Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Playing Princesses and Teaching Barre

I meant to write about our busy and lovely weekend on Sunday night, when it would make sense to write about a weekend, but I went to bed early with a *blinding* headache and then I taught my first barre class at the new studio yesterday after work and that both revved me up and wiped me out and just when I was going to open my laptop the library finally saw fit to lend me Devil in Spring (spin-off from Lisa Kleypas's Wallflowers series; this one features Sebastian and Evie's son and if you know those names you already know you want to read it) so I had to read it cover-to-cover before falling asleep sometime around 3 a.m.

So here we are, it's Tuesday (I actually typed Wednesday and had to delete... my 4 hours of sleep are showing) and I can tell you our weekend was super busy -- 2 soccer games! toddler birthday party! grocery shopping! 17 loads of laundry! Casa Manana Children's Play! School movie night! Two extra Orangetheory workouts because I was too sick to use my credits when I was supposed to! Having friends over to swim Sunday night! Still not ever eating out! (not sure that one gets an exclamation mark). But it was lovely. We somehow did all the things and yet never felt rushed... I even had several hours to sit down and write up a new barre series for my new class and rework my music. It was completely lovely and strangely unphotographed, though I did get this one of Cora at her first-ever toddler friend birthday party.

She's been invited to classmate's parties in the past, but she always pretends like she has never heard the kids' name before when I ask if she wants to go, so I've just rsvp'd no. Cora is VERY into her work and much less into her peers, but lately that's been changing and when she screamed in joy when she saw V's Beauty and the Beast party invitation I knew we were going. She slept with the invitation every night, couldn't wait to go, and then played by herself for at least half the party but still seemed to generally have an excellent time.

I should note that she was the only one in a princess dress and she absolutely did not notice. This is just regular Saturday attire around here.

On Sunday while James was swimming and after I'd snapped at everyone for not putting things away after I'd asked them to, I decided we should pack lunches and go out in search of a new park. Each kid packed their own - Landon helped Cora, but it was all on her orders, and the results were adorable and quite well-rounded. I had a Jimmy John's sandwich I'd picked up on the way home (cheater) from Orangetheory. We all filled our water bottles and off we went.

I saw a speck of green on my GPS fairly nearby so we drove towards that to investigate and found the most adorable little park tucked among the houses on a street very close to us! I had no idea! It was a huge hit and I'm so glad we got out of the house. I can't be justifiably frustrated at anyone for leaving things on the floor if we are no longer on my floor. Everyone was winning.

Even this random teenager we picked up while we were there.

My first barre class was on Monday after work and it went great! I was a little nervous- it'd been 2 months since I'd taught and the set-up of the room is different than I'm used to, but as always I LOVED it once I got going. There's really nothing I enjoy more than yelling a count over my music and making everyone's muscles shake. So fun.

My rainbow confetti pants didn't arrive in time, so I wore my surprise outfit from James when I first taught at my last new studio and wowed everyone in my neon orange cone pants and Sweaty Band. Still freaking love those things- I can't believe I spent so many years buying and giving away headbands that wouldn't stay. These don't move no matter what I do.

Speaking of something I love, I added a "Referrals" tab at the top of the page. As I wrote in there, I don't generally do marketing posts and don't allow any ads, and I have no intention of changing that, but every now and then something I love happens to be connected to a referral page or affiliate program and I'll go ahead and link to that when it's something I'd be writing about anyway. Sweaty Bands falls in this category. I bought 6 at full price before actually reaching out to them just to see if they offered an instructor discount before I went and bought 4 more (I like options... and glitter). So the few things I've linked up with that way are on that page, just in case you ever wonder to yourself "what was that headband LL loved?"

Now I need a recommendation for you. James and I have a super formal event coming up in April - the 100th anniversary of my old law firm. Their normal annual parties are a black-tie blowout event, so this one is going to be insane. I've turned to Rent the Runway yet again, so I can pretend to be fancy and then mail everything back right after, and after much debate, picked this dress, which reminded me of a mermaid and made me happy:

For those who like a full picture, I got these shoes on clearance ($25 with a coupon!) and am renting these earrings again. I can't wait.

But the fabulous backless nature of my dress is going to require an undergarment I've never worn before- the elusive backless adhesive bra. Just the name sounds absurd and impossible, but if you have ever used one with any success, can you let me know the brand? Target sells them and I've heard decent things, so I may go there, but if you have any tips for maximum stickiness or other pointers for use, let me know! I'm a 32D and I plan to do a lot of dancing. It also highly unlikely I'll need one again in the next 5 years, so one that isn't very expensive and I can guilt-free throw away at the end of the night would be fantastic. Also fantastic? These earrings I get to borrow again:


Boob-wrangling aside, possibly literally, I'm super pumped for another fancy Cinderella kind of night!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Happenings and 20/20 Vision

You guys! I'm almost no longer sick!! I went back to the doctor on Monday and discovered I had a secondary respiratory infection along with the strep and my sinuses were full of cement so the steroid shot had lulled me into a false sense of sinal freedom but they couldn't give me another one and I just had to clear it out the old fashioned way with sudafed and tons of water. That was not the answer I wanted, but I dutifully went to the pharmacy to get my pseudoephedrine only to find out my driver's license is EXPIRED so I couldn't buy the damn medicine because I might make meth and start wearing a fedora. A prescription for Vicodin? No problem with my unknowingly expired license. But a few little red pills of sinus medicine? DENIED. Luckily James agreed to be my dealer after he left his nonprofit board meeting, so I was hooked up after a few hours, but still, at noon on Monday I was feeling sicker, could not get my medicine, and now I had the unfortunate knowledge that I needed to make a trip to the DMV. Bad day.

But after days of drinking a TON of water, downing sudafed every 4 hours, and continuing my antibiotic I am FINALLY feeling like a human being. My voice still sounds weird, I still have constant sinus drainage (oh yes, such an attractive phrase), and I still had fevers up until yesterday, but I have energy and an appetite and tonight I craved a margarita like nothing else. I'm also back to working out every day since Tuesday. Things are looking up.

Speaking of looking- I made up the eye appointment I was supposed to go to last Friday when I went to urgent care instead. It was time for a check-up and I needed more contacts. I only wear one in my left eye, so my yearly order lasts forever, but my supply had finally run out and my left eye was seeming a little blurry. I failed my initial eye test on that side, which seemed bad, only to pass it with flying colors when they had me take my contact out. Y'all-- after wearing glasses or contacts for TWENTY-ONE YEARS I now have 20/20 vision!! My left eye prescription had slowly been going down over the years and now it's nothing at all. The doctor said it isn't unheard of if you're nearsighted and it could get worse again down the line, but for now, I can clear out my cases and saline and pretend I got Lasik for free!

Also, almost free- this fabulous chair I bought of our neighborhood buy/sell page. I've been looking for a patterned accent chair for our living room for years, but they're always so expensive and we had a perfectly serviceable grey one already in place. But this one was $50 and it is perfect! I love it very much and it's super comfortable. Facebook buy/sell for the win!

Along with selling many of the things we uncovered in our spring cleaning, I got a bag of princess dresses on the page too! $10/each! Tiana and Snow White have now joined our family and Rapunzel has received a serious upgrade.

Cora is as delighted as you can imagine. We had movie night at school tonight and she rolled up like this.

Freaking adore that girl.

In other exciting and new things, I'm going to be teaching barre at a NEW studio starting on Monday!! A friend I taught with over a year ago called me out of the blue in January to ask if I was interested in additional teaching opportunities. It was quite a moment for me- after so many years of not exercising at all, and then years of the painful and powerful process of getting back in shape, and then two years of researching and experimenting and crafting new and creative barre classes week after week, and then pouring myself into class after class, I've become part of the fitness instructor community in our city! I really can't tell you how bizarre that is. And what an honor it is to be part of it.

The studio is a gorgeous new space-indoors and out, in a perfect location on my way home from work (literally, I drive past it every day), and has a schedule that works better for us right now. I'm going to be teaching Monday and Thursday evenings from 5-6 p.m. The nights the kids swim, I'll stop on my way home from work, teach, and be home a few minutes before they get back from the pool. Perfection.

back patio/yard

I'm super excited to up my teaching game to twice a week and bring barre to a new group of students. If you're local- the first week of classes are free, sign up through the website, purchase a single class, and use the promo code SNEAKPEEK. I'd love to see you there!

I've got sparkly new rainbow confetti pants on order for the grand opening!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Checking In: Landon

I never seem to have time to write letters to the kids anymore. I have drafts, but they take me a long time and none of them are complete. I don't know when they will be, so rather than work under the pressures of a full-blown missive, I've decided to just stream-of-conscious style check in with each of my three. Who they are, what they're doing, what makes me think of them right at this very moment. Facebook just told me that 10 years ago today we found out we were having a baby boy, so we'll start with Landon.

Landon is nearly 10 and somehow also nearly 17. He's started styling his hair every morning, with results equally impressive and amusing (and alarming, given how old I feel like he suddenly looks). He is very much into his friends, his recess four-square games, and Ninjago Legos. He has explained the Ninjago universe to me for hours, offering pop quizzes along the way, and, adorably, interprets my wrong answers as a need for more lessons rather than my utter uninterest in the subject. Yesterday he presented me with a diagram of characters, hair styles, weapons, and elemental powers, along with an illustrated guide. My cooking at night is routinely interrupted by "MOM! This is really important. What is Cole's elemental power?" We also had a fierce debate on what constitutes an "element" after the told me "Wind" was an element, right alongside Helium, Hydrogen, Carbon, and Fire.

He is rather quietly brilliant. He loves school and has never hinted at boredom, but he finishes tests quickly and rarely gets less than 100. He reads as fast as I do, generally devouring a book each night. He has a big heart. He makes statements that show he takes a deeper look at things and the emotions of others. He recognizes the work behind others' actions, particularly James and mine, and he appreciates them. He loves to make surprises for us. He is suddenly very interested in money- the earning of it, the saving, the spending, and what everything in the world costs. In the last month he has referred to "the girls" in his friend group as a distinct entity. "Mom, the girls were invited to the party too and they chased us for an hour." He has size 7 feet and a "don't forget to put on deodorant" sticky note on his bathroom mirror. He drives us crazy telling stories full of undefined pronouns. "Mom! They went to the place to do the things but no one was there." Full story. He is delighted by matching pj sets. He still hates cheese.

We- James, me, and mostly Landon- have gotten his fits under control in the last 5 months. I think one of the biggest changes has been our reactions. I can write about mine. Our main difficulty with Landon's unpredictable tantrums was always that they seemed triggered by nothing- worse than nothing, he'd flip out on the best days- the days we did fun, expensive, totally Landon oriented things for hours and then suddenly one tiny thing would go wrong (he dropped a mint on the ground and I told him he couldn't eat it) and he would lose. his. shit. "I hate today. Today has been the worst day of my life. Everything is terrible," etc., etc. etc. after hours of fun. It made me crazy and he knew it. I've cobbled together this saying from a blog comment and an article I read and I repeat it when I know we're in a situation where he's purposefully trying to work me up (acting ungrateful is probably my biggest trigger; recognizing this, and recognizing that HE recognizes this has been my biggest breakthrough) -- his level of emotion is not my level of emotion. He can spiral up and down and hit every button I have. His level of emotion is not my level of emotion. Nothing makes a situation spiral out of control faster than when I forget this and nothing calms a situation down to a simmer like when I remember. "I'm sorry you're upset right now. I'm going to go in my room and [fold laundry, lay down, read a book, pretend to meditate], let me know when you want to talk about it." Zooming out, looking at the situation as if I were a third-party dispassionate adult. Basically the same thing I do in my marriage when I feel upset over something I'm pretty sure I shouldn't be. Zoom out. Also, recognizing when Landon gets upset, but stays in control. We failed to acknowledge that for a long time, thinking, yeah, of course you should be calm right now - literally nothing is happening to you. But now I recognize it as the victory it is. And later, when I'm quite sure we're not turning nothing into a thing, I'll comment on it. "I saw that you were getting upset earlier, but you took some deep breaths and stayed level. I'm really proud of you." Nothing is magic, but for us, those two things very nearly have been.

He's an amazing kid. Of our three I think he's the least like James or me and we spend a lot of time simply bemused and baffled by him. He's incredibly generous, has no sense of possession, and is genuinely unimpressed with his grades. He thinks they're nice and I'm sure he'd be upset if they went down, but they aren't part of his worth. He's competitive, but not aggressive. He's inquisitive, but isn't bothered if he doesn't know the answer. He is an increasingly grown-up and distinct entity within our family, yet he remains my little boy who sneaks handmade cards into my purse and onto nightstand. He is a more generous big brother than his sisters often deserve and he delights in the little joys in life. We still can't take him to Target without him acting like he's at Disney World and has never been out of the house before -- "Mom! Mom! Did you see this display? That's a big dog up there! MOM! They have princess shaped crackers! Cora would love that! Oh Mom!!" He doesn't ask for any of it, he's just delighted it's there.

He needs people and loves to be in a gaggle of friends. He is Wrangler of the Month for March at his school. He loves facts and is constantly sharing them with the rest of us (whether we want to know the name of the world's largest insect or not). He is self-directed; last night I found him in his room making flash cards to quiz himself for the championship Battle of the Books round in a few months. He wants a fish and a golden retriever puppy. His favorite colors are blue, green, red, and orange. He uses the word "epic" more than is justified.

His new career goals are to be a Ninjago Lego designer, an engineer, and/or a National Geographic Explorer. Luckily for us, while he may suddenly look like a teenager, he still has some time to decide.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Spring Cleaning Sickness

So here we are, at the end of spring break.

I am STILL sick. I have not been to work in so long I'm not sure I remember how to log in to my computer. It seems a lifetime ago that we were sledding down sand in Monahans and walking down into Carlsbad Caverns. A lifetime ago that I first felt sick and now still feel JUST as sick. But before we get to that- I took four doses of antibiotics, thought I felt better, and got dressed up to go out to dinner yesterday!

We'd had the date set with friends of ours forever (the parents of one of Landon's new friends) and I had so been looking forward to it. I was feeling better after a day on antibiotics and the steroid shot, so I went to yoga - felt amazing!! even all the upside downs - went to Target to buy ALL the bins (nothing makes me need to clean everything than spending three days stuck in the house), and then got a haircut. I put on a youtube video for my makeup, donned a dress I'd bought on clearance at Express a month ago, and was ready to go!

And we had a fabulous time. We went to The Capital Grille, ate and drank all the things and talked for nearly 4 hours.

Like my 9 miles of hiking on Monday, this was potentially ill-advised. I woke up this morning feeling like hell all over again. My sinuses are so inflamed I can barely breathe through my nose and the pressure in my ears and jaw feels like it needs to be hit with a hammer again. I'm going back to the doctor in the morning.

To counteract my terrible feelings, I decided to clean and reorganize every single inch of my house. Literally all of the inches. And to terrorize my family to help and clean all their square inches too.

Everyone hated me, including myself, by mid-afternoon, but you guys- you guys! We went through every single closet and bin in the whole house- including some I packed before I moved away from Houston in 2005, including even James's preshus bins of UT swimming t-shirts, EVERYTHING. Everything is now in new, matching bins of the same size and color. They are properly stacked, properly labeled, and much downsized. All my holiday stuff is beautifully organized, separated, and labeled. Our hiking gear, ski gear, kids' clothes, kids' memory bins, James and my memory bins...

As I may have mentioned a time or twenty, we don't have an attic in this house at all, no attached garage, no under-stairs closet, really no closets of any kind except some shallow bedroom ones and the one we made in the TV room when we had the wet bar taken out. This is because our would-be closet space is taken up with two hot water heaters and two HVAC units because - that's right - no attic. But it's fine, everything fits, but now it fits BETTER! And cleaner! And our vacuum can go IN A CLOSET! And our suitcases! Retrieved from the detached garage I never want to walk out to when it's late at night and I'm packing!

If my sinuses didn't feel like they're going to explode, the whole world would be my oyster right now. I even cleaned out bins under beds, bins of wedding gifts and cards, ALL the bins in our house. James took a full truck load of stuff to donate and I still feel a little high. I can't even blame it on the nighttime cold medicine yet.

And to make up for my rage-cleaning, we opened up the pool for the afternoon and ordered our favorite pizza for dinner!

I was still in my pajamas, breathing fresh air for the first time all day, and glad the kids were still smiling at me.

Not that I needed to worry too much- as Landon told me later, "Mom, it's so nice to know there's a place for all of my things!" He loves a good label.

The pool is freezing- our backyard is very shaded and there's no pool heater, but they didn't care. Cora is a fish- I haven't seen her swim lessons in months and jumped out of my seat in a panic when her "boat" she was on with Claire flipped over in the middle of the pool, but she just popped up and swam over to the edge. Water safe children! Five years of pool ownership and and extra baby and we're finally there!

I'm looking forward to a fabulous summer full of friends and splashing and cocktails and snacks. And maybe a few tours of my closets, just so they can admire the bins.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Memory Lanes and Positive Strep Tests

So I last wrote on Wednesday, after our miserable drive home and when I thought I was maybe going to start getting better. Yesterday I even left the house for an hour to do a return and breathe fresh air. My throat no longer hurt and my sinuses didn't feel like they'd shatter on contact. I firmed up our plans for a double date with the parents of one of Landon's best friends for Saturday and was eagerly anticipating our 2:30 tickets to see Beauty and the Beast Friday afternoon.

James has been whisking the kids out of the house each morning at 8 a.m. and keeping them busy until I text him with my confused "where are you guys?" when I wake up around 11 a.m.

Here, they are at Freebirds. Before that, they were at the Y, the park, Academy, and Costco. James seriously genuinely LOVES running errands with the kids (all of them, always) and it is one his most endearing and mystifying qualities.

So I was pretty sure I was on the upswing. Last night I dared to open the three boxes of childhood memorabilia my parents had sent me home with back in January, after they moved to their new house, and which I immediately forgot about until we found them in the garage last weekend. Apparently I'd never entered them into my mental inventory.

I spent way too many hours going through everything, laughing, crying, cringing... and wondering what on earth you're supposed to do with this stuff? 3 middle school yearbooks? (Kept those; they're small and hilarity abounded.) 4 GIANT high school yearbooks? (Kept senior year; I went to a huge school and didn't even know all the members of my own class anyway, but keeping one seemed right?). I found a ton of swimming stuff, obviously. (Apologies in advance for all the pictures you're about to see; this blog is now the diary I apparently wrote in in 8th grade, though generally less mortifying to re-read.)

I found the only non-swimming trophy I ever won. A math facts contest of course. Division! Fourth grade. I love love loved math. Still do, actually. I buy math workbooks and do them on planes.

But, while you obviously keep the math trophy, what do you do with your high school letter jacket from back when you had XL sized swimmer shoulders?

20 lbs. of medals?

Two boxes of ribbons?

A box of plaques? (Why was anyone giving out plaques to high schoolers? What can you do with those? Hanging them up now feels bizarre and a little sad. I tossed them all except my high school swimming Team Captain award and a few others that had genuine sentimental value, but even still- it would be better if they were just a piece of paper I could put in a folder instead of a giant block of wood.)

It was SO fun to see, but I ended up tossing most of it. Then I got to the real treasures... like this picture of me at the same age as Cora. Maybe we look something alike after all?

I always think I look more like Claire, and this self-portrait backs me up. But Cora has my adult hair curl and color, so who knows where she'll go with that. I spent my first 15 years as a straight haired blonde:

I enjoy these answers. They're still pretty accurate. Breakfast tacos are the best.

I found dozens and dozens of books and poems I used to write, illustrate, and then bind. Just for fun. In my free time.

It's like I was always destined to have a blog.

I also wrote about happiness a lot, which seems right based on all I remember about my childhood.

I found my 8th grade diary. If you want a lesson in self-kindness, read your words at 14. Ohmygod. I cringed so hard I had to read through half-closed eyes. Most of it I'd never share, but this made me laugh out loud.

Leo and Kate forever you guys. There was totally room on that door for two.

I found a bag of band medals. Nothing says middle school popularity like band medals.

My dad used to take each of them out to the garage after a competition to hand engrave them for me. I found so many things that made my heart squeeze.

Like this poem. I wonder if our kids would write something like this about us? I can only hope.

I found a beautifully bound parcel of my favorite high school papers (bound and labeled by me; I was an archivist), my SAT scores back when they actually mailed them to you (1550!), my senior year economics college project (UT's tuition was $2,000!), and the article from when I signed with UT in high school.

I found my deck credentials from the 1999 Junior Nationals Meet in St. Louis. We realized later that James was also at that meet, swimming the same event, just a few heats behind me. He was a senior in high school, swimming for Curl Burke in Maryland and I was a sophomore swimming for Blue Tide in Kingwood. We were both at the US Open later that year as well. It's no wonder we met my first night at UT in 2001- we'd been on that path for years!

Apparently at age 7 I was very up on current events.

I used to write a lot of poetry. I didn't remember that. I also feel like this should have given me excellent insight into the books I would one day read.

Paranormal Urban Fantasy Romance Forever!

I found my President's Medal from PE in 5th grade. I'd tried to earn one for 3 years, but I always failed the flexibility. I had the girls school record for the flexed arm hang, I LOATHED the running but would just barely get enough laps, but then the damn touch your toes portion defeated me every time. I practiced touching my toes for weeks that final year and finally earned it. It's possible my PE teacher helped. Attached to the ribbon is my Safety Patrol badge, something I wore with GREAT PRIDE and GREAT RESPONSIBILITY. I'm pretty sure I just wore my vest around randomly so everyone would know I was entrusted with school children's safety. I told everyone to walk their bikes on the path and hung up the tetherball balls in the morning. I feel this prompted my current career in public service.

It was a special night. I filled up two plastic bins, got rid of a lot, enjoyed it all, and even decided to keep the letter jacket. I'm not sure why, but it felt funny to give it away. I'll revisit in another decade and laugh and cry some more. Maybe when I'm not also on a lot of cold medicine.

So after all that excitement and some weird cold-medicine-childhood-infused dreams, I woke up feeling terrible. Like driving home from New Mexico terrible. I dragged myself to urgent care and got an immediate diagnosis of strep. I've probably had it since I first suspected it Monday morning before heading out for 9 miles of hiking around 2 national parks. It's a good thing they were pretty!

I still kept our Beauty and the Beast Date. I sat on the end and coughed into a paper towel, but I figured I'd just be sitting anyway. And we loved it! Cora in particular. Obviously, she dressed for the occasion. Or, you know, just a regular Friday in her world. (Note the Princess Jasmine socks and Rapunzel shoes; we can't be contained to only one princess.)

She has the animated version memorized, so she followed along beautifully with the live action plot. There were some intense scenes, but because the plot mirrored the (unimprovable!) classic so closely, she would just grab my hand right before saying, "I going to be scared now!" and then she'd send my hand back to me when it was over. She sat in her chair the whole time (nearly 2.5 hours), ate her popcorn, and clapped immediately when the movie was over, declaring "I want to watch it AGAIN!" as we walked out.

Then, like an idiot, I spent 3 hours cleaning out Landon and the girls' entire closet, all their clothes, all their drawers, and all their storage bins. It's like a sickness. This was far less fun and sentimental, and more slogging and sad (*sob* Cora keeps growing). Now I'm dragging myself to bed because it is late and you shouldn't clean out closets when you have strep. On the upside, I don't feel worse, so maybe that means I really will feel good enough to go on my fancy dinner date tomorrow night just like the urgent care doctor promised! (The doctor who probably didn't think I'd spend 3 hours power-deep-cleaning a bunch of closets, but still - there's hope! and I am very determined. Steak and fancy cocktails are coming my way and my 6:30 p.m. tomorrow I'm going to WANT THEM.) But a pre-midnight bedtime seems like a good start.