Wednesday, May 28, 2014


I wonder how many posts I have in the last 7.5 years of blogging titled something like "miscellany" or "things." I'm guessing MANY. But that's exactly what's happening here.

(1) First up- food! I've made two recipes this week that you must try. They're both vegetarian (we usually go meatless 2-3x a week; a habit formed during our extremely tight Chicago grocery budget days and one we've kept because JP doesn't do pork, I hate touching raw chicken and the free-range organic chicken I insist on buying costs more than your average steak, and everyone in our family loves vegetables), and they are SO good.

Ex. A: Black Bean and Spinach Enchiladas. OMG. Make these. And even if you don't make these, make the homemade enchilada sauce. It is so good and so easy I'm never buying cans of the shiny red liquid again. JP walked in the house from mowing the lawn on Monday, sniffed the air, and said "what smells so good?!". "Enchilada sauce" was not the answer he expected. I made the enchiladas exactly as written and wouldn't change a thing, though a shredded rotisserie chicken tossed in the filling wouldn't be a bad addition (not necessary though; even JP commented on how filling they are and he eats about 4,000 calories a day).


Ex. B: Pesto Grilled Cheese. How have I never thought of this before? Pesto, fresh mozzarella, butter with garlic salt and parmesan cheese, and a griddle. So simple, so obvious, so delicious. I served them tonight with our favorite tomato basil soup and everyone was pleased. Especially me. I ate 1.75, because 2 sandwiches would be excessive.

(2) Cora now has wall-to-wall carpeting in her pen.

(Giant Cora Pen is here; foam pads are here. We love them both so much, they are definitely a Top 10 baby purchase for us, particularly with older siblings, one million choking hazards in the playroom, and an open concept non-gate-able house with 8 exterior doors.)

(3) JP and I went on a date night on Sunday. We saw a movie IN A THEATER the same weekend it came out, living it up like it's 2006. It was raining and JP is anti-selfie, so here I am in my new $7.99 dress (Ross is on fire for me right now) and the haircut I'm still figuring out how to style, in the bathroom at Movie Tavern.

So fancy! And X-Men was good, as was the red wine I sipped along with it.

(4) I am so obsessed with barre right now. OBSESSED. You have no idea how many posts you've almost been subjected to about how much I love it. I'm still going about 4x a week and for the first time ever I understand why JP would get out of bed after 3 hours of sleep to swim before driving to his investment banking job in Chicago. It makes me feel so good, and because it's the first physical activity I've stuck with since my competitive swimming days of 1999, I've gotten to really see and feel the changes in my body over time. I am so much stronger and so much leaner- I weigh the same as I did pre-Cora, but everything is smaller, except my tricep, which is VISIBLE and my favorite. But mainly, I just feel so good every time I go and I feel even better after I leave. It's a high that's better than wine and even the wine tastes 10x better after going. I went to a 2 hour "special" class on Memorial Day and as I drove over, so excited to have more time to spend in the studio, I realized I really am a whole new person. A happy, leaner, more flexible one with fewer headaches and a full workout clothes drawer I sacrificed a bunch of PJ pants to make room for.

(4) Cora is smiley.

Also, mobile, and REALLY determined to join the family in playing Candy Land.

And really very ridiculously loved.

(5) My insomnia remains terrible, but off to bed to try to dream happy dreams of margaritas and barre class (not together) anyway.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

On Something New and Much The Same

Things are much the same around here these days. JP is coaching all day and answering a million emails and phone calls all night. I'm working and then handling three kids solo until 7 pm in a calm, happy way I would have sworn was impossible when I was only handling a baby Landon. I chop lots of things, get dinner going, head outside with Cora to watch the big kids swim, feed Cora outside, oversee showers when they come back inside, finish up dinner, serve it, and greet JP with a smile when he walks in with a chlorine cloud a little while later. I don't know how long it will last, but right now things are as smooth as they can be with three little ones. And each night, after their swim and shower, the kids beg hang out in Cora's pen before dinner and bed.

And each night I generously give permission.

Landon has two weeks left of Kindergarten, and then he's a summer-camp-going first grader, something that blows my mind a little bit. Claire turns 4 in eight days and spends her time at school, smothering Cora, and singing Frozen songs, now with choreographed dance moves. Cora, well, Cora smiles.

Smiles and crawls and eats all the foods and chews on ALL the things.

So other than identical looking pictures of the kids in the pool and the kids in the pen, I haven't had a lot to share. I do have a post percolating on thoughts on my future career moves, in case anyone is still reading and hoping I will occasionally talk about being a lawyer. It doesn't come up as often now that there's this crazy dark black line between my personal and professional halves. Weird at first, but ultimately quite awesome for everyone.

In the meantime, I received a small raise that ended up being retroactive to the first of the year. The raise is being absorbed into the budget, but I'm letting myself spend the retroactive "bonus" portion on something for me- something that isn't shoes or clothes or a fancy night out, but some sort of larger ticket item I would never normally buy myself in the middle of the year (or ever). I think I've decided on a new laptop. The one I currently use is 5 years old, missing 3 keys, heavy, bulky, and slow. I'm our family's historian and photographer and I spend time on my computer pretty much every night- mostly internet browsing, but lots (and LOTS) of photo editing and some video editing too. (Actually very of little video editing because I don't have good software for it, something I'd like to change with the new one.) So something fast, light and portable, with lots of memory.

I've been thinking about switching to a Mac because of the lightness and portability, quality, and photo and video editing software built in. Does anyone reading have one? How is the photo/video angle? I have a million files I've edited in Picasa, any experience transferring all that over? Has anyone reading made the big switch and not wanted to stab the ctrl-less keyboard with a fork? I've been a PC user my whole computer-using-life and I know many a keyboard shortcut and am very addicted to right clicking on my mouse. Can I overcome that? I would love your input! Any other PC suggestions are welcome as well, it's been a long time since I looked for a computer. The macbook pros are out of my price range (the whole shebang must cost less than $1500), but I'm seriously considering the 13" macbook air. Do I need the one-to-one counseling? The super expensive protection plan? I spent most of my free time this afternoon personalizing my would-be sexy skinny macbook air laptop and am rather emotionally attached, but please, feel free to talk me out of it (or back into it). I love new gadgets and it's been so long since I indulged! Maybe one day we'll even own an iPad like all of Landon's friends already do...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cages and Fish

In the last few days I've been to Houston and back for my sister's bridal shower, caged a baby, and watched my middle baby swim like a little fish in our backyard pool.  More on the shower in the next post because my sister just sent me the pictures and it's already almost past my bedtime.  Cora says, that's fine, I'll wait.

While I was gone for my whole 13 hours (I flew down and back in the same day), JP and the kids had big adventures all over Fort Worth.  He is fearless when it comes to heading about town with the three kids- they went out to lunch, went on a long bike ride to the park, went to Trader Joe's AND Kroger, and went out to his pool to check the chemicals.  If he wasn't already mine, I would absolutely want to steal him.

Also while I was out, our baby corral was delivered!  For $65 you too can give your baby 35.5 square feet of prime choke-free real estate!

It's even better if you add a few toys and siblings. The kids actually added themselves.  Their need to be near Cora is not hampered by the baby toy only environment.

Not really part of the story, but I love this picture.  Claire wanted to hold Cora, but it was quickly clear that Cora is getting to big and squirmy to stay in Claire's little arms, so I suggested they sit next to each other.  Claire thought this was a fine idea until Cora grabbed her skirt and started chewing (we must chew ALL THE THINGS!).  After a few failed attempts to remove her skirt from her baby sister's mouth Claire sighed and said, "Mom, maybe Cora should go back in her pen."

Luckily for Cora, Claire went with her. The kids love it in there- I snapped this tonight before bed.  I love that Landon's chair has been added to the in-pen decor.  Cora's going to run out of room in there, but I don't really think she minds.

Yesterday I went in to work at 6:30 a.m. because insomnia is terrible and trying to kill me.  And since I can't sleep anymore I figured I might as well be able to leave work really early and play with the kids.  My 6:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. work schedule was pretty awesome, and I celebrated my extra afternoon hours by making an overly involved dinner (chicken lasagna rolls with homemade tomato cream sauce; not fancy, but involving of many steps I usually do on the weekend) and letting the kids swim for hours.

Cora and I sat in the shade and Claire came out in her new swim suit and announced, "I'm just going to JUMP IN Mommy!"  Okay, I replied, surreptitiously removing my leather sandals underneath my maxi dress, certain I was about to have to jump in and rescue her, but determined to let her try to remember all her swim lessons with JP last summer.

And though she almost backed down, jump in she did!

And then she swam all the way to the stairs. And then she did it about 35 more times, jumping from increasingly far away from the stairs. I was so proud of her. Landon has been a fish for a couple summers now, but I think yesterday was the first day I can really call Claire one.

This went on for about 90 minutes. I fed Cora her green beans and sweet potatoes in her little lifeguard portable high chair until she was full and Claire was turning blue from the chilly water. I had the kids take their shower and put on their pj's, greatly amusing them with my disregard for normal dinner attire, and then we sat down to eat just as JP was getting home. Claire was SO excited to tell her daddy all about her swimming and pretty much passed out the moment she hit her bed 45 minutes later. We did the exact same thing tonight- dinner prep/baby cage time, swimming and more swimming, Cora eating outside, showers, dinner in jammies, and immediate comatose bedtimes.

I think this will be our new routine until October when the pool gets too cold. And someday, perhaps in mid-July when the water gets warmer, Cora and I might even get in too.

Friday, May 16, 2014

High and Tall, Shoes and Stripes

I had appointment with the eye doctor this afternoon, so I decided to take the whole day off and go to barre, run some errands, and sneak in a lunch date with JP. I wore the crayola dress Claire picked out for me last weekend and I have never, ever received so many compliments from so many strangers in one day.

Rainbow stripes! (and still navigating the new haircut)

$8.99 at Ross and picked out by my color-loving 3-year-old, and all the ladies of Fort Worth want one. I was considering letting Claire pick out more of my clothes. Until I remembered she emerge from her room this morning in a peach tutu and white t-shirt with teal sparkles and a giant orange goldfish and think maybe it was beginner's Ross luck.

After another round at Ross (I'm still trying to find the elusive rehearsal dinner dress; I have another contender and a new date night dress that made JP say "whoah" when I tried it on for him when I got home, so now I just need a sitter, a free Saturday night, and some extra entertainment dollars and more Ross dress magic will be coming to a sushi place near you!) and a badly needed pedicure, I headed to the eye doctor. He dilated my eyes because I was complaining of a floater in my right (crazy annoying black speck that will apparently never go away) and WHOAH. I haven't had my eyes dilated in a really long time. My pupils were huge. You couldn't even tell my eyes were blue and I was so farsighted I couldn't see anything up close at all. I'm normally nearsighted, so the whole concept of something getting blurrier the closer you got to it was very bizarre. I decided I shouldn't be driving and in the interest of public safety walked two stores over to DSW to look around while waiting for my irises to come back.

Then I found five pairs of shoes. One of them, pictured above, are 5" platform wedges that make me about 6'2". I thought they might be too tall, so I asked a saleswoman and she looked at me funny and later I realized that my eyes were still all saucer-like and I probably looked high. High and very tall. I could only see things far away, so the closer I got to a mirror the less detail I could make out, so after much walking up and back in front of a mirror with squinty eyes, I decided the best course of action was to buy everything and try it all on again later at home. Not surprisingly, they're all awesome and look great lined up in my closet.

Speaking of home. This is what was happening while I made dinner last night:

My favorite part is that because Cora learned to crawl before she learned to sit, that crawl-ready tabletop position she's in is her relaxed book listening pose. I've been trying to teach her to sit upright, but she looks at me like I'm crazy, and immediately flops onto her tummy, pops up on her legs, and is ready to rock and roll. I mean, why sit when you can crawl?

There was more reading after showers and then I snapped one more pic of the usual love cluster around Cora.

I head to Houston first thing in the morning for my sister's bridal shower. It will be fun, and wonderful to see lots of family and old friends, but I really miss these four when I'm away. Luckily I fly back again tomorrow night (still trying to use up the million frequent flyer miles I collected at the firm), so there will be time for lots more cuddles and reading and love clusters on Sunday. And maybe a trip to DSW to return a few pairs of shoes. I'll make Claire pick which ones.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dear Cora, 6 months

Dear Cora,

You are one-half year old today and I honestly can't believe it. Time has gone by so fast. Every night, when I give you your last bottle and rock with you and smile down at your sweet face, all I can think is that another day is done- and wonderful as they always are with you, and wonderful as I know the next will be, I can't help but be sad it's over. You are 17 lbs. 10 oz. of chubby-cheeked JOY Cora and if I could do all the days three times through I would.

Joy. You infuse the house with it. Before you were born your dad and I couldn't help but worry at how much having a baby again would affect our lives. We couldn't wait to meet you, but we had a good thing going with your big siblings and we wondered how you might change things. Well as it turns out, not much at all. As I joke to friends, you're just a jolly +1. You have fit so seamlessly into our daily routine and you bring smiles everywhere you go.

You aren't as cuddly as you indicated in the beginning. You're happy to be held, but you LOVE to just be in the room. In the jumperoo, in the lifeguard chair, on a blanket- put you anywhere in a room with us and you'll hang out happily for hours. Intermittently smiling our way, focusing on your toy or a particularly intriguing spot on the carpet with intense concentration, doing a few planks... you're very busy and perfectly content.

You adore your bed. You've slept 12 hours at night since you were about 7 weeks old and anytime you're away from it for long- because we've been at the lake house or dragging you all around town on a Saturday, I can put you in there, wide awake, when we get home and you literally sigh with happiness to be within its familiar confines again.

Last night you cried off and on from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. We assumed you were teething and though I tried to cuddle you, you calmed fastest when I left you in your bed and just rubbed your back and hummed. This morning daddy took you to your check-up and it turns out you aren't a teething drama queen after all- no, you had a raging double ear infection and ruptured ear drum. Oh bunny, I felt terrible that we didn't know that. Not that it would have changed anything- you've conveniently gotten your only two ear infections the day before regularly scheduled check-ups, but that fits you too. You've made things as easy on us as possible since the day you were born.

Other favorite things of yours: Landon, Claire, squeaking things, crinkly things, eye-contact, LANDON, wearing dresses because you can shove your skirt into your mouth, bath time, shower time, and wrap you up in a hooded towel time.

After initially rejecting solid foods, you have now embraced them with your trademark exuberance. You dive into the spoon so hard I'm constantly afraid I'm going to stab the spoon down your throat. I now hold your forehead still with one hand while gently spoon-feeding you with the other. You find this hilarious.

You've found your toes, your voice, the family dog.

You crawl. You CRAWL Cora. That is ridiculous. The pediatrician was very impressed while she watched you zoom across the exam table and told dad that you might walk before 9 months. I think you're in a rush to catch up to your big brother and sister. But it's okay Cora, being a baby is pretty awesome and your big brother and sister think so too.

You seem to surprise and then delight yourself with your new-found mobility and I'm looking forward to your baby pen arriving on Thursday so I can corral you in its safe baby-proofed confines.

We love you CoraBunny, so very, VERY much. We've only known you 6 months but I can't imagine our family without you. As Claire still says almost every day, "Mom, I'm so glad we have our baby in our house." And Landon checks on you, cheers for you, and still asks to hold you every day. And for your part, you're along for the ride, part of the team, just happy to be here. Love suffuses your being and it is so much fun to be around you. I have to admit that I'm sad for our first 6 months to be over already, but I do look forward to all the ones to come.

Love, mama

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day and Baby Cages

Mother's Day was low-key and lovely. It started off with a bang- or rather, didn't, because JP and I slept in until 8:40 a.m. 8:40!! It felt like as indulgent as a college Sunday morning, but better because I'd gone to bed at 1 a.m. instead of 4 and I wasn't hung over. The day progressed with an enthusiastic rendition of Cora's Happy Crib Dance where she flips on her back when you walk in the room and pumps her arms and legs while smiling with half her face. The kids had proudly placed their homemade cards on my place mat at the table, just like I do on their birthday mornings, and they were SO excited for me to come out and see them. JP made me homemade french toast (my fave; he finds a new recipe every year, though this one was so good he may have to make it again) with mimosas, fried eggs,and fresh fruit. It was perfect. I hate eating out when restaurants are overcrowded and pricey, so we've always done a homemade brunch on Mother's Day- JP does the recipe research, shopping, cooking, and cleaning and it is perfect.

He hid the balloon in my trunk; risky given the errands I ran yesterday

From there our day progressed like a usual Sunday for two working people- errands, grocery store, yard work, and hours of JP's swim school emails. Claire was my copilot, Landon helped JP with yard work, and Cora slept and smiled like the Cora she is. I went to barre (amazing! I got through the last set of leg lifts by picturing the giant mimosa I was making as soon as I got home) and JP went for a long run while I drank my hard-earned second (and third) mimosa and watched the kids play in the pool.

trying to eat my face; because that's how I express my love to her

Somewhere in the middle of yesterday Cora crawled across the carpet. Yes, CRAWLED. She's not even 6 months old, can't sit up on her own, but she is mobile. I looked frantically around our single story split level open concept house, with 9 exterior doors, a pool, galley kitchen without sight lines to the rest of the house, and playroom of choking hazards and started googling those baby cage playards I used to find ridiculous at other people's houses. A highly rated superyard + extension kit is on its way to me now- if Cora's going to have a cage, it's going to be an extended one. And it should be set up by the end of the week.

headed to a dangerous object near you

Claire and I stopped at the mall so we could get her feet measured. She told me her shoes hurt, but I didn't buy them that long ago and couldn't really believe they didn't fit. Turns out, she's grown TWO SIZES (she's an 11 1/2!) and I am terrible at the pressing the thumb onto the shoe to feel her squished toes thing. She now has small boats attached to her feet and is much happier. We celebrated her newly increased joy of walking with a stop at Ross where I continued my hunt for a rehearsal dinner dress for my sister's wedding. I found these two. The navy is a possibility- it's comfy and cute, but maybe too short? The rainbow dress is not, but Claire picked it out for me and it was $8.99 and looked surprisingly awesome on. I'll be lounging in it poolside with some wedges come some Saturday soon.

We ended the day with frozen pizza and fruit for the kids and Thai food post-bedtime for JP and me. We don't usually eat out on Sundays, but since it was Mother's Day and we didn't eat out in the morning, I felt we were owed an eat-out in the evening. Family budgetary math; I am excellent at it.

Pictures that didn't fit elsewhere: Montessori Mother's Day Breakfast:

Presentation of the precious homemade art with tear-jerking quote

Baby who really really wants to eat the plastic tablecloth

I love Mother's Day. As with any holiday, it can get overdone and schmaltzy, but I think it's nice to have a day you think outside the box on breakfast, pour a mimosa, and read some painstakingly colored homemade cards. And given the pride and joy with which the kids presented their cards and devoured their fauxmosas, I'd say they're fans too. I love being their mom. I don't need a day (or morning, as we celebrate it, Costco can't be put on hold for a whole day), but it's nice that the calendar gives me one anyway. And though I always love my mom and talk to her often, I don't stop the "how was your day?" conversation to zoom out and say hey, you're awesome, and here's a few memories and reasons why (beanie baby school mascot with hand-sewn school color ribbons around around his neck sitting in my cereal bowl the morning of high school swim team tryouts freshman year; my mom was not crafty and did not sew, makes me misty eyed every time). So it's nice. And I look forward to next year's new version of french toast and the mimosas that will be exactly the same. I wonder if we'll still be keeping Cora in her baby cage.

Sweaty post-barre best out of 3

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Tooth Fairy Cometh and Other Happenings

Happenings and selfies in the LL house this week:

(1) Landon lost his first tooth! Or teeth, as it were.

He's had two very wiggly, very stubborn, and increasingly tender-gummed teeth that were starting to cause major trauma every night when it was time to brush his teeth. All week, I've been feeding Cora in the family room, listening to Landon's screams echo down the hall. His two adult teeth have also grown in tall behind them, making his mouth look like that of a baby shark. So I called the dentist, who said to come in, and even though she said it was okay that he had 4 lower front teeth where there should only be 2, she was happy to pull them if we wanted. Oh yes please! I practically yelled, and two seconds later, a slightly pale but utterly soundless Landon was clenching his fists and losing two teeth in the space of 10 seconds. Then we went to Costco and Target before picking up the girls and it was lovely to spend time 1-on-1 with my not-so-little man.

JP and I almost failed on the tooth fairy front, but just as we were getting in bed I remembered our sacred duty and rummaged up some $2 bills my grandparents had sent me a while ago and snuck into the kids' room to leave two of them next to Landon's bed (JP and I got 50 cents to $1 per tooth when we were little and figured inflation and our philosophy of making Landon pay for most treats himself justified the 1-400% increase). MUCH excitement ensued when he woke up and now we eagerly await the next loose tooth.

(2) I took these pictures of Landon holding Cora Wednesday night as part of my ongoing effort to capture the love between these two babies of mine. Claire loves Cora too- a lot; there's no jealousy at Cora's inclusion in our life, only excitement and affection, but Landon... Landon loves her. He seeks her out in a sweet, effortless way- when he reads books he always reads near her; when he and Claire are going to play cards or a board game, he always sets it up next to whatever baby gear device Cora is in; when we get home from school in the evening one of the first things he does is asks if he can hold her.

If Landon was in charge, we would have all the babies.

(3) Cora wore J. Crew today. A fancy and stylish friend of mine sent the outfit to her when she was born and I felt like today was the right day to add some baby chic to daycare.  (Also she was about to grow out of it and hadn't worn it yet.) After today, Cora has worn J. Crew exactly one more times than I have!

Just like a model. But with less hair and more smile.

(4) I got a haircut. Many hairs cut! 4.5" of them. I tried to get Cora to take a selfie with me and it went not perfectly.


It started out okay, but I realized my shoulders/phone/Cora were hiding half my hair and I couldn't figure out how to hold the phone to get it out of the way.

Then Cora decided to take over the scene:


Oh my gosh you guys I love her so.

And that's about it.  We had several days in a row where Cora decided 4:30-6:30 a.m. was the perfect time for lots of playing and happy screaming, so that was awesome.  We fixed it by closing all the doors between her and us (open doors are our monitor) and ignoring the problem and last night she slept straight till 7 a.m. like normal.  That or JP and I were so tired we just slept through her shenanigans- either way, everyone seemed to wake up happy and now it's about to be Friday so we get to wake up even happier!