Friday, July 13, 2018

Typing So Very Quietly

It's Friday night and we're watching A Quiet Place on our TV and it is SO STRESSFUL. I'm just trying to eat the new tropical flavored Swedish Fish and Sour Patch Kids and type out a blog post and every time I touch my crinkly sounding bag I jump. Typing is nearly out of the question, but I will try to do it without attracting any homicidal aliens.

not related to the previous discussion

This week was full and busy. Last time we talked I was trying on my perfect interview suit outfit only to discover that not a single element of it fit. Luckily my mama friends came to the rescue and I ended up settling on this ensemble of a random black skirt and jacket I bought at TJ Maxx several years apart that are not actually the same shades of black, a pink top from Ross that I bought and then regretted because I never tuck in shirts and wasn't sure when I'd ever wear it, old black heels that I discovered later had lost all the rubber at the end of each heel and clicked metal on the ground with every step, my grandmother's pearl earrings and the pearl necklace my aunt who passed away last year gave me for my 18th birthday. All in all, it worked.

And in addition to my clothes and a sleepless night answering interview questions I kept making up in my head, I had my war paint.

Let's do this. (Nervous pre-game fake smile.)

I taught barre after work and then had to get ready for round 2 of interviews the next day (these after an intense 3 hour block of written exercises two weeks before; promotions in the government are hard to come by. I'll keep you posted if I make it to the next round). After my closet adventures on Monday night I was already resigned to wearing my same "suit" on Wednesday, but I jazzed it up with a different shirt, necklace, and shoes that weren't broken. Dress for the job you want you guys.

Luckily after my second interview I got to meet up with my favorite ladies for a happy hour that was actually at the time of a regular happy hour!! Usually I get together with my mom friends at 7:30 or 8, but James's pool was closed this week for renovations so I got to go somewhere straight after work! The pool closure was not great since you can't make money when you can't teach, but it was fun to know he was getting the kids every day and I could come home to dinner already in progress and/or goof off downtown after work for a little while.

I had my first Mambo Taxi which is a famous local margarita that involves sangria swirl and brandy. Or something. It's very very good, especially when it's $5.

Moms, margaritas, much talking, and sweating outside in a faux-suit I already know I have to dry clean. It was a really, really nice night. I've said it before, but these women restoreth my soul.

Our happy hour ended at 8:30ish (oops) and I came home to find the kitchen spotless, all the kids in bed, and this cake on the counter.

Apparently they all had a part in decorating it and the design was the result of MUCH discussion. I heart them all so much and went to give all the kids laying excitedly in their beds big hugs and thank yous. James got a few hugs and thank yous as well. Putting yourself up for a highly competitive in-office promotion has been a surprisingly vulnerable process and I have felt very loved by my crew this week.

On Thursday I had a day of work without an interview so I wore jeans, just to balance at all the suityness of the week so far. I subbed a TCU barre class to help out another teacher who normally teaches yoga during that time and had so much fun bringing barre to a set of yogis. They'd been warned the class would be different and they all seemed to enjoy it! I mean, no one walked out, so that's a good sign.

Then, as I was walking up the stairs to head home, I saw my favorite swim coach and three of my favorite swimmers through the window of the pool!

Their outdoor summer league practice had been canceled so Coach Dad brought them over to our neighborhood university. I loved seeing them! I took Cora home while her big sibs finished up their practice so we could prep dinner.

It was "Quartino Night" in our house. So named for a favorite restaurant in Chicago where we enjoyed our first-ever charcuterie board in 2006, it's the night when we serve up lots of cheeses, meats, fruits, olives, crackers, and breads. We used to use it as an in-home date night after the kids were in bed when they were little, but now it's one of their very favorite dinners. It's like a picnic! Of all their favorite things.

Cora in particular LOVES a good charcuterie spread. At one point she abandoned the carbs in lieu of "spreading this cheese on this meat, okay mom? I'm just going to eat it like a baby burrito." That's shallot and onion boursin on salami with one happy toddler.

The big kids were in zoo camp this week which they LOVE. It's Landon's all-time favorite camp and in Claire's un-ranked top 3.

They had a fabulous time, saw all the animals lots of times, and made many new friends. One of their best weeks of summer for sure, though I am glad to no longer have to wash those shirts every night so they could wear them again the next day.

Speaking of doing wash, Landon has been doing his since he turned 10. Sometimes James or I will still throw his in to a load we're doing, but 90% of the time he does his laundry from smelly start to folded finish. It hasn't been a big transition- laundry is not difficult, and he's never complained about it, but he does sometimes forget that you need to start it BEFORE you're completely out of clothes.

This past Saturday was one such day. He emerged from his room (always fully clothed; ALWAYS. No pj's outside of your actual bed if you're Landon) in a pair of way too small size medium shorts that somehow survived all my clothing purges, his mickey mouse shirt he has not worn since he was within the walls of Disney's Magic Kingdom, no socks, and also possibly nothing else. He was horrified. Laundry was started immediately, but the morning walk still went on.

Later, properly fitted and Mickey-free clothes now donned, Landon decided to "beat his best planking record" and held a high plank for 12 minutes until his sweat was dripping on the floor and I made him stop because I thought he'd mess up his shoulders. He is so his father's son.

When not randomly planking for inadvisably long periods, Landon is WAY into his crafting. Pixel beads in particular.

Cora had apparently asked him for an "Elsa" and he worked pretty hard to create one. The circle rainbow is also for her. Love it. A panda, whale, tree frog, and dolphin have since joined the collection. He's going to need more beads.

Luckily it's his birthday on Sunday. He'll be 11!! I gave him full creative control over his party which he felt strongly should be "summer themed." He carefully selected plates with pineapples wearing sunglasses surrounded by Hawaiian flowers, napkins with flamingos, bright yellow tablecloths and green polka dot napkins, neon sunglasses for party favors, squirt guns for extra fun, and rubber duckies wearing goggles to use during pool games. He is so excited.

And then there's this nonsense:

Pizza and watermelon (and co-ed crew of 10 friends coming over to enjoy all of the above) not pictured.

Quite the opposite of last weekend we have one million things planned for this weekend. Our all-day Regionals swim meet is tomorrow, with the boys swimming in the morning and girls in the afternoon. I'll make Landon's requested oreo brownies that night and cut up watermelon. On Sunday we wake up to our birthday boy somehow being 11 (11! Have I mentioned this? He's really growing up and it's going by SO FREAKING FAST!) and head to Cora's school-sponsored cabana at a local water park for splashy good times. I'll leave early to go teach my barre class and James and the kids will come home and clean up the patio and start party prep. I get home at 3 and the party starts at 4. It will be a DAY, but a fun one. And then next weekend we have nothing again and I can't wait for that either!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Reunions of People and Pants (and an Unrelated Swim Meet)

This weekend was the first Saturday in months (feels like possibly years) that we didn't have a single thing on the calendar. No swim meets, birthday parties, family things, friend things - nada. And while I love all the things I just mentioned, having a day of nothing was sublime. I woke up at 6, forced myself back to sleep until 8, and read in bed until 8:45. James headed out at 9:30 to be part of his Saturday lessons, something he usually misses in the summer with all our swim meets, and the kids and I hung about, cleaning the kitchen, starting laundry, and making a grocery shopping list (actually, I did those things; the kids finished a Johnny Test episode and cleaned their rooms). Cora went grocery shopping with me and then I cleaned out our pantry when I discovered multiple open bags of the same thing in our snack section (James. Always James. His inability to check for open containers BEFORE opening a new one is truly one of his greater flaws.). He came home, I went to yoga. I got back and everyone was in the pool so I joined. All five of us, in the pool, and no one else. I'm not even sure that's ever happened. We played water volleyball (or tried, it helps to be over 5'8" in our very deep pool), lazed about on the backs of crocodiles, and generally enjoyed the semi-cool water on a very warm day. We grilled tuna burgers and took a family walk because it was "only" 92 degrees outside which is cool after the weeks we've had. It was a really good day.

Cora enjoying another good day at school

So let's go back to last Saturday. We had our last regular season swim meet- our only home meet- which is usually the longest hottest meet of the year. I had my tea in a go cup and my game face on. Also, sunscreen.

Cora was on her first-ever relay and she was so excited. Then she freaked out about swimming, and then she was excited. She was the lead swimmer. We told her relays were like a game of tag. When she tagged the wall, her friend would go next. She was ready and off she went with the whistle!

The second swimmer went but then her little friend who was supposed to be the third swimmer had a five-year-old moment and refused, so I frantically motioned for adorable swimmer #3 to run down the side of the pool, back over to the starting side so she'd get her turn. I figured we'd just have a 3-leg relay and call it a day. They're 4 and 5 years old, no one cares if they actually swim 100 yards all together. But then swimmer #3 took off and little Cora, who was now alone on the other end after her victorious first leg, started watching her new friend/swimmer #3 swim down the pool. She had her goggles on, put her hands together in a tiny streamline, and JUMPED IN when swimmer #3 touched wall, just like a game of tag! She swam all the way to the other end to many cheers from us at the finish.

And so, she lead off and anchored her very first relay.

Then she swam her 25 free. And then her 25 back. It was a big day for Cora.

The big kids also did great, winning all the things and trying out some events they don't normally swim (Landon swam breaststroke exactly like the butterflyer he is; it is so funny how early you settle in to your strokes. Landon is a flyer and Claire is a breaststroker and that is just what their bodies want them to swim).

The biggest kid did well too. Our friend was his timer and there may have been some bias involved. (Except not really because this is swimming and we take that SERIOUSLY.)

Claire got a blowpop, which is how we used to bribe my sister to do no-breather swims in summer league back in the day. Claire has yet to do a no breather, though she has big plans every time, but she did enjoy her blowpop.

I have each kid pack their bags for the meets- swimsuit, towel, goggles, games, and a change of clothes. Cora's bag is always the most fun to watch unfold throughout the day because you just never know what she's going to pull out of it. When I told her to change after her last event, she rolled out in classic Cora style, upside-down glasses and all.

After the meet, which ended at the HIGHLY reasonable time of 11:58 a.m., unlike past year's debacles that went on and on forever in 110 degrees, we celebrated our short day by meeting our swimming friends for a midday margarita and queso. Then I ran errands, the kids and James relaxed (meaning the big kids watched a movie and James and Cora took a nap) and then we had the same friends over for a potluck dinner that all came together the way the best potluck dinners can. Beer can chickens, appetizers, delicious sides, fruit, veggies, dessert, and a pitcher of margaritas. And a pool.

a few of my offerings

It was a lovely evening.

That ended with Claire spending the night at one friend's house and Landon having the son of another friend sleepover at ours. We finally put a mattress on his trundle so my reasons for not ever letting him have a friend sleep over have officially run out. This was the first time (he's slept over at other people's houses many a time) and it went great. It helps to start your day at a swim meet and finish it in the pool; they were tirrrred. They built Legos, played Battleship, and then we turned their light off at 9. There were no complaints.

Cora was very distressed that Claire was not in her room, but was consoled by getting to sleep up in the top bunk while her sister was gone.

She loved it and I think the height kept her in her bed all night so we may need to rethink our sleeping configuration someday... the kids are really good about going to bed (our routine is 30 seconds long; put in bed, tuck covers, kiss goodnight, turn off light, close door firmly), but Cora occasionally likes to pop out and give us an update on things and while I know that's nothing compared to some kids' bedtime shenanigans we are DONE at 8:00 and have no interest in hearing anything from them until 7 the next morning. But in the top bunk? Cora was snuggled in and never moved. Though in the morning she kept sighing and saying, "Mama, but when is my Cwaire coming home? I MISS her." It was very sweet.

Also on Sunday, once our family was reunited, I got to reunite with another family of mine from way back in my childhood! My very best friend growing up was the son of the family across the street when we moved in in 1988 who was 19 days older than me and my inseparable counterpart for the next 8 years until they moved to New York. His parents were my other parents. I ate nearly as many meals at his house as I ate at my own. I adored that family. We stayed in touch through letters (the olden days!), visited each other several times throughout high school, and then both went to UT. He now lives in San Francisco and his parents live in Tampa and I hadn't seen either of them in way way too long. Well his sister now lives in Dallas (because she's a grownup with a law degree and husband and house and baby and that BLOWS MY MIND; she was just a curly-headed little moppet whose favorite color was "MAGENTA" when they left) and she messaged me that her parents and brother would be in town last weekend and would we mind driving over to Dallas for a reunion.

Y'all, I drive to Dallas for like 2 reasons but now I had a THIRD. I was SO EXCITED. This is my Italian family. They are the best.

As was this baby who I monopolized most of the time we were there (which was any minute my kids weren't also monopolizing her; lucky she was pretty good-natured about it all). It was so wonderful to see them I nearly started crying when I walked in the door. Sean and I walked to school together every day of elementary school. He's part of all my childhood memories and I could still draw for you the exact floorplan and layout of their house. He was the "bride's man" at my wedding and stood up next to me at the church. It was so fabulous to see them.

And later that week we got to meet for lunch.

I'm going to have to find our treasure trove of all pictures because there are one million of us as 80's kids running around all over the place in our 80's houses and 80's "come home when it gets dark" boundaries and they are glorious.

And now we're on this week, July 9th, which is crazy because that means Landon's birthday is in 6 days and that simply can't be right. We have Regionals this Saturday, which is an all-day affair, a water park party for Cora's school Sunday morning, I teach barre Sunday midday, and then we have his birthday party that afternoon. So sort of the opposite of this past weekend. It'll be fun though I'm sure!

Tomorrow I have my first panel of interviews for a promotion I've applied for that I'm incredibly nervous about. It's been quite a competitive and exhaustive process and will continue to be. I went to try on my suit- a suit I haven't worn in YEARS that I just sort of decided would fit as long as I didn't test the theory. Well, it was finally time to test the theory and um, it buttons, but I cannot breathe and the muffin top is... muffinesque. As I texted my favorite mamas, "will the squishing of my innards be a good thing and keep me focused during the long panel interview? or will it cause me to throw up on the interview table?" We decided at best it would be distracting so I dug around for a skirt + jacket that looked believably suit-y. Then, thinking I was settled I tried on the purple silk top I adore that should have looked great with the "suit" except NO. Apparently I haven't worn that since I had Cora and my boobs went from a 34C to a 32DD and the bustline of that top no longer contains me. And somehow even worse, rather than busting out of the top in some nice but inappropriate cleavage, my boobs just went under the bustline, creating a drooping quad-boob situation. So 90 minutes and probably too many texts later (sorry mamas) I was settled on a pink top with my "suit" and heels and grandmother's pearls. I look a little like a flight attendant but also one who knows her securities laws.

On the downside, I am faced with the unavoidable fact that my body is larger than it was in 2012 (and 2014-2016 because I wore that suit a few times to trainings) and the pants used to be loose. On the upside, it's larger because I'm happy and I do things like meet friends for margaritas and nachos midweek (like I'm doing this Wednesday) instead of working through lunch and late into the night. So I'll take it. But on the downside, I'm totally going to have to buy myself a new suit. (And I have no IDEA what I'm going to wear for interview panel 2 on Wednesday.)

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Fort on the Fourth

I need to blog about last weekend, but the 4th is fresh on my mind so we're going to start there first. I love the fourth of July. It's such a fun mid-summer treat of a day off combined with a simple expectations of beverages and bbq. Several years ago we started hosting a 4th of July party. We're the only one of our friends with a pool and we didn't have a country club to go to so we thought we'd bring the party to us. And just like the kids in the pool, the party has grown every year since we started (look how tiny Cora was at our first one!).

I had to work on Tuesday and today so the 4th felt like such a strange holiday sandwiched in between reality. I woke up early on Wednesday to start my party prepping with several pounds of two different pasta salads. (Actually I started the night before by slow cooking 8 lbs. in pork in two different slow cookers after combining about 3 different recipes on google. I was terrified I'd forget about them out in the kitchen so I set multiple iPhone alarms to go shred the meat after 8 hours, which is how I spent one of the more exciting portions of my Tuesday evening.) I also sliced up pickles and onions to have on the side, limes to have with the margaritas, and got out all our tableware and decorations. Then we hit the neighborhood parade.

Friends of ours always make a float and it has evolved to representing our school with our amazing principal riding along. Claire LOVES it. Landon and his bros sat in the bed of the pickup which was perhaps one of the top ten coolest things he's gotten to do in his life.

Cora, James and I watched the parade from the sidelines. She's wearing a dress Claire was wearing just last year. They are 3.5 years apart. Cora is VERY tall.

The parade goes past our street on two sides, so we always watch it go by one time, then run down the street to watch it come down the other cross street. And on the other side we get to crash our friend's front yard. It's tradition.

Lots of candy was thrown from the various cars, trucks, and trailers, but Cora was an EXTREMELY lackadaisical candy fetcher. "Oooh get that one Cora, Mommy loves Starbursts!" "Um, I just do not."

Cannot be bothered with your sugar cravings

Until the big kids' float drove past Cora asked over and over, "But where are my kids?! Where are my kids Mommy?!"

There they are!

After our second parade viewing, our friend J pulled up in his golf cart with a Bloody Mary bar in the front and it made my whole morning. And I don't even like Bloody Mary's. I just loved that it was happening.

We got back home about 11:30 and had 3.5 hours until party time. We were expecting 18 adults and 19 kids which I realized may be my limit. We cleaned the deck, set up extra tables and chairs, filled coolers for drinks, hung decorations, and used a 5 gallon Home Depot bucket and 2 liters of tequila to make margaritas. Party prepping is a serious business.

The bucket said, "Let's Do This." which felt very appropriate.

The kids watched Jaws. Somehow they'd gotten it into their heads that they needed to see that movie and then it magically popped up on TV the night before for me to record. I love how the girls look focused and Landon is like eh, I could take him. (Despite my fears, no children were traumatized by their viewing, though Cora did breathlessly inform me later that "MOM. Some sharks are SUPER BIG and they can EAT BOATS." She seemed more delighted by her new animal planet fact than concerned about any future boat trips of her own.)

The party kicked off at 3, just in time for me to throw on my $4 Old Navy flag suit from our first party in 2015 and a new cover-up recently purchased at Ross that did not disintegrate when wet as I feared.

I realized later I like to pick up one leg like a flamingo whenever I take a picture. I have no memory of doing so on purpose at any time and yet, there I am, one leg up every time. Why am I doing that?

James was our super sexy lifeguard and he took his job very seriously.

And not just the sexy part.

This year we kicked the kids out of the pool twice for breaks. Technically so they could sunscreen up, eat some snacks, and take a rest, but also mostly so the adults could get in and play water volleyball with our new net.

Oh yes! It turns out, if you put it in water and I've had 1.5 margaritas, I will totally play a game with a ball in it. Though perhaps not quite as enthusiastically as James will.

It was SO FUN. I forgot that I like water volleyball. I'm not saying I was the best player, but I am saying I was not an embarrassment to my family name. Also I bought this giant triple umbrella on Amazon late one night and sort of forgot about it until it was delivered 48 hours later. It's awesome though! And also GIGANTIC.

We brought the food out for dinner between rounds of volleyball. I don't want to brag, but five crock pots were involved and it was a bounty of meats and goodness. I was glad I'd decided to make the extra pasta salad though, we needed to balance out some meats.

Dinner was followed by more volleyball, a shirts v. skins beanbag game (not really, but it looked that way and made me laugh), dessert, and more margaritas, swimming, lounging, and when the moment was right- 90's music. It was a super fun day. I love the family we have made here.

The littlests decided they were done with the pool and got dressed and did important veterinary work up in the fort.

Then they cruised around the beanbag toss game, interrupting everyone's rhythm like the third babies they were born to be.

They are the cutest.

Everyone cleared out around 8:30 to get ready for fireworks. James and I cleaned up and just as I was scrubbing the last dish (fittingly, a crock pot), my head got clamped in a vice and I felt like I was going to pass out. So I went to a nice dark room and laid on my back and didn't move for a while. James took the girls to the fireworks (Landon had already left with a friend to meet us at the same spot) and I was eventually able to graduate to laying in the darkened TV room to watch an episode of The West Wing for patriotic comfort.

James took pictures for me because he knew I would want them.

James and the kids got home about 10 and everyone passed out pretty quickly. I lay in bed feeling my heartbeat in my head until finally the sleeping pills took over the migraine meds and I was able to pass out. I feel all better today, which is good, since I spent most of it at work. I was going to do yoga on my way home, but I accidentally stopped at Albertson's to buy popcorn and cheez-its and chex mix instead and mixed them all in a bowl (if you do not know the glories of hot popcorn-warmed cheez-its, you are missing something in your life) and watched two whole episodes of The Great British Baking Show in a quiet house while James and the kids were at swimming. I regret nothing. Sometimes you get to celebrate your holiday twice.

And now there's just one more day of work (and me subbing a barre class) and then I get a weekend again! Which is great because we don't have a SINGLE thing on our calendar and it also feels like we just had one. I look forward to board games, cheez-its, and maybe even cleaning out the girls' closet because even though I just did their room, I kept their closet doors closed the whole time so I could ignore them. But I don't know, I don't want to get too crazy.

Happy 4th (and days after the 4th) to all!