Sunday, February 11, 2018

Crunchwrap It Up

So we've been totally caught up in Olympic Fever. I *love* the Olympics but this is the first year the kids have gotten really into it. I mean, they enjoyed the swimming and gymnastics in 2016, but this time they're watching all the things and listening to the commentary and learning and, by the end of the first night, offering the athletes advice and commiseration from the couch like any good sports fan.

We don't watch any sports, really ever, outside of Olympic years, so it's funny to watch the inevitable armchair coaching evolve on its own in each of them. Yesterday they got totally caught up in the speed skating and biathlon coverage and it was the best.

But first, when we last left off I was in San Antonio for work by day and grandparent tours by night. Night 1 involved a meal at my Grandma Mary's FAVORITE restaurant- "the one with the shrimp scampi." So, Red Lobster it was.

They are so cute. My grandpa continues to be a living breathing miracle. He's still coping with the changes to his health and life- he was so robust and active right up until the moment he collapsed on their lake property. But they also live every day so thankful to have it together. They've always been very openly affectionate with and about one another, but there's an added layer of simple gratefulness to greet each day side by side. I sent my grandpa a packet of my blog posts and facebook updates when he had his heart attack. I hoped they wouldn't be too hard to read, but I thought he'd want to know we were all thinking of him during that time. He called in tears, so many tears, SO very moved to be able to read what was going on while he was unconscious and recovering... I didn't know anything from when I got back to the cabin from my walk until I woke up two weeks later. I'm glad to have filled in a few blanks with all the love that was surrounding him, including that which was sent from you all.

On a lighter, but colder note. I have never mis-packed more for a trip in my life. When I left Fort Worth on Sunday it was lovely outside. I wasn't at the counsel's bench for the trial, so I was excited to be more casual and comfortable in the galley. I knew I'd be visiting my grandparents for dinner each day and wanted to be able to go straight there without changing, so I went with simple work dresses. I was proud to pack super lightly with my two dresses and same flat shoes so I could have room for my workout clothes and running shoes, because I'm a person who works out while traveling now. I woke up early on Monday, did my workout (running on the treadmill + yoga), got ready, and walked outside to 38 degree temperatures. 38 degrees, grey, and windy, in my dress and ballet flats and no jacket. I walked the River Walk anyway, because I had 30 minutes to kill and I was pretty sure I'd find a Starbucks over there (yes!), but it was very cold. Luckily the River Walk by morning is empty and lovely and I didn't regret it.

That night I had dinner at the retirement community with my other set of grandparents. I love that one work trip can take me to see them both.

We had a delightful chat over wine in their apartment and then headed down to the main dining room. I was feeling festive and asked if I could have a glass of champagne. My grandma immediately told my grandpa to order a bottle for the table and a bottle for the table was had.

It was such a great dinner. I told them stories about Disney that made my grandma cry and she told stories of taking my dad and his sister there when they were young. We closed down the house, the very last to leave the dining room that night. I left with hugs and a smile on my face as I Ubered back to my hotel, very much wishing I had my full complement of fleece clothing waiting there for me.

While sadly, I was to remain cold for the duration of my trip, my hotel did have a resident peacock. I tried to bond with him on numerous occasions, but he could not have been less impressed with me and my black work dress.

Isn't he magnificent? Sadly, I was judged to be not that.

I flew home after a second day in court on Tuesday, landing in Dallas at 7:30 p.m. after a quick 48 minute flight. Unfortunately, everything had fallen apart weather-wise while I was gone and it was 26 degrees outside and there was ice all over the runway. We sat on the runway for nearly 2 hours, waiting to be allowed to move forward. Then we sat by a gate for another hour because the planes were grounded and all the gates were full. FINALLY they moved a plane out of the way for us so we could disembark. I had not been prepared for a 4 hour plane ride- just my 1 hour one, so my phone was dead, I had no water, and my single snack of peanut m&ms had been eaten up LONG AGO. Then I had to take a tram and walk a million miles to get to my car because we didn't land where we were supposed to and it was TWENTY-SIX degrees outside and I was still in my dress and it was SO COLD. Once I unfroze myself on my car's seat warmers I realized I should be thankful to have been allowed to land at all- the airport was a disaster and I'm sure tons of people were having their trips ruined. Still, if it would have been possible (and legal, and safe) to drink a glass of red wine while on that drive, I would have.

My very sweet welcome home card from Claire

And then my week at home started on a Wednesday which always makes things seem a little off. Happily, James 100% handles life when I'm gone and we had food and meals for all the nights and can pick things back up without pause. Thursday was barre teaching and swim lessons and this amazing crock pot recipe. New family favorite, I served it over mashed potatoes with steamed green beans on the side. Light and flavorful and different. 12/10.

Toddler at Work

We didn't have our nanny on Friday and I had a big meeting at work at 2, so I couldn't get the kids either. Luckily James owns his own business and can host bring your kids to work day at any time. At the last minute, Landon ended up going with a friend to Main Event (lucky him!) but Claire was cheerful about her swim school Friday afternoon while her brother was taking down monsters with laser guns.

It helps that she'd had a field trip to Bass Performance Hall she was VERY excited about on Friday and then ended up getting to spend the night at a friend's that night too.

Also on Friday night, we had an Olympics Opening Ceremonies party! The kids ran around outside like crazy people and the adults ate and drank and wore festive necklaces. Our beverage contribution was a pitcher of excellent sangria carefully crafted from all the leftovers from our wine party the Saturday before. When you have 10 bottles of nearly-empty wine, you dump it all in a pitcher, put it in the fridge and wait for a sangria opportunity. I added OJ, brandy, and a bunch of cut up fruit the night before, let it all marinate, and then added a can of sprite just before serving. In no way authentic or official, but it was *delicious.*

Cora is always delighted to see her fans.

Ladies in blue! Had we actually coordinated ahead of time, I feel like we would have managed more of the red and white.

I feel like our Saturday was a pretty typical Saturday-with-three-kids situation:

6:30: James wakes up to go swim (I actually have no idea when he leaves, but I know he always gets home a little before 9).
7:38: Cora wakes me up in a panic because she couldn't find Claire (she'd left the party early at her bedtime with James and Claire got permission to sleep over after that). I set Cora up with Beauty and the Beast in the TV room ("the one with REAL people mom"), sleepily realizing how nice it is to have big kids because I usually never have to get out of bed earlier than I want to anymore. I check under Landon's door, but don't see a light and am shocked and pleased to see he's sleeping in.
8:00: I mourn my lost 30 minutes of sleep, but put on fuzzy clothes, make some tea, and pull up to my usual Saturday morning spot at the kitchen table with my laptop, iPhone calendar, and a post-it to plan the week's menu and schedule.

our life; 2 weeks at a time

(I do this every Saturday morning at exactly this time; I write out the next 2 weeks (really only the first week counts, but I like the blueprint for the next one already there), look through our calendars, jot down anything that's unusual for the day and then start to fill in meals. This means I ensure all our meals work each day's schedule and conflicts and I'm never forced into a fast food dinner or abandoning the good food I've bought to cook that day. Then I write in my work-outs. This means they all fit in our schedule (like this Saturday's when I realized I could squeeze a 2:00 yoga in between Cora's friend's birthday party and Landon's basketball game) and I don't have to abandon them either (this is of course also because I have a steady and predictable job, as does James- whatever our schedule will be for the week, I generally know it in that moment on Saturday morning). It's old-fashioned and involves a ruled post-it note, but it works for me and I get a thrill each time I check off a workout and a meal I cooked because dammit those are each their own accomplishment.)

8:30: I'm done with my week's plan and make Cora pause the movie to eat some breakfast. Landon wakes up and expresses great surprise for sleeping so late while I thanked the sleeping gods because this means it will be a good day. We turn on the Olympic coverage.
9:00: James gets home and, in the middle of eating the scrambled eggs he just made, gets a text that he needs to teach his Saturday swim lessons because one of his instructors has the flu (usually he doesn't go to those). Cora has a birthday party at 10, so we decide James will take the big kids to the pool.
9:45: We all pull out of the driveway to go in opposite directions, with James planning to stop at our friend's house to pick up Claire on the way . (I found out later Claire was still in pj's and looking forward to waffles so our friends said they'd drop her at the pool when they were done with breakfast.)

Cora and I went to her friend's bounce house birthday party, and though it was a Star Wars theme, she INSISTED crowns and gowns were appropriate. "Mom. We wear crowns to birthday parties, she explained patiently.

Nailing it

action shot

11:30: Cora and I are eating pizza at the party when our friends text saying they had so much extra beer we should come back for Olympics night 2 and they'd order pizza. I offered to bring a salad (my FAVORITE salad, mostly because I'd already had pizza, but also because it's delicious), so we stopped at Trader Joe's on our way home for the necessary ingredients.
12:30:: We get home and I prepare the lemon miso dressing because Landon has a late basketball game that will go until right before the party.
1:00:: James and the kids get back and make lunch. (the kids make their own on weekends and always involves a lot of peanut butter and fruit, with a few reluctant slices on cucumber)
1:45: I run out to a 2:00 Corewpower yoga class while James and the kids hang out at home (biathlon coverage was on; also I believe a fort was built while Cora napped). I brought clothes to quickly change into after class ends at 3 because Landon has a 4:00 basketball game and changing at home takes way longer.
3:30:: I get home at 3:20, James goes to wake up Cora, and we all leave for Landon's basketball game. He scored a basket (yay! I mean, it didn't count because the ref called a foul right before he shot, but we're claiming it anyway) and we could really see his improvements in the game, though ultimately his team lost. It's been a good season so far, and since I almost know all the rules of basketball now, I'm really hoping he'll play again.

5:25: We leave the game, stop at home to pick up my salad and some other offerings, and head down the street to our friends' house for Olympic party round 2.

There was more eating and drinking and Olympic viewing, though it was now below freezing outside (after being 60 the night before), so the kid craziness was all indoors.

7:50: James left with Cora and Claire (and my car) so they could go to bed on time. Claire burst into tears at having to leave and we gently explained this was exactly why she had to go to bed, particularly after spending the night the night before.
8:30: Landon and I left when other friends packed up so we could hitch a ride home. It's a short walk, but it was also well below freezing. Landon stayed up with us for a little bit to watch the snow boarding.
9:15: It's just James and me and some fuzzy blankets on the couch watching the Olympics and perusing rental homes for a friends skication trip our group got inspired to take for January 2019 while watching the downhill coverage.
11:00: We go to bed; I read until 12.

And that was our day. It was a good one. Cora doesn't always nap, but she had time and she always loves an opportunity for some daytime sleeping. Mostly though we just go from 8-8, carve out some time for ourselves, and enjoy being at home with whatever collection of children/adults are with you at whatever time. It's a lot more relaxed that it probably reads.

Today involved another birthday party for Cora, some yoga, a workout for James, a trip to Target with the big kids, a visit from a customer of James's who happened to be in town from Kansas and wanted to buy 35 swim bags for his team, and me making CRUNCHWRAP SUPREMES. Details below. They were delicious. But it started with a viewing of Cool Runnings, and you guys, as the tears poured down my face during the last scene and I freaked out my children, I have to say, that movie really holds up. And it's streaming on Netflix right now.

Oh and the kids did their Valentines. They're store-bought Valentine's because this is a store-bought kind of holiday and I love it in all its $4 for 28 card glory.

They take it so seriously and select the Valentine's for each kid in their class with such care and earnestness.

I have little heart emojis eyes while they do it.

And so, also with hearts in my eyes, I offer you our weekly meal planning. I haven't had them all yet, but I can definitely vouch for tonight's. Everyone in my family, none of whom had EVER experienced the joys of a Taco Bell crunchwrap supreme, gave rave reviews. I want to crunchwrap everything now.

Sunday: Homemade Crunchwrap Supreme!! After my quadrenniel visit to taco bell a blog reader informed me that one of my favorite restaurant blogs (home of this fabulous recipe we eat ALL THE TIME) has a recipe for it and it is HAPPENING in our house tonight. I'm the only one operating at all caps levels of excitement, but that's just because the kids don't know what they're missing yet. (Will also be served with Mexican rice and refried black beans.)

Monday: Veggie Turkey Chili (I'm making this up, it will involve diced onion, diced green pepper, diced carrot, a can or two of diced tomatoes, 1 lb. ground turkey, a packet of Ranch seasoning mix and 1-2 packets of Taco seasoning mix (or the equivalent from the Costco size containers I have of each in my pantry), and some of whatever stock I have hanging out in my fridge, probably chicken?), plus TJ's organic corn chips because they are amazing and make you almost feel healthy for eating Fritos.

Tuesday: Pasta with a TJ jarred sauce because we have science night at the children's museum after work and it's going to be a night of craziness. (I've also allowed that this may be a night we just have to stop for tacos on the way home; I can't predict the future, but it may be necessary.)

Wednesday: Valentine's Day! I like to embrace the kitsch here. We decorate the kitchen table for the kids in the morning with dollar store supplies and for dinner we used to order heart-shaped pizza from Mangia's in Austin. James picked up the tradition by hand-making a heart pizza here in 2013, and after a detour for some heart-shaped pasta last year (swim lessons really make mid-week holidays difficult), he's determined to pick up the mantle yet again and have heart shaped pizza waiting in the fridge for us when I get home. A really good bottle of champagne after dinner and a date night on Friday will also be involved.

Thursday: Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken, broccoli, brown rice. I teach barre on Thursdays on my way home from work and get home at the exact same time as James pulls up with all the kids from swimming, so Thursday is ALWAYS a crock-pot night.

Friday: Date night! We're headed to HG Sply and the kids will eat something terrible and delicious with the babysitter.

Saturday: We have a children's play in the evening, so I've learned I have to have a crockpt recipe to come home to to resist the urge to eat out afterward. This one looks delicious. Grilled Pineapple Pulled Pork Sandwiches, chips, fruit.

Sunday: Run Fast Eat Slow Bison Meatballs with Marinara Sauce. DELICIOUS and will make your whole house smell amazing.


  1. I'm guessing you flew into DFW, so here's my parking advice. If you fly American, you will 95% never fly into the terminal you flew out of. Use the covered North parking instead of terminal parking. They pick you up and drop you off at your car. It doesn't matter what terminal you fly in/out of. Do not use the Remote parking. You will age and have to fight for a spot on the bus. Also, American pilots like to tour you around all of DFW. Thank you for blogging!

  2. Thank you for writing about life with older kids! It is so nice to see someone that seems to really enjoy this stage...despite the challenges. I have a 3 year old and a 2 month old and while they are both a delight I'm really looking forward to a little more independence. Although my current frame of mind might be somewhat based on being in the house almost exclusively with an infant since December. Anyway, thanks again and I love the recipe recommendations. Makes my planning sessions that much easier!

  3. We watched Cool Runnings this week, as well. It totally held up!

  4. As someone who doesn't have kids, this is eye opening. You are keeping so busy!

  5. Fan girl over here! Look forward to listening to your podcast today. 😁😁

    1. Ooh, glad you reminded me! I'm listening now! :)

  6. Similar to Cool Runnings (in that it is also a sports movie), we just rediscovered The Sandlot. I cried. My kids have been obsessed and quoting it non-stop. There are definitely inappropriate words and phrases, but it is the best movie. And I don't like movies.

  7. Your podcast interview was perfect! It was delightful to hear your voice and so lovely to hear more of the details of how you manage all you do. Thank you so much for sharing!

  8. (Also, I am not a sci-fi girl at all, but hearing you talk about Red Rising "in person" I decided to finally try it. I went to order it on Amazon and it's temporarily sold out! I like to think that is because of you! : ) )