Saturday, September 8, 2018

Fun Before the Fall Before the Photobooking

I dragged myself out of bed on this rainy, lazy morning to go to 7:30 a.m. yoga. I was rewarded for this show of initiative by my car refusing to start in the Starbucks parking lot across the street where I stopped after class. The lesson I have learned is not to go to early morning yoga on rainy Saturdays. (James gently suggested, after he rescued me, that perhaps the lesson was not to stop at Starbucks, but that's clearly erroneous. The answer is to not leave the house in the first place.) I ended up spending the day trapped in the house with pouring rain, an increasingly flooded driveway, a (new!) roof that leaks, a wall in my sun room caving in with water damage, and three little girls who alternated between princess movies and chasing each other and giggling at the volume of a scream. James was coaching lessons and Landon had escaped to a friend's house for the next 24 hours. I wore pj's and got a lot of photo booking done (photo books are my perpetual white whale) and then I happened to check blogger and saw comments blogger failed to tell me I had (sorry! I'm fine!), which prompted me to finally post while we watch Season 2 of Ozark and hope three girls can fall asleep quickly in the same room.

There's no one reason I haven't posted in 2+ weeks. I've been teaching some extra barre which has been great fun. My classes at TCU have consistently had more than 20 people in them and that's a blast. Work is super busy. It's nearly the end of our fiscal year and my days are very full. The kids are great. We hired a new after-school nanny and everything is finding it's new school-year rhythm.

To celebrate making it through the first 5 days we had a Back to School Pool Party.

Literally, any excuse fr a party and I'm there.

We did frosé, one snack/fruit/veg/dessert item, preferably store bought, and threw in $10/family for Costco pizzas. It was the best.

The kids are mentally exhausted but physically wired from sitting still all day for the first time since May.

And the Mamas need to dish, commiserate, and experiment with making frosé, a beverage recipe on which google was not super helpful.

This was good for everyone.

Except my flamingo leg. It struck again.

And our trash and recycle bins. The pizza boxes actually totaled 7.

On Saturday night I went to see Crazy Rich Asians with my mamas. And one of our favorite dads (who is married to an Asian, also in attendance, so we allowed it). We ordered three bottles of wine to start in the movie theater and I got seasoned fries for dinner. It was an excellent night and I LOVED the movie. I've missed having rom coms in my life.

I straightened my hair just for the movies and felt that act of valor required a selfie with my post-movie champagne. Someday when I'm a real grownup I'll consider doing my hair a normal part of my day instead of something to be celebrated.

Then on Sunday I got a blinding crushing headache that made me think my head would explode and that would be a blessing. It ended on Tuesday. Or, it lessened on Tuesday. I had to go to work anyway (because of the busy) and it was not awesome. What is awesome is that Landon continues to love his climbing and is deeply proud of all his new calluses and blisters.

Also awesome? Cora rode a big girl bike without training wheels for the first time and totally rocked it. A year younger than her big siblings and while wearing as many necklaces and bracelets as possible. I was able to convince her to wear a practical "biking tutu" instead of the ankle-length Princess Elena gown she was wearing beforehand.

Also, on Wednesday, when I was home feeling super sick with nausea and the stubborn remnants of my headache, I ordered a new electric tea kettle and a random book for Landon. It was delivered at my house 5.5 hours later. How is that possible? It'd be wrong if it wasn't so right.

About 9 days ago (headache now definitely cured; stomach still annoyingly iffy; barre classes and work proceeding as scheduled), it was the 17 year anniversary of the night James and I met.

I can't remember if I recorded the story here, but it makes me smile:

17 years ago today I met this guy in a bar on 6th Street. The swimmers were all at Platinum X and a tall, happily drunk guy asked if I wanted to dance. I assumed he was a swimmer and said sure as he handed me a Jack and Coke. About a minute later, a bouncer walked by and kicked us both out for underage drinking. I was 18, he was 19. I thought I was going to jail while he gallantly held the door open for me and assured me everything was fine. Our teammates didn't know we'd been kicked out and it was early in the night, so we ended up walking up and down 6th street together for the next few hours. I found out his name was James. He was a junior and a finance major. He wanted to start his own business someday. We talked and talked and he finally asked for my number when we reunited with our friends. His teammate drove us home and I learned later that James valiantly waited until I was inside my dorm to jump out of the car and throw up in the bushes by San Jac. He called me the next day. We went on our first date the night after that, to The Oasis on Lake Travis. I learned later he drove all the way out there earlier in the day to be sure he knew the way. (He also described his car to me so I’d walk towards it since his memory wasn’t entirely clear on what I looked like...)

Two weeks later we took these pictures at Cherry Bomb 2001. We’ll have been married for 13 years on Monday with 3 kids, 3 moves, 2 graduate degrees, and a thousand ups and downs. But I love thinking of that night we met, just seventeen and one million years ago.

As noted, Monday was our wedding anniversary. Lucky number 13. We went out Sunday night to celebrate.

On Monday night we did a fancy meat and cheese night with the kids. They LOVE this dinner and I love setting it up.

It was the perfect anniversary celebration. A fancy night out for just the two of us and then a fun night at home with the family we've created together. Plus champagne and chocolate cake.

On Tuesday he delivered flowers, because I adore them and love seeing him midday. And also because the federal government doesn't accept personal deliveries from vendors.

They brought me joy all week.

As did this conversation with Cora on Thursday morning while I was putting on my makeup:

Cora: Mom did you like going to my school when you were a little girl?
Me: I didn’t go to your school. I went to preschool in California.
Cora, aghast: You did not always live in this house??!!
Me: No silly, we moved here 6 years ago.
Cora: But who built this house?
Me: I don’t really know. It was built before Papa and Gigi were born.
Cora: But what is it made of?
Me: Bricks, and some other things.
Cora, nodding bc something finally makes sense: Oh, so the wolf will not blow it down?

I love how they work to make their world make sense.

The rest of the week had a PTA Board meeting, going out with friends late Tuesday night, more teaching barre at TCU, running through the pouring rain to get to my class on Thursday, and then more rain today (SO MUCH RAIN). The last two weeks also contained the anniversary of my parents' house flooding in Harvey, me driving down there to help, and me struggling when I got back home.

Parts of Fort Worth were flooding today, but nothing like Houston and in our corner we just had Landon running around in his swimsuit to rescue earth worms while the girls choreographed new dances to The Greatest Showman and One Direction.

Both activities were perfectly suited to the person(s) who chose them.

And me, I've created a 102 page photo book of the 2016-2017 school year with 989 pictures (did you know Shutterfly restricts you to 1,000? I do now.) of our life, their art work, birthday invites and cards, sweet notes they sometimes write each other, and literally anything else I want to save from the year, plus quotes, snippets, and funny stories I go back and pull from Facebook and the blog. It's a goddamn labor of love (literally more hours than I spent in labor for the one child I labored with, times about ten) but the kids adore them- they read them on a weekly basis and the quotes and stories are their favorite part. It's worth it- I love them too and I love that I feel like there's nothing else I need to save once the book is done, but man, they're a lot of work.

I have two pages to go. And then I get to start on 2017-2018. Never let yourself get behind.

But I promise to try to stay more up to date here. In the back of my mind I've been thinking about what I want this space to be now. We're fairly settled. Our days, nights, and weekends are full. Our kids are older and their stories increasingly belong to them. My job doesn't allow for much work discussion. Or my legal one doesn't- and the barre one gives me enormous happiness but few stories. I'm not going away and I doubt much will change, but I understand more and more why most blogs don't last forever (or don't sound the same forever). I've been writing in this one for nearly 12 years and published 1,699 posts. (This is number 1700!). I was 23, married for 15 months, and weeks away from finding out I was pregnant with Landon when I wrote my first one. That woman seems a million years away, much like the goofy drunk guy I met on 6th street a different million years ago, but I like that when I read her words I recognize her voice.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

No Pain, No Champagne

It's 10 p.m. and I am sitting on the couch post-scalding hot bath, watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2, drinking champagne, and eating popcorn for dinner. It's everything I wanted it to be. I taught two barre classes tonight. Normally I don't do that, but my beloved home studio needed a sub for the 7:00 class and my job at TCU kicked back up this week so I had my regular class there at 5:30. Forty people came to the first one. Forty! So fun, so crazy, so loud. I loved it. Every muscle I have hurts right now, but the popcorn + cheez-its plus the memory of the new sparkly leggings I bought on the way to my double-header have revived me, so let's blog.

When we last left off, it was the night before the first day of school. My favorite day! The kids like it too.

They were up early, smiles and HIGHLY ANTICIPATED new planet box lunchboxes ready. (We're on year 4 of Landon and Claire's and they still look perfect; Cora is SO EXCITED to finally have one too.)

Uniforms were donned, superhero muffins were eaten, and traditional first-day handshakes were given.

We got to school ten whole minutes early (this is remarkable given that our school day starts 15 minutes earlier this year), just in time for it to start to rain. We got a picture in front of the school anyway. Traditions are important.

(First pic, in front of the same tree in 2013; 6 months pregnant with Cora, holding our tiny preschooler and super excited for our still rounded-cheeked Kindergartener!)

Claire, our 3rd grader(!), was BEAMING with excitement. Of course. No one loves school like Claire loves school. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up and greeted her new teacher with a huge hug.

And then she got a daddy-hug from James. He gives the very best ones.

Landon is in 5th grade. 5th grade!!!

Next year he'll be a middle schooler. In a middle school. A school that is not our sweet local elementary school that we ADORE.

But I'm sure we'll all love that school and life phase too, even if I really love that for now he still let's me hug him on the first day in front of his classroom door. (A door that's right across from Claire's; the next time they'll be in the same school together Landon will be a JUNIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL.)

Cora is in her last year of pre-K at her little Montessori school nestled in between our house and the school that is 0.2 miles away. After 11 years, 3 children, and one million daycare payments, every month we pay her tuition is the last time we'll ever pay that month's daycare tuition. This excites me. She got another daddy-hug.

She continues to take school very seriously. This picture from her teacher cracked me up. She's like, don't bother me with your nonsense, I'm busy LEARNING right now.

Unless she's on the playground. Then she's always deep in a gaggle of her besties, leading whatever game she's made up and decided they need to play.

Landon started his competitive climbing practice on Monday and he LOVES IT. Loves it so much. Bouldering his way up a sheer wall is literally all he's ever wanted from life. To make his obsession worse, we let him watch Meru with us, an absolutely fantastic and terrifying documentary about the only successful ascent up the Shark's Fin of Mount Meru in India.

There's a quote in the film that says something like 99.99% of people who watch this will think it's crazy, but the rest will want to do it. Landon might be part of "the rest."

On Wednesday the girls started gymnastics. They're in different classes that run at the same time and James got to take them since the swim school is closed this week. This is the text I got from him soon after it started:

But she warmed up. Soon she was finishing every move with a very formal salute that absolutely cracked James and I up. Where does she get this?

Claire beamed the entire time and waved to me every 15 seconds after I got there towards the end. Both girls loved it. When Cora got off the floor she said, "Mama! I want to do it again!" "You can!" I told her. "Great!" she exclaimed as she ran back out to the floor while I yelled, "No! I meant next week!"

After gymnastics, while Landon was at climbing practice, both girls felt inspired to dance until dinner. Claire set up a videographer to capture all the artistry.

I believe this one was choreographed to Taylor Swift's, Welcome to New York.

And now, the menu:

Monday: Trader Joe's gyro meat, heirloom tomatoes tossed with feta, cucumber, kalamata, orange pepper, red wine vinegar, and olive oil (and oregano, salt, pepper), naan bread, and roasted potatoes. And tzatziki. Basically a Trader Joe's Mediterranean platter full of all my kids' favorite things.

Tuesday: OUT! Celebrating back to school, my first barre class of the new TCU semester, and James being off this week (and one of our favorite local restaurants having a "kids eat free night" on Tuesdays that we never take advantage of).

Wednesday: I'm super proud of this one - it was supposed to be pork enchiladas, but I realized we didn't have enough leftover and it was probably too old, so rather than eat out like I REALLY WANTED TO, I improvised vegetable enchiladas with a leftover zucchini in the fridge (from the super hero muffins), shredded carrot (that we always have on hand), frozen corn (ditto), and black beans (ditto again). Sauteed it together with chili powder and cumin, rolled into tortillas, topped with a bit of sour cream and shredded cheese and baked. SO GOOD. Seriously. Crazy good. Sliced avocado, tomato, and black olive served alongside.

Thursday: Leftover pasta sauce from Sunday with new pasta, garlic bread, and raw veggies on the side. I was teaching barre x2 and James loves a good pasta leftover.

Friday: Back to school pool party with friends! Our house, snacks, paper plates that won't match, rose wine poured into a margarita machine to make frose, and pizza from Costco. Plus a whole bunch of children and their parents. I'm looking forward to it.

I hope all your first weeks (if you had them) have been wonderful, and a rose is waiting for you at the end of it.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Night Before the Morning Of

Back to school is my favorite. I have a lot of favorites, but the morning of the first day is definitely in my Top 5. Today has been a day of preparation. Superhero muffins for the kids in the morning, my mom's homemade poppyseed bread with orange glaze for the teachers (and a loaf for us as well), my Aunty Lee's spaghetti sauce for the traditional back-to-school dinner. Uniforms were hung, backpacks were packed, good luck notes for lunch boxes were written. We are READY.

The girls helped me cook. And by helped I mean fought a lot over who could dump in the various ingredients and generally made everything take 10x longer.

(Claire's face in this one; someone got to dump TWO cups of carrots in when she only got to dump ONE cup of zucchini. Injustice is everywhere.)


The men of the house retreated to Landon's room to build Legos when certain tweenage men objected to the division of labor for the egg cracking step.

I taught a fabulous barre class somewhere in the middle. I am absolutely loving my Sunday early afternoon class. We get to do family stuff in the morning (we have children; we're up early), we always end up back at the house for lunch and then I run out for my 1:30 class. I'm home by 2:45 and the day picks up from there. I'm getting a steady group of regulars and I absolutely love walking in the door of my sweet studio.

And having excuses to order more leggings. Always with the leggings.

I used my impending loan payoff to treat myself to an item or two. These Tom's were the "two."

To move backwards in time, on Friday we came out of our bedroom to find Cora happily esconced in a tiny box that had delivered new Tom's to me the day before. We frequently joke that she's a cat because she loves to sleep more than any toddler I know and will curl up with a smile in any location and during any activity.

We cracked up, snapped a picture, and put the box out by the back door to go out to the recycle. The next morning we again found Cora like this, back in her box she'd retrieved from the back door. We're letting her keep it now.

Later on Friday we took the kids climbing. After hearing about camp all week and buying Landon his new gear, I wanted to see him in action.

He's pretty good. Not that I know anything about climbing, but he's strong and long and it seems to work out for him.

James got to play too.

I cracked up when I saw him doing this from across the room.

Landon had just been doing the exact same thing.

Claire is also good- she has the strong and long thing going for her too, but she is totally dedicated to her upcoming and new career in gymnastics.

A friend delivered a few bags of her daughter's old clothes last weekend and the girls were THRILLED to discover some leotards and dance clothes. Cora is also getting to do her first-ever outside of school activity (besides swimming which costs us nothing and which 2/3 of the children are being driven to anyway) and she chose gymnastics. Both girls have their first class this Wednesday at 4:00 and they are PUMPED.

Even later on Friday, because we're still there, we had Meet the Teacher night. I volunteered the whole time, James sat through various presentations, our children ran around with their friends and met their teacher (somehow Claire was the only one who attended her teacher's presentation on behalf of the LagLiv family and she took her task of updating us very seriously). Afterward both big kids spent the night with different friends, and I celebrated a successful event with my PTA ladies.

Tonight, after our delicious spaghetti and with everything as ready for tomorrow as it can be, we watched School of Rock with the kids. Because nothing says "school is important" like a movie about abdicating all school-related responsibilities and making a rock band. We all enjoyed it thoroughly.

Tomorrow morning we have a 5th grader, 3rd grader, and pre-K'er. The first day of Landon's last year in elementary school. The first day of Cora's last year in Montessori school (and our last year of daycare after what seems like ONE MILLION OF THEM). I'm far more sentimental about the first thing than the second. Claire's first day of third grade, which is less milestoney, but still exciting simply because NO ONE is more excited about school than she is. Still. Four years after starting Kindergarten. "I'm just SO EXCITED!", she told me a thousand times today.

Me too. I've got my first day outfit all picked out and new pens in my purse. Some things we don't have to give up just because we had to stop going to school.