Saturday, April 29, 2017

Weekend Wrap-Up of the Week Before

While I was busy reliving our crazy weekend in Houston- being fancy and marching for science - the rest of the week unfolded. Monday started out very delayed after I went to bed for the first time at 3:30 a.m. after taking Claire to her first ever ER visit. (It was scary; she's 100% fine now.) I was tired. It was a groggy start to the week.

On Wednesday all 3 kids had dental appointments. Unlike last time, Cora did not try to attack anyone who touched her mouth. Instead, she was delighted to be there and giggled her way through her oral exam. Her teeth look great! Claire's do too!

Landon's are healthy (taking away sweets for a month last fall seems to have incentivized him to brush his teeth regularly), but they are badly misaligned. I arrived at the very end of the appointment (James had taken them all there at 1:30, but he has to leave at 2:45 for coaching; we high-fived as switched places. Two working parents y'all, it's a daily exercise in logistics) and the dentist recapped the exams and said, "With Landon, we're looking at braces sooner rather than later."

"Oh, like in the next year?" I asked, thinking 10 was young for braces and also wondering if Cora was going to steal another toothbrush.

"No, like you should call to make an appointment with the orthodontist tomorrow."

Oh. I was neither emotionally nor financially prepared for that.

So he now has an appointment for this Thursday. I'm glad we went ahead and maxed out our Health FSA for the year, though that was supposed to be for my massages and not Landon's braces. Good thing I haven't actually scheduled any massages yet. He's just a tiny baby though? How can he need braces?!

Except he very much does because the current alignment of his teeth means that his upper and lower front teeth connect with every bite and he's already chipped off a little piece of his front tooth and that's an adult tooth so we prefer they stay in their original shape.

Since I'd taken the last two hours off work for the appointment, we got to spend a little extra time together before afternoon activities. The girls wanted to color and read, but Landon immediately asked to go outside and play baseball. I do not play baseball. Landon does not play baseball. But James got him a glove, bat, and some practice balls for his birthday two years ago and we pull them out every now and then to play around in the front yard.

But ever since one friend had a birthday party at a TCU baseball game last weekend and another friend told him all baseball players make $60 million a year, Landon is ALL IN. I told him we only had 10 minutes before we had to leave for gymnastics and he responded "you can throw like 100 balls in that amount of time mom." He has high estimations of my abilities. Also, "That one was outside my stroke zone, Mom." ranks highly in the list of phrases I never thought anyone would say to me.

Thursday was Take Your Kids to Work Day! I've written about what this day means to be before (funny enough, as part of last year's TYKTWD post and also some career musings that sound an awful lot like my recent thought tornadoes); it was genuinely one of the more impactful events of my childhood. For my kids, who find it more surprising that men can be lawyers and work in offices, it's more of a party and fun chance to spend time together.

Being the government, there are no resources devoted to the event, so it's all employee run and fund-raised. They did such a great job! All the kids got badges and were sworn in as investigators, learned about investing money, and then lead their own investigation into the big bad wolf and whether he defrauded the three little pigs. It was super cute.

Also, there was pizza and playtime outside.

Totally typical day.

Despite the efforts of the organizers, the kids still aren't totally sure they know what I do all day, but they are SUPER jealous I get to ride on an escalator every morning before I do it.

Determined to use the rest of our day as productively as possible, we stopped to get haircuts on the way home from "work." Landon requested hair product and learned about styling creme. Claire got her bangs trimmed and Cora desperately wanted a haircut of her very own. "You cut mine too?!" she asked hopefully of each employee. Someday Cora, someday. You may be 7, but you'll have that first haircut section filled out in your baby book.

After a few minutes at home (more baseball!), it was time for swimming - or Take Your Kids to Work Day Round 2!!

Swimming is serious; also accessorized

James had had a significantly more productive day than me- guest lecturing at a TCU business class again (Product Innovation), Shark-Tank-style judging their end-of-year projects, and then driving out to his warehouse to check on his latest shipment of Bricks.

But we got to join in on his last part and his first love- the coaching. I love so much that he gets to coach our kids- he's so very good and I trust him completely with their talent and enthusiasm, and I know he loves getting to see them at the pool twice a week. His whole face lights up when we walk in.

Cora helped him coach the big kids' class before having a swim lesson of her own.

All in all, Thursday was a great and thoroughly exhausting day.

On Friday we signed up for swim team. All of us. Even me (gulp). And Cora. We're pushing the "6 & Under" age group limit a bit- Claire joined when she was 4 and she was the youngest one on the team. Cora will be exactly 3.5, but she can do 25 yards across the pool and I figure she's stuck at the meets all day Saturday anyway. Why shouldn't she have an event? Plus, look how she rocks the tiny regulation all black swimsuit I had to scour Amazon to find her. Size 22. It's the tiniest cutest thing I've ever seen.

She refused to take it off for the rest of the day, including a Friday Night Movie Night showing of The Secret Life of Pets. This summer is going to be amazing. Assuming I still remember how to swim.

And that was the week! Now I'm only one day behind and we're about to leave for our final Casa Manana children's play of the season (The Little Mermaid!!), so we'll save today for later and talk about food. This week's was delicious!

Monday: whole wheat pasta with tomato cream sauce. A meal that always feels like a cheat because it's so quick and easy, but it's delicious, and as noted above, I was tired.

Tuesday: Bean and Rice Burritos. Why were these so delicious? I loved the Mexican rice in the rice cooker. Our grocery store happened to have a "House-made Taco Tuesday Trio" in the deli made up of white queso, guacamole, and pico, so we I used all of those things on top, plus some sliced olives, chopped cilantro, and more chopped tomatoes. I used whole wheat tortillas to wrap up the refried black beans and Mexican rice. Kids thought I was a culinary genius.

Wednesday: Meatloaf (I finally found my perfect recipe by mixing together a bunch of other people's recipes!), Roasted Russet and Sweet Potato Wedges, Roasted Cauliflower and Carrots. Cora inhaled her veggies and potatoes, but the meat hurt her feelings.

Thursday: Slow Cooker Chicken Tostadas. Another new recipe that was simple yet somehow super crazy delicious. I think the chicken could use more seasoning (I'll add a 1/4 cup homemade taco seasoning next time), but the kids LOVED the tostada ("mom you made a FLAT TACO!") and I got to use up the rest of my Taco Tuesday Trio from the deli. I also put more refried black beans underneath the shredded chicken and cheese before broiling the tostadas.

Friday: We were supposed to have this chicken spaghetti, but the giant organic chicken I'd bought and frozen from Costco many moons ago was still frozen after 4 days in the fridge, so I had to fight it with tongs and a large fight to get the giblets out and after that horror show (the bag of innards broke and got everywhere), and then it took forever to boil and long story short the kids had mac and cheese, I had champagne, and then James and I ordered Chinese after they went to bed.

Saturday: Chicken Spaghetti! Finally made on Friday, ready to go in the fridge for tonight after our Casa Manana children's play!

Sunday: French Onion Pot Roast over Creamy Polenta It feels sunday-y. With carrots and cauliflower. And maybe brownies? We'll see where the day takes us.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Science Marching and Dog Petting: The Rest of the Weekend at PapaGigi's

The weekend fun continued the morning after our fun and fancy event! We slept in as much as I am now capable of sleeping in (7:30ish- I let James sleep until the luxurious hour of 8:00 before I woke him up to entertain me) and then we lounged a bit before getting ready to attend the March for Science!

This trip to Houston worked out so perfectly- fancy party, local grandparents (for 24 hours anyway), and the March for Science in a big city with a huge scientific community! We love a good march and we love science (and facts, progress, technology, the earth, and more), and my parents wanted to come join in since both of them are also pro-fact/science/progress/earth and Gigi is a science TEACHER and master biologist, and our hotel was a few blocks away! It was all meant to be.

Gigi found a fellow teacher!

I packaged up my dress to be shipped back to my Fairy Godmother, donned my brand new science shirt (girls' section at Target!), and ventured out to the foreign streets of downtown Houston with James to find an open Starbucks. I haven't really explored Houston in years and it's such a real city now! You can walk the streets! There are green spaces and restaurants and trams and stores! It's now on the list of places I could live.

I had gone to Target earlier in the week to see if I could find some glitter for our Science signs, but ended up in the kids' t-shirt section instead. They have so many science ones! $22.50 later I had 4 shirts- one for me and each of the kids and I was so excited I forgot the glitter.

We worked on our signs on Thursday night. I just sort of wing'd it and hoped the letters would turn out somewhat even. James painstakingly hand-lettered perfect block letters in pencil until almost midnight and then never had time to fill them in. He did pause in the middle to draw me a picture of Earth. I know my limits.

We helped the kids with their signs when we got to my parents' house. I wanted them to hold signs that came from them, so we read them the March for Science mission statement and talked about the reasons we wanted to go. Landon, our life-long animal lover, decided to go with an animal theme, and Claire decided to pick one. I loved them both.

Cora's sign noted that all toddlers are Scientists-in-Training on one side and just said "VACCINATED!" on the other with a bunch of her doodles all around it. She declined to hold it at any time on Saturday. She also "lost" her dog-in-a-space-shuttle t-shirt I got her from Target and showed up at the march in her beloved rainbow maxi dress from her Easter Basket. Basically, Cora does Cora. We roll with it.

The march was super fun. Scientists and science-enthusiasts are such an earnest and nerdily adorable group. The signs were fabulous. Tons of kids were there. It was all very positive and just... earnest. So much earnestness. They just want their work to matter you guys. It's hard to describe if you aren't there, but it was just a really such a happy cheerful exercise. Sure most of the people there probably also think Trump is the worst and are mad about it, but that wasn't the main vibe of the event. It was nerdy and full of camaraderie. Like these are my people and we're all giggling over the fact that the square root of -1 is irrational and that makes your sign funny. Also, climate change is real. Facts are too. Now let's all admire this woman's Ms. Frizzle costume and this man's umbrella with DNA double-helixes hanging off the sides. Yay science!

Organizers were expecting 10,000 marchers and the police department estimated 15,000! (They were a lot of nods to the new "paid protester" fallacy- "I'm a Grad Student. Where's my check?" and "Unpaid Protester. Barely Paid Scientist.", which made me giggle. Also, I have not received my check.) Despite the 50% increase in participation, it was all super calm and organized. After the march there was a band playing- Tulipfinger- made up of five neuroscientists, and several speakers from the local scientific community.

Unfortunately, Cora was super done with her act of citizenship so we headed home, but it was fun. I'm really glad we were able to be part of it.

Back at the house, the kids immediately jumped in the pool even though the water was freezing and the temperature was like 20 degrees colder outside than we were marching.

Kids are crazy.

Also, while we were away being fancy, my parents took the kids to an arcade/bowling/movie place and they had a BLAST.

Obviously, they missed us every minute.

And last, because it's late and I still haven't recovered from returning from our first ever ER trip with Claire at 3:30 a.m. Monday morning. (She's fine now. Thanks science!), Cora is obsessed with dogs. And cats. But my parents happen to have dogs. She sat next to Maximus for hours (really, lots of minutes, but in toddler time, that's hours), just petting him and telling him he's so soft.

All in all it was a pretty great weekend! We left early Sunday morning because Landon had a birthday party at 12:30 and it's a 4 hour drive home. The birthday party was at a TCU baseball game, Landon's first ever baseball game, and now he is OBSESSED. This was... unexpected, particularly since neither James nor I enjoy baseball even a little bit, but now here we are, pitching and tossing balls in the front yard every single minute Landon is home, we are awake, and the sun is out. But more on that- and the seriously great recipes I've tried so far this week - the next time I try to get a post published before midnight while semi-paying attention to whatever TV show we're watching (currently Girlboss, which is entertaining enough that it took me Forever to write this. I need James to pick duller shows.).

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Champagne, Cookie Dough, and Faking Fancy

It was not quite a year ago when I last got to play princess, so after years of having no reason to dress up all, two times in twelve months just seems like an embarrassment of borrowed riches.

But I'll take em!

And then I'll mail them back.

As I mentioned, my old law firm is celebrating its 100th anniversary (founded in 1917!), so its usual biennial prom blowout - already one of the most incredible parties I've ever been to - was dialed up to 11.

Something the ridiculous and magnificent super-thick see-through gold embossed acrylic invitation made clear. Literally.

Alumni are always invited to prom, but in the past I haven't been allowed to go. Luckily, our ethics rules were recently reinterpreted such we can now attend former employer events when they are open to all alumni. And since I love a fancy party, and my life as a government attorney in Fort Worth married to a swim school owner does not give me many opportunities to be fancy, AND my parents live in Houston and volunteered to watch the kids for the night (the whole night!!!), we were IN!

And when almost all my favorite people from the firm said they were coming, it just got that much better. Only a few of those people still actually work at the firm (like 3 of them), but it was SO fun to see so many familiar and fabulous faces. I worked with really great people. I still work with really great people, but I think I was unusually lucky in my first professional job, particularly for BigLaw. V&E Austin was a pretty wonderful place to learn how to be a lawyer.

My rented dress came in the mail on Thursday and it fit! I continue to love Rent the Runway for my rare nights of fancy. A blog reader had told me she'd rented it a few weeks ago and while it didn't work for her, she thought it would be perfect for a person with "boobs and no hips" and that's basically me! Plus some red hair and disproportionately long legs. The dress was perfect. I loved the colors. Much more rich and saturated than they looked online and they were so fun with my hair. Speaking of hair! I got it blown out and curled (because I an incompetent at these things) and it was maybe my favorite blow-out ever! I felt like it still looked like me, hair-incompetence and all, with just a little extra flair.

I did my makeup as fast as possible in my mom's bathroom, feeling a lot like high school prom circa 2001, and googled a youtube video for my eyes. I added my clearance-sale sparkly shoes, a borrowed bag from my mom, my rented earrings, the bracelet I borrowed from a friend, and my own wedding watch/ring set and I was set!

James was supposed to be in a tux, but we didn't really feel like renting one, and the past 12 months notwithstanding, he usually never has a reason to wear one, so we took black tie literally and just got him a beautiful black tie to go with his beautiful black suit he had custom made for our wedding. I got his black boots shined and he was good to go.

And so off we went. We checked into our hotel room (!!!) and then walked over to the Four Seasons where a few hundred friends and colleagues and some shuttle buses awaited. After a few reunions with some of my faves, we took the buses over to the Hobby Center and were greeted by ladies in long gold gowns spiraling and spinning overhead. Oh yeah. This was going to be good.

Inside was flowers and name tags and another reunion with a high school friend I totally forget was working as a social media manager at the firm now.

Moving onward and upward we came to a beautiful bar area with lots of tiny foods being passed (James ate all of them; the duck empanadas, steak skewers with peanut sauce, and mango cucumber ceviche were his faves), signature cocktails, signature cocktails with logos floating in them (a repeating theme, as you'll see), beautiful flowers, lights, and people,

and also a woman in a jumpsuit climbing up silks suspended from the ceiling while playing an electric violin.

I mean, of course. Such an obvious addition. Like the indoor fireworks.

Delighted by the absurdity, I drank some really good champagne and found friends!

I'd almost forgotten how people I once knew at the firm- I was here for the food and fancy, and then James disappeared at some point between one friend and another.

I got a text from him minutes later that said simply, "Jackpot!". When I found him, I also found a mile-long sushi bar.

A sushi bar next to a dumpling bar next to a crepe bar next to a noodle bar. The fresh crepe with the peking duck was one of the best things I've ever had ever.

More friends! The three of us here, along with five other naive and optimistic baby lawyers, all started in Austin together in the Fall of 2008. All but one of us left. He just made partner. I feel like there's a lesson here.

We discovered more rooms - a dueling piano bar with incredible charcuterie spread and desserts. A cigar and scotch lounge (no.). Suddenly drums were sounding in the main lobby and fireworks were going off (wha?!) and we found ourselves in the main theater with a great band and tons more food. I had steak and really good vegetables. A tostada with fresh lump crab, avocado, and a magical sauce on top. Also other things. Definitely more crab.

There was a Selfie Cocktail Station and I decided I like all of those words! I need to know more! And next thing you know, I have a drink with my face on it.

I can't mix alcohols without my head exploding, so I couldn't actually drink the cocktail because I was in champagne-mode, but I enjoyed the novelty of staring at myself in my beverage.

Totally coming to a kids' birthday party near you.

We had some dancing, more food (James), more champagne (me), more reunioning! I love all of these people.

Around 11 p.m. they ran out of champagne (what?! I would have traded in my cocktail selfie for more of the bubbly stuff) and I suddenly realized my feet hurt. Like a lot. So we secured an Uber and ate fresh nutella crepes (James; nutella is the worst) and scoops of magical safe-to-eat raw vegan cookie dough (me; sooo much me) while we waited, before grabbing our boxes of salted chocolate covered almonds they were handing out as parting gifts. All in all, we ate well.

Omg this stuff was so good. I had two cups. Maybe three.

It was a SUPER great night. Like taking a single page out of an old book I used to read- and it's the BEST PAGE.

We got to our room 1 minute after midnight, on a day that started with us in another city getting our kids off to school by 8, and we were so proud. We can still be young and crazy! High-fives all around! It seemed appropriate given the Cinderella feel of the whole night and I had fears my dress would turn back into a pumpkin right about then, or at least demand to be dropped off at the nearest UPS box. Then it was off to sleep because the next day started early and was pretty fantastic too.