Monday, February 25, 2013


I turned 30 today and I can say, pretty much without reservation, that it has been the best birthday ever (though ages 5, 10, 13, 16, 21, and 23 were pretty great too). This one started yesterday (well, really, it started on Friday with the shopping) with a big surprise party at our house with about 30 friends.


It was awesome. I've never had a surprise party and I've always wanted one and when I realized what was happening I was nearly overwhelmed at the thought of JP planning it out and so many co-workers coming over to celebrate. JP is wonderful and thoughtful and the perfect partner in nearly all ways, but planning ahead is really not one of his love languages.


He'd kicked me out of the house Sunday morning, telling me to go spend the rest of my birthday money and to come home at noon because the kids were going to make some cards and decorate and then we were going to have a picnic lunch outside. Okay I said and headed out to Marshall's where I spent the remaining dregs of my birthday checks (one more pair of shoes, a painting for the laundry room, and some new bras- we were moving towards the practical side of things there by the end). Around 11:50 I started getting texts asking if I was on my way and telling me that the kids were hungry and ready to eat. "So feed them," I wrote back, confused as to why my presence at lunch was so important and also why JP was texting me because he hates texting with the fire of a thousand suns and has only sent me about 5 texts in the last 3 years combined. But I hurried up, throwing the two pairs of shoes I was agonizing over in the cart because I was too rushed to make a proper decision on a pair of tan leather wedges.

(Claire's "cheese" face- she is literally yelling "CHEEEESE" at the camera, and my new boots)

So I pulled up in the driveway, confused about the fact that no children appeared, and then JP came out the back door and told me to close my eyes so he could lead me in the house to see the kids' surprise. I did and then grew suspicious when I heard rustling that was either my children plus a couple elephants or my children plus a whole bunch of people. Then I heard the shhh'ing. There's no way my kids would be shhh'ing, so I knew an extra grown-up had to be around somewhere. There was a big "Surprise!" and out poured a stream of people from the family room where they'd all gone to hide when they realized the entire back of our house is made of windows and I'd be able to see them from my parking spot at the end of the driveway.


There was pizza (from Costco, my favorite) and a smorgasbord of other items from the partygoers that all went together beautifully even though the additions weren't planned out at all. JP, despite remembering to email everyone two weeks in advance and tell them to park several blocks away, forgot to buy plates and napkins, so there was a cheerful medley of paper plates and plastic utensils donated by the partygoers at the last minute as well. By the time we served cake, we were eating off a medley of our dinner dishes, including salad plates, dinner plates, and bowl-like pasta plates. It was casual, fun, loud, and kids were running around everywhere. In short, it was absolutely awesome.

JP makes my birthday cake every year (Pillsbury funfetti; a sacred tradition), so it didn't even occur to him to just order a cake for the party. Oh no, he was in the kitchen, beating eggs and cake mix in a bowl tucked in the crook of his arm while guests were milling about grabbing beer and pizza. The cakes baked while everyone ate, and then when he realized he wouldn't be able to ice them right away, they were thrown in the freezer to cool before the essential funfetti icing could be added. There was singing and a wearing of the birthday crown he'd fashioned earlier with a plastic tiara, some birthday number candles with the toothpicks and wicks cut off, and some sort of floor sealant glue.


When everyone left a few hours later, I realized that I didn't know a single one of those people on my last birthday and now here they are, not only co-workers I love working with, but also friends I'm so happy to have at my party. I felt very lucky and very loved.

Then, today, I got to work (a little late, it took a while to pick out my outfit- you don't turn 30 everyday and it felt imperative that I wear one of my new pieces of birthday clothing) and I chatted and laughed and drafted a subpoena and suddenly it was lunchtime! We went to Rodeo Goat, my new very favorite Fort Worth restaurant, where we all shared a Cheese Fries Surprise and a Cheese Fries No Surprise and I had a Nanny Goat burger smothered in herbed goat cheese. There also might have been a beer because who am I to say no to a free draft Hefeweizen on a birthday (or any day, really).

Not too long after that there was cake. A cookie cake to be precise, procured from several miles away because apparently everyone I work with got the idea over the last year that I have a slight fondness for cookie cake and there could be no substitutes for the real Great American Cookie Company thing.

A coworker also found out there was such a thing as a double-doozy cookie cake (a double doozy is two cookies pressed together with a bunch of icing in the middle; I had one every day of my pregnancy with Claire) and he informed the designated cookie-picker-upper and she tried to get one only to be told by a confused cookie worker that she could have cookie cake OR a double doozy, but not both. In the words of my colleague, there is cookie cake and there are double doozies but never the two shall meet. I ended up with a bag of double doozies and really, the story combined with the image of my 6-months pregnant co-worker being stared down by a cookie worker over the existence of a double-doozy cookie cake that is CLEARLY displayed on their website, was better than a 5 lb. piece of double cookie cake I probably definitely didn't need anyway. As I told my co-workers while the story was being relayed (and while another indignant co-worker was bringing up the GACC menu to prove the existence of the elusive double-doozy cookie cake), it's possible I've never felt as loved as I did in that moment.

Except maybe a few moments later during the secret after party when it's possible there was champagne in a secret location at a secret time that cannot be confirmed by anyone. 30 is awesome.



It continued. Legally Fabulous is staying at my house tonight. She's taking the Bar tomorrow, so go wish her luck, and she offered to watch the kids while JP and I went out for some dinner. JP picked me up (the champagne, the existence of which I cannot confirm, may have made it unwise for me to drive myself) and we went to Gloria's where I ate food this time, along with my birthday margarita. It was lovely to chat with him without checking to see how much queso Claire was shoveling in her mouth with a spoon. The waiter brought me a surprise piece of cake. For once, I really didn't need another piece of cake, but JP stepped up and ate every bite after I blew out the candle.


Then we came home to the second birthday cake JP baked and iced for me because he felt I should have one on my real birthday, not knowing I would basically be spending all day eating things covered in cheese and/or sugar. I managed to eat a slice. Legally Fab ate one too, as did the children.


I love that he remembered to buy a second box of funfetti cake mix, but forgot to save the "3" and "0" candles from yesterday, so I got to use last year's candles and turn 29! I'm pretty sure that means I get to turn 30 again tomorrow, which would be great, except I think I need at least 24 hours and a few long runs (ha, kidding, no running) to recover from this one.


It's been a wonderful two days. I plan on turning 30 every year.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Things I Actually Bought

I had things to talk about regarding the last week: I got a surprise job interview in Austin at a prestigious boutique firm. JP is at this very moment interviewing for a position as Aquatics Director for a local country club which might allow him to simultaneously launch his swim school here in Fort Worth. Yesterday I found myself arguing passionately for him starting said swim school instead of pursuing a corporate path (one of the bigger wtf moments of our entire relationship). I sat on the floor of the guest room on Wednesday and read my freshman year college scrapbook and reminisced over pictures of baby faced JP and me falling in love and looking awkward. We finished the Netflix House of Cards series and holy crap did it get good at the end (loved the beginning, had some doubts in the middle, blew me away in the last few). I took testimony a second time and I didn't make myself ill in the days leading up to it. My boss wrote an email to our higher-up bosses praising my performances in words so complimentary I told him I was going to redact all non-public info in the email, laminate it, and glue it on my fridge. On the way home from work that day I stopped to buy a margarita with the kids (JP had dropped them off at my office on the way to a meeting at another pool). I was driving, with every intention of going home and cooking some pasta like a good girl, but my head was killing me, I was running on adrenaline, and all- ALL- I could think about was stopping at Gloria's for a happy hour margarita. And so I did. The kids colored and ate queso and tortillas, I drank my margarita and replayed segments of testimony over and over in my head with a big smile on my face. An elderly woman walked by and put her hand on my shoulders and said, "You have lovely children." I laughed- not because I don't have lovely children, I do, and I enjoy the hell out of them, but because at that exact moment I was tilting my head back to get the last bit of frozen tequila goodness from the bottom of my glass while they ate melted cheese for dinner. A shining moment in my motherhood, to be sure.

But I waited too long to write about any of that, so we're going to move on to what's on my mind today- shopping! Shopping and the pretty things I just bought that I must share with you because I shared them with JP- twice- and I still don't think he's exhibited the proper amount of enthusiasm. It started when I opened a birthday card on Thursday night from a family friend- Landon's godmother- and she included a Mastercard gift card with a note to "spend it on YOU- maybe something from your blog post?". And then I opened my grandparents' card with their birthday check and I decided to follow orders.

On Friday I took a lunch break away from my desk and found myself in Ann Taylor with 45 minutes and a 40% off clearance sale before me. I found, and fell deeply in love with, the following items:

First up, this dress. This dress is gorgeous. It was originally $168, on clearance for $50 because some crazy person returned one weeks after it was sold out in the store. Then it was 40% off and I had a $15 birthday coupon and a $20 separate coupon and at the end of the day, it was noted as $21 on my recipt. $21!!


There was a slight problem when I realized I couldn't raise my arms up over shoulder-level and, had I discovered this beautiful sartorial confection weeks earlier when more than one existed in the store, I would have liked to try a size up. But I interviewed all the sales associates and they all assured me it did not look too small, nor did I look too ridiculous when I simulated hugging someone while keeping my arms near my waist. (I've earmarked this dress for my 5-year law school reunion in May; there will be hugging.) It not only flatters my figure like you wouldn't believe (particularly with a peplum involved; I hate the entire concept of a peplum and its trendiness right now and yet on this dress it's magic), but it will perfectly showcase this necklace that JP bought me 4 years ago to belatedly commemorate my graduations from UT and UChicago (topaz for Texas, garnets for Chicago; it's a cheesy school color thing but it works and I love it).


It is however too fancy to wear very often, so my new burgundy wide necked dress and my fancy '08 class dinner will be the perfect opportunity to bring it out from its case. And even though I won't be able to raise my arms very high, I practiced and found I was perfectly capable of lifting them to a level at which I can sip from a champagne glass.

Next up, this faux wrap dress. Real wrap dresses look terrible on me, on account of my waist being wider than my hips, but this cheater one is beautiful. Also, $13.


I fell in like with this top when it first popped up in a "Say hello to Spring" promotional email many weeks ago. It's a yellow that doesn't completely wash me out and you know I love a good stripe. It will look excellent with my white denim capris and tan wedges and it was $7.


And finally, this top, which is a combo of silk and cotton, made my eyes all sparkly and is going to look excellent with my black blazer and many other things. It was $12 and I love it at least 4x that much.


All in all, these 4 items cost me $57 after tax. I was practically glowing as I burst back in my office that afternoon and forced multiple co-workers to listen to my raptures about the peplum dress. Then, this morning, Claire and I headed out to do our usual round of grocery shopping and instead made our first trip to DSW since moving to Fort Worth 11.5 months ago. I had $93 left of my birthday money and mommy was buying herself some new shoes.

We went to the clearance section first, of course, where I came face to face with The Boots- the boots from my "Things I Haven't Bought" post! They were marked down to $50 and 40% off, so $30! $30 cognac boots that will look excellent with dresses and even better over skinny jeans. It was a sign of favor from the shoe gods that they've missed me.


Bear, carrying her purse and baby and wearing her sunglasses indoors, as a diva does on weekend errands, found this lovely pair of stripper heels to try on:


Sadly, they did not make the final cut. We tried on many more, largely in my quest to find a pair of black patent pumps I like as much as the too-expensive Ann Taylor version, but also because I got distracted by all the Spring wedges.


Forty minutes later I was settled on this Tahari pair for a full DSW price of $59.95 and I love them very much.


I have spent the last year learning how much I don't need to buy stuff to make me happy, but that in no way diminishes the happiness I still get when I'm able to buy stuff. I fell asleep last night planning my next week of outfits to incorporate my new items. It's been a fun few days.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Kids Food Fun

I went through the kids' clothes yesterday and after forcing Landon to strip and try on a large pile of last Spring and Summer's wardrobe, I discovered the child has grown. I hate when they do that. After trying on everything and removing anything that didn't fit, an empty drawer that used to be full of shorts stared back at me. I dug an Old Navy coupon out of my purse and filed the family out into the car for some shopping while my cinnamon rolls did their second rise. We left 45 minutes later with 5 pairs of shorts, two polos (in the colors he'll have to wear for his uniform in elementary school next year - ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, do you remember this baby? I barely do.), a secret swim suit, cover up, and flip flops for Claire's Easter basket, and this adorable Batgirl shirt that Landon picked out for Claire and I couldn't resist because it was so cute (the shirt itself and the fact that he picked it out for her).

Modeling super moves this morning

By the time we got home my rising cinnamon rolls had exploded out of their pans in a joyous mess of puffy dough and cinnamon and sugar. I cooked them anyway and while they weren't as pretty as the last batch, they were equally delicious (I taste-tested one at 10:30 p.m. just to be sure; we were bringing them to our friends this morning as part of a housewarming brunch). I changed up the frosting- I found the original recipe to be too cream cheesy and not pourable enough. I added an extra 1/2-3/4 cup of powdered sugar, an extra Tbl of butter, and a splash of whole milk. It was perfect. I'm strongly tempted to dump it on everything I make from here on out.


We cooked out hamburgers with oven fries and fruit for dinner and I started my prep for our housewarming brunch for our friends. This morning completed the preparations (sausage and egg casserole, pumpkin pancakes, cinnamon rolls, fruit, OJ; deliciousness for all ages) and we spent 3 hours at their new house eating, admiring the house and its half-finished renovation projects, and throwing balls at the children in the gorgeous 65 degree weather.

Tonight we're having oven jambalaya, the very best jambalaya recipe I've ever made. Also the only jambalaya recipe I've ever made, or ever eaten really- not liking shrimp or spicy anything makes it a dish I am highly unlikely to order, but this recipe is perfect. I can't vouch for its authenticity, but we got it from a family friend who is from Louisiana, so it's possible.

Oven Jambalaya

2 cups Uncle Ben's rice (or 1-16 oz box of rice)
2+ pounds of shrimp, raw, peeled & deveined
1 stick of margarine or butter, sliced
1/2 cup parsley
1 can Campbell's French Onion soup
1 can Campbell's Beef Broth
1-8 oz can tomato sauce
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
1 bunch green onions and tops, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper

1. Mix everything in a roaster. Cover. Bake at 350 degrees for 75 to 90 mins. Stir once after 45 minutes.
2. Eat (remove bay leaves first).
Optional: Douse in hot sauce.

Notes from me: I substitute a pound of raw, boneless chicken for the shrimp and put it in at the 45 minute mark. Sometimes I splash in a little more beef broth at that point if this mixture is looking dry. The kids love this meal, it was the first thing Claire ever ate more of than Landon and I think she was about 16 months old. It is very very delicious.

On to the rest of the week:

Sun: Jambalaya, green beans, crusty bread
Mon: Chicken verde enchiladas, black beans, Spanish rice
Tues: Leftovers from either Sun or Mon (whichever has enough for another meal)
Wed: Pasta, meatballs, garlic bread
Thurs: Chicken cheesy pasta with fresh broccoli
Fri: Breakfast tacos, fruit

I take testimony again on Thursday, so I will likely be working very late Wednesday night and then I'm secretly hoping JP and I will manage another date night since my birthday is on Monday and despite the fact that I dropped another $100 at Carter's today buying the kids a whole bunch of pj's, a swim sufit, rash guard, and flip flops for Landon's Easter basket, and some summer shirts and shorts for both kiddos (the lack of hand-me-downs is perhaps the biggest downside to having children first among your friends), I think turning 30 deserves a meal at a nice restaurant. Particularly since I ended up being strong enough to close out of all my shopping windows from this post without buying a single thing.

I hear the children stirring from their naps- time to throw together some jambalaya and head out on a family walk. Because I'm sure that slowly plodding around our neighborhood with a dog, stoller, and 5-year-old on a scooter will work off all that icing I licked off the spatula last night.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Be My Valentine

As we were laying in bed last night, I told JP this was maybe our best Valentine's ever. It was just so delightfully "us"- where we are right now- the kids, family, excitement, giggles, tears, snuggles, kisses, sweet moments, cost-effective lunch dates, and incredibly thoughtful heart-shaped homemade pizzas. It was us.

First up, themed outfits and a table decorated from the $1 spot bins at Target.


The kids were pumped. Claire in particular was excited to wear her ladybug outfit she got from Papa and Gigi for Christmas with her beloved black "fancy shoes." Landon was not as into the clothes, but did deign to change into a red shirt when I asked it as a favor.

I tried to get pictures with the kids, but Claire only wanted to show the camera her sparkly headband and Landon only cracked a smile when JP made his 15th disgusting fart joke and my smile was just on the edge of turning into a grimace.


The kids had their little bags of Valentine's ready to go and were in the middle of putting on their shoes and trying to recall whether they'd brushed their teeth or not and I was lingering at home even though I really needed to get on my way to work and JP was getting the lunches together and it was just such a lovely snapshot of our morning. No different from any other morning with its usual "Claire, FOCUS, get your socks please!" and "Landon, it takes longer than 10 seconds to brush your teeth, you can't possibly have done it right in the time you've been gone, go try again please." And yet, there's little that makes me happier than being in the midst of the madness of my young family.

literally jumping for joy about going to school

JP and I went out on an impromptu lunch date. He picked me up outside my office and we headed to Rodeo Goat, a fantastic new burger place Fort Worth we'd been wanting to try. We got to sit outside in a gravel filled patio, share a beer and "cheese fries surprise" (it doesn't get more romantic than a platter of fries smothered in cheese, chili, and jalapenos at a place called Rodeo Goat on Valentine's Day) and select one of twenty or so crazy burgers. Mine was a dainty beef patty covered in blue cheese slaw, carmelized onions, and herb garlic mayo, while JP's crazy combo involved a beef chorizo patty topped with avocado, pico de gallo, a fried egg, queso fresco cheese, and tabasco mayo. Delicious, fun, and we didn't even need a sitter.

During lunch I'd mentioned that I was sad we couldn't order our usual heart-shaped pizza from Mangia's (in Austin) for dinner this year. I assumed we'd fire up a frozen pie, though I was so full at the time I could hardly bear to think about it. But then, hours later, I came home to find JP standing over some painstakenly hand-shaped homemade heart shaped pizzas ready to go in the oven. It was one of the most thoughtful things he's ever done.


Seriously, I practically got teary right there in the kitchen over some unbaked pizza dough.


The kids then showed me all their Valentine's one by one, but I was still too full to eat so we decided to go a family walk before dinner. Near the end of our walk, I saw Landon zoom ahead around the turn to our street and suddenly, in what I swear was slow motion, his scooter hit a rock and he went flying-- flying directly over his scooter and into a large mud puddle. The only puddle on our street, leftover from a rain many days ago. I saw it all happen, saw his little body completely parallel to the ground, and thought oh no, this could be bad. Luckily, he was physically fine, but the impact combined with water combined with mud caused him to momentarily lose his mind. He just sort of broke, right there in the puddle. Crying and screaming in a way that reminded me of his infant self with an ear infection. It was definitely nothing we've heard in many years and it caused Tex to look rather alarmed. JP and I tried to brush him off, but he was soaking wet, so we removed his shirt, which caused much consternation ("I'm not wearing my shirt and I'm ouuuuuutsiiiiide.") and tried to prod him toward home with a firm hand on his back, still pushing the stroller, holding a dog's leash, and carrying the scooter. As we approached our driveway Landon simply lost the will to live and refused to move forward. I was having a hard time not giggling because the whole thing had just reached epic levels of drama and it was so perfect that it was Valentine's Day and here we were caterwauling in the street while our beautiful heart-shaped pizzas remained uncooked on the counter. Claire turned in her stroller to GLARE at me, like how could I dare not take this situation seriously- a child is crying, my god woman, have you no idea how to behave? She reached out to stroke Landon's arm from the stroller and said "It's otay Yandon, we'll get you inside and all clean and cozy. It's otay Yandon." Laughing more now, I gave JP a big kiss as we got to the backdoor and split up, him leading Landon to our bathtub for a soak (with Claire following closely behind, still muttering endearments because clearly the parents could not be trusted to do so), while I put the pizzas in the oven. It was just, it was life with small kids, it was so our life at this stage- romance and sweetness and flying into mud puddles and screaming. You can't plan out a thing, but I do love almost every minute.


I found a surprise bouquet of roses in our room around that time, solving the mystery of why JP had kept asking me if I was going to go change when I got home and didn't immediately do so. He cut out a little rose for Claire and dropped it in a milk cup, to her utter delight.


While she and JP were putting it in a special spot next to her bed, Landon came up to me and said quietly, "what if I want a flower too?" And so now there are two plastic glasses, with a red rose each, sitting in their room by their beds. We got lots of snuggles and kisses before saying goodnight and closing the door and switching to the adult portion of our evening.


JP and I exchanged our cards and later, as I admired my bouquet of the 10 remaining roses from my vantage point on the couch while we watched House of Cards, I reflected that while it wasn't fancy and there was an awful lot of mud, I'm not sure I've ever spent a happier, gigglier, more love-filled Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love in the Card Aisle

We went to the store to pick up Valentine's cards for the kids over the weekend. [And by Valentine's Day cards I mean the $2.99 boxes of cards that come in sheets of four, covered in licensed characters and strained phrases that try to incorporate friendship, Valentine's Day, and the licensed character of your choice in a way that doesn't sound creepy or inappropriate, that you write your name on and punch out. I'm just not a pinterest/creative mom when it comes to these kinds of things and really, the kids could not have been more thrilled to be in the "seasonal" aisle at Walgreen's (because the Target selection of cheap box cards was deeply disappointing) to make their selection. Landon ended up with Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Claire carefully chose the Secret of the Wings hologram fairy collection and we spend 30 minutes around the table once we got home so Claire could color the back of her 12 cards and Landon could painstakingly write his name on the back of all 22 of his. They are both so excited to pass them out tomorrow.] Anyway, we were all in Walgreen's and JP and I decided that it was acceptable and efficient for us to go ahead and pick out our cards for each other while we were there.

We roamed over to the "romance" part of the display and were immediately amused and horrified at the selection. The first card I read was pulled from a tab labeled "Married Valentine's" included the phrasing: We've been together a long time, had lots of ups and lots of downs, "been pretty happy," and made it though. Happy Valentine's Day.

What?! Points for honesty I suppose, but the phrase "been pretty happy" just killed me (and JP and I are now constantly working it into our conversations). We kept reading various cards aloud and they alternated between being funny and depressing. Expectations were just so low. "Our life together has sucked much of the time, but you're still the one I'm with, huh, not sure why that's true, guess I haven't felt like switching you out with someone else - Happy Valentine's Day!". There were several for husbands or wives that relied a bit too heavily on the word friend. I mean JP is my best friend, but that's not the aspect of our relationship I value the most, nor is it the one I'm particularly celebrating on Valentine's Day. There was one that I'm pretty sure was for the mistress in your life- lots of allusions to "secret passions" and a careful avoidance of the word wife. But mostly they seemed to say, "Marrying you hasn't been totally awful, so Happy Valentine's Day, let's try to make it to one more." We did each eventually find one we felt was the perfect card for the other (those are a surprise until tomorrow; cards are one of our only nods to this rather silly holiday, but I do enjoy reading the card he's picked out and the note he's hand-written every year, and yes, I save them all), but we must have read at least 30 terrible and/or depressing ones.

Then I tried to find an anniversary card for my parents (33 years on Feb. 16th!) and that was even more impossible. There are NO anniversary cards for parents. I found anniversary cards for Friends, That Special Couple, Mom & new husband, and Dad & new wife, but only about 3 for "Parents." And those three were terrible. It's basically: Happy Anniversary, you're still married, what a surprise/accomplishment. Love, your kid. My parents are affectionate and very much in love and not only served as the foundation of my happy childhood, but also as my example and aspiration in adulthood. There were no cards to reflect that sort of sentiment. I thought of starting my own line, but then remembered the number of my own friends' parents who are divorced (and are now happy in new marriages) and realized the "Dad and wife" and "Mom and husband" cards were probably the big sellers anyway. And then I wondered if there was some correlation between the lackluster Valentine's Day husband and wife cards and the utter dearth of Parent anniversary cards. Luckily I found one in Kroger later that day, saving me from a pile of construction paper, scissors, and some half-formed rhymes about just how much my parents' marriage has meant to me in my own (though I did add a personal note to that effect, because the Kroger card didn't quite get all the way there and I believe strongly in adding personal notes in cards). Landon and Claire each contributed a Valentine to the anniversary package for Papa and Gigi and we dropped it in the mail with lots of love and Jake and the Neverland Pirates stickers.

I have the breakfast table all decorated for a Valentine's Breakfast for the kiddos (and JP too) - red tablecloth, heart plates and napkins, a card and little gift for each kid picked out by JP (also while in Walgreen's; bubbles, I believe- bubbles Claire nearly shoplifted because she fell in love with a Scoopy dog one and tucked it in her pink purse and I didn't realize it until she pulled it back out of her purse while her dad and I were entertaining ourselves in the card aisle), a rare homemade weekday breakfast from mom (pancakes and eggs; we're not getting too crazy, there is a mountain of work sitting on my desk for tomorrow). My mom always cooked us a special breakfast at a decorated table on Valentine's morning (I recall years with the table set with china and crystal for our orange juice, a very special treat) and my dad always left flowers for my sister and I (usually carnations in my mom's little crystal bud vases by our plates, oh how we treasured them) and candy for my brother, all which he must have gone out to buy at about 5 a.m. because he was always on his way downtown by the time we woke up, and like most of my childhood traditions, I'd like to do something similar with my kids. At night we will eat pizza and cookie cake (sacred traditions started in college when JP and I learned that going out to eat on Valentine's is a terrible idea in the course of celebrating our first one, though I do have a cute slightly awkward picture from that night of us at a French restaurant pretending like we liked what we were eating and didn't mind drinking water with our meal because we were basically children and clearly underage) and then drink champagne and flirt extensively after the kids go to bed. Valentine's is not my favorite holiday by any measure, but I do enjoy having a reason to continue traditions, write a love note, and eat cookie cake in the middle of the week.

Valentine's Day Update: woke up to a text from my dad at 6:18 a.m.: Roses are red, my hair is gray, you are the best Valentine, whom I am so proud of and love so much every day!

Dad, my first Valentine and the man who taught me to expect a hell of a lot from any other man in my life. Also, an excellent poet :).

Monday, February 11, 2013

Things I Haven't Bought That I Love

Mindy Kaling has a regular feature in her blog called Things I Bought That I Love. In that spirit, but without her budget, I present Things I Haven't Bought That I Love (and found online when I came home from work sick because I was experiencing the world through a fog of clogged sinuses and was having trouble processing simple emails and in-person conversations, plus my voice sounds like that a raspy, male, 80-year-old smoker). So, the West Wing plays on and I'm looking at things I can't actually purchase but am trying to justify because I'm turning 30 in two weeks and if that doesn't require a new pair of shoes, I don't know what does.

First up, aren't these boots great?! They will would look great with a pair of skinny jeans or paired with tights and a number of my dresses. The calves look narrow enough (I have terrible trouble finding boots that aren't too wide at the top) and I love the cognac leather. These will likely sit in my shopping cart for a few days before I click out of the window and remember them fondly in my dreams.


These are in contention for the new spring shoe I'm not buying. I have a weakness for navy blue and own two spring/summer dresses involving navy, white, and stripes. I also have white denim capris and a myriad of navy blue tops that would look fabulous with these shoes. Unfortunately, I think the rope keeps them a bit too casual.


Now these could be perfect. The wedge is wood, which is a little dressier (and also holds up better over time), and I love the brown and cream combo. I think I could wear these with much of my spring attire, including the white capris, as long as the cream is light enough, and it fills a hole in my shoe collection- the light colored dressyish wood wedge weekend/casual friday shoe hole. Sadly (or happily, depending on your perspective), it's not a spot that requires filling any time soon. They're pretty though.


In clothing, I like this sweater. It looks cozy, but cute, and would look excellent with jeans and flats and my white denim capris. I love striped sweaters.


Speaking of strips (and also navy and white), I love LOVE this dress. Stripes! Stripes going in different flattering directions! I actually would have broken rank and purchased this one, but it's out in my size, which is very sad because I do just love it, but it's saving me from future guilt when the package arrives (guilt I would have overcome when I wore my super cute striped dress).


Navy blue squiggle top! I love this so very much. With white capris (look how much use I'm not getting out of those capris!) with my navy blue wedges or the navy blue heels I actually own, or with my nice white work pants, or with my nice white work skirt, OR with those surprisingly cute yellow pants the model is wearing that I wouldn't have considered buying until this moment - all so excellent and yet not happening. It's a great top.


The Ann Taylor perfect pump, there is really no better work shoe in existence. I have a pair in matte navy leather and they are gorgeous and make me feel more powerful and smarter every time I put them on. This is a lovely patent "city taupe" that I think would come in very handy with all the brown, houndstooth, and cream pants I own.


Pink denim capris (currently being called "skimmer jeans," maybe that's what my white ones are? They're about that length. Clearly I'm not up on cropped pant terminology). These are cute and I really like them with that blue chambray shirt. But since I don't own a blue chambray shirt, it seems that it would be a bad idea to start walking down the road of pink skimmers.


And that's all I've got. I'm sure there are lots of others things I'd love on other sites, but I was restricting myself to dsw, zappos, and gap/bananarepublic, all in the name of finding running shoes (mine are 10 million years old) and new pants for Landon that aren't torn and/or 3" too short.

Bear just burst in the room with a new haircut and a perplexed JP telling me, "the stylist said she layered it? I don't know what that means- also, she still has some baby hair." That's my Claire- getting stylish with a little bit of baby left behind to snuggle.

Time for more mucinex and tea. This virus is getting old, but on the upside I'm all the way up to Season 4 of the West Wing!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

It's Spurs and a Latigo*

So I mentioned on Sunday that I'm a little overwhelmed at work. I have my first testimony coming up and it is literally haunting my dreams. My AD told me yesterday, "aren't you so glad you're here? you probably wouldn't even be in the room for this testimony, or at best you'd be sitting in the corner, if you were still at the firm!" At that moment, sitting in the corner sounded fantastic.


But, one thing that I'm clearly thankful for in my new position is that yesterday, right in the middle of a crazy week, I skipped out of the office at 1 p.m. to take the kids to the rodeo. My boss even rescheduled a call he had on a different matter so that we could do our prep meeting in the morning before I had to go. So skip to the rodeo I did, boots on and JP and the kiddos in toe.


I don't know if you know this (I did not), but the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo is a BIG. DEAL. It's an actual show, in an arena, with assigned not-inexpensive seats. Luckily, several weeks ago Groupon had an offer for $9 tickets (it usually costs $10/person just to enter the fairgrounds, and 20-something to go in the arena) and I thought it would be a fun treat for our little family. At the time I didn't know I'd have testimony coming up, but again, that's part of why I made the switch to this job- family time wins pretty much regardless of whatever else is going on.


The kids were SO excited. JP picked them up early from school and then swung by to get me from my office. We let them pick out one treat and Landon's arm immediately shot up with the cotton candy man came by. He held the bag in his hands like it was precious gold and then offered his first tear to Claire. That kid, he's a keeper.


The lights dimmed for the show to begin and when they came back up after the opening salvos, I looked over to find Claire in her daddy's lap. She made that move stealthily and fast.


There was calf roping and bronco bucking and some fancy trick roping in between.


At one moment I looked over at Landon, concerned that he might be concerned for the cowboys on the back of the wildly kicking horses, and he had a look of fierce concentration on his face. I asked him if he was okay and he said, "you know, I don't think those are peanuts." And I remembered that 15 minutes prior, I'd told him the things the man with the white and red boxes was selling were peanuts. He'd been focused on them every since.


Meanwhile, this was happening before him:


After about an hour, Landon turned to me and said, "um, when will the horses be done?" And so, we left a little early and headed out to the fair.


Claire had her purse, of course, and was wildly enthusiastic about riding the rides with Landon (who was wildly enthusiastic about EVERYTHING).


But then her dragon took flight, and suddenly it wasn't all fun and games.


She survived, but if you ask her, it was just barely.


She took a break to watch daddy and Landon hurtle down a giant slide.


Daddy won. Mostly because of his vast skill at slide racing, but also maybe a little bit because he outweighs Landon by 160 lbs.


Claire was still recovering from her near death experience on the flying dragons, so Landon and I took a turn on the biggest roller coaster he's ever been allowed to ride on.


He loved it, of course.


Claire took a turn on some slow moving alligators. It would have been better if Landon went with her, but we were out of tickets and she put on her brave face (sort of):


That's our Bear- independent, but snuggly, brave, but wary, feisty, but shy. And that's Landon- happy about everything, wanting to share, loving it all.


It was a great afternoon. It was a cool, grey Tuesday, so we had the fairgrounds almost entirely to ourselves, and it was so fun to walk among the cowboys and steers and the occasional prize winning bunny.


We grabbed burgers for dinner at our favorite place and then JP and the kids dropped me back off at the office where I worked until 9. This morning I have a red, swollen throat and can't swallow, so I'm off to deal with that at the doctor while fighting stress dreams about how much I need to re-work my outline, but at least yesterday was lovely.

* a frequently mis-sung lyric of Garth Brooks' "Rodeo," song 11 on the greatest hits tape I used to have in my mom's old blue volvo, a lyric I sung wrong for years before a high school boy scout friend with his horsemanship badge corrected me. A latigo is a long strap on a saddletree of a western saddle to adjust the cinch. Fun fact for the day. And now, off to get tested for strep!