Sunday, April 27, 2014

3-on-1 Saturday

Yesterday was the first Saturday of JP's summer season. The indoor pool he uses from September to May is used for summer camps in the summer, so last year he set about finding summer space he could rent. Pool space is at a premium, so in order to use a very nice outdoor pool in our area, he had to agree to be pool manager, a relatively thankless job involving monitoring and balancing the pools chemicals, hiring, scheduling, and managing payroll for the lifeguards, dealing with pool member complaints, and maybe best of all- cleaning out the trashed, overgrown pool area at the start of the summer to get the pool ready for filling. So yesterday he headed out at 8 a.m. with his weed whacker, lawn mower, scrubber brushes, and a lot of bleach. A few of his lifeguards met him there and they cleaned out the whole 50 meter pool, bathrooms, and large grassy area. Operating a swim school is not nearly as glamorous as the movies make it seem.

So, while JP was scrubbing toilets and fighting a 6 inch live (and probably radioactive) crawfish that grew in a pool filter, the kids and I planned our first solo Saturday. We began with Cora napping, mommy doing a barre video, and the big kids playing outside. While Landon was pulling out all the wheeled vehicles from the garage, I couldn't help but pause my workout to snap this picture through the window of Claire singing to the Frozen soundtrack I was piping to the jambox outside. She always stands 3 inches away, cracks me up.

Wheeled vehicles extracted, an elaborate game of cozy coupe house/camping/doctor(?) ensued.

He got that coupe for his first birthday present.  Fits just the same.

A neighbor gave us their hand-me-down coupe last summer, so the kids were able to have what looks like a serious rooftop conference.

After my workout was over, we decided to write down a set of House Rules. With Landon this was never necessary because he had an innate understanding of rules and limits and never pushed them. Claire... Claire needs them spelled out. Frequently. So I asked the kids what they thought the rules were and should be and we created this list:

I'll edit and finalize later. Landon has volunteered to illustrated because he's concerned Claire won't be able to read them and he's the one who usually suffers for her not knowing them (not that she totally doesn't already know them but she plead ignorance while these were suggested).  She contributed "eat all your chicken"- for reasons we can't figure out, she hates chicken (and loves all other meat and fish and strong flavors) and sees the necessity of eating it as her greatest burden in life.

Also burdened by a timeout for immediately breaking all the rules centered around "being nice"

Cora woke up from her nap delightful as always. This baby is really only a value-add. She changes none of our plans and just adds a smile to whatever we were going to be doing anyway. I'd have 6 of her if I could.

Next on the schedule we created was to bake S'more Bars from a recipe magazine I'd picked up a few weeks ago and let the kids flag with post-its for things they wanted to eat. They flagged the entire dessert and breakfast section and nothing in between. Unfortunately we were lacking pretty much all of the ingredients, so we piled in the car for a Kroger adventure, with a second stop at Sonic for refreshments. Lunch was a picnic on the back patio, s'more bars were made and eaten, and Cora went back down for a nap. Post-lunch entertainment was provided by the big kids and mommy video'd it for potential playback during Landon's senior year slide show:

Cora woke up again (so happy!), cozy coupes were reintroduced (now with helmets for maximum safety), and much fun was had while I watched and talked to Cora.

I prepped dinner while Cora ate an elephant.  It's important to stroke the elephant first to make sure it's at the desired state of tenderness.

The big people ate an assortment of Trader Joe's pizzas with raw veggies and ranch and an extra s'more bar before being sent back outside to play. I'd planned to watch a movie at the end of the day, but the weather was so nice and the kids so good we didn't end up needing it, so now I can keep a double-movie day in reserve for the future.


JP came home, exhausted and dirty, just in time to kiss the kids goodnight. All in all I'd say my day was considerably better than his and I'm no longer dreading my solo Saturday summer. I'm sure there will be long days, but the pool should warm up soon and that will help too- partly because nothing wears kids out like swimming, but also because I can keep a steady stream of friends visiting with their kids to play with us. And speaking of the pool and swim suit season, I'm off to barre! I snuck a s'more bar for breakfast this morning (goes great with Earl Grey tea) and Landon caught me and I had a moment of rambling excuses before I realized that hey! I'm a grown-up and I can eat s'more bars for breakfast if I want to. It comes with having to pay taxes. Do as I say and not as I do child and be gone!

But yeah, off to barre.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Little Lawyers

Today was our second year to participate in Take Your Kids to Work Day at the SEC. Cora participated for 10 minutes, but Landon and Claire stayed the whole day.

Like last year, there wasn't a lot of actual working, but we did have a very short game of hide-and-go-seek in my office, followed by some coloring and singing of Frozen songs. Which is exactly how I normally spend the hour of 9:15-10:15 a.m.

Once the real program began, there was a very special federal court room visit for the older kids where they would get a tour by federal marshalls before sitting in the gallery and watching a criminal sentencing hearing. Landon said he wanted to go and though he was under the recommended age limit, I knew I could trust him to sit still and be silent as required, and Claire came back up to my office with me. So while Landon got more courtroom time than your average 3rd year biglaw associate, Claire turned my binder clips into earrings and colored me 87 pictures of Easter eggs that we cut out and hit around my office.

After the courtroom tour it was time for a hot dog lunch and playtime on the rope jungle gym in the park outside my office. Again, a perfect representation of what I do each day. Landon seemed pretty impressed by the courtroom and told me a bad guy was wearing handcuffs and had to go to jail for 9 years (drug offense). He's going to be so disappointed when he realizes I can't send anyone to jail and my subpoenas aren't even self-executing.

After playtime the kids split into groups and did a scavenger hunt around the offense which was a huge hit and then we all gathered in the biggest conference room to watch Frozen. Claire can't WAIT to work at the SEC when she's a grown-up.

But in all seriousness, I have very strong memories of going to Take Your Daughter to Work Day with my dad when I was little. I remember waking up SO early, riding the bus into downtown Houston (we lived about 45 minutes out), and walking into the giant Shell office building. It felt so foreign and special. My dad worked at Shell for more than 20 years, but we lived so far from his office that it was a very separate part of him. Whereas my kids knew where all the juice boxes were in the kitchens at the firm, and could navigate their way to my office door from the parking garage, we never visited my dad at work. And unlike my kids who know a few dozen female lawyers and would currently find it far less noteworthy to hear about a friend's dad who stayed home than a friend's mom, I had never seen a professional female until I started walking into One Shell Plaza back in the early 1990's.

And it blew my mind. All these women, moms!, wearing suits and high heels and Going To Work. At the time, the General Counsel of Shell was a woman and she did the intro speech and I still remember seeing her on the podium addressing us all and feeling like the world had opened up. I could wear a suit. I could talk to lots of people. I don't know how much Shell spent on that program, and I have no idea if they still do it, but it definitely made an impact on me. And it's not that I had any real concept yet of staying home v. working, or that my parents ever said I couldn't or shouldn't work, it's just that I'd never seen it. And seeing is so much more believing or hearing or hoping. I think it was a bigger moment for me than I recognized at the time.

My kids are clearly well aware that both men and women work outside the home (and inside the home/pool!), but I still think it's nice for them to see it, even if they walk away mostly thinking I watch movies and climb on ropes all day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Family Trees and Burnt Limbs

JP's mom called on Monday morning.  It was very early, and thinking it was the phone alarm JP invariably leaves on even when he knows he isn't going to swim practice, I swished my finger across it to turn it off and rolled over.  Only to hear a "hello" and belatedly remember a "301" Potomac, Maryland number flashing on the screen.  So I hit the phone again and to make sure it was quiet.  A few seconds later, as I was processing what had just happened and realizing that perhaps it wasn't the alarm clock talking to me, the phone rang again.

I brought it to JP who'd been in the family room feeding Cora because she didn't eat all weekend and decided 5 a.m. would be delicious, and he spoke to his mom for the first time in nearly 4 years.  His dad had had a heart attack early in the morning, been taken to the hospital via ambulance, and undergone angioplasty with stent replacement.  He was recovering in ICU and couldn't talk, but she thought JP would want to know.  He said thanks, got the hospital name and room number, and that was it.

He's now spoken to his dad twice since our 5 a.m. wake-up call.  He's home resting now, insisting that the whole thing wasn't a big deal and complaining about the diet and mild exercise plan the doctor wants him to follow.  Neither parent has acknowledged the fact that we haven't seen or heard from them since 2010 and we have two grandchildren they've never met.  They haven't used the calls to inquire about the kids or me or their son and his life that is so different than it was when they last saw him at his MBA graduation.  Our kids don't know who they are.  Landon asked, once, if daddy had a mom and dad.  I said yes, he does, and they live in Maryland.  He said okay, and left it at that.  I don't think he's made the association yet that normally dad's mom and dad would be another Papa and Gigi that he could talk to and visit and love.  It's very strange having grandparents who are alive, but who don't exist for your children.

JP and I used to spend an inordinate amount of time discussing his parents.  The latest fabricated drama, the bizarre codependent relationship between his mother and grandmother, the boundaries we were setting and would continue to set in the future.  For Landon's first 2 years we put up with their nonsense because beneath it all, they were great grandparents to him.  They adored Landon and since JP doesn't have any siblings and I just had my unmarried two, we felt that any additional family in our kid's life was a good thing and worth the difficulties, because at the time the difficulties only affected JP and me, and not Landon.  But then Claire was born and they kept setting up visits and then refusing to come because of one made up reason or another and the made-up drama got worse and it all culminated in the most insane phone call I've ever been party to in my life where his mom accused me of all sorts of untrue things (for example, not loving JP or my mother) and they refused to come out for their third attempted to visit to meet our now-9-month-old baby Claire.  Landon was old enough to know they were coming and be excited about the visit and confused when they changed their minds (and even more confused when he heard one particularly unhinged message being yelled into our answering machine) and JP was done.  In truth, he'd been done for years, but had kept up the relationship at my stubborn insistence that it could be fixed if we just tried hard enough. "Don't call back again without an apology for your behavior," he said, and his mother never called us again.

Now we never talk about his parents.  If he thinks about them, I have no indication, and when I think about them, it's to be sad that the situation is what it is.  I love family and the loss of what could be distracts me at times.  But I know that what I think family could be and what his family could be are two different things and after 9 years of trying to make JP work things out, I stepped back in 2010 and let him dictate the terms of our relationship with them.  Which, since his mom has never swallowed her pride to even call us, is no relationship at all.  And any time I start to feel bad about them, alone in their big house with their only child estranged and their grandchildren unable to recognize them in a crowd, I remember that I didn't do it.  Though we'd discussed one day having to cut them out of our lives, in the end, they did it for us.  And while I'm not sure what we would have done had his mother tried some halfhearted attempt at reconciliation after we'd all cooled off, the fact is that she didn't.  Us, our kids- her awesome, loving, wonderful would-be grandchildren, aren't worth enough to her to risk reaching out.  And when I remember that, I get mad, and am again comfortable with our lack of contact.

Now JP's mom has called three times in the last two days.  He hasn't answered.  He calls his dad's cell phone if he wants to check in with him, and she hasn't left a message, but I think she thinks we're all back on track now and I fully expect that if I were to answer the phone she'd ask what the weather is like here right now and launch into a complicated story about a coworker I don't know doing something I don't care about.

So I don't know what will happen with that.  Other than JP's renewed obsession with heart healthy diets (his paternal grandparents both died of heart attacks at young ages, his dad's brother died of a heart attack in his 50's, and his dad is now the longest living member of his family at 68, all facts that do genuinely frighten me) and his phone ringing frequently without his answering it, nothing has changed.  But it's certainly a fork in the road- an opportunity to build back some bridges if we wanted to, namely by pretending the burnt ones don't exist and never did.  JP doesn't want it, and I'm sticking by my promise to let him choose, but they're back in my mind (and on our missed calls log) in a way they haven't been in a long time.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Burn Baby Burn, an Easter placeholder

1. A hot water pipe broke underneath our house and we didn't realize it until Wednesday night when I got back from my barre class and asked JP why I could hear water rushing between the walls in the kids' hall bathroom. A plumber came out at 9:40 p.m. and crawled under our pier-and-beam house through a tiny hole in the back of Cora's closet while she slumbered peacefully 12 inches away. (Sidenote: you could not pay me enough to crawl under our 70-year-old house in the middle of the night armed with only a tiny flashlight.) By 10 p.m. we knew the leak was somewhere under our kitchen but the plumber couldn't fit under that part of the house to find out exactly what was going on. While we wondered whether sending Landon down with a flashlight and a shovel would violate any child labor laws, he told us they'd "send out our skinniest guy" the next day to diagnose the problem. Licensed Skinny Plumber arrived late Thursday afternoon, dug his way through dirt to get to the leak, and found soggy soil and the fatal combo of copper and galvanized steel pipes. Bottom line, $4,000 and several days without hot water from now, our house will have shiny new pipes that no one will be able to see. Because that's SO much better than the kitchen remodel we were hoping to start this fall. Blurgh.

2. We spent Easter weekend at my parents' lake house and it was wonderful. Here is a placeholder picture for the post that will come later this week.

Cora actually had a super runny/stuffy/sneezy nose, and though wasn't fussy and never cried (my brother noted that in three visits, he's actually never heard her cry, which is probably true), she spent most of the weekend looking exactly like this:

Basically, she has no idea who any of you people are. She slept 18 hours a day, ate almost nothing, and didn't seem to mind much that she was spending Easter with a bunch of strangers.  We seemed nice enough, and she appreciated the bunny headband she got as a party favor.

3. While enjoying Easter at the lake, my bare upper legs came in contact with direct sunlight for the first time in many months and my vampire skin is now some impossible shade of neon maroon.  It is horrifying and terribly painful.  I blame the shortie shorts I bought at Express.  And my selflessness for lathering so much sunscreen on the kids that I forgot several places to put it on myself (also: neck, certain portions of face, and left foot, but not nearly as bad). It hurts very much to have anything touch my neon maroon upper thighs and I'm wondering if I can work from home tomorrow. Not wearing pants in the office is frowned on.

4. Sometimes JP wonders why we need to pay a photographer to take pictures of us with the kids.  This is why.  It's the only picture I have of me holding Cora on her first Easter.  JP took it.

6. Thanks to my sunburn and staying up too late talking to my brother last night (and getting up too early to do Easter baskets this morning), I feel exactly like Claire in this picture from our drive home this afternoon.

Except I don't do sleepy with quite so much style.  To bed- it's supposed to get cool tonight, but I'm sure the heat waves radiating off my legs will keep JP and I nice and warm.  Happy Easter everyone!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Day in the Life of Cora: 5 months

HIIIII! I'm Cora. The CoraBunny, CoraMonster, CoraNugget, CoraButton. Rarely Cora, often Peanut, and always happy to be here. Here's my day:

6:45 a.m.: WAKE UP!

Today is going to be AWESOME. I like to hold my hands and roll around and talk and chirp to myself. It's been nearly 12 hours since I've seen anyone and I have SO MUCH to say and SO MANY saved up smiles to give. I hear my super awesome mini parents moving around in their room and then my big parents come in to get me. This is the best part of my day.

I'm pretty sure my dad is supposed to get me in the morning, but I always hear my mom say, "I'll just run in and get her real quick" and she's dressed all fancy with funny clicky shoes and she scoops me up and gives me big snuggles and lays me on my changing pad and we both do SO MANY SMILES. Mommy dresses me in something that matches. Daddy often fails to help me live up to my sartorial potential, but I smile at him anyway because smiling is my favorite, and I know if mommy sees me in mismatched clothes she always takes me back in my room to change again and I think it's hilarious when she pulls a shirt back over my head. Shirts over the head is my favorite.

You know that "Everything is Awesome" song from the lego movie? That's what I sing in my head ALL day. Because it's true. Everything is AWESOME.

7:15 a.m.: I get to spend time smiling in all sorts of different places in the house! Sometimes I'm on my big parents bathroom floor while my mommy does funny stuff to her hair and face. Other times I'm in my monkey bouncer in the kitchen or my awesome rainforest jumperoo in the big room. My big brother and sister like to come help me jump, even though they're supposed to be putting their shoes on. I don't have shoes. I'm not even sure I have toes. This is confusing. BOUNCE!

7:45 a.m.: Time to go to school! Mommy is already gone and I get big kisses on my squishy cheeks before she runs out the door. Now I'm in the car seat, my new favorite, facing backwards and chewing on a toy. Or my hands. I like to chew. And I like my hands. And they're always right nearby!

7:55 a.m.: We drop my big brother off at Kindergarten! I love my big brother! He always gives me a kiss before he jumps out of the car. He's my favorite.

8:05 a.m.: Now we're at my school! Daddy carries me in in my special bucket seat with my pink bottle bag on his shoulder. My big sister walks with us holding her kitty lunchbox. I can't wait until I'm old enough to have a lunchbox. My sister goes to her class and then I get to see my baby friends. I love my baby friends! Daddy tells my teacher I had a great night (duh, great nights are my favorite) and then tells me to have a good day (of course! good days are my favorite) and he goes off to do whatever grown-ups do during the day.

8:15 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.: School time! I smile my smiles, play with my friends and teachers, drink my bottles, and nap my naps. I love school. I have a best baby friend and we talk and talk and TALK when we're on the floor together. On nice days I get to spend lots of time outside in the buggy. I love being outside in the buggy- I can let my tummy hang out and relax while I look for my big sister. She always comes over to say hi and I get SO excited. My big sister is my favorite.

4:45 p.m.: Mom is here! She's my favorite! My teachers tell her all about how good I was and then she hands me my elephant and I get so excited I shove two of its legs in my mouth. I LOVE my chewy elephant. Where does mommy get it? It seems to disappear and reappear at will. Mom is magic, just like my elephant! We girls get in the car to go pick up my brother and I talk the WHOLE WAY. I have so much to tell them about so many things! Politics, conspiracy theories around Malaysia Flight 370, and my thoughts on preferred Honest Co. diaper patterns.

5:00 p.m.: We get Landon! I love Landon! He tells us all about his day and all his papers and art and I have to start ALL over with my latest news and there's a lot of talking happening at the same time. I love talking at the same time. It's my favorite.

5:10 p.m.: Home! I love home! Usually I'm hungry because all that talking has parched my throat, so my mom goes straight to the rocking chair and snuggles me and feeds me a bottle while my brother and sister go outside to play. Now that the weather is nice I get to go outside and eat while mommy watches my siblings do fancy tricks on the playground. I can't wait until I can do tricks on the playground- I'll be flipping my chins backwards over the swing in no time.

5:25 p.m.: Mom works on making the big people dinner and I get to bounce in my jumperoo. I love my jumperoo! I bounce like a hyperactive kangaroo because it's a really important job and I'm the only one to do it. I try really hard not to look at the waterfall because it hypnotizes me and the bouncing stops. Then I break free and the smiles and bouncing come back right up until I'm sucked in again. It's an exercise in mental toughness and I LOVE it!

5:40 p.m.: TOTALLY over the jumperoo. I file my protest with the mommy and she puts me in my monkey bouncer, then my play gym, and then my bumpo and sing-a-long stage. I love all these things! It's like circuit training for babies. It's not easy keeping all these chins in shape.

5:55 p.m.: Mommy is done with dinner and we're outside watching the big kids play. I love watching the big kids play! Sometimes Mommy just holds me, other times I get to roll around on a blanket while she reads a book or bangs her fingers on a black thing. Boring, but she smiles at me a lot and smiling is my favorite.

6:15 p.m.: Big person dinner time! I sit in my highchair at the table and watch everyone eat and I think this is very awesome. Mommy tried to feed me food on a spoon once and I was NOT IMPRESSED. I prefer a liquid diet with a side of chewy elephant, thankyouverymuch.

6:45 p.m.: Daddy is home! By now mommy is long done with her dinner so she's usually holding me because I'm irresistible. Daddy makes a big plate and sits with us. I LOVE when he sits with us and I smile at him lots while he eats his dinner and talks to mommy and the big kids.

7:00 p.m.: Everyone is done eating and daddy starts doing dishes while the big kids clear the table. Mommy usually goes to the rocking chair and feeds me, but sometimes I get to take a shower so I get naked instead. I love naked! Daddy takes a shower with the big kids and mommy passes me over to him and I love it! Shower time is the coolest. I get passed back to mommy after I get all scrubbed with the silliest soap and she snuggles me in my towel and puts on my pj's.

7:15 p.m.: Now that I'm so fresh and so clean I'm snuggled in the rocking chair with mommy drinking my bedtime bottle. The big kids streak past me between the shower and their room and I think this is very funny. My big brother reads bedtime stories on the couch and I get to listen. I am feeling so warm and so cozy and my tummy is so full and my mommy rocks me back and forth, and back and forth, until the reading is over. My brother and sister gives me hugs and kisses on their way to bed and THIS is the best part of my day.

7:30 p.m.: Mommy brings me to my room, lays me on my tummy, turns out the light, turns on my noisy machine, and puts great-grandma's blanket on my back. I give her big smiles because my bed is my favorite.

7:32 p.m.: I'm asleep.

7:45 p.m.: Except when I'm not. Sometimes I like to talk and hold my hands and roll around.

7:55 p.m.: Super asleep.

3:30 a.m.: Sometimes though, just for fun, I wake up and have long enthusiastic conversations with myself at 3:00 in the morning. I just have so many thoughts! I lay on my side and hold my hands and jabber until I get tired again. Sometimes Mommy sneaks in my room to check on me. She tries to be quiet, but I always know. I smile at her and she smiles back and gives me a little pat on the back and goes back to her bed. I love my mommy. She's my favorite.

Everything is my favorite! I'm Cora and I'm really just delighted to be here.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Week Alfesco

Cora's going to tell you all about her day in the next post, but blogger ate half of it, so instead you're hearing about our week. Which was excellent!

Monday was Monday, but it was a perfectly acceptable Monday at that.

Tuesday was art show day and that was great fun.

On Wednesday Legally Fabulous came over to hang out with the kids and eat dinner outside and that was even more fun. Cora gave her lots of smiles while we drank Mexican martinis and watched the big kids play on the swing set and talked about public sector law jobs, baby names, and her sometimes funny and frequently terribly depressing public defender stories. She is one of my favorite people and I hope her plans to one day move to Texas come to fruition.

On Thursday I used some credit hours to cut out early and run errands. Very productive and necessary errands like buying Cora a tiny bunny t-shirt to wear after church on Easter. As I keep telling JP, if this is my last baby, I get to buy All The Things for every holiday because I'll never again get to put a tiny bunny headband on a tiny fuzzy head on Easter. (The bunny headband is in the mail from a etsy shop.) I picked the kids up super early at 3 and they played outside for hours while I sat with Cora.

Dinner was a challenge- I'd planned to make flatbread pizzas, but found that we didn't have any tomato sauce or mozzarella cheese or much of anything else. We did have some salsa leftover from the Tex Mex night we'd had with Legally Fab, some moneterrey jack cheese, a can of refried black beans, and two avocados. And from that I created flatbread Mexipizzas! (One with salsa verde, black olives, and monterrey jack cheese; the other with red salsa, thin layer of refried black beans, olives, and a mexican cheese blend, topped after baking with sliced avocado.) And they were SO good. That's becoming a regular recipe in the Lag Liv household.

Friday we had friends over with their two kids- 3 years and 9 months, and there was more sitting outside and talking and drinking and watching kids play and babies smile. I made a Greek pasta salad with grilled chicken, pitas, hummus, and tzatziki sauce on the side. With our friend's white wine and beer and JP's leftover swim school anniversary cookies, it was quite an excellent meal and the weather and children couldn't have been better.  Cora wore her party onesie and felt very festive.

Yesterday dawned all rosy and lazy, so I spread an old blanket on the family room floor and let the kids watch 3 episodes of Wild Kratts while JP slept late and Cora rolled around and played among us.

As always, the kids centered their play around Cora, who was, as always, delighted to be included.

The blanket became a central part of our whole day and this morning both kids immediately asked if we could "spread the blanket" again.

But the highlight of the day was the surprise date night I planned for JP. I made a reservation at our very favorite fancy Fort Worth restaurant- the one he surprised me with a date night to when Cora was a few weeks old and we ate the best meal of my life in fancy clothes and blown out hair. I'm not even sure it was actually the best meal of my life, but it was damn good and the fancy adult nature of it all after 6 weeks at home with a newborn elevated the evening to a whole other level. Ever since, any time we talk about going out to eat, JP always jokes, "Ooh, at Grace?!" and I roll my eyes because no, it's all Tex Mex happy hours for us, but last night I got to say "Yes! The babysitter will be here at 7." and it was awesome. To keep up with tradition, I blow dried my hair for the occasion, the first time I'd done that in many a week.

We were celebrating the one year anniversary of starting the swim school and the great success and enormous amount of work he's put in to make that success. I'm so proud of him. He has 115 kids signed up this session alone and his name is bandied about in glowing terms on any FW mom message board.  It's been a lot of work by both of us, but as I wrote here, it's created a life that works well for us and I couldn't be more proud of where he is, and where we are, right now. And so we celebrated with the eating of fried oysters, the greatest salad ever made, filet mignons with Bearnaise, and butterscotch pudding desserts we had to order two of because we wouldn't share. Oh and a great bottle of Bordeaux because that's JP's favorite wine and he hasn't had it since he was in France before we got married because Bordeauxs aren't produced in the Yellow Tail price bracket. We told the waiter we were celebrating an anniversary, which I now realize he probably thought meant wedding anniversary, but I phrased it as "his one year anniversary," meaning JP's for his business, but JP dislocated two fingers at krav maga a few weeks ago and they're still too swollen to wear his wedding ring, so I was the only one wearing one, which probably made for a lot of confusing signals. But no matter, it was a lovely, lovely time.

And now we're all off to Target in the rain because we love adventure. Next week is going to be pretty routine and then it's pretty dress and bunny headband time! I can't wait.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Our Lanman, 6.75

Tonight was a special night for the Lanman. A few weeks ago, a letter came home with him notifying us that his artwork had been one of fourteen pieces chosen by his art teacher to represent his school in the district art show. We were so excited. JP because he is actually very good at art and me because I am very very not. I had flashbacks to my elementary school art show (Houston's Rodeo Art competition) and my failure, despite trying SO HARD to copy the teacher's art piece exactly, to ever have a piece even close to nominated. The art would be displayed at the downtown branch of the public library for 3 weeks and there would be a special reception honoring the nominees on April 8th. We were in and we were pumped.

We decided to book our favorite sitter for the girls (girls! will I ever not get a little thrill saying that? it hasn't worn off yet) and take Landon out on the town for some art viewing, ribbon receiving, and special dessert eating. Upon hearing our plans, his first comment was, "Wait, so I don't get to be home with Claire and Cora and the babysitter?!!" We really had to play up the ice cream angle to get him to stop being jealous of his sitter-watched siblings.

JP had to coach until right before the reception ended, so Landon and I drove in together, parking at my office and walking the two blocks to the library. He loved walking through the city and told me that his Kindergarten teacher had promised to stop by and he hoped we'd see her. And as luck would have it- she was the first familiar face we found. JP ran in (literally) 5 minutes before close and the look on Landon's face when he saw his dad jog across the giant room absolutely epitomized everything about why we're both on the career paths we're on right now. Control over our schedules and making events like this, even if only for a few minutes, are everything.

Landon's art teacher was also at the reception and he had many sweet and complimentary things to say about our little boy. As anyone with kids knows, there is very little better than the high you get when someone else says something nice about your child. Particularly when that something nice is thoughtful and genuine. It is lovely. And not because it says anything about you, but because it says so much about a little one you've loved and cared for since he was a tiny non-breathing non-sleeping infant.

They are so much and so much yet unknown when you're holding that tiny baby. I mean, who knew our surprisingly premature and problematic baby would end up being able to draw so well?

Or that he'd love his little sisters to pieces? That he'd absolutely adore Kindergarten? Or that his Kindergarten teacher would adore him? That he'd be more sociable than you and your husband combined times a hundred? That he'd handle new and unknown situations with aplomb? That he'd love running, the color orange, and the flaming hot cheetos that you find (and have always found) absolutely revolting?

Sometimes I think the best part about being a parent, besides the hilarious things kids say and the way you and your spouse can laugh about them as you fall asleep hours after the kids were put to bed, is discovering the tiny person you made. We're only 6.75 years in, and have a long way yet to go, but it has been a joy to discover our baby Landon.

And though Landon missed Claire and Cora, I think he had a good time being an only kid with us tonight. I know that we enjoyed getting to spend a short time focusing only on him and his achievement- not just with regard to his artwork, but this whole year. Kindergarten has been such a wonderful time for him. He's always loved daycare and school, but mostly because of his love for other kids. This year we got to see him love it for the learning itself- the thrill of learning new things, knowing the answer to the question, doing well at something and being recognized for it. It has been a joy I can't describe to see him fall in love with school the way I loved it. And a relief for JP who never loved school but always wished he did.

We got home well after Claire's bedtime, but she raced out of her room when she heard the back door open and immediately jumped into Landon's picture. An intrusion Landon was only too excited about.

Sometimes I worry that Landon gets overlooked in our day-to-day. He's so easygoing and mellow and genuinely loves his sisters and family so much, and being the oldest already makes it easier to put more responsibility and blame on him. But then I step back and think- he's doing okay. He's an atypical oldest child in many ways- he's not Type A, not particularly rules focused, and while he is happy to bring home smiley-face marked papers, he doesn't seem to see those papers as an extension of himself. In other words, he isn't me. He isn't JP either. He's Landon, and though I spent his first several years speaking for him, he really isn't an extension of me anymore. He's himself, and it's an absolute pleasure (well, 98% of the time) to get to know him as he gets to know himself.