Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Five! (and other updates)

You guys, Cora turned five on Monday. Her birthday is 11.12.2013 and Monday was 11.12.2018, so the math checks out.

My heart, frankly, says otherwise.

The day she joined our family was one of my favorites ever. I got to hold her immediately, my only baby I got to hold for her whole first few hours of life. We were so relaxed, so joyful, so happy to be our family of five. Her first year was truly one of the happiest of my life.

If there's anything that comforts me as she insists on aging, it's knowing that all four of us squeezed every bit of joy out of those early years with our baby Cora that we possibly could.

Her party was on Saturday.

As I noted in my last post, my throat was firey, but I was in denial and I stayed there until 1 hour after her party officially ended. Then I crashed hard and ended up in urgent care with a diagnosis of strep throat. I felt terrible- both because I actually felt TERRIBLE and also because I really did think I was doing better when I clearly should have been quarantined. The good news is, it's been five days and no one who attended has gotten sick. Fingers crossed.

Because Cora is our only baby who doesn't have a summer birthday, we have to extend ourselves beyond the pool party. Luckily, our yard has room for a little bit more fun.

Less luckily we forgot to remind the early guests that the middle of the yard is a covered pool and not a trampoline and two kids ran right out on it. One got a little wet; the other ended up exchanging her sopping wet clothes for a full set of Cora's right down to some new princess panties and furry boots. She rolled with it and her stuff was dry when it was time to leave.

I may have been talking as little as possible, but Cora had the BEST time.

We ended up with a fifteen or so kids over? The bounce house was total chaos, but there were minimal crashes and the kids rotated in and out pretty well.

We also got out a bunch of our wheeled vehicles on the driveway. (And then I remembered to close the driveway gate as one kid took off for the open road to freedom.) I always underestimate how amazing and fun another kid's toy can be. They had a blast.

I had snacks- some of which I forgot to put out until the end (how did I not realize I was sick?), and hot mulled wine that was very popular for the adults.

Then it was time for cake! Cora opted for "CHOCOLATE. Chocolate with chocolate." Costco makes one of those so I didn't have to. I added some Elena candles and a giant 5 attached to a toothpick just to pierce my heart, and she was thrilled.

She even allowed her friends to sing to her this year!

The big kids, who had been banned from the bounce house for the bulk of the party, emerged from wherever they were causing mischief with their friends, and caused mischief more openly.

Soon after the unicorn came out, my throat swelled shut, I got a fever, and I was driving to Urgent Care. There are no further pictures.

On Sunday the big kids still had a swim meet, so James took them there. Cora had a birthday party and I fever-dream-texted a friend to see if Cora could ride along with them. I slept on and off for EIGHT HOURS, freaking out everyone in the house including me. James and the big kids came home. Cora got picked out by her little friend's kindly grandmother. Clothes were washed and folded, food was made and cleared, children were happy and cared for- I was only semi-conscious but I never love James more than when I'm reminded that I can exit our life to drool on the couch and he'll just pick up my share along with his and carry on, feeling my forehead and bringing me water every few hours.

Monday was Cora's actual birthday. I rallied enough to find her gifts I'd hidden in random places around our room and James decorated the table Sunday night. Cora woke up and put back on her Princess Elena dress and hopped into our room asking if she could see the table. I dragged myself out of bed and stayed out of the camera frame. Presents were opened and big siblings were on hand to help.

The traditional animal candles were blown out and Cora asked one more time if she could be six or seven, but resigned herself to a year of five with good cheer.

After mastering two wheels with Claire's hand-me-down, she got a new big girl bike from my grandparents!

She got a new sweater dress ensemble from Gigi, with matching pink "fancy shoes," so those were put on IMMEDIATELY.

Rounding out the gifts were much anticipated rainbow dash rain boots from my brother, an art kit from my parents, an Elena nightgown from us, and colorful hair extensions from James because Cora asks him to put in her "Disney braids" every morning and they look atrocious. She was pretty delighted by the new ones and wore those to school too.

The big kids went off to school at 7:35 and then James took Cora out for the traditional birthday donut with dad. I was off work for Veterans Day and had big plans of errands and productivity but found myself back on the couch, falling in and out of sleep for the next several hours. At 2:10 I was getting up to take a shower because I was picking the kids up from school at 2:55 but then somehow I fell BACK ASLEEP and woke up at 3:15 in snowflake pj pants, old hoodie sweatshirt, no bra, and lots of panic because there's something I SHOULD BE DOING RIGHT NOW.

Luckily (?) it was freezing outside (literally) so the school did an inside dismissal which takes FOREVER so there was still a line when I pulled up, in my snonwflake pants, to the carpool line I had never before entered. The kids loved my outfit, I sent them in to get Cora (big kids are so handy), and once we were back home I rallied, showered, and packed the kids for our trip.

Packing cubes are my love language and coordinating colors are my joy.

I went back to work on Tuesday, the kids went to school and then to the dentist. Cora thought this was another birthday present and who am I to tell her otherwise?

Now it's Wednesday (right? it's been a weird week) and my antibiotics have worked their magic, I'm able to stay awake for long stretches of time, I've re-confirmed all our plans and reservations, and I'm totally ignoring the 100% chance of rain every day we're in Costa Rica. I'm doing Career Day at the kids' school tomorrow, then teaching barre, and then packing myself, and then we're OFF Friday morning. Adventure and rainbow luggage await.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Just a Nice Little Saturday

So I might be sick. I'm in deep denial about this because I don't have time for it (as you'll see), but in an effort to conserve energy for later today I'm sitting on my living room floor melting my computer by the fire, drinking hot tea laced with honey, lemon, and maybe a splash honey bourbon typing out a blog post I've decided is more important to do than making caprese skewers for Cora's birthday party in a few hours.

We leave for Costa Rica in 6 days. I have reef-safe sunscreen, rash guards, water shoes, and coordinating suitcases and packing cubes lining our TV room. I've re-confirmed our various reservations, tours, and plans, printed everything out and lovingly placed it in a labeled folder and cleared out the memory cards on my camera. If my throat is going to catch on fire it needs to do it now and get it over with. I wrote "Costa Rica" into the Thanksgiving 2018 cell of my travel spreadsheet back in 2014 and I am very excited the time is here.

Not that I really have time for fire throat now. James decided the big kids needed to register for unattached USS swimming numbers so they could attend an open meet to get some official times to compare to other kids their ages without actually signing them up for our local USS team. I agree with this completely (especially the not signing up for club swimming yet), but the only open meet ended up being this weekend and it is a TERRIBLE weekend for him to be ferrying assorted children 45 minutes across town to Grapevine every day. So last time he got Landon and Claire from school, took them to his lessons, and then went straight to the swim meet. Last night was also the kids' Fall Festival at their elementary school ("my last one," noted Landon while I stay more in denial about that than the fact I might be getting sick). Cora and I were supposed to go early to help set up, but I realized I wasn't feeling great, so we waited until James got back with the kids and all went together. Claire had survived her 100 IM (she had her doubts) and got a big boost from being the top finishing 8-year-old in her 10 & Under age group.

I probably should have stayed home, but the kids had a great time, Cora matched her hair to her outfit, and after YEARS of unsuccessful raffling (a lifetime really), BOTH big kids won the raffle basket they wanted most after putting in one ticket a piece!

Very exciting.

Everyone went to bed too late and Landon had to get up at 6 to head back to the swim meet for his 100 free. I woke up to fire throat and scratchy eyes (I've decided it's just allergies; all of it), 40-degree temperatures, a plan to have an outdoor bounce house party with about 15 preschoolers, Claire with a volleyball game at noon (and pictures at 11, apparently), and James and Landon already somewhere near Dallas.

The good news is, I already planned on a big crock pot full of mulled wine for parents.

Tomorrow both big kids are doing two more events at the meet (USS meets last foreeeevveerrr), I'm teaching a barre class at 1:30, and Cora has a birthday party at 3. Oy. At least Monday is a federal holiday but NOT a school holiday so I will pack and errand for our trip and also maybe just hibernate with the new season of Great British Baking Show because you guys my throat really hurts.

One of my two handsome, Veteran grandpas

Earlier this week I embraced the fall temperatures with my new fall clothing. Old Navy and Target are completing me right now.

Then I went to do a return at DSW and got trapped in the clearance aisle by all the sparkly shoes beckoning me with their discount stickers.

I've decided we're hosting a Champagne & Whiskey party in December. That practically requires sparkly shoes right?

Also this week, we had election day and it was exciting and continues to get better and better.

While I was obviously disappointed Beto didn't win in Texas, just coming within 2 points is amazing and I'm so proud of him and all the people who volunteered with his campaign and feel excited and hopeful about the future.

(You know until I listen to our current president say or do ANYTHING and then I'm depressed and overwhelmed again, but lying about immigrant caravans overrunning border towns when they're actually still 800 miles away and also magically not news now that the election is over and he doesn't have a base to whip up, calling reporters stupid and revoking their press credentials for doing their job, and baselessly accusing Democrats of voter fraud are all just things we do now. It's cool. He has a 88% approval rating among Republicans, he can literally do anything and it just doesn't matter. Like having affairs with porn stars and Playboy models and paying them off with campaign donations and lying about it over and over again. Skipping a WWI ceremony because of light rain while other world leaders attended. He's also still never visited troops in a combat zone... ARGH. Anyway, my county went blue! This is good.)

On to food, then I'm making more tea.

Monday: Beef with Broccoli (this was SUPER good and easy, I added some extra stuff to it per all the comments that I now can't remember and wish I'd written down; I also used the thinly sliced beef from Trader Joe's instead of flank stead and it was perfect), steamed brown rice, extra broccoli.

Tuesday: Tamales, refried beans, rice (I was at the PTA Board meeting).
Wednesday: Lasagna Soup, Bread
Thursday: Queso and margaritas with a friend after a 6th grade info session meeting (ahhhhh) (James made the kids pasta).
Friday: Thai on the couch after Fall Fest.
Saturday: Wild Rice and Vegetable Casserole, Bread.
Sunday: Vegan Winter Lentil Stew.
Monday: Cora's chosen birthday dinner of tortellini tossed with pesto, tomatoes, and mini mozzarella balls; leftover cake.
Tuesday: Frozen mini tacos (because the kids loved them last week) and taquitos (cleaning out the fridge and freezer before we leave, the rest of the meals are not that exciting).
Wednesday: Turkey meatballs (frozen), Butternut Squash Tomato Cream Sauce, whole wheat penne, all tossed together.
Thursday: Frozen Panko Crusted Cod (from Costco), Orzo pasta parmesan (literally cooked orzo, tossed with some butter and parm at the end), frozen mixed veg.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Sloths and the Bloggers Who Post Like Them

OMG Halloween was a LIFETIME ago. I'm sitting here on the couch watching Season 3 of Daredevil (it's pretty good, but we watched The Bodyguard last week and it was SO good I wish James would ever let us re-watch something) and it's only 9 p.m. but it feels like midnight. But I am UNDAUNTED by the darkness surrounding me and the new book by Jeaniene Frost calling me from my kindle (I always loved Ian from the Cat and Bones series, and not just because I love the name Ian and never got to use it). I got sidetracked, it feels so late- let's go back to Halloween.

Retired from another great season

After a gorgeous few days Halloween had a 100% chance of thunderstorms and no one was excited about it. We pressed on with the preparations to head to our friend's house for dinner and pre-gaming and a few ritual sacrifices to stop the storms.

But first! The traditional picture in front of the house with our crew:

Landon's costume absolutely killed me. I have a short video of him walking around like the marshmallow man he was and it never fails to make me laugh. I also loved Claire's look and couldn't believe she actually wanted to dress up in a traditional costume this year. Usually she's some sort of "real" thing made from regular clothes she already owns, like a teacher (last year) or dancer (year before). She was very nearly a gymnast this year but was inspired by the Party City "Sparkle Witch" ensemble and was very excited about it. I bought more of the same hair chalk I used to become a mermaid (and used the same lip gloss; gotta justify the $3 I spent on it!) and I loved the pink.

And for Cora it was really just a regular Wednesday. I believe she was Ariel on Tuesday and Rapunzel on Thursday, but on Wednesday she was Princess Elena and very proud indeed.

James wore his whole ensemble. I told him the platforms might be a mistake for our whole trick-or-treating marathon, but he was determined.

I did not repeat the mermaid because the storms brought another 20 degree drop in temperature, so I rolled with my beloved ghost leggings, cat ears, and some more glitter around the eyes- I'm getting better at applying it and went with a brush rather then the "just throw it on my face" approach. It's all over my bathroom anyway.

Our friend's party was super fun (if indoors this year!) and I love the adults, just chilling casually in their every day attire.

We got our traditional kid pic. We have SO MANY of them.

And just as we were gathering for the picture and about to set out for trick-or-treating, kids, excited, and adults, resigned with their umbrellas and rain boots-- the rain stopped! The skies cleared! We took over the whole damn neighborhood.

Our friend J manned the beverage cart. "Do you need anything? I've got champagne, red wine, whiskey..." "Oh, I didn't bring an extra cup," I responded, wondering how quickly I could drink the hot toddy I had filled my yeti with before leaving home. "No problem," he replied, "I've got a whole stack of them!".

J is my favorite.

Somewhere along the million miles we walked around our neighborhood, Cora's candy basket got too full (even with refusing any candy that was not chocolate, she just said a cheerful "no thank you" to any homes offering fruity or sour candies and walked back down the path empty-handed. I could never convince her to touch the delicious abominations so I could have them.), Claire got bit by fire ants, Cora's shoes hurt, and Landon's blow-up costume fan stopped blowing. An enormously fun time was had by all.

We got back to our friend's with Claire bathed in cortisone cream, Cora in new shoes, and Landon stripped down to the shorts and shirt he was wearing under his sloth suit. It felt like 2 a.m. It was maybe 8:00. Candy trading began in earnest as soon as the kids walked in the door.

Not regulated by the SEC.

Thursday morning was PAINFUL. We weren't even out that late and I never had more than my hot toddy but something about being out midweek made Thursday hurt. The kids agreed, though Landon still made it to school by 7:30 to read the announcements because he is a cheerful and dedicated News Crew member. I decided it was a casual day at work and embraced the fall temps by breaking out some of my new fall wardrobe.

And these boots. I love them. Waterproof, so comfy, super cute, probably not actually work appropriate.

Also on Thursday, James's pool closed for a chemical issue, which sucked for him and his very precariously balanced lesson schedule, but he made the best of it and surprised Cora by picking her up with the big kids on their roller blades, pushing her bike with them. And so, she got to ride her big girl bike home, to the admiring claps of all her friends who were outside on the playground. She felt like an absolute rock star and I sort of started crying when James told me the story that evening.

That night as I tucked Cora in bed she sighed and said, "I really liked it when my friends clapped for me mom. It was so special for me."

Everyone should get claps once in a while.

Speaking of, the very next day I attempted a brand new headstand in yoga and when I discovered I could do it, I immediately went home and showed it to James for some claps of my own.

Arm-shaking not pictured

Five years into my yoga practice and there is truly no high greater than discovering your body can do something you previously believed to be impossible. It is such a gift.

That afternoon Landon went over to a friend's to spend the night, so the girls and I decided to get haircuts. It was only Cora's second haircut of her nearly 5 years but some of her curls were too long (and not evenly so) and it was time. She was very excited. The trim has rendered her curls even more magnificent and she didn't even seem too disappointed that her hair didn't immediately get longer like she was last time.

On Saturday we headed to Claire's volleyball game (another victory, though we have a ways to go before there is actual volleying), spent an hour and all the dollars at Costco, and then treated ourselves to chai tea lattes in some festive new cups.

After unloading all of Costco out of my Hyundai and into my kitchen, Landon came home and his friend stayed over. They had big plans to rake leaves (love them) and then they called me out to try to find them.


They spent the next 45 minutes raking ever-higher piles and jumping over them in genuinely impressive feats of athletic ability. I look forward to watching them both in track in a few years.

Later the girls got in on the fun. The giant oak tree is expensive to keep trimmed and occasionally likes to spit giant branches onto our driveway, but it is gorgeous and provides the kids with hours of fun on a fall day.

Sometime later on Saturday I decided it was time to clean out the playroom. A real clean out, like dumping out the bins and starting from scratch kind of cleanout. The kind that makes me hate everyone I live with and makes them all hate me too. Then we all bond over how much we love the results at the end. It's a special tradition.

Midway through is always the worst. I'd gone through all the books and nearly all the bins, had 2 bags of trash, 1 bag of giveaway, and 1 of recycle. I was appalled and disgusted. I needed a margarita. So we got one.

Today we went on a walk, we ran some errands, and I got back to organizing, giving the kids discrete tasks they handled very well. Almost/mostly.

James cleaned the back deck, had the kids scrub all the window sills (they look white again!), and cut down branches and had the kids haul them to the curb. I also taught barre. Somewhere in the middle Landon went to go climbing with a friend and he was so glad, though don't worry, we saved a few things for him when he got back. At 4:00 we were finished, inside and out, with 3 bags of stuff loaded into James's car to take to Goodwill. It was a VERY productive weekend- Halloween candy for everyone!

But my very favorite part, besides basking in the afterglow of a well organized space, was when the three kids were in the leaf pile and it reminded me of one of my favorite pictures from five years ago when our family of five was brand new. So we took another. And it makes my heart so happy.

It's hard to imagine we ever weren't a family of five, though that was true for the first seven years this blog existed. Five years ago baby Cora was almost here, and what incredible joy she was going to bring us all when she arrived! Even if she does perpetually shirk tasks being dutifully performed by her siblings while sneaking into the playroom mid-organization to rearrange all the books.

Happy Fall y'all! May your temps be cool and your yards be leafy (or not, depending on your preference). This is my favorite time of year.