Saturday, July 30, 2016

Fish food and Power lawyering

I need to plan my barre class (teaching 2x this weekend!) and/or go to the grocery store, but the big kids are busy and happy running around the house and Cora is wearing plastic heels and fairy wings and playing puzzles, so I'm going to sit here and blog instead.

This week was one of the busiest work weeks I've ever had. Monday was just a start. It seemed like non-stop calls and meetings right up through Friday which started with a 9 a.m. meeting with a partner and associate from a large NY firm and 3 VP's from a Fortune 50 company and... me. Just me. I can't think of anything that illustrates the responsibility and autonomy in this job more. It was regarding an investigation of mine on a subject matter in which I have particular expertise, so I was perfectly able to handle it (my boss is still out on jury duty; we scheduled all these meetings for this week and then he had jury duty on Tuesday and got selected for a capital murder trial NONE of us saw coming so we hope to see him again by fall), it was just a rather striking visual and a nice I-love-this-job moment. If you must have a 9 a.m. Friday morning meeting, that's a nice feeling to have walking out of it.

last night; 3 fish

But backing up. Last weekend we had a pool party for Cora's school at another Fort Worth city pool we'd never been to before.

The big kids did the big slide 100x each and after Cora and I modeled our UPF gear, she insisted on swimming, "ONLY SWEEMING," for the next 90 minutes. No silly slides, no frivolous water guns, just face in the water SWEEMING MAMA, over and over and over again.

She takes her training very seriously.

On Saturday I had the amazingly awful idea for the kids to clean their rooms from top to bottom and organize all their closets. By 11 a.m. Landon had lost his mind multiple times while accomplishing nothing and Claire had triumphantly announced her room's completion multiple times only to unveil it to me, walking me into the room with my eyes closed and all, with stuff still mostly everywhere. She was surprised each time I gently pointed out the things still not put away, but got cheerfully back to work.

Landon just kept wailing and draping his body across his bed. Eventually my high tech and complicated technique of "just pick up the thing closest to you and put it away, and then do that again and again until there are no more things" worked out for him and he announced, surprised, later that afternoon, "Mom it's so cool to know where my things are!"

Crazy, that.

In the vein of cleaning and organizing, we've finished prepping for school. All our uniforms are bought and hung up, school supplies are carefully packed in shiny new backpacks hanging on the hook. We go on vacation the last week of summer each year so I've learned to get all the prep work done ahead of time. We know the dress code and the supply list so why wait? Plus, there's nothing like having first pick on the school supplies! I have really loved this summer, but we're all getting pretty excited about school again.

substitute teaching

On Thursday night I went to see Bad Moms with some PTA mom friends. The movie was funny when watched in a group while drinking champagne and eating french fries- moments of genuine hilarity and lots of lots of trite "perfect mom" v. "terrible mom" stereotypes as if there's nothing in between (or that a perfect mom means what they say it means, mostly doing everything for your spoiled entitled children while looking perfect) and the husbands are completely worthless extra children. But I also yell-laughed out loud at certain scenes and greatly enjoyed my champagne, fries, and PTA camaraderie.

After we had our string of restaurant meals over Landon's birthday weekend and when our friends visited we decided we wouldn't eat out again for the month of July. This started out easy, I make all our meals Mon-Fri anyway and stopping for takeout or fast food has never been part of our life, but summer is long and hot and it has been surprisingly tough on the weekends to not go out for burgers or pizza or anything not made in my kitchen. We're almost there, but last night was an exercise in strength when I made myself use random things in our fridge for dinner instead of going out for margaritas and food stuffs. And then it ended up being one of my favorite meals of the week!

So last week's menu: 

Saturday: Quartino night- James and I do this as a faux date night sometimes after the kids go to bed, but on Saturday we did it as a regular dinner and the kids LOVED it. I made up meat and cheese platters with summer sausage, prosciutto, deli turkey, gouda, manchego, and havarti, with assorted olives, crackers, sliced french bread, and grapes and apple slices. "Favorite dinner EVER" said Claire.
Sunday: grilled tuna, black bean quinoa salad (recipe below because it was awesome)
Monday: pesto gnocchi with mozzarella and tomatoes
Tuesday: pulled bbq chicken on mini pretzel buns (Costco sells the BEST ones) with tomato and avocado, chips, fruit
Wednesday: red beans and rice with sausage (total disaster of a recipe, though a deconstructed version by the end turned out okay)
Thursday: ravioli with marinara sauce, garlic bread
Friday: leftover bbq chicken on Trader Joe's pretzel rolls, melted shredded gouda on top, with avocado and tomato, plus other random things from the fridge.

Glenda's Black Bean Salsa/Quinoa
This started out as a delicious salsa recipe, but now I make it tossed with 2 cups of quinoa

2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed & drained
1 17-oz can whole kernel , drained (I use frozen, thawed)
2 large tomatoes, seeded & chopped
2 large avocados, chopped
1 purple onion
(optional 2 cups cooked quinoa)
1/8 – 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
3-4 T lime juice
1 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
1 T red wine vinegar
½ tsp pepper

1. Combine canned beans, corn, tomatoes, chopped avocados, and purple onion in bow (+ 2 cups cooled quiona)
2. Mix together cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper and pour over
3. Toss to coat, serve chilled with tortilla chips or Fritos

The week ahead:

Saturday: date night (I know I just said we aren't eating out for the month of July, but we're rounding up and the kids are still eating in and whatever, we need this)
Sunday: Asian quinoa salad (with a bunch of additions like edamame, mandarin oranges, cilantro, green onion, snow peas, etc.), grilled teriyaki chicken
Monday: alfredo fettucine with prosciutto and peas
Tuesday: tamales, refried black beans, avocado, tomato
Wednesday: chicken, pineapple, and soyaki broil; fried rice
Thursday: leftover chicken taco stew from two weeks ago (this recipe was SO GOOD), over rice
Friday: meaty creamy spaghetti

And now Landon is making an obstacle course in the playroom and I need to head off to barre. Friends are coming over to swim this afternoon and then I get to eat a grown-up meal with my favorite person later tonight. Happy weekend to all!

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Good Day

Today was one of those days that bursts at the seams. It was good and happy and exhausting and normal and chock full of everything that makes us us right now.

My alarm went off at 6:30. I spent nearly 2 minutes trying to make it stop because I'd fallen asleep around 2:00 (fucking insomnia) and Landon had woken us up with a stomachache at 2:15. At 6:50 I forced myself out and for the first time in weeks, showered, blow-dried, AND straightened my hair before work - something so rare all three kids commented on it. It was going to be a big day. 

Landon had his 9 year check-up, so I took Cora to school (today she presented herself by jumping with both feet into the doorway, puffing her chest, and waiting for the delighted call of "Cora! You're here!" She is such a ball of joy I can barely stand it sometimes.) and James took the big kids to the pediatrician. This week is Tara Camp, when our amazing nanny from the school year makes our lives a thousand times easier by just coming to our house and watching the big kids without us taking them anywhere, so she met him at the pediatrician's to take the big kids home after his appointment so James could zip off to his first lesson at 9:30. James called me with the appointment download: Landon is tall (78% height), thin (60% weight), and super healthy.

I got to work a little after 8 to read a stack of documents I needed reviewed before an in-person meeting with counsel at 3:00. The Chair of the SEC was visiting our office and we had an office-wide meeting and Q&A with her at 10:00. I arrived right on time to find standing room only and stood and listened to the 60 minutes of questions in my heels. It was a great Q&A- the Chair is very good and very direct, but ow that was a lot of pressure on my feet. After the meeting I grabbed a pizza lunch with coworkers (have you put ricotta on pizza? you should; also goat cheese, feta cheese, mozzarella cheese, tomato, kalamata olives, and spinach; the ricotta is the best part though).

At 1:30 I was to present to our Chair two cases I'm working on. I'd spent some time with my case file and had written out a few bullet points but didn't want to over-prepare; I like making presentations and was excited to get to sit down with the head of our agency. It went well. She was engaged and asked lots of questions and I walked out proud of our work, our office, and our Chair. A lot of my work is reading filings and contracts and just trying to stay afloat amongst the deluge of paper. It's a great day when you can spend a little time above all that and talk about the big picture and maybe even feel good about the one you're trying to draw.

In between lunch and my presentation, my fellow barre teacher texted to see if I had time to finally get my head shot for the new yoga studio website. I told her I had 10 minutes at 2:00 between my presentation and counsel meeting if she could maybe meet me downtown and she did! The one day I don't wear my hair in a big wet bun on my head and its memorialized forever(ish) on film by the lovely Amy. It was a million degrees and I wished I'd had my makeup bag with me for some touch-ups, but here's what we got! I never, ever like pictures of me, but I didn't flinch at this one. Amy is very talented.

And then I rushed back inside to prep for my counsel meeting that ended up starting early because their plane from NYC ahead of schedule. The meeting was good and productive. I wrapped up a few other quick projects and issues, reviewing a confidentiality agreement for an upcoming presentation and reviewing a list of search terms for a doc production. A few more emails went out and I was packing up to go. At 4:30 I was desperately trying to remember which floor I'd parked on in the garage after lunch (I always remember my morning spot, but never ever my afternoon one; I have walked miles in that garage) while riding the elevator from 19 to the lobby. I found my car on my first try, and drove home blasting "Vice" by Miranda Lambert (it's so good!), super excited about walking in the door to all three kids who would already be there!! I love Tara Camp. (She always gets Cora super early from daycare because she loves her and she can.)

I was greeted with screams and vigorous hugs. Cora rested her cheek on my shoulder and just let me holder her for many minutes, softly repeating "mama. my mama" over and over. I chatted with Tara, relieved my now swollen feet from my shoes, and started on dinner- pesto gnocchi with mozzarella and tomato. Super fast, easy, and delicious. The kids ate with me and then I checked in with James, now on hour 9 of roasting at the pool. Tonight was the swim team awards ceremony so we were going to bring his dinner to him and meet him at the pool. I changed out of my wool lined and very fitted Ann Taylor sheath ($35 on clearance a few weeks ago!) and into Lulu running shorts and a tank I can sweat in. The kids got on swim suits, we packed up James's dinner, and we were out the door for the next chapter of our day.

The swim team party was great. The big kids swam, and we managed to convince Cora she didn't want to (so mean, but James couldn't bear getting back in and I accidentally totally on purpose didn't bring a suit) by distracting her with a cupcake. Landon and Claire got their medals and ribbons from the Regionals meet last weekend. Both made it to state and we're so proud of them even if we're not driving to McAllen to prove it. James got a lot of medals too and his swimmers did lots of cheering when his name was called. Cora tolerated the whole thing with the cheerful patience that has been her trademark all summer.

Maybe we'll all be on the team next year.

There was a movie planned for after the awards, but we made the kids leave because we're mean and also huge fans of their 8:00 bedtime. We were still late, but everyone was in bed by 8:45. There was teeth brushing and hair combing and reminders to go put your clothes in the hamper. Claire got her hug and kiss on the lips and double verification that the closet door was shut all the way. Cora got her hug-kiss-high five and her sheet-blanket-knit blanket layers duly settled upon her little body curled up on her side, snuggling her pink blankie. The girls yelled "haveagoodsleeptoo!" in unison as they do every night when I close the door. Landon was tucked in bed in his room, light out already, waiting for his hug and kiss on the forehead. I poured my nightly glass of wine and took it to meet James on the couch where he was already settled in with his laptop. "Peaky Blinders?" he asked hopefully. And Season 2, Episode 2 was begun.

14 hours. Early alarms, a healthy pediatric checkup; childcare arrangements; work presentations; barre website photography; and a meeting. Dinner, cleaning the kitchen, discussing the day, heading to the pool. Swim team event, happy reunion with James, and tucking in bed. A really good, really full, I love this life kind of day. I want to remember it. And it's only Monday. There's so much more the week can bring.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I Completely Forgot to Title This

Hellooo from Tuesday night! So far we've watched 3 minutes of the RNC before switching over to Peaky Blinders on Netflix. We just finished Season 1 and it is SO. GOOD. Highly recommend. It's much more soothing to get mired in the exploits of a "Romani gangster family" known for wearing razor blades in the bills of their caps in Birmingham, England in the aftermath of World War I than to dwell on the fact that there's an actual chance Donald Trump could be our next president (#imwithher). Go vote everyone, go vote. And while you wait to do that, try out Peaky Blinders. It's really, really good. (I mean, watch Orphan Black first if you haven't yet, but if you're like us and between series because show runners forget people watch TV in the summer, this is a good option).

~ ~ ~

So our weekend left off with me going to bed at 1 a.m. the morning of our big Regional swim meet. Because Claire's session wasn't until the afternoon, and 2/3 of Landon's events are at the very end of his session, we decided the boys would head out first and the girls and I would meet them midway through the morning. Sleeping in sounded wonderful, particularly when insomnia plagued me yet again, except Claire ran into my room in a full panic at 6:50 a.m. yelling, "mom! mom! Landon is missing and I can't find him ANYWHERE!".

She wasn't at all concerned that James was missing too. Nor did she remember that we told her the boys would be gone before she woke up. It was a little endearing that she was so concerned about his whereabouts, and it also gave me insight into just how early they sometimes wake up and how long they hang out together before Cora or us wake up, but after about 4 hours of sleep on my end, I wasn't feeling reflective. So the girls and I were up early and once I drank a gallon of tea, it was fun to just be with them.

We pulled out of the driveway, blasting the Frozen soundtrack and pumped for the meet. And then I-35 was shut done and since I never leave my bubble of Fort Worth I didn't know how to get out of the traffic snarl and it took us 90 minutes for a drive that should have been 40, so that was fun, but the meet went well. Long with the two sessions but the big kids dropped time in all their events and both made state! Landon won his 50 free and 100 IM and got 2nd in the 25 fly. Claire got 4th in the 25 back and 5th in her 25 free.

James won everything while still swimming against medical advice. His foot still looks terrible and he isn't allowed to complain about it. We aren't going to state this year- it's in McAllen Texas which is 500 miles south of us and basically in Mexico. So we're just proud to have qualified, thankful for a great and fun swim season, and looking forward to next year.

Landon continued his obsessive rainbow-looming (can I really call it that when he doesn't use the loom? it's just brightly colored bracelet making) and drummed up quite a side business selling custom creations to swimmers at the meet. Claire had a blast playing shopkins (I still haven't figured out how one "plays' shopkins) and cards with her friends and then waving like crazy to the stands from the pool deck.

The best part of the whole meet was the scream of joy Cora gave when we came down the stairs after Claire's last event and she was coming up to meet us from the pool deck and the sisters were reunited after being apart for TENS AND TENS OF MINUTES.

There is so much love there.

After 11 hour swim meet we had swim meet friends over to swim, as one does. The adults enjoyed beverages and everyone enjoyed Landon's leftover carrot cake and cookie cake. It was a perfect cap to a really fun season.

On Sunday I got to teach barre for the first time in FOREVER and it felt SO GOOD. Sweaty, heart-pounding, yelling over the music, muscle shaking, kicking it to Michael Jackson kind of good. Then I spent the next few hours making 5 lbs. of vegetable lasagna that tasted as good as barre felt. And after endless hours of me getting in the pool at night so Cora can swim to me after she jumps (and now dives!) into the pool over and over and OVER again, Cora finally got her first swim lesson with daddy in several weeks! I think we can get her on the team next year- the heat sheet does say "6 & under."

Tiny Swimmer from Lag Liv on Vimeo.

[I also found out I'm allergic to the waterproof mascara I wore to the meet on Saturday so that was pink puffy eyed fun by Saturday night! I looked like a zombie on Sunday, but a zombie doing passe-kicks to "The Way You Make Me Feel" and everyone was too sweaty and busy to notice I might be a paranormal creature with pink eye. Fun!]

This week is busy at work. James is pushing ahead with as many lessons as possible as he faces the imminent demise of his swim school at the end of August. The big kids are in a science camp that is proving "very awesome" and Cora continues to be delighted by her new preschool/daycare. James usually drops her off and he told me the other day that when they arrive, Cora's little class is usually combined with the one next door for morning snack. So they go into her classroom and she places her lunch and nap blankie in their spots, and then she stands in the doorway between the classrooms, squares her shoulders, spins to present her chest, and waits... brimming with confidence, she waits with a smile on her face, knowing that any moment now there will be an exclamation of "It's Cora!!" and then she'll run in to give her teacher a hug. I loved it as he told it to me last night, and then this morning when our schedules got messed up and I needed to drop her off I loved it even more when I got to witness it in person. What a glorious way to start your day- waiting for your entrance to be called, just knowing your people are going to be DELIGHTED to see you.

Our menu for the week:

Sunday: my sister's amazing vegetable lasagna, garlic bread

Monday: pesto chicken salad sandwiches, chips, fruit

Tuesday: brisket enchiladas (leftover brisket + some shredded cheese, rolled up in tortillas, smear some sour cream on top, add a bit more shredded cheese, and bake at 375 for 20-30 mins; also awesome with leftover bbq pulled chicken or pork), black refried beans, cauliflower mexican rice

Wednesday: crockpot chicken taco stew, assorted toppings

Thursday: meatloaf, roasted potatoes and carrots

Friday: pesto with gnocchi, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes (have I written about this? Trader Joe's gnocchi- 3 packages because we eat our weight in carbs, a bunch of pesto (Costco's is quite good), halved little mozzarella balls, halved cherry tomatoes - toss and serve! takes literally 5 minutes once you get the water boiling; it's a summer family favorite)

Saturday: no swim meet, so we're going to Costco! (could that be a more suburban-mom thing to say?), so something from the fresh fish or beef cases that looks good, fresh veggie sides, and a big loaf of bread with butter; wine.

My grandparents will be with us tomorrow night as they stopover on their way up to Wisconsin. I'm allegedly going to Orangetheory tomorrow morning, but oy it's late and it already hurts to think about. I did OTF on Monday, was lazy today, and will do yoga Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. Plus I teach barre Thursday night and Saturday afternoon. I write my workout schedule for the week right next to the meal plan in the same chart; it helps me visualize it and stick to it because each piece fits within our overall schedule like a puzzle and to miss one is to not get it back. Like when it's 11:34 p.m. on Tuesday night and 6 a.m. seems so soon but you know because of the chart there isn't another morning you can do OTF this week, so you force yourself to press "publish" and go back your work clothes in your gym bag for the morning. Ugh. If only writing "sleep" on a schedule chart was so mystically effective. Night all!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Botany, friends, swimming, the zoo, the movies, all the restaurants, and a BIRTHDAY!

It has been such a fun past 36 hours. Yesterday I worked a 3/4 day so I could pick up the kids from their Camp-o-the-Week, Camp BRIT! It's run by the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, part of our amazing (and free!) Botanical Gardens located just down the road (we are SO lucky in all the wonderful cultural and academic offerings in our small big city, I will never get over it and never stop trying to take advantage of everything). Camp BRIT is the type of camp I usually avoid- its hours were only 9-3:30, Monday-Thursday, which isn't all that helpful for two full-time working parents, but I'd heard such good things, we decided to make it happen and I am SO GLAD we did.

The kids loved it. I picked them up on the first day to take them back to my office for another hour and they could barely breathe between telling me all they had done. They were now Botanists-in-Training! They had dissected a cactus and an aloe vera plant; toured the research laboratories; met a research fellow and learned about her research; played games outside involving predators and prey; hunted grasshoppers; made botanist boxes; collected plant samples to graph and chart. Claire had learned a song about photosynthesis and Landon described the layers of rock separating dinosaurs and humans and that was just Day 1. It was really, really awesome. I love science and I love scientists and I LOVE when they make my kids love the same.

On Thursday there was a performance of the tree song by Claire's group and we got to see a slideshow of pictures and videos of the kids. There were only 10 kids in two groups so you got tons of glimpses of your kid being a botanist and obviously I cried. Earnestness and academia will get me every time.

The kids had a great body of work and legit scientific journals with their observations and leaf drawings and charts and it was so great. A real effort was made to keep it substantive, with added labels with scientific names and plant facts the kids looked up, and they were so proud.

High on science, we stopped for 7-11 slurpees on the way home, and then frantically straightened up the house because our friends from Austin were coming over that evening! We met at Yucatan Taco Stand, our favorite margarita and nacho place- 2 moms, 6 kids, 2 margaritas, 2 plates of nachos, plus some food for the children. It was so fun.

Jenny is one of my best friends- she taught biology with my mom many years ago before deciding to go to law school. She was looking at Northwestern and University of Chicago, so my mom told me to have dinner with her when she came up to visit the city. I said sure, expecting someone much closer in age to my mother, only to find someone almost exactly the same age as me! We hit it off immediately and she ended up choosing Northwestern. From there, we both had babies in law school and both ended up at the same firm in Austin, starting one year apart. She's funny and frank, we're frighteningly similar in so many ways, and I miss her terribly now that we're in Fort Worth. Luckily, she has a minivan and isn't afraid to use it.

Landon, passing on his bracelet-making art

After dinner we came back to our place so the kids could play and swim and eat pre-birthday cookie cake. We have so many kids now.

After cookie cake sundaes, they headed to a nearby hotel, and we planned to meet at our fabulous zoo in the morning. Also in the morning (so, today; or rather, yesterday, since it's now after midnight as I write this) it was Landon's birthday! We had the birthday dino out and ready and he opened presents- a real Rainbow Loom (now that he's a rainbow-looming bracelet making fool), and a new kindle!! He's been so sweet helping Claire with her new (and much improved) kindle, without ever mentioning that his is super slow and has absolutely no memory. He was THRILLED with his new one and kept saying he "couldn't believe it." He's the cutest.

He also got an ant farm and a book on ants from Papa and Gigi and it is AWESOME. We'd opened it when it arrived the night before because we were concerned about the living ants staying alive and James and I spent an undisclosed amount of time chatting while staring at them last night. They're just so BUSY. They were the first thing we checked this morning, and we might have been even more excited than Landon when we exclaimed over all their new tunnels.

After the birthday singing and presents (and ant checking), we were off to the zoo! It is so fitting that Jenny was with us, because she was the person I called when my water broke 5 weeks early at a restaurant downtown and I ended up in Northwestern's Hospital with absolutely nothing except a wallet and rapidly dying cell phone. She lived across the street and ran over to sit with me in triage while James and her husband drove out to Wicker Park to collect my hastily scrawled list of items- camera, phone charger, chapstick. Nothing like my carefully packed back for Claire and Cora's births.

And now we have so many more kids! Hard to believe when we met we were carefree newlyweds embarking on a grand adventure in a big new city.

The zoo was super fun- the kids all get along great and were so good. The splash park opened late, which worked out great because we got to see some animals before everyone got wet.

new UPF protection gear!

Jenny is a fellow skin cancer survivor- hers more serious and found younger than mine, and she is the one who told me all the UV gear I now needed, so we were fellow water burka mamas. Obviously, I still have a ways to go to reach her (now totally cancer free!) level.

We stopped at a fave local restaurant that has amazing french fries on the way home the zoo and then said goodbye to J and crew. We loved playing with them- Cora and her youngest even look oddly alike with their light colored curls, and Landon LOVED having another toddlerbaby to dote on. We got home in time to tease Cora with a short nap and then we woke her up to go see the Secret Life of Pets! It was so cute and a great way to fill a super hot afternoon with an indoor Landon's birthday approved activity.

Cora was too busy eating popcorn to take a picture with me; she takes it very seriously

After the movie we tried a new pizza place (Blaze Pizza- so good!) for dinner that was super good (my pizza had mozzarella, feta, goat cheese, ricotta, tomato, kalamata olives, and spinach; omg), and thanks to a coupon that came in the mail the day before, super cheap! Feeding my family on less than $20 is a birthday miracle in and of itself.

We capped off a most excellent 9th birthday with cleaning, packing for the Regional swim meet tomorrow, and homemade carrot cake with excessive amounts of homemade cream cheese icing. It is a really good thing I'm teaching 6 barre classes in the next 12 days.

And so Landon is 9. I have a letter to him I need to finish, but I really can't believe it was 9 years ago that I called Jenny to say "my water broke! can you come hang out with me at the hospital? I have nothing and James has to go get my camera!" and she was already out the door. 9 years ago right now he was in the NICU, walking the line between being intubated, and we were two days away from holding him or hearing him cry. And now he's our tall, strong, fast, smart, athletic, awesome Lanman. An amazing big brother, a lover of animals, and an enthusiastic part of everything he does and sees. He has been such an adventure, I ache a bit at the time already gone, but I'm so excited about all that is ahead.

And right now, what's ahead is Regional swim meet warm-ups at 7 a.m. across town and an alarm clock that's going to go off in 5.5 hours. Happy 9th birthday Lanman! As he noted when he went to bed, we're just 364 short days away from the next!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Things I've Bought/Made That I Love; Also, Staples and Hugs

A random roundup of things I bought or made recently (or also maybe last year) and love.

1. The big kids' Planet Box lunchboxes.

I bought these lunchboxes last August, before school started and the kids used them nearly every day, and then I took the above picture after school got out in June. They look amazing! Even the outer bags look good!

So I'm obsessed with them. They make it SO easy to pack lunches in the morning- just throw stuff in the compartments, with no wasteful baggies and no washing of tiny containers (I hated the washing of the tiny containers), AND it encourages variety and fresh fruits and veggies because it's so easy to just toss them in and the many small compartments peer pressure you into filling them with a variety of colors and healthy foods (except the tiny compartment; that's for a treat, usually m&ms). They're dishwasher safe in the BOTTOM RACK, and they're clearly indestructible. The big kids have the whole Rover system, with the carry bag and cold pack. I spent over $100 on the two sets for Landon and Claire and they were worth every penny. I'm going to send them with them to college. I'll maybe even spring for a new carry bag when they go.

(For Cora we did the smaller and cheaper Lunchbots Trio set. It's perfect for her right now and also looks amazing after daily use, though you do have to wash it in the top rack of the dishwasher. The lid also isn't quite as tight as the Planet Box system, but we've never had it separate in her little Skip Hop butterfly lunchbox. We'll use it for her again this year and then she'll probably need something bigger, which will absolutely be another Planet Box Rover.)

2. Hydro Flask with straw lid

I got this one for free in a raffle at my hot yoga studio. It was very excited because (1) I didn't know I was in the raffle; (2) I've never won a raffle; and (3) even though I didn't know what a hydroflask was, it turns out I always needed one! It's 40 oz. of powder coated double-walled vacuum insulated stainless steel. So it holds a ton of water that stays cold forever and never sweats or leaks. I love it. I switched out the standard top with the straw lid I linked to- it has a great little loop for a finger handle and I drink WAY more when a straw is involved which is why I'm not allowed to order sangria anymore. So I love it, and while I got mine for free, if something terrible ever happened to my seemingly indestructible cup, I would buy another one immediately.

3. Studded sandals from Target

Aren't these adorable? They're on sale right now for $24 and I've worn them so much I'm not even mad that I spent $32. Super cute and comfy, I've worn them with my navy shorts or skinny jeans and a flowy tank. Love them.

4. Glass Storage Containers

I got these two years ago and I LOVE them. We've eliminated most plastic from our life and I love that nothing sticks to these, that the lids are completely leak-proof, that you wash them in the dishwasher and they look perfect, and that you can reheat your foods in them, even in the oven. I have two sets of 3 and they have their own little drawer in our kitchen.

5. Rash Guards! My Cabana Life order came in the mail and I love their stuff!! The rash guards are made in a thin, cool fabric with vibrant colors. I decided to keep these two:

also zips up all the way

Even the suit underneath is really cute. Not that anyone will see it, because that biopsy scar yells at me anytime I think of taking the rash guard off.

6. Surfer suits! The kids' Coolibar order also came in (we're swimming in UPF materials around here; all the Coolibar sale items are an extra 25% off with free shipping right now!). Much of it was too big because I guessed on sizing instead of actually knowing the height and weight of my children, but the items were very high quality and I loved the colors and patterns. Cora's surfer suit is adorable. Not that she'll let me take a picture of it.

Claire's hoodie is equally adorable and she's so excited about it. Landon got a long-sleeved rash guard from Target that he is less excited about but seems willing to wear, mostly because I told him he has to or he can watch us swim from inside the house.

7. FOOD! Now we move on to recipes. I've been doing yoga during lunch 2x a week (today I did a chin stand to up dog; squee!), which means I've been eating lunch at my desk. As any reader will know, I have very strong feelings about lunch. It's my largest, most favorite meal of the day and I look forward to it from the moment I wake up. So grabbing a quick Subway sandwich across the street from my building to then eat at my desk was hurting my soul; also, I don't mind paying for lunch when I get to chat with coworker friends and eat a giant pile of $10 nachos, but spending nearly the same for a sad sandwich, even with delicious cookies, is annoying. So I'm making lunches! It was just a PBJ, pretzels, and apple slices for a few weeks, but now I've upped my game and mason jars are involved.

I'm not entirely convinced that the mason jar is necessary, but it does make layering easy and means the greens don't get soggy from the dressing on the bottom. I've been eating this Protein Egg and Quinoa Salad and it is so good. I get excited to eat it every day and think about it with happy heart thought bubbles during yoga. I make the full recipe in one quart sized jar for each day. I don't know who can eat a 200 calorie pint sized salad for lunch and feel satisfied, but I am definitely not that person. I just shake it up, dump it into a bowl (actually one of my glass containers from #4) and eat happy healthy food. Next week I'm going to start mixing it up with some of our other favorite quinoa combos - Asian Quinoa Salad, BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad, whatever ingredients are in my fridge quinoa salad...

And don't worry, I still eat a whole pizza or pile of nachos a few times a week too. We can't be too crazy.

~ ~ ~

So those are some things I love right now. I'm excited to be swathed in UPF protection (I also got the sun wrap from Coolibar and it's so nice!) and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's mason jar salad. The rest of life is going pretty well. A nurse neighbor friend of ours came over Monday night to take out James's Frankenfoot staples. It was intense. He yelled. More than once.

But now, thanks to our patient and awesome nurse friend, he is metal free! Still bruised, swollen, and with an obvious foot wound, but able to get through airport metal detectors with ease.

Switching gears: 2.5 year old Cora is my new favorite Cora, which seems impossible given how much I adored all the other Coras that came before this one. But she's a joy. She is funny and imaginative, enthusiastic and brave, chatty and full of songs, and she hugs with her whole body. The other night she hugged me until her arms gave out and then she hugged me more.

I read something the other day about hugging a child and never being the first to let go because sometimes they need a longer hug than you think. It's been an interesting experiment. I've learned that Claire can hug forever until I finally give in and whisper something like, "should we get back to [whatever we were doing?]" and then she'll say "okay!" and we'll go off to do it. But otherwise, I think she'd go at least 30 minutes before considering separating her body from mine. With Cora it depends completely on how long her imaginary to do list is in that moment. At bedtime, her list is done, so we hug for a long time. Landon is more brief, but still longer than I was holding on before. And James laughed when I didn't let go right away and asked if we were having a contest. And maybe we were. I won.

Okay, I'm off to bed (with fewer accessories than Cora)- Orangetheory in the morning, quinoa salad at lunch, giant piles of nachos with friends coming over from Austin for dinner! I may even wear my new sandals. Hope all your weeks are going well!