Monday, November 21, 2022

More Trips! Writing from the Road

I seem to be traveling non-stop at a time that I really just want to hole up in my house and organize all the closets. We're currently on a road trip to Boulder to visit my sister and family for Thanksgiving (and my parents, who are joining us tomorrow), and since power outtages, flights, and road trips seem to be the only times I can manage a blog post, I thought I'd give it a go. We don't have a phone signal on this part of the drive, but really that's even better- no distractions. Just me and this digital notepad. Plus a James, three increasingly large and gangly human children, and a bulldog. Road trips are the best.
Speaking of, I feel like some of my readers may understand the SUPERHUMAN effort I put into not yelling and/or setting the car on fire when we stopped every hour so someone could go to the bathroom (James/Mr. Hydration even though today is a NO WORKOUT DAY and you can just drink a normal amount of water like a normal person) or get a snack or third lunch sandwich (LANDON). I am a person who wants to get in the car and drive from point A to point B with as few stops as possible. I want to beat the google maps ETA you get at the start of your journey (don't even ASK how far off we are from our original ETA now, I can't talk about it). I don't care how awesome the thing is on the side of the road- if it's not my destination I DO NOT WANT TO SEE IT. It used to make me crazy when my dad would pull over to rest stops on family car trips and get out a football and want to play. NO. WE'LL PLAY WHEN WE GET THERE, EVERYONE GET BACK IN THE BUS.

I now recognize my urge to stab the football as a sign of my then undiagnosed anxiety and I recognize the face-melting rage I feel when we stop YET AGAIN on trips now as my diagnosed anxiety and I can smile and say "oh that looks like a good gas station" like a normal adult person thanks to Prozac, therapy, and loving my family, but omg I should get a medal for how easy I make it look. We are on hour 9 and we have stopped 8 times. Wtf.

It's completely different from a road trip where you're supposed to stop. Like driving around Iceland. This is a drive through the ugliest parts of Texas and New Mexico until finally, at hour 9 you get to something pretty in the southern part of Colorado. The only goal is to get to Tia's house in Boulder where there is lasagna and wine and tiny cousins. I feel like Maggie understands.

Somewhere in northwest Texas we confiscated all devices and made everyone do math problems I wrote on legal pads. Obviously this increased our childrens' love for us. As we crossed into New Mexico Landon was drawing a hippo over his last math problem and declared himself "master of maths" and that his brain was full and every problem we gave him was kicking other important information out. Claire alternated between wailing wildly at the unfairness of life/math and then cackling in glee whenever she got a problem right. Cora just quietly and doggedly answered all problems with zero drama and zero mistakes. This exercise really summarized each child in their stage of life right now. The teen, the tween, and the emotionally stable 9-year-old.

In other forms of special family time, James and I FINALLY bought each other bike last weekend! After approximately 12 years of jokingly giving each other bikes for Christmas and then never actually buying them, we went to Academy and we bought bikes! We were inspired by the birthday girl and her new bike, and also the gorgeous lake and miles of bike trails we live mere steps away from. I was so excited.
As we climbed on, James and I realized that though we've been together for 22.5 years, we've never seen each other on a bike. Luckily, it really is like they say - just like riding a bike.
As we told the kids to helmet-up and join us on a family bike ride, Landon groaned a loud, "We do way too many things as a family mom." I thanked him for the sweet compliment and off we went, some of us more excited than others, but all of us having an excellent time eventually.
The lake is really so beautiful.
And our five bikes hung side by side in the garage makes my whole heart happy.
Prior to that adventure, my parents were here for 2 days, only 1.5 of which we had electricity for. We ate pizza by LED lantern light, walked to the lake in the morning, grilled out lunch and dinner, went to Cora's soccer game where Maggie parked herself in front of my dad who will never refuse a dog pat, and then my mom and I attended the Lakewood home tour while my dad did a house project and James took the kids to buy Cora's bike.
Landon and my dad also played putt putt in our little golf green while a giant digger looked on.
We celebrated this sweet 9 year old with her favorite dinner (hamburgers, hot dogs, and mac and cheese, plus vegetables on the side for balance) and ice cream cake. I can't believe our youngest is a year away from 10- that just seems impossible, but we sure do adore this sweet sporty super smart third baby of ours!
On Monday I flew to DC, then flew straight to Houston from there on Wednesday, and got home Thursday afternoon. I presented at a big public-facing CLE in Houston (I was the elusive ethics credit section, so obviously I was the favorite) and leaned into the office's holiday decor.
Also happening this past week: contractors, electricians, painters, pool construction, and pantry organization. My home is not quite a haven at the moment, but it will be!
The painters were there when I got home on Thursday and I was a little scared to see the results since I hadn't been there to get them started, but everything was exactly right, the colors were gorgeous, and I love everything. The house as designed was incredibly beautiful, but VERY white and gray. Now we have some colored vanities and cabinets (slate blue! hale navy! ocean teal! black raspberry! lush green!) and it feels so much more "us" already. We've also switched out nearly every light fixture, with a few to go, and are in the process of switching out drapes.
I'm completely obsessed with these new ones in my study. Blessings to James for being neither surprised nor resistant when I suggested we install the rods and hang them at 9:51 pm on Friday night.
This room was solid charcoal gray when we moved in - walls, ceiling, curtains, light plates, everything.
Now we have green and white and lush fabrics and I'm so in love.
We had furniture deliveries on Friday, including these side table dressers for our master bedroom that I am completely obsessed with. They weigh about 1,000 lbs each and are perhaps my favorite of all the pieces we picked out for the house.
Landon's room is done, Claire just has shelves, and Cora has a desk. We have more deliveries this week and the next, but I think our couches won't be here until March. But it's okay, I celebrate the arrival of each item as they come.
Last Friday we also had The Container Store at the house to organize our pantry! And it was awesome! As I've written in the past, I am all about relying on experts and I turned the pantry fully over to them. And it took 3 people 7 hours and a lot of bags of stuff to get to this:
It brings me great joy.
Our weekend was crazy. Landon had a swim meet on Friday and Saturday. I had calls and a business development lunch and a million house appointments on Friday, so I just attended finals on Saturday. And it was amazing! Landon went a personal best- shattering his season goal by more than a second in the 100 fly, and his relays broke TWO school records! The 200 medley and 400 free relays are made up of him and 3 seniors and we are so excited for them going into Districts, Regionals, and State in February!
Straight from the swim meet (which was 45 minutes away) we ran two errands (including running to Target because Claire realized she didn't own any pants and the Colorado trip was coming in hot - or cold, as it is), swung by the house to scavenge for lunch in the fridge, grab the Amazon box of Cora's birthday party decorations, and race to the gym to host her party!
Two of her besties drove over from Fort Worth and one spent the night, so we hosted our first sleepover at the new house. They slept on Cora's mattress on the floor and I donated our new master bedroom chairs to the game room so they could sit in them to watch movies.
On Sunday we were supposed to pack, but got distracted by house projects, organizing needs, and a surprise ER trip when we realized Claire's toe that had an ingrown toe nail removed a week ago was not healing properly and might actually be infected (yes, yes it was). She spent the rest of the day with her foot up and a Milo applied to her lap for comfort.
I found this on her door when I went by on the way to Cora's room later that day.
We packed about 9 pm. Luckily we're not skiing or doing anything else with critical items, so I let everyone pack their own bags and we'll see what we see when we get there. Most important was Maggie and her accessories and some things I'm giving to my sister (like our childhood twin bedframes I've been carting around for 12 years). I'm sure there are some jackets in the back too. We have 2.5 hours left and if we could keep it to one more stop I would really appreciate it.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Updates! Writing During a Power Outage, We'll See How Long My Battery Lasts

I'm back on my travels again. After two rounds up and back to Houston over 3 days 3 weeks ago, I spent part of last week in Austin and this week in Chicago. It's occurred to me that this is the exactly path my adult life took after high school: Houston, Austin, Chicago (and then back to Austin again). I met James in Austin at 18, graduated from UT early at 21, moved to Houston to live with him for my semester between undergrad and law school, got married in Houston at 22, moved to Chicago 3 days after the wedding, moved back to Austin at 25 (now with a bonus Landon!) so James could get his MBA at UT, and then moved to Fort Worth (now also with Claire!) to join the SEC. It's been fun going back to all the places we've lived.
And I'll be in DC next week- flying out Monday and then flying straight to Houston on Wednesday before coming back to Dallas on Thursday night, and DC is where James was born and grew up and is the first place we flew to together when I met his family after my freshman year, so the theme continues.
We're driving to Boulder to see my sister and her family for Thanksgiving (our first state-side Thanksgiving in some time!) and then I fly back to DC the following Monday for a few more days and THEN I think I'm going to live in my house for a bit. Which is good, because this house is the only place I want to be. It's still very much a work in progress and we're still missing more than half of the furniture we've ordered, but it is HOME and I love every inch of it with my whole heart.

In home updates, I continue to unpack, organize, and give people projects every spare minute I'm home.
James does not love my love of the Container Store, but our garage is looking great! He's also switched out four sets of bathroom or wall sconces, hung art and mirrors, and assembled Cora's new desk.
The girls are taking advantage of their current lack of furniture by making a megabed with their two queen mattresses pushed together. Landon's bed was delivered early last week and ours was delivered last Friday and it was so weird on Saturday morning to wake up and not feel the floor right next to me. It's all slowly coming together.
My mom was also here last Friday and we did a little shopping- she bought crazy gaucho-like pants that she immediately wore to a luncheon with rave reviews.
And she somehow convinced me I needed these flannel formal winter shorts, which I'm not even sure are a thing, but I must admit I LOVE them. I also got a $500 Tahari velver blazer for $150 (you know it's nice when it's $150 at Marshall's) and beautiful wool plaid pants for $60.
My beloved Bonnie was here on Saturday and put together some new outfits for me for fall and winter and as always her genius blows me away. These are all items I already owned (with the additions of my new shorts, velvet blazer, and plaid pants; all of which she used in my looks) and she just makes me look at and appreciate my wardrobe so much more. And when I travel I just pull up her album and pick which looks to pick- or get inspired to make versions of them. She is so amazing.

On Wednesday of this week I got to have brunch with a friend in Chicago and walk a few miles along the coast of Lake Michigan with her. Then when I got home I got to walk along the coast of my little lake here in Dallas with another of my favorite girls.
In pet updates, Maggie is delighted by Dallas, all the exercise she's getting riding in her carriage for miles around the lake each day, and the fact that her family seems so happy.
Milo is DISPLEASED because he went to the vet last week and received a vigorous ear cleaning to treat an infection and was told he needed to lose 4 lbs which is a good chunk (literally) of his bodyweight and he's now on a diet and believes he's dying. He is ALWAYS out and about and he spent the whole evening alternating between sulking under the couch and yelling loudly at us.
That night he broke into the pantry, ate through a plastic bag to get at a piece of bread and ate through my bag of sour straws and distributed them throughout the downstairs. So the diet is going well. He's decided to rejoin our laps, but he's still mad about it. (Moose on the other hand is delighted by the closely monitoring feedings and is now eating more than ever because Milo isn't allowed to take all the food. He will gain all the pounds Milo loses and everyone will be their ideal weight!)
Last night (Thursday, who knows when I'll actually publish this, for reasons I'll get to below), James and I attended a V&E BBQ taste-off client event. We got branded hats, said hello to a steer with very big horns, tasted three of the best BBQ restaurants in Dallas and voted for our favorite, listened to a fabulous live band, and chatted with clients and colleagues. My main takeaway is that James looks great in a cowboy hat and should wear one more often.
Today (Friday), the dig was supposed to begin for our pool. And it did! And then a massive storm rolled in and the large digger and cat were abandoned in my mud pit of a backyard by 9 am which is also when our power went out and at 5 pm it is still not back on. I'm typing this on a hope that it will just stay on my screen until the power comes back. To make matters more exciting, my parents are due to arrive within the hour to stay for the weekend, we had a great dinner planned to cook at home, it's Cora's birthday tomorrow and her ice cream cake ingredients are melting in my freezer, and I have done 0 minutes of work today because of the power situation and my absolute state of denial that it would really stay off all day. Estimates for its restoration have been 12 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm, 6 pm, and now 10 pm. I am not optimistic and that is making me very sad. I suppose I should at least go try to locate the camping lanterns we bought many years ago so we can play games by lantern light when it gets dark at 4:30 pm.
Saturday morning update! We ate dinner with my parents by LED lantern light in our very very dark kitchen. We had everyone snuggled up under blankets at an early bedtime (turns out there's not a ton to do when it gets dark at 4:30 and you've been in the dark for several hours by 8:30 pm). The power came on at 10:30 pm and it was very exciting - especially since we had apparently flipped every switch in the house on throughout the day so we glowed like a supernova. I ran around turning everything off, checking on the thermostats, and then snuggled back in bed absolutely delighted to know that after 14 hours off we would wake up with power in the morning.
Today is Cora's birthday! We'll have donut and pumpkin bread, go on a walk by the lake, open presents, go to her soccer game, make a dinner of all her favorite things, and generally revel in the fact that our sweet third baby- the delightful mascot of our family for all those early years- is 9!
Happy Saturday to you all!

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Nesting

Last week is (was?) a blur. On Monday we had moving vans and a million boxes deposited throughout the house; on Tuesday it was James's birthday and I had a million calls at work; on Wednesday I went to Houston for the day to present at an ESG client event; on Thursday I was back in Dallas for work and Landon's swim meet that night; and on Friday I was BACK in Houston for the day to speak on an SEC CLE panel while our kids had sixteen things on their social calendars. Throughout all of this we were getting the kids off to school in the mornings, home in the afternoons, and unpacking unpacking UNPACKING any minute we could.
It was a lot.
My speaking engagements went well and Landon had a great meet, even if we didn't get back home to eat dinner until 10 pm (sorry girls; #swimfamilylife). It was at Loos Pool where I swam my first TAGS (Texas Age Group State meet) in approximately 1994. It's funny having a kid do a sport that brings back so many memories. I only played soccer for one season when I was 4 in California. I have zero memories of it but by all accounts I was a disaster, so the girls sportiness is all new for me. But with Landon, any pool is home to me (and some really weree). I always check the records boards to see if my best time would have the 100 breaststroke record (sometimes!) and look at the deck and think of me sitting with my team. It brings me a lot of joy to see my kid loving something that brings me such happy memories.
On Friday James and I were supposed to go out to celebrate his birthday, but Claire was babysitting, Landon had swim practice, and Cora had a soccer scrimmage and I guess we forgot that none of them can drive, so we canceled our reservation and separately drove our kids around Dallas instead. So, almost as fun as sharing an amazing meal together.
On Saturday there was an 8 a.m. soccer game for Cora followed more unpacking. The un-fun kind, like the boxes full of random things you weren't sure what to do with at the old house and don't know what to do with at the new house but they're things you occasionally need. And all the garage stuff. And the closets and office and game room. My family was warned: if I see you sitting and not unpacking, you will be yelled at. And they were. And we finished! By dinnertime! And it felt amazing! Besides, we still don't have a TV so why not spend all your free time lugging random items up and down stairs?
And on Sunday morning, when we all slept in and woke up to a fully unnpacked and settled house, it was all worth it. I came downstairs and made tea, with an old mug from my new shelf and new tea in my old tea container.

I opened windows. Sat outside in our screened-in porch. Breathed the cool air and just felt at home.

Kids and a husband came down the stairs at their own pace. Maggie's outfits were unearthed and a fashion show commenced.
We got out the bikes and scooters and the bulldog stroller that had all been in storage for months and went on a walk.
We live a few houses down from the most beautiful lake full of parks and trails.
And we were on a family walk - something previously so integral to our existence and completely abandoned in the last many months of extreme heat, no toys, and a small busy rental street.
We walked and chatted and played and Maggie and I smiled our way through it all.
That evening we cooked and grilled a big wonderful meal in our kitchen. James and the kids played soccer in the backyard.
I made a birthday cake to belatedly properly celebrate James turning 41.
It was a beautiful night, our screened-in porch was the perfect temperature and I felt like my whole body slowed down and took a breath.
I was home. And right now I feel like I just want to be home, in this space, as much as humanly possible. I have missed having a nest more than I can possibly describe and my soul is more settled now that I have one again.
Moving is hard. Moving after 10 years of building a community is really hard. Making new friends, finding new rhythms, and watching the kids do the same... There are times it's just really hard.
But each morning this week I have woken up and walked on the lake path with my bulldog in her chariot. I listen to my We Can Do Hard Things podcast and reflect on how insanely lucky I am to get to start my day like this, watching the sun rise over a lake near my house.