Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Back on Track. Ish.

Ohmygoditsbeenforever. I don't even know why exactly. Our life has been crazy. A contained kind of crazy, manageable even thanks to the chart I made that turned out to be a little bit magical after all, but while we've eaten dinner together every night and I've worked out every day (every day!!) since my last post, I have also finally decided to finish the Shutterfly Photobooks I started during my skin cancer troll existence from last fall and I'm re-reading a book series I forgot I loved and we watched GLOW in like 4 nights of binging and I am DEFINITELY not getting enough sleep and putting words together at 11:30 p.m. like I normally do has just seemed like too much. Sort of like Winston's feelings about getting up at the cruel hour of 7:30 a.m. each weekday morning.

So we'll try starting at 10:30 p.m. instead.

I don't remember much from the last week. Landon hadn't started running club yet (that started this week! 2 days of running club, 2 days of swimming, 2 days of gymnastics- all in 4 days! Landon is the only one excited about this), so it was a nice transition from the shit show that was the week before and the additional craziness that running club could bring (though actually, not much there, it's immediately after school so Tara handles its logistics and Landon seems to magically do his homework before school gets out? I don't know, but it all seems to work okay).

As part of my helpful "who is where when" chart, I tried to bullet point positive things that could be done in the intervals where children are missing from my house and/or we aren't all eating dinner together. So instead of being crabby and sad I could look and see that hey! I've got 40 minutes with Cora! That's special! I should DO SOMETHING with that instead of halfheartedly starting dinner and wishing all my ducklings were coloring at the counter like they used to. Honestly, it's really helped. It's not a jumble of carpools with weird 30 minute useless breaks between drives! It's a beautifully constructed puzzle of special individual time with my children!

Or something like that. On one of the days last week Tara had a pesentation to give her professor during pickup time, so the kids went home with friends. Landon's friend had a new puppy and I brought Cora over to pick him up (a pick up I knew would happily morph into 1 hour of talking to my friend, sadly sans wine since I still had to take L to gymnastics) and Cora yelled "Mommy! IT'S A BABY AND A DOGGIE!!" and it was the cutest thing ever. I realized she's never seen a puppy.

She liked him very very much.

Oh, on Thursday my grandpa got to transfer to hospital care in San Antonio!! This is huge. He'd been in a cardiac rehab center for a week or so and was doing well, so they felt he was stable enough to fly back home, first class and with my uncle flying as companion and their retirement community's head nurse meeting them at the airport, but back home he was going! My grandma looks thrilled to pieces in every picture my uncle sent. She'd been living in a Days Inn hotel room for 5 weeks and was so, so ready to be back in her home with her friends and routine and my grandpa safely ensconced in hospital care right downstairs. He's actually back at the big hospital tonight for some fluid in his lungs, but hopefully they'll get that cleared quickly and he can get back home again.

We started a garage renovation project sometime last week. Possibly on Tuesday? It involved removing all of the contents of our garage and spreading it around the patio and backyard so our contractor could rebuild the frame of our garage structure (because of course none of it was to code), add the insulation and drywall that was never installed, add electrical (also to code and not just a freaking extension cord extending out from the roof of the house to the roof of the garage; the electrician looked like he was going to pass out when he saw it; old houses are an adventure), add vents and an AC window unit, add shelving, add an attic, and basically just make it a functional building for storage. In a 1940's house without storage closets or a single inch of attic space (our roof sits on our ceiling beams), I feel like it's Christmas morning around here.

It's going to be AMAZING. And James will save $500/month in warehouse storage space for his swim products because he's going to ship them out of the house (garage!) instead. I'm so excited. Storage! Places for ALL THE BINS! Lights IN THE GARAGE! No more inches of water inside every time it rains! Between the promise of all that goodness and the fact that I made James get rid of everything he hasn't used in the garage in the last 2 years on Sunday (I literally just posted on our neighborhood facebook page - free stuff, here's our address, I'll delete when it's gone; I probably should have sold most of it, but I just wanted it gone and I wanted someone else to get use out of it), I'm feeling very good on the organizational front. And the garage isn't even finished yet so there's more goodness to come!

We had Claire's soccer game on Saturday. Her enthusiasm really peaks right before each game starts and then again right after they end, but she claims to love it and is already talking about next season. As is Cora.

While she makes a stylish spectator, I guess we're going to have let her play too. Farewell semi-lazy Saturdays.

Claire has gotten pretty good at defense. Possibly because she doesn't want to run, but she really does keep her eye on the ball and get in there and kick it out. I'm sure there are soccer words for that, but I'm still continually surprised at where they put the ball when there's a kick off (kick in? side kick?) so I definitely don't know them.

I think this position of kicker-inner of the out of bounds ball (it's a thing) lets her order people around and she likes that to.

Basically, we have a lot more soccer Saturdays in our future and I'm okay with that. Maybe I need some sort of soccer mom t-shirt? So people know I'm legit.

Also on Saturday we went to see the Lego Ninjago movie. Landon had been looking forward to that movie since we saw the preview over Christmas? Easter? I don't know but it was a LONG time ago and he's asked about it weekly ever since. He loves Ninjago. He desperately wants me to love it with him and he is not at all put off by my refusal to learn any of the characters, powers, or hair styles. Rather than taking this as an obvious lack of interest, he adorably and somewhat insultingly things I just can't mentally grasp the complexities and has made me several charts and cheat sheets to help. He spent the drive over to the theater explaining the back story and let us know he was available for questions on the way home.

Despite the terrible reviews it was not the worst movie I've ever seen. I maybe learned what Ninjago is and I enjoyed my beer, popcorn, and peanut m&ms VERY much.

Outside of the movie popcorn and m&m's on Saturday, I've cooked all our meals since the pizza we went out for 10 days ago and was feeling so proud of myself for being all healthy and economical and working out every single day and teaching extra barre and really starting to feel like my formerly strong fit self who fits into her jeans instead of the me who just drinks margaritas all summer and cancels workouts, and JUST as I gave myself a solid pat on the back Tuesday night and acknowledged my feelings of strength and pride, I packed Cora into the car to eat dinner at R Taco and texted James to meet us there with the big kids.

Apparently even thinking about margaritas in a negative space makes me want one. I have no regrets.

Tonight we were back on track with an Egg Roll Bowl and no tequila of any kind.

Cora was not impressed and told me "I just gonna eat this for dinner, 'kay mom?"

Luckily it's organic grass fed plastic, so it's fine.

Speaking of Cora, other than an outlier event on Friday evening when James went to drop Landon and a buddy at open gym (because what he needed was MORE trampoline time) and I texted James a string of emojis full of the horror, tears, wine, and angry cat faces I felt were appropriate descriptors of the situation, she's been delightful.

She is loving the new primary class at school and takes her education VERY seriously. She always chooses to do her written work first, then puzzles, then sorting. Apparently frivolity and imaginative play is only for home. School is a serious business.

We got her first teacher report, full of glowing reviews (or as glowing as check marks can be), with an added note that, "I must say, her coloring skills are quite impressive!" And on Monday night she finally got to bring home a project she'd worked on for days, "Look Mom! I finished coloring all my con-ti-nets!"

I love that her bow game is strong as her coloring skills. (And that her bow game is reserved exclusively for outside school hours; they are clearly TOO FRIVOLOUS for her work.)

though judging dinner is also serious

And now it's nearly 11:30 and I've basically just spit out a bunch of random happenings and iPhone pictures, and I have to go to bed because Winston keeps farting from one of his beds right in front of me and I think it's probably toxic. Also I have to get to work early and then teach barre on my way home.

Tomorrow night it will be back to kid activities and photobooking after they're in bed. So far I've watched Down With Love, What Women Want, and Sister Act (thanks Becca!) on HBO to keep me minimally entertained while I agonize over the millimeter placement of yet another photo.

I'm also doing a lot of fall wardrobe and Disney-trip related online shopping. The kids still don't know about the trip, but we're 45 days out (squee! I cannot believe how excited I've grown to be over this; I, who never wanted to do a Disney trip at all, have now purchased a Disney shirt FOR MYSELF and am agonizing over obnoxious light up holiday necklaces to wear to the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Who am I? Do I need the polka dot sneakers with mickey ears on them I assumed were for small children but then realized were for adults? MAYBE.) I do very much need to make the kids' autograph books but it's so much more fun to online shop for the perfect park bag and the most beautiful cheapest ponchos and then read a few more blog posts about the magic of Christmas at Disney and how much fun we're going to have. Feel free to add to my important research and fact gathering on these points.

And finally, recipes! I have some!

Mediterranean Tuna Orzo Salad - so good!! Loved the dressing and I kind of forgot you could get tuna from a can and it could be good. The kids loved it; will definitely make again.

Cheesy Vegetarian Chili Mac - also delicious; will definitely make again. Hearty without feeling crazy heavy. Also easy to serve Landon's before dumping in the sharp cheddar cheese for the rest of us.

Crock Pot Red Beans and Rice - a fave I first tried several weeks ago, another for the "healthy but hearty" category.

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos - the crock pot is the answer to all of life's problems right now. This made a bunch of simple, tasty chicken that I put on tostadas one night and in a BBQ Southwestern Quinoa Salad the next.

Sunshine Lentil Bowl - posted many times, made even more than that, we love this recipe. I think it's James's favorite new recipe of 2017.

Have a great rest of the week!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Burning Down The House

So, school is on week 4, we're knee-deep in after school activities, and I'm now home to manage it all. And manage it all I did NOT.

All week I put great store in my ability to create a chart over the weekend that would make all the weeks ahead simple and easy, but I think for once my faith in charts was too strong. Or my chart was too weak to support my faith in charts? All I know is, this didn't make me feel better.

Landon being able to do unassisted back handsprings and moving up a level in tumbling has basically ruined my life. Or just my Mondays and Wednesdays. He also starts running club in another week, which is twice a week after school- he's so excited, he never gets to do sports with school friends because he's a year off age-wise (have we discussed that I regret red shirting him? because I do and no one ever says that), and I think he'll love getting to run in a more organized way than the running he does around the yard on a daily basis. (Like swimming, track is just more suited to his athletic and competitive but not aggressive personality).

Aggressive Winston-ing

But zomg, that's 6 things in 4 days. I told him we can try. He LOVES the tumbling and he's so proud of his promotion. Given the gigantic state of his feet and his likely future height, I feel like there's really only so far he can probably go in that (to the exact you can really "go" anywhere in tumbling), so he should get to enjoy it now. Ultimately I think he'll join club swimming- I say this as a former swimmer and not a mother, he is just incredibly talented, but James and I both believe strongly in holding that off until at least middle school. So this is his time to do other stuff. We told him that if his grades stay where they are and his emotions stay in balance and homework doesn't become an issue, we'll make it work for a semester and reevaluate.

But ugh. After years of clinging tightly to nightly family dinners and limited activities, we've become a family who won't eat together at least two nights a week. And Cora doesn't even do any outside of school activities yet! I know this is far from unusual, but I hate it. I hate everyone being scattered and the girls eating at a different time than the boys on Mondays and Wednesdays (damn you 6:30-7:30 Tumbling II time slot). But my new chart and I are going to try to make it work for a few weeks. I'm hoping to make the best of it -- enjoy some extra quality girl time, and James will actually be picking Landon up from gymnastics (because it's so dang late [angry face]), so for the first time in two years, James will be able to watch some of Landon's other sport and they can chat on the drive home, and that's a good thing too.

And I'm just going to have to get over the fact everyone won't be in bed at 8 p.m. every night like they have been every night for the last decade or so. It's like no one even cares that I won't be able to get my photo books done while re-watching every episode of The Great British Baking Show. Probably because I'm complaining about something I helped create and am literally (and figuratively) paying for.

"Did he lose something under the dishwasher?
No, I think he was just walking by and then fell asleep like that."


Moving on. My parents continue to move forward while staying still. It remains hard. It's going to be hard for a long time. Submitting their insurance claim has been a trial. Pictures of everything; links to replacement items; somehow getting everything 4 to a page to PDF and send to their adjuster. They have a clean, separate apartment with wifi and it was still a huge multi-day project with lots of frustration and phone calls; as I think every time I talk to them, how do people in less fortunate circumstances do it? It is so hard. My dad and brother sent a few updated videos. The house is looking really good- or as good as a house missing it's bottom four feet can be. Moving forward...

I got a comment on the last post from someone in Tennessee who said she'd been reading the blog for years and never commented, but last week her daughter's school had adopted Kingwood High School and was collecting money to send in support. It made me teary. I sent it to my family and it made their eyes leaky too (in my dad's words). I love how sometimes the internet can make the world bigger and smaller all at the same time.

Let's see, in other news- Winston spent two solid days in a self-imposed timeout because he refused to leave his crate knowing he'd have to respond to a "sit" command when he did. In the words of our dog behaviorist, "Winston decided he didn't want to play this training game anymore and he is trying to see if it's an all-the-time thing. Do not let him break you." I'll admit I may have broken (have you SEEN his squishy face??), but Winston the Stubborn Bulldog had no idea how far James the Stubborn Human was willing to go. On Tuesday, after 10 hours in his crate (with no-play-on-leash-super-boring potty breaks and lots of opportunities to freaking sit on command and be free), he finally sauntered out of his crate, tucked his dainty little legs under his behind, and sat beautifully before trotting to the kitchen and eating the breakfast that had been there since 8 a.m.

"Sorry dad"

Then he made up with his human.

Since then, he has been fully back on board with the training game/way of life. As a reward, I took him with me in the car on Friday to take Landon to a friend's house.

He loved it.

Until Landon got out; then he was concerned. (My brother was skeptical that that was Winston's concerned face, but he is clearly SUPER concerned.) But then he went back to loving it again. He can only worry about so much.

That night we went to get ice cream after dinner (a dinner of these AMAZING pesto pepperoni pizza rolls I made from scratch; note for next time - and there will BE a next time - double the recipe if you want to feed five hungry people who all love pizza, pesto, and pepperoni) as a treat from Papa and Gigi to celebrate the big kids' incredible progress reports and Cora's clear dedication to school that we're getting from her new daily picture updates (such focus; such concentration; those pictures are the highlight of my day).

Turns out, despite a lot of past protest, Cora likes ice cream. And she really likes CHOCOLATE ice cream.

I'm not sure why we keep trying to convince her she likes these terrible things, but much like playing board games, what's the point of having children if you can't get one or three of them to do a little indulging with you once in a while? I want Cora on board. And on board she now is.

On Saturday we had Claire's soccer game, but before that we had my millionth Orangetheory class in a row (using up 6 classes in the 9 days left in my billing cycle has been UNPLEASANT) and then Cora's epic tantrum after she dropped a piece of cheese on the floor. I'm not even sure who she was mad at. Surely not herself. Gravity, perhaps? The soccer game was good and then we had swimming and quiet time and then dinner at our favorite Austin restaurant that finally decided to come to Fort Worth!! Hopdoddy we've missed you!!

I only wish a few dozen people, some hills, and the hill country views would come too (and Polvos; omg I miss Polvos).

The wait was too long, but the parmesan truffle fries were every bit as magical as I remembered and the burger was the best I'd had in at least a year. Dammit Hop Doddy, I'll be back for you and your ridiculously long lines soon.

Unfortunately, as I was stuffing my hundredth fry in my mouth, I thought I'd move Cora's hamburger eating along by cutting her kid's burger in half so Claire could have some.


You'd have thought I cut her own hand off. Devastation. Tears. Wailing lamentations and gnashing of the teeth. James whisked her outside and the older couple next to us toasted their glasses in our direction as I signed the check and collected the larger children who were devouring Cora's burger, "we've been there."


It was a rookie mistake. I could have asked if she wanted to share her cheeseburger or have it cut in half, but I've never had a child who cared about these things before. Landon was all "eh whatever," Claire only cared if you were upset with her and then she was upset at you for being upset at her, but Cora. Cora will burn this motherfucker DOWN for such an infraction. She will light the world on fire and she will GO DOWN WITH IT if only so she can keep eye contact with you as you burn for your mistake.

Then she will pop her pink purse on her shoulder and prance about being utterly charming and complimenting stranger's outfits. As my dad noted, "when she is good and cute and amazing she is really spectacular but when she is bad she is also spectacularly good at that! What a girl."

Like this morning, while James and the big kids were grocery shopping and I was making fancy healthy Teff Pumpkin Pancakes, she randomly turned to me and said "Sorry mom." ... "Sorry I was yelling and crying about my booger." I took me a minute to even figure out what she was talking about. Then, after I translated booger to burger and we had a little chat about the proper channeling of emotions and not burning restaurants down, her favorite song popped up on my Spotify and she yelled "WAIT! Wait! I have to get ready!"

Twenty minutes later I've moved on to prepping the amazing, hearty, and healthy Superhero Muffins that are a vital part of our life and have long forgotten that we ever had music playing, and she yelled, "Okay! I ready now!"

And was she. Dance outfit, an audience, a Winston, and a very beautiful dance routine.

I mean, when they aren't being the worst, toddlers can just be the freaking best.

[Now rearranging the chairs because her "polar bear can't see" and killing me.]

The rest of today was cleaning and organizing and baking and making charts. A wax appointment, a walk with Winston, some soccer in the front yard with Claire, and our first inaugural game of Ticket to Ride which was recommended on a Law Mama facebook post and I was horrified to find had a million Amazon reviews and I'd never even heard of it! I LOVE board games! And this one is super fun! Landon and Claire played their own hands and they definitely had the hang of it by the end. I look forward to many more afternoons building train routes this fall and winter.

Friends came over to swim and then we were supposed to eat a delicious pot roast I had simmering in the crock pot all day, but it still had an hour to go and we were starving so we left it in the crock pot and went and bought expensive delicious pizza instead. Oops. Sorry not sorry.

And now it's after 11:30 again- as far as I can tell, blogging only happens close to midnight, and I'm supposed to go to Orangetheory again in the morning (last one! for this cycle anyway), so I must go join my softly snoring husband and loudly snoring Winston. May your weeks be full of benevolent toddlers and charts that really do make your life easier. Night!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Hello there. I'm not really sure where to begin. I can't believe a full week has gone by since my last post. After seven days of daily updates, the pause seems like forever in blogland, but it flew by here.

Back to School Picnic

I basically spent the last week feeling like I was behind at everything. Work (still behind); mothering (go to your rooms); wife-ing (Happy Anniversary! I will now fall asleep on the couch just after being pissy because you weren't happy enough that I was home (seriously wtf, me-of-last-Sunday)); school (does homework exist this year? yes? oh you've done it? well, okay, good! pretend like I knew that), activities (what? you got moved up at gymnastics? but that fucks with my whole carefully crafted fall semester carpool schedule! can't you just stay at level 1 and pretend it still challenges and fulfills you? no?), PTA (meeting on Tuesday night? that's today? I'm discussing the by-laws? I know nothing of these by-laws); dinner (um, we could go out for tacos (read: margaritas), again?); exercise (ughhhhhhh); teaching barre (late for my first class back, a class with TWENTY participants, though I did have a rocking new 90's playlist that reads as vintage to my new college student clientele); and basically everything that exists in my life.

It was a long week that started on Tuesday but felt like it started on negative Saturday. It was 100 days long. It was technically 4 days long and I worked from home on Friday, so it was really only 3 days long but omg that is a LIE. I was so exhausted every night I tried to read a book (that I love, from a series I've read many times before) and fell asleep while holding my kindle on at least two occasions. I know falling asleep while reading is a normal thing for most people, but I've done it three times in my ENTIRE life and all three of them were in the last 10 days. It's just been a lot. I'm forever grateful I was able to jump out of my life to go to Minneapolis to be with my mom and grandmother, and then to do it again to be with my parents and help them after the flooding, but at some point there's a reckoning and my reckoning lasted all of last week.

So here I am. Barely. Today was also not great and a million hours long. I left my house at 7:15 a.m. to drive to Dallas with a coworker friend to spend a million hours in a conference room and then had a super stressful drive back full of traffic and frantic texting with my nanny who was already late for her second job while I tried to get 2 of my children to two different activities and my toddler to a safe place she could spend the 20 minutes before I could get home, all with a cell phone on 3% power that died 20 minutes outside Fort Worth. We all ended up home at 8:15 p.m. I've had a margarita. I have not had dinner. Let's see where this takes us.

~ ~ ~ ~

Parents. My parents are doing okay. It's hard. It's hard every day. There's still a million logistics and contractors and bids to obtain and organize. Everything about flood insurance claims is about as difficult as it can be; there are so many hoops and though they are in the best position to try to jump them, it is still so hard. Their dream home is dismantled. They've moved into their one-bedroom apartment across the highway with all the contents of their downstairs in 60+ bins, plus all the clothes from their water-logged drawers that their sweet friends washed for them at night during the cleanup that are now just sort of in stacks on the floor. There are forms and claims and pictures and a million water-damaged items to list and detail out for the adjuster. The flood insurance settlement, whenever it goes through, goes directly to the mortgage holder which is then paid directly to the contractors. "But what about the work we did ourselves? And the supplies we bought to do it?" "Well, there's a separate form you can fill out to claim that." Of course there is. And underlying all the steps and processes is the cold knowledge that flood insurance, something they are beyond grateful to have, does not make you whole. It has a cap. They'll far exceed it. They're paying rent + a mortgage and recalculating how many more years they have to add to their much-anticipated-and-planned-for retirement. And again, they're the lucky ones. They have the insurance. They have savings. They have jobs they CAN extend. They don't have young children at home. They don't have to pretend everything is okay. They have the apartment we found on day 2. But it's hard. It will be hard for a while. But I'd say they're doing okay, most of the time. (I can barely watch the coverage of Irma, it just feels so close and personal; I hope very much that my Florida and southeast coast readers are safe and okay.)

My mom went back to school today. Their first day of school! Now at a new high school they're sharing way across town. It's tough. She was allowed 45 minutes in her old classroom at KHS on Saturday, with a mask, under supervision, to get what she could out. 45 minutes; to pick between personal items, special things from students over the years, and all the stuff she needs to actually try to teach this year. That was hard. I'd say it's just all kind of hard. Her former 5 minute commute is now over an hour; her in-class teaching time is much diminished and she's worried about cramming all the Biology II AP content her students need into 2.5 hours per week. She's a wonderful teacher; the idea of not serving her students weighs heavily. My sibs and I had flowers delivered to her today. And by delivered I mean my brother picked them up and drove them over because he's the best. She was thrilled. We just wanted a little brightness in her day. (Particularly since her birthday was Wednesday, the day they moved into the apartment, which was... not great.)

My grandpa. He's doing better than okay! He moved out of ICU to a crowded room on a different floor that made my grandma get lost and stressed, but then he was moved to a cardiac recovery room that was much better and now he's in a rehab facility! A lovely rehab facility that is making him work very hard which makes him very tired and possibly crabby but every step is literally one step closer to going home. My grandma joyfully texted yesterday that he has a transfer date to Texas! He'll still be under medical care, but they have a hospital connected to their retirement community and it would be SO WONDERFUL for both of them to be back home. His hopeful transfer date is September 18th, exactly one month from the date of his heart attack. He has some benchmarks he has to hit before then, but we know he's working hard to get there. It's hard to believe it's been 3 weeks (and a short lifetime) since that awful morning but I'm so, so glad he remains on the path of recovery that will lead him back to singing "You Are My Sunshine" with his Mary each morning.

Me. I'm doing okay too. Better than okay much of the time. I don't want to wallow in it too much more, but I will say that even after a week's distance, being in Houston was decidedly one of the harder things I've had to do. My parents are still young and working and very much in charge of their own lives. Despite being 34 with a family of my own, I think I a little bit expected them to comfort me when I got to their flood-ravaged house. Like they would make me feel better for them and we'd all bond and laugh and fix things up before going out for dinner. Not really, of course-- but somewhere secret in the back of my mind, precisely that. It was... shocking to see the house. Shocking to see them in it, sad and overwhelmed and stressed. Shocking to need to take charge of certain things, to work alongside and occasionally in front of them in their own home. Just as it had been shocking the week before to see my mom hurting and a little scared in my grandfather's hospital room when he was still very much on the edge of 50-50. I have no idea how my brother is still going (he and my dad power washed their whole back patio/possibly the entire yard yesterday) because I slept like 12 hours in my first day back and was still kind of wrecked the rest of the weekend.

But the weekend ended and the week began. We're slowly finding our groove. We've yet to have a full week of school where I am here for all of the days, so we're trying that out this week (which already started out crazy due to the aforementioned conference in the too-far-away land of Dallas). It seems to be going well. They both love their teachers. I have yet to hear about homework (I mean, they have it; they just do it before I'm home and it doesn't seem to be a big deal yet). Claire is (finally!) getting super into reading (thank you Happily Ever After and Ivy and Bean book series). Both big kids obsessed with their roller skates and roller blades and we spend a lot of time out on the street wheelin around. Landon got moved up in his tumbling class, which I didn't even know was a possibility, because he can do back-handsprings unassisted and now instead of class on Wednesdays at 4:30 which allowed for a beautiful carpool with a friend and Tara and which didn't mess with my precious family dinners, he now has class Mondays AND Wednesdays from 6:30-7:30 which is wrecking all kinds of havoc but he's so delighted we're making it happen anyway. Somehow.

Winston is on week 4 of his dog behavior training. Despite the story I'm about to tell you, he's doing great, and it's making a difference every day to have the structure of commands and pack order in our lives. This week, our new homework is to add a "timeout" whenever he doesn't obey a command. Timeout means he has to go to his crate or a different room or wherever you can get him the fastest that is away from us, wait a few minutes, then go spring him by asking him to redo the command. If he does it, he's out. If he doesn't, back in timeout he goes. Over the last week he went to timeout a handful of times, fairly cheerfully, and got out on the first try/redo. Then yesterday he decided he didn't want to lie down on command anymore. Just, no. I asked him, he refused, he went to timeout. I opened the crate 5 minutes later, he walked out, I told him to lie down, he refused, so back in the crate he went. Then we did it again. Then on the fourth time, I let him out, said firmly and clearly: "Winston, DOWN." And he looked at me and TURNED AROUND and walked back into his crate. He flopped down with a huge sigh and probably an eye-roll, tucked his fat wrinkled head into his paws, and sighed again.

Unsure of what do to, I closed the crate.

After a while, I opened it back up and this time he stood up, turned around, and flopped BACK DOWN facing away from me still in the crate. I... closed the door again.

He spent a really long time in timeout simply because he refused to leave it. Eventually it was bedtime and he had to get out to go potty. So, I feel like he won that round.

(I took the picture above early one morning last week when I came out of our room at 6:45 a.m. and found Landon and Winston lying on the ground. "Winston woke me up at 5 a.m. but then he got tired and didn't want me to move. I've been here a long time." I feel like that story sums up both Winston and Landon pretty well.)

Also this week, between a PTA meeting I'd forgotten about and new kid activity logistics I'm still trying to figure out, I played games with Cora. I was just about to sit down on the couch and read my book or look up something I didn't need to know on the internet when I realized I could use this time better. Particularly since, as I joked on facebook, a huge part of why I had three children was so someone would always be willing to play board games with me.

I love them like I love margaritas, nachos, and beautiful shoes.

Winston and Cora played Zingo, another family favorite. Then Claire had to put her game away because she was cheating and somehow that was my fault.

Family games giveth and family games teacheth life lessons and taketh away.

On Saturday, James and I finally went out to celebrate our anniversary! We went to our very favorite restaurant and it was every bit as delicious as we always know it will be.

New appetizers, new desserts, same ridiculously good entrees and bosc pear martinis. (That last one is just for me.) Oddly, the only other picture we took was of an empty plate between us, which feels symbolic in some way. Or literal. Every plate they brought us ended up licked clean.

Cora got a new dress from a friend who knows her heart and she wore it every waking moment of the weekend. As you can see, it's perfect for all occasions.

An ensemble for waiting on the dog trainer to arrive?

Nailed it.

Going on a family bike ride?


Little bit of pogo-swinging in your afternoon?


I love everything in my closet, but nothing with quite the intensity that Cora feels for all her most beautiful items.

Also this weekend, I cut 4 inches off my hair! But no one noticed because I never wear my hair down.

It felt significant on the inside.

And we went to the zoo. One hour before close on a beautiful Sunday evening. We had most of it to ourselves and it was lovely. My kids will never fully appreciate how incredible it is to live 5 minutes away from such a great place.

And so here we are. Trying to get back to things. My to-do list is largely caught up. I'm not starting every text or email with an apology for being behind. At least 50% of the phone calls with my mom do not involve either one of us crying. My grandpa is taking short shuffling steps back to San Antonio. The kids are good. James is good. Winston is working really hard on it.

My neighbor brought me dinner last week after reading my last post. She's a former teacher who read about my mom and her classroom and the new school and me in Trader Joe's and decided it was all too much, so she made me food because she couldn't make any for my parents and she didn't want me to have to go back to the store for another day.

It was incredibly kind and given my insufficient planning for that first week, quite needed. She talked about a time when her kids were young and her sister had passed away unexpectedly and she had to go identify her because her parents couldn't. "That's when I grew up," she said. Never mind that she had children and a husband and a home of her own. It's the first time you step up and in for your parents, the last little part of you grows up. Even if they're still there, and- to be clear, mine are still very much there and working their jobs and very much handling their lives... it's just, I understood exactly what she meant. It's a moment- even brief- of stepping up for them that you hadn't had to before. And you're so glad you can, that you're there, that you can give back, but it's... hard. It's hard and it is exactly what family is for. You're just used to all that help and support flowing down in one direction; it's disorienting and deeply gratifying to get to push it back up.