Saturday, March 30, 2013

Snow Shorts

Thank you all for your congrats on Thursday's post! We're very excited about our impending Fall addition to our family. In the mean time, we've piled our current family of 4 + Tex into the car and headed to Colorado.


Two suitcases, three backpacks, a bag of snacks, a cooler bag of fruit and lunch items, a giant hiking backpack, and an 80-lb. labrador all fit pretty well in the Highlander. Not sure how we'll get that third kid in there too, but for now s/he isn't much of a concern in the packing (except that I had to double the number of snacks so I could eat my necessary carbohydrate every 45 minutes along the way).

Like with last time, the 12.5-hour drive was long and completely uneventful. The kids were perfect and we flew through Texas, New Mexico, and the lower half of Colorado with Claire asking every 6 minutes if she could see Tia's house yet. We arrived at my sister's house in Golden about 7:30 p.m. to a very excited Tia and a very delicious dinner waiting on the stove. Bright and early Friday morning, the kids were bouncing around the house and I was headed out in search of a Target because we realized at our first gas station stop the day before that we'd left Claire's shoes in Fort Worth! It was so early in the morning when we left, I told her I'd just carry her to the car and apparently we never picked up her shoes (new shoes I'd just purchased a few days before). So now she has two new pairs of shoes in a week, but at least pair #2 was only $15 and I don't care if they get beat up on the hikes.


Once we were all properly shod, we piled back in the car, this time with Tia too, and headed up the mountains to Rocky Mountain National Park. We drove through so many picturesque mountain towns, towns that make me contemplate hanging a shingle and becoming a small town lawyer (contemplate and then reject, but still, they are awfully charming), and arrived at RMNP just in time for snow to randomly start falling from the sky. What?! It was 65 in Golden when we left and we'd diligently checked the mountain weather before we left and were promised a bright blue 50-degree day. It paused long enough to eat a picnic lunch on a rock, get a group picture, and temporarily lose JP to a sheer rock cliff.


We also had the exciting experience of holding a bare-arsed Clairebear over the snow behind a big rock so she could go potty. One of those rare moments where a two-year-old still in diapers wouldn't have been unwelcome. She was quite the outdoorswoman though and peed in the snow like a pro.


We drove around the giant National Park, never quite understanding where we were in relation to the largely useless map we got when we drove in, and finally just pulled over in another spot with a pile of rocks. (As discussed last time, there's nothing the LagLiv family loves more than a giant pile of rocks to climb all over.)


Landon is quite the expert climber these days and I have very few pictures of him because he was usually too far in front of me. Claire likes to do all the climbing by herself, except when she wants you to hold her hand, except when she wants you to "hold you." Please note the ominous looking snow clouds building behind us.


We drove a little further, finally finding our original goal of the Bear Lake Trail Head, which would take us on a moderate 4 mile round trip hike to Dream and Emerald Lakes. That was the plan anyway.

Tia was not impressed with the snow

Claire wasn't impressed either. Thank goodness I had thrown the kids' gloves and a hat for Claire in the car before we left Fort Worth. Only the fact that they had been separately stuffed into the glove compartment meant that we had them available for the blizzard we were now hiking through.


Here we are in front of the shining waters of Bear Lake. I love that JP is in shorts.


And here's Landon, looking like a little Gap kids winter collection model.


That was the last time he smiled for the rest of the hike. The snow got a lot harder- like more of it and the actual snowflakes were harder. JP and Claire pressed on.


Tia and I were like whaaaaa?!


In the end we didn't even make it to Nymph Lake, a whole 0.5 miles from Bear Lake, because Landon sat down on the snow and refused to move. We made it back to the car, pelted by increasingly large snow flakes, and headed back to Golden. Halfway there I decided I desperately needed a 2:00 serving of french fries, so we stopped in the adorable town of Lyons. An adorable town with two organic markets and not one restaurant serving french fries. Clearly these are not my people. We pressed onward to Boulder, where I googled "french fries + Boulder" and pointed our GPS to Mountain Sun Brewery & Restaurant. There are no words for the deliciousness of our giant plates of nachos and cheese smothered french fries (no words; easily the best fries I've ever had in my life), the people of Lyons don't know what they're missing. That 0.3 mile hike that almost got us to Nymph Lake really revved up our appetites.

We spent the rest of the day going on local walks, playing at the park, and trying to decide what we wanted for dinner (this Greek salad with grilled chicken). The kids were tucked in their air mattress and the adults played a rousing game of Monopoly that I WON! I never win at Monopoly. All in all, a most excellent first day of vacation.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Next, post script

So, not 5 days after I got back from my job interviews in Austin, when we were on the precipice of a myriad of decisions, this happened:


Perfectly solidifying the one we had pretty much just made to stay here in Fort Worth. Sure we'll have less money than we would if I moved to a firm job, and JP's income on this new path is completely uncertain, all at a time when we're adding 5 more years of daycare and having to reacquire all the baby stuff we gave away when we moved (and we did give away Everything) and just generally adding a 5th person to our 3-bedroom household. But. But, I have maternity leave in this job (unpaid maternity leave, thank you federal government, but some short term disability insurance will help for 8 of those 12 weeks) and the new firm had none. I am flexible and happy and have the best work-life balance I think you can have in a full-time attorney job. JP may be uncertain, but he's happy and the captain of his own ship (or however he puts it) and will be home in the mornings and random times during the day. We've made good friends here, like the schools, and most importantly, we're really REALLY excited about becoming a party of five.

Particularly JP, my only-child husband, who has been pushing for a 3rd baby/big family for a while now. On my end, I found that a few months of unsuccessful trying will make you a little crazy and a LOT certain that you really do want that 3rd baby you were "just going to try for and see what happens."

Estimated due date November 20th. First ultrasound April 4th. Currently on a 13-hour car ride with JP, the kiddos, and Tex to visit my sister in Colorado for Easter.

So very excited.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


I started this draft weeks ago, back when I really didn't know what we were doing next, and every time I went to try to finish it, our plan would have changed anew.  It started as a retrospective- I was musing on the past and the decisions we've made to create the dotted lines of our career paths and addresses so far. Everyone has a path that jumps around a bit, but it gets a little more jagged when you marry young, before you're settled anywhere, and you have two people planning on careers and additional education. It gets even more jagged when you have differing opinions on what states and types of cities you want to live in (I'd love to live in DC, he won't consider anything within 100 mile of his parents; I love big cities, he hates them; he loves Texas, I... do not). And then if you start your family rather early in the path, you quickly have to start worrying about things like schools and neighborhoods and maybe not moving every 3 years so your children can have a simple answer to, "where'd you grow up?". Mostly, the jumps in our path have been caused by situations entirely out of our hands- a great job opportunity for one party, grad school acceptance for another... other than our first 6 months in Chicago, I'm not sure it's ever truly been in both of our best career interests to be wherever we've been. Luckily, we like each other far more than we care about our next career move, but it's still interesting to muse. Particularly when things are at a crossroads, as they've been for JP (and us generally) over the past few months.

We have three framed posters by our front door of the three cities we've lived in before Fort Worth: Houston, Chicago, and Austin. All of those moves were for JP. I went to Houston to mooch off him after I graduated early from college and he was working for a Big Oil Co. That one barely counts since I just used his credit card to fund our life while I planned our wedding and occasionally worked in the men's section at the Houston Galleria Banana Republic. But the big move to Chicago actually started out as a career move for him. I'd been accepted to NYU and Columbia's law schools and assumed we'd move to NYC in the fall. JP was looking around for finance jobs there when he found out he was being transferred to Big Oil Co's Chicago campus. I found out later that week I'd been accepted to UChicago law school, so despite never having been to that city and already owning a "Not For Tourists Guide to New York City" as well as a collection of NY subway maps, I accepted the school's offer immediately. Big Oil Co. would pay for our move, we could afford a much nicer apartment, and Chicago seemed pretty in the pictures- why not? Of course I immediately fell in love with Chicago and hoped to remain after graduation. I had offers from some fantastic top firms in the city, but JP hated it there by the end of our three years and only applied for grad school at UT in Austin. And so back to Texas we went. When he graduated from business school, I encouraged him to look for jobs in Houston, because there's so many more companies there that fit his profile and I could go much farther at the firm, and get much better work, if I was in our Houston office rather than Austin. I didn't push hard though- I love Austin and it was a great place for our family, but there's no doubt it was limiting to my budding litigation career and he was job searching in a much shallower pool. Just when he really started expanding his job search to Houston, he got the Dell position and we settled in once more. Seven months after that, I applied for and got my dream job at the SEC, and this time, though the timing really was not great for him, we felt like I had to make the jump. I couldn't grow in Austin, he didn't want to move to Houston or Dallas or any other big city, and there was truly no possible better career move for me to make as a mid-level associate. The SEC would give me the opportunity to develop expertise, substantially boost my resume, potentially jump to partnership when I went back to private practice, and I'd get to do it all while spending 50% more time with my children and husband. And so we went. Eight months after that, JP lost his job, and now we've spent 6 months wondering what next.

We looked at other big cities and JP even applied for a few jobs scattered throughout the country. I'm always up for a move- I love change and exploring new places and I'm always up for living in not-Texas. It was a little frightening to look at law firm positions again. I'd basically be back as a midlevel associate facing all the same career concerns I had one year ago today- not enough good experience, too much hierarchy, too little flexibility, and too little chance of making partner. I'd need a new solution to the same problem and the SEC was one of the best solutions I ever came up with. As an added wrinkle, we really wanted another baby. We didn't want to want another one, two is so easy and so perfect and they get along so wonderfully well, but we can't seem to shake it. We've known it forever and have spent most of the last year trying to talk ourselves out of it and now we're in the weird position of trying to get pregnant at a time when we might be moving and I might be needing to change jobs in the next few months. This is the problem of two careers in an economy where layoffs happen with some frequency and finding another job is not always an immediate fix, and a husband who doesn't like big cities so we always end up living somewhere that works great for one person and not the other.

And so we went in circles until a month ago when it seemed like moving back to Austin was the perfect solution. It all started when a partner I used to work for left the firm and started his own firm and asked if I wanted to come join him. For a brief moment I realized I could make a lot more money and free JP up to do whatever he wanted next. I had realized one of the reasons it wasn't as hard on him (and us) to look for a job last time around was because he was coaching the whole way through- something he loved, something that made some money, and something he knew he was good at. As I phrased it to him that evening in January, "you could stop getting ripped apart looking for a corporate job you don't even want. You could coach and pursue your entrepreneurial interests and pick Landon up from school- everyone wins!" When he replied, "well, I mean, that would be my dream," I was done, we were going. While I enjoyed my job in the SEC, I also genuinely missed much of what I used to do as a litigator (writing, oh I miss the writing), so I immediately contacted a bunch of other people I know in Austin (one benefit of your section at your firm imploding is you now know people scattered all over the city!) and got a few more solid leads to balance against the first one. As it turns out, while getting a job in Austin as a 1L looking at big firms is quite hard, once you have that big firm experience, there are a much larger number of boutiques- boutiques with better work and good clients because Austin companies generally like things like that are local- that want and need you. I went to Austin the first week of March, met with lots of people, got two job offers, one at a fantastic, established firm with a promise of being partner in 2 years and a lot of other great things.

In the mean time, JP got an offer to start a swim school in Fort Worth. There is a good USS club program here and there's a high school team, but there isn't much of any swim classes or groups for kids. You can do a few rounds at the YMCA, but then you either need to be ready to jump into the rather intense world of club (something I didn't do until 8th grade) or you just splash in your friends' pools for a while and maybe remember you like swimming in 5-6 years when you could join club. There was a retired club coach who was sort of running a program, but he didn't have enough time to dedicate to it and he passed away a few months ago. JP's master's coach (part of the club team) brought the idea to him, said he could have the website and client list for free, and that everyone- the club, master's, and high school- just really wanted to get a kids' swimming program going in the city. He sat on it for a while, which I didn't understand at all, and then just when I thought he was going to pass because he just couldn't get excited about it (my concern at that point was that he wasn't going to get excited about anything), I went to Austin to get something there so he could be in his favorite city and I could make more money and take the pressure off him (though, about that time I'd gotten to some really substantive parts of my investigations and no longer missed litigation quite as much).  It was literally while I was on that trip that he decided to dive into the swim school head first.

In the last two weeks he has incorporated, got a merchant marketing account, hired a graphic designer, and been to mixers and meetings and every pool in Fort Worth. He is working on a bank account, on getting licensed as a pool operator, on designing progress reports and lesson plans for classes. He has meetings and phone calls all day and most of the night. His website is launched, he has hired two instructors and has met with them several times to practice the lesson plans on our kids, and he is already getting phone calls and requests for lessons. He's excited. He's withdrawn from the few corporate job leads he still had pending. I'm excited (also, terrified, but mostly excited- as I told him a few weeks ago, if I was going to invest in a company of his, and that's exactly what I'm doing as I watch him pull out of his job applications, then it has to involve swimming/coaching. It's what you love, it's what you know, and it's what you're incredibly good at. I'd make that investment with no qualms- or as few qualms as I'll ever have in anything besides putting money in my mattress).

This decision has meant not only the reawakening of my husband, but also some much-needed certainty on our future location. We're staying in Fort Worth for the foreseeable future and we're all excited about that. Landon will be registered for our nearby public Kindergarten for the Fall (ah!), Claire will move back up to full-time at our beloved little Montessori-light daycare in the summer, and Landon will be enrolled in various summer camps around the city until school starts. And I, I will stay at the SEC and soak up more experience and try harder to adopt a Plaintiff/Prosecutor mindset. And even more importantly, I will soak up every single extra minute I will have with JP and the kids because I'm there. Interviewing at the firms in Austin really made that hit home for me, with the talk of hours and billables and surprise working weekends. I genuinely enjoyed my work at the firm and I miss certain aspects of it on a regular basis. However, and this is a HUGE however, my life working 8-4:30 at the SEC cannot even be compared to my (relatively laid back) schedule at the big firm. Not only do I have double the amount of weekday time with the kids, and every minute of my weekend time has become my exclusive property to do with as I (or, usually the kids) wish, but I have so much more of me to give them in that time. That is the part I wasn't prepared for and didn't realize was missing (and then found I wasn't ready to give up). It's not the minutes- though those have grown increasingly important as the kids have gotten older. A 9 month old is thrilled to see you whenever you cross their line of vision- their day is the same at pretty much any hour and you can "be" with them at any hour you happen to be there for. But with a nearly-6-year-old, I can't force togetherness. He's always excited to see me of course, but sometimes he's busy when I come home. Sometimes he's already told his dad about his day and is pretty sure it's far too great a burden for me to expect him to go through it again. He has more events and sports, he opens up at random times about random things, and now, I can be there for so, so much more of it. And, even more importantly, I'm generally open to receiving whatever input he offers. I'm not working, I'm not looking at my blackberry, I'm not looking at the clock worrying about a deadline and rushing bedtime so I can get back to work. I'm just here, quality and quantity. Cooking, dancing with Claire in the kitchen while Landon looks on with mockery and amusement, doing word flashcards at night, and planning weekend excursions only the weather can ruin. And just as important- I can curl up next to JP every night on the couch with my Kindle (that I have time to read) while he asks me his 600th question about how the swim school website should look or how he should word his response to a parent email. There is so much more of me, and even as I worry about how the swim school will do and how we'll afford any unforeseen expenses in our already massively trimmed budget, I'm more glad than I thought that my path will stay the same for "what's next."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New, Good

I'm on my 6th morning in a row of waking up and doing yoga before work or life get in the way. 6 days. I haven't done anything physical activity related for 6 days in a row since I quite swimming in 2001. I'm not really sure what's happening to me, but this morning, when I was otherwise determined to sleep in a bit and take a day off, I found I couldn't go back to sleep after I woke up at 6:10 because I had a burning need to do a series of sun salutations. So I got up and did them. Claire burst in the room at the end of my workout, devastated to see that I was done with "doing the yoga." I told her she could do it on her own, so she spread out her nap mat and asked me to "turn on the girl on the TV." You know, the one who does yoga so much better than me. So I did, and she was entertained the whole time I got ready.

As a complement to the yoga, I've been doing a new barre DVD every night. I know, WHO AM I? But now that I don't have to do any work after the kids go to bed, I've been feeling like I should use that time more effectively. But after having a glass of wine with dinner and putting on my pj's, I can't seem to muster up much besides reading books and answering the occasional email. So I've cut wine out of my evening routine and now I'm bouncing around doing ridiculous booty barre routines every night. (It's actually a fantastic workout, and not even the perky instructor annoys me. Maybe it's the accent? Accents make everything more palatable, even perky blondes with abs that I didn't believe were possible to achieve on a woman.)

In other bits of self-improvement, I got a hair cut today that involved cutting off 4-5 inches of hair and adding some sort of actual style. And then my very nice ex-pro-hockey-player-turned-Aveda-stylist spent extra time showing me how to blow dry my hair with the round brush I have always found too intimidating buy for myself, so maybe now there's a chance I might even be able to recreate the look on my own one day! My ex-pro-hockey-player-stylist also said, "I mean, clearly you work out" at some point in our conversation and I got to nod sagely and reply with, "yes, I do yoga daily." Because I DO!

(New 'do, in the parking garage after walking across the windiest street in Fort Worth)

I ended out the day with a waxing appointment that was badly needed before swim suit season (much like the yoga and booty barre) and after last week's pedicure, and the purchase of a new bottle of Jergen's Natural Glow Fair to Medium lotion, I feel like a new (though poorer) woman.

Today endeth the self-improvement spending spree, but these were all things I hadn't done since JP lost his job, so it was time, and I'm still on an "I turned 30 so I'm investing in myself" kick. I have a call into our health insurance company to see if they cover any part of speech therapy because as long as I'm going to be 30, I'd like to become a 30-year-old that can say the words "emergency," "calculator," and "Israel" (and a bunch of others) without having to repeat the first syllable 5 times. As an added bonus, I'm sleeping extremely well and haven't had a headache in 6 days, which might also be a record. JP's budding business just launched today- his website is live and he's gotten several calls and already has two lessons signed up!

So things are good! JP is crazy busy and it appears I'm going to be a single parent for much of the summer while he's coaching, but it's good. After the last several months, it is amazing to see him so engaged and busy and happy. So bring it summer- by then I'll be a yoga booty barre master of the round brush with a son in day camps because he's done (DONE!) with daycare forever and a second income that should begin trickling in. Things are good.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


I ran to Target on Tuesday because I had a terrible headache and was pretty sure the solution was somewhere within those giant red walls. In the fitness section (no idea how I got there, the drugs are on the other side of the store) I found this set of 4 beginner Yoga DVDs (it's only $14.99 at Target, but they don't have a link to it). Yoga! I used to hate Yoga, but I tried it in Austin and found it soothing, and every doctor I've spoken with regarding my back, neck, hip, and headache issues has told me I must MUST work on stretching and flexibility (I can't bend over and touch my toes; I can really barely bend over at all). Maybe it would also help headaches and insomnia? For $14.99 I could learn the proper way to do the moves in my own home where I'm not looking around at all the other people who look so much better than me and wonder why I'm the only one hopping around on one leg like an uncoordinated chicken.

So I bought the set of DVDs and popped them in the player that night when the boys were at soccer. Claire, of course, was hanging out within 3 feet of me and joined right in the yoga fun.


I really like the instructor. She's crazy flexible, but she doesn't draw any attention to that or make me feel lacking because her head is on the floor and mine is a good 3 feet above it. She's not overly perky (I hate overly perky workout instructors, probably because I hate working out). She's calm, smiles in a way that doesn't seem fake, and is good at verbal cuing so I don't have to crane my deck around to see what she's doing (and how much better she's doing it).


I did the DVD that night and then at 6:15 every morning since. Everything hurts- yoga is hard, as it turns out, but I feel freaking fantastic. I've already gotten more flexible as I do the moves and I'm learning them well enough that I can close my eyes and focus on the transitions and flow of positions, which seems to calm my mind. Very little calms my mind.


I had to kick Claire off my yoga mat because she was getting in the way, so she ran and grabbed her nap mat to continue to "do the yoga." She's asked about it every night since, but I've been doing it in the mornings before she wakes up (which, much as I love doing things with her, is really way more conducive to all the things that yoga is supposed to be about).


This morning though, I slept in, so both kids ended up on their nap mats alongside me. This time it did not go quite so well. Landon responded to every new move with "that isn't hard" and Claire pointed out several times that "she [the instructor] is doing it better than you." Yes, thank you, she is. I finally unleashed them on their sleeping father to turn on cartoons in our bed so I could finish my series of 5 sun salutations in blessed peace. And peace it was- arms shaking, legs stretched, finishing out the serenity poses with a clear head. I really like waking up that way and I'm hoping to stick with it. The DVD doesn't take that long, and it's hard enough to feel like it's worth the time, but not so hard that I dread it when I wake up. Now that we have a dedicated TV room with wood floors, I just keep my yoga mat rolled up by the TV and spread it out while the DVD player is turning on. There's no barriers, no set up, no witnesses, and I get to do my poses under the skylights while the sun rises outside the giant window I'm standing before. It's really quite lovely.

I've said it before, but truly, I hope to do this on a regular basis. JP got me a gift certificate to my yoga place downtown for my birthday, so I'm going to do the barre class on Sundays and maybe the occasional weekday night (though I doubt it), and try to do the yoga DVD most mornings. Someday I might even move beyond DVD 1...


And speaking of health, fitness, and general wellness, below is our menu for the week. I've baked the chocolate chip cookies we're eating tonight, inhaling at least 6 cookies worth of dough as soon as the kids were in bed (I always bake when they're napping; their help, while adorable, is not helpful, and then I don't have to have a "do as I say not as I do" moment while I tell them dough is bad for them and then eat 6 spoonfuls of it myself). Morning yoga and an overdose of cookie dough- it's really all about balance.

Sat: Caprese Chicken Salad Sandwiches (but without tomato pesto because sundried tomatoes are the devil's tomato, and without pine nuts because I hate nuts to be added to anything), oven fries, grapes and strawberries, and these chocolate chip cookies for dessert. We're going to eat outside and soak up the extended daylight, bright blue skies, and gorgeous 78 degree weather. (Update: these were fantastic! the kids loved them too- we'll definitely be making them again and the leftovers, if there were any, would be great to bring to work for lunch.)

Sun: World's Most Delicious Homemade Lasagna (recipe from my Aunty Lee; a childhood favorite I need to post soon, particularly since I've made a few changes without ever writing them down and I have to guess what I did before every time I make it again), garlic bread, salad

Mon: Ham and cheese quiche (actually, it's smoked turkey because JP doesn't like ham or any pork product which excludes a terrible number of things from my possible meals list), biscuits and homemade strawberry jam dropped off by a neighbor, fresh fruit

Tues: leftover World's Most Delicious Homemade Lasagna, salad, more bread

Wed: Veggie stir fry (using this recipe/marinade as a base, but with a bunch of veggies instead of meat), brown rice, assorted Asian food appetizers from Trader Joe's (have you had their chicken shu mai? The four of us love them and fight over the last few left on the platter every time.)

Thurs: Chicken and mozzarella ravioli, tomato cream sauce, steamed vegetable of some kind

Fri: probably homemade pizza, but maybe out for Chuy's tex mex happy hour

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Claire 2.75

Dear Claire,

It's 8:15 p.m. and your dad just walked into the TV room, shaking his head and laughing, after having to go in your room and scold you most harshly for continuing to talk and bounce on your bed after lights out. We take turns on scolding duty, partly because neither one of us really wants to get off the couch once you and your brother are in bed, but mostly because it is so hard to break your little heart any time we have to walk in and talk sternly to you. You know you did something wrong and you know you deserve the scolding, but your face just lights up when you see us walk in and then crumples so dramatically when you realize we haven't come to praise your ingenuity in coming up with yet another way to bedevil Landon from 6 feet away. So he just walked in, shaking his head, and as he was settling back onto the couch he said with a laugh and some regret, "she's just so damn cute."

It's true, you really are just so damn cute. You are 2 years and 9.5 months old and you are such a little bundle of joy and smiles and laughter and energy and snuggles and happiness and LOVE that I've put off writing this letter since you turned 2.5 because I couldn't figure out how to put you into words. I still don't, but I have to try, and I've enlisted a few pictures from the last few weeks to help.


Two is perhaps my favorite age. Two and three. Also four and five, but if I had to rank them, I'd say the period between about 18 months and 36 months simply can't be beat. You are learning and changing so much so fast- in the last year you've gone from a handful of words to hundreds. You know dozens of songs on the radio- just this morning I heard you singing Mumford & Sons "I Will Wait" to yourself while you were getting your baby ready for our errands. You are a sponge. You exuberantly embrace your world and I love watching watching you grow and learn new things.

But you are also my baby and oh how I love that too. A few weeks ago your daddy took you to get your hair trimmed. Mommy was still a little sick with a cold and you tend to handle potentially emotionally vulnerable situations better when I'm not around, so I stayed behind while you quite bravely jumped into a chair at Great Clips by yourself and were trimmed away. You got home, very proud of your "hair tut," and then moments later, as you almost always do anytime I sitting down (or still standing, you're not picky), you stood before me with your baby and blankie in hand and said, "I want to sit in your yap mama." You tell me that and "I want to hold you" at least 20 times a day. That single fact helps capture the essence of Claire at 2.75- you are smart and independent and rather fearless, but you are also incredibly sweet and cuddly and loving and mostly just want to sit in mama's yap. That's you in one adorable sunglass-wearing package. Anyway, on that Friday, you crawled up onto my lap and moments later I felt your head bob. It was 3:30 in the afternoon, you'd already taken your nap at school, but there you were, asleep in my arms. We sat like that for nearly 2 hours and it was one of my favorite afternoons in recent memory.

You get tremendously excited about things. On Valentine's Day Papa and Gigi sent you a card that said something like "Who's the greatest Valentine of all?" and inside there was a shiny mirror.  When you opened it, as I was posing the question from the front, you exclaimed with genuine joy and surprised pleasure, "It's Tair!!" ("Tair" is what you cal yourself, which is a small improvement over Tairbear, which I think you believed your name to be for the first 12 months you were talking.) You still have that card to open and check to see who is the greatest Valentine of all, and so far, you are pleased to find that you remain in the lead.


In other bits of excitement, you love tiny things. "Baby" utensils, "baby" crumbs, "baby" food of any kind- anything small is "baby" and you love it. At Sprout's the other day, while we were carefully inspecting our organic produce and you were insisting on holding it all in your front section of the card, we passed by a woman giving out samples of organic dairy free soy yogurt. This sounded appalling to me, but you eagerly volunteered for a sample, and when she handed over the little cup with the tiniest spoon I've ever seen, your voice hit an octave I've never before heard. You held that spoon up high in the air so all could see, exclaiming in a tiny, high-pitched, yet still somehow projecting voice, "IT'S A BITTY BABY SPOON! IT'S A BITTY BABY SPOON!" Such excitement has never been seen in Sprout's and you carefully put the spoon in your purse after eating all your yogurt in order to show Daddy and Landon when we got home (though you did pull it out once at checkout to show the woman scanning our groceries).


You are all about accessories. Your pink bedazzled "C" purse goes everywhere, always stuffed with different essentials you pack carefully before we leave. You wear your sunglasses on every outing, and have them on most of the time you're in the house too. Baby is always with you. You rock her and sing to her and she spends a lot of time going night night. She swings with you on the swings, rides with you in the stroller on our walks, and shares your car seat and shopping cart on errands. You are quite sweet with her- always making sure she's "comfy" and that she has plenty to eat (your purse always has a bottle, just in case).  You got a doll bed for Christmas, and while it's great for playtime, at night, baby sleeps best when tucked in your arms.


Your family is still your very favorite thing. You do great with school and babysitters, but nothing makes you happier than being with the 3 of us at the same time. You care for us deeply and anytime someone is hurt or sick you crouch down and check on them constantly. If someone is missing you want to know where they are and when they'll be back. You are thrilled when we are thrilled. You complement us constantly. Yesterday your dad had a meeting and was thus, rather unusually, dressed in nice jeans and a shirt. You took one look at him at breakfast and said, "Oh dad, you look so nice." That is you. You still compliment my "knees" every time I wear tights with a dress or skirt and you compliment my shoes or boots every single day regardless of which pair I'm wearing. You love your "Yandon" very much and are always wandering around the house looking for him if you two are separated for more than 2 minutes.

Every day after school when we ask you what you did that day, you answer with the exact same, "I eat all my yunch!" When we ask you what else you did you say, "I will tell you my friends' names" and then you proceed to list your teachers and all the kids in your class. We're glad you're eating and consider everyone in your class your friend, but we have to absolutely pry any other details out of you, which is odd, since normally you won't stop talking.


You haven't thrown any tantrums- I think it helps that you're so verbal and you have Landon as your example in navigating toddlerhood. You do have a bit of trouble staying in bed at night- we always get one nocturnal visit with your head peeking around the corner of the TV room. We tell you to go back to bed and you say "alright" and march back and tuck yourself in. At this point, it's just part of the routine. You are wily and have entrapped Landon numerous times into breaking certain rules, and you always seem quite pleased with yourself when you manage it (even as you get the same punishment he gets for breaking them). You eat everything and love going to the grocery store with me. You love books, love to sing, love to help, love to do "work," and love to learn. Your dad says at least once a day that you remind him of me and I take that as a great compliment.


You are a joy Bear, a genuine joy. You love your family fiercely and we love you fiercely in return. I can't believe you're nearly 3, but I also can't wait to get to know the 3 and 4 and 5-year-old you're going to be!

Lots of love,


Monday, March 11, 2013


We drove to Livingston on Friday afternoon to spend 2 days at the lake for a micro-mini Spring Break. The short weekend away was lovely and filled with classics.

First up, my dad's old 1968 VW Camper tent. The tent I remember so fondly from my childhood, the tent I genuinely believed was a circus tent, was set up in the lawn by the porch. We hadn't seen this tent in at least 15 years.


Doesn't it look fantastic? That baby is 45 years old.


The kids had a blast. It became their castle.


And because my dad doesn't do anything halfway, it soon contained large braided rug, two chairs, a turned-over bucket for a table, a futon, and many books and toys.


Saturday ended up being terrible weather- grey and extremely windy, but in the tent (which didn't even flap in winds that looked like they were going to take down a tree) it was cozy and warm. Claire showed off the only ballet move she's learned in 15 weeks of classes. (It's a passe.) She showed it off about 150 times, in a row, with accompanying arm movement, which my dad found hilarious.


On Saturday night, after we ate a belated birthday dinner of filet mignon and my beloved asparagus casserole that JP still refuses to eat because he doesn't know what delicious tastes like, Landon got to reel in a fish! The dogs were eager assistants.


Fish! A fish that Landon absolutely did not want to touch. Papa let it free.


Also on Saturday, Claire pulled her interloper snuggle bear move. First she spies Gigi quietly reading a magazine.


Claire comes over to give her opinion on celebrity fashion.


Bam, successful snuggle.


As an added bonus, she spied a papa on the couch a few minutes later. Max the dog was jealous.


A moment of classic grandpa love.


It was a good weekend away. I wrote lists for JP the whole drive home. He's starting his swim school and he's excited and I'm SO EXCITED for him, for us, and again for him. After a week filled with learning about my options in Austin, JP launched his website for his swim school in Ft. Worth. So, decision made, we're committed. Same city, new adventure. More later.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


It's been a long and interesting week and I need to pack and go to bed because I'm going to work at the crack of dawn tomorrow in order to leave at 2:30 p.m. to pick up the kids and head to the lake house. So I can't write what I want to write, which is a long musing regarding the Lag Liv family's next steps in life (also, for once, I'm so tired of thinking about it I can't even write about it, but I will, soon), but I also can't head to Livingston without updating before I go. Thus, I present snapshots of this week, in pictures, with few words and no musings:

I bought new sunglasses for $9 at Marshall's last weekend. They're faux Marc Jacobs and I like the coverage and dark polarized lenses (that don't actually look dark on the outside), but I was on the fence regarding whether or not I can pull them off. In the end, I decided it doesn't matter if I think I can pull them off as long as I pretend I can. Also, the scarf was a birthday present from my sister and I love it very much.

selfie at a stop light so I could see how I looked; the tag is still on in the back

Landon in his new soccer uniform for his new team with his new (again) haircut. He's doing great- his daily practices with JP every afternoon in the front yard while they wait for me to come home are really paying off (and oh how I love love pulling onto our street to see them out there, with Claire sitting on the step rocking her baby and/or running around in circles "playing soccer" and singing to herself many yards away from the actual ball). He scored 3 goals last Saturday and is such a good listener of the coach (who half the time, happens to be his dad). It was so fun to see him so excited after that game.


How the Bear emerged from her room at 7 a.m. on Sunday. Of course.


The kids' castle. They spend at least 2 hours a day in there on the weekends and we are not invited. I know everyone's experiences are different, but man does having two kids seem about a billion times easier than having one in our house. While they were in the castle, I was reading a book on the coach a little ways away, listening to their giggles, and not feeling guilty at all about neglecting them.


We've been going on walks every evening when I get home from work. Landon rides his bike like the pro he suddenly is and JP stands on the tiny razor scooter while Tex pulls him like they're in the Iditarod.


Which means I'm the only person powered by my own two feet, while pushing a giant stroller holding Claire, her baby, and her purse. I've actually had to start running to keep up, and you all know how I feel about running. I can't deny it's great exercise though- 3.0 miles most nights and we're doing it in half the time we used to!


Claire invited me to "cuddle you" on Monday night and I did, my high heels sticking out the side of the comforter.


I went to Austin for 36 hours on Tuesday for a job interview and back-to-back appointments with people I haven't seen in a year. I got to reconnect with some great career contacts and good friends and came away with some intriguing opportunities and a whole lot to think about. It was a little funny to realize that we'd left Austin almost exactly a year ago that day.


While JP was captaining the ship back home, he texted me this picture while I was out at dinner. Made me smile into my frozen sangria.


Not illustrated: I started reading Beautiful Creatures last Friday night and finished all 1,100 pages of the first two books by Monday morning. I finished Beautiful Chaos (#3) yesterday and am exercising ENORMOUS self control in not downloading book #4 tonight so that I will actually get some sleep. They're good, is what I'm saying.

And now, to packing and sleeping and not downloading books. Happy-almost-Friday to all.