Friday, August 30, 2013

Muffins of Meat and other Goings On

It has been a pretty good week. Landon is doing great in Kindergarten. Or at least I assume he's doing great. Getting the details of his day involves using of all my trial advocacy workshop skills, but he is very clear that "green means GREAT mom!" and he's had all greens and he brings home adorable work sheets with penciled letters on big ruled lines, with stickers on the top, and excellent coloring-in-the-lines skills displayed throughout, so all appears to be going well. He particularly loves PE and recess (shocking), and he's pretty sure he won the game they played in PE on Wednesday, though after a complicated explanation of the rules that made absolutely NO sense on redirect, I'm not so sure he's right. Regardless, he's up on time every morning dressed in his uniform navy polo and khaki shorts and marches off to school with Claire and JP with a smile on his face. He wasn't clear on his teacher's name for the first three days and every time we pop quizzed him on it, he'd look at us baffled and Claire would yell out her name from wherever she was in the house. JP is off lessons this week and next so he's been picking up Claire absurdly early because he misses her (I think she was only at her school for 2 hours today) and then they hang out and walk to pick Landon up together. It is definitely the highlight of her day.

On the me front, baby girl continues to grow and move and generally make her presence known (as if the giant belly wasn't doing it for her). Her nursery is now complete, she has a first name (though no middle yet), and she is beginning to amass a first year wardrobe. I went through all of Claire's 0-18 month clothes last weekend and found a few things that were off-season for Claire that I'd forgotten about that will work well for #3. But mostly Claire's newborn stuff is all way too summery for our fall/winter baby 3, which means I don't have to feel guilty when I succumb to the adorable and tiny and cheap newborn clothes that shove themselves in my faces at Target and Carters.

(far right has a turkey on the butt! turkey on the butt!)

And speaking of tiny clothes, I accidentally wandered into the Carter's 50% off store-wide Labor Day sale and came out with some bibs (it has been fascinating to see which baby items I saved in the move- like we got rid of the play gym mat and arms, but somehow kept the play gym toys, and we gave away all the baby gear, but kept the co-sleeper, and I kept both kids' baby clothes but gave away all bibs, bottles, blankets, and towels. I can't explain any of it) and the kids' Christmas pj's. The pj's are their first present to open on Christmas Eve (at Papa and Gigi's house, before we head to church, so they can wear them on the drive back to the lake) and as long-time readers now, I get twitchy if all my Christmas shopping isn't done by October, so it felt good to check that off.

(bibs, which really are a necessary item and not an indulgence at all, and teeny tiny pants!)

I never posted our menu for the week. Menu planning remains the worst part of my Saturday, I can just never think of anything that sounds good and I always want to stop people on the store and ask what they're having for dinner so I can add it to my list, but I persevered and ended up with a good plan:

Sunday: grilled Italian chicken breasts, caprese pasta salad (cold pasta, the tiniest balls of fresh mozzerella I've ever seen, halved cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, homemade balsamic vinaigrette- very tasty!), sauteed squash

Monday: meatball stroganoff over rice noodles, green beans, rolls (Landon's favorite meal in honor of the first day of school)

Tuesday: bbq quinoa salad (quinoa + grilled chicken, diced tomato, corn, black beans, diced avocado, shredded cheese with bbq (yes) and/or ranch (ew; I hate it, but we go through buckets of it because JP and the kids are pretty sure it goes on everything) drizzled on top- it's a family favorite), chips and salsa

Wednesday: pizza (my grandparents stopped by for a quick overnight stay on their drive home from Wisconsin and treated us to delivery! it was wonderful to see them and I definitely enjoyed the midweek takeout)


Thursday: muffins of meat (explanation below), mashed potatoes, steamed veggies, rolls

Friday: TBD, hopefully sometime soon

Saturday: chicken stew (I have been CRAVING chicken stew and I'm not even sure what chicken stew is; I've never made it and have no recipes, but google has steered me to a few good looking ones and I'm going to make something up tomorrow. When it's 105 degrees out. I don't know, pregnancy.)

Sunday: something on the grill, probably burgers

Monday: Sushi at a fancy restaurant with a ridiculously cheap happy hour for our 8th wedding anniversary; kids will eat something not nearly as awesome at home with the sitter

Tuesday: tacos (because it's easy and just goes with Tuesday)

Wednesday: pasta with tomato cream sauce (because JP will be making it and it's his favorite meal in the whole world)

Thursday: TJ frozen chicken skewers, rice mix, frozen veggies (because we're usually out of fresh things by Thurs.)

Friday: off to the lake house for my mom's birthday weekend!

On Thuesday, I attempted to make Meatloaf Muffins. A friend had posted about them on her facebook feed, noting that everyone in her family had enjoyed them. I'm always up for something new and I like individual entree items and all things that go with mashed potatoes, so I thought we should try them. My family was... skeptical. I had many conversations like this;

Landon: What are we having for dinner tomorrow again?
Me: Meatloaf muffins.
Landon: Muffins! Awesome!
Me: Well, no, different muffins than you're thinking of... they're muffins... of meat.
Landon: Ew.
Me: [the look] (he's not allowed to say "ew" about things we prepare him)
Landon: Um... I'm just, I'm not sure that sounds very good mom. Maybe we can have regular muffins?


Claire: Mommy, what are we having for dinner? (part of our morning discussion in which we go through the plan for the whole day)
Me: Meatloaf muffins.
Claire: Meat muffins??
JP: Yeah, I know Claire, muffins of meat. It's unnatural.
Claire: [confused]
JP: I think we should should just call them "baby meatloaves"
Claire: Meat babies?!
Me: Yeah, cause that's better.


JP: Is tonight Muffins of Meat night?
Landon: Muffins! Like with blueberries?
Me: No, not those muffins, these are muffins with... meat.
Landon: [face]




As it turns out, I burned the BBQ topping so they looked even more suspicious than they needed to, but the kids did ultimately eat ever bite on their plate and JP had five (all the while suggesting that next time we just make them in a regular loaf pan like god intended for meatloaf). And we all enjoyed a week using the phrase "muffins of meat" multiple times a day.

On a totally separate note, this is one of my favorite pictures from Landon's first day of school. We'd already dropped him off at Kindergarten and I was on my way to work when Claire ran down the driveway to give me one last "tiss." I'd just handed off my nice camera to JP, so for once, he was able to snap an impromptu photo with me in it


The tippy toes are my favorite. That and the fact that, from this angle, you can't see the $3,000 of damage I did to the back of my car.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First Day

Yesterday was Landon's first day of Kindergarten at our neighborhood public school!


I know this should be a sentimental moment, at least according to all the smashed together hashtagged phrases involving the word "tears" on facebook (can I just note how much I loathe hashtags, loooathe them and their infiltration of my facebook feed), but I felt nothing but excitement and happiness. And not just because public school does not require a hefty cash deposit and credit card number to register (though I am very excited about that), but because I LOVED school. I loved it. Every grade, every class, every moment, ALL of it. If I could go back to Kindergarten and do it all over again just for fun I would agree in a second. So the emotional aspect for me was found in walking the hallowed halls of an elementary school and seeing all the bright shining faces, the stiff new backpacks, the teachers in their first day of school outfits (my mom still picks one out weeks ahead of time), and the decorated classrooms with names on the door and on the tables and desks. The whole scene made me so happy on the inside I felt I might burst.

And of course, I'm just so excited for this guy.

My 6-year-old baby boy (and 29-week baby girl)

Landon is an essentially sociable creature who loves people as much as I love school supplies, so after his week at home with the backup care nanny, he was VERY ready to rejoin society. We attended Meet the Teacher night on Friday to meet his teacher (duh), show him around the school, and see his classroom, and he was so excited to see everyone and everything. His teacher has been with the school for 20 years and actually attended Kindergarten at his school herself- and in her very same classroom! She seems great and we're looking forward to a wonderful year for him.

Meet the Teacher night

I had the first day morning all planned out, and for once (and thanks to a lot of nighttime prep work and the setting of multiple alarms), it went just as I hoped. I popped the Cinnamon Baked French Toast that I'd prepped the night before into the oven at 6 a.m. and woke the kids up at 6:30. The usually wake up closer to 7:30, so they were very surprised to find me in the room and the sun not yet up. When I walked in Claire immediately popped up in bed and yelled, "Is it time for Yandon's first day of school?!!!", and Landon just rolled over, pulled his pillow over his head and muttered something along the lines of, "More sleep, not yet." Proof again that Claire is 98% me and Landon is 99% JP, it is truly crazy how evenly we're divided among our children.

Excited! Also, a little confused about why it's still dark outside

Landon perked up quickly though (the 1% that isn't quite like his dad) and was out of bed and in his shiny new uniform within minutes. We got his monster lunchbox and Batman backpack all packed and then headed outside in the semi-dark to take a few pictures while the french toast finished baking.

My boys, humoring me

Claire was so excited for her Yandon, possibly even more excited than her Yandon was himself. She can't WAIT to be back in the same school with him in 2 years, but when we told her Kindergarten didn't allow blankies, she thought maybe the delay was okay.

So excited for her big bro (and herself, Claire just generally loves an occasion)

When I attended my friend's bridal shower a few weeks ago, her dad had put together a little slide show that included a series of pictures of her and her big brother shaking hands every year on the first day of school. It was so sweet to see them through the years- all tiny and adorable and happy to shake, then all teenagery and differently adorable and grudgingly shaking hands, and then all adult and on their way to college and sentimentally shaking hands in the family's foyer with the moving van in the street in the background. The whole thing made me teary and I vowed I would do it with my kids starting on Landon's first day of school.

So I did.

No. 1 in a future series of 20+

We sat down to breakfast right at 7 a.m. like the civilized organized breakfast eaters we were pretending to be. That will likely never happen again (we do make sure the kids get a good breakfast, but it is not prepared from scratch nor do JP or I usually manage to sit down with them), though thanks to leftovers of the french toast bake, we're able to taper them back down slowly to the usual bagel or cereal plus yogurt or fruit combo we generally provide.

We drove a short distance to a friend's house who lives right across the street from the school and whose son is in Landon's class. The boys were adorably matched in their navy polos and khaki shorts and we all walked over to the school together, Landon looking like his usual happy self, his friend looking increasingly nervous, and Claire looking delighted to be in the pack.

The fam, once we were around enough people to hand the camera off to someone

Landon had no qualms about marching in to school and finding his teacher and classroom. We made a complicated decision in holding him back a year, much of it having to do with his summer birthday, his prematurity, our having just moved when it was time to sign up for school, and, most importantly, JP's experience and strong feelings about being too young for his classes all the way through school. I think Landon likely would have been fine to start last year, but there's NO doubt he was very ready this year.

Not even a glance behind him to see if we were coming with him
(which we were, which was good, because he immediately went the wrong way)

When we got to his classroom he hung up his backpack and lunchbox and sat right on the carpet ready to go. When we moved to leave (dragging Claire off the carpet where she was sitting next to him, also ready to go), he jumped up to give his daddy one more hug, and then sat back down all smiles while we walked out the door.


I was in a meeting all afternoon with opposing counsel on one of my investigations, so I begged JP to text me when he picked Landon up to let me know how the day went. JP hates texting and has probably sent me less than 20 texts since texting was invented, but I did get one right at 3:10 that said, "Great day!" That little update, sadly lacking in detail though it was, gave me a big smile in the middle of my very serious conference.

Squee! (I knew he'd had enough of pictures at this point, but I couldn't help it- Kindergarten!)

I got the full rundown when I got home at 6- the rules, the work, the cafeteria (we all sit together and you can buy food there mom! you can BUY it!), PE (we play games!), recess (!!!), new friends (many!), new crayons, and new behavior chart (I got green mom, green means I did GREAT!). Claire had many questions, JP wanted to know more about recess, and I just loved hearing it all.

Landon told me his neighborhood friend was nervous and "a little sad, but don't worry mom, I sat next to him and told him I'd give a shark tattoo tomorrow so he will be happier- can I bring him my shark tattoo? I think that will fix it." I love his heart and his enthusiasm and his genuine love for every person he meets. He never gets anything that he doesn't ask if Claire can have some and he always wants to share anything he loves with everyone he knows. I hope he always keeps that sweet and special part of him. I hope that school is a great experience and that he continues to love learning (I already know he'll love lunch and recess). And I really am just so excited to watch him take this next step into becoming himself, and to get to be part of all the stories and commentary when he comes back home. I adored toddlerhood, but this big kid era we're entering looks to be it's own kind of awesome, especially when my big kid still needs to be tucked in with a hug and kiss when he goes to bed.

Bring on the Kindergarten!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Up and Back and Down

I flew to Washington, D.C. Tuesday morning and flew back Tuesday afternoon. It was a lot of traveling for a 6.5 months pregnant lady (or anyone, really), but it did spare me the necessity of packing (so weird to leave for the airport at 5:30 a.m. with nothing but my purse and a binder) and a night spent tossing and turning in a hotel room. I was home at 8:30 p.m., just in time to say hello to the not-yet-asleep kiddos and spent some time with JP before falling very deeply asleep in my own bed. I love overnight trips to DC. They give give me a chance to see close law school friends and hopefully one day to schedule a meet up with blog readers, but I only needed to be there for a 2 hour meeting (a very important meeting in my most important case), so this particular travel plan made sense, but it made for a long and rather strange day.

Yesterday I left work a little early so I could pick up the kids and go buy food (I have no idea how we ran out of food on Wednesday, but it probably has something to do with the fact that I wasn't part of the grocery shopping on Sunday). I was backing out of our very long driveway when there was a sudden CRUNCH and the car made impact with something big enough to stop it in its tracks. Turns out, our gate had stopped halfway to opening (I must have hit the button a second time and didn't know it) and since I usually back out of our very narrow driveway by looking out my side mirror (if I'm close to the side of the house without actually hitting it, I know I'm in the perfect position) I smashed right into it without ever knowing it was half-closed. The gate came away with only a slight dent (though it now won't close, which means our whole backyard is open and Tex can't roam free) and my car came away with a fist-sized crater in the trunk and deep scratch in the bumper. The kids were in the car- they found the whole thing hilarious, so I had to restrict my curses to muttering mother f-ing mother f-er and still continue on to Trader Joe's because the car was driveable and our newly impending car and gate repair bills didn't change the fact that I had nothing to make for dinner.

So that was awesome. The one good thing is that the swim school is doing well enough that the knowledge of the upcoming dual repair bills didn't send me into a hyperventilating panic spiral. Sure, there's a million things I'd rather do with the $250 car insurance deductible, including things like "save it" and "buy a rug for the baby's room," but a few short months ago I would have simply started sobbing. Now I just feel like an idiot.

On a swim school related and actually awesome note, JP came home last night with the hilarious news that he overheard his lifeguards talking about all the moms who watch him work out during breaks in his lessons. Apparently there's one woman who's been reading (or "reading") the same book all summer and sets up her chair near the diving well where he does laps and some dry land (push-ups, pull-ups, etc.) during his lunch break. The best part was he relayed the story with a voice of disbelief and a face that was rapidly turning pink. A very big part of him will always be the too-tall and awkward high school boy with big ears (according to him) and braces, who'd never talked to a girl until I met him his junior year of college, and who still finds it genuinely hard to believe anyone would be looking at him, much less that he might have what appears to be an entire fan club. I of course wasn't surprised at all and just told him I was lucky to have snagged him when I did. Because I was- he really does get handsomer (more handsome?) every day, and I get a giggle every time I think about his lifeguards making a game of spotting his fans (and JP's utter obliviousness to it).

I started typing this while sitting outside with the kids, melting in the humidity and getting bit by mosquitoes in the name of letting them swim and getting us out of the house, but now we're back inside because the mosquitoes were multiplying and Landon wasn't listening and Claire was whining and the magic was over just as it was getting started. Now I have them coloring and I'm trying to decide if I really want to make something with the pizza dough that's rising on the counter or do I want to order Thai food. Because I have to say, I really want to order Thai food, but I did sacrifice the entire rear of my car in order to go to Trader Joe's to buy the pizza dough yesterday and the paint and dollars shed in that incident make me feel like I not only need to use the dough but I also shouldn't spent additional dollars on Thai food. But, then again, I'm pregnant and it's hot and it's been a long week and Landon just managed to close the door on Claire's lip and make it bleed (I was even watching and I have absolutely no idea how she got her lip, and only her lip, caught in the door as it closed) and I haven't copped out to take out in weeks and weeks. And I'm pregnant. It's an internal struggle for the ages, but I'd say the odds we end up eating pad thai tonight and pizza that JP makes tomorrow are pretty high. Monday was great and Thursday isn't even over and I still find myself wanting to type, "It's been a long week."

Monday, August 19, 2013


This little girl had her first day of school today.


She's in the Transition class now, which is the year between Toddler and Primary at her Montessori school. She LOVES school and was so very excited to wear her new kitty shirt and carry her new kitty lunchbox, and she even let me brush and do her hair for the occasion.


I rejoice in every single day that she gets bigger and funnier and faster and smarter, but I do also love that she's still my baby who wants ten kisses before I leave for work and insists on including her naptime blankie in her first day of school pictures. The "Transition" name of her class this year seems very appropriate.


I also love that the first thing Landon said when I walked in the door with her this evening was, "Claire! How did you like your new Transition class?!" He really wanted to know. And as she put away her shoes and put her lunchbox in its spot on the counter, she cheerfully responded with, "Oh it was so good Yandon!" And then they colored and talked while I made dinner.

This is the two of them before Claire's first day of daycare in Austin.

And now they can sit at our dining room table and talk about their days like real people.

I suppose it's a little bit sad to watch them keep hitting new milestones (Landon starts Kindergarten next week), but mostly it is so incredibly fun to watch them grow into themselves. Claire was a smiley little Biscuit when we dropped her off at school in the Fall of 2010 and now she's tall and lean and talks as fast as she runs. I do love watching the places she'll go. 


Sunday, August 18, 2013

9 Quick Things

1. So endeth another wedding weekend, this one in Austin, and, for the first time in many years, one that JP and I got to attend together! My parents drove in Friday evening to two excited kids and a yummy dinner I had ready. I got to hang out with them Saturday morning (3 mile walk followed by lots of swimming) while JP coached and then we threw a few things in a duffel bag and headed south on I-35 to Austin. It was weird to be alone in the car, and weird again when we checked into the hotel room together- the car was weird because we ALWAYS have the kids along for the ride (there is almost nothing that makes JP happier than piling the kids in the car and driving somewhere- his dream is to one day fill up the car with children and snacks and drive non-stop to the Grand Canyon), and the hotel was weird because I ALWAYS check into hotels alone. I've traveled so much more for work than for anything involving fun or family that I started to correct the clerk when she tried to hand me two keys. We quickly got ready and headed to the historic mansion where the wedding and reception were taking place. I was so excited to see the bride- Meg has been one of my best friends since 2nd grade. We played house, rode our bikes for miles around Kingwood, spent at least 200 hours playing in our local pool, and giggled and chatted and snacked our way through endless slumber parties. The wedding was like being back in high school, except everyone could handle their liquor and no one thought it was scandalous that I was pregnant (particularly with my 3rd child). It was a lovely happy evening and I was very excited to finally bring my date to a wedding, even if my belly got in the way of any slow dancing.

2. And speaking of weddings, it's funny to attend them now and see them nearly as much from the parent's perspective as the bride's. When the groom was dancing with his mother for the official mother-son dance, I found myself thinking about the fact that I'll do that with Landon one day. But before I could share that thought with JP, he turned to me, clearly fresh from his own musings during the father-bride dance, and declared quite fiercely, "I'm going to need at LEAST two dances with Claire." And he took a large drink of his bourbon and glared into space at Claire's future husband. Poor guy, he is going to have a very hard time when his little Bear starts dating.

3. And speaking of Claire- we've discovered a new thing she's afraid of (her list so far consists of thunder/storms, bugs, and fireworks)- car washes! I ran through one the other day because my car was so covered in sap my windows could barely go up and down and my fierce little girl started sobbing the second we pulled in. I undid her car seat straps and told her she could crawl into the front seat for the rest of the wash. I meant for her to sit by me in the passenger seat, but next thing I knew, she was curled into a tight ball in my lap staring suspiciously and fearfully at the big wiper things that were attacking her car.


We all made it through unscathed, but now she asks every day if we're going to go through a car wash, just like she asks every night if there's going to be a storm, if there's going to be fireworks, and if there are any bugs in her room. I should note that there has NEVER been a bug in her room, but the other day JP thought he heard a cricket and even though it turned out to be a sound coming from outside, Claire is CONVINCED evil crickets are lurking under her bed and we've had several deep discussions about what she should do if she sees one. She even went as far as to temporarily solve the cricket invasion problem by sleeping on the bathroom floor last Thursday night after Landon kicked her out of his bed after she kicked him in the face while she was sleeping (yeah, I don't know). I don't think Claire has ever even seen a cricket and I've tried google images of tiny innocuous looking ones to show her there's nothing to be afraid of, but she still asks every night if there's one in her bed.

4. The kids remain best friends and I keep snapping random iPhone pictures trying to capture the magic that is the two kids playing together. They never do the situation justice, but I did love these "houses" that sprung up in our living room the other night while I was making dinner. Landon is home next week while the camps are closed and he is going to be lost without her.


They also continue to love the baby gear. I've put it all away in closets and the garage to ensure it all makes it until baby girl 2's arrival.


5. I love this photo from Wednesday night before bed. Tex looks jealous.


6. I took Claire to TJ Maxx with me on Friday in a futile effort to find curtains for the new nursery/guest room and she became transfixed with a display of Buddhas. I tried to get her to continue walking, but she pointed a finger at one of the Buddhas and declared in a voice that sounded equally concerned and accusing, "Mommy. That fat baby is SAD." And then she marched off to join me, leaving at least two laughing shoppers behind her.

7. Breaking Bad is SO FREAKING GOOD right now. It's the only show on TV that I look forward to all week and I will be so excited and so devastated at the airing of the finale.

8. I thought it was the sleeping alone that made nights in hotels so generally awful for me, but I found out last night that it's just hotels themselves. Even with a sleeping pill, 27 weeks of pregnancy, and JP's comforting, comatose presence beside me, I think I only managed about 4 hours of sleep all patched together. So I need to go to bed now.

9. But first (and last), this week's menu:
Sun: Giant salads with lots of veggies, some hard boiled egg, and balsamic dressing; fresh bread; cheese; leftover pea soup, cookie cake (I texted JP while he was at the store to ask for chocolate chips so I could make cookies, but deleted that text halfway through and asked for a cookie cake from the bakery instead. For the baby.)
Mon: King ranch chicken casserole, corn, fruit
Tues: I'm in DC, so JP's very favorite meal to make for himself and the kids- pasta with tomato cream sauce, maybe veggies if he remembers to cook them
Wed: Greek chicken pitas, oven fries, fruit
Thurs: Quiche, fruit
Fri: Homemade pizza

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Weddings and Fairy Tales

I went to DC this past weekend for one of my best law school friend's weddings. It was a lovely reunion of my closest friends (from LA, Chicago, DC, and Hong Kong) and an even lovelier celebration of the new bride and her husband. The travel was long (9 hours both ways to use miles and make the whole trip as cheap as possible), but the weather cooperated and the food was delicious and I love any excuse to walk around a city and use well-organized public transportation.

bigger belly, better view

And this weekend I head to Austin to attend the wedding of my best childhood friend. JP gets to go with me this time- our first night away from the kids in years, so for the first time in a very long time, I get to go to a wedding with a date! It's so funny that two of my favorite people in the world ended up getting married one week and 1500 miles apart. I wish it wasn't when I was 6 months pregnant (I do love champagne), but I'm mostly just thankful they didn't end up on the same day.

The last time I was in DC for work I had dinner with my friend E (this past Saturday's bride) and she very seriously asked if I had any advice on marriage. I was honored to be asked, but found it hard to answer. Every person, every relationship, is so unique and private- it's hard to go beyond the generic "communicate," "listen," "forgive," that you're going to read in any article on relationships. I did have a story I happened to be thinking of, particularly in light of her hopes to start a family in the very near future, the moral of which is that "sometimes the best thing you can do for your marriage is to go to bed angry." I know it's contrary to the sweetly morbid idea of never going to bed angry because you don't know if you'll wake up, but the chances of not waking up are quite slim and the chances of you or your husband hurting each other's feelings for reasons that are increasingly unrelated to the original anger-inducing situation simply because you're both tired and need to go to bed are far greater. In my experience, particularly when Landon was a baby and nobody slept, even if you are so angry you can't cuddle or kiss each other goodnight, and you lay on your side of the bed in a militantly tense line to ensure that you don't accidentally brush shoulders with the love of your life, you are still doing more for your marriage simply by trying to go to sleep than if you stay up trying to work it out. In the morning, if whatever set you off still matters, you will now have the energy and perspective to deal with it, and if it doesn't, you are now in a better place to make up and deal with that too. Either way, an extra hour or two of sleep instead of yelling can only make things better. I remember a string of about 5 days in 2007 when JP and I couldn't even talk to each other. We were working and studying so much and Landon was sleeping so little and were so fucking tired we could barely function- everything we had was gone by the time we were alone with each other at 9 p.m. Any attempts at speaking ended in a near-fight about something, so we simply stopped interacting much at all. For days. And I remember when the weekend finally rolled around and we both went to bed during Landon's morning nap and we found each other under the covers mid-rest and cuddled and slept more and woke up and talked and just let the humanity come back. It's not a typical romantic story, but I still remember that morning- bringing Landon in bed with us when he woke up and talking with a smiley baby between us and it makes me happy. It had been such an awful week- so tense for no reason other than the fact that we had nothing left to give the other, and the only reason we didn't end every day in yelling is because we trusted our marriage to be bigger than a few really shitty days. No dissecting or analyzing or questioning our relationship, just making food and going to bed and trusting in our foundation. And in doing that, we really only made the foundation stronger.

I don't know if that will be remotely helpful to my friend- going to bed angry isn't your typical marriage advice, but it's what I happened to think of at the time. And maybe she won't even need it- it's been years since JP and I have had to go to bed mad- Claire never made us very tired as a baby, and when rested, we very rarely fight. But the general concept, trusting in your marriage to be bigger than a particular day or week is something I think of often. Our conversation also made me think of an old Q&A I got from a reader several months ago and never felt I could answer. She wrote, "I'm newly married, and I'm surprised that it's not as 'fairy tale' as I thought it would be. Have you ever felt a little bored in your marriage? If so, how do you and J.P. keep the fire alive?"

The short A to the Q came easy- no, I've never been bored in my marriage. We have quite a lot of fire, and while we've gone through some difficult things- law school, Landon's first ten months, a DCFS investigation, unemployment (twice), entrepreneurship, a business break-up, a family break-up, surgeries and more, it's life that's been hard, marriage has always been the easy. It's what makes all the life stuff more bearable. Not that we don't have our moments of marital strife, but they're moments. Our few fights or rough patches are generally attributable to something that life has shat out at us combined with the fact that only with each other are we secure enough to completely let down our guard and just be our worst selves. I'm both softer and harder around him- softer because I don't have to be strong, and harder because I trust him to think I'm wonderful even when I'm showing my selfish, tired, complainy side that no one else gets to see (lucky, lucky him). And the security that allows for the occasional worst comes with the love that brings us back to the best- the apology, understanding, and, most importantly, the moving on from whatever life pulled out of us. Neither of us is particularly forgiving by nature, but for each other we manage, and again, it's the love that makes it, if not always easy, then at least possible.

But the "fairy tale" part of the question kept me thinking for a while. I didn't want to be flip, so I pondered, and I pondered through some rough months of JP's unemployment, but all I kept coming back to is that it is a fairy tale. At least it is to me. It is a fairy tale that two very independent, very strong willed people can love the other person so much more than themselves that both the independence and the strong wills take backseats to compromise, love, and affection. Maybe I just have lower expectations, but for me, the everyday living- the waking up together, going through our morning with the kids separate but in step, smiling when the phone rings and it's him on the screen, being able to say "I miss you" if we get a minute to chat in the middle of the day and meaning it, laughing over the kids' heads at dinner, tucking them in and settling in on the couch for work or reading or tv, and going to bed with the indulgence of cuddles and affection. Reaching my hand out in the night just to feel him beside me. It's a fairy tale.

There are rough times in the fairy tale, even Disney allows that, but there's laughter and affection to balance it, and the hard only makes our relationship stronger. And because of the crappy times, I get to know without a doubt that our marriage is bigger than a few bad weeks. It's bigger than us and at times, we've had to get by on our faith in that alone. That, and the deep-seated knowledge that he loves me like no one else. When I get too focused on something trivial, like his inability to properly hang a bathroom towel or efficiently load a dishwasher, it helps me to pan out and remember the sheer luck of it all. That he's my favorite and he's sexy as hell and he loves me so much. There's nothing he wouldn't do for me if I asked, and most of the time I don't even have to, but he's still so much his own strong-minded person that I get to feel a thrill of victory any time I convince him I'm right about something. So I suppose that would be my other bit of advice- zoom out of whatever little thing you're gearing up to argue about and decide if it's worth it. Sometimes it is, I'm a proponent of a bit of selfishness in a marriage- after all, you're going to live with this person forever and they should know if they're doing something that bugs you, but much of the time I find it's just that I'm annoyed in general and JP is a convenient target. So zoom out, go to bed mad, be kind, fight fair, forgive, touch a lot, and say I love you more. That's most of what I've learned so far. And when things are hard, I just try to remember how incredibly lucky I am. Because for someone who is as independent and stubborn and occasionally argumentative as I am, with my high expectations of others and borderline unrealistic demands of myself, it is nothing short of a fairy tale that I could find such happiness and love and simple ease with another human being as I've found with JP. Or maybe it's a miracle, but fairy tale sounds better.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


I took this kids to the library on the way home from work/school/camp yesterday. Tuesdays are the only day it's open late enough for us to visit and I needed new books while I wait for my highly anticipated Endless Knight (#2 in new Kresley Cole trilogy) and Allegiant (#3 in Divergent trilogy) to come out in October. I'm also trying to read my books in the old-fashioned non-back-lit form because they force me to actually go to sleep when JP turns out the light instead of my usual rolling over in his cuddle, flipping my iPhone kindle app screen to the less abrasive black background with white text, and continuing to read until 2 a.m. while my eyes dry out and turn red. The paperback book solution came to me the other night when I was re-reading an old book I'd plucked off my shelves (the first in the J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts In Death series), and when I inevitably got too into it to put it down, despite having read it half a dozen times and knowing the ending, I waited for JP to turn off the light, snuggled in, and reached for the book, only to be genuinely surprised when I couldn't see it 8 inches in front of my face. It turns out, real books don't glow in the dark. Resigned, I set it down, missing the nightstand in the pitch blackness that surrounded me, and instantly fell asleep instead, something I'm sure my body, mind, and poor tired eyes were all thankful for.

So I'm trying to read more non glowing books. I checked out 8 yesterday and just finished the first tonight. I enjoyed a lovely evening yesterday, stretched out reading on the couch with JP working at his desk nearby. We never turned on the TV, I never opened my laptop, and my phone remained in my purse all night (where I found it, battery dead in the morning). It was quite nice. I'm saving the other books for my upcoming travels (two trips to DC in the next two weeks), though it'll be weird to have to go back to hiding the covers of my ridiculously titled romance novels. Oh Kindle, I do love your anonymity.

We had a nice simple weekend. While JP coached the kids and I went to Michael's and picked out two bird houses and some paints to add a custom decorative feature to the baby's room. The kids were SO proud and excited to paint them and put them on display on her shelves.


We did a lot of swimming- Claire has become quite the fish, jumping into the water and swimming to the wall by herself, and Landon is completely at home in the water. Both kids took two hour naps both days, and on Sunday JP and I got to take one too (I imagine Tex was sleeping as well- I love Sundays). Also on Sunday, we visited "daddy's pool" to use the diving board before the pool opened up to members. It's nice to get some side benefits from sleeping with the pool director.

JP immediately dared Landon to go off the condemned high-dive, which I was not that excited about. He'd just gone off a regular board for the first time, and the high dive didn't even have a board- it had been removed years ago when it rendered the pool uninsurable, so he had to jump over CONCRETE to make it to the 12' deep water not directly below him. But he did it, and then he did it about 8 more times.


JP, of course, had to take it up a notch or three.


Claire jumped off the regular board, something I didn't get on camera because she insisted that I be the one in the water to catch her. Treading water for 45 minutes while catching and pushing my child toward the wall was a lot more tiring than I expected. I also swam exactly one lap in the Olympic sized pool before declaring it a day and sleeping for 2 hours with everyone else when we got home.

The kids keep saying things I want to write down, but I forget (or I lose an evening to a good book), so forgive the inelegant dump of several quotes and moments below.

In the car to get a frozen yogurt treat on Saturday night:
Landon: Mommy, I kind of wanted the baby to be a boy.
Me: Yeah, a boy would be fun, but now you'll have two sisters to play with and help and protect!
-- pause, with significant look at Claire --
Landon: Oh man, that's gonna be hard.

~ ~ ~

Claire, at least 100 times a day, said with varying levels of exuberance and wistfulness, but always with sweetness and absolute sincerity: Mommy, I just love you so much.

~ ~ ~

At dinner tonight when I passed my drink to JP:
Claire: Why did you give that to daddy?
Me: Because we like to share things.
Landon, with a sigh and maybe a small eye roll: Because you're in love.

~ ~ ~

Every day at camp pick-up, Landon has a present for Claire. A little drawing he made, a treasure created by a friend or camp counsel (yesterday, a duct-tape bow), and every day Claire asks him about his day. Yesterday's convo on the walk across the 110 degree parking lot is hard to capture because you have to hear the adult-sounding phrases combined with Claire's 3-year-old voice and the image of them holding hands while they walk because Claire requested it, went like this:

Claire: Yandon, did you have fun on your field trip?!
Landon: Yep.
Claire: Oh good, what did do?
Landon: We went on a ride and saw PLANETS! (he was at a planetarium)
Claire: Oh that sounds so nice Yandon!

~ ~ ~

And finally, Claire, 110 times a day, with some variation of: "Mommy, when is our baby going to come out?"

~ ~ ~

96 days.


Not that I'm counting.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Month 6, Week 25

I am in the middle of my 25th week of pregnancy. I feel like I'm settling in to write some sort of survivor's journal of captivity, but my rational brain knows I can't complain too much. I feel good, other than being tired (I blame the heat) and shorter of temper (sorry loved ones), and my body seems to generally be handling this pregnancy better than the other two. I'm still receiving the weekly progesterone shots and, like last time, those are going fine and have been side-effect free.

Baby girl II/Baby bean III has made big strides this week. My iPhone app tells me she is over a foot long and weighs more than a pound, so I imagine she looks a lot like Claire's one super skinny baby doll that is always peeing on herself. Baby girl also has a name (yay! still working on the middle one), and a birth date (Nov. 12th is the scheduled c-section, assuming she waits until 39 weeks like her well-behaving sister did, and then she'll have an awesome 11/12/13 birth date and perfect timing for Gigi to come and watch her two older siblings). So, progress on all fronts!

Sailor Monday; I'm not sure horizontal stripes are a pregnant woman's friend;
also, from the side, it is even weirder that the pattern doesn't go all the way around

For some strange reason I decided to document this week in maternity wear. I missed the day I wore my favorite dress and another day I wore a different dress that is not my favorite, but Monday, Thursday, and Friday are captured below.

Fancier Thursday; I had a meeting with official people from outside the SEC

According to my check-up last Friday I've gained 12 lbs. At this point in my pregnancies with Landon and Claire I'd gained 20-25. I can't explain the difference, other than to note that I've simply been less hungry this time. Less hungry for cookies, less hungry for hamburgers, just less hungry. We also stopped eating out when JP lost his job and have managed to refrain from picking back up the habit- no longer does the thought of making dinner on Friday night wound my soul, it's just what we do, so that probably helps. I've also done a bit of exercise- nothing crazy, but for whatever (genuinely surprising) reason, I've felt the urge to bust out the prenatal exercise DVDs multiple days a week, and I'm all about giving in to urges while pregnant. The last few weeks I've been too tired and hot (it's 110 today) to contemplate exercise, so I haven't. I'm a fan of the "what will be will be" approach to pregnancy weight gain, but that doesn't mean I'm displeased to find that this time, what will be is perhaps, finally a total within the recommended 25-35 lbs. (I gained 50 with Landon, 45 with Claire; I don't know, I just gain a lot of weight while pregnant, it all seems to go away later.)

Overly Casual Friday; it was effing hot outside

I went to Victoria's Secret today to buy boring panties with my coupons (such a good deal- 6 pairs, usually $10-12/each for $17 total!). Nothing is sadder than roaming around Vickie's Secret 6 months pregnant. When I'm back to fighting form, sometime in 2014, I'm spending some real $$ on some much prettier, far less practical things than what ended up in my shopping bag today.

In other sartorial news, one of JP's clients gave him a sampling of sunglasses she markets and sells. I found them a bit... sparkly for my taste, but the kids loved them and had an impromptu fashion show last night after dinner.


Landon was the creative lead, but Claire provided a lot of enthusiasm. These are the only two pictures where one of them isn't moving and blurry.


Baby III has an extra gaudy pair waiting for her in the wings. She also has the final piece of her nursery in the works- a custom bird pillow from a craftswoman I found on etsy. Finding this wonderful bird pillow creator was the highlight of my Tuesday and picking the size ("small" v. "large") was the torment of my Thursday and it is now underway with a ship date in a few short weeks! I also found some very inexpensive birds at Michael's and I'm going to have the kids paint them this weekend as a gift to put in baby sister's room. And with that, I do believe her nursery will be complete!

Now all she has to do is bake for 14 more weeks while I try to be patient (already, not my strongest suit, I want to meet her!) and not complain too much about what has, so far, been a blessedly uneventful pregnancy.