Monday, February 19, 2018

Pour Yourself a Drink, We've Got Some Catching Up to Do

So I was on a podcast! And then I accidentally disappeared for a week. But thanks so much for your sweet comments on the last post! I really did have so much fun talking to Sarah and once I got over the horror of having to listen to my own voice (a voice with an accent I swear I'd never noticed before), I felt pretty good about it. I could have talked for at least 3 more hours and still not gotten close to actually answering any of the logistics and balancing questions we were discussing, but for a 30-minute snippet, I feel like the words I did manage to say captured me and our life pretty well.

Date night margaritas also capture me well

So the next day was Valentine's Day! I really do love it- it's such a cute little holiday with low expenses (at least in this house), dollar store decorations, excited kids, thematic foods, and the promise of mid-week champagne. I enjoy a random, formalized reason to give each other cards with love notes and I really love a reason to split a bottle of champagne (and by "split" I mean 70/30, me.). And adding a little something to the lingerie/parcheesi drawer is always welcome.

Heart pizza James made before he left to coach

The kids woke up to their dollar store decor, sweet cards picked out by James, and candy picked out by me.

Just when I finally stopped buying thematic clothing for the kids because they have to wear uniforms to school, Valentine's Day falls on a once-a-month dress-out day and we were caught flat-footed. Landon, who is with me (and in this case, ahead of me) in all things themed, told me had had specially saved his one red shirt to wear on Wednesday because he is still sometimes just The Cutest. As it turns out, neither girl owns anything red at all, so they went for a sparkly unicorn theme.

(Flashback to 2014! Themed attire and chubbier cheeks for all! This picture squeezes my heart strings; every year with the kids is great, but Cora's first year was truly one of the happiest of my life.)

I was VERY on theme in a red silk blouse and black cropped pants. I wish I'd worn Claire's bouncing heart headband. Next year I'm determined to get my hands on some heart leggings. I like stretching the work dress code in honor of holidays.

The kids were so excited to pass out their cheap Valentine's at their parties, and I couldn't wait to hear about all the fun when I got home. And oh my gosh you guys, this year brought us our best collection of Valentine's stories EVER.

First, when I got home from work, Claire ran up to me and in one breath exclaimed:

"MOM. So. I got this giant pink stuffed poodle and I LOVE it and it’s SO SOFT and fuzzy and Antonio gave it to me and I’m the ONLY one who got one and I think that maybe this means he likes me or something and anyway I just LOVE this poodle and Antonio is okay too I guess.

She then told me Landon had "big news" but he had to tell me when he got home from basketball practice because she wasn't allowed to say. So I waited, while Cora got sent to timeout because she stole and consumed an entire bowl of m&m's under the table. She likes to create her own drama.

At 6:40 Landon was home from practice and he immediately spilled the news:

"MOM! I found out SO MANY girls have crushes on me. I heard them talking about it at lunch. I mean, basically they all do. ...

It's kind of a lot for me to handle.

Later, I overheard the big kids talking:

Landon: So one of the boys in my class got one of the girls a special present and she got him special chocolates. It’s because they like each other.

Claire: So they play together at recess?

Landon: No! He plays tag with us and she plays with the girls.

Claire: So they sit together at lunch?

Landon: No. [duh implied]

Claire, with a sigh, Well it’s a good thing there’s a Valentine’s Day, otherwise how would they even know they’re boyfriend and girlfriend?

The week pressed on, I taught barre, we started watching Ozark, I did yoga after skipping for three straight days. Oh! I completed 26 online modules for my CPR/First Aid certification course. You guys, I learned so much. I had to get certified to teach barre at TCU, and they paid for the course, but it was something I'd been wanting to do for years anyway and I'm SO GLAD I have it now. Even if it made me cry at least five times during the CPR sergments. I just kept thinking of my grandpa and those EMTs who saved his life. It felt so personal and raw. I was relieved to get the first aid portion. Having never known someone who had a tourniquet placed on massive leg wound, I could handle those videos as stone cold as the training course creators probably envisioned. And I learned some genuinely useful tips to treat early hypothermia.

I passed the written exams and dummy test portions of the course today. I feel very empowered. James is CPR certified for his swim school, but what if he has a heart attack? Who is going to do CPR on him? Also, after reading all the stats on the effectiveness of CPR (not very) I've realized what we really need is an AED machine. I looked them up on Amazon and you can have your very own for a cool $999. Maybe in his stocking next year? Basically every family member of his over the age of 50 has had a heart attack, so this feels like something we need to carry around with us.

On Friday we CPR certified members of our house went out on a date. Belated Valentine's, Early Birthday, Happy Friday- take your pick of justifications, we embraced them all. I had a beet-infused-tequila margarita with rosemary salt and vegan queso that was magically delicious (and I do mean magical because how the hell can that be true) and an entree bowl with sweet potato, tomato, lettuce, avocado, over-easy egg, and quinoa balls and you guys, it was so good. But the banana chocolate chip pizookie with almond ice cream and bruleed bananas was the best. James won't smile for pictures with food, but that dessert deserved it.

On Saturday James swam, Cora had a birthday party, I went to yoga, we all went to Landon's basketball game, and then we had our Casa Manana children's play. Cora took the opportunity to take a little TO at the basketball game. It's hard to be #3.

The play was excellent. It was called Neverland and was a very creative take on Peter Pan. I always like when I don't already know the whole plot of a children's play, so I loved it. And I love that the kids enjoy the plays so much. They really notice the acting now- "Mom! That whole play was done with only THREE people?! That's amazing!"

This was actually a musical, as they all are, and they're just captivated for the whole 90 minutes. Our yearly season tickets to Casa, and the fact such a fabulous theater is just up the road, are two of my favorite things about living in Fort Worth.

Our Sunday was the opposite of Saturday. After having 12 hours without all of us ever being in the house together at the same time, we had a day where that is all we did. It was lovely.

I did take the girls shopping at the mall at one point because Landon was having a moment, many moments all at once, and really nothing nips that in the bud faster than me leaving the space. So off we went, the return I needed to do at Children's Place in tow.

While I did my return the girls found these fabulous hats in the $1.99 clearance bin, so obviously they were purchased for next season. And also, right now. Cora was wearing a sleeveless maxi dress that had been perfectly appropriate the day before, her heavy coat she calls her "raincoat" because it was raining outside, and this very warm and wonderful ski hat on a dreary 50-degree day. That's Texas Spring in one outfit, right there.

We spent an excellent hour at the mall. I got them lunch at the Food Court and realized they'd never done that before. Having a mom who does 99% of her shopping online really takes away a lot of delicious/terrible food eating opportunities. We stopped in Gymboree on a whim and scored on their sale section. 8 items purchased, including 5 dresses (like the one below Cora felt so strongly should be hers she changed in the car in the parking lot before heading home) for a total of $42!

We got home to a refreshed Landon and dove back into our project du jour: reorganizing his room and putting together his new bed.

I love it. He LOVES it. And then I love it all over again.

I'd been looking for a new sleeping solution for his room for a while. I loved his queen size bed frame. I'd originally purchased it (a splurge from Crate & Barrel with our renovation money) for our beautiful new guest room in 2012, precisely one year before I got pregnant with Cora and realized we'd never have a guest room again. But I made it work. It lived in the nursery, it became Landon's bed when we switched up the rooms. But it really was too big for a kid's bedroom space. Landon needed more storage and room for Legos and K'nex and building intricate traps for spy games. So this full-size captain's bed with trundle finally found it's way to me through the internet and it was *perfect.*

He has so much room now! Many many more square feet of floor space! Look at that awesome rug I got at Ross 2 years ago for $15. You can SEE it now!

He also needed a way to have friends spend the night, and he has that now too! (Just pretend that bottom drawer has a twin mattress in it instead of the Legos its currently holding. Though it is REALLY working for me as a Lego drawer... do we really need sleepovers?)

But most importantly to Landon, it has bookshelves for ALL his books (that he spent nearly an hour organizing; there's a system and its adorable; all the books I've given him are in the "fake" category) and this AMAZING SPY CABINET. Or a storage cabinet. Whatever you want to call it.

I also spent ages finding him new animal sheets for his new sized bed. Finding big kid animal sheets than don't look like they should be in a nursery is harder than you'd think. He enthusiastically approves of the alligators, hedgehogs, and foxes that I found him and had a very tough time picking out which would get the honor of First Sheets.

He just loves it.

He told me first thing this morning, "I had SUCH a great sleep last night mom. I think it's because of my new bed."

We are all reminded so frequently that he's a tween with bigger feelings and deeper thoughts and a broader world view that is as exciting as it can be challenging, but it was so fun to have an afternoon where we're also reminded he's still very much a kid. A kid who spent over an hour crammed inside a storage space in the back of his bed TOTALLY TICKLED that it was there and determined to make use of it.

On another note, today was a federal holiday but not a school one, so I got to live my best life for the 8 hours between 8-3. I went to a yoga class I never get to attend (9:30 a.m. Monday morning! craziness!), did my CPR certification test without having to take off work, made lunch at home (so indulgent! no packing required!), got a pedicure, ran errands alone, picked up the kids from school, ran two more errands when they ended up going to friends' houses (an indulgence for them, since usually I'm not there chatting with moms while that happens), and made dinner. Somewhere in the middle of there I watched a full hour of the West Wing just sitting on my couch doing absolutely nothing for as long as I could stand it and it was DELIGHTFUL. All of it. James coached late and Claire had soccer practice and now I'm watching the Olympics and trying to type without missing any ice dancing. It was a lovely day.

And now we end with food (as I watch Virtue and Moir wrap up my ice dancing obsession. We need a "Step Up: On Ice!" movie in our lives; why don't we have that?):

Monday: Veggie BBQ Quinoa Salad. Usually served with leftover bbq chicken, I'm just doubling up on the black beans this time. (I've posted this many times, but it's a great wing-it kind of a meal: make a bunch of quinoa, top with black beans, corn, diced tomato, diced avocado, cheddar cheese, cilantro, and drizzle with BBQ + ranch or Italian dressing. Delish and Claire's favorite meal of all time.)

Tuesday: Greek night! Pitas (and Trader Joe's Naan bread because it's amazing and more carb-y than pitas), TJ's gyro slices (also amazing and so fast, just a couple minutes heated up in a skillet and the kids LOVE them), Ina's Greek salad that I basically just call my Greek salad now, TJ's tzatziki sauce that isn't my favorite but is also way easier than making my own, and roasted potato wedges because I have potatoes leftover from the pea soup I made on Saturday.

Wednesday: I'm subbing a barre class from 5:30-6:30, so we're doing a pasta bake I can throw in the oven when I get home and eat after I take a shower: cooked whole wheat rotini tossed with a jar of Trader Joe's marinara sauce + pepperonis leftover from our homemade Valentine's Day pizza + sliced olives, put in a 9x13 pan topped with mozzarella. Bake at 350 for 20 mins until everything is warmed through. Cucumber slices, carrot sticks, and bell pepper on the side, probably eaten by hungry children while the pasta is baking.

Thursday: Landon has a 7:00 basketball game after I teach barre and James teaches the girls swimming, so we'll almost certainly be grabbing tacos together on the way home.

Friday: Tomato soup (total cheat version, like all of this week: two boxes of Trader Joe's boxed creamy tomato soup + 1/2 herb & garlic boursin cheese mixed in until warmed through); served with TJ's tomato soup crackers and sliced sharp cheddar on the side and probably pesto grilled cheese sandwiches because those are amazing and I love any excuse to make them.


  1. Two things - the picture of the kids at the play with James yawning in the background cracked me up. Also, I think a Step Up: on ice already exists - The Cutting Edge from 1992 (well, actually, the sequels that were on ABC Family or Lifetime are probably closer to Step Up).

    1. I LOVE THE CUTTING EDGE! Oh my gosh, that’s next up on my “I just want to watch a movie that makes me happy” playlist.

      (And I love that picture too. He really did like the play but I caught a perfect pre-play moment with that yawn!)

    2. IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Cutting Edge is a free video on Amazon Prime right now!! I just downloaded it to watch on a plane ride I have to take on Saturday and I'm so excited I can barely stand it. I haven't seen that movie since I was in middle school!

    3. That's important information to have. I think re-watching is in my near future. However, I was in *cough* college when it was in the theater and have fond memories of watching it with a bunch of college friends.

  2. Those Valentine's Day conversations, your adorable snuggling with Landon in his new happy place, and James' card to him... everything you shared already had me feeling the full range of joy and delight this morning (especially since my V'day entailed a first date for my girl and all that comes with that... it was more on the side of panic for me!)... but then Cora (who so recently hated all things sweet) in trouble for eating all the m&ms? I got in trouble from the teens in my house for doing the same thing over here (while studying hard, in my measly defense!)... so thank you for that little snippet, too. She gets me. : ) Oh and red lipstick on you! Perfection! Have a great week, LL.

    1. Thank you Misha!! (And I laughed at your candy stealing memory! And sent you a fist bump of solidarity on the first date for your daughter - squee! I so clearly remember mine! We'll be there soon for our brood.)

  3. I found your blog after listening to Sarah's podcast and have really enjoyed reading through your blog, specifically your posts related to meal planning and cooking most nights for your family. I also do (and enjoy) nearly all the meal planning/cooking in my house, so I love your posts with recipes, knowing they're your and your kids' favorites. Would you ever consider posting about the actual grocery shopping part? When the shopping gets done, how you make your grocery list(s) without forgetting an ingredient/store being out of something necessary for the recipe, how much food you make to feed 5 people plus any leftovers required, what your grocery hauls look like? I'd love to take inspiration from you.
    Like Sarah wrote on her blog about your podcast interview, you have such a positive blogging voice - I'm inspired too!

    1. Hi Sarah! I talked about it some in this post. Basically on Saturday morning I sit down and plan out our meals for the week- I take a quick look at the fridge to see if we have anything leftover from the week before that needs to be used (rare, but happens; like half a package of broccoli or some prosciutto or fresh mozzarella used for a recipe) and I make sure those items are in one of the meals I pick. Then I make a list of all the ingredients in the six meals I've planned through Friday. James does the grocery shopping (90% at Trader Joe's, with a few random items that have to be picked up at Kroger). And then I make the dinners! Since I make the list after picking the meals I just use up everything each day as needed and our fridge is pretty much completely empty after Friday night. James works from home and uses the grocery store as his social break for the day, so he often does quick runs to Trader Joe's during the week to pick up some lunch items or extra breakfast stuff (he's in charge of those meals for the kids and doesn't like to think as far ahead as I do) so he can pick up another thing of milk or whatever else we need mid-week. But my dinners are planned and stocked and ready for me to make each day :). (Which also keeps me honest in making them because I hate the thought of wasting ingredients and letting them go bad in my fridge!)

      And thanks so much on your nice comments on my interview! I was so nervous, but it was so fun!

    2. Thanks so much for your reply! I think I need to convince my husband to do the grocery shopping - at least the quick trips mid-week to get missing items! Looking forward to following your blog in the future for more recipe inspiration :)

  4. I am a little late to the party, and just listened to the podcast. As a long time reader, I felt like such a fangirl, so fun and great job!

  5. congratulations for the CPR! I took it 2 years ago, after the november 2015 attacks and it does feel empowering. A month later, I was at the bar on the train when another passenger came in and asked for the manager to use the train speakers to ask for a doctor or medical Professional to come to a specific coach. I said I had first aid training, just in case, and was told that someone had a heart Attack - OH DEAR LORD PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS. I ask someone to grab the AED device and rushed to the coach. Turned out that this old gentleman was not having a heart Attack but was feeling very unwell. I started asking him questions and a medical student came in - as you can imagine, I was very happy for her to be in charge. The train was stopped at the next station so that the gentleman could be evacuated, and I bought coffe for the medical student ;-)
    This taught me that in a stressful situation, you forget half of what you have been told. The CPR booklet lives in my living room -admittedly, at the bottom of my 'to read' pile, and I try to go though it once in a while. I guess I feel like if I am trained, I can't screw up?

    sorry for this long rant about my personal stressful experience with first aid ;-)

    1. That was me at just the dummy test so I can't imagine a real life situation. I'm hoping I'd remember enough to do something helpful until someone with more knowledge comes along! They also gave me a little cheat sheet card to keep in my wallet. I feel like I should read it at least once a week for forever.

  6. Thanks Simi, that's so sweet! I really like seeing people's faces- can I do a video blog while I look at all of you? Because that would be great.