Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Herding Puppies is Harder Than Herding Cats

A Selection of Short Stories

Take Your Kids to Work Day, unofficial version:

On Friday I got a text from Tara saying she had a family emergency (dad in the hospital; he's now fine) and could I be home by 4 so she could drive to Dallas to be with him. Of course I responded, we'll make it work, but I was so busy and at a critical point in something I was writing, I asked if she could bring the kids to me instead. Surely adding my three generally well behaved children would be easier than packing up and trying to write from home, right? And I think it was, but 3 kids is just a lot of energy to bring to your federal government office at 4:00 on a Friday when the only people there are the ones who really have stuff to do.


The big kids brought their kindles and read fairly quietly in my guest chairs. Cora, needing to be like the big kids but not in possession of a kindle, also packed a little Lululemon bag with a blanket, sunglasses, and a small plastic gorilla. When she got to my office she spread out the blanket, sat down in the middle, donned the sunglasses (upside down, obvi), put her gorilla in her lap, and looked around expectantly for what would happen next. I believe she was disappointed, though she did borrow my blackberry to make a few important calls.

When I went to grab something from the printer, I returned to an empty office, only to find all three of my kids newly camped in a coworker's office, like they had just moved on after my 30-second abandonment.

After an hour I finished my memo, wrapped up another document, and logged out. Feeling productive and yet also totally exhausted, we stopped at Yucatan for dinner. My meal was in the form of semi-frozen tequila and lime. Cheers.

Parental Layover:

Then my parents came to town! Arriving just in time for my mom to attend my noon barre class (she rocked it) and leaving after brunch on Sunday, we packed in the fun and even the tiniest bit of shopping.

After barre, we cleaned up a bit, ate some of my Greek Quinoa Salad, and then headed out to the Japanese Gardens at our beautiful, local Botanic Gardens. Free, and located just a few miles up the road, we'd visited the Botanic Gardens many times, but somehow we'd never bothered to turn into this other driveway and enter the Japanese Gardens, which are not free, but well worth the price of admission.

Big trees, ponds, awesome bridges, big porches, beautiful landscaping, and also this koi who wants to eat your soul.

feeeeed me

Luckily, they also have fish pellets for your convenience.

We really enjoyed exploring/running at full speed down the paths. Also, since we had to take 2 cars, my mom and I accidentally stopped at Sephora on the way over where I talked her into buying an Urban Decay Naked palette and a few other goodies. Perfect warmup for some garden strolling.

Later, my parents took the kids out to dinner while James and I went out on a fancy date for his birthday at our very favorite place, Grace.


Dinner was amazing, as always, and I even branched out and ordered not-steak, though the bruleed goat cheese cheesecake OBVIOUSLY still remained on my heart and in my stomach. Best dessert ever.

James liked his food too, but refused to post for pictures with it.

And I was pleased with my eye makeup; made possible by the earlier stop at Sephora for a replacement Naked palette because I left mine in the Orangetheory bathroom (also where I dropped a $160 bottle of skin serum; I maybe just need to stop trying to get ready there) and never found it again. I've been spackling myself together with leftover eye shadow samples, but now I have my full neutral rainbow at my fingertips again. Paying for the makeup lesson for my birthday two years ago remains one of my better life choices.

After dinner we hung out with my parents a bit, swapping stories and making them watch John Oliver and SNL clips. On Sunday we went on our long walk through the neighborhood to our favorite park. Cora really took my dad under her wing, encouraging him through all the challenges of the big kid playground.

Come ON Papa!

Yay, Papa, yay!!

We ended with then treating us to a delicious birthday brunch at James's favorite place. We ate everything, said goodbye, and continued home to give the kids some nap/rest time before...

Family Pictures
(Aka: herding three deaf, ADHD puppies who don't recognize English or you, generally, and omg just SIT. STAY. DAMMIT.):

Family pictures on Sunday night! Always a favorite of mine, never a favorite of anyone else's. We've had some outtakes, but also many many other shoots that I simply adore and don't care if everyone else found tortuous. I do a lot for this family and I'm allowed to ask for one hour back. Except, apparently, when I'm not.

They weren't bad, exactly, they were just... puppies. Like scampering about, hiding behind hedges, running along walkways, literally climbing on top of each other... puppies. Like herding cats but actually worse because puppies are so JOYFUL about the fact they're flagrantly ignoring you. At one point Landon and Claire just disappeared. The photographer and James and I were spread out calling for them and finally found them around the back of the building where they'd gone "to explore." The idea of a family picture containing all five members of the family in the same frame was SUPER CONFUSING.

In the end, I think we got some beautiful shots, and my goal this time around was really to get some nice portraits of each kid on their own. They'd get to pick the place and the poses and just have a few minutes with the photographer to be themselves (which is how we lost L&C). And I think we got that. And I even think we got some nice family shots. But OMFG when we sat down on the grass together after successfully negotiating Cora's chosen placement (NEXT TO YAYA MAMA) and then Landon pulled out a bunch of grass and dropped it down Claire's neck, the daggers that flew out of my eyes and straight for his jugular were only barely metaphorical.

As I told our photographer at the end, I'm so glad we're friends on facebook and she's shot us for the last 3 years because she knows the love I hope we were showing wasn't fake. It was just fake right then.

This week's food:
Sun: Greek quinoa salad (basically this recipe, double the dressing-except the olive oil, tossed with 2 cups cooked quinoa), naan, TJ's cilantro chive dip because it's the best
Mon: Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Chili, various toppings: tortillas chips, cheese, sour cream, cilantro
Tues: Flank Steak, twice baked potatoes, sauteed green beans and carrots (James's chosen birthday dinner!)
Wed: BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad (this recipe for the chicken; quinoa, lots of yummy toppings like black beans, corn, tomato, cilantro, avocado, cheese)
Thurs: BBQ Chicken Enchiladas (Leftover BBQ chicken rolled into tortillas with shredded cheese, topped with a schmear of sour cream and a little more cheese; bake at 350 for 20 mins); Refried Black Beans, Mexican Rice, Avocado
Fri: Creamy Meaty Spaghetti (Another one I kind of just make up; ground beef, onion, garlic + tomato sauce + half block cream cheese + 2 lbs. pasta); carbo-loading for the kids' triathlon on Saturday morning

This week's workouts:
Sun: long walk; herding puppies behind a museum and making them smile
Mon: Orangetheory
Tues: C2 Yoga
Wed: Orangetheory
Thurs: C2 Yoga
Fri: C2 Yoga
Sat: Barre- teaching

Peak Cora Sighting: kitty shirt, tutu, leggings, Christmas socks, shoes on the wrong feet, purse stolen from her sister, upside down sunglasses, and large semi-broken bow. Perfect.

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