Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Burning the Midnight Oil

I have work spread out on the table before me, but what I really want to do is pour a second glass of wine, take an indulgent hot bath I'm sort of not supposed to take anymore because I now have eczema/psoriasis slowly turning me into a scaly lizard creature, and listen to the last 15 minutes of yesterday's Pod Save America (the only downside to a 10 minute commute is no time for podcasts, especially when your favorite one drops the F bomb a lot and you can't listen to it on your house speakers while cooking dinner). Instead, I had James install new shoe racks- now all matching and with a bonus fourth rack- to our closet wall and fill them with shoes and scarves and then stand and gaze happily at the organized bliss of it all.

But, though I do not regret any minutes spent living my organizational love language, I really do need to start my detailed review of the exhibits I pulled for my testimony on Thursday. Just as soon as I finish this blog post. For you all, I will skip my bath, but after 9 days away (oops), not even the knowledge that I'll be working until midnight is going to stop me from updating my blog. Consider this post a proof of life.

And, of course, a photo dump.

The last week has been good. I'm slowly adjusting to our new schedule that everyone else adjusted to immediately. We even still get to eat together every night! Later than usual, but everyone but me seems to be okay with their new 8:30 bedtimes. Sometimes I make eye contact with the couch I should be sitting on during our 8:05 p.m. dinner, but my endurance is slowly increasing. I love our evenings and I can handle the cooking and carpools and crazy but not being able to go off-duty for an extra 30 minutes is tough, but it's worth it to eat together. I've adjusted our meal types based on the night's schedules- Monday has to be something I can start early and then takes a while to cook while I'm dropping off Landon, Thursdays are for crock pot meals I can come home to after teaching barre, Tuesdays and Wednesdays get to be normal, and Fridays- my favorite day- can be whatever I want because 0 kids have activities and James is done coaching at the happy-hour-friendly time of 5:30!

So that's all going pretty well. I'm surprised how tired we are each night when we finally sit on the couch together. With babies and toddlers you're so physically drained, but though the kids are older and super independent and easier in so many ways, it's somehow still just as exhausting. Mentally, emotionally, "Mommy are we still enemies with Japan like we were in World War II?" kind of exhausting. And the days are just longer with so much more in them. Weekends are like that too. I should have worked this weekend, but now that no one naps, it's just a non-stop adventure until bedtime at 8:30. It's hard to throw on the brakes and sneak away to read a large stack of legal papers. Especially when you'd rather bake pumpkin bread and clean out your kids' bathroom cabinets with that time. Which is why I'll be up until midnight.

Speaking of cleaning out kids' bathroom cabinets- we cleaned and reorganized ALL THE THINGS this weekend! Our garage project was finally completed last week, so Saturday involved three trips to Target for organizational items (the cashier asked if we'd just moved; I said yes, the finished out garage feels like a whole new house) because the garage made me realize there were at least 5 cabinets in our house that lacked sufficient organizational bins and off to the races we went.

My whole family hated me by Sunday afternoon, but it's really not my fault they're incompetent organizers who lack any endurance or focus whatsoever.


And look- so pretty!!! We still need to install the wall A/C unit, and the sports rack, cube storage, and lawn tool rack I ordered haven't arrived yet, but it's SO. MUCH. BETTER. It's bright and has walls and insulation! There's an attic and lights and shelves and REAL WALLS (did I mention that?). It was a very exciting day for me.

Somewhere in the middle of those two days, we went to our first children's play of the Casa Manana 2017-2018 theatrical season!

Mr. Popper's Penguins was excellent. It was a 4 person cast who performed the entire show, transitioning seamlessly through dozens of characters while also working the penguin puppets. I think it was really neat for the kids to see and quite different from their usual play. They all loved it and have been making penguin noises non-stop since Saturday evening. (And it was only almost cute the first few times they made them...)

On Friday night we were good and ate at home even though we wanted to go out, but then we immediately followed it up with $22 of cake from my new love SusieCakes on the river. Still, cheaper than a dinner!

Winston came with us. He's really come so far from those first few weeks that we had him. So much calmer and more settled. Part of that is adjusting to a new home, but his training made a HUGE difference too. We still do our homework every day and repeating those basic commands and reasserting our leadership has calmed him so much and made us feel confident doing more with him.

He's enjoying it VERY much and he gets a lot of attention when we're out, especially since Cora introduces him to anyone who dares to make eye contact.

"Did you know I have a doggy? His name is Winston. You can pet him if you want."

Cora has also been inviting everyone she sees to her birthday party. There was a little girl, probably about 8, in line with us to use the bathroom during intermission at the play. "I like your dress," said the sweet girl. "Thank you!" exclaimed Cora, "it's 'Punzel! Do you want to see her?" She shoved the picture of Rapunzel on a plastic brooch attached to the neckline towards the girl's face, then nodded decisively, "You can come to my princess party."

When we exited the bathroom to the lobby a few minutes later, Cora looked around asking "but where is my new friend?!" She's a delight.

But the main thing I've been doing this week, besides online shopping, Disney-prepping, working, carpooling, cooking, and organizing everything in the house, is PHOTO BOOKING. Oh yes, that albatross. I love my photo books. I love them so much when they're done. And in the right mood, I even love them a little while I'm making them, and I've learned to indulge that mood whenever it happens to hit. Last week I was working on shutterfly until midnight every night and I was exhausted and possibly giving myself carpal tunnel, but now our 2015-2016 school year book is done!! I need to personalize the covers and intro pages for each kid's copy, but it's done!!! And we did SO MUCH that year! Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Minnesota- Claire starting Kindergarten, Landon in 2nd grade, Cora walking and talking- swim team, gymnastics, lake house trips- so many adventures and activities and shenanigans to include. I also painstakingly pull in quotes and stories from the blog and facebook (just going back through those archives is a couple night's work), weaving in snippets and stories with the pictures and hopefully really capturing each kid at each age as I go along. I do love them. The kids love them. James loves them. But omg they're a pain in the ass along the way (literally, my butt hurts from sitting for so long each night).

And now I can start on 2016-2017. Oy.

Oh, I also bought a used couch on our neighborhood buy/sell page for $150 and it's perfect and comfy and classic and fits one extra person than our old couch. Obviously, it required new pillows and possibly a redesign of my whole living room. We'd bought the original furniture from the previous homeowners and always planned to replace, but not exactly now. Stay tuned. A new coffee table, bar cart/cabinet, and bookcase are being obsessed over.

In the meantime, here are some recipes from the last week! Many involve pumpkin. It is decorative gourd season after all.

My Mom's Pumpkin Bread
. The best.

MORE Superhero Muffins - now a go to breakfast on busy days, they take a lot of ingredients to make but they're super hearty and healthy and I love how much the kids love them.

Italian Chicken Stew
- I used to make this all the time, but forgot about it; it's flavorful and filling but still light and broth based. Great with a big loaf of crusty bread and butter. I double or triple the broth and add some small shape pasta close to the end.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal - Delicious! Made it for lunch yesterday and the kids loved it too.

Crock Pot Chicken Wild Rice Soup - So good and so easy.

Slow Cooker Beef Tacos - These were great! I've been experimenting with different seasoning blends and this was a new favorite. I used 1.3 lbs. of beef (those organic packs you get from Costco) but kept everything else the same. I also just browned my beef in a dutch oven and then covered it and kept it on low stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes- it was still delicious, though I'm sure if you properly slow cooked it longer it would be even better.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pasta with Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Tomato Sauce.

OMG. Go buy these things immediately. I had a little bit of the pasta and sauce as a sample and promptly bought 6 bags of pasta and 8 jars of sauce. Then James bought more this weekend. The pasta is more of a novelty, but it does have butternut squash in it and the kids LOVED the shapes. The sauce is where it's at- the first three ingredients are: Tomato Puree, Pumpkin Puree, and Butternut Squash Puree. Then there's some heavy cream, garlic, salt, and that's about it. And it is SO. GOOD. My kids are obsessed (Landon just had some tonight because he won't eat lasagna because he's a crazy person.) It's a great keep-it-in-the-pantry-until-there's-a-night-you-don't-want-to-cook back-up. And it's delicious. We've served it on ravioli, tortelloni, and the now famous pumpkin pasta. If I had a spiralizer I'm sure I could tell you it was great on zoodles. It's just great. If you live in Fort Worth I've probably bought it all, but if you live near a different Trader Joe's, go get some.

And now it's time to work. At 11:07. I suppose it's a nice break from the late night photo booking.


  1. That TJ's sauce sounds amazing! Thx for that tip, I might be tempted to drive across my county to the nearest TJ's!

  2. Let me start off: Costco had s really good, cheap, Pinot Grigeo, which I may be in the middle of right now. THANK YOU for your skin cancer posts. My husband has a hole in his face, because I freaked out about a weird, growing mole. We know soon. People I love have had other people be mean this week. And it is completely unnecessary. Thank you for choosing nice. I love reading what you write. THANK YOU! Liz