Monday, March 31, 2014

Routine Interrupted

So that routine I went on about on Sunday got all screwed up Sunday night when Cora woke up every 15 minutes from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. all sniffling and sobbing and feverish. She was definitely not herself and I thought for sure it was an ear infection, so I called the pediatrician right away this morning to make an appointment and then Cora and I spent all day- ALL day- snuggling on our rocking chair watching reruns of Season 5 of Top Chef.

I didn't really mind, but each arm did go numb several times and any attempt at shifting Cora to a cozy papasan chair or boppy pillow or heaven forbid her own beloved crib was met with immediate whimpers and epic sad face, so we continued the cuddles. I took the occasional selfie just to keep myself company and wished that my highly anticipated new JR Ward book was coming out today instead of tomorrow.

I did go to barre this morning, proving the completion of an epic change in my personal mindset regarding exercise (this form of it anyway)- when I realized I'd need to stay home because JP is super busy on Mondays and Cora was too miserable to be anywhere except in one of our arms, my first thought was, "Alright! Now I can go to [super hard teacher's] 8 a.m. Monday class!" And it was super hard and then I sat for hours and froze all my muscles and now it hurts far more than necessary to do things like walk. On the upside, I got to wear the new maxi skirt outfit I bought on Saturday, which I adore, and makes me wonder why I took so long to ever buy one. So cute! So PJ-like! And despite spending the last decade convinced they look terrible on me, I no longer find them offensive, and even if I did, I wouldn't care, because they are SO COMFY. And they're comfy-cute, which is my favorite kind of comfortable.

Pajama-like and casual chic; it doesn't get better

I even got Claire a maxi dress from Old Navy because I couldn't resist and when she saw it she exclaimed, "Oh Mommy, it's just like you, AND the princesses!".  Just like.

After a forever-long trip to the pediatrician, Cora was diagnosed with "definitely not an ear infection- maybe a cold? maybe just mad about the antibiotics she just finished taking? hard to say." She is definitely not herself, so I'm not sure what we'll do tomorrow. I do know that despite sleeping a grand total of 2 hours today, all in tiny bits and pieces, and all within my arms, she is TOTALLY ready to party right now at 10 p.m.

This evening, after dinner but before JP got home (Mondays are his latest night), I sent the kids out to play, finally got Cora to pass out in her bed for a half hour, and went to start on the dishes. As I was holding the first plate, I thought, what am I doing? And I set it back down, picked up my half glass of wine, and took it outside to sit by the kids' playground. They were delighted, "Mom, you're HERE!!" and I got to see every single trick they have, and many more I'm pretty sure they made up on the spot. The weather was gorgeous- 70 with a slight breeze, and the evening light was perfect. I watched and sipped and clapped and only occasional yelled out, "careful!!". JP pulled up at 7:30 and even though that's usually when we're on the books portion of the bedtime routine, he just came and sat next to me so we could talk and watch the kids some more. Everyone was in bed by 8:15 and he ate dinner standing over the counter while I did the dishes.  It was not the routine, but today, it was perfect.

Now if we can get more than 4 hours of cobbled together sleep tonight, we'll hopefully jump back to the usual routine tomorrow.  But even with the sad baby and arm tinglies and the using up a precious post-maternity leave sick day, today wasn't too bad of a detour.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Routine

Someone recently requested a day in the life post and I'd just been thinking that I should do one to preserve our current routine before summer messes it all up again. We've had such different ones along the way- from the baby Landon days in Chicago when I was in law school and JP was an investment banker with an hour+ commute each way; to the baby Claire days in Austin when I was at the firm and JP was in school, then coaching, then looking for a job, then working at a demanding job with another hour+ commute. And now we have a baby Cora in Fort Worth and I'm an attorney with the government and JP is a small business owner.

SEC baby!

The only thing that has stayed the same among the various cities and jobs and babies is that JP and I are 100% all in this crazy wonderful life together. While the percentage of the home and family duties we've shouldered has varied between us- it's really never 50-50, I've always known that he's doing all that he can, and he always knows that I'm doing the same. And when that's true, it's much easier to handle the days when it feels like I'm doing 90% of it and he's doing 10 or vice versa. I remember one day last summer when he was coaching SO much and was literally at the pool from sun-up to sun-down 6 days a week and he was seeing the kids for 5 minutes before bed and I was doing All The Things and it was hard on everyone, but I came home one random Tuesday evening to the dishwasher emptied, and I knew he had to have done it in the few minutes he'd stolen when he'd run home to get the sunglasses he'd left on the counter. Five minutes at home and what did he do- emptied the dishwasher we'd run that morning, because he knew I hated coming home to it full when I was trying to get dinner on and the kids fed. And it's those little extras, and the smile I got after I had sighed and opened the dishwasher and braced myself to start task #1 of many for the evening, that go so far in the crazy times. There really aren't any tasks that are mine v. his; there's just stuff that has to get done for the house and family to run and since we're the only two adults who live here, we always know that if one of is isn't doing something, the other is, and because we each like the other person, we each do everything we can. This works nearly all of the time, and even when it doesn't because one or both of us is too busy to do anything at all, it still works better than anything else.

my crew

But back to our current routine, which isn't particularly crazy, and is fairly evenly balanced for the time being. During the school year JP's lessons run from 1 pm to 6:30 pm each day, Monday-Friday. Luckily for our family, though unluckily for his business, the pool he uses Sept-May isn't open on weekends, so he's all ours on Saturday and Sunday (other than all the phone calls and emails he returns, but still, he does it here). Because he's gone every evening, he owns the mornings. I generally don't do a thing except get up, get ready, kiss the kids, and get out the door. He does the waking up, dressing, making breakfast, packing lunches, and driving and delivering of the children to the right schools at the right times. He comes back home, cleans up the kitchen, does random house stuff as needed (load or two of laundry, dishwasher, etc.) and then heads to the pool. And I do everything at night- pick up the kids, clean out lunch boxes, go through backpacks, make dinner, switch or fold laundry he started earlier, serve dinner, feed Cora, etc. Usually he gets home in the last 5 minutes of dinner, inhales it, and then gives the big kids their shower while I feed Cora. (We only do baths on weekends because they take forever and showers get everyone sparkling clean in less than 5 minutes; it's like a car wash in there and Cora usually swings through too.) One person does dishes while the other directs bedtime routine- pj's on, teeth brushed, hair combed. We gather together for books- these days Landon does all the reading, but Claire picks the books. Cora is passed between us all along the way. She usually goes down about 7:30 and the big kids are in bed by 7:45. JP and I chat while we finish cleaning up the kitchen if there wasn't time before books and then we retire to the TV room- JP with his laptop, me with my book, and we hang out there till 11ish when we go to bed. Sometimes we watch TV, but pretty rarely- he always has emails to return and scheduling or bookkeeping to do and he can only do it from the couch with me (instead of at his his desk in the separate sun room) if the TV is off. And since I'd much rather sit next to him than watch anything on TV, that's generally what we do, chatting on and off as the evening wears on and/or whenever he needs me to help him phrase an email to a client.

Cora and her helpers; morning and night

So as I said, things feel pretty balanced, but it's a new kind of balance for us- this complete division of a.m. and p.m. responsibilities. I'd rather be able to share everything at both times, but since that isn't possible with JP's evening swim lessons, this way works out well too. The hardest part was training myself not to jump in in the morning. If we oversleep or something, of course I do, but on a day-to-day basis, I need to get out the door so I can leave early enough to get Cora as early as I prefer and because I do everything at night and he's not physically present to jump in, keeping the division as separate in the a.m. as it is in the p.m. helps me to feel balanced. He has his way of doing things- it's not always mine, but it works and the stuff that matters- that the kitchen is clean when I get home, that the kids are at school on time, and that their lunches are good and healthy (JP has higher standards here than I do, so that one's a given), all gets done, even if it's done in a haphazard fashion that involves more rushing around than I could handle morning after morning. But everyone is happy and I love flitting around between them while I get my tea made and myself out the door- getting to give kisses and hugs and wish everyone good days while JP does the actual herding. And then I pay it all back in the evening when school papers litter the counter in between food prep and Cora is hungry at the exact time I need to be getting dinner in the oven so it can be done in time for bedtime. I had some adjusting when I first went back, but now that Cora has dropped that short evening nap and the weather is warmer so the big kids can be outside until dinner, my evenings are MUCH better. I actually get to enjoy most of them and no longer look at the clock quite so often to calculate the minutes until JP is home, which also means I'm a much nicer person when he walks in the door. Everyone is winning.

Sunday special bath!

The only wrinkles are the non-existent after-school activities that we probably need to get better about doing, but honestly, since JP is booked until 7 p.m. each night and I'd be doing them alone, the thought is overwhelming. Landon did basketball this past winter and JP just blocked out Tuesday nights in his schedule so he could take Landon while I stayed home with the girls. It meant giving up revenue and potential new clients, but with Cora a newborn, it was the only option. I don't know what we'll do going forward. I love our evenings at home together- love our family dinners and the kids playing outside while I cook and Cora helps me by sending smiles from her toy covered high-chair. I hated basketball nights, though we enjoyed the weekend games and Landon loved the sport in general. Mostly I think our generation tends to way overschedule kids, so I don't mind that we do the opposite of that, but JP and I were both athletes and we certainly don't want to deny our kids those opportunities forever. So we'll figure that out. Somehow. Later.

On Monday nights I go to 8:00 barre class after the kids are in bed, on Tuesday nights JP goes to 8:00 "fight night" for Krav Maga, and I usually go to barre at 7:30 on Thursdays because he gets home a half hour earlier on that night and the kids are only 15 minutes away from bed when I have to leave. We schedule the kids' doctor and dental appointments for the morning and he generally takes them. If we have a sick little one (a blessedly very rare event for us), he's home in the morning and I work a half-day and come home after lunch to play nurse/snuggler for the rest of the day. Business trips for me are a problem, and one we haven't really solved, but so far we've manage to patchwork something together when needed.

I actually took a quick business trip to Houston this Friday and it all worked out, but only because JP is done a little early on Fridays. I ended up jumping on a much earlier plane home and surprised everyone (and briefly scared the crap out of JP) by walking in the door just in time for a pre-bed game of Memory, a game that Cora takes very seriously:

Such focus

The principal gave Landon a medal for his writing and he was so proud and refused to take it off until he got in bed and we forced him to. Claire, as always, was delighted to have me back in the 3 foot radius that she prefers that all her family stay within. And I got to have Cora snuggled in my arms and JP by my side while I won second place in Memory, which is an unusually good showing for me. We tucked the kids in bed and watched Wolf of Wall Street (our Friday routine pretty much always involves a movie) and went to bed at the time my original flight home would have been landing in Dallas.


But back to the basic routine. It's a good one right now. I like that we both get to interact with the kids' teachers at school each day- JP in the morning and me at pick-up. I like that we both have flexibility in our schedules, that JP is home in the mornings, and that I can count on being home at a certain time in the evenings. We sneak in the occasional lunch date with each other, which I love, and in general, though I never saw these particular roles for us in the future, I love most of what they do for us and our family. Summer will screw things up- JP will be busier and at a pool with longer hours further away. Landon will be in various camps and I will be doing some of the morning driving and all of the Saturday care taking. But we'll leave that until then. For now, I'm up at about 6:30 am, down at about 11 pm, and all is working very well in the in between.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


As long time readers will know, I've never done a sponsored post on this blog. Ever. Anything I say about a product is purely because it's the thing that popped into my head to write about when I opened blogger, and anything I say about it is simply because that's what I wanted to say. I've never used affiliated links (I don't really even know what affiliate links are) and I've responded to every potential sponsor's email over the last 7.5 years with a polite "thank but no thanks." I don't care when other blogs do sponsored things- maintaining a blog is hard and there's many a night I go to bed later than I otherwise would have just so I can update mine, so if people get to receive and review the occasional free product for their efforts, that's great, I've just always felt a strong need to separate my corporate from my personal. A lawyer by paycheck, blogger by fun/choice kind of thing.

But then, several weeks ago, I was shopping for a wedding gift for my sister on, and while browsing, an email popped up in my inbox from someone in the Uncommon Goods marketing department asking if I'd be interested in a sponsored post. My first thought was, Whoah Google, you've taken this sneaky matching ads with what I'm browsing thing TOO FAR. But then I realized that this nice marketing person had nothing to do with google and appeared to have actually looked at my blog (unlike many an email I get), and so, for the first time ever, I agreed to do a sponsored post.

Because, you guys, I really do like this online store. They have a collection of items that are nice, different (uncommon!), and generally handcrafted by independent artisans. The item I eventually ordered for my sister is one such thing and I can't wait to show it to you, but she does occasionally read this blog and her bridal shower isn't until the middle of May, so we have to wait. But the gift arrived with a note from the artist and an explanation of how she learned her craft (she's third generation at what she does) and I love that, especially for a special wedding gift. I also love that much of what they sell uses recycled or upcycled materials and their lowest paid seasonal worker still is paid at least 50% above minimum wage. And mostly I just love a well-organized website with pretty, unique things.

Like this floating mug (here). Necessary? Absolutely not. Cool gift for the rabid tea drinker in your life who doesn't have a coaster at work and keeps getting napkins stuck to the wood of her desk because her hot cup melts the napkin fibers? Yes!

Or these "neighborhood" coasters. I may not still live in Chicago, but I like buying things that let me relive the memories. (There's other cities too, here).

Or this potential wedding gift! (Link here, and no Val, this isn't what you're getting, but I do like it!)

So if you're looking for a gift for Mother's Day, click here or here, or another unique gift, give them a look. Their website is nicely divided into lots of gift giving categories (like "gifts for women" click here, or "gifts for kids" here) which I appreciate, particularly after the google has overwhelmed me with options. And in a few more weeks I'll get to show you what I picked out for my sister- I love it so much I can't wait for her (and you) to see it!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In case it wasn't already clear, this post was sponsored by Uncommon Goods. I got to pick out an item in exchange for writing something about the company. All words and opinions are very much mine and none of the links have any sort of commission component. I just think it's just a good company with pretty things that I like and hope you like too :).

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

All the Books

I got an email from Amazon this morning- an email I almost deleted because I'm trying to delete all commercial type emails that make me want to buy things like pretty Spring clothes and shoes- and discovered I have a $51.12 book credit from the antitrust settlement! $51!! Apparently I bought a LOT of kindle books during the relevant time period.

Now I just need some new books to buy! So in that spirit, I thought I'd offer quick rundown of books I've read and liked in the last few months and seek your recommendations on any others that I need:

1. Kresley Cole- Immortals after Dark series: Fabulous. Seriously. One of my favorite series ever and though we're up to book 14 Cole manages to keep each new story just as strong as the ones before it. Dark Skye (which will be Lanthe's book) is coming out in August and I can't wait!

1.5 Kresley Cole- The Professional/Game Maker mini-series. Whoah. As a warning this is erotica (something many people apparently didn't realize when they downloaded Cole's latest when it popped up on Amazon), but it's well-written, with good, mostly 3-dimensional characters and though I haven't actually read 50 Shades of Grey, I've read a few excerpts (that were terrible), and I can assure you that this book is WAY better.

2. Kresley Cole- Arcana Chronicles: I continue to be obsessed with this series and am very sad I didn't discover it 5 years from now when all the books will be written and done so I could binge read them like I want to. Instead I'm stuck re-reading books 1 and 2 and waiting another YEAR for book 3 to come out. Cole recently said she expects to write 5-6 for the series, so at this rate I'll be about 40 when they're finally done. Just about time for me to probably stop having countdowns for new releases in YA book series.

3. Larissa Ione- Lords of Deliverance series: A dark, funny, and fabulous spin-off of the similarly fabulous Daemonica series (I actually prefer the Lords of Deliverance books, but I re-read all 10 books on a regular basis). Another of my very favorite series ever. Reaver came out recently and though it was supposed to be the last book, she's announced that at least 2 more are coming and I'm so happy.

3.5 Larissa Ione- Moonbound Clan series: This popped up in my Amazon feed and since it was written by Ione, I bought it, but I didn't find it quite up to par with her previous two series. There's only one book so far, so she's still world building, and I'll definitely download book 2, but if you're going to go Ione, start with Pleasure Unbound.

4. Jeaniene Frost- Night Huntress series: Great fun! I started out pretty "meh" for the first half of book 1 (the heroine annoyed me greatly in the beginning), but I persevered and next thing I knew I'd read all 6 books and all 4 spin-off books and have already re-read several of them 2-3 times. Frost is no Larissa Ione or Kresley Cole, but she's good and I enjoyed the books and characters. (Except for the last book, but I'm just pretending that one didn't happen because I'm too happy to have found another fun paranormal romancey adventurey series).

5. J.D. Robb/Nora Robert- In Death series: I'm kind of a sucker for this one. During my maternity leave I read all 40, borrowing them from our library's ebooks section, and re-download and read favorites all the time. I enjoy the characters and the TV-episode-like nature of the book installments. It's like watching House- established characters you know and enjoy, a new little mystery you know will be solved by the end, and small character developments along the way. You can read them out of order and it doesn't really matter, but I enjoy them all the same.

6. Veronica Roth- Divergent trilogy: I thought book 1 was great, book 2 was mediocre, and book 3 was TERRIBLE. Terrible. Just seeing the title in my kindle account renewed my fury and I deeply regret not demanding a refund back when I read it. I do remember finishing it, hours after it was released, and just staring at my kindle and saying out loud, What. The. Fcuk. I don't care about the shocking plot twist, it was that the shocking plot element didn't make sense within the plot. Roth's world-building fell into pieces when she tried to expand it. The characters were unrecognizable and when the first person perspective bounced back and forth between them I frequently had to back page just to remember who was the one talking. SO BAD. Clearly I'm still pretty mad about it.

7. Marie Force- Fatal series: These have been fun. Honestly, they read like a paler imitation of JD Robb's In Death series (to the point that I can't believe Force hadn't read many an In Death book and didn't accidentally have them in the back of her mind while she was writing), but they're still good and I've enjoyed them all.

8. Roberta Gellis- Rosalynde Chronicles: some of the first historical fiction I ever read (back in middle school, I think), I just rediscovered these on the Kindle a few months ago and enjoyed re-reading them. They're not as heavily researched as your average Sharon Kay Penman novel, but they're a fun look at medieval England.

9. J.D. Ward- Black Dagger Brotherhood: the newest installment ("The King") is coming out next Tuesday and I'm very excited to get a whole book focused on the two original characters of the series. I feel like Ward's story lines have gotten so convoluted and scattered and I'm hoping this book brings a bit of focus back to the series. Her prose (tough guy talk that frequently sounds ridiculous) may be annoying at times, but the characters and the friendships and relationships are wonderful and very real. Despite, you know, all of them being vampires.

So let me know what I need to read next! I have a strong preference for series, but will occasionally read a stand-alone if it's really REALLY good. I could use a good string of historical fiction/romances- I've been on an accidental paranormal streak and wouldn't mind jumping tracks for a bit (though, that said, if you have a good adventure-y romance-y paranomral-y series, please chime in!).

Speaking of adventure-y, romance-y books, Outlander, still my second favorite book series of all time (Harry Potter Forever in spot #1), has a new book coming out in June and a TV series debuting later this year! I'm thrilled and terrified to see it translated on screen, but the trailer and character casting has been very good and the author has been heavily involved in the casting and scripting, so I have hope.

And not speaking of anything relating to this post, Cora is teething and it is terrible. She is the saddest, but still also the sweetest, and she tremulously smiles at me in the middle of the night (SO much waking up in the middle of the night) with big fat tears in her eyes and it makes my heart hurt. When we got home from school/work this afternoon she only wanted to be held while she chewed on her elephant (basically a poor man's Sophie, but Cora doesn't mind), so that's exactly what we did for 1.5 hours. I read a new book (the latest In Death installation, I finally got to the top of the library's hold list) and we cuddled while the big kids played outside.

I finished the book just as JP got home and we threw dinner together in less than 10 minutes (our shishless kebabs, so delicious!), which circles us back to the point- new book recommendations! I needs them.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Frozen and Food

To continue with my months-belated movie references, we finally watched American Hustle, Dallas Buyers club, and Frozen this weekend! So many Oscar contenders! So long after anyone is talking about them! In sum, though American Hustle was the one I was most excited to watch, it  ended up being my 3rd favorite of the three (though, still a great movie and very fun). Dallas Buyers Club was phenomenal. Seriously so very good- real and sad and funny and poignant. I've decided both men deserved their Oscars, so don't worry Academy, I approve. And then we finally experienced Frozen yesterday afternoon and we've now watched it 3 times. 3 times! You guys, our kids watch approximately 2 hours of TV a week. We're totally anti-electronics and Landon thinks you have to be a married grown-up to watch TV on schooldays and we watched all 3 viewings in like 18 hours. Part bad weather, part good movie, part JP being mad he missed the first 1.5 viewings and insisting on a full redo this morning, complete with all kids snuggling on couches.

Yesterday, after viewings 1 and 2, I googled a bunch of those funny Frozen parody videos everyone has been posting on facebook for months but I've been skipping over because I didn't understand what they were referencing. I (belatedly) like them all! And then we watched the "Let It Go" sing-a-long video on the official Disney youtube channel on my phone until JP made us stop. Cora was also totally over it.

On to food (sorry, I really like it when other people write about their food, mostly because it gives me ideas and weekly menu brainstorming is still my least favorite part about being a grown-up, but I always do food posts on Sundays and Sundays are one of the only nights I always have time to post, so you end up reading a lot about Lag Liv family dinners.):

Tonight was supposed to be Martha Stewart's Christmas Morning Breakfast Bake, though it is neither Christmas nor morning, but I had barre (holy hell, hardest class ever, and my love only grows stronger each time I say that) and then stopped at the grocery store and didn't get home until 4ish and realized we'd be eating about 8:30 if I allowed for all the soaking and baking that was supposed to be happening. So I still made it all (using day-old sourdough bread bought for $1 at the store, diced prosciutto instead of Canadian bacon, and freshly grated Manchego and Basque cheeses leftover from JP and my wine and cheese in-home date night last Saturday) and now it's soaking and ready for baking tomorrow night!

Cora is my helper.  Mostly by smiling and finding it hilarious when I dance, which I do a lot when I cook because I blast all my favorite pandora stations together on shuffle.

After I cleaned up the 3 bowls, 2 pans, and 2 cutting boards from that prep experience, I got even more bowls and cutting boards out for dinner option #2: Greek Quinoa Salad with pita bread.

I can't believe I failed to chop in rainbow order. With the white feta cheese, brown quinoa, and black Kalamata olives, I really had a nice palette going. This recipe was absolutely fantastic. I added diced grilled chicken, subbed raw orange bell pepper for pickled peppers (are those really a thing? I thought they were just a tongue twister), used red quinoa and 1.5x the quantity, made about 2x the dressing (4x the vinegar, 2x everything else), and used way more feta than the "sprinkle" Bobby Flay suggests (and I mixed it all in with the veggies to let marinade rather than just sprinkling on top at the end). I'm sure Bobby's way is good too. The kids loved it and have requested the leftovers in their lunch tomorrow, but they'll have to share because JP and I want more too.

Full week:
Monday: Christmas Breakfast Strata deliciousness, fruit.
Tuesday: Shishless Kebabs. We made it up a few weeks ago when I planned to do shish-kebabs only to discover we didn't own skewers. Basically I do a large dice of raw chicken, fresh pineapple, red pepper, and red onion; spread it all on a baking pan covered in foil, brush/smother with Trader Joe's soyaki sauce, and broil until cooked and the pineapple carmelizes a bit. Serve over rice with extra soyaki sauce. It's Landon's new favorite meal. (And to accommodate my new "I'm trying not to spend 45 minutes on weekday dinners but can't help it because those are the dinners that I like plan," JP has promised to dice all items for me before he goes to lessons so I will just toss and broil them when I get home. Teamwork!)
Wednesday: Pasta of some sort (I have the makings for many options; outcome will depend on how the week is going), garlic bread, veggies.
Thursday: frozen mahi mahi fillets (from Costco), steamed frozen veggies, rice.
Friday: Pancakes (in a reprisal of last week's EXTREMELY popular green pancakes, these will probably also be a color), fried eggs, turkey sausage.

Cora's menu: bottles; all the chewy toys

In other food happenings, I'm completely obsessed with these giant and amazing apple fritters from Paul's Donuts, Subs, and Gyros on Hemphill near downtown (if you live here, GO!). The owner's family is a client of JP's and they're constantly giving us free donuts and other delicacies that I both love and hate to have in the house. On Saturday while I went to barre, JP took the kids to get donuts and gyros to take to the park. I was feeling so virtuous for missing the whole adventure (and a little sad, but barre is good for me and I'm refusing to feel guilty for taking the time to do it, though clearly I still have a few issues with it since I just bothered to type that out- ANYWAY), but then I came home to this little baby sitting in a white bakery box because JP loves me and knew that when I told him not to bring anything home for me that I was lying. I inhaled it while standing over the sink.

I don't even like fritters, baked fruit, or fried things that aren't french fries and I would eat one of these every day if I wasn't afraid I'd have a heart attack.

When not watching Frozen (and when the sun decided to show up), the kids played outside a lot. I took a break from taking pictures of Cora smiling and zoomed in on them doing exactly what we hoped they'd do when we invested in the swingset.

When did she get so big?

Time to stop typing and humming Frozen songs ("Let it go... Let it g-oooooo...") and go to bed. I hope you all have a marvelous week! and that I stop singing these songs before JP tries to kill me. I think I just need to get them out of my system, a timely 4 months after everyone else did.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Checking In (and mora Cora, of course)

I took testimony today. It was great fun; my assistant director floated in and out of the room while I took apart our witness exhibit by exhibit over 8 hours. Should I go back to a firm one day, running my own cases, and particularly my own depositions, will be something I'll sorely miss.

In other news: Cora was diagnosed with her first ear infection on Monday (milestone!); Claire had a fairly severe skin reaction to some sunscreen on Tuesday and her cheeks are just now almost back to her normal pink instead of swollen tomato red, poor thing; and Landon has his first loose tooth ("FINALLY!" he would exclaim if he were reading this; and he can read absolutely everything which means I can't just type and read whatever I want when he's in the room anymore. He started reading aloud from my kindle screen the other day when I had set it down to pick up Cora and I had to run back in the room with "ahhh! that is not for you." I read nothing remotely child appropriate. I barely read things that are adult appropriate. )

But back to Cora because every week brings a new adventure and/or baby booking/bloggable event. Since she turned 4 months old last week, we thought we'd give rice cereal a try. Cora was not impressed

Then she finally swallowed a tiny amount and was like, hmm, this tastes like my bottle, maybe it's okay? I'll smile just in case it's actually okay.

Then she started looking for her bottle. I can taste it, but where IS it?

Oh, oh, wait, here? Inside this fancy necklace?


[No words; T-minus 10 seconds from meltdown]

The sobbing was swift and strong and stopped immediately when I popped a bottle in her mouth and she did that thing where they glare at you while furiously drinking. It took like 7 minutes for her to forgive me. As it turns out, her pediatrician actually recommends delaying all cereal and baby foods until just before the 6th month, so we'll be doing that. Cora, if she hadn't been newly furious over her shots and all the impacted wax the doctor had to fish out of her ear, would have been very relieved. Smiles reign again.

On Monday I forgot to dress anyone in green, so I redeemed myself with green pancakes, GREEN MILK (highlight of the kids' lives; screw the ski vacation, just drop a dot of green food coloring in some milk and it's all they talk about for days), fried eggs, and fruit for dinner. Then I took myself to barre class next to an Irish pub and had to wade through many drunk revelers with my pink yoga mat and fuzzy moccasin slippers that I forgot to exchange for real shoes before leaving.

Cora had her 4-month check-up on Monday morning. She's in the 95th percentile for length (26"), 65th for weight (15 lbs.), and 55th for head. So tall, moderately chunky, and average headed, plus SUPER smiley. Cora's world was briefly torn apart by some shots and a thorough inspection of what turned out to be an infected ear. She'd woken up several times the night before, which is extremely uncharacteristic of her, so it was lovely to have the pediatrician karma of an 8:30 a.m. regularly scheduled check-up the next morning. So far this third-baby thing is working out pretty awesome.

I'm off to bed- insomnia + headaches + ear-achey baby + lots of extra work hours prepping for testimony all week make for a very tired me (how is it 11 pm already?), but overall things are great. Despite the insomnia, work craziness, antibiotic-induced baby tummy troubles, Claire's chemically burnt face (she's okay now though, really), and Landon's accidental introduction to vampire romance novels, there's been an ease about this week that has been missing from the last two. It's nice to have it back.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Inside and Outside the Comfort Zone

I finally tried NIA today.  The whole concept of a dance-based class with bouts of free-form movement scared me so much that I'd checked-in and canceled twice before, but today I was determined.  And then, in case my determination failed (and it did), I told JP to make me go.  And he did, getting the kids to cheerfully say goodbye and wish me luck at my dance class.  Very effective.

It wasn't quite as scary as I'd feared- about 75% of the class is choreographed, but it's so far out of my comfort zone I don't know that I'll ever be able to make myself go again.  I'm pro-boundary pushing, but this was uncomfortable in a way that didn't ease until I was back in my car 75 minutes later.  There were whole intervals of "just feel the music" and "follow your body's way."  My body's way is precisely what I'm told it is.  This why I adore barre: clear instructions, repeat 16 times, feel the burn, do it again.  I will work through out of control muscle spasms and leg shaking and pain if a teacher/authority figure tells me to, but I cannot wave my hands in the air at a general suggestion to do so.  But because I've been told to do something, I also can't just stand still, so I end up awkwardly swaying and counting down the seconds until I get directions to do something else.  It is very uncomfortable.  Clearly though no on else in the class thought so- they were smiling and dancing around, moving their heads and feet and arms and CELEBRATING THE BODY just like I was supposed to be doing.  I walked out and immediately checked-in on my phone for the barre class that was starting 2 hours later.  I like math problems with answers boxed in and excel spreadsheets of document discovery.  Nia is simply not for me.

But I went, and I'm glad I tried it.  It was a good work out.  You don't stand still ever (unless you are awkwardly swaying like me, and then you're almost still, but not still enough to be disobeying the teacher because Type A lawyer oldest children don't do that), and the time went by quickly when not in free-form mode.  If you like dance and are more uninhibited than me (not hard), you'd probably love it as much as everyone in the class seemed to.  But I'll stick with barre, which I still love with every fiber of my being.  A year ago I never would have thought I'd write that sentence about an exercise class, but it's true.  Saturday's class nearly killed me and I walked out filled with muscle spasms of JOY.


Other than my 3 workout classes and JP's swim practice, we've enjoyed a lazy weekend.  No travel, no big tasks, no errands except for Trader Joe's.  JP and I enjoyed a wine and cheese date night at the dining room table after the kids went to bed last night and it was lovely.  He had lots of swim school work today (he's totally booked for spring and registration opened 3 days ago!) and then he went for a 3 mile run with Landon riding his bike beside him.  This is their new favorite thing to do together and I love it.  Cora took her 3 daily naps and was delighted not to leave the house all weekend- moving from her crib to someone's arms to her monkey bouncer to her playmat.  Always surrounded by her family and smiling anytime anyone made eye contact.

spied the mommy behind the camera

I made a delicious bolognese sauce for dinner tonight that made our whole house smell good, and I think I have a fool proof menu plan for the rest of the week.  I hope so anyway.  JP was home all of spring break (the pool he coaches at follows the school schedule, so it was closed) and it was WONDERFUL. He and Landon had big adventures every day- from bike rides to hikes to multiple stops at our favorite neighborhood donut shop and in the grand finale, a Lego movie excursion, and he dropped off the girls late and picked them up early from school, so I came home every day to three happy kids and dinner cooking on the stove.  We ate early, played games and read long books before bed (multiple long books even! so different from our usual pre-bed refrain of "okay, but pick a short one."), and everyone enjoyed enjoyed a mommy who could fully enjoy everyone else.

I miss it already.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cora and Co

There are a few things that are completely crappy right now, but Cora and the big kids aren't one of them. I've been due for a baby update on the Corabunny, but words fail- beyond just trying to describe over and over how utterly delightful she is, to the core of her tiny little being, I fear I'm being repetitive.

She's 4 months old today and I have never enjoyed each stage with a baby more. I'm just trying to soak it all up and I'm sad each night when I put her in bed and say goodbye to another evening with her. I've never felt this way with a baby- with Landon we were mostly surviving, loving him, of course, but SURVIVING. Claire taught us that babies can be more fun than work, but it took at least 6 months before we could really relax and stop waiting for something to go terribly wrong. With Cora, we began with a mindset of some babies are hard, some are easy, but if you make it to 12 months it all gets pretty awesome, and then we were blessed with a baby even smilier and easier than Clairebear and we were able to enjoy it from the beginning.

I swear every day she's just proving what an excellent decision we made to finally toss the birth control and make baby #3 a reality instead of a much debated abstract being.

She is truly just SO happy to be on the Lag Liv family team. Her joy infuses her every ounce and is impossibly contagious.

Landon and Claire feel it too. They remain besotted. Even Claire, who I thought might have a few sharing the spotlight issues still just says every day, "I'm so glad we have our baby Mommy." They still want to hold her, touch her, talk to her. They exclaim when she smiles at them and they try to include her in everything they do, even if it's just running over to whatever baby station she's hanging out in to tell her what's happening.

Yesterday, a randomly gorgeous 80-degree afternoon, we set up shop outside as soon as I got home from work (at 3:30, because insomnia is trying to kill me and I gave up on sleeping and went in at 6:30) and didn't go back in until bedtime at 7:30. I put Cora in her playmat on the patio while the kids sang and danced and played basketball. In a typical set-up, the boys were actually playing the basketball, Claire was watching nearby with babies and plastic high heels, and Cora was set a little further back, watching her big siblings intently.

JP mocked the bow I felt Cora needed, but it was Claire who ran inside and found a pair of her sunglasses and popped them on Cora, stepping back and exclaiming, "Mommy! She looks AMAZING." And she did indeeed.

Rationally, I know Cora is my last baby. JP is not kidding when he says we're not having more, and while there are very few things he would deny me, a fourth baby is emphatically one of them. And yet I don't feel like I'm done. I don't feel like I'm not done either, and our life, schedule, house, and budget are completely incompatible with a fourth child, I just thought that if and when we had a third, I'd feel capital-D Done. I figured that throughout the pregnancy, recovery, and babyhood, I'd be happy it was happening but I'd know and revel in the fact that it wasn't happening again. But from the day I found out I was pregnant (a year ago today exactly), I never had that feeling. Pregnancy was fine, recovery was easy, infancy was wonderful. I even fit back into my regular clothes months earlier than usual! In every way Cora has made her addition easy and I almost wish for something that would make me think, "Well thank goodness this is the last time we're doing that!". Not really, but almost.

Last night I snapped a picture right between steps 1 and 2 of her complicated nighttime routine (in bed; light off). And then I picked her back up and squeezed her because you guys, I cannot get enough.

When I relinquished her to her bed and closed the door, and checked in on L & C to find them sleeping snugly in their own, I thought of a woman we talked to at my grandparents' retirement community last weekend. We'd just piled in the elevator and I was holding Claire's hand and directing Landon on which floor to press, and JP was holding our bags and Cora's infant carrier, and this lovely woman who looked to be in her mid-80's was smiling at us with such a soft look in her eye and said "Oh, I remember those days." And she didn't say it in the sort of wry "don't worry you'll get past this" way or the overly fond "time clearly erases all memories of tantrums" way, she just said it simply, with a soft smile. And that's exactly how I think of it now- fondly, with a bit of wistfulness at how it's already moving forward too fast. It's not that life with small children is always easy or I don't have days that I long to come home and care only for myself. But I also don't find it nearly as awful or soul-sucking as the kind-of-funny-but-mostly-mean internet postings try to make it seem. I love this time with small kids in the house and I think that's part of why I can't believe Cora's the end for us- I don't want to leave this phase and by my logic, as long as we keep having babies, I don't have to.