Thursday, May 4, 2017

Harkening Back

I've been stuck in a cycle this week of insomnia - being tired - insomnia - and being more tired, so I haven't been as productive at night as I prefer. But last night I fell asleep in a reasonable amount of time and I taught barre tonight, which always leaves me feel a pleasant combination of ennervated and invigorated, so I'm putting words on the screen! We can this. Also, James is working on summer scheduling, so he's not going to bed before midnight anyway and I like to keep him company. Like Cora keeps Landon company when he practices headstands.

To properly recap, let's harken back to Saturday afternoon, a more innocent time, a time before Congress passed a healthcare bill that does nothing Trump promised and is so awful and immoral they made sure to exempt themselves from its coverage (and to make sure they voted before the CBO scored it, because deep down they know that insuring millions fewer people is not actually going to work out to lower premiums for those left), back when Republicans sort of still pretended they cared about human lives and fiscal responsibility, juuuuuust as I was pressing publish on this last post, we heard a knock on our door. James was asleep, Cora was "not tired," and the big kids were watching the Great British Baking Show with me in the name of "down time."

not tired

I ambled over to the front of the house and it was our neighbor! Who wanted to let us know a giant limb had fallen out of our tree! And wondered if we knew that and/or need a car to go anywhere later because ours were clearly being held hostage for a while.

We most definitely did NOT know our tree had broken and we DID need a car because we were supposed to leave in 30 minutes for our play! And that's how I ended up driving a Range Rover for the first time! On our way to see the BEST children's play we've ever seen at Casa Manana.

The plays are always good, but this one was just spectacular. The singing and costumes and stage production and cast... we loved it. Not even fear of the tree clearing estimate hampered my enjoyment. After all, I now had a Rover! Our neighbors are the best.

James called around to see if anyone could clear our limb, but no one could come out until Monday or Tuesday and the minimum quote we got was $350. He decided to take matters into his own hands and busted out a hand saw and ax and tore that thing apart. He's my hero. I stayed inside to monitor dinner and drink wine while occasionally calling out safety advice.

By bedtime, our driveway was clear and I could go to Sunday morning yoga!

The kids spent the morning enjoying their new tree home and the afternoon helping James clear all the leaves and branches to a neat pile by the curb. Teamwork! I didn't help with any of it.

To thank our neighbors and in a bit of serendipity with Teacher Appreciation Week, I baked 5 loaves of my mom's amazing Orange-Glaze Poppyseed Bread. And then some cookies, because why not? We'd just saved $400 on tree limb removal!

We ran a few errands on Sunday, after Landon submitted a quiz under my door asking if me to circle yes/no/maybe for various exciting activities like "go to the park" and "go to Target or Toys R Us." He remains the cutest. We did Target AND Toys R Us so the big kids could spend the $15 my parents gave them in their eggs at Easter. This was an agonizing experience fraught with danger, there were so many choices and they had to make the PERFECT ONE. There could be NO REGRETS. Cora does not enjoy shopping and was super over it super early.

Particularly since I'd already selected her gift for her and it was coming in the mail. I possibly spent more than $15, but when the Disney Store has a sale and you have to spend $50 for free shipping and your toddler grew a million inches in 3 months so all the swimsuits you bought ahead of time were too small and had to be returned, you go big.

New shoes.

Belle swimsuit.

Amazon Anna dress. (The other Disney dress is a beautiful Princess Aurora gown she's getting when we go to Disney in a million months; It's so beautiful I'm jealous of my toddler.)

Obviously she LOVED her new things. She demanded I "bring her Gigi's face" which I decided must mean FaceTime? My parents never do that, so I don't know where she came up with it, but it seemed to satisfy her. She knew her Gigi would love her "new tings" and she did. It was the cutest. She wore her shoes for the rest of the day and tried to convince me they were slippers when it was time to go to bed. Disney can have all my money.

(Also the cutest? She got to go home with a friend for her first ever playdate on Monday when both our nannies had conflicts after school and she had the BEST time. The pictures made me melt. Claire does not do princesses, so this was a very special bonding experience for Cora.)

The week has been super busy and full of logistical details I will spare you, but this event yesterday was a TOTAL highlight. My grandpa, retired Air Force Colonel, Vietnam vet with 169 combat missions and a Purple Heart, got to take back to the skies thanks to this awesome local organization in San Antonio. The video made me cry. He's always happy, but his huge smile after being back in the air was a joy to see.

Adorable. If I had access to emojis in blogger, I'd be using all the hearts and rainbows and happy faces here.

Maybe even a unicorn. It's a special occasion.

Today Landon had his orthodontic consults. I put James in charge of the whole operation- scheduling, consults, insurance, etc. He picked Landon up from school at 10:30 and 1:30, which made for a crazy day, particularly since he had to go back to school at 3 for his Battle of the Books practice, but they liked both orthos and Landon is SUPER EXCITED about braces and wants them on AS SOON AS POSSIBLE (we had a long discussion about the colors he can put on them and what's appropriate for which holidays and which colors he'll pick first and it's all SO EXCITING AND HE JUST CAN'T WAIT). One had a less invasive plan that cost $2,300 less than the other, so we're going with him (he's also who our dentist recommended). Getting to wear colored bands are your teeth is expensive y'all, and we'll get to do it again for Landon after all his adult teeth come in! It's like we had that fourth baby I wanted except Landon is both of them.

But for this round he'll just have 4 braces across his front upper teeth, like a little starter pack, and that is so adorable I almost don't mind the sudden $1,100 expense. I mean, we did just save $400 on that tree limb.

Moving on to this week's food! Why do my little meal plans always turn into novels when I write them out? Food is just my favorite and I want to give you all the information.

Sunday: Slow Cooker French Onion Pot Roast with mashed potatoes (not the polenta as instructed bc I didn't have any polenta but I did have potatoes) and lightly sauteed green beans. This was SO GOOD. "Best meal in months!" according to James, and he likes all our meals.

Monday: Migas with spinach, black refried beans, diced tomato, avocado, whole wheat tortillas. Migas are my favorite fast egg dish. Scramble a bunch of eggs in a bowl with some milk, salt, and pepper, set aside. Cook diced onion and garlic in butter until soft, add a whole bunch of spinach until wilted, add eggs and start to scramble. While still wet, dump in a bunch of stale tortilla chips (or broken leftover tostadas from dinner the week before!), stir around until eggs are set. Eat with black beans and tortillas. So good!

Tuesday: Pizza at the PTA Board Meeting.

Wednesday: Chicken breasts, zucchini, and rice with Everglades Seasoning. Have you had this magical seasoning? My parents ate a chicken dish with it at a friend's house and immediately bought us all a jar. It's super good. For this iteration I just diced up some nice organic chicken and tossed it with olive oil and seasoning and then broiled it for 10 or so minutes until done and juicy. I sauteed the zucchini rounds in a little bit of butter and more seasoning and made the rice in the rice cooker with chicken stock. Super simple. Very tasty. Let me know if you have other Everglades ideas!

Thursday: French Dip Sliders, chips, fruit, veggies. SO FREAKING GOOD. Go make them. Use lots of crispy onions. Get a roast beef that is rare and not heavily seasoned, otherwise the au jus sauce will make it too salty. James now declared this the best meal ever. It also comes together really fast- prep time until it was sitting in the oven took exactly 10 minutes. (Other notes: I skipped the sesame seeds because I didn't have any, skipped the seasoned salt bc I used salted butter, and used 1/2 tsp. garlic powder instead of dried garlic bc I didn't have that either. It's a flexible recipe.)

Friday: Creamy Spinach Tomato Tortellini, except with ravioli because I don't have tortellini.

And that's a wrap! Tomorrow I will get my car inspected (thrilling) while reading a bunch of deposition transcripts (even more so). There probably won't be pictures. But I did score an amazing deal on pink shorts at Gap today ($5! and they were for me and not my children like everything else I buy!), so I'm going to let that bit of joy carry over into tomorrow. Happy Friday!


  1. Where did you buy the Everglades Seasoning? Was it locally?

    Also, I'm super mad about the ACA replacement. It is horrible and people will die because of it. Republicans were celebrating last night. I cannot even. Liz

    1. My mom got it on the website I linked to in the post. I don't know if you can buy it locally, but I'd love if you could!

      (And yes, ugh, UGH, I still can't even talk about it.)

  2. I cannot believe the House's vote either. We keep talking about how we want to get out of American health care before it all collapses. Hard to leave though :(

  3. PS is the orange poppyseed bread recipe classified :) ? If not . . would love :)

    1. It is not! And it is AMAZING. And super easy. I posted it a million years ago here (interestingly, because I made it for another neighbor!) and I make it for the kids' teachers for the first day of school every year. I know my mom gets too excited to eat in the morning and I figure it's a yummy, homemade treat to eat with coffee between classes. They love it so much Landon's 3rd grade teacher this year had heard of the tradition even before school started and was already excited! Love it.


      Bread Ingredients
      3 c flour
      1 ½ tsp salt
      1 ½ tsp baking powder
      1 ½ cups milk
      1 ½ tsp almond flavoring
      1 ½ tsp butter flavoring
      1 ½ cups sugar
      2 T. poppy seeds
      1 ½ tsp vanilla
      3 eggs
      1 1/8 c oil

      1. Preheat oven to 350.
      2. Mix all ingredients for bread together and pour in to 2 or 3 loaf pans, greased and floured. Bake for 45-60 min.
      3. Make Orange Glaze (recipe below) during last few minutes while bread cooks.
      3. Remove pans from oven and liberally poke holes in warm bread. Pour glaze over the top while it is still in the pan.
      4. Let sit at least 15 minutes and remove.

      Orange Glaze
      ¾ c. sugar
      ¼ c. orange juice
      ½ tsp. butter flavoring
      ½ tsp. almond flavoring
      ½ tsp. vanilla flavoring

      Mix orange juice and sugar over low heat in small pan until sugar dissolves, then add flavorings.

  4. Your grandpa is adorable.

    The house did unanimously pass a bill yesterday that gets rid of their exemption from Tumpcare. Which I was excited about until I read the damn thing and it says nothing about them not being able to use subsidies to pay for it.

  5. have you tried blue apron? I love eating and cooking, but meal planning for seven meals is hard for two working parents. So I opted for the 2 meals/week family plan with BA, which at least gives me two less meals to plan/shop for. So far I've liked it and you can select 2 out of four of the meal choices they offer. (I always do the fish and the vegetarian, because we don't eat meat that much.)

    I have a free give-away if you want to try it.

    1. I haven't! I have lots of friends who love it, but I actually love the planning and cooking part of the cooking dinner (now that I have time to give to those things!). Also we eat SO MUCH that every time I look at Blue Apron it just isn't cost effective for us. We easily destroy recipes that claim to be able to serve 12 (James eats for like 4 adults, Landon for 2, the girls and I are mostly normal human beings, but right there you've got a family of 9). But I love the recipe ideas I see on their website. Maybe when the kids are grown and James still isn't swimming every day? I'm so glad it's working for you!

  6. I needed your commentary last night to help me through my devastations. I kept hoping you would post. My five year old has multiple preexisting conditions. My new goal is to put a face on this for people who just don't get it.

    I got a fundraising email today with this in it from Congressman Joe Kennedy. I think it is pretty spot on.

    "It is among the most basic human truths: Every one of us, some day, will be brought to our knees. By a diagnosis we didn't expect, a phone call we can't imagine, or a loss we cannot endure.

    That common humanity inspires our mercy. It fortifies our compassion. It drives us to look out for the sick, the elderly, the poor, and the most vulnerable among us.

    Yesterday's bill -- yesterday's devastating bill -- does the opposite.

    The bill is more than premiums and tax cuts. It is a cold and calculated world view: One that scapegoats the struggling, and sees fault in suffering. One dead set on dividing us based on who we love, where we come from, the direction of our faith and the size of our fortunes..."

    Also a comment from a couple of posts back. I support Houston on your approved city list. We moved here three years ago when my husband left a Big Law job for a new Big Law job. I have grown to truly love this city much to my surprise, and just last night we were talking about not wanting to leave. Maybe you will land here, and we could drink margaritas togethee!

    1. I sure wish I could edit that and take care of my errors!

    2. Story of my life (the typos that haunt me post-publish), but I didn't even notice them as I read the first time!

      I think that quote from Joe Kennedy is excellent. I mean, horribly depressing because it needs to be said, but excellent.

      I'm so glad you're loving Houston- we were so impressed while we were wandering around before the Science March! It is NOTHING like the downtown I remember growing up. If I ever return to private practice or the corporate side of the legal profession, Houston is almost certainly where we'd go and I would love to drink margaritas!

  7. I too always feel comforted by your political two cents. It helps me feel less alone in my fury and sadness. Also… this post os so full of cute I keep smiling. How can you not want to eat Cora with a spoon? Her twinkle, your grandfather's joy… thank you for sharing your goodness with us!

    1. Thank you Misha! I struggle so much with them. On the one hand I just want to rage into blogger, but those take SO long to write because I feel like I have to fact-check everything 6,000 times and link to things and it's so hard to finesse fury into eloquence (or anything close to it) and it just exhausts me before I begin. But at the same time I was devastated and disgusted by the Congressional vote on Thursday and couldn't just launch into a cheerful recap of our week without some acknowledgement. It's a balance. But I'm so glad that you enjoy the good too! (And seriously re: Cora; I've never even come close to capturing her spark and joy in words. Using a spoon might help.)

  8. I had two phases of braces, with the first phase just on my four front teeth! Colored rubber bands are the best. My son will need massive orthodontic interventions but right now only has a palate expander. (I had to have my jaw reshaped because there wasn't enough room, but they used *head gear*.)

    I empathize in advance with you on teaching young boys how to use a water pick while not spraying the entire bathroom... :)