that story at the time. Probably not ever. As for any other type of writing, for as much as I love reading fiction, I have absolutely no interest in writing it, and I don't think I'd be good at any kind of column or regular publication. I like the informality of blogging. It's comfortable. I write into a little white text box in blogger and it goes to the screens of a group of lovely people who are kind enough to read and comment on what I put out there.

Favourite character in the West Wing?

Josh, Sam, and CJ. And of course President Bartlet. And Leo. Not Toby, except sometimes when he is.

Are there women you've worked for who have inspired you/mentored you in juggling that balance?

Not really. I never knew any professional women growing up and I met my first female lawyer when I was assigned a mentor my 1L year of law school. She was quite nice and had three children, but she worked for the DOJ for 20 years before joining her firm as a partner after her kids grown. Impressive certainly, but not as applicable to my intended situation. I met a few more attorney moms as a summer associate, but all with different situations, different priorities, and different levels of satisfaction with their life. So no mentors, really, but lots and lots of examples. Good examples and not so good examples, but I found that every woman's story was helpful in shaping my own. Sometimes it was the exact thing they were praising that helped me realize I didn't want it. Often it was a tidbit, a thought, a way of thinking about a particular situation that made me reach an epiphany or an increased understanding of my own. Now most of my best friends are women I've worked with and all have children. Are they my mentors? No, in fact, I had kids before most of them, but they are my support and my sources of information, perspective, levity, and above all understanding.

---

And the kids are up from their nap! Time to close the laptop and start prepping the beef stew for tonight (part bourguignon, part old recipe for burgundy stew I recently re-found, and part of my new goal to buy and use a new item from the grocery store every week (the stew will involve turnips; I'm not sure I've ever had a turnip, but there also lots of red wine and slow cooking of beef, so it is highly likely to be delicious whether it turns out I like turnips or not)). Thanks to all for the questions, they're fun to answer. I'm not sure what I would have written without the prompts which means it's likely I wouldn't have written at all (and there are so many West Wing episodes to watch while the kid are sleeping). Parts II and III coming soon!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Snow Day Q&A

I woke up at 6:30 to the delightful surprise of JP's presence in bed with me. Generally he leaves at 4:30 a.m. to swim every morning (because he is a crazy person), so anytime I reach out and find him near me is a happy day because (1) I love a good morning snuggle, and (2) it also means it's Sunday and the pool is closed. This has thrown me off once or twice when JP has gotten a surprise midnight email that the pool is closed on a week day and I decide it's Sunday in my half-awake state and turn off my alarm and go back to sleep only to discover later that no, it's Tuesday, and I needed to be halfway to work 5 minutes ago. That actually happened last week. (It throws the kids off too; that same morning, Landon walked in the room at 7:15 only to stop in shock and ask, "Mommy, who is that in bed with you?!".)

Today I registered his presence at the same time I heard Landon cry out, "IT'S SNOWING!!!" He burst into our room calling out everywhere he could see snow- on the deck, the trees, the grass, the grill, the chairs, the cars, etc., etc.! I was tired, but it was impossible not to smile at the joy and wonder of white fluffy frozen precipitation.


Claire was, of course, skeptical.


Tex just wanted to be let back inside. He patrols the perimeter of the yard first thing every morning, but this morning he sensed the yard was secure all the way from the patio door.


The office opened late. DFW has no ability to handle snow and ice (truly, not a salt truck to be found), so the cities shut down completely for several hours. Oddly enough, the kids' school did not. JP braved the snowy roads while I settled in for an episode of the West Wing and some personal to-do's on the laptop. And then I went to work, where I FROZE and spent the day shivering and drinking hot tea in an attempt to warm up enough to type things on my computer. I never warmed up much, but it is well after midnight and I am still high on the caffeine.

I'm realizing that I am going to have very little to say in the next few weeks outside of menus, weekend goings on (another trip to the zoo this past Sunday; it was 29 degrees and we were the only ones there. It was a fabulous time that was nearly identical to the time we had the Sunday before), and the occasional indulgence in how much spousal unemployment sucks. It's also been a year since my last Q&A and I came across several emails from blog readers in the Marchish 2012 time period and I now feel overcome with guilt because in the midst of the move and new job and lack of gmail access during daytime hours I never responded to them. (So sorry emailers, the lagliv gmails sometimes gets lost amidst the day-to-day account I have them forwarded to, though I do usually try to keep up.)

Which is to say, is there anything you'd like to hear about besides frigid zoo trips and weekly menus? Unanswered questions? Stories I started but didn't finish? Let me know and I'll fit them in between posts extolling the virtues of Sprouts and its grass fed beef for bargain prices!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Food and Cuddles

The view from my parking spot on the roof of the garage at work. I snapped it with my iPhone the evening after this post, it's lovely isn't it?

 

We ate out on Friday, a delicious foray into a Chuy's happy hour. It was a spontaneous special treat that felt necessary enough to be worth the expense. And it was. We love restaurants, all of us- Landon has been asking for weeks when we can eat out again, and the kids are well-behaved enough that JP and I can go entire minutes pretending we're alone on a date. It's been a long time since we've gone out for Tex Mex and the free happy hour queso and $3.95 margaritas (two things I don't make at home) were all like a balm to the soul. Everything is brighter after 1.5 margaritas and a large bowl of queso.

Speaking of food, this week's menu is as follows:

Saturday: Mom's delicious spaghetti sauce with rigatoni pasta, salad, and extra buttery extra garlic-salty Italian bread.

Sunday: Buffalo Chicken Casserole, as recommended by CP, with a few modifications to make it way less spicey (1 Tbl of Buffalo sauce instead of 6), more creamy (adding sour cream to the sauce) and less bacony (no bacon; JP hates it). CP also recommended slicing the potatoes thin, which I plan to do as well. That'll be served with sliced veggies, blue cheese dressing (and Ranch, as my crazy blue-cheese hating, but Ranch loving husband prefers), and rolls.

Monday: PW's Beef with Snow Peas stirfry. A family favorite and one of JP's specialties. We use a mix of veggies and serve it over brown rice.

Tuesday: Leftover spaghetti sauce over a different shape of pasta. Because different shapes make a different meal!

Wednesday: Greek pizzas. Big fat pita breads from Sprouts, topped with olive oil, herbs, feta, kalamatas, tomatoes, and a bit of mozzerella. Baked and then topped with a cold Greek salad with a homemade dressing (just olive oil, wine vinegar, and oregano; as I learned in Greece, those three simple ingredients are all feta cheese needs to be fabulous).

Thursday: Tamales (with shredded beef filling; steamed), Spanish rice, and a baked zucchini, corn, and tomato side dish that I ate at a restaurant once and plan to attempt to recreate.

Friday: Homemade pizza!

So that's the week! I just discovered Sprouts Farmer's Market and now I have a big dilemma each weekend of trying to decide how many grocery stores I'm willing to stop at to get the most produce, meat, and other foods at the cheapest prices. The current routine is Costco once a month, alternating TJ's or Sprout's every Saturday, and adding Kroger as a second stop to gather up the few remaining items. Our grocery costs have gone down and our quantity, quality, and variety of produce is way up. It's a great wealth of options we have.

And finally, because I like pictures and didn't post these over Christmas, I present our snuggle Bear. It's always hard to describe Claire- she's so many things, but while we joke about her feistiness, the truth is, the girl's barely ever even thrown a tantrum and is generally a cheerful ball of happiness. She's independent and she's smart and oh my goodness does she TALK, but above all, she's incredibly sweet and snuggly. If she sees you in any sort of horizontal position, she will drape herself across you immediately. Even my brother, who is afraid of babies and very small children, was not immune.

 

Landon is no longer quite so small and can be played with properly. They were building legos (a present from Uncle Eric, who was quite the legomaniac himself as a child), and next thing you know, the snuggler appears.

 

He might not admit it, but I think he liked it. I noticed he was careful not to move his legs until she got up.

 

Later that day, Bear spotted her Papa sleeping happily on the couch. She moved in immediately.

 

Which resulted in quite possibly my favorite picture from the whole holiday weekend.

 

Weekends are wonderful things. The not having a job seems to matter so much less, and the fun with the kids and the watching of Downton Abbey are marvelous distractions. The worry is always below the surface, but it doesn't seem to bubble up so much on our "home days" as the kids call them. Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Locals and Tourists

I went to a neighborhood association meeting tonight. Well, not just any neighborhood association, my neighborhood association meeting. Because I am an adult, with a neighborhood, and I go to its meetings, along with 30 other senior citizens and 1 other 30-something mom, to learn about things like the horrors of egret nesting, whether or not the local hardware store is violating a fire ordinance in the placement of its propane tanks, and the next bond initiative/redistricting/something involving voting that is coming soon but seriously the meeting as running on 2 hours at that point and I was having a hard time staying focused. There were a lot of people knitting. It was actually a pretty good time, though would have been made better with a glass of wine, and I'm glad I went. Now that I'm a public servant and spend my evenings watching all the television I've been missing for the last 8 years, I'm determined to get more involved in my neighborhood and the kids' school. Meeting everyone in the elementary auditorium was step 1. Step 2 will likely involve the PTA. Watch out Fort Worth, I'm a grown up with free weekend and evening time.

Speaking of our neighborhood, we spent a chilly Sunday acting like tourists and exploring all of our favorite (free!) haunts.

The Fort Worth zoo, voted somewhere sometime as a Top 5 zoo in the country, really is fabulous. We joined back in April, figuring the cost was covered in two family visits, and since it's only a few miles from our house, surely we'll go at least that many times. Ten months in and I think the kids have been 50 times or so. I've only gone on 8 trips, but JP now takes the kids almost every day after school. The zoo is usually empty then and they get to run around before coming home exhausted and ready to docilely play with legos and babies. They've also gotten to know many of the trainers at their favorite exhibits and even Claire can now direct you to any animal you want to see. Afternoons spent with their dad, and their part-time school schedule that now ends at 2:30, are a few upsides to our current underemployed situation. I haven't been with them in months and it was so fun to run around with them as tour guides.

First up, Claire's favorite exhibit- the monkeys!


Then, the white tiger! Right in front of us!


That Claire conversed with, yelling out, "Otay, I see you later!" as we walked away.


We saw Bears! with the Bear!


We climbed fences to look over boulders at whatever animal was beyond that nice, natural, Claire-sized boundary that I can't remember.


JP and Landon attempted to pet a frisky Ibex until I saw what was happening put an end to it, noting that I refused to be that family in the local news story that goes viral on the internet because a member tried to pet an animal at the zoo only to lose a hand or digit. JP noted that I seemed less concerned about either of them losing the digit than I was about being famous for something so stupid.


We moved on to a safer activity, petting snakes in the MOLA.


Claire called her Gigi while listening to snake sounds. When I told her it was time to move on, she said, "Just a minute please mama, I'm talkin to somebody right now." She is beyond her years (and she did say please).


After stopping at home for lunch and a nap, we headed back out to the downtown water gardens. We love the water gardens. A big, free, surprising city block in the middle of a brown downtown full of pools and sprays and ledges to climb. It was a chilly day, as evidenced by Claire's beloved coat, and we had pretty much the whole gardens to ourselves.

We walked.

 

And climbed.

 

And waited for mommy when she realized we were getting too far apart.

 

We hopped stone steps to climb down into the active pool. We love the active pool, while also finding it a little scary.

 

And then we sat by the spray pool and contemplated life.

 

Before finding a corner full of ledges and circles to play house. The circles were bathtubs, the ledges were bunk beds. I sat on the side playing hearts on the phone, smiling and laughing under my breath as I listened to the Landon-led imaginative play. I say this just about every day, but man do I love having two kids. There is very little as awesome as listening to them play together. We stayed in that corner for nearly 45 minutes until Mommy got bored with her hearts game and decided it was time to move on to the next stop.

On our last round, we picked daddy up from the house (he'd been sleeping when we left and I felt generous enough to leave him to it) and went to our favorite park. The kids ran more and laughed more and climbed more, this time on dinosaurs.

 

We went home and enjoyed a dinner of fancy lemony braised chicken and a dessert of two more episodes of Downton Abbey season 2. It was a really lovely day (in a really lovely town!).

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

in the middle of the night

I'm sitting in the family room with the lights dimmed at 10:00. Rain is pouring down on the skylights above my head. I need to sleep. I haven't slept well in days, many days, but I have to write. As I explained to JP as he tried to pull me to bed with him a little while ago, writing is my swimming, just without the calorie-burn. Always, but particularly in times of stress, he must swim. I, it appears, must write. Not necessarily publish, as my burgeoning drafts folder proves, but write. Get the thoughts that bounce around in my head all day and all night out.

I have a draft I haven't published from every day this week. An excerpt from Saturday's:

~~~

Last night was a late night. It wasn't supposed to be. We got in bed at 10:30, after 2 more episodes of the West Wing (Netflix streaming has all 156 of them, so I'm re-addicted and JP is re-enduring) and turned out the lights. JP was quieter than normal, which means something is bothering him.

I've learned, over our 11.5 years together, that we handle botherations differently. I, probably not surprisingly, want to talk about it. Generally at least 11 times, reaching different conclusions each time, and then, when I have it all nearly settled, I need talk about it at least once more. JP is to contribute supportive sounds, but no solutions. Solutions imply that I can't solve it myself and/or that there even is a solution, two things that are rarely true regarding issues that are bothering me enough to lend themselves to the 11 + 1 number of discussions. JP, on the other hand, withdraws. He is always quieter than me, but when something is bothering him, it is deeper and it makes my heart hurt and it does no good to ask what is wrong. I can hug him more and hold his hand while he falls asleep, but the best way to help is to just be quiet with him until he resolves it or decides to talk about it. And so, lately, in the evening after the kids are in bed, we spend a lot of time being quiet together.

The lights were off and I assumed JP was asleep (those two events generally occurring simultaneously) when suddenly he said, "can you believe it's been nearly 10 years since I graduated college?" He graduated in May of 2004, so it's been 8.5, not 10.0, and in that time he's worked for an international oil company, gotten married, moved to Chicago, left the bigoil job to be an investment banker, had a child, gotten an MBA, started a company, had another child, and worked for another Fortune 100 company, so, yeah, I could believe it had been 10 8.5 years.

But I knew what he meant. And it's so hard for me to respond to statements like that (and others like the quiet, "what if I never find anything?" and, "what if no one ever hires me?" from a few days ago). Saturday's was just that this is not where he thought he would be right now. I can't imagine any unwillingly unemployed person feels that they are where they thought they'd be, and it's so hard to figure out what to say next because I graduated college with him, full of dreams of myself in 10 years and I know what he means. And I know exactly how I would brush away all the positive, optimistic things he would be saying if the situation was reversed. I said them anyway, of course, because they're real and I believe them and so should he, but it was fear of moments like that sent me reeling so hard when we found out he'd been part of the latest "workforce reduction" at his company. It wasn't money, though that simmers below, and it wasn't any sort of disappointment or long-term fear for the future, it was knowing that moments like last night were coming and that I couldn't head them off or make them better.

And then there are the nights, in the midst of an insomnia spiral at 2 a.m., that I let myself wonder, what if he doesn't find anything in the next 3 months? the next 6? How can we handle that on a practical level? How the hell can I handle it on an emotional level? How can he? And I want to shake him awake so he can make my bad thoughts go away like he always does, but I don't because I don't want to tell him those thoughts are why I'm bleary-eyed with a piercing headache 4.5 hours later while I'm getting ready for work.

~~~

When I write something after 10 p.m. I try to wait until the next day to publish it. Mostly to clear up spelling issues or random fragments of sentences I'd feverishly half-changed when, paragraphs later, I was struck with the perfect word for a thought written way up above, but also to make sure I'm still okay with making it public (and that anyone whose name pops up in the torrent would be okay with it as well). For the above excerpted draft, holding it back was as simple as having a good Sunday. We went to the zoo, the water gardens, two of our favorite parks- all free, all fun. The kids were absolutely delightful, the weather was cold and beautiful, we practically had the city to ourselves. I covered myself in the delight of the kids' squeals when the white tiger walked right up to their viewing window and laughter as they played a spontaneous game of "house" in a grassy nook of the water gardens. I was filled with gratitude for my healthy, vibrantly happy children, my loving, also healthy husband, my job, our home, our pudgy but steadfast dog who didn't run out to the street even when we left the driveway gate open for 3 hours while he was in the backyard after our walk. As I worked on a complicated 15-step, 5-pan lemon rosemary braised chicken with whipped potatoes recipe on Sunday night, I reminded myself that even though we can't eat out, I can still fill my cart with delicious, healthy ingredients and I have time every night to cook with them. Perspective was within my grasp, and I vowed again to put new words and energy behind my support for JP.

But then the middle of the night comes again. And the week starts and there's no news, so few jobs, every one he can find already applied for, and it hurts. He just found out another possible position is no longer being filled and yet another has pushed hiring back to an undefined future date and all evening I look over at him on the couch we're sharing and he's a million miles away in a world of self-doubt and loathing I can't seem to pierce. I try, and he pats my hand and smiles, and goes under again. And I know four months isn't that long, particularly when it falls over the holidays and year-end, and there's genuine reason to believe things will pick up early in the New Year- I know that and I truly believe it when I remind him of the same, and yet, it is has been 125 days of no news and no change and it is hard when it seems like nothing is even on the horizon. It is so hard and he is sad and that makes me sad too and I find that lately I can either write about this or write nothing at all. And when I write nothing I stay up late turning over phrases in my head until I get out of bed and write them down anyway. Write them down and save them and go back to bed and put his hand in mine some more.

It is hard.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolved

We were supposed to go to a party last night, but it was in Dallas (which, contrary to the term "DFW" and the fact that I can see the Dallas skyline out of my downtown Fort Worth office window, is not part of Fort Worth, but rather is an hour drive away; we've lived here for 10 months, we've been near Dallas only twice) and we couldn't get a sitter and Claire's been stubbornly sick, so we decided to have a family party at home. The kids and I piled in the car (with Bear still in her pj's, covered by a warm jacket) to make a quick Kroger run at 5 p.m. to pick up any party supplies remaining in the store display (only napkins and blowers could be found). We had to repurpose a few things in the house, but I think we made a nice table.

 

We enjoyed flank steak, riced potatoes, fresh veggies, bread, red wine, champagne, apple cider, and store bought desserts. Then JP and I enjoyed another bottle of champagne after the kids toddled off to bed at 8. We made it to midnight, barely.

 

Landon's highlight of the night (and possibly his whole year) was getting to drink his sparkling cider out of a champagne flute. Claire spent most of the meal in my lap, but we got her to eat everything on her plate. She managed the cupcake without any help at all.

 

Also yesterday, I flew in the face of my new health and fitness-based resolutions and made homemade cinnamon rolls. It just felt right.

 

This recipe is excellent, though next time I'm adding more powdered sugar to the icing and using salted butter (I wanted it a little sweeter; as it's written, it tastes mostly like cream cheese, and then I just like salt). The dough was easy to work with and rose beautifully and I love that it only makes 18. I do not need more than 1.5 dozen cinnamon rolls in my house.

 

As to goals for 2013, I have a few.

1. Get back on track with family walks. We have a 2.5 mile loop that runs through woods and streams and parks that we love, but we've fallen off the wagon in doing it. This is due largely to the fact that the training wheels on Landon's bike are almost completely worn away, resulting in lots of falls and tears and frustration, but our one attempt to teach him to ride his bike without training wheels was so disastrous that none of us has even mentioned it again. Luckily, Landon got a scooter from my parents for Christmas, so now he scoots along while I once again get exercise in the only form I do not hate (well, that and hiking, but hiking is really just walking with an incline and better scenery).


(Daddy, "borrowing" the scooter to see if Tex could be eligible for sled dog training)

2. Pick up the free weights sitting in the closet in the family room and do a few reps any time I sit down and turn on the TV. Thanks to swimming and then carrying around my babies, my arms are fairly toned. I'd like to keep them that way (yes, it's purely superficial, but I'm told weight-bearing exercise has health benefits as well). The weights are right there, there's no reason I can't pick them up when I'm hanging out at night or while the kids are napping on the weekends. The same reasoning should apply to doing a few sit-ups, but let's not get crazy.


trainer

3. Make vegetables with every dinner. Also, learn ways to make vegetables that do not involve steaming. I don't mind the occasional steamed vegetable, but there has got to be other ways to make a healthy vegetable side dish.

4. Re-start a vacation savings account as soon as JP gets a job. There are many things demanding financial attention, but in reviewing our pictures from 2012, absolutely none stand out so brightly as our January ski trip. It was expensive and we saved money in a special online savings account for 2 years to do it, but it made memories for a lifetime. And next trip, the kids should actually be able to remember it for a lifetime too!

5. Stop pussyfooting around about baby #3. Stop letting fear of transient inconveniences or uncertainty (JP's unemployment; fear of newborns and their sleep/wake cycles; hatred of pregnancy; our current uncertainty on where we might be living 6 months from now; weight gain; weight loss; money; the return to diapers; more daycare just when we are about to downsize to only 1 attendee; car size; house size; money; fear of newborns; JP's unemployment; etc, etc, etc.) get in the way of a life-long decision. Decide, move forward, stop talking about it. And then work on reacquiring all the baby stuff we gave away when we moved. (Update: To be clear, my goal is to resolve our constant "should we have another?" discussions by the end of the year. I am decidedly not pregnant. We are decidedly not resolved. If JP ever actually read this blog he would have a panic attack at your lovely congratulatory comments :).


on board; practicing

6. Support JP. Both in unemployment and the job search generally and his new business venture specifically. I'm not going to lie, it scares the hell out of me (both of those things, but the new venture even more), but it's something he believes in and desperately wants to do (no matter how much he holds back from pressuring me on supporting it). In the short term, this means being his sounding board and enthusiastic co-worker at the end of the day when most of the time I just want to tune out and watch West Wing re-runs. This is his dream; he deserves this chance; and as I have to keep reminding myself (and we learned the hard way this year), every job has risks, including working for the large, stable Fortune 100 company of my risk-averse dreams.

2012 brought us a new job for me, Fort Worth, home renovations, two trips to Colorado, new friends, and new opportunities. I'm looking forward to what 2013 has to offer, and I'm hoping a new, exciting job for JP, preferably in Fort Worth, and some good news on a few critical items regarding the new business, are first up on the list. (Job first though, please; someone has to worry about our mortgage and that someone has insomnia that is highly correlated with stress. Fully supportive stress.)

 

Happy 2013!