Friday, June 28, 2013

A Sister AND a Baby

So guess who finally decided to cooperate and show us her important bits on an ultrasound?

This little girl!

(profile shot; hand finally off her face)

Yep, it's definitely a girl! It's a good thing she's my third and I already have one of each and was feeling rather mellow about the whole thing because she made the gender reveal very difficult to actually reveal. First there was the 16-week ultrasound where she refused to uncross her legs, but was very excited to show us how well she could move her arms. Then, when we arrived at the much anticipated 20-week ultrasound, neither the ultrasound suite or my physician's office had any record of my appointment, even though I know I had the date/time right and it had been exactly 4 weeks since my last one. They ended up squeezing me in 2.5 hours later, so JP and I left without any additional information on baby bean III and went to a nice lunch and ran a few errands before returning. Then, when we finally got back in the little room, the first thing the ultrasound tech was, "Oh, the baby really isn't in a good position for imagining" - OF COURSE NOT. She was upside down and backwards and kept her hands smooshed over her face and again had her legs crossed only to finally open them up wide at the very end like she just KNEW that was what we'd been waiting for and she was greatly enjoying building the suspense. For a mere 20-week fetus, she was holding a lot of power and she wasn't afraid to wield it. Clearly, Claire's already gotten to her.


Speaking of Claire, she is thrilled- THRILLED, to be getting "a baby AND a sister" as she always phrases it. I've tried to make clear to her that the baby and sister will be coming in one single tiny package, but she's good at selectively processing information and I'm fully prepared for some disappointment when she visits me in the hospital and finds only the newborn baby and not also the matching 3-year-old sister she's been imagining. I got her the "I'm a Big Sister" book by Joanna Cole (we read the "Brother" version to Landon before Claire was born) and she LOVES it. She sleeps with it every night and when she can't get one of us to read it, she "reads" it to herself with pretty high accuracy. She still talks about the baby constantly and tells me all the time, usually with a little sigh, that "Mommy I just love babies."

Landon is... his usual mellow self. He's in no way unhappy, or unexcited, but he doesn't talk about it like Claire. He's already been the proud papa and now that he's borne the weight and responsibility of raising a child, he seems okay with handing the torch off to Claire on this one. I do think he'll be a great helper and admirer once she arrives; he loves babies and is always asking when our neighbor's 16-month-old can come over to play. He has also asked me, now that he knows "you can just have more babies," to please have another and make it a brother next time. I agreed that would make things fair and even, but it was also highly unlikely.

I am doing well. I always forget how perfectly pleasant the middle of pregnancy is for me. I haven't felt sick since about 10 weeks, I don't feel all that tired anymore, and I'm not big and uncomfortable yet- it's the golden phase that I never seem to remember once it's all over. I've gained about 7 lbs. and I don't think I have a single other pregnancy symptom besides "suddenly pronounced belly" and "crabby at Mexican restaurants because I can't drink margaritas." I'm getting the 17 alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate shots (or "17p" shots) to prevent pre-term labor again. It worked well last time and I didn't have any negative side effects, so my doctor recommended I do them again. A nurse comes to the house once a week to shoot me up, and while I had forgotten how much that stuff can sting (though my nurse does an excellent job doing injecting me as sloooooowly as humanly possible which helps), I do love seeing her because she always calls me "such a tiny little thing!" in a glorious southern accent. I know I'm pregnant, and believe me, I'm happily gaining my weight right on track, but it just makes me smile inside. I'm 5'9" and a former swimmer- I don't think I've ever been a "tiny little thing," so why not when I'm 4.5 months pregnant with my third child?


So, a little girl... I can't wait to meet her and watch our family fall in love with a new indispensable member. Now she just needs a name (oh, a name, always the biggest struggle- why do I hate so many and love so few? why do the few I love this time around keep breaking my naming rules? why won't JP do more than suggest we watch more Game of Thrones episodes for inspiration?), a nursery, and pretty much all the baby gear we used to own before we moved. But I did book her newborn portraits and find her this adorable little headband and am thinking of ways to decorate the room she'll share with Claire in 3 years, so I think I'm pretty much ready for her to arrive.

A party of five- a Landon and two little girls, this is going to be so fun!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

We're Good

I was planning to write an update on how things are going with the swim school and work/summer schedules, but I just checked the date of the post I was updating and realized it's barely 3 weeks old! It feels like 8 at least. Which now seems contrary to what I was going to write in my update which is that things are actually going really well. It appears that maybe time is moving much slower than I thought, but things are so much better than I feared they would be. Which is good, because I feared they would be very bad. Oh it would be worth it I told myself- to support my husband as I know he would support me (and has supported me), to watch JP grow back into himself, and to sacrifice a bit of my sanity for 3 months for a whole year (and future years) of swim school success. But still, June-August was probably going to suck and my goal was survival- of my marriage, motherhood, and job, and then we could get back to regular life in the Fall.

Luckily, the situation has surpassed my rather dire expectations. For one, JP doesn't need to be at the pool quite as many hours as we feared to satisfy his pool director position. He has a great group of high school and college-age lifeguards who appear to be quite responsible and trustworthy, and all reports from JP's surprise visits and from friends of ours who belong to the pool have been excellent. This allows him to be home on Saturday evenings and pretty much all day Sunday and oh my GOODNESS is that huge. Huge. We love having him home, I am so happy when he's home- a Sunday afternoon of house chores mixed with playtime feels like a big treat.

Two, the back-to-back-to-back-to-BACK lessons are pretty much exactly as exhausting as he feared, but not worse. That's good too. It's hot out there, he has multiple hours in a row without a break under the sun teaching sobbing screaming children how to float, but he seems to be okay. Tired at the end of the day, but still his regular self- we talk and joke at dinner, he gives the kids their shower and brushes their teeth, we all pile on Landon's bed for stories, and then he and I sit together on the couch and chat off and on while he answers emails and does Quickbooks magic and I read a book or do whatever it is I do online. I was worried he'd be so drained at the end of the day he wouldn't have much left of himself to give to us- which would be understandable, but sad and hard in the day to day.

And three (are we on three? I'm not even sure what I'm counting anymore), it helps that he simply is who he is. I remember coming home from work on Thursday of that first week- we'd been up so late three nights in a row getting all his admin stuff done for the school, and Landon's new camp was so far away and I was white-knuckle driving to get to Claire's daycare in time to pick her up before it closed, and I was tired and pregnant, and I knew he was tired and so busy, and yet, when I got home with the kids that evening, I saw that the dishwasher was emptied and the laundry had been switched. Two tasks I definitely hadn't mentioned or asked him to do and that he must have done between phone calls and emails and running out the door to lessons just because he saw they needed to be done and didn't want me to come home to have to do it. And I hadn't asked him to because I didn't want to add one more thing to his already overwhelming first week. He'd been near comatose when I'd left for work early that morning- I'd forced him to stand up and shuffle in to the shower just so I could trust he wouldn't fall back asleep when he needed to be taking the kids to school. And so on that Thursday evening, when I found he'd done the things neither of us wanted the other to have to do, I smiled and made dinner with a heart that was happier and less in danger of feeling overly put-upon, which I must admit, I was dangerously close to feeling as I chopped and cooked and Landon ran in to report for the one millionth time that Claire was breaking some rule I didn't care enough to enforce. It's little things like that that I think make a partnership so strong. I know I greeted him with a bigger kiss than usual that night. I know I was more sympathetic to how hot and tired he was- not that I'm not sympathetic generally, but by the time the he gets home, I often simply lack the capacity. But I can find it when I'm reminded of what he gives back to me. (Because, perhaps to my discredit, at 6:45 p.m., pregnant and having worked a full day that began with me at my desk at 7:15 a.m., while making dinner over the heads of two oddly energetic children who should be exhausted after full days of summer camp but are instead emotionally fragile and physically hyper, I need very in-my-face reminders of why this isn't all about me.)

So, things are good. In fact, I was typing an email to a close friend yesterday and found myself writing, "We're really good." And I was struck by how simple that sounded, those three words, but they represented so much truth and depth and strength it nearly overwhelmed me- we're really good. Right now I'm sitting and typing in the wicker chair my parents gave us, about 3 feet from JP while he does something at his desk involving Excel charts, and even though I'm know I'm not always giving my finest mother performances in some of these recent evenings, and JP is going to be too hot, exhausted, and/or dehydrated to give us much of himself on at least a few nights this summer, and I'd rather be together sleeping in bed than together typing while he does swim school things, we're really good.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


I'm trying to relieve some of my stress level while watching my new hero and spirit animal Texas Senator Wendy Davis (D- FORT WORTH!) 11-hour (so far!) filibuster SB5, Texas's latest and greatest unconstitutional attempt to do away with abortion rights in the state, which the Republic-controlled House passed in the wee hours of the morning after using underhanded methods to stop the citizens' filibuster that was underway at the time. (The Republican Party: all about limited government and constitutional rights, unless those people are women and the constitutional right we're talking about are reproductive ones.). It has been a thrill and a joy to watch a Texas legislator do something I'm proud of (because ZOMG do I hate, loathe, and despise Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and pretty much every single thing they say in their representation of my state) and watched the live feed all day at work, listened to it on my drive home, watched it on my laptop throughout dinner (the first time my laptop has ever joined us at the dining table), and have had it streaming on my laptop throughout the rest of my evening (including while I did my prenatal exercise video, Sen. Davis inspired my final 10 push-ups). I am so freaking stressed that the Republicans are going to figure out a way to shut her up for a baseless reason and subjugate the political process once again.

So, while I wait for this latest point of order to be resolved (so nervous!), let's review other happenings in the Lag Liv family:

(1) We continue to enjoy the pool. On Saturday mornings while JP coaches, I sit with my feet up in the shade and the kids do this:


Landon showed off his floating like it's nbd, and Claire called out (and this is true) a coaching tip to "put your chin back Yandon!" Mini-Coach Daddy right there.


Claire did her floats when JP got home and followed up his 5 hours of back-to-back lessons by jumping in another pool to do lessons with his own kids. This isn't the best picture of the lesson, but I do love JP's shoulders, and back, and arms, and... well, everything. Also he looks excellent the sunglasses I picked out for him for Father's Day, does he not?


(2) I've made a cake every weekend for the last month. This is becoming a bad habit, but this tres leches cake was fabulous. And I'm sure my nightly 30 minute workout videos are canceling all the cakes out.


(3) We took the kids to see Monster's University on Sunday. It was Claire's first theatre experience and she was PUMPED.


She loved the movie (we all did) and was very well behaved. Since we aren't doing any vacations this summer we're trying to do one special family outing a month- next up is Despicable Me 2 in July!


(4) I'm 19 weeks pregnant. Big ultrasound on Friday! It would be great to confirm we're having a girl because girls are awesome and I've picked out an adorable trio of pictures on Etsy to hang in her future nursery wall. It would also be great to find out we're having a boy because boys are awesome and then our baby would have a name.

 And back to the live feed which is now causing fire to shoot out of my (nose? where does that metaphor go?) because Dewhurst decided a discussion of ultrasounds aren't "germane" to a bill on reproductive rights (after already deciding that a fellow Senator's assistance with adjusting Sen. Davis's back brace was also a violation of Senate rules, which was absurd and caused all sorts of commotion- the woman hasn't sat, leaned, eaten, drank, or peed in 11 hours, she's operating fully within the combines of Texas Senate filibuster rules), which means her filibuster is over and the senators can move to vote and pass the bill. Except Democratic senators are asking for an appeal and parliamentary inquiries while Republic senators are moving for a vote and the gallery is erupting and we now have a replacement Senate President and I would find all of this enormously exciting and entertaining if it wasn't so intensely personal and gut-wrenching because it's my own damn state.

It's going to be a long night.

~ ~ ~

Updated on Wednesday with links to the dramatic conclusion of last night's events: in words, in pictures, in funnier pictures (though they left out my two favorite tweets of the night, "After this is over can the Democratic Senators carry Wendy Davis out on their shoulders like she's the goddamn Khaleesi?" and "At midnight I want to hear Wendy Davis yell 'You Shall Not Pass.'" Also the last pic and caption in that article made me teary), and in an excellent morning after commentary questioning the Texas Senate as the "greatest deliberative body in the world" with many good points, including "Everybody watching in the building and around the world knew that Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, was the referee who threw the game." and "It’s worse precedent for the majority party to cheat in order to win. Thousands of people swarmed into their Capitol building last night to see how their government works, but once they got there they found out that, these days, it doesn’t work at all. Republicans shouldn’t have been surprised at their reaction, which was essentially to rise up with one voice and declare “up with this shit we will not put!"

Crazy night, excellent morning.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bear, Barely 3

As I contemplate starting the kids' annual photo books, I realized I need to capture each of them as they are right this second (including the 19 week fetus, who is bouncing around quite happily in my tummy as I type (I assume happily; s/he got a cookie and a long walk today, it would seem that life is good)) because it's probably going to be a while before I move from contemplating to actually creating those beloved behemoths. We'll start with our newly minted 3-year-old.


Claire, at barely 3, is quite the big little girl these days, no matter how I look at her, there's really no baby left anywhere except my imagination. She is in the 85th percentile for weight and 95th for height, which means she has finally caught up to her perma-95th percentile head. Bear remains, as ever, happy, fierce, independent, and extremely affectionate. She is a lover, a fighter, an instigator, a thinker, and a hugger. She gets overwhelmingly excited about new things- the house reorganization and decoration, the baby (omg THE BABY, we talk about it CONSTANTLY; "When is your baby coming out mommy? I want to hold the baby mommy. Can I kiss the baby in your tummy? I will sing songs to our baby. I will love our baby SO MUCH. Sometimes babies cry mommy, but that's otay. Our baby is coming after Hawoween. Is that your baby in your tummy mommy? Can I pat your baby? I want to hold our baby. When is our baby going to come out?" over and over and over), and all other new things. She calls everything "so tool" (so cool) in this excited high pitched voice that is hilarious.

greeting the day with sunglasses and a signature ballet move for her "so tool" ballet pig pj's

She checks on the plan for every day- what will the weather be? what are we having for dinner? who is picking her up from school? Like me, she likes to know what to expect. She's a precocious little thing- her teacher at school cleared her throat near the end of our last conference and said in a very serious voice with a very serious face, "Claire is... very smart. She is very. smart." and then stared at me. I had no idea what to do with that, so I just smiled and said well, great! and thank you? She loves the people in her life FIERCELY and will tell you about 15 times a day that "I just love you the mostest!". The other day she asked when we'd go to my sister's house in "Colowado" again, and when I told her I wasn't sure, but we would be seeing Tia at the lake house in September she gave a deep sigh and said, "oh good, because I just love my Tia." before moving on to talking about something else entirely. She still loves accessories and shoes but refuses dress-up clothes, all dresses, and most skirts.


She has a long attention span, loves books, and remains very physical with her attack-hugs, impromptu solo dance parties, preference for running over walking, and general fearlessness. We put her on a probably-too-big brand new bike this weekend and she just took off. Baby, Kitty, Teddy, and sunglasses in tow, of course


She's finally discovered the tantrum, but rather than yell or beat the floor as Landon did on the rare occasion he decided to protest something, when she doesn't get her way (or, far more often, if she feels offended or wounded by some correction you have made to her behavior), she just cries. Crumples to the floor in a tiny ball before stretching out full length and crying. Big fat crocodile tears, complete with the occasional wail. It's pathetic, long-lasting, and, so far, utterly undeterred by its ineffectiveness.

She and Landon remain best buds, though they occasionally, very purposefully make each other crazy. Claire is instigator 95% of the time. She frequently directs their creative play, coming up with elaborate "baby/mommy" story plans and telling Landon what to do and say to be the baby most effectively. Even with their newfound ability to annoy each other (which seems to annoy me far more than them, despite their protestations to the contrary), they are almost always together and on the rare occasion when they are separated, like when Landon goes to the pool with JP, Claire will wander the house looking for him every few minutes before remembering he isn't there. I get asked "But Mommy, where is my Yandon?" a lot on those afternoons.

The other day when I was making dinner (actually, sneaking bites of leftover Father's Day cake while dinner cooked in the oven; I can't drink wine while I chef, so cake it is), I overheard this little convo:

Claire, not even looking up while coloring: Landon, am I your best friend?
Landon: [silence]
Claire, decisively, and still not looking up: Yes, yes I am.

While Claire is far more baby focused and exuberantly affectionate, Landon is decidedly the more gentle soul. About 10 days ago I heard this being yelled from the front yard while I was making dinner in the kitchen:

"No Claire! Stop stepping on the rollie polies. They have FAMILIES! They want to LIVE!"

You know she went right on squishing.

She is an imp and a delight and as strong-willed as she is truly sweet. She's our bear and she is barely three.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Regular Wonderful Father's Day

We had the most wonderful Father's Day. JP was with us for the ENTIRE day- something we would have taken for granted only a few short weeks ago, but on Sunday felt like the most special, indulgent thing ever. The day began with Claire bursting in our room yelling, "Mommy, mommy, yook! You have to see this awesome thing!! It's so tool! Mommy you have to see!". She was talking about the reorganized rooms and even though I would have preferred to stay snuggled in JP's arms for a little while longer, I have to admit I was pretty excited to get another look at what the room fairy left behind for us.

(the reading nook and lamp in particular are huge hits)

We went to brunch at a nearby pancake house, stopped at Lowe's to buy toilet paper and trash bags for JP's pool, dropped by the pool so he could test the chemicals and drop off the tp, and continued home for yard work, house cleaning, and our own pool time. There was raking and sweeping, vacuuming and dusting, and LOTS of splashing and swimming. Even I got in the pool, just to prove to a skeptical Landon that yes, mommy can put her face all the way under water. After a few hours of pool time, both waterlogged kiddos took naps, so JP and I took ourselves to bed too. We ate a tasty dinner of grilled pork tenderloin (a JP fave), fresh veggies, crash hot potatoes, bread, and cake, and capped the whole day off with a family walk and Claire's first ride on her brand new big girl bike.

It was an absolutely regular day, but it was wonderful. Just having JP around for all of it- it makes everything better. He is my favorite person in the whole world and with him around I laugh more, relax more, and am just generally a better me (and mom). Even when all we're doing is buying economy packs of cheap toilet paper for his neighborhood pool and trying (unsuccessfully) to trim a small backyard tree into a perfectly even ball of leaves, it's better. The shared looks over the kids' heads when they're doing something particularly adorable or exasperating, the understanding that I will never empty a trashcan if he's on the premises, the readily available assistance with everything, the ability to just say things as they pop into my head because he's right nearby, and the way he never fails to reach out and brush or pat some part of me every time he walks by- I love having him home. And last night as we cuddled on the couch watching Mad Men, with his trusty QuickBook and Excel-sheet-laden computer temporarily sitting half-closed on the nearby love seat, I had the chance and the perspective to grab his hand and tell him so.


Today it was back to the grind- summer camp, school, work, swim lessons, dinner, dishes, bedtimes, bookkeeping and phone calls, but somehow knowing that this new schedule is starting to feel routine, even if it's an adjusted one (dinner is an hour later than it used to be, but we're all still eating together!), and JP's schedule is going to let us have a few days like Sunday, it doesn't feel as overwhelming as it did last week.


It was just a really lovely day.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Redo To Do's

Today has been a very productive day. Possibly too productive if my aching feet are any judge, but oh it hurts so good.

This morning I did a 50-minute Prenatal Pilates DVD. My original plan was to eat healthy all weekend, but when I realized I could buy JP a big cookie cake for Father's Day (and eat half), I ditched that plan and decided to exercise instead. It felt great and I really hope I can do something like that every few days for this pregnancy. I've said things like that in previous pregnancies and never end up working out, but I've never had a semi-private room with a wood floor and my own yoga mat before, so maybe this time I can make it happen. While I'm unconcerned about the weight gain factor, I would like to keep some of the toning in my arms and legs that I at one time worked hard to achieve. After the kids and I finished my DVD (JP was at the pool), we headed to the park, grocery store, and then our own pool. JP got home from lessons about 1 (yay!) and we all headed to the U-Haul store so we could get a hitch installed on JP's car and run a few errands while we waited. The main errand was to Academy so we could buy Bear's first big girl bike with her birthday money from my grandparents. She was SO excited.

So excited that she fell asleep on the 2 minute drive between U-Haul and Academy. They were literally 2 parking lots apart.


Luckily she woke up easily, picked out a bike most decisively, and then INSISTED on pushing it to the front of the store.


One of the best things about shopping with Claire is that everyone smiles at you as she walks by. I think it's mostly the constant sunglasses, with a little hint of essence of Bear.

When we got home I got the crazy idea that we should reorganize the whole house in the 45 minutes between right then and when we needed to start dinner. As always happens in these things, I got 33% the way through and deeply regretted my initiative.


But I persevered. As I've mentioned a few times in previous posts, I've been planning a big switch in the set-up of our main rooms. I planned to turn the playroom into the dining room it's supposed to be; make the living room more of a functional living room (adding rug, maybe additional seating, end tables, etc.); create a new playroom space in the sun room; move JP's desk area over to previous the eating area in the sun room; and move the old eating area to the dining room where it's supposed to be. I've been perusing rugs and toy storage and dining room furniture on the web for MONTHS and finally made a few purchases in the last few weeks. My rugs and other boxes have been sitting in the entryway for days and clearly, this afternoon at 5:00 after a day of errands and exercise was the time to DO ALL THE THINGS.

JP, who knows me so well and loves me anyway, just sighed and looked to me for directions. Directions which paused only for dinner and the bedtime routine of the children, and then continued long into the night even though I knew he had work to do (or, maybe even actual relaxing for the first time since lessons started). But we're done and I am so happy! I LOVE this new playroom space. Just looking at it makes me smile.


I love love love the rug I lusted over on the Land of Nod website for the last 15 months. I'm so thankful for JP's swim lessons and the 10% off + free shipping code that finally made me order it. It is thick and soft and vibrant and everything I wanted to define the space and give the kids (all three of them!) a comfortable place to sit on the floor and play.


Everything from the previous play space has been reused and I added some new bins (also from LON) for big toys that were always piling up in corners. The kids are going to freak out when the see it all in the morning.


As part of the move, JP is now in the area where the casual eating table used to be. Here he is responding to client emails, oh so thankful there's nothing left for me to possibly ask him to do. He's sitting on a new chair I bought him for Father's Day. Despite his dislike of money spent on himself, he did admit that this cushy new chair was less likely to cause him permanent back problems than my terrible old broken one. 


The living room has its first rug- a sturdy, inexpensive indoor/outdoor rug that we can hose off, and that I think adds a perfect amount of color and fun the space. I ordered it online which made me very nervous, but I'm quite happy with the finished product.


My parents brought me the wicker chair from the lake house (they didn't need it anymore), so I added a new cushion and now I have seating for four in a room we now might actually use! I hope to add end tables and a few throw pillows one of these days, but those are on the longer-term wish list.


And now moving to the new dining space. Another inexpensive indoor/outdoor rug that I'm sure we'll have to hose off now that we'll have a baby eating over it. We moved around the hutch that was previously in the living room and relocated the casual table that used to be in the sun room. My parents are gifting us with a big, beautiful dining table and chairs they purchased with their new lake house, but we don't have them yet (which is why we were getting the hitch installed on the Highlander, so we can rent a trailer and go get them). I love the dark wood table we bought from the previous owners of this house, but I can't wait to seat more than four people at once for dinner.


The only things left to do in this room is knock down that long blue wall and create and open kitchen (2018? who knows) and buy this beautiful long dark wood sideboard I picked out at Crate and Barrel over a year ago for the wall under my tree painting. Maybe I can do that one in 2016.


And finally, we were able to relocate the second bookcase from the former playroom to house all of JP's extra swim school shirts so they can get off my couch! Yay! Everyone wins in room switch renovations!


And now I'm going to take a nice hot bath and think about all the time I'm going to spend sitting in and admiring my "new" rooms while I let JP relax tomorrow. I really can't wait for the kids to see the play area, it's going to be just like Christmas! Except without any new toys. And no cookies for breakfast. But storage bins! And a reading nook! And a very excited mommy who is probably going to start planning her (maybe/hopefully/pretty unlikely) 5-years-away-kitchen remodel right now on houzz.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

So I Married an Entrepreneur, v. 2

I wrote this post a couple years ago, back when JP started his first company, a swim school, in Austin. That venture didn't end well, largely due to circumstances and partnership choices outside of his control. It was devastating at the time, ended a good friendship that remains broken, and if possible, made me even more wary of JP's entrepreneurial dreams than I was before. He ended up spending several difficult months looking for a job after he got his MBA and luckily landed a spot at a big company with a great salary and benefits in June 2011 and we all moved on- JP surprisingly happy in his new role and me relieved at the security it seemed to bring. We were back on track- our grad schooling was done and now we were both in jobs using our degrees and paying off our loans. All was going according to plan.

Until that job abruptly ended 16 months later and I learned that steady, safe corporate jobs aren't always steady or safe. I watched my husband sink into himself in a way he never had before. I watched him apply for dozens of jobs and hear back from so few. On the ones he did hear back, it was usually to let him know the job he was applying for was no longer being filled, the hiring date had been pushed back 3-6 months, or they were looking exclusively at internal candidates. I've never closed the door to my office so often to hold back tears, or sat in my driveway so long just trying to muster up the energy to smile and be positive before opening the door, and I just kept watching him sink lower. I blogged about it more than he would have liked and far, far less than I wrote in my drafts. It was an awful, awful time.

And then, at a random February 5 a.m. swim practice, JP found out from his club coach that a mostly defunct swim lessons program had lost its owner. The club coach was very interested in the existence of a robust swimming program for young kids to help feed into his competitive swimming program and he didn't want to operate it himself. They had a website JP could have, relationships with a few nearby pools (pool space is VERY hard to come by here), and a former client list he could contact-- did he want it? To my shock, he didn't jump on it right away. It honestly scared me when not even the seemingly perfect combination of a job + swimming + owning his own business + me being all for it could rouse his spirits, and I became the one pushing him into an opportunity that even weeks earlier I would have selfishly just wanted to go away so it wouldn't tempt him.

After some gentle prodding and outright pushing ("We're going to sit down right now and make a list of the tasks you need to do to start coaching lessons in April, and then you're going to do them."), JP woke up. The swim school became his- his project, his baby, his opportunity, and he worked nearly non-stop for 4 weeks to get it going: marketing, graphic design, pool relationship, lawyer, CPA, designing and distributing flyers, interviewing instructors, training instructors, creating schedules, one million phone calls, 1.5 million emails, etc. He finally decided to found the company the second week of March and his first session of lessons began April 8. It was so great to see him so busy and excited and happy I almost didn't mind that we actually barely saw him. His goal was to have 15 swimmers signed up at the beginning of the session and I remember the text with "just got #30!!" that came across my phone hours before his first lesson was to begin. He hoped to have 40 swimmers by the time the session ended May 31 (he does them in sets of 8 lessons, once per week for 8 weeks during the school year, twice per week for 4 weeks during the summer) and he had 65. He hoped 50 would register for the start of the June session on June 10, and he has 87 with at least a dozen on various wait lists. His feedback has been incredible- I could spend a whole evening just reading the glowing emails he's received from parents. I seriously could NOT be more proud. He works nearly non-stop, not only teaching the kids (he currently has 4 instructors and a lifeguard working with him, but does a full load of lessons himself too), but answering emails and calls from parents, constantly tweaking and reworking the schedules as needed, and keeping up with his bookkeeping, supplies, and marketing materials. He's so exhausted he's even gotten to the point where he can't drag himself out of bed to swim in the mornings, something I never thought to see, but he's happy and I love every time I get to see him talk about his business with someone who asks what he does.


As with all new jobs, this has required some changes to our lives and routine. I now pick up the kids everyday because JP is in the water coaching from 1-7 p.m. Monday-Friday during the school year and 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. all summer. I watch TV alone at night because he is at the computer answering emails, phone calls, and checking items off his constantly growing to-do list. When a kid of ours is sick, I have to stay home because even though my job is still the foundation of our finances, JP's job requires him to be physically present- only the direst of emergencies would be worth the headache of rescheduling any missed lessons and risking the client unhappiness or inconvenience that would come with it. In the summer he has to work out of a different pool; an outdoor neighborhood aquatics club that needed a pool director as badly as he needed pool space. So he's now director of a pool open from 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. every day all summer- he's managing lifeguards, schedules, chlorine levels, member satisfaction, and finicky board members in addition to running his swim school and coaching a ton of lessons. He tries to be home by 7:30 to eat a few bites of dinner with the kids, but last night he didn't make it back until 11:45 because a pump broke and he had to be out there with the engineers after working a 15 hour day in the sun. We're leaving the house earlier and getting home later. Tex is lonely. Errands are re-relegated to weekends. Basically we're back to two full-time working parent mode and it is quite different from "one parent mostly home" mode.

So it's been an adjustment. It's hard being on my own every night with the kids, coming home to an empty house, starting a meal I'm not sure he'll get to join us to eat. The summer schedule is particularly tough. Landon's camp is much farther away from my office, Claire is having to spend longer days at school, and JP's schedule keeps him away even on weekends. I'm doing all dinners, all errands, all nights/weekends with the kids, and pretty much everything in our personal lives that isn't swim school related. I have a full-time job, I'm pregnant, and REALLY prefer it when we're splitting all home/child duties. I sometimes get overwhelmed at how much I still have to do at the end of the day, and yet, it's not like JP can do more- he's barely even eating. This weekend he realized he's at the lightest weight he's been since his freshman year of college; I've taken to packing protein bars in his pockets to keep him from wasting away. And JP does what he can- he throws in loads of wash and empties the dishwasher in stolen moments, but even though I know he can't do more (and I do know it), I still sometimes find myself thinking he should be (or, more accurately, wishing he could be and resenting that he can't).

And yet, I'm in a better place to support this start-up than I ever could have been before. Mostly, of course, because JP needed a job for emotional, mental, and financial reasons, and no others were forthcoming in our current city. But there are other more subtle reasons that get me through the evenings and long weekends on my own. I've now taken a job that makes me so much happier that I dismiss his statements that he wouldn't be happy in a regular middle manager desk job. We've drastically adjusted our income needs and expectations, so there's a fairly low bar of what we need JP to bring in, making the uncertainty of income far less terrifying, and after 7 months of unemployment- anything is a bonus. Three years ago when JP was coming out of business school I was so set on the plan we made when we got married: taking turns in grad school, taking high paying jobs to pay off our grad debt, and then and only then considering other career ideas. At the time I felt like we'd been moving along accordingly and suddenly JP was throwing a wrench in everything- I went to law school, I worked at a big law firm; JP went to business school, JP needed a stable business job! It was the deal. Of course then I thought a business job was a secure, certain thing- now I know better. And this time it really all came down to an opportunity presenting itself and me realizing that my husband was literally being torn apart by rejections for jobs he didn't want. The initial expenses were low (something that always scared me the most about starting his own company- not only would he not be making money right away, but we'd actually be spending money we didn't have in the hope that he would make an uncertain amount of money in the future- money we needed now!), in an area he knows and loves, utilizing a great talent he possesses (he's truly a phenomenal coach), serving a seemingly untapped local market.

I still have my moments where I want to demand that he predict his revenues out 5 years. I get nervous about my upcoming unpaid maternity leave, impending third child expenses, our mountainous student debt, and our lack of sufficient emergency fund. I worry about what will happen if he ever wants (or needs) to get back on the traditional corporate path. I don't like that I can't enter a definite figure in his box in our family budget. And despite genuinely understanding it, I still sometimes chafe against the constant need for me to sacrifice my own job and down time to support his pursuit (like last night at 11:45 p.m. when I was helping him enter time for his lifeguards and folding 300 t-shirts for all his new students).

But oh as I look at this company he's building, the glowing reviews he's getting from parents, and the stack of checks he's so proudly entering in his books, I am so, so proud.


And I find myself surprisingly happy that events lined up in such a way as to allow JP to find and pursue this opportunity and to force me to have the perspective needed to wholeheartedly (or as close to wholeheartedly as possible for a risk-averse lawyer) support it.

Now I just have to hope he survives a summer of very late nights (he's creating tomorrow's lesson schedule as I type), very early mornings (he has to leave the house by 7), long days in the (outdoor, uncovered) pool, and a whole lot of screaming crying learning-to-swimmers. It's not exactly my dream, but I'm so glad he's living his.


Sunday, June 9, 2013


Some non-birthday non-baby happenings of the last few days.

(1) I finally bit the bullet and bought the rugs we've been missing in the living room, future dining room, and sun room doorway. I also got JP a new desk chair as a much-needed Father's Day present. His current chair was the one I bought for $70 from Office Depot in 2002 when I got my first apartment in college. It has no support, you can feel the bolts when you sit on it, the back is broken so you can't lean back, and it's polyester and hot and sweaty to sit on. JP sits in it for hours a day without complaint; I sit on it once a week or so to use our printer and every time I vow to buy him a new chair no matter how much he protests at spending "unnecessary" money on himself. (He and I have very different definitions of "necessary" when it comes to shopping; he would never own four pairs of black patent pumps, but he does appreciate the effects of my shopping.) Ordering the rugs made me incredibly nervous- they set so much of the tone for the soon-to-be revamped main area of our house, but I've been internet browsing for a year and these have always been my favorites. They're indoor/outdoor with great reviews and very low price tags, how wrong can it go? (Right?) So thank you to JP's swim school for the funding and for the free shipping and awesome prices.

(2) I took off Friday afternoon of work because Claire had her 3-year check-up and I had my first progesterone shot appointment with the home nurse. In between the two I took Landon to the mall to eat lunch and exchange some shoes we'd bought for him. I avoid the mall like the plague and soon realized Landon had never seen a food court before. He kind of lost his mind. He was SO EXCITED and kept exclaiming over all the offerings like someone who's spent his whole life living in a cave. If we ever take that poor boy to Disneyworld one day he's probably going to pass out. He ate a piece of pizza "as big as my head mom! as big as my head!" and got a cookie from Great American Cookie Co. so I could indulge in my sudden, sharp craving for one. I ate a dinky doozie nearly every day of my pregnancy with Claire, and while I won't be doing that again (GAC is no longer across the street from my office building), it was lovely to have one back in my life for a short time.

Hello Lover.

(3) I bought a floor mirror for my closet. Until this point I haven't had a full length mirror anywhere in my house and I decided belly pictures required one. I found a huge beautiful one at Homegoods and after getting help transporting it to check-out and my car, I can now see my full, expanding form every time I step in my closet. The kids love it too. A mirror that can show your whole body at once- what a concept.

16 weeks: regular jeans, maternity top, summer wedges to make me 6' tall

(4) In the spirit of not indulging in Great American Cookie Company every day in this pregnancy, I made a modest dessert involving marshmallows, ritz crackers, and peanut butter. Because peanut butter has protein and crackers are sometimes found in the health food aisle (marshmallows are made of air and thus don't count for anything).


Then I did this to them.


And then I ate 7 (SEVEN) in one too-short nap time afternoon. I sat on the couch in the family room, one of the rooms farthest from the kitchen, with my laptop in my lap, and SEVEN times set aside the laptop, walked to the kitchen, opened the fridge, ate one more ritz, peanut butter, marshmallow, chocolate covered monstrosity, and then went back to the couch, put my laptop back in my lap, reengaged with House Hunters International, only to do that again SIX more times. I also had 2 after dinner. I'm sure the half yoga DVD I did this morning canceled all that out.

(5) We had a long string of storms this morning (poor terrified-of-thunder-Clairebear) ended up sleeping the rest of the morning in the guest bed with her daddy to keep the thunder at bay, but by 11 a.m. the day turned gorgeous. JP is at his pool, the kids and I are at ours, and the weather couldn't be better.


Claire has her beloved bucket of cups and scoops. Landon is doing non-stop water tricks that are sure to send him on a nice long nap this afternoon.


And I'm sitting with my feet up in the shade enjoying the lemonade, wireless internet, and soft breeze.


A perfect Sunday early afternoon.


Soon we head to Landon's first camp to meet the counselors and learn what he'll be doing all week. Both kids will sleep and I'll be slow simmering sauce for lasagna and agonizing over my internet rug choices until the kids wake up and probably go back in the pool until JP comes home. I love summer.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Baby Baby

I mentioned a few days ago that we had our sneak peek ultrasound at my 16-week appointment last Friday. This was just a "for fun" look to see if my doctor could tell the sex before the big, official anatomy scan at 20 weeks at the end of this month. This is what I wrote the night before the appointment:

~ ~ ~

We find out the sex of our baby tomorrow. Maybe. It's early, but my doctor said she'd look. I'm excited. I love the gender reveal- it turns the baby from "baby" to "my daughter" or "my son" and let's me work on a name and a nursery decor plan and just makes the whole thing a lot more concrete. We thought about not finding out this time, but the planning is the only part of pregnancy I enjoy, and this is the last baby I'm going to get to plan for. I want to know, I want to have a name, I want to have my new necklace with three kids names on it when I got to the hospital to have him or her. I love that by tomorrow night I might be able to start bookmarking nursery bedding and smiling I picture our little baby girl or boy snuggled in our arms in five more months.

And yet, for the first time, I'm just a bit apprehensive. I'll be thrilled with whatever it is. I would love another little boy. I think some of the most harmonious families I know have alternating sexes down the line. I wouldn't have to worry about Claire and would-be sister potentially hating each other like my sister and I did for a time. I could dig out Landon's adorable hats and put them on another chubby boy's round head. I would love another little girl. I would love for Claire and her to share the big room and have secrets and giggles and friendship. I would love to buy more ruffle-butted creepers covered in lady bugs and butterflies. I love both scenarios equally.

But both of those scenarios exist in my head. Particularly with this baby, this baby we talked about to death until we finally decided to stop pussy footing and try to do what so we clearly wanted to do. Hearts and wishes won over brains and logic. We made the jump, but only after picturing my sweet little boy third child and my sweet little girl third child so often and so clearly we had to try for him/her. Tomorrow, one of those pictures will come true and one won't, and as excited as I'm going to be about the reality, I think I'm going to have to mourn the loss of the possibility just a little. Especially since this is our last baby, and unlike my other two sonograms when I might still have another, this time if I find out it's a boy, I'll know I'm not ever having that second little girl. That has to happen at some point- whether it's baby #2, 3, or 5, but it's a funny thing to think about in the wee hours before I learn whatever this baby has been all along.

When I asked the kids what they would lake, Landon requested a brother, and Claire immediately topped that with a request for a "sister AND a baby." JP claims no preference and is probably just dreading the number of times I'm going to make him talk about names now that he can't put it off with "let's just wait till we know the sex" anymore.

~ ~ ~

And so Friday came. Our baby had pretzeled his/herself into a corner of my tummy, legs tightly crossed, happily showing off all 10 fingers, some nice long arms, a giant head, and steadily beating heart. After some moving around on my part and firm prodding on my doctors, she thought she might have gotten a clear enough shot to declare our baby a GIRL (squee!), but she's only about 80% confident in that assertion and advised us to wait to buy anything until our big ultrasound in a few weeks.

A girl. JP and I both smiled at that and then moved on to admiring her fingers and toes while calmly anticipating the next appointment that would confirm her status. I like thinking of my little daughter in there; I'm fine thinking it might soon be revealed that I'm carrying a little boy instead. Much like I've felt about everything this pregnancy, I'm just happy we did it, happy I'm pregnant, and not particularly anxious about anything- even the big gender reveal that drove me CRAZY with anticipation the first two times around. In some ways this partial reveal is the perfect way to go. It was a relief to find that I really was happy for either answer- so much so that I don't even mind that I don't know which one it is for sure. For now, both possibilities remain alive.

The one thing the ultrasound did do was send me on a flurry of girl baby name websites. We had three possible names for a boy- all of which I LOVE and each of which JP finds acceptable. We had NO names for a girl. Well I had jotted a few down, but not seriously. Now, after mining the depths of the internet and international baby name lists, I have three girl names that I love. JP likes one, tolerates another, and dislikes a third. My family has voiced dislike of all three. I still love them all. We'll see how they marinate over the next few weeks. The baby might be a boy and make it easy for all of us.

~ ~ ~

We didn't officially tell the kids I was pregnant. Since we thought we would find out the sex at 16 weeks I figured we'd just wait to tell them then, when everything was a bit more concrete. But Claire, as usual, caught on far quicker than she was supposed to. One day while we were sitting on the couch she took a critical look at my belly and said, "do you have a baby in there?!". To be fair she'd just spent about 30 minutes grilling my very pregnant friend and coworker about the baby in her tummy, so she was very baby/tummy focused, but still, my first reaction was to be offended-- I mean, what are you implying girlchild?! Then I remembered, oh wait, yes, I do in fact have a baby in there. So I confirmed, and she was THRILLED. Thrilled. So excited to get to see the baby, hold the baby, touch the baby. I tried to explain it would be a LOOOONG time before that would happen, but you don't control the Claire excitement train. Since that day three weeks ago she has asked about my baby at least 15 times a day. She tells everyone we see about the baby in my tummy. She puts the stickers she gets from her teacher at the end of her school day on my belly "for the baby." She loves the baby and cannot WAIT for it to come out. JP and I abandoned any attempt to hide our references to baby #3 and starting talking about him/her openly at dinner and everywhere else.

Landon, somehow, missed all of this. Until about 8 days ago when Claire was once again resting her cheek on my tummy and talking about the baby, and I saw something click in Landon's head. He turned slowly toward me, his eyes widening, and he said very slowly and with genuine shock, "Wait... we're having another baby?" When I said, why yes, yes we are, his eyes got even bigger and he said, "You mean you can just have MORE?!!"

I tried to answer that with a "well, yes, generally, but I don't think we're having any more after this one." He slowly nodded in response, clearly trying to process this BRAND NEW information.

Then, the next afternoon, when I was telling Claire to do something for the 10th time and I was carrying laundry and the oven timer was beeping and it seemed like a million other things were going on, Landon walked into the living room, took in the scene, and said with a great sigh, "Three is going to be a lot of kids mom."

Poor Landon, we probably should have consulted him before giving him another child to raise, but he did such a good job with the first one.

Boy or girl, it's going to be such fun, all over again.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Claire turned 3 today. Her arrival, and all of our first three years together, have been so extraordinarily wonderful that I'm not even sad at the milestones, I just can't help but be excited at what will come next.

Her party was a "zoo pool party" with good friends, lots of food, giggling children, cupcakes and the singing of Happy Birthday. I got overwhelmed at the thought of inviting a bunch of kids from her class and spending money to entertain people we didn't know, particularly since she's moving up and out of her class next week, so we decided a backyard cookout with our close friends (all coworkers of mine who live nearby with young kids Claire knows and loves as well as any classmate, and Claire's beloved babysitter, who is also the daughter of a coworker) would be way more fun. And it was.

Claire wanted zebras and elephants to be involved, so I added "zoo" to the expected "pool party," found these invites and envelopes for nearly nothing on vistaprint, and ordered a dozen inflatable zoo animals to float in the pool. Party theme done!


Aren't they adorable? I feel like they should all have names and sleep in the house.


I also scattered some zoo bubbles and animal print sunglasses (a Claire signature item) around the tables as favors, strung a Happy Birthday sign on the side of the house, and made up yummy picnic food, non-alcoholic punch (that would have been delicious with vodka, darn it), and several dozen rainbow cupcakes, including some minis because the batter was never ending and I was tired of layering.


Friends came, JP made it home from the pool to grill the hamburgers and hot dogs, and much fun and merriment was had by all.


Claire found the mini cupcakes and snuck away to eat one.


Luckily, I have a zoom lens, and the birthday girl was given carte blanche on dinner. She didn't touch her hamburger, watermelon, or pasta salad, but she did eat one million goldfish and three mini cupcakes.


My favorite part from last year's party was the moment everyone sang "Happy Birthday" and Claire realized the party was for her. This year she knew what was coming and she was so excited. Though three candles took a few extra tries to blow out than last year's two.


The weather couldn't have been better, and two of the families we're closest to, both of which also have pregnant mamas- we realized that this time next year we'll all have an extra kid in our broods, stayed until after 7 just chatting on the patio, watching the kids play and splash and play more.


Claire and her fellow almost-three-year-old had a particularly good time. They spent at least an hour talking babies and transferring water back and forth between the pool and various buckets. The adults were at least 10 yards away and I just loved sneaking glances through my lens, wondering at the details of the important little girl things they were chatting about so earnestly. It really couldn't have been a better, more relaxing and fun evening. Claire was so excited it was here, and spent time chatting with every guest- friends told me later that they heard all about her dance recital, her "no tutus" rule, and so much more, and told me that night as we tucked her in bed that "Mommy, I LOVE my parties." Me too, baby.


This morning was Claire's "real" birthday. It's a little anticlimactic after her party, but we got to give her our gift- a big chair to match the one Landon has (possibly the only "toy" they ever fight over) and two books. I love that she is still baby enough to wake up a little befuddled and required two babies and her pink blankie to face the morning, even on a birthday.


Excited about her chair and the prospect of tearing paper, she warmed up quickly.


I predict many hours spent exactly like this:


We lit the traditional tiny candle in a tiny pig, sang Happy Birthday, and enjoyed Claire's favorite blueberry bagel breakfast.


She continued the day with a trip to the dentist (which she was SO excited about; she loves the dentist, doctor, and "hair tut place" with great and equal fervor), muffins at school with her friends, and playtime in our pool tonight before a dinner of her choice: pasta with red sauce. So far none of the kid's chosen birthday meals have cost us more than $5, something I'm sure they'll make up for later.


Happy Birthday Claire! It's been a fabulous three years and we can't imagine life without you (Landon quite literally, he looked befuddled when I told him tonight that he was almost three when Claire was born). May your combination of fierceness, sweetness, and excitement for just about everything (except tutus) continue in full force in year four and beyond. We love you so baby bear.