Sunday, October 26, 2014


I spent 20 hours in Atlanta this weekend!

A whirlwind trip involving 4 planes, 2 library books, 14 hours of travel time, and less than 24 actual hours on the ground on location, all for the wedding of my cousin Alyssa- my very first cousin on my mom's side of the family, and the oldest daughter of my jolly and beloved Pilot Uncle who we're lucky enough to see on his layovers in various cities around the country. And even better, everyone from my mom's side of the family was able to come! All ten cousins! The grandparents (or great-grands, as we now refer to them), three sets of aunts and uncles, my parents and siblings- the whole tribe! JP and the kids stayed home- it was just too hard (i.e., expensive) to get everyone halfway across the country for one day, but it was so fun to be the original Rices again.

We kicked it old school- 3 kids across the row in the back of the car (me in the middle because despite being the oldest and wisest, I was somehow left behind as shortest several years ago) and two hotel rooms: one for the parents, one for the kids, only now, instead of kicking me in her sleep, my sister kept trying to cuddle with me. Like aggressive cuddling- I had to keep fending off stealth spoon attacks. But really what else would I be doing in a hotel room at 4:30 a.m.? It's not like I sleep in them anymore. (Seriously. Not at ALL, even after an evening of vigorous dancing, some wine, a sleeping pill, white noise machine, and only 4 hours of sleep the night before. I maybe cobbled together 90 minutes before my 6:30 a.m. wakeup call. Nice soft clean hotel beds are apparently THE WORST.)

before the spoon attacks

But there was family! And I love spending time with my family. My cousin looked like a princess, her hosts from her study abroad program in Brussels came over and I made two new friends and got a whole bunch of additions to JP and my Travel List (and insight into their wedding traditions and legal training; I like both of their systems over ours); and the DJ was FABULOUS. There was so much dancing. You haven't lived until you've seen your grandparents grooving to Sexy Back. My dad brought out his signature traveling meerkat shuffle bounce dance move- it really can't be described with words, but it was how I chose to move around for much of the rest of the reception.

not the meerkat shuffle, but fine in it's own way I suppose

We had a great time. I have awesome cousins who humor me by dancing with me kind of constantly, and a groovin aunt and uncle, and of course my mom and meerkat hopping dad, and my sister even got my brother on the floor once! I was sweaty and my legs were shaking like the end of a barre class by the time we got our sparklers for the exit and piled in the shuttles to head back to the hotel. But then after the reception came the after-party (with lulu leggings; the satin of my dress was no longer acceptable for bright light situations), and after the after-party came chatting with the sibs in jammies in our hotel room until WAY past our bedtimes, and then came the terrible horrible way-too-early wakeup call to get me on my first flight of the day. A flight I almost missed because Atlanta's airport security lines are terrible and I had to run down the terminal, hands empty of the chai tea latte I so desperately needed before my 2+ hour flight, as I heard my name mispronounced over the loud speaker. But six hours later, I was home!

Cora screamed and threw her arms up in the air so vigorously when she saw me that she fell over as I walked in the door. It was awesome. I'm exhausted, work is going to be insane, I fly to DC on Wednesday for a one-hour meeting, and then I take 4 days of testimony the first week of November, but it was so fun to jet off and party with the fam for a half day. So I'm thankful for airline miles, the law firm travel that earned me so many of then I still haven't bought a plane ticket since I quit, JP who enjoyed his solo weekend with the kiddos (though missed dancing with me, of course), and an awesome family I so enjoy hanging out with.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

JP 33

JP turned 33 on Saturday and we spent a weekend celebrating. JP doesn't like his birthday; this is somewhat related to his parents and his mom's habit of picking a fight with him right before and then not talking to him on his birthday, and also getting older just generally bothers him more than me, but I LOVE birthdays. Everyone's birthday, especially the birthday of my favorite person in the whole wide world, so I made a low-key, but still special and very JP-focused weekend.

On Friday we got a sitter and went to our favorite fancy sushi place that has such an amazing happy hour that we can afford to get JP full on tiny bits of raw fish. Ten (yes, TEN) sushi rolls and an order of crab cakes later (plus two martinis for me and sake for him) and we were happy, full, and still well under $100. Blue Sushi Sake, I love you. And because we had to go to happy hour, we were home in time to tuck in the kids and then have a whole evening of drinking champagne, eating chocolate cake, and watching a movie cuddled on the couch- SO many of JP's favorite things all in one. My ideal night would be going for drinks post-dinner and staying out as late as possible, but being home by 8 is TOTALLY a JP kind of evening.

On Saturday I skipped yoga so JP could go swim and then we did his favorite thing in the whole world- piling the kids in the car and driving somewhere to climb on rocks: enter Dinosaur Valley State Park! 75 minutes in the car and then 3 hours of walking around a riverbed and climbing up rocks that made other people nervous. Perfect!

And there were 113 million year old dinosaur prints that made JP feel young! I totally planned that.

There was also a little park that of course the kids adored even though it was smaller than the one we have in our own backyard. Cora thought the slide was the greatest thing she'd ever seen and kept climbing up it and then sliding down it all on her own. She belly laughed the whole time. It was maybe the best part of the day.

We stopped for a late lunch and a beer at an adorable little house/restaurant in town (or "town") before heading back, where all three kids fell asleep on the drive home. All three! Landon hasn't slept in a car since 2008, though later he insisted he was just pretending.

We transferred Cora to her crib once we got home, and agreeable third baby that she is, she went right back to sleep for 2.5 hours. The big kids went outside to play dinosaur hunt, JP took a birthday nap, and I dragged myself to the kitchen to make his cake. In an enormous act of true love, I made his favorite carrot cake even though I don't have a food processor and had to grate a bag of carrots by hand when I could have been lounging on the couch in a quiet house after walking several miles in a riverbed.

JP woke up, the kids found all the imaginary dinos they could come up with, and we finally woke Cora up to head to dinner while my cake cooled. Margaritas were involved and Cora discovered that refried black beans are maybe the most delicious things EVER (only because she hasn't yet had my carrot cake); it was an excellent meal for everyone.

I failed to flour my cake pans (oops), so I couldn't pry them out to make the layer cake I usually do (for an optimal cake:cream cheese frosting ratio), so I just decorated them and presented them in the baking pans. So fancy!

On Sunday we ran errands- who doesn't love a birthday trip to Costco?- and then JP and the kids did yard work- birthday yard work!- and then after what was actually a really great day, JP and I fed the kids, tucked them in bed, and then ordered Thai food to eat while we watched The Walking Dead. Actually, I insisted we eat the Thai before started watching the zombie show since Pad Thai can be disturbingly brain like, but in any order, we ended out JP's weekend doing his other favorite thing.

Claire being Claire, regardless of circumstance

I have lots of favorite things about JP- what an amazing father he is, how supportive and loving of a partner he is, how freaking good he looks in a swim suit... but my insomnia has returned with a vengeance this past week, so lately my favorite thing is that anytime I'm awake and frustrated at 2 a.m., I can reach out for his hand and in his sleep, he'll immediately curl his fingers around mine and turn towards me and sigh this deep, happy sigh. Insomnia is lonely; JP makes it less so.

Cora was there too, she's totally smiling in the pack behind JP

He's my favorite.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

We've Been Doing Lots of Things, but Mostly Photobooking

I started Claire's photobook on Friday, and 100 bloodshot eye hours later, I'm 90% done. I will now obsess and fiddle over the remaining 10% for a few weeks, but it means I have the bones done to start on Landon's. And then Cora's. I have such a love/hate relationship with these damn books. I mostly hate making them, but I kind of secretly love making them too. I definitely love having them completed. Both big kids read their books all the time and lately have loved reading their first year books and seeing pictures of themselves at Cora's age. And I love having one repository for all their pictures, the funny stories and quotes, and the letters I write to them on the blog- all of that goes in the book and I love flipping through them when I'm in the play room. So 100 hours in, 1 book almost down, 2 more books to go. Three kids has been easy as pie until it came time to make their photo books.

But we have been doing other things!

Landon had a school performance with the whole first grade class last week. They performed 7 fall-themed songs and poems and it was earnest and adorable. He is loving first grade just as much as he loved Kindergarten and every subject remains his favorite. JP and I went to have lunch with him on Friday (JP goes every couple of weeks to sit with him and his friends at the tiny lunch table and that image is so adorable I finally had to go see it for myself) and after seeing his whole face light up when he saw us in the hallway, we got a tour of his classroom and the honor of walking in a line with his class to the lunch room. When it was time to leave, his teacher pulled us aside and said what a joy it was to have Landon in her class and that she wanted us to know that he is "truly gifted." JP, who hated school and never really found his academic groove until college, is filled with immense relief that his mini-me did not seem to inherit his elementary school baggage. I didn't realize how much he had worried about that until we heard something similar from his Kindergarten teacher last year and JP looked like he was going to cry with joy and relief. I was all, of course he loves school, it's school.

We also went to a play! Snow White and the Prince at Casa Manana, an awesome historic theatre a few miles up the road from us. They have grown-up plays, but also do a children's series each year and this year we got season tickets. And it was amazing! A talented cast, spirited audience, and amazing seats, it was so much fun. Three of the actors were pros, but Snow White and the Prince were both local students of the theatre school and several neighborhood kids were the dwarves. Claire loved it all until a thunder sound effect sent her leaping straight up and over in some gravity-defying jump into my lap. Landon also loved it, though he claimed it was only because of the sword fight (false.). Cora was largely unimpressed, though did seem concerned about fate of the apple. We'll be getting a sitter for her for the remaining four plays of the season.

The holiday toy magazines have begun arriving. The kids adore these, and because they have no understanding that you can actually order/receive all of the items in the pretty pictures, it's a completely fun and painless form of entertainment for everyone. Today on the ride home from daycare Claire told me that she was so excited to get home and "read the last part of my new toy book!" She was referring to the American Girl catalog. Adorable.

Unlike the kids, I know you can buy things that come in picture form in catalogs and I bought my new fall/winter purse. I'd never spent more than $40 on a purse until I bought my bright blue Michael Kors one for my birthday in February and I loved it so much and got so many compliments on it that I more than recouped the investment. Particularly since it still looks brand new and I was able to pack it away in its little storage bag to bring out again next March. For the cooler months, I've decided to go Dooney & Bourke houndstooth. I love it just as much as my birthday purse. Maybe more. The bright red lining inside makes me smile.

Yesterday Cora fell asleep on the ride home from school. I picked her up and brought her in the house and for the first time in months she snuggled in for more. Now Cora is a joy and delight and she is our official Lag Liv family mascot, but she is not cuddly. She is WAY too busy for that nonsense. We get no-hand hugs that are adorable (she tucks her little hands in between your body and her and leans in), but she bounces right back so she can look you in the eyes and smile and then probably hit you in the face with her flappy hands.

So yesterday, when she burrowed into my chest, I carried us to the living room couch- purse, reusable tea cup, sunglasses and all, sat myself down, kicked my high heels up on the coffee table, and didn't move for nearly two hours. The sun went down, the porch lights weren't on, and our dinner of creamy chicken noodle soup was not simmering, but Claire quietly played tea party on the coffee table while I alternatively read my book and stared at my baby's sweet face. JP and Landon got home at 7:15 to a dark house and no dinner and we didn't end up eating until 7:50, but I regret nothing. It was a wonderful evening.

Back to photo booking!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Things Non-Pumpkin

Things besides pumpkin patches are happening around here, though really, if I could spend every day at the Arboretum admiring pumpkin houses and pretending that 90-freaking-9 degree weather is "fall," I would. But sadly, work and school and swim lessons aren't super negotiable, and so the week has pressed on. Here's the highlights so far:

1. I lost Cora. Like legit lost Cora. It was a rainy evening- massively hugely knock-over-trees stormy, so the kids got to watch a show while I made dinner (this is only allowed in the event of rain; otherwise their "show" = "go outside and play"). Cora was playing with the toy kitchen in the playroom and I was helping her bake some delicious Melissa & Doug cookies when I went to go stir my soup (creamy chicken and wild rice) and came back 45 seconds later to an empty playroom. Empty and silent. I went to the kids in the TV room- have you seen Cora? No, no, definitely not. Searched the playroom again, searched the living room, searched the kitchen, kids' room, Cora's room, bathroom, playroom again. OMFG where is the baby? SO MUCH SILENCE AND SO LITTLE BABY. Semi-hysterically yelled to the kids to help me look. Landon finally breaks eye contact with the Wild Kratts and says, she's probably in the shower. I ran over, and there she was, so freaked out by my exclamation of "CORA!!" that she dropped the squirty walrus she'd been chewing on and wobbled her lower lip. So the moral of the story is, always check the shower first, and don't believe your kids when they insist a baby didn't just crawl by RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM while they're watching TV.

2. The adrenaline rush from losing my baby for 5 entire minutes (trust me, that's a REALLY long time) required me to watch funny TV and drink two glasses of wine after the kids went to bed. So JP and I finally watched our first episode of Arrested Development and holy crap is that show funny. The SEC has boats! I understand all sorts of funny cultural references that have been going right over my head! Hilarious.

3. Also hilarious, this tumblr. I'm not entirely sure why, but I lol'd the first time I read it and then I lol'd each of the other 52 times I looked through the pictures and captions. It simply cracks me up. "Why is it so MOIST though. This is a terrible cat." "Maybe it would look better if you powdered it with something." If this makes you giggle at random moments, I think we could be good friends.

4. I'm planning Cora's first birthday party and the distraction of rainbow-themed everything is helping ease this new and novel pain of "my baby is getting bigger and I don't want her to" thing that is, well, new and novel. Big kids are awesome, but dammit so is Cora, and it would be excellent if she could redo this baby year like 6 times and THEN get bigger. In the last year I've become someone who stalks exercise clothes online, goes to yoga and barre in the same day, and I'm lamenting the passage of babyhood- WHO AM I?

5. One thing easing first-birthday-angst is knowing that my kitchen renovation is happening the Monday after the party. We've had some delays with the cabinet quote and then changing a few things about the plans and then redoing the cabinet quote, but we should be set for the demo on November 10(ish) and while I had to give up on having it complete before Cora's party, I do know for sure that I'll be rolling out Christmas sugar cookie dough on a shiny new counter top in my shiny new peninsula between the kitchen and living room. I can't wait!

6. Not really a thing, but I can't have a post without a picture, thus, the many faces of Cora while she watches her big siblings do awesome/dangerous things on the playscape while her daddy and I sit on chairs and pretend it's fall by drinking an Octoberfest beer nearby.

Weeee! Oh this is so fun!


Wait. What are you doing?


Ohhhh dear. This looks terribly unsafe.

I'm judging you.

And also maybe jealous.

Yes, definitely super jealous.

Me next!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Kicking Off Decorative Gourd Season

It's decorative gourd season y'all! To celebrate our beautiful 90-degree fall weekend (well, fall in Texas), we voluntarily drove to Dallas to enjoy the fabulous pumpkin village at the Dallas Arboretum.

I coaxed Landon into a handsome shirt (thanks to school uniforms, his t-shirt wearing weekends are precious), Claire jumped at the chance to march around town in her current favorite dress and boots, and Cora was lovingly tucked into her festive Gymboree pumpkin outfit. Because this is her first Halloween and first holidays are important.

WTF am I doing amongst all these decorative gourds?

I only got one good picture of all three kids, and the angle on it is a little weird, but I had promised a morning of handsome-shirt-wearing-fun, so the camera mostly stayed in the backpack.


Not having it.

Except for Cora. The big kids are big enough to run around with only half-hearted-supervision (they were racing through the hay bale maze as I took the below), so Cora got to be an only child for ten minutes of pumpkin-loving picture-snapping goodtimes.

Hard to believe I was one million days pregnant when we came last year. We hadn't even met our little peanut yet and now here she is in a 12-18 month outfit and hands coordinated enough to remove any attempts at a retroactive pumpkin hat.

I tried to get a good picture of Cora and JP, but she was much too busy flapping her hands at him and giving him hugs. So I captured that instead.

We found the big kids again and JP took his traditional nontraditional picture with them.

And then we left the masses to explore the rest of the garden. If you live anywhere near DFW, you really should go. There's a special Children's Garden now that is just awesome. Again, the camera mostly stayed put up, but I couldn't help taking a few. Like the family exiting the tiny tree maze.

And Cora sliding down after losing a battle trying to climb up a tiny playscape.

Or Landon probably violating a safety rule.

And Cora watching from afar, desperately wishing she could flaunt safety codes too.

There was a lot of running and learning and getting a little wet in the hydroelectric power lab. The big kids got to play with water guns and Landon was so excited to hit his target while Claire was disappointed the designers had cleverly keep the water guns' range juuuust short of the people on other side.

All in all, it was an excellent morning, capped off by pizza and a beer at our favorite pizza place, lots of yard work and grocery shopping, and then the world's largest salad for dinner. With baked squash on the side because of course. It's decorative gourd season!