Thursday, June 28, 2012

Physical Fitness

I have decided to dip my big toe back into the world of the physically fit.

I used to work out a lot. In college, worked very hard to change my body from that of a swimmer to that of a thinner normal shouldered person, but then I went to law school and it was too cold to walk to the gym. And then I had Landon, and for whatever reason, my metabolism skyrocketed and my appetite decreased and suddenly I was a size 2. Actually, I know exactly why all that happened and it has to do with the hell that was the later half of 2007, but even as life got better, my new smaller pants size stuck around.

And I can admit that hitting the weight I'd lied about on my driver's license without working out pretty much removed any desire I had to work out. JP could not understand this. He exercises because he loves it, because he is a slave to anything promising better cardiovascular health, and because it makes him feel good. He could not imagine stopping whereas I didn't see why I'd bother to keep going if my pants weren't going to make me- besides, I had a baby and a law degree to earn, it's not like I was looking for extra things to do.


Fast forward five years and another baby and my size/weight are still the same, but going up a flight of stairs winds me. Winds me. This is ridiculous. I'm active. I'm never still. I eat well. I don't snack. But the winding issue, the fact that I'm turning 30 in 8 months, and the jiggle I saw on the underside of my arm when I lifted it in my wild gesticulations that must accompany any re-telling of the cockroach story (and the fact that I now have free time and was honestly starting to miss the act of working out) all led me to believe that it was time to head back to the gym.


But I must tread carefully. I'm mindful of the mind warp that takes hold any time I think about the calories associated with anything (whether burning or eating), and I absolutely will not join any program that is going to tell me what to eat. Normal people can probably adopt that in a healthy way, but I know from past experience that I am not one of them. I loathe running, mildly despise the elliptical, and refuse to acknowledge the stair stepper. I have no self-discipline and won't work out alone. I still don't miss swimming enough to actually do it. It can't be far from home, can't be expensive, and can't be boring. It must involve stretching because it appears I won't do it on my own and every doctor I've ever had has told me I absolutely must start stretching or face dire consequences in my hips and back. I enjoyed the yoga classes I started attending in Austin and found them very helpful for my headaches and insomnia, but I'd like something with a little bit more of a physical workout (see arm jiggles).

Enter Barre class. I love this. Looooove it. It's yoga, pilates, and ballet- all things I'm really bad at- all rolled into one. It makes no sense that I love it so much, but I do. And sure I embarrassed myself and lost the senses of sight, vision, and touch in my first class and turned a near-faint into a "drop to the ground and put my head between my legs" schlump that I like to pretend looked very graceful and was perfectly timed to the music, but this class is exactly what I'm looking for. Toning, stretching, light cardio, and a fast-pace. I'm going to try to go twice a week, maybe three times if I can work with JP's work and swimming schedule. It's good for me. It feels good. I made it through the second, much harder class without any blackouts at all!

I have always loved watching dance- movies, live performances, SYTYCD on TV... I love them all. I'm also really bad at it. But in barre I can pretend I'm good. I get to hear French ballet words and do them! We do long sets of leg strengthening exercises at the bar and though my legs shake uncontrollably, if I close my eyes, I can pretend I look exactly like this:


Unfortunately, when I open my eyes to check my body position in the mirror, it becomes clear I look more like this:


Everything that felt so graceful looks significantly less so in the harsh reality of the reflection, but still, it feels great.

I've bought a 10-pass class and a hot pink yoga mat, so I'm hoping my hatred of wasting money, and my genuine excitement about this class will keep me committed. I've also promised myself a new workout outfit if I finish the punch card- and since new clothes of any kind are firmly in the "No" category of my "Do I need it now?" purchasing standard, that might be sufficient motivation all by itself. Fold-over cropped yoga pants and no more arm jiggles during roach stories here I come!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Born to Friends

I've used this quote before and the last three words of it echo through my mind almost every time I look at Landon and Claire. (Because when you look, you are almost always looking at Landon and Claire.)

I, who have no sisters or brothers, look with some degree of innocent envy
on those who may be said to be born to friends.
- James Boswell










Last night we sent Landon outside with a popsicle after dinner because it was 105 degrees and he'd eaten all of his chicken. He called for Claire to follow, as he always does (Roger the Contractor commented about 3 weeks into our renovation work that the most common phrase uttered in our house is, "C'mon Claire, c'mon!"), and she called out, "Otay!!" and she scurried after him.

Now an after dinner treat is a rare occurrence in our house and Landon had every right to exclusively savor every bite, but as I was clearing the table and keeping an eye on the two of them, I spied this little moment between siblings. I took the pictures through the glass door as Landon and Claire carefully took turns with the popsicle, lick for lick.


And got a little choked up thinking, I really hope they never forget how much they love each other.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Little Swimmers

Despite the fact that, in our former lives, JP and I each had a couple of National cuts and Olympic Trial qualifying times (and JP had a booming business providing private swim lessons in Austin), we have thus far paid other people to teach our children to swim.

Round 1 for Landon took place when he was 3 and what I remember most is the crying. No screaming and no hysterics, just constant quiet tears and lots of begging to stop. I remember a moment when I was crouched behind a shed with 3 week old Clairebear, sweating buckets in the 108 degree breezeless heat, hiding from Landon's view in hopes that it would make the crying stop, and reading an email from a law school friend who was power-lawyering it up on a business trip in Manhattan and thinking oh how far I've fallen in a single month of maternity leave. Then we stopped for snow cones on the way home and I watched 3 hours of HGTV while the kids slept and decided I was back on top again. But I digress. Landon still enjoyed playing in our neighborhood pool and was never afraid of the water, he just quietly sobbed his little heart out when made to do terrible life-saving things like "float on your back" and "climb out of the pool by yourself."

Swim lessons round 2 took place last summer just before he turned 4. He remembered swim lessons as being filled with fun and stickers (god bless children and their faulty, overly optimistic memories) and we were doing them with a friend again (the same friend who came to visit us in May), so we were hopeful that we might walk away with fewer tears and a moderately water safe kid. And we mostly did, though we still wouldn't have been able to throw Landon in a pool and trust he could get himself out.

Then we moved to Fort Worth and got a pool in our backyard. And within weeks- maybe two weeks- Landon was swimming. Swimming! Head down, body up, arms scooping through the water swimming. JP can throw him in the deep end and Landon will pop up and swim to the wall. It's fabulous. We would never leave him unsupervised, but it is something of a relief to have one kid who can swim back and forth across your pool without assistance.


So now that we've reached basic swimming competence, JP is trying to do this summer's lessons. It's going mostly well, though we still have the fair bit of tears ("but I don't want to float on my back"! "Landon, you JUST did it." "But I might get water on my face." "Well, if you do, just close your eyes." [devolving into sobs now] "but I don't waaaaaant tooooo." "Landon, YOU JUST DID IT PERFECTLY ONE SECOND AGO WHY DO YOU CRY EVERY TIME?" [repeat a lot, end scene]). But Landon is improving and getting more confident and the tears and sobs of "I can't... I don't know HOW... I GOT WATER IN MY MOUTH." are both less frequent and, most importantly, utterly ineffective against JP.

We're still deciding what to do with Claire. So far she has had no interest in leaving the top step of the pool and has resisted all efforts to move further into the water. Until yesterday.


We were having friends over for a swim party and decided to get some swim practice out of the way before they arrived. Claire was intrigued.


JP asked if she wanted to join the lesson and she gave and enthusiastic "YEAH!"

(I love this picture so much)

Never one to waste a swimming-related opportunity, JP got right to work.


There was bubble blowing.


And monkey arms, complete with "ooh ooh ah ah" noises all the way around.


And LOTS of high-fives.


We ended the lesson on a high note as our friends arrived, assuming Claire would go back to her filling and dumping of cups on the top step routine, but this time she grabbed a water ring and took off for deeper waters.


This is a girl who's never been on the second step.


I have mixed feelings about her newfound confidence, but Claire was like, eh, what's all the fuss about? It's just a bigger bathtub.


We swam for hours, grilled out fajitas with friends, and then swam for more hours today (and then grilled out hamburgers- I think this will be a theme of summer). I finally got in the pool for the first time. Our backyard is so shaded and breezy that I never felt the need until today when I heard Landon ask JP, "does mommy know how to float?" Um Mommy is a champion floater. And I went to an Urban Barre workout class this morning and nearly died and I felt that swimming around might help the inevitable crippling soreness I'm going to feel when I try to wear high heels tomorrow. (Seriously, almost died- my first real workout class in 7 years and somewhere in the middle of plié squats my vision went black and my hands went numb and I fell quite abruptly to the floor. Embarrassing, particularly since I was the only one in the TCU area of Fort Worth without a hangover and with nothing else to do at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning so I was all alone with the instructor who then had to ask me "you doing okay?" every 5 minutes for the rest of class. But it was great and I'm really really going to try to commit to going once a week. If JP can find the time to work out every day, I can put in the time once a week.)

The kids are sleeping, JP is working, I'm about to take some prophylactic ibuprofen and then we're hitting the pool again. We fell in love with this house the moment we saw it, and really bought it in spite of the pool, but now, I think the pool is our favorite, most used part!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Two Sides of the Same Lawyer

When you're a lawyer, coming to Washington, DC feels like coming home.  You walk the streets and know that at least 50% of the people walking past you have passed the Bar.  They would probably get whatever dorky lawyer joke pops in your head and would also understand, without additional explanation, why deleting comments on your own blog violates exactly no one's right to free speech.  They're your people, or at least the people of one facet of your being, and you're in their mecca.  Also, the Home Office of your new job is very fancy and you feel fancier for being able to say you work there.  Even if your "there" is actually a regional office in Fort Worth, which is decidedly less fancy.

And for me, being in the city, even in sweltering temperatures 10 freaking degrees higher than the ones I left behind in Texas, felt like home.  Walking to everything, taking marvelously efficient public transportation, being asked by a homeless man to run away with him to California (yes, really) -- home!  On Tuesday night I met up with one of my best friend's from law school to travel to Alexandria, Virginia- another state, and yet a short metro ride away (having lived in Texas most of my life, it will always blow my mind that you can cross multiple state lines in a matter of minutes) to meet up with law school friend #2 and her adorable 4-month-old baby.  A baby I got to snuggle while he looked at me with very blue, very skeptical eyes.  You can tell both his parents are lawyers.  After hubby-lawyer came home, we girls headed out to a wine and cheese bar to chat and eat cheese and drink wine.  After dinner I rode the metro back to DC with Friend #1 to see her absolutely gorgeous apartment in Dupont Circle and drink more wine until we realized it was midnight and a Tuesday and holy crap I need to get back to my hotel to take advantage of the springtail free bathtub before my early day began on Wednesday.  And though I was (am) completely in lust with her little apartment, and I loved loved loved getting to see my friends, I think my favorite part of the night was leaving her place at 11:55 p.m. on a Tuesday, turning a corner, and finding cafes with people still in them, cabs circling about waiting for me to flag them down-- so much noise, activity, LIFE at midnight on a Tuesday.  I smiled the whole cab ride back to the hotel.  I was born and raised in the suburbs of Houston, but The City - Any City feels more like home than any suburb of anywhere ever will.  I used to think it was just Chicago, but now I know it's not.  Wherever we move next, we're downsizing even more and living downtown.  And after JP mows the grass every weekend during another 110 degree summer, I think I can get him to move with me.

Unfortunately, despite the late hour, long day, copious amount of wine, and FABULOUS hotel room (I think it might be the nicest I've ever seen, and I've stayed in some very nice hotels thanks to the BigLaw amex), I didn't sleep all night.  I canceled a much anticipated early coffee get together with my cousin, and patched together 3.75 hours of sleep before packing up, getting dressed, and racing out the door to my big meeting.  This was probably my second favorite moment of the trip: wearing my favorite dark grey slight houndstooth print suit, with super long pants legs that have to be worn with my 3.5" black hidden platform heels, and fitted jacket (and lilac colored satin shell underneath, and silver pearl necklace and earrings to complete the outfit), walking quickly out of the Mandarin Oriental with a suitcase and shoulder briefcase purse, and hailing a cab to headquarters.  In that moment, I felt like a lawyer fullstop.  I may be low on the totem pole of a large government agency, I may not understand half the accounting terms the guy I was interviewing kept saying, and I may not know much of any practical law (do not call me if you get pulled over by the cops, I have absolutely no idea what you should do), but in that moment, I looked and temporarily felt the part, and that made me smile, even on less than 4 hours of sleep.

Then the day got crazy - prep prep prep with the assistant director; interview, question, and take notes with the guy I was there to meet; successfully move up my flight home by 4 hours; RUN out of the headquarters to hail a cab out to Dulles where I fidgeted my way through security, staring at my watch every 2 seconds, still in my suit and very high heels.  At 3:20 I'd made it to the terminal of my 3:45 already-boarding-flight and realized I hadn't eaten since 7 p.m. the night before.  And that was the meal where I drank more wine than I ate bread and cheese, and before that I hadn't eaten since a snack in the DFW airport at 10 a.m. the day before, and oh, maybe that's why there's black dots hovering in the periphery of my vision and my hands are shaking. Right.  Well at least I profited from the per diem.  I inhaled some white rice and orange chicken, bought the first book I saw in the bookstore (Julie Garwood's the Ideal Man; it's terrible, cost me $8, and only took 2 hours to read on a 3 hour flight).  I re-read the first half of the (terrible) book to keep the guy next to me from talking to me the rest of the flight (he was nice, but oh so chatty, and while I am normally friendly, I see no point in investing in temporary airplane seat relationships).  But the mad dash and near blackout was worth it- I got home just before the kids went to bed and I got to talk to JP- really talk to JP- for the first time in many days.

All in all it was a great trip, minus the insomnia and total lack of eating, and I want to go back.  Friends, hailing taxis, super fun interviews of helpful experts, feeling like a power lawyer, and soaking in a springtail free marble-surrounded-absolutely-gorgeous bathtub in a room I cannot believe we get to book it with the standard government rate... it was a very fulfilling 36 hours in The City of Lawyers.

And then tonight, long after the power lawyer glow had worn off and I was in a normal lawyer skirt, cropped cardi, and open toed heels, I decided to make the tasty summer beer cocktail to go with our inaugural meal from JP's Father's Day grill.  I mixed all the ingredients- frozen pink lemonade, beer, vodka, water, sprite- and lifted the heavy glass pitcher and SMASH.  The bottom falls out, shatters on the floor, and liquid- sticky sweet pink liquid flies everywhere.  All I can think of are the bugs that are going to come over, drink my cocktail, and invite all their friends to come back and get drunk.  I must stop them.  I pull off my beautiful leather peep-toe pumps and skirt, both soaked in tasty beverage, and start mopping and scrubbing and mopping some more in my cardigan and pink thong and think, wow, what a change in 24 hours.  From suited up and out on the town, to half naked and scrubbing floors and hoping neighbors don't drop by- two rather extreme sides of the coin of me.  

But dinner was tasty, my kitchen is now very clean, and it's extra nice to be home.  

Monday, June 18, 2012


Last week was difficult.  Not because of the dinosaur roach, though that did not help, but because JP spent the entire week- up to and including the weekend and Father's Day- either out of town or working every single second of the day (and most of the time- both).

It is always hard when your spouse works 16 hours a day.  It was sometimes hard in Chicago when we didn't have kids and I didn't have a job.  It is eleventy million times harder now that we have two kids and I work full time.  I remember writing a post during a difficult week in Chicago- when I had finals or papers due or something and JP worked 80 hours in 6 days- and writing something to the effect of, "it doesn't work when both parties think they deserve pity at the same time."  JP needed some pitying because he was working non-stop and I needed some pity because I was on my own for 5 days with the kids and the dog and the house and the roach and the job and the cooking, cleaning, etc.  I didn't need much, but I needed some, and JP had none to give.  And he needed a lot and I quickly ran out.  So when Saturday morning rolled around and I just wanted to sleep in for a few minutes because yay we had another grown-up in the house again, and then he disappeared at 7 a.m. to go swim without telling me (assuming that, of course he'd get to go to practice- he'd worked like a maniac all week!), I was displeased to awaken and find him gone.  And much of the displeasure came from the fact that yes, he totally deserved to get to go swim and I knew that and damnit I don't really mind waking up and being with my children, but I've also missed him and I want him home and I don't want to mop on Saturday mornings anymore and I really miss having a housekeeper and I'm afraid to move that basket because what if there's another snake and I hate that my kitchen always has stuff on the counters but I'm tired of cleaning and drying and putting away all the tiny tupperware containers that accompany life with children and I'm on my fifth load of laundry in five days and why do my bathroom floors always look dirty even though I vacuum them every two days and if I see one more fucking springtail in the bathroom I am going to scream and oh there's the dryer ding and AHHH.  I am hostessing a pity party and NO ONE EVEN BOTHERED TO SHOW UP.  I work too, not as much as JP does, but full-time 45 hours a week and I did not sign on to do all the parenting and housework and shopping and bill paying and everything else that exists on the to-do list for a family of four.  It was really the mopping that pushed me over the edge.  I hate mopping and I was on room #4 when JP walked in and I just kind of lost my mind.  Not loudly, the children were awake after all, but not at all in the more reasoned, calm, hey I'm glad you got to have some you-time and it's so great to have you home but it would have be nice if you'd stayed in bed with me this morning.  I've missed you.

That is not what I said.  And then I felt bad and then I felt mad that I felt bad because I had some legitimacy to my annoyance but now I'd gone and lost all the moral high ground by being crazy and UGH. A life with two working parents with normal jobs (less than 50 hours/week) would be so easy right now.  I never wanted to be a stay at home mom.  Never- not even in my many playings of "house" when I was little with my friends.  The story always started with breakfast before I went to work, or dinner right after I came home from work ("work" was usually a veterinary clinic complete with stuffed animal patients and intake forms we painstakingly created; I have always loved a good form).  JP and I have always split things.  The work was not always even, but it was always divided.  Now I have this marvelously regular job with "light" hours and his job has gone crazy and nothing is even.  It's barely even divided.  And it's hard.  My inner oldest child is screaming "but it isn't fair I work too!" as my grown-up wife and partner-self knows I'd expect the same of him (and have expected the same of him) when I've worked like crazy for a period of time (see last August).  The division of labor right now is not the best- but I don't think best is possible when one member of the team is working 7 days a week.  I know this, try not to forget it, and complain here when I do.

And in a flip of things, I'm headed to DC tomorrow for a work trip.  I'll get to stay in the Mandarin Oriental, stop by the Home Office, and see two of my best friends from law school for dinner.  I'll be home Wednesday and we'll flip back.  One day, supposedly soon, we'll stop flipping and get back to balancing.  I miss the balancing.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I feel I should finish the story from the other night-- the night of the Prehistoric Possibly Vampiric Giant Dinosaur Roach Attack of 2012-- just so you can see how far my deranged mind had fallen by 1:00 in the morning.  I will be the first to admit I was an irrational mess of a person- a person filled with the type of absurd emotional behavior I have always secretly and not-so-secretly mocked in others.  It's just, it was late.  I was tired.  I don't have much against bugs outside the house; indeed, if I'd seen that same Mesozoic vampiric cockroach on a path outside I would have walked by it with nothing more than an "ew".  But this was in my house.  My home, my castle.  Also, it was late and I was tired and I just wanted to wash my face without squaring off in a death match with a carnivorous winged and probably fanged roach.  But no, the giant 12" vampire roach had to be at eye-level skulking along my wall, thinking evil thoughts of hostile takeovers and attacking my face.  You know it was.

After I completed my 15-step plastic bag and Clorox-involved process to dispose of the very squished and poisoned but still fighting dinosaur roach, I tried to calm down in bed.  I wrote the blog post, I took deep breaths, and I was  thisclose to returning to a rational mental state when Claire screamed.  Screamed!  Out of nowhere, at 1:15 a.m.  Obviously, she was being attacked by the undead dinosaur roach and all his friends.  I am deeply ashamed to admit it, but even knowing my baby girl was being swarmed by roaches, it still took me a good 45 seconds to react, so paralyzed was I by the visual tormenting my brain.  Finally I leaped out of bed (literally, I was afraid there was a roach next to my bed, but I could see the spot a few feet away and it looked clear), and RACED to her room, flipping on every single light switch along the way.    Halfway there I realized I'd forgotten my spray bottle of poison, but this is probably for the best, as I likely would have sprayed it on Claire before my frazzled mind realized the room was bug free.  And it was bug free.  And Claire was sleeping sweetly in her crib, having simply cried out in the middle of a dream.

I shuffled back to my room, turning off lights as I went, and tried to stretch out in bed- yelping when my foot brushed a piece of folded over sheet, CERTAIN that the sheet was a roach (because they feel so similar), and finally tucking my exhausted mentally broken body into a tiny ball where I remained all night.  I woke up at 6 a.m. to the lights on, the Raid by the bed, and cramps all over my body from sleeping in such a fiercely tight position.

My story has made the rounds at work- at the last retelling the roach was 12" long and I donned a hazmat suit in the middle of battle, so now I'm famous for two things: dinosaur roach cage matches and eating more at lunch than anyone in the office.  I might also be good at enforcing securities laws, but no one cares to think of that.

In other, somewhat related news, JP comes home later tonight!  After 5 nights away, everyone is very ready for his return.  But especially me.  It took me an hour to work up the nerve to go in our bedroom and bathroom last night, just in case the dinosaur cockroach had told his friends to come over from beyond the grave.  (He had not.  Not yet.)  It's hard having JP away- I miss him, as my parenting partner, snuggle bunny, and resident bug killer.  And I forgot how hard it was to get both kids out the door in the morning when you have to close up the house on the way out.  I take the kids to school pretty much every day, but JP works from home, so I can leave lights on and dishes on the counter and Tex roaming about.  Luckily, the kids have been so, so good that they really do make it as easy it can be- the don't know it yet, but they're getting frozen yogurt tomorrow night to celebrate their nearly perfect behavior.  And mama's getting a sangria swirl margarita or three to celebrate her victory over the dinosaur roach and to aid her ongoing therapy for almost being eaten by him.  I think it's going to take several Fridays of margaritas to recover, but I'm a survivor, and together with JP never traveling again, the bug man who is coming back on Saturday, the Raid, borax, and vinegar I bought today, and the projects we're doing this weekend to clear brush away from the house (and your kind and humorous comments), I'm sure I'll make it through.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Defending Hearth and Home

JP is out of town at his home office working 16 hour days and missing us like crazy, but lest you feel bad for him as I almost did this evening when his exhausted voice cracked over the phone line as he said I love you before falling asleep while still on the phone with me (and during a riveting story I was telling), you should know that I just defended my home and family against the BIGGEST roach that has ever existed.  I can say this with some authority.  There's a horrifying giant roach exhibit at the Fort Worth zoo and we were just there this weekend and this roach was BIGGER.  Bigger and ON MY BATHROOM WALL.

There I was, about to brush my teeth and go to bed early in preparation for morning #3 of solo parenting and a big meeting that I need to get to work early to prepare for.  Then I saw it.  A many-inch spiny leggy possibly winged brown COCKROACH at eye level on the wall behind me.

I screamed.  Then I was covered in goose bumps.  Then it moved.  It moved behind my beautiful steel blue towels that hang on my pretty towel rack that I picked out so lovingly a few short months ago and now must burn because ROOOOOOACH.  Roach behind and in between and touching my towels.  Once I regained the powers of speech and movement, I did what any mature, strong, independent woman would do.

I called my husband 170 miles away and demanded that he fix the situation.  I woke him up, which I'm sure he did not appreciate, but he tried to walk me through the fine art of throwing a shoe at a roach.  But no, I said, I can't throw a shoe at it.  For one, which shoe?  I have none I wish to sacrifice and yours are big and heavy and might hurt my wall. Also, this thing might be some sort of roach mammal hybrid that is going to be squishy and I don't want to stain my walls.  Also ALSO, there's no way in fucking hell I'm getting within arm's reach of that thing.  I wouldn't even pass by it on the other side of the bathroom, choosing instead to run back behind the bathroom through our closet any time I wanted to switch my angle of approach.

Fine, JP finally said, just leave it there and go to sleep.

What?! No, no no NO, the roach might leave the towels and decide to come snuggle with me and ohmygod my goose bumps are worse and I think I might throw up.  Also, I'm crying now.  WHY ARE YOU NOT HERE?!

I went digging around under our sink looking for toxic chemicals I could spray at it from a distance.  Lurking in the back I found an old can of raid, possibly left here by the previous owners (hmmm).  I approached the towels and laid down the trigger finger.  The roach fell to the ground.  I screamed, ran away, and then cautiously walked back.  I sprayed again.  And again.  And again.  Until the roach was covered in white poisonous foam.

Then it moved.

I screamed, loudly, nearly lost my balance, ran into Tex, which made me scream again (ZOMG 90lb FURRY ROACH!), and evacuated to the family room.

JP, who was still on the phone, decided I had the situation well in hand and bid me good night.  His parting words, "just smash it with a shoe, scoop it up, and throw it out.  Love you."

I sprayed the roach again and waited.  All its little limbs kept moving and it looked like it was trying to flip over and I realized I had to do it.  I had to smash.  I prepared carefully, gathering several plastic trash can liners, a running shoe (JP's, of course, I wanted him to be part of the experience), an old cloth diaper,  paper towels, Clorox spray, and the can of raid.  I encased the shoe in one plastic bag, laid a big paper towel over the still moving roach, closed my eyes, stretched out my arm (also encased in a plastic bag) as far as possible and smacked.  I barely restrained the urge to throw-up and then I used the cloth diaper to pick up the remains without ever touching, seeing, or feeling anything, and wrapped up all of that in another plastic trash bag and sealed it (I was not putting it past this roach to reanimate later).  Then I disinfected the area with Chlorox, carefully removed my plastic bag gloves, and added all that to yet another trash bag and then took it all outside to the big trash bin that will be picked up tomorrow morning.

On the way down our front walk, trash bags in hand, I suddenly became irrationally afraid of the cricket sounds that I swear were doubling in volume with every step I took.  I ended up running the rest of the way down the walk, throwing the bags in the bin, and racing back into the house and slamming the door.  Tex was right there, ready to guard my back as I entered, but, not understanding the threat of the giant roach or the noisy crickets, he looked genuinely confused at what he was guarding me from.

And now, I'm in bed, covers up to my chin, lights on because I'm afraid to turn them off, running on adrenaline and thinking I need a shot or three of tequila to calm down, but afraid to leave the bed because I'm now 1000% certain that every microscopic imaginary twinge I feel on my skin is a giant reanimated cockroach.  I keep shuddering and I'm concerned I'm having some sort of nervous breakdown.  The biggest roach in Fort Worth history was on my bathroom wall and I took it down.  If I wasn't covered in goose bumps and having a psychotic event over the whole thing, I might be proud of my ability to defend my home.

Instead, I'm thinking of moving.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Live and Play Room

We've had 7 guests in the last 3 days. First, my mom and grandparents stayed with us Thursday night on their way up to Wisconsin. My grandparents drove over from San Antonio, and my mom flew in to DFW, and together they will drive the 1,000 up to their lake cabin. My grandpa has been having trouble with his back, and we're all very glad my mom drove with them. And as a bonus, they got to see our new house, and our kids got to hear "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" from the woman who made it famous.

"And they lived in a house of pink, pink, pink, they lived in a house of pink."

I think you have to have been a kindergarten teacher in the 1950's to get that. Or have a grandmother who was one.

That trio left early Friday morning and then on Saturday some good friends of ours from Austin drove in with their two kids to stay the night. I've washed and changed a lot of sheets and our leather living room sleeper sofa (that we bought from the previous owners) got its first workout, but I love having people over. We've worked hard and spent a whole lot of money on this house and I feel like every time someone comes to visit, it's all just a little more worth it. Sort of like how when you buy a pair of shoes, you can divide the cost in half every time you wear them (after 18 months, my rainbow shoes are down to costing $1.50), so someday my master shower will be free! Who wants to visit next?

Which is all a long lead-in for the internet unveiling of our living room. This room wasn't redone the way our bathrooms were redone, but it's still come a long way. Before there were dark walls, "spot light" recessed lights that only lit up the 4 square feet of flooring directly below them (so weird), and a ton of random crap.


This is the biggest room in our house, and it's so long and narrow, it took a while to figure out what to do with it. After much debate and rearranging of furniture and selling our country/traditional table and chairs and then realizing we could no longer afford to buy the new contemporary table and chairs I'd picked out and then selecting a paint color in 30 seconds (and having the recessed lighting changed up and a few more added), we have this:


But first, we have this in the entry:


I love love the trio of city prints (for the three cities JP and I have lived in together). They're from this etsy shop; we'll add Fort Worth whenever we move on to city #5. Someday a narrow black table will be under them, but as I have to chant inside my head almost every day "We do not need it now. We do not need it now."


When you walk in the house from the front, the kitchen is almost immediately to right; the hallway to the hall bath, kids room, and guest room is on the left; and the living room/sunroom are straight on ahead.


We purchased the leather (sleeper) sofa, recliner chair, and coffee table from the previous owners for a bargain price. I like the clean lines and dark color (our old leather couch and love seat are in the family room; the really old set that used to be in our gameroom was sold for $80 on craigslist before we moved), though I want to add a few more brightly printed pillows to scatter on them (but "We do not need them now. We do not need them now.")


We removed the mounted TV bracket and fancy through-the-wall wiring the previous owners probably paid a lot of money for because I don't like TVs over fireplaces and just generally don't like TVs as the focal point in a room. So the TV lives in the family room and no one really watches it anymore. It's kind of awesome. My kids haven't watched TV during the week since we moved and don't seem to miss it, and it's way faster to get out the door in the morning when they aren't putting on shoes to Sesame Street or George.


And because the style and colors of our old house have almost nothing to do with the style and colors of our new house, I needed new mantel decor and I needed it to be cheap. Enter inexpensive Garden Ridge frames, a personalized family tree print from this etsy shop, and Costco reprints of my favorite pictures. I really like it.


We turned the would-be dining area into the playroom (much like back at our Austin house). We went a lot of rounds with this space, with JP and I moving the kids' bookshelves back and forth between the living room and the family room, but ultimately we decided the family room was too crowded, we were months and maybe years away from being able to afford the contemporary type dining set we'd like to put there, and I felt too lonely while I cooked dinner because the kids were playing 3 rooms over.


And now I'm so glad we embraced the playroom concept. It gave us a use for the coffee table we didn't need, tried to sell, but didn't really want to part with. It gives the kids a place to play and build and color and read, and it brings the fun much closer to the rather closed off room where I spend so much time.

(the kitchen is through that open doorway on the right)

The items left to buy are a PBK chair for Claire, a few prints for the walls in that corner, and a rug to define the space and add some color. I'm obsessed with this rug from Target, but again, we don't need it now.


I kind of hate that phrase, but I respect the truth of it. Even if grudgingly on behalf of the fabulous rug.

And the kids don't know their space is missing a rug. They love it and their little table and all the legoduplo cities they build on it, the tea parties they serve on it, and the coloring they do it- sometimes all at the same time.


And with that, we're done with the big changes in the house. I'd love to change out the country hutch we have near the fireplace, but it's a family piece and it's nice to have something there, even if it isn't from the pages of the Crate and Barrel catalog. We aren't touching the kitchen for at least a year, though hope to get it painted by then, and the sun room and family room were good as is (except for ripping out the wet bar to make a closet in the latter). Now we just enjoy our space, enjoy our visitors, and cross our fingers that nothing else breaks for the next few months!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Changes, mostly good ones

A few of the things that have changed between today and 3 months ago. Now:

- I paint my own toe nails.

- My blackberry's battery is almost always dead.

- On Sunday, I only prepare dinner for Sunday.

- I no longer wince when checking my email or answering my work phone.

- I don't worry about, think about, or do work outside of work. It is astonishing what a difference this has made in my personal life.

- My insomnia is better and I no longer buy mega sized bottles of excedrin.

- We failed to pay off a monthly credit card bill for the first time ever.

- I am stressed the f- out about the above, though it was a crazy combination of expensive events that caused it to happen and we have a short repayment plan. I'm trying to find comfort in the fact that the number of things that are left to break keeps getting smaller.

- I live in an old house.

- I plan to take days off and then I do not work on those days.

- We no longer eat out twice a week.

- When I leave work at 4:00 on a day when I arrived at 7:30, I don't feel any need to tell people I see on my way out that I worked my 8.0 hours, nor does anyone seem to want to know.

- I wake up before the sun.

- No one talks about how many hours they billed in the last day, month, year.

- I read far fewer blogs and have terrible delays on personal email replies.

- I take far fewer breaks at work.

- I share my bathtub with bugs.

- I mop our floors.

- I no longer bookmark vacation websites.

- I don't know how to get anywhere except for the places I know exactly how to get to.

- I live in "north" Texas.

- I have to buy a diet coke at lunch.

- Everyone here has 3 kids. Everyone.

- I keep obsessive track of my hours of accumulated annual leave (i.e., earned days off).

- I no longer find joy and comfort in checking our savings account balance.

- At my check-up today my blood pressure was back to the 102/56 it was when I was in high school and college.

- I spend at least 2x the amount of weekday time with my kids and enjoy the hell out that whole extra x of time.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Remember this post, when it was Sunday night and I had just returned from Chicago and JP had just left for Austin and I realized we had a painter coming at 9 a.m. the next morning and I didn't have any paint colors selected? That was fun. I ran home during lunch and spent exactly 30 minutes flipping through his tiny sample book and googling colors to see if someone had a picture of a room in that color on the internet because I am TERRIBLE at visualizing. Terrible. I was pacing in high heels, about to cut a check for too much money from our decimated bank account to paint the biggest room in our house an unknown, unselected color. Not good, so I temporarily punted on the living room and picked out the color for the kids' room instead. I wanted something that would look good with bright pink and navy blue, so (again, since I'm terrible at visualizing) I grabbed a shirt in each color from the kids's closet and pressed the sleeves up against the 1" x 2" paint sample chart. I flagged three colors that looked good and picked the prettiest name: Simply Heaven.


I really like it.





I re-used both kids' linens and furniture from the Austin house (and luckily, the room was big enough to fit it all!). We have the second matching twin headboard, baseboard, and frame stuffed in the guest room closet for when Claire graduates from her crib. I love that they're going to sleep in the two beds my sister and I slept in in the rooms we shared in Los Angeles and Houston when we were little. I did get Landon some new art- he'd finally outgrown his trucks. The two movie posters are from the harshness etsy shop (he's getting a third for his birthday, which is why they're currently hung off center- it drives me crazy) and the "L" is wrapped in real comic book pages and then mounted (from the spottedflats etsy shop). I absolutely love them. It's hard to find superhero decor that isn't cheesy or cheap looking. Claire's original nursery prints are now over the changing table and she continues to love her butterflies. When she gets her twin bed we're going to do a bright pink comforter and then let her pick out a few sets of fun colorful sheets (I saw some cupcake ones at Target yesterday that were adorable). I like doing the solid comforter/fun interchangeable sheet combos, it's so versatile and inexpensive.

RG left me a comment a few weeks ago asking how it was going with the two kids in the same room. Specifically, she said, "In this new house we're building, our floor plan (while nothing like yours, so far as I can tell) is similar in this way - our kids will be upstairs, sharing a room, while our master suite is downstairs. I am simultaneously excited about finally being able to sleep through a night without hearing my children's every wriggle and snore (they have always shared with us, through necessity) - - - and also FREAKING. OUT. about two things. (1) the stairs - will they wander and fall in the night? (2) naps - on the weekends, do your kids nap simultaneously, or go to bed at the same time? Do they not stay up and giggle and talk forever??"

So, for (1), after living in a small apartment in Chicago, we specifically looked for a house that would put the kids (or kid, then) on a different floor from us when we were sleeping. I wanted SPACE and we loved it while we had it. It was a little annoying for a few months when Claire was old enough to be in her own room, but still getting up for middle of the night feedings (we kicked her out of our room pretty quickly; my insomnia did not appreciate sharing a room with another creature capable of making noise and it freaked JP out to have sex a few feet away from our sweetly sleeping daughter, so upstairs she went- I don't mess around with sleep or my sex life). Climbing up those stairs was never so onerous as at 3 a.m., but it sounds like you're past that anyway. As for the kids coming down- Claire was always in her crib, so it wasn't an issue, and Landon was a confident stair walker by the time he finally left the room in the morning without us going up to get him (he never, ever left his bed in the middle of the night- I just don't think it occurred to him). Friends of mine have solved the problem of wandering kids by putting a baby gate across the kids' door, putting a childproof doorknob thingy on the inside doorknob of the kids' room, and/or putting a solid baby gate at the top of the stairs. We also put glaringly bright nightlights in the hallway between the bedroom and the stairs to help light the way. For what it's worth, having the kids on the same floor now has worked out fine. Our house is pretty sprawling and you have to go down a hallway and through the family room to get to our room, so you can have 3 closed doors between us and them, and there's a closing door on the other end of the hallway that goes to the kitchen as well, so that helps eliminate the feeling that you need to whisper once the kids go to sleep at 7:45 p.m.

For (2), the sleeping together has gone surprisingly well! We've had our moments, when we heard giggles or screams and squeals a good 45 minutes after we thought the kids were asleep, so we had to yell and be mean, but they do always go to sleep eventually... and it's getting much better as the novelty wears off. I love love that they play and talk in the morning and even though they're not supposed to do it, it is very sweet to hear their whispers when they're falling asleep at night. I have such fond memories or whispering with my sister at night, I love that they'll have them too. For naps, they both take them at the same time (like they go to bed at night at the same time), so it hasn't been too big of a deal. Landon doesn't usually fall asleep anymore, but it's still mandatory lights out quiet time and more often then not, he ends up asleep by the end. Our only struggle so far with the room sharing has been reading books at night. We're now reading chapter books with Landon (Magic Treehouse series and, currently, Ralph the Mouse) and Claire just isn't interested. So one of us reads to Landon on his bed and the other reads board books with Claire on the carpet on the floor. We tried splitting up in different rooms at night to read, but they really like having us all together and we prefer it too. Claire was our problem talker- Landon even said one night very late, "Mommy, I think I need my own room for sleeping so Claire will stop talking to me." but she's mostly stopped. I think it was just the excitement of the move combined with her new greatly expanded verbal skills. But he really loves that they share a room in general- it's pretty adorable to hear him yell out, "Bear! To our room!" and see them race off.


Pics of the new living room color and decor coming tomorrow(ish)!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Claire Annalise 2.0

As of this morning at 9:22 a.m., our little Clairebear is 2!


I got up early to have her favorite breakfast ready in time to actually sit at a table and eat it like civilized human beings with real plates and silverware. And also a little ceramic pig birthday candle holder. Because it's adorable and every birthday should start out with a candle.


Landon has a little birthday dinosaur waiting for him in July. JP and I bought them at a shop in Siren, Wisconsin when we visited my grandparents two years ago and then promptly forgot about them until we packed up to move. Claire loved hers.


We blew the candle out and re-lit it lots of times today.


We got to daycare to find a banner strung up in her room by her teachers and she and her baby friends got to partake in leftovers from our pool party at snack time (meats, cheeses, watermelon, and cake). I'm told Claire ate 50 pieces of watermelon and refused everything else).


I left work at 4:30 to prepare the gourmet birthday feast specially selected by the birthday girl: kraft mac & cheese, corn, and berries. And more leftover birthday cake, which she again rejected in lieu of more berries. I don't understand her lack of a sweet tooth.


We opened presents: a duplo box set from JP and me; a My Little Pony specially selected by Landon at Target; a duplo zoo set and some fabulous pink cowboy boots from my parents; and a tea set from one of the party guests. I live in constant fear of my kids having too many toys (my fears of clutter and raising spoiled entitled children are equally strong), but I have to admit, gift-giving holidays are when I feel a little bad for the kids and their lack of a second set grandparents (particularly since that set is alive and well and uninvolved by choice).


Not to imply they are lacking in any way - Claire was thrilled with her presents and immediately took her boots out for a test drive (thanks Papa and Gigi!) and built a war tower from duplos.


Actually, the Duplos were a hit for all ages.


And the kids may only have one side of the family tree to pull from, but they get a lot of love from that side! Claire was sung "Happy Birthday" over the phone several times by my grandparents, a few aunts and uncles, and my parents, and she got a little grin on her face every time. She requested the song three times before bed and ended each one with "mo! mo birtday!" She really likes having her own song. I wonder what will happen when everyone starts singing it to Landon in a month?


I love birthdays at this age. It's pure simple fun and I loved taking a moment to snuggle my newly minted 2-year-old and reflect on all the fabulousness of the past two years and wonder at all the fabulousness yet to come. And I look forward to every minute with our feisty, sweet, honey badger snuggle bunny baby bear. Here's to 2!