Sunday, December 2, 2018

Sparkly Real Life Updates

Taking a break from Costa Rica blogging (it's so hard to believe we've only been back a week; real life takes off fast!) to capture the last week in our "real life" (as Cora calls it; she was quite insistent that Costa Rica was NOT real life and really, she was right). But this is my view right now and it's pretty great too.

(Yes that is the Great British Baking Show Holiday special. Recently available on Netflix. It's everything you want it to be, especially when everyone in your house is fast asleep.)

Annnd that is all I managed to write this morning. The kids woke up at 8. We finished Home Alone 2, which started the night before after Christmas tree decorating, and went on a very long walk (Cora can now go VERY far and VERY fast on her two-wheel big girl bike and we realized a few streets in we'd neglected to explain to her how far ahead she was allowed to get... it had never been an issue before).

I ran some errands with Claire; James took Landon and a friend climbing (with Cora along for the ride). I taught bare. We went to see The Grinch. We ate dinner and decorated our adorable and colorful family tree. It was an excellent Sunday, relaxed (or as relaxed as we ever have these days) and easy.

But back to the last week. The weekend was about fridge and pantry stocking, home-cooked meals, Christmas decorating, and Christmas music playing. If we were sad to no longer be in Costa Rica, we were still happy to be home in our "Christmas house." The kids have about 85,000 things going on with school (spelling bee! talent show! student council! news crew! choir! they're such joiners), I'm still teaching barre 3x a week, Landon has climbing 2x a week, the girls have gymnastics on Wednesdays, Claire also has volleyball on Wednesdays, and all three kids have swimming on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So obviously we added in the Christmas tree lighting at TCU on Tuesday night.

It worked. I taught barre on my way home from work as usual and our nanny took the kids to swimming. I walked over to the tree after class and James brought the kids straight over from practice. We hadn't eaten dinner, but there were friends to run around the lawn with and that's even better.

What they looked like all night

The kids were never still, the weather was crisp and perfect, and the music and lights were wonderful.

I love when we take advantage of living right next to a university.

After the tree lighting and fireworks we headed to our fave local taco place and ran into two other families coming from the same thing. And though I adored all the food we ate in Costa Rica, I was THRILLED to be reunited with my frozen margaritas and liquid cheese.

There are no substitutes.

On Wednesday everyone did all their Wednesday things just the way they're supposed to go (that delicate excel sheet schedule trucking along smoothly as it does 92% of the time) and then on Thursday it all went a bit off the rails.

Every single leaf fell off our tree on Thursday; it was a sign

It started with me taking off work at 2:00 (after a delicately balanced call then meeting then lunch then Commission meeting) to take Claire to the doctor for a 2:30 appointment I'd secured 3 months ago with an allergist to start getting her allergies under control and today was the day! I had given our nanny the day off, arranged for Landon to go home with a friend, and then planned to pick up Landon when we were done (surely no later than 3:30- HA), take Claire to the school talent show try-outs that ended at 4:15, pick up Cora, and take everyone to swim practice by 5:00, so I could drive back to go teach my 5:30 barre class at TCU. Perfect.

Except we didn't get called back for her appointment until 4:15. We saw the doctor at 4:30. She had her first panel of allergy testing at 4:40. By the time her results were read it was 5:00, the kids had definitely missed swimming, Cora was still at school, Landon was still at his friend's, and I needed to be home and changing into my barre clothes at that exact second. By 5:01 we had learned that Claire is anergic- a rare but not "unheard of" condition (2% of allergy patients, go Claire!) where you skin doesn't react to scratch testing AT ALL, including not reacting to the very reactive histamine that serves as the control, so she has to go to a lab for blood work and the whole 2.5 hours taught us exactly nothing.

I FLEW out of the doctor's office, calling friends along the way. Picked up Cora from school, picked up Landon from his friend's ("have him ready to go in the yard, thanks!!"), ran into the house, stripped off my clothes in the living room and shoved myself into leggings while talking a mile-a-minute to the kids who had opted to stay home instead of sitting in the corner during my class without the entertainment we didn't have time to gather: "Put on a movie. Don't open the door. Everyone can have a snack. Water only. DON'T OPEN THE DOOR. I'll be back in one hour. Text me every 15 minutes with how everyone is doing. FTLOG don't open the door." And off to barre I drove. I parked, ran to the athletic center (I don't have a parking pass, so I'm in the visitor's lot), and visibly sweaty and heart-rate already pumping, I flew into my multi-purpose room at 5:29 for my 5:30 class for which I have NEVER arrived later than 5:12. I found 21 students all sitting on mats with an assortment of equipment (usually I tell them what we need that day), just patiently waiting. I wanted to hug them all. At 5:31 we got started and at 6:20 we were done, my Apple Watch having buzzed four times with Landon's "um, we're still just watching the movie" updates. I drove my mile home and started dinner. It was a day.

Friday was better. I worked from home. Ran errands at lunch. (At no time this week have I gone to yoga. I can't explain it, I just... haven't wanted to go. I have wanted to check things off my shopping list and drink margaritas, so I'm indulging in that right now.) Picked up the kids from school and attended Claire's make-up talent show try-out the sweet teacher let her do. She and her friend/partner did great and back home we went. That night was supposed to be the swim school Christmas dinner, but someone forgot to make a reservation, so he ended up getting one for 8:30 that night and that is too late for me and dinner. Feeling a strong need to stay close to home and watch cheesy Christmas movies, I backed out of the dinner, giving kisses and apologies to the host (my husband, just in case that wasn't clear) and texted to meet a friend for tacos and margaritas with our kids. Her husband was out too and we needed a girls night. Well, a girls' night plus Landon. Plus another favorite family we ran into as soon as we arrived!

Then Landon ended up spending the night at a friend's house, so it really was just girls (she has three). They went home to put on pj's, Claire, Cora, and I put on our pj's and then we reunited on our couch with A Christmas Prince 2: The Royal Wedding, five girls, two moms, and two glasses of wine. It was the BEST. By the end, we were the only two watching the movie and all the kids (ages 5-10) had somehow migrated to play play-do at the kitchen table while singing the wrong words to Feliz Navidad. It was 9:45 p.m. It was the perfect Friday night.

On Saturday Cora woke up early and I totally forgot that Landon was at a friend's so I had to go turn on the TV and man are big kids great to have around. Claire had an early volleyball game (ouch, said friend and I when we saw each other court-side at 8:50 a.m.) and then Landon came home before going to Bass Concert Hall downtown to see Charlie Brown Christmas with another friend. He put on a "fancy shirt" and suddenly looked like a teenager. What is happening?

The rest of us did Saturday things like thinking about going to yoga and then not doing that, the girls went to our friends' house to play, and James and I wrapped all our gifts (in a house without closets or attic, you wrap as soon as you buy). We walked down the street to collect the girls and then got everyone changed for our Casa Manana children's play that evening! I had absolutely planned to go to yoga and thus had never taken a shower, something that took me by surprise when I went to get dressed 20 minutes before we had to leave. Ye olde "messy bun," we meet again for the 7th time this week.

Landon met us at Casa (so much culture for him on a Saturday!) and said Charlie Brown was great. We LOVED the new Christmas play at Casa- super fun and original with pop songs changed out with holiday lyrics. The first one was a witty take on "Can't Stop This Feeling" and about halfway through the song, Cora yelled out, "Wait! Those are NOT the words!". She couldn't believe no one else was outraged at the fraudulent singing going onstage.

We picked up pizza on the way home and changed into Christmas jammies. Claire felt strongly that Pua needed to be included.

And then it was time for the tree. We turned on Home Alone 2 (Elf having already been watched this holiday season; it's always first) and got to sparklifying our living room.

I will never not take a picture of the baby focusing intently on putting three ornaments in the exact same place.

I was really into buffalo plaid this year?

All done! I bought an outlet plug off Amazon that connects to your phone so I can have the tree turn on and off on a schedule and just whenever I press a button on my phone. This brings me enormous joy.

Much like these socks I bought for our "Champagne & Whiskey & Ugly Sweater Party" we're hosting next weekend. There will be voting and tasting and some fabulous festive wear. I have prizes.

Whew- now that we're done with tonight's episode of Narcos Mexico, I can finish this post (love that show, but having to read the subtitles REALLY makes blogging difficult) - on to this week's menu!

Sunday: Skinny Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup, bread, crackers.

Monday: Cheesy Vegetarian Chili Mac, raw veggies on the side, cornbread.

Tuesday: Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce (James's favorite meal; I'll be at a PTA meeting/holiday party with these meatballs, a bottle of wine, and an ornament to exchange).

Wednesday: Elk Tacos (a friend shot an elk while hunting and we now have several pounds of ground elk meat; it's like buffalo- super lean and grass-fed beef tasting), Mexican Rice, Refried Black Beans

Thursday: Crockpot Creamy Chicken Enchilada Chili, chips, avocado.

Friday: No idea; Landon has a climbing thing, James will be coaching, the girls and I may be forced to get chips and queso and margaritas for dinner again.

Saturday: PARTAY. I'm making French Dip Sliders (SO GOOD), Warm Pesto Goat Cheese Dip with pita chips and crostini, Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake, Balls O' Fire (maraschino cherries soaked for a few days in Fireball), and providing lots of champagne and a big handle of Fireball and mixers (spiced apple cider, cranberry juice). Everyone is bringing something and it is going to be delicious and fun. I've already started prepping.

And that's a wrap! This week is pretty much the same, except it has two talent show rehearsals and a school field trip! Honestly though, it generally just hums along and works out. My Christmas prep is done, my presents are wrapped, our house is sparkly and joyful, and this season of friends and parties and champagne (and homemade chex mix! and cookies!) is my very favorite season of all.


  1. Oof! That doc appointment and schedule tightness gave me heart palpitations for you. I am always amazed by how you can roll with the curve balls. Well done!

    On a lighter note... can you link that Christmas tree plug/phone remote for us? I have been hunting for it this morning after reading this and can't find it on Amazon. I think that would bring me so much joy too! : ) Thank you!

    1. Absolutely! I should have linked to them above. I think there are lots of varieties out there, but these were inexpensive and work great! We have our outside lights plugged into one too. (And I just use the Smart Life app they describe in the directions; we don’t have Alexa or anything else fancy).

      OMOTON [2 Pack] Mini Wifi Smart...

    2. Thank you, Rebecca! : )

    3. I was going to ask about this myself! Thanks to you both :)

  2. I have three kids slightly older than yours, and I'm always in awe of your updates! I don't know how y'all fit it all in!

  3. I'm impressed (and a little mad at you) that your gifts are already wrapped! ;) Teasing. I have three wrapped, and the rest aren't even purchased yet! Enjoy the holiday season!

  4. Has L seen "Free Solo" yet? It's about a free solo climb of El Capitan in Yosemite. The climber is Alex Honnold and the film was made by Jimmy Chin (one of the guys that was in Meru). It's a breathtaking movie--literally hard to watch at times.

  5. You find the best recipes!! I printed every one you posted today! I made your Tre Leche cake years ago and I still do today! You have a beautiful family! Merry Christmas!!��