Monday, January 27, 2014

The Big Kids

I've noticed that when I say "the kids" I mean "Landon and Claire" and not Cora. And the other day when I heard a woman in barre class say she had 3 kids, my first thought was, "wow, that's a lot!" before I remembered that wait, I also have 3 kids. In my mind, it's just 2 kids and a baby and that doesn't seem like so much. The big kids are easy and the tiny one is only awake for 25% of the day- right now, life is pretty easy and we have a good rhythm going. So of course we're going to screw it up and drive to Colorado next week for our much anticipated ski vacation and then I'll go back to work the day after we return.

But we'll ignore that for now and check in with the big kids.

Landon is 6.5 and very much his own self- Claire is still an extension of us to some extent, but Landon is his own man. He loves to be outside (in the blurry picture below we were exploring a secret hiking trail off the side of one of our favorite parks), loves to run, ride his bike, play basketball, and run some more, LOVES to write, loves to read, and continues to love other kids in a social ringleader butterfly way that baffles and amuses JP and me. If we're at a playground, Landon will start a game (usually a convoluted form of tag) and before you know it, everyone is playing. He explains the rules to kids as they join and we often hear him tacking on, "and this is my sister Claire. She doesn't usually follow the rules, but that's okay, we just keep playing."

Below is an example of one of his writings. When he's not outside, holding Cora, or creating marble runs, he's sitting in the playroom writing stories. He won't show them to us until they're finished and then he just drops them unceremoniously on the kitchen counter before going back to write more. We try to go back over them with him and write corrected spellings under some of the words, but you can always figure out what he's trying to say and we love getting a little glimpse into his creative 6-year-old mind.

He's quite prolific. These are the stories he wrote last Wednesday evening after I picked him up from after-school care and before we ate dinner. All of his stories involve animals and most have their birthday at some point in the narrative.

He remains one of baby Cora's biggest fans and is always looking to help. He also requested additional boy babies as soon as possible, which is not happening, though he would be an excellent eldest child of a large gaggle of siblings. On Saturday, I was passing through the living room and looked down at Cora in her monkey bouncer (it's growing on her) and wondered, what's that thing sticking out of Cora's head? I paused to investigate and saw that it was Landon's beloved seal lovey and fuzzy blanket. "See! She's so happy!" he exclaimed when I looked around for an explanation.

I think she mostly looked confused at why there was a seal growing out of her head, but it was very thoughtful.

Six has been an interesting age for us. On the one hand, he's still very much his sweet, generous self, particularly with Claire and Cora, and the transition to Kindergarten has been no transition at all. But on the other, in the last few months we've seen him get worked up over things that he previously probably wouldn't have even noticed and certainly wouldn't have cared about. And when he gets worked up, it's hard to bring him back down. I admit this is in part because JP and I just don't really know how- ages 1 through 5 were so blissfully easy for us with him. He was the mellowest of toddlers and kids and tantrums were rare and over clear things we could often simply explain to him, and then if that failed, sending him to his room to calm down always worked quickly. We just didn't have to work very hard with him- in our mental list of things to do, his name just always had a check by it, allowing me to focus on the next household item or that good book I'd just downloaded, and now when he gets upset over something that so greatly surprises me and nothing I say or do makes much of an impact I worry that I/we didn't expend enough effort getting to know him up until now. He made it easy, so we took it easy, and now when he flips out because I say he can't have a snack before dinner, even though he's never allowed to have a snack before dinner and he stomps his foot and bars his teeth and yells indecipherable sounds, I kind of just stare at him like I've never seen him before, because I feel like I haven't, and then I'll send him to his room to calm down because I'm in the middle of cooking dinner and he doesn't calm down on his own- I still hear him making random yelling noises and saying "I'm just SO BAD" and I think, where on earth is this coming from? We've never called him bad- he isn't bad, like ever, except kind of right now, but I didn't say that, and what the hell? And later, when he's back to his normal self and we try to talk about it, I feel like I can't reach him. Or I don't know how, because I never had to learn before so I didn't try and I let him and Claire be very much their own little unit while I did my own thing and now he's 6.5 and I worry about that. And then later, when we're reading books together or playing games or on a bike ride, that all seems so ridiculous I wonder how I could have thought it. But sometimes, I do. So like I said, six has been interesting. Mostly so very good, with the super fun reading and writing and general big kidness, but also a bit confusing, for us all perhaps.

~ ~ ~

Clairebear is 3.5 and remains everything I've ever written about her before- funny, smart, FIERCELY affectionate, fierce generally, fast and physical, loving and lovable.

She kicked my butt in memory the other night, but she is the most gracious of losers during our new nightly Uno games ("Oh good job Daddy! You are the winner!" then "Good job Yandon! You are the SECOND winner!" and then "Good job Mommy! You are the NEXT winner! Oh, and I am not the winner this time."). She loves playing board games and card games before bed, loves reading stories together on the couch, loves sharing the stroller with Cora on our long family walks- loves anything and everything the whole family does together. She loves her Yandon and will play with him for hours, but there is nothing Claire loves more than doing something that involves all 5 of us together in a small space. 14 hour car ride to Colorado next week? Pure bliss as far as the Bear is concerned.

She is very into the fact that she's a big sister. She has started calling Landon "brother," something she'd never done before, and anytime she does anything remotely impressive (and it's a low bar) she announces loudly, "I can do ___ because I'M A BIG SISTER NOW!!!". Putting on her shoes? Big sister now. Brushing her hair? Big sister now. Getting dressed in the morning? Big sister. Never mind that she did every one of things before Cora's momentous arrival, she is all about her big sister status.

She has a bit of deviltry in her. She pokes at Landon because she can and she will often maintain eye contact with one of us and do the exact thing we just told her not to do, but she takes her timeouts and other punishments in stride, at least when she knows she deserves it. If you punish her when she thinks she was acting properly she drops to the floor like her heart is broken and will never be fixed. Until 2 minutes later when it is and she wants to know what we're having for dinner. She is so many things, but she is almost always making us laugh, even if we're holding it in because we're trying to be stern.

At 3 Claire's world is still quite simple- she's got all her basic skills well mastered and she can just focus on the delights around her every corner. She announces everything that she sees, experiences, or knows is about to happen in a voice nearly breathless with excitement. This morning, she snuck into our room while JP was trying to get the kids out the door for school, walked over to my side of the bed where I was half hiding under the covers in a cloud of Nyquil and she said in a soft and reverent voice, "Mom, did you know that today is Monday and I am wearing my pink shoes?!!" Like her whole day was made, right there. Then I got six kisses, several questions about why I was still in bed and what we were having for dinner, and then, as she heard JP yelling for her, she shot her eyebrows up and said "Oopsies! Gotta go mom, love you SO MUCH!" and raced out, closing the door again behind her. And I stayed in bed in my haze of cold medicine and thought, I adore age 3.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Barre Videos and Reviews

A few people have asked me which DVDs I use to work out at home and after responding to a few emails, I decided I should just publish a post that I can link to when anyone asks me in the future. Efficiency!

But first, this is the face that Cora makes when you've reentered her line of sight (and thus, her universe) after exiting for a few seconds:

Her lack of understanding of object permanence makes me feel like a rock star.

And speaking of being a glamorous rock star- below are the DVDs I watch while pretending to be a ballerina with my arm on the back of one of my not-at-all-barre-like curved dining room chairs, my yoga mat at an odd angle between the couch, ottoman, and TV, and my hand breaking out of form to wave away the 3-year-old who wants to "come dance with mommy." (No Claire, Mommy is not dancing, and she can't talk to you right now because she's focusing REALLY hard on keeping her leg straight while she lifts it to the side and a measly few inches into the air.)

I started with the Bar Method Change Your Body Workout. My friend Katie actually bought it for me after I complimented her toned figure after she got hooked on barre classes. You can find them on Amazon, but the Bar Method website store sells them for significantly less. After I got hooked, I also bought myself the Accelerated Workout. Both are good and they are pure barre- frequently repeated, small isometric movements that tone your body (especially your lower half) and make your legs shake while you appear to be doing nothing at all. Your heart rate won't get up very high, but you'll sweat a bit anyway (at least I do), and it's a good way to learn the proper form for the basic barre moves. For these workouts, and all the ones I describe below, you need a chair for balance, a yoga mat if you want a bit of grip and cushion, and light hand weights (3 lbs. max).

Once I realized I would actually exercise at home (only because we now have a separate TV room I can close off from everyone else, as opposed to our super open living room in Austin- I can't stand it when JP can see me workout to an exercise DVD, he doesn't say or do anything, but I feel instantly ridiculous if he sees me), I expanded my collection to include Tracey Mallett's The Booty Bar Beginners & Beyond. This is more of a barre-based weights + cardio workout with some unique "Tracey" moves thrown in. Your whole body gets a workout and my heart rate definitely gets up a bit. She has one or two dance moves in the cardio sections that make me feel silly, but they're effective and it's not like anyone can see me thanks to those doors I can close... The instructor Tracey has a ridiculous set of 6-pack abs and is so spunky and blonde she should be annoying, but I find her genuinely delightful. She has a good demeanor for exercise videos and I'm actually thinking of ordering another one of her DVDs since I've done this one 30+ times.

I ordered Suzanne Bowen's Slim & Toned Prenatal Barre Workout when I was pregnant and it was such a hard workout that I still do it now and find it very challenging. It is completely barre based and she talks a lot about form, which is great. Suzanne focuses nearly as much on arms as legs, which gives you a nice set of shaking arms to go with your shaking legs. Her co-instructor is 36 weeks pregnant, in ridiculous shape, and completely void of personality, but other than making me feel bad that I still can't the moves as good as she can in my non-pregnant state, she doesn't detract from the video (Suzanne isn't a sparkling personality herself, but she's very matter of fact, which I appreciate). I don't find this one to be as fun or fast moving as the Tracey Mallett DVD, but it is a good one to have in the mix with its intense pure barre focus.

And finally, I just ordered Xtend Barre: Lean and Chiseled to give me something new to look forward to when I go back to work and can't go to 8:30 a.m. barre class everyday like I do now. It had solid reviews and I just needed one more to throw in my mix.

(When I was pregnant I also did the 10 Minute Solutions Prenatal Pilates DVD almost every night. I loved it- the instructor, the exercises, and the way they were broken into fast 10 minute segments. Sometimes I only did 2, other times I'd do all 5- whatever I had time for and felt like, but the promise of only 10 minutes got me off the couch more often than not (and more often than not, I'd feel so good for having gotten off the couch that I'd do one or two more). I really think it helped this pregnancy feel so much easier for me.)

If you have any exercise DVDs you like doing at home (not the 30-Day Shred, Jillian and her yelling and scary intense workouts that make me want to never ever turn them on just didn't work for me), let me know! I'm trying Nia on Sunday, so I imagine I'll have a story from that and then I'll try to lay off the exercise talk for a while. I do have a purse I'm obsessed with and I bought a beautiful new pair of shoes and a dress on Clearance at Ann Taylor today. They're for my first day back at work outfit and thus, had to be bought. Exciting things are happening all over the place around here. At least Cora thinks so:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Baby Exercise Blog!

What could be more exciting than post after post about my new baby? A post about my new exercise obsession! It's non-stop fun over here in the Lag Liv corner of the interwebiverse.

(Not that you won't still be subject to Cora pictures, because she is still what most of my day is about.
And she is awesome.)

But yes, like the annoying coworker who won't stop talking about his smoothies (do you have one of those? I did/do and I hate smoothies generally and distrust the whole concept of a cleanse diet; the body is meant to chew and digest food, I believe this strongly), but like that guy who talks to me every morning about his smoothie, I can't stop talking about barre class and wanting everyone to try it. I've been going 6 days a week since I got the all clear for exercise a few weeks ago and not only have I lost pretty much all the Cora weight (weight that Cora has gained in her chins and cheeks, which is delicious), my body is actually leaner and slimmer than before and I feel about 10x stronger and more centered and dare I say it, maybe even graceful? The only place I've ever been graceful is in the water and now, at the barre, with my arms raised and feet in relevé, if I look at the mirror and squint a little, I look kind of good. Less so when we start to move again, but in frozen moments, the inner me that always wished she could be a tiny graceful ballerina smiles instead of scoffs, and that makes my pigeon-toed can't-keep-my-feet-turned-out self return to class time and time again. That and the fact that I can actually see and feel a difference in the strength and flexibility (and size) of my body. Basically, it's magic and I'm addicted. (Here's what I wrote when I first started going, and it remains very true.)

In addition to daily barre, I also go to the occasional yoga class (Cora and I head to baby yoga in a few minutes!) and I am entertaining an attempt at Nia. Has anyone ever done a Nia class? The inclusion of the word "dance" in the description terrifies me. I cannot dance, like at all, and the thought of someone seeing me try smashes the confident feelings I get from barre into tiny pieces. But my favorite barre teacher was waxing rhapsodic about Nia after class Monday night and as long as I have my unlimited monthly pass (I bought one when I realized I had exactly a month until I went back to work and I was going to so many classes they were only about $5 a piece that way), I think I might try one. I'll let you know. It almost can't be as disastrous as my first barre class when I blacked out and nearly fell to the floor in a non-graceful faint while holding 1 lb. weights. Then again, I wasn't trying to dance.

One of the more fun aspects of being a Person Who Exercises again after 10 years of not is that I get to buy myself new exercise clothes! They are cute and they are everywhere! I'd always been a totally boring and functional athletic clothes wearer- sports bra, leftover free high school and college swimming shirts, and old soffe cheer leading shorts that no one out of college should really be wearing. But now that I'm a real grown-up exerciser, I have outfits! This is what I wore this morning- my very favorite barre tank with the awesome back that make my shoulders look strong instead of former-swimmer-huge (from Old Navy, for like $6 after the discount code and coupons of the week):

and capri leggings (all the better to see the calves you're killing strengthening):

I even went on lululemon for the first time in my life and fell in love with all the tanks and then promptly closed the window because no, no, I cannot spend $64 on a workout top. And even if I maybe almost talked myself into it anyway, because look how pretty!, they're out of my size.

I miss class when I go more than 24 hours without one- the toning and stretching and yoga at the end have become vital to my feeling of well being when I go to bed. I barely recognize myself, but whoever that is in the mirror has very toned legs. I'm really going to miss it when I go back to work in a few weeks. I'll still be able to go on the weekends, but all the weekday classes are during work hours or too early in the evening to be possible (like 7:15; I can't possibly leave JP with all three kids at 7 right now. I'd kill him if he did that to me on a regular basis). So it'll be back to the DVDs at home, but I do think I'll go back to them. I feel too good to stop completely.

And now we're off to Mommy and Me yoga, which is adorable and is allowing me to wear my new blue yoga tank and leggings. Two workout outfits in one day! If I wasn't so happy I'd be concerned.

But enough about my exercise obsession, here's a picture of my children!

I promise that sometime soon I'll think of something else to write about.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Chins Up!

Hi, I'm Cora. I'm 2 months old and wearing a nicely fitted 6 month old pink bunny outfit.

This is how I feel about it:

(Ridiculous. I feel ridiculous. Ridiculous and adorable.)

Okay, gotta go.

(Yeah, I totally rolled over yesterday. What the WHAT?!)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

2 Months!

Cora is 2 months and 4 days old and she is the sweetest.

Seriously, she is so calm and happy and content. She's figured out smiling, but sometimes forgets, which means she gets SUPER excited each time she re-remembers.

Sunday morning in mama's bed

She is very tolerant of her big siblings, particularly her big sister who needs to touch, hold, and love on Cora pretty much all the time.

Mommy I just love my baby sister SO much. -Claire, constantly

She loves baths and showers and either takes a shower with JP and her big siblings or a bath with me after the big sibs are in bed. And sometimes both.

First swim lesson/back float

We started taking her in our shower because she was a little stuffy and we thought the steam might help. The first night we were super careful to keep her warm but out of the spray. Then the next night I was holding her and accidentally walked right under the spray, and in usual Cora fashion, she had no comment on that little surprise, and now she gets just as wet as her big brother and sister while they play under the dual heads of our giant shower. It thrills the kids and seems to help her snortiness too (and 4/5 of my family gets clean at once, it's like a car wash).

Chillin', talking about boys, whatever

She still hates most baby gear. She will lay happily on the ground wherever you put her for many minutes, but put her in the baby swing or monkey bouncer or mamaroo and she will unleash cries and screams like she's being tortured. The only thing she tolerates is the playgym and I think that's mostly because she pretends like the toys aren't there and she's really just laying on the doormat as she prefers.

I turned to get my camera and turned back to find two kids in there

She remains suspicious of the car seat, is LOUDLY displeased if we drive anywhere at less than 40 miles per hour, and becomes downright furious if we stop for any reason, including stop signs and red lights. Cora would really prefer we run those. While speeding. Afternoon pick-up of Landon and Claire remains a delight.

Because she hates the car seat and I can't run at 40 mph she also hates the stroller frame for the car seat that I so adored using for my other two children. She does however tolerate and maybe even enjoy being able to sit upright in the borrowed Bob. Claire likes it too.

But car seat issues aside, she's easy as can be. She falls asleep within 2 minutes anytime we lay her in her crib. She can be wide awake and you just lay her down, give her a few pats, and close the door. Two protest sounds later and she's out. It's fabulous. I try not to hold her during naps too much anymore as part of our pre-gaming for good sleep habits, but sometimes we cheat and do it anyway. I can rock and stare at her chubby cheeks for a really long time.

At night she sleeps about 9 hours. Unfortunately these 9 hours start at 7:30, so she's still up at 4:30, but we pushed that back to 5:30 today and I have hopes for 6 or 6:30 soon. When you pick her up she always smiles at you while you change her diaper. She'd like to eat as soon as you can make her bottle please, but she's mostly just delighted to see you again. JP and I still switch off for the nighttime/early morning feedings, so one person gets a full night's sleep every other night. Unfortunately, this largesse by Cora has not caused JP to budge one millimeter on the no more babies thing.


We had some concerns about her crying and arching after eating, so she's on Zantac for reflux now. Hopefully that will help because right now, eating is the only time she really cries (besides on car rides, but she's been clear on her feelings regarding the car from the beginning) and it is the saddest sound. As I told the pediatrician at her 2 month check up, she clearly wants to be the easiest of babies, but she has to eat and then she has to cry and cry and then it makes her tired so she doesn't finish eating and it's just messes everything up.

memorializing the sad face

She's a big girl- I just had to call Honest Company to mail back 5 packs of adorable diapers that are suddenly way too small. She's in the 90th percentile for height (23.5") and 85th for weight (13 lbs!). Her head remains half the size of baby Claire's.

Skeptical of the iPhone

She has slid right into our family routine with barely a bump. I took all three kids to the dentist yesterday, a trip that ended up being 3 hours long because they lost our appointment and we had to wait an hour for Landon to be seen and then another 45 minutes for Claire. But it was fine. The big kids LOVE the dentist (it's the same one I go to, but she's great with kids, and there's little TVs in front of the chair and getting to watch cartoons during the day is basically the equivalent of going to Disney World for L&C) and I just sat in the waiting room the whole time holding Cora and reading my kindle. A little while after Landon returned from his check-up and Claire walked back with the hygienist, he went back to check on Claire and I could hear her indignant voice ring out, "No Yandon, this is MY dentist appointment!" Made me laugh. Cora was exhausted by the end and really wanted to be asleep, but she was a trooper and allowed herself to be bounced in my lap until my newly-barre-class-toned legs went completely numb. Then she fell asleep when we got home, meaning she was out while I made dinner, making what is normally the trickiest part of my day as easy as can be (amazing how another kid totally changes your perspective- two kids arguing with each other while I made dinner used to seem stressful and difficult; now, as long as they're arguing while Cora is asleep, it's no problem! I can devote all my attention to kicking them outside and/or telling them to quit it.)

Anyway, the point was supposed to be that throwing Cora in the mix hasn't changed much except what our daycare bill is going to be in February. And we're WAY into hand-washing this flu season. But other than that, she's just a fun squishy bonus who smiles at you anytime you make eye contact (and then smiles because she was able to smile and you can't help but smile even bigger at that). We'll see how things change when I'm no longer on maternity leave and JP is 100x busier during Spring/Summer swim season, I imagine there will be a few more of this kind of night (update: my burn scar just finally healed up and went away this week), but most of the time being a party of five is pretty darn awesome.

2 months CoraCora, and it's just going to get more fun from here!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cora Linnae

Planning the birth announcement is probably my second favorite part of being pregnant, after picking out decor for the nursery, so I was super excited to get to help design another one for baby #3. As I did with Claire, I worked with my friend Ally months before Cora was due- I think I sent my first email with announcement design ideas in July, and she was very tolerant of my numerous follow-up emails with tweaks and ideas. With a November due date, I wanted a combo birth announcement/ Christmas card that both announced and featured our new baby, but didn't ignore the fact that new baby was joining a family with two already existing children. Ally did a fabulous job and I'm so happy with how it came together.


inside left and right


I do just adore personalized stationery. I'm helping my sister design her wedding invitations and every font and color choice gives me a thrill.

But back to Cora. She turned 2 months old today! I'll write more about that after her check-up on Tuesday, but suffice it to say she is the sweetest and very tolerant of how much her big siblings adore her.

Claire: Mommy, I just LOVE my baby Cora.
Cora: Help me.

JP and I were just discussing tonight how much we like Cora's name and how weird it is that we picked it, this name she'll have for her whole life, at random out of a book one night. A book I bought after JP and I were at a complete loss for girl's names we liked that weren't "Claire." I love Claire's name- it was the only name we ever had on the list for a girl. I've loved it since I first read Outlander (which is being turned into a TV series!) in high school and I love it still. I think part of the reason I was so certain Cora was a boy when we went in for our anatomy ultrasound was because I had a boy's name all picked out, with multiple back-ups, and nada on the girl's name front.

So, at 20 weeks, we got down to work. Me, by reading lists and lists of girl's names off the internet, and JP, by saying "no" to all of them. Our first two favorites, Isla and Carys, were ultimately kicked out for being too hard to pronounce and spell. So I bought a book, thinking that ink on paper would lend an additional bit on inspiration that the internet was failing to provide. I read it cover to cover and circled all the names I didn't dislike, leaving us with: Julia, Heidi, Lila, Audrey, Natalie, Violet, Cora, and Linnea (I still love every one of those names). I read that list to JP and he popped his head up from his laptop at Cora and said, "I like that!". And bam, we were done. Or mostly done, I still quizzed him every week or so to be sure he liked it, but he did, and we did, and soon, when my baby swam around in my belly it became Cora swimming around in my belly and it was done. The middle name was going to be Mary (my grandmother's name) or Linnae (a very popular Swedish name, for the common Linnea flower that grows there; it is also my sister, aunt, and cousin's middle names). JP always liked Linnae, and I liked it better with Cora, so that was done too. As I write this, I realize he pretty much picked all of Cora's name, as he did with Landon's. Claire Annalise was all me, so if we were to have a fourth (which he EMPHATICALLY proclaims we are not), I suppose it will be my turn again.

So Cora Linnae she is. I think it's a beautiful, simple, classic name (that is easily spelled and pronounced, with no shortened versions or available nicknames!) that suits her as much now as an adorably chubby baby as I think it will for the rest of childhood, teenagedom, and adulthood. She was laying on my knees yesterday and every time I said, "CORA!" she did this:

So I think she likes it too. Or she just likes when I exclaim loudly at her. Either way, she's our happy baby Cora and I can't think of her any other way.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Yogi Cora and Other Happenings on Leave

I have worked out every day since the day after my 6-week all clear checkup. Every day. Though I went years without exercising much at all, now if I go more than 12 hours without a class or workout DVD, I feel itchy and unproductive. It's all or nothing over here. Luckily, for the next 4 weeks, I have time to do all the working out I can stand (literally). Landon's in school, Claire's in school, Cora takes naps in 3 hour stretches, and JP is home in the mornings. I started it all for the aesthetics- fitting into my normal clothes and feeling like I'm inhabiting my own body again, but now, I'm actually enjoying it! A lot even! Not that I make any promises on it continuing once I go back to work in mid-February.

My favorite workout remains Barre class. I LOVE them. They are so hard and intense, but they somehow don't feel overwhelming at the start. I go to one almost every day. And on Monday morning at 8:30, in a class of four people + the instructor, who is beside me at the barre? None other than my personal political hero Texas State Senator Wendy Davis! I kept staring at her, which wasn't obvious at all given the tiny class size, trying to decide if it was really her or not and finally the instructor said something like, "Nice arms Wendy." and I knew. And then I turned my focus back on myself because my standing leg was shaking so hard I thought I might fall over. I talked to her after class, bonding over the shakiness of our legs (though as far as I could see, and given my fangirling, I would have, she didn't shake at all- she is very tiny and VERY strong) and our mutual love for one of my SEC coworkers who Wendy used to work with at a large law firm in Dallas many moons ago. And then as we were walking quickly across the parking lot (it was 20 degrees out) I blurted out "I think you're amazing and we're rooting for you for Governor!". I might have admitted to staring at her for half of class, I don't know, it's a blur. I'll handle it better next time.

On Wednesday I did barre again at 8 in the morning. I talked myself into it solely because it was supposed to be the slightly easier instructor, but then I got there and it was the super hard instructor and I was all alone which meant I couldn't cheat at all and oh man, for that much pain, my jeans better freaking fit soon. To complement that "I want to die" feelings in my legs, Cora and I attended "Mommy and Baby" Yoga that afternoon.

Cora thought it was very nice. Mostly because she got multiple baby massages and spend a lot of time on her tummy.


I had fun too. There was another mom there with a 6 month old little boy who was adorable and VERY interested Cora. Cora wasn't nearly as impressed with him. I learned some baby massage and reflexology techniques to use on Cora, though sadly, Cora didn't learn any massage techniques to use on me. I also just generally got to take advantage of not having to be at work at 1:00 on a Wednesday afternoon, which is part of what maternity leave is all about. There's a whole portion of Fort Worth out doing things during work hours and for a brief period of time, I get to join them!

This morning was yoga and then it's barre again tonight after the kids go to bed. Speaking of the kids, they're all doing great, though Claire looked confused when I took her to her Montessori school Monday morning. Despite the fact that we'd been getting ready for school all morning, and she was holding her lunchbox, nap time blankie, and baby, and we were standing in front of the school itself, she turned to me and said, "But I thought I wasn't going to school any more mommy!"

School Goer

Yes, it did seem that way for a while, but sorry kid, school is definitely still a part of our lives. Landon continues to read like crazy and adore Kindergarten (which by all accounts, seems to love him right back). He starts basketball tomorrow which should be interesting... maybe he's gained a bit of competitiveness since our last soccer experience (though likely not :). Cora is growing chubbier and smiles sneaky fast little smiles any time she's awake. She's sleeping in 7 hour chunks at night, adores baths and showers, and is just generally awesome and easy (other than her dislike of the car seat and all other baby gear). JP is good too- new swim school students signing up every day!

Boys playing with Landon's Santa gift

So all is well, even if sore, dessert-less, and stretchy pant clad on my end. This was my view looking down a few minutes ago.

Squishy baby snuggles!

Four more weeks to soak up the snuggles and the midday yoga classes and I plan to enjoy every single one.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Fancy Food and Smiles All Around

Yesterday I went to the world's hardest Barre class- my legs were quivering masses of almost-muscle when I stumbled out, but underneath all the shaking I think I felt really good (maybe, it's possible I didn't feel anything at all), and when I came home I walked in on JP burning a pizza for his lunch. When I berated him for refusing to use timers (because he will NOT), he changed the subject with, "want to go on a date tonight?" I laughed because, yeah right, and then he shocked me by saying: "The babysitter is coming at 7:30 after we've put the big kids to bed, and our reservation is for 8. Dress up."

Zomg you guys, I went from barely standing to jumping up and down squealing to the smell of burnt pizza. A date! A date OUT OF THE HOUSE! I truly loved our in-home New Year's Eve and I wouldn't change a thing about it, but dinner sans children? eating food not prepared in my kitchen, somewhere I get to dress up and talk and laugh with my husband and not clean up the dishes afterward?!! It was 1:00 and 8 seemed light-years away.

I counted down the hours by taking the kids to a new, awesome (and very well hidden) park a neighbor-in-the-know told us about, making them dinner, and spending too long getting ready, and then the sitter finally arrived and we were off- me in one of the dresses my mom bought me for Christmas and JP in non-jeans, an occurrence even more rare and special than a parents-with-3-young-kids date night. I still didn't know where we were going, but JP had actually read restaurant reviews (so many rare things happening at once) that I was happy being surprised.

We ended up at Grace, a restaurant on Main Street that I didn't know existed and it was fabulous. One of the best meals I've ever had, ever, and definitely the best meal I've had in the last few years. The food was inventive and delicious, the cocktails maybe even more so (bosc pear martini FTW), the service impeccable, and the bathrooms super fancy. I took a picture of myself in one so I could show my mom the dress (side note: it was supposed to be a work dress, but now I'm thinking it's a too short/must be worn with tights kind of ensemble, but maybe that's the inappropriately high for work heels? Not sure.):

In case you're a wanna-be foodie and Top Chef/Food Newtwork fanatic like me, this is what I ate:

Crudo of Ahi Tuna appetizer (split with JP): fuji apple, Texas goat cheese, pine nuts and pumpkin seed oil (raw tuna and goat cheese? Who would have thought, but thank goodness someone did because it was awesome)

“Toad in a Hole” salad (supposed to be mine, but ultimately split with JP because it was so amazing I couldn't keep it to myself): frisee, shaved asparagus, organic egg, bacon and truffle vinaigrette (blew us both away- the egg was fried over easy into a puffy piece of bread so when you cut it open all the yolk ran into the salad and you got bites of eggy soft crouton with the frisee and shaved asparagus that was all just amazing. I'm not a big salad person and never waste any of my time on them in restaurants, but if we ever treat ourselves to a dinner like this again this year, I'm just ordering the tuna and the salad for my meal and I'm not sharing)

Filet of Beef, Oscar style with (lots of) lump crab, asparagus and béarnaise (absolutely perfect, but I was so full from the previous two courses that JP ended up with half of my filet)

Butterscotch Pudding: dulce de leche, marcona almond crumble, and salted caramel gelato (this was all JP, but I did "taste" about half the gelato and the bite of dulce de leche I had was excellent).

It was so, so fun. I've dreamt about the tuna and my magical salad on and off for most of today. The salad was my focal thought during my plie squats in Barre this afternoon, though I doubt that's what my instructor meant when she told us to pick something that made us feel strong and peaceful.

As long as we're discussing food, below is our decidedly less fancy menu for the week:

Sunday: Perfect Potato Soup, bread, cheese
Monday: Beef enchiladas, rice, beans
Tuesday: leftover potato soup (it was DELICIOUS, but it made enough for about 15)
Wednesday: Crock pot chicken teriyaki, rice, broccoli
Thursday: Ravioli, tomato cream sauce
Friday: Meatballs stroganoff, wheat dinner rolls, green beans

And in news that is not at all food-related, Cora is smiling!! And I sort of got one on film! (Can you still say that even though I used a phone and our children will grow up not knowing what film is? Soon it will be one of those expressions that everyone says but no one understands.) She's probably just happy we didn't force her outside for some family fun time not intended for infants.

Squee! She is so awesome. Claire agrees.

Tomorrow we're back to school (yay), JP's coaching (boo), and the ordinary routine (and frigid temperatures, though nothing like the North and Northeast- stay safe you guys!), but I've got a smiling baby and fond memories of an egg covered salad date night to comfort me on the crazy midweek nights, so things should be pretty good.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Fort Worthians

A few nights ago, JP and I were laying in bed rambling about random things (or rather, I was rambling about random things, he was mostly responding and wishing I could go to sleep like a normal person with a 6-week old at 11:30 p.m.):

ME, after pondering the passage of time: Would you have believed when we started dating that 13 years later we'd be married for 8 years and have 3 kids?

JP: Yeah.

ME: Really?

JP: Yeah, what else would have happened?

ME: Hmm, I guess that's true. Actually I think the hardest thing for me to believe is that we live in Fort Worth, Texas.

JP: Yeah.

ME: But you wanted to stay in Texas.

JP: Yeah, but I didn't know Fort Worth was a real city then.


ME: You're asleep aren't you?

JP: Is that allowed now?

ME: Speaking of 13 years ago, remember when we used to talk all night until 3 and 4 in the morning and then go to swim practice on an hour's sleep? That was fun. We don't do that anymore.

JP: Maybe something to do with those 3 kids.

ME: And you ran out of words.

JP: That too.

ME: I still have words.

JP, with a special mix of love and resignation: You always do.


It made me smile and I let him go to sleep. My insomnia was all stirred up, so I just lay in bed for a while looking at our wall of windows. I left college with the intention of leaving Texas and followed through by only applying to law schools out of state. We drove to Chicago two days after we got married, but JP yanked me back immediately after I graduated (actually, 2 weeks before), and then I pulled us to Fort Worth, the most Texas-y of places, four years later.

I loved living in the city of Chicago and while I often still wish we lived in the downtown of a big city, I have no interest in living in the suburbs or outskirts of one. I think that's why I like Fort Worth so much. It's still a city- it's no Chicago, but there's still buildings and culture and restaurants (and a lot of history and charm), and we can actually afford to live in a house in a downtown neighborhood that lets us enjoy it. Because if I can't have Chicago or Manhattan or DC, I might as well be in this perfect little blend of an urban neighborhood where the trees are big and the houses are old and lovely, where we can walk to things, and where we use the city's museums and parks and zoos on a near weekly basis. It is nowhere I ever thought we'd be and the only thing more surprising than the fact that we live here is how much I love it.


And on a Fort Worthy note, we stopped by the downtown water gardens yesterday to get the kids out of the house and drag on the poor 3rd baby some more.


The water gardens are one of my favorite free Fort Worthy things. It's just a previously empty city block turned into an architectural wonderland of cement and water.


There's the loud and fun Active Pool, the calming Aerial Pool with its fountains and always a rainbow or two, the kids' favorite Mountain with dozens of steps and ledges to climb, and the serene Quiet Pool with its giant trees and water cascading walls.


I miss Austin as much as I miss Chicago as much as I love Fort Worth. I often wonder how long we'll live here and where I'll love to live next.