Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Older and Wiser

I turned 31 yesterday.

The kids were probably more excited about it than me- Landon wanted to know what we'd be doing while he took the day off from school to celebrate and Claire kept asking when my Hello Kitty party was going to start. When I tried to explain that not only would everyone be going to school, but I would also be going to work (and there was no Hello Kitty party, where did that come frome?), both he and Claire were appalled. The adult world is a cruel place.

But it was still an excellent day, particularly when lunch with friends involved a birthday burger, Blue Moon draft, and Gorgonzola fries (omg SO GOOD). I divorced french fries some time ago due to my "must fit into my work pants by my 12 week return" diet and our illicit cheese smothered birthday booty call was one of my best presents of the day. When I found myself getting full partway through my platter, I abandoned the burger in order to find room for every single tiny fried bit of potato. I might have licked the plate, I'm not sure, mostly because I was also drinking.

Later, I got home to find a wrapped present from JP and the kids, a birthday balloon, and a cake platter of the most glorious cookies ever made. Oh yes, Great American Cookie Company Double Doozies.

I broke up with cookies even before I divorced fries so that reunion was so passionate I couldn't even wait to take a picture. I'd already eaten half a doozie while still holding Cora and wearing my purse. Then I ate the other half 5 seconds later. Then I took that picture. JP came home with Landon a few minutes later and was like, "wait, didn't I buy 8?" Um, there's no proof of that.

Not interested in cookies; really wants to chew on that nice low cal mylar balloon though

In addition to cookies, there were presents! Real presents that he picked out with all 3 kids (because he is crazy and takes the whole crew with him everywhere he goes on the weekend) that were a surprise to me! We rarely do that anymore and it was quite a package- mani/pedi gift certificate, massage gift certificate, and my first ever overpriced lululemon workout gear so I can fit in at barre class. Claire picked out the color for the top. It was all very sweet.

And so, another year begins! Hopefully a good one, filled with good books and baby laughs, date nights out and family nights in, continued barre class attendance and better sleeping. Older and wiser, and maybe next year, that Hello Kitty party.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Night Monologue

There is a barre class at 8 p.m. on Monday nights and it is the only weekday barre class I can attend. I was excited about it all day, until the early evening when my day/inner monologue turned to something like this:

4:45 p.m.: Picking up girls from school. Super excited I can go to barre tonight.

4:55 p.m.: Picking up Landon from school, with the girls. Wish everyone was at the same school. Barre is in 3 hours, yay!

5:05 p.m.: Home! Cora is hungry, wants to know why she is starving to death inside the hated car seat. Why is everyone mean?

5:25 p.m.: Cora is fed. Big kids are playing a complicated game involving all the rooms of the house, all of Claire's babies, and a bow and arrow. There is some exclaiming, but no yelling or crying, so I plop Cora in her monkey bouncer in the kitchen and switch dinner plans to something more involved (this soup; very tasty!) because everyone is happy and I'm saving the premade dinners for a night when everyone is not. Thinking a glass of red wine would go great with tortellini soup preparation, but no, have barre class in 2.5 hours.

5:50 p.m.: Soup is simmering. Big kids still happy/not in kitchen. Cora is strangling her toy lion with an absurdly large smile on her face. Disturbing and adorable. Soup smells really good. Wish I could eat a giant bowl of it and drink a glass of red wine. But no, freaking barre class.

6:15 p.m.: Serve soup with ciabatta bread. My bowl is smaller than Claire's because tortellinis bouncing around in the tummy does not mix well with intense isometric leg exercises. Kids find my tiny bowl hilarious. Hydrate with non-alcoholic water. Chant over and over again in my head how much I love the Monday night class.

6:45 p.m.: JP is home! Kids inexplicably only 50% done with their single ladle of soup. JP eats giant bowl in same time as their last 3 bites while we talk about everyone's days. I'm so tired, wouldn't it be lovely to curl up on the couch with my new book and that glass of wine I still haven't poured? F-ing barre class. Kids finish, clear plates, and run off to start shower.  I feed Cora again. 

7:00 p.m.: JP has finished dishes, gone to scrub down kids in car wash/shower. I tuck an exhausted but content Cora into bed, give her a pat, and closed the door. Pretty sure she's asleep before the light goes out. Change into workout clothes. Still no wine.

7:15 p.m.: Books being read, toys being cleaned. Tired. Pretty sure I'm going to fall down in barre class.

7:30 p.m.: Bedtime kisses, check that kitchen counters are wiped clean on final walk through. Sit on clean counters and talk to JP about how his lessons went tonight. Whine about how I don't want to go to barre class anymore. 

7:40 p.m.: Leave. Grudgingly.

8:00 p.m.: Class begins. I love this class. So glad I dragged myself here.

8:30 p.m.: [so much shaking of the legs]

9:00 p.m.: Hard part over. I love this class! Yoga and yoga therapy portion begins.

9:30 p.m.: So centered and peaceful and tired and stretched and happy and calm. I LOVE THIS CLASS SO MUCH! I MUST GO EVERY MONDAY ALWAYS AND FOREVER ALWAYS!

9:45 p.m.: Home again. Wine in hand. Answering emails in bed and wondering if I could pull off this jacket? Still high on my love for Monday night barre class, at least until about 3 hours before next Monday's barre class.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Moving On

Sushi date night was a smashing success. We ate 7 rolls, an platter of chicken lettuce wraps, and some fabulous pepper crusted tuna tataki. I stole a few sips of JP's hot sake, but mostly enjoyed my samarai martini that involved sake, cucumber infused vodka, and a few splashes of other things shaken into a martini glass. I didn't share and then I ordered a second. I'm not a big martini person normally, but I'm a sucker for cucumber being involved in alcoholic beverages. And in heels, a favorite dress I bought at BCBG a million years ago, and earrings my sister gave me from Costa Rica, sitting at the bar with my handsome cowboy-booted husband, happy martinis just felt right. As did all the raw fish.

(A shot of the earrings for my sis)

And then on Sunday morning, this lovely lady joined me in bed when my husband abandoned me for a freezing cold pool at 6:30 a.m. She did lots of smiling while I alternated between reading a book on my iPhone (I got addicted to Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series, thank you to whoever recommended it!) and smiling back.

The rest of the weekend was barre classes, grocery shopping, Costco-ing, reading, and cooking. I bought enough partially made things at Costco to make this week's dinners much more bearable. And since I'm determined to do less vegetable chopping mid-week, I went all out with my favorite greek salad, grilled chicken, and grilled naan bread tonight. It was delicious and other than the date night, I think the highlight of my weekend was sitting out on the back deck while JP grilled the chicken, holding Claire in my lap, and watching the boys practice Landon's basketball moves in the driveway. Cora was asleep, so she couldn't complete the ensemble, but it was lovely having my big little girl in my lap for a while. The moment reminded me of this scene I snapped last Thursday night of JP reading to the kids before bed. Even though it's an everyday kind of thing, I smile every time I see this picture.

When events and conversations aren't busy devastating me on a personal and business front, I do love the day to day. So here's to more enjoying of that in the week ahead.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Week

This was my first week back at work full-time, and even with Monday being a federal holiday with schools and daycare open so I got to catch up on the one million errands I didn't get to do before starting work because of the snow and then the vacation, it was a WEEK in all caps italics and extra bold. In fact there were so many emotions and so much exhaustion and on at least one evening so many homemade Mexican martinis that I couldn't even manage a sufficient amount of perspective to be able write about it. In my semi-anonymous non-facebook linked blog. A place where very little mental or emotional distance is needed to write about anything.

So here I am, on Saturday, post-ass-kicking barre workout, and pre-belated-Valentine's sushi date night (non-pregnant me who just now clawed her way back into pre-pregnancy skinny jeans by doing lots of the exercise and eating none of the cookies (or much of anything else) will be eating ALL the raw fish and drinking nearly all the alcohol until happy hour ends. And then going to barre tomorrow), trying to figure out how to put it all into words before Cora gets up from her nap. Or maybe not? When in the midst of a rough patch it seems imperative for me to write about the roughness, to break it into all its prickly parts, excise the bad feelings, and hope to find some closure by the time the publish button is pressed. But now that I've come through it, I wonder if I should stay in the happy now and talk about the beautiful new purse I bought for my birthday instead. But then I feel dishonest, sharing only the good and skipping over the bad, which shouldn't really matter since it's my blog and I can share whatever I want, but it does matter, because this is my story and I've never purposefully and completely skipped a bad chapter before.

And so. On Tuesday, while dressed in my favorite new dress I bought to ease the pain of returning to the non-yoga-pantsed world, approximately 1 hour before the end of my first 8 hour day, I got a call I've been waiting for for ten months, regarding a case I've been working on for twenty-two. Nearly every thing I've done in my new job- all the testimony, travel, presentations, memos, etc. have related to this case, and this one call from another division within my organization would tell me if I could proceed with filing an action. And I was told I could not, for reasons that are complicated and simple and completely confidential. And though I had just been joking with a coworker about this fabled call, telling him that at this point I just wanted to know the answer and didn't even care (much) what it was, I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach. My mouth opened, nothing came out, and the caller had to ask twice if I was there because I realized with panic that if I spoke out loud my voice would probably break. I managed a thanks for letting me know, let's talk in more detail later, and hung up, staring at the receiver for minutes after doing so. I could not believe how much it hurt. Not personally, the decision had nothing to do with me, but just in some vague all-consuming general way. I'd worked REALLY hard on that case for a really long time. It essentially represented my entire career at the SEC so far and now I was going to have to draft the closing memo, file it, ship all my documents and binders off to storage, and start over with an empty desk. No stat, no public result, no nothing. And then I had to walk out of my office and go tell my boss, my boss's boss, and my boss's boss's boss, all separately in a voice that didn't shake, and then go pick up my three children at two places, smile and ask about their days, hold a very tired but not allowed to go to bed yet Cora while making dinner, putting away lunch boxes, and hurriedly serving the dinner before Landon's 6:30 basketball practice. JP ran in, grabbed Landon, went to basketball, and I played with Claire and Cora while desperately wishing I was curled in a ball on the couch with a glass of wine and a mindless book or TV show or both.

At 8, all the kids were in bed, and I got to tell JP about my day, and then by 9 we were careening towards a very big, very bad fight over something that is no one's fault, can't really be fixed, and hurts us both any damn time it comes up. An ultimate no-win situation that had nothing to do with my day at work, but sure as hell didn't help it and resulted in my skipping dinner, drinking a second martini in the bathtub to calm myself down enough to take a sleeping pill and pass the fuck out before anything else could happen or I could say anything else I'd deeply regret. It worked.

Cora, bless her multiple chins, slept a solid 12 hours and the rest of the week proceeded from there. Not as bad as Tuesday, but not really much better. I am still adjusting to getting home and starting dinner on my own with the three kids. JP's business is booming, which is fantastic on all levels except the not home until 15 minutes before bedtime one. It really wouldn't be so hard except for this little mini phase we're in with Cora where she is just waking up from her last nap when I get her at daycare, so she needs to eat as soon as we get home, rendering me unable to do anything, and then when I can actually start cooking, she's fussy and tired and wants to go to bed but I can't let her because it's only 6:15 and she'll be up at 4 a.m. unless we stretch her until 7:15 when she'll magically sleep for 12 hours until 7 a.m., so I need to hold her and it's just hard. I'm with the kids, but not really with them and I find I mostly want to yell at everyone, particularly JP when he gets home. And that isn't fair because he does everything in the morning, including making lunches, making, serving, and cleaning up breakfast, and delivering everyone to their various locations. I just get myself ready and leave, scattering kisses as I go out the door. And then he does all the dishes after dinner, gives the kids their shower, and helps tuck everyone in. I am literally responsible for dinner and that's it, but this week it just felt overwhelming, and on top of the work news, the fact that I was even at work, and my unstable emotional state any (blessedly rare) time that JP and I aren't in perfect accord and, well, this is why I wasn't writing about it in real time.

Things were better by Friday. The sting of my work blow had eased. The decision is what it is and while I still have to write the closing memo and that still seems a bit like rubbing salt in a wound, again, it simply is what it is. I have a new case that looks promising and I'll move on. JP and I are good. What threw us so badly on Tuesday (and Wednesday, and a little bit yesterday) is still lurking, but I can't blog about it and can't fix it and nearly every other thing about us and our relationship is so wonderful I sometimes can't believe my luck, so why dwell? And on Wednesday, when I didn't feel like going out to lunch and talking to colleagues, I went to Macy's and bought this beautiful purse at a magical 25% off (designer stuff never goes on sale, which was a sign that it must be purchased):

I'm usually a shoe person, but I'm quite taken with this purse. It's like a smile on my shoulder. Just like the one I'm getting as I listen to JP teaching Landon how to play bananagrams one room over and when I emerged from my shower earlier to find Claire very earnestly showing Cora animal flashcards and exclaiming "good job!" over and over again (good job for smiling at the animals, I suppose, Cora can't do much else). And now I'm going to do my hair and makeup, don a work inappropriate dress, and get on with the date night table for two and the eating of all the sushi. Things are fine and really even very good, but good god it was a week I am not sad to put behind.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Back to Work!

So we got back from our vacation about 9:45 Wednesday night with a car full of ski clothes, dirty laundry, and tired children. A mere 10 hours later and Landon and Claire were off to school with an interesting assortment of food items in their lunch boxes, Cora was off to daycare with her bottles tucked in an old Spiderman lunchbox, and I was driving in to my first day back at work. I laid out my outfit the night before, of course- one of the dresses my mom gave me for Christmas (TJ Maxx FTW! always), my favorite heels to help break my feet back into wearing something besides slippers and running shoes, and hair I'd done two days before in Colorado because I didn't end up having time to take a shower Thursday morning.

I had to kneel so Landon could take a picture of Cora and me at the end of our first day. We both survived. Cora got to explore a new set of play gym hanging toys and I mostly talked to coworkers I'd truly missed and deleted a million emails. I was only in the office for 4.5 hours and that ended up being just about right given all the post-vacation stuff we needed to do in addition to the going back to work stuff. JP jumped right back into this lessons, so I also had my first experience picking up all three kids, bringing them home, and making dinner, with the added bonus of needing to do all the Valentine's prep we hadn't been able to do while in Colorado. It actually all went great- the big kids are so good and Cora has recently decided to embrace baby entertainment devices. Put her in her monkey bouncer in the kitchen where she can watch me cook and she'll give me a good 15-20 minutes to do things that aren't cuddling or feeding her. She's really just happy to be here, always, and could not be easier (or smilier or more content- she makes me want all the babies).

Assembly line Target box Valentine's

I usually decorate the table and make a special breakfast for the kids on V-Day, but this year I just made cupcakes and put out themed place mats from Target with red napkins leftover from last year. The cupcakes distracted them from the fact that breakfast was just cereal bars and yogurt because we still hadn't restocked our fridge and pantry from the trip (the weekend could not come soon enough!) and the kids were thrilled. Seriously $5 of place mats, some breakable drinkware with a stem, and Pillsbury funfetti box cake mix- little kids are so easy to please.

JP had flowers delivered, because he knows how I love them, and Claire let me do her hair for the first time in weeks. It was a Very Special Morning.

Cora and I dressed in honor of the "holiday" as well- me with my precious red Kate Spade pumps from several Christmases ago and Cora in some sassy white and red stripes. I went to barre class Friday morning (it was another half day for me at work), so I did finally take a shower. I felt my coworkers deserved it.

Work again mostly consisted of catching up on gossip, actual news, and case updates. I got my performance review that I was supposed to get in November and it was all very good and then there was lunch and I tried to force all my coworkers to eat all the leftover cupcakes I'd made the day before. I left in time to swing by Target before picking up the girls ("the girls" - I still stumble over that, I have girls plural!) to make a new Penne with Vodka Cream sauce recipe that was DELICIOUS. Seriously, ignore the silly recipe name and go make that sauce immediately, it is quick and easy and the stuff pasta dreams are made of. I cleared my bowl to the kitchen and came back to the table to see Claire with her face in her bowl licking remains too small for the eyes to see.

After dinner and before JP and I put the kids to bed and popped open a bottle of champagne to sit down to House of Cards Season 2, I asked Landon and Claire if they wanted to take a quick picture with Cora. And I got this:

Maybe my favorite picture ever so far. I just had it printed to pin to the middle of my work bulletin board and I know I'm going to stop and smile every time I see it. Which will be a lot, because it's going right above my computer.

So the last week was a little crazy with the disjointed nature of it all- skiing Monday, sledding Tuesday, driving Wednesday, working and schooling on Thursday plus Valentining on Friday, but it all went well. I haven't really had to time digest the fact that I'm Back At Work forever and my time at home is done. It was lovely. Truly lovely and my favorite of my maternity leaves. I loved having JP with me during the morning, loved snuggling my sweet Cora all afternoon, and even enjoyed getting back in shape with surprisingly obsessive barre class attendance. The next time I have that much time at home I'll likely be 60-something and retired, which is a weird thought, but I know that I enjoyed every drop of it and I'm okay going back to work too. I guess the best way to phrase it is that I'm sad to be done with maternity leave, but I'm not sad to be back at work. I like working and being an attorney. It's part of me, a happy part, and for as much satisfaction as I derive from being Landon, Claire, and Cora's mom, I derive a separate satisfaction from being an attorney. And, as luck would have it, that role comes with a badly needed salary and medical benefits, so it's good all around that I'm back doing it.

And even better, I leave that role at 4:30 and don't return to it until the next morning. It's that fact above all others that has made it fairly easy to go back to work this time. Because this face is hard to leave, but it's a lot easier when I know precisely when I'll be back.

This week is the return to full-time attorneying and JP getting everyone out the door at 7:45 while I'm already in my office, so that will be a new adventure. But at least now we have proper lunch items and Cora has a new pink flowered lunch bag for her bottles and I'm sure all will be fine. Let the securities law enforcement and high heel wearing begin!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Skication Wrapped Up (and Pictured)

So luckily, a long-distance-driving ski vacation with 3 children between the ages 3 months and 6 years turned out to be a fantastic idea! Anything I thought might go wrong (Cora screaming herself unconscious in the car; Cora not sleeping well in Colorado; Claire hating ski school) didn't, and the few things that did go wrong (Blizzard! 2-wheel-drive car!) were ultimately fine and nothing we could have prevented anyway. We had a blast and I really hope we can continue going every other year or so.

Party of Five
(taken right outside Cora's daycare, where she wishes she was already)

My sister drove over from Golden to ski with us on Sunday and my Uncle the pilot and Air Force Academy grad (and amazing skier) was in Colo Springs to attend some Academy sporting events, so he drove over to ski with us too! We gathered all our ski gear and accessories and headed over to Keystone early Sunday morning to drop Cora off at the village daycare (which was fabulous; so nice and professional and friendly- Cora had a nanny all to herself!), drop the kids off at ski school, and hit the slopes!

Can't resist a good danger sign

We had a blast, as we always do, skiing and snowboarding together. The weather was not awesome- very windy and snowy. Giant piles of fresh powder covered the slopes making turning a bit tricky and very tiring. Thank god for all those barre classes- my legs were (mostly) up for the challenge. By day 2 the snow was even deeper and I took a 3-run break in the afternoon in a warming hut with a beer while JP hiked up to the back bowls to board down. Because he's crazy and I'm too old and frail and aware of my own mortality to do stuff like that anymore.

At 3:30 it was time to pick up the kids. I was most anxious to see how Claire had done- it was DUMPING snow all day with fairly high winds, so I was concerned she might take offense to the snow blowing in her face and refuse to go outside, but she did awesome! I happened to be watching the gondola line when her class got out and she marched right off the "magic bubble" with confidence and enthusiasm. God I love that girl.

Her teacher on day 2 told us that Claire was willing to do anything as long as she could hold the teacher's hand, so that's how they went down the bunny hill over and over. That's our bear!

Landon also did great! He remembered many of his skills from the last trip and by day 2 was going down regular green runs with his Level 2 class. His teacher said Claire derived great comfort from seeing Landon on the practice hill and they went down next to each other several times. He was also a leader and helper with his own class and very proud of never falling down. I loved how in only two days together both ski school instructors seemed to completely capture our two kids' personalities.

Our biggest struggle of the trip was an unexpected one- getting home at the end of ski day 1 on Sunday night. As it turns out, all of Denver comes out to the slopes and then leaves at the same time to drive back. Though we would be going in the opposite direction as all the Denverites on the highway, we got stuck alongside them on the road to the highway. Like really stuck. In a blizzard with ice on the road. It took 1 hour and 40 minutes to go three miles, after a long day on the mountains, and when our car lost traction and nearly slid into oncoming traffic, we realized we needed to get the snow cables he and Landon had bought the day before onto our tires. And he needed to put them on, crouched down near the ground, right where we were stuck, halfway into fast-moving oncoming traffic, in the dark, in a snow storm. I couldn't breathe until he secured that front left tire on the fast oncoming traffic side of the car, and then a car slid in the lane next to us and nearly hit him on the "safer" side where everyone was going 2 mph. The whole experience was rather terrifying, but he got the cables on and we were able to safely and securely crawl along the feeder until we finally got to the highway. Thank god the kids are so amazing in the car and Cora was asleep for most of it. We were all very excited to get to the condo (or, as Claire called it, "our new home") and the kids celebrated by "cheering" a lot with their milk.

Coming home on Day 2, a lowly Monday, was no problem, and we got home in time for some afternoon apres ski cookies and milk. On Tuesday we woke up to gorgeous blue skies and clear weather, so of course it was our non-ski day. We still took Cora to daycare, since she really wasn't interested in playing in the snow, and bought passes for the gondola (aka Claire's magic bubble) so we could check out the mountain top snow castle.

Not entirely sure why she's on the ski vacation

When we went to buy the passes we found out that using the tubing hill for an hour only cost $2 than just buying gondola tickets, so we were in!

Delighted by the bubble

A very nice Italian man ended up in the gondola with us and offered to take a picture- it turned out to be my very favorite of the whole trip! Though I wish Cora was there in more than spirit.

Our family with a very short bank robber

Claire was too small for tubing, but was delighted by her bright yellow kid tube and happily lounged in there while the three of us took turns flying down a very steep hill.

Like everyone who seems to work at ski resorts, the tubing hill operators were super fun and outgoing and willing to allow you to risk injury by spinning you as fast as possible before pushing you down.

There was also a giant snow castle at the mountain with tubes and tunnels and slides and a maze you could actually get lost in. Until we traveled with kids, I had no idea how many other fun things you could do at a ski resort besides just ski.

All in all it was a completely amazing vacation and I'm so thankful to Dinei for sharing her condo and JP for driving the whole way there and back because that's what made it all financially possible. JP's schedule is so insane in the summer that winter and fall will always be our windows for family vacations and this was a great one.

Our drive home yesterday went smoothly (no snow!) and we were in our driveway 12.5 hours after leaving Frisco. I started work today- an idea that seemed sound months ago when I planned it, but felt increasingly insane as we drove along the highways towards home last night. Luckily we unpacked quickly, got some sleep, and I'd only committed to a half day. I had enough time for Cora to practice going to daycare and me to put on professional clothes and practice being an attorney, mostly by deleting reading the hundreds of emails I'd missed while I was gone. More on the end of my last maternity leave (sob) and my return to the high-heel wearing professional world later, I just needed to marinate in vacation photos a little longer...

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mountain Dispatch 1

Every time we visit Colorado, JP and I have at least 15 discussions to try to figure out why we don't live here. We still aren't sure why we don't, but we're pretty certain that we should. We are having so much fun. There have been difficulties (snow, SO MUCH snow and ice and SNOW, and a two-wheel-drive car), but mostly, there has been fun.

Third row entertainment

The drive up went great. The kids were perfect- even Cora, and we ate our packed lunches and car snacks in calm anticipation, ticking off the miles at 85 mph. And then, 19 miles from the condo, we hit the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 and a blizzard hit us. Crazy wind and snow and ice and sliding cars (including ours) and gridlock. We drove about 2 miles per hour in 1st gear for the next 90 minutes with the GPS mocking us with the "19 miles to go, 21 minutes to destination" countdown the whole damn time. After 13 hours in the car, it was not an awesome way to end things, but JP handles these things without stress and the kids just figured it was a regular continuation of the car ride, so it was as good as bad can be. We were all VERY happy to pull up to the condo at 9:30 p.m. to unpack the car, boil the pasta we'd packed for dinner, and tuck everyone in bed.

And then we woke up to a winter wonderland. Landon was thrilled. Claire, once she realized snow is both cold and wet, was undecided.

Cora was simply adorable.

We drove around a bit to get our bearings after arriving in such dark, snowy weather the night before and found this very awesome park.

And its perfect sized sledding hill.

Landon is basically a man now and can go down on his own sled.

But he still found it awesome when JP went with him and they flew at 100 mph before crashing into a snow bank.

At one point today, when we were driving over to Keystone to start day 2 of skiing, JP turned to me in the car and said, "I love taking vacations with them." And I nearly yelled, "I know!!" Because we do. I don't know that we'd turn down an offer to get away just the two of us, but we do honestly love throwing the kiddos in the car and going somewhere. Yeah we have lots of extra (and tiny) ski gear to haul around and we're no longer the first ones in the ski lift line in the morning (and nowhere near the last ones off the mountain) because we're dealing with ski school and childcare drop-off and pick-up times, and apres ski now involves cookies and milk at the condo rather than wine and beer on a balcony in the village, but we do have so. much. fun with them.

Yesterday and today were ski days, which probably need their own posts (mostly to take pity on you all and spread out the pictures), but they went so well. The kids loved ski school, even Claire who first took the snow blowing in her face as a personal affront and then braved our near whiteout/blizzard-like conditions on both days, and neither can wait until we can go skiing again.

JP and I can't either.

Tomorrow we sled and tube and do any other outdoor activity we can think of while Cora spends one more day in nannycare and then it's the long drive home on Wednesday and back to work on Thursday. And then another year or two before we can do it all again!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Skication Preparation

As I mentioned in the last post, the Lag Liv family is headed out on a highly (highly!) anticipated skication on Friday. I first emailed Dinei about using her ski condo about 6 months ago and this trip has been second in anticipation this year only to our countdown for Cora's arrival. As I've written about a million times, I love family vacations- they are the source of the brightest and happiest memories from my generally bright and happy childhood, and they have provided many of my favorite memories with my own little family. Our trips are rarely fancy- we almost always drive and they usually involve cabins or guest rooms and doing our own cooking, but we try to go on one every year and I do love getting away and exploring somewhere new.

From skication 2012; the big kids were so little!

And this year, we get to spend two of those vacation days on skis! Because the only thing better than a regular vacation is a ski vacation. I love skiing, it's probably the only physical activity I like as much and can do as well as JP (though he snowboards, as he corrects me constantly, but I feel like the verb of skiing covers both mediums), and since we don't get to take vacations with just the two of us very often (or ever, actually), it provides the perfect mix of grown-up and family time. JP and I ski/snowboard together all day, enjoying a quick lunch date between runs and lots of snuggling and talking on ski lifts, while the big kids are in ski school and Cora is in childcare, and then we regroup when the lifts close at 4 p.m. and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening together as a family (and then the kids pass out about 6:45 p.m. and JP and I are back to grown-up time!). It's perfect.

But before we get to the potential perfection, we have to pack and drive 14 hours to get there. 14 hours in a mid-sized SUV with a car-seat-hating 12-week-old, with a possible snow storm at the end, just for a special final touch. We've taken tons of long family car trips, so I'm honestly not that concerned about it- L&C are amazing car trippers, JP does all the driving, and I'll be able to jump back to the third row to feed Cora while we drive as necessary, but I'll admit that this is one of our more ambitious itineraries. No, the thing that's getting me down right now is the PACKING. All the stuff for 5 people, including a Cora with her many accoutrements, for 6 days away, including 2 full days in the car (so many snacks and coloring books and entertainment devices!), 2 full days of skiing (puffy ski clothes and many accessories!), and 2 full days of play (snow boots, normal clothes, swim suits because we're mixing it up with a trip to an indoor water park, and so much more!), plus all the baby gear and a stocked first aid kit and so much wine... I've lost control of this sentence, but basically, lots of things are being assembled in our living room to be packed into our not-huge Highlander and I have a lot of lists of things not to forget written on scraps of paper. And I baked cookies for the first time since Christmas because it seemed important to pack those too.

Luckily, the crossbars I thought we already owned when I sent JP over to a coworker's house to borrow their rooftop carrier (my coworker even asked me to double check if we had crossbars before JP drove over and I was like of course! there's bars up there! and JP took my word for it, but then when he popped his head up in the driveway of my friend's house he was like, where did the crossbars go?) were delivered today! We were concerned they wouldn't arrive in time, but JP installed them by flashlight tonight after swim lessons and went back to my coworker's and now we have a snazzy rooftop carrier to store all the puffy ski clothes while the wine and cookies stay snug in the car. So that's a relief.

Also on my packing list to do is the downloading of a few new books for my kindle- any recommendations? I'm at least a year late on a new RRA post, so I promise to do that after we get back, but I need some new authors or series or something. Remember I enjoy the frivolous, the well written historical, paranormal, or occasional modern romance. I need good writing, strong characters, something ridiculous about the plot. My recent favorites include Larissa Ione's Lords of Deliverance series, anything and everything by Kresley Cole, and the entirety of JD Robb's In Death series (thanks to free digital downloads from my local library, those books are like candy). I find a book I like and then read everything the author has ever written and then bounce around helplessly on amazon again, so take pity on my impending 28 hours in the car and let me know if you've read anything fun lately in the comments!

And finally, a picture of Cora today, because she was wearing an adorable sweater dress involving penguins and nobody got to see it but me, even though she was refusing to smile for the iPhone. The girl smiles constantly (constantly! it is so damn adorable), but she is completely entranced by the white rectangle of the phone, rendering the camera phone aspect of the phone nearly useless.


Summit County or Bust! Cora's pumped.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Last Week and the Next Two

Somehow I've missed a week. I'm not even sure what we did- I went to a lot of barre classes, did some baby yoga, snuggled Corabear, made many dinners on my own while JP coached late, ordered things from the "extra 65% off clearance" sale at Ann Taylor (gorgeous wine colored sweater dress with lace neckline and sleeves for $28!), got sick again, got better, and drove to Houston on Friday for very short stay to go wedding dress shopping with my sister while she stopped over in Houston for a layover on her way back from Costa Rica.

3 minutes in to Mommy and Baby Yoga; totally exhausted.

And back awake and pumped up for cool down 40 minutes later

Friday night was the first night it was just the original 5 of us in our Kingwood house since the night before my own wedding in 2005, so that was fun- eating dinner in the dining room in our correct seats and sleeping in our correct rooms and beds, and we found the perfect wedding dress for my sister, so that was even better. I got back to Fort Worth late Saturday night (4+ hours of driving alone at night in a car with a broken radio and a dead phone; I literally ran out of things to try to make myself think about and became irate with anyone going less than 10 miles over the speed limit), so all the kids were already in bed, and because this awesome baby sleeps 11-12 hours at night now, I didn't get to see her until 6:30 a.m. this morning. I'm honestly not sure she knew who I was.

Tolerating the strange, excited lady

But after about an hour of bottle and cuddle time, she decided to keep me anyway.

I really missed all my favorite faces, though after the initial thrill of finding me in my bed at 8 a.m. this morning (the exclamation from Claire was pretty adorable, "Wandon look! Mommy is HERE!! Just where she's 'opposed to be!!"), they weren't really sure they needed a picture to commemorate my return. Particularly while Wild Kratts was on.

But back to Cora- is every new baby the best baby? Do they just keep getting easier because they're actually easier or because you're better and too distracted by your other children to really note the days they aren't so easy? Because Cora is like a dream and this maternity leave has been some of the most fun and relaxing and wonderful 12 weeks of my motherhood so far. We go to Mommy and Baby Yoga! I exercise! I make dinners and cuddle Cora and do a lot of wedding planning for my sister. I meet up with my best friends from work every Monday for lunch, but am otherwise relatively isolated (normally my least favorite part about maternity leave) and I haven't been unhappy about it at all.

Cora's face the first morning after she slept for 12 hours straight;
JP's and mine were equally joyful

I think the difference is that this time JP is home with me every day until noon- he's often busy on the phone or computer, but he's around, so I get the companionship and the ability to leave the house to do things like morning barre class, while still getting to spend the bulk of the day cuddling Cora while we bond over HGTV. I have loved getting to eat lunch with him every day at our dining room table, passing Cora back and forth and talking about how cute she is- I think I'm going to miss him as much as Cora when I go back to work in 10 days.

Still looooves her baths with mommy

And speaking of going back to work, I'm truly sad that my maternity leave is ending, but I'm not sad to go back to work, if that makes sense. I like working and returning to a job where I have almost total control over my schedule is WORLDS different from the jumping off a cliff feeling I had the night before I went back to the firm after Claire was born. Back then I wrote this, knowing that it would be fine once I got going again, but thinking "It's just that sitting here on the outside of it all, it's a little sad and scary to jump back in. Work represents such a decrease in control over my life. Right now the only thing that messes with our plans is us. But tomorrow I return to a world where an email can interfere with a weekend and a crappy assignment can affect your mood and I have this slightly desperate desire to just to hold it all away from me."

I will feel none of that the night before I go back to this job and any time I think I miss the money or the occasional bits of glamour that the law firm brought me (I do miss the Christmas party), I think about the above and am fully consoled. But I will miss my days lazing about the house holding Cora and talking to JP through the door between the TV room and his desk in the sun room. It has been absolutely lovely.

My maternity leave should actually end this week, but I'm tacking on an extra week of vacation so we can drive to Colorado (oh yes, drive! 14 hours with my car seat hating 12-week-old) to go skiing. We've been planning and saving for this trip since I was about 2 months pregnant and thanks to a condo hook-up through a bloggy friend (thanks Dinei!), our willingness to drive and make most of our meals in the condo, and JP's big summer last year, we will be skiing for 2 days! (JP and me free on the mountain; Landon and Claire in ski school; Cora in childcare with no idea why she was dragged along) and generally exploring the snow and mountains for 2 more. We are seriously so excited. Less excited about the fact it's supposed to snow in both Fort Worth and Frisco on the Friday we'll be driving between the two, but excited to be there and do our very favorite activity with our favorite little people. It's been 2 years since our last trip and Landon still talks about it, so we are pumped to make memories on the slopes again!