Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Bunk Beds and Book Battles

Well, we're three days into this week (how? how is it only three?) and I haven't had a PTA meeting, closed down a bar, or gone back to work after 8 p.m., so I'm getting way more sleep and way more family time than the week before. That said, our schedule is still INSANITY because May is when schools cram every single fun thing parents should attend and/or prepare their kids for in between state-mandated testing and the last day of school. So like 67 events in 15 days. In the meantime I have a job (two of them, actually), James has a job (also two), I have jobs for James, and I'm not getting anywhere NEAR enough "sit by the pool and drink margaritas with friends" time. June cannot come soon enough.

But since June isn't here, let's zoom back to last Saturday. I was very tired from a week that required me to have lots of fun with friends and then also work very late. I had set my TV to record the royal wedding because while I was 100% going to watch it (I'm a huge royals watcher; have we discussed this? Go Fug Yourself's Royal Round-Up on Fridays make my week and I read The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor every morning before I even open CNN), I was 100% NOT going to watch it at 5 a.m. Except I woke up at 5:55 a.m. because THAT'S WHAT I DO NOW and heard the girls giggling for reasons I cannot imagine and we all ended up on the couch at 6:05 watching the wedding.

Cora was delighted. "Mommy! That's a REAL princess and she's SO BEAUTIFUL and she's wearing a CROWN!" And then she apparently stole my phone while I was making tea in the kitchen and took a lot of commemorative pictures of the new Duchess of Sussex and also her own forehead.

Once Harry and Meghan were properly married and riding about in their horse-drawn carriage, we went to wake up Landon so he could eat and be ready for his academic UIL competition. He made the Number Sense team (3 kids in each grade get to go) and he was SO excited. His competition wasn't until 9:30, so he could have gone with us at 9, but he opted to ride over with his teacher at 7:15 and he took his notebook along "so he could study on the way."

As excited I am about summer, I will miss his updates from after-school number sense club on Tuesdays. James and I both LOVE math and number tricks and we loved the problems Landon would quiz us with on Tuesday nights. (Fun fact I used to do really long multiplication problems in my head while swimming laps and always calculated my percentage completion of each set to the lap as I swam it. In high school, as today, I was the coolest.).

Our whole pack arrived before his competition, but we quickly found out parents aren't allowed to watch (we knew nothing about this mysterious "academic UIL" as neither James nor I ever competed). We waved Landon off to the classroom where he'd take his test and I ran James and the girls home so they could get started on the exciting bunk bed project I'd provided them. Four giant boxes full of one million pieces to assemble a twin over full over trundle bunk bed with stairs and built-in dresser. James couldn't wait.

I was back before Landon got out of his test and then we sat around with lots of kids waiting on results. He played tag with his friends outside for 3 hours and I chatted with moms and teachers and ate too much of the kids' pizza. In the end, he did not place, but it was a great experience and I love how much math he learned along the way. (In the school assembly the day before they were asked what they liked most about competing in academic UIL and Landon answered, "learning math I'm not supposed to know yet." Love it.)

We got home to total chaos. A crib and twin bed in the living room, James making steady progress on the new beds (and having thought to vacuum and scrub the baseboards after pulling away the old beds, insert heart-eyed emoji), and the girls hyperactively running between each. As always, switching our furniture makes you realize all sorts of things you can get rid of, including stuff I'd totally forgotten we'd been storing under Cora's crib. It was a MESS.

At 5:00 James had completed everything except the trundle. I told him to call it a night and pick where he wanted dinner, except oh, by the way, I just bought Landon a new bookcase so we need to stop at this random house along the way. Reassured that he would not have to assemble anything (it was a used bookcase I bought off our neighborhood page while I was listing and selling everything that used to be in the girls' room), we drove to dinner at Gloria's with a bookcase wedged sideways in the backseat snuggled up next to Claire's car seat.

Sunday was more cleaning, groceries, assembly, cleaning, selling, and the baking of Super Hero Muffins. It had been a few months and the kids kept requesting them. They really are delicious and keep the kids full until lunch if they have one for breakfast. I always double the recipe because they freeze well and are a pain in the neck to make so I want as many of them as possible done at once.

At 1:30 I taught my first new barre class at my favorite studio in town. The studio where I took my first barre class, got trained to be a teacher, and have loved since 2012. I'll be teaching every Sunday at 1:30 and if you live in Fort Worth you should come see me! I wore new pants from a new leggings store I discovered called Fit Fit: headquartered in Austin, founded by a woman, full of awesome patterns, and liberal with instructor discounts - I LOVE them! These have giant peacocks on them and the color combo brings me great joy.

After teaching I finished our grocery shopping, stopped at home to check in on everyone, and headed to Drybar to get a blowout because we had family pictures later and I've learned to take care of myself first and then dress everyone else later. Otherwise I go to pictures with wet hair like I did in 2014. I'd made a crock pot dinner earlier in the day (I've learned to plan ahead on occasions we might otherwise be tempted to just grab something out), so we ate that and headed downtown.

(the full extent of my hair skills; this took me WAY TOO long)

We haven't done family portraits since 2016 and I am SO EXCITED to get these back. We've rescheduled this shoot twice and when I woke up to pouring rain Sunday morning I thought maybe we were cursed, but the skies cleared in the afternoon and the lower temperatures the rains brought were appreciated (though the humidity was not by anyone/anything except Cora's curls). The kids were their usual distracted puppy-like selves throughout our hour-long session, but our photographer always makes magic happen with them. As we've done in the past, I told each kid they could have some portraits of just them in a location and pose of their choosing. I sat back and chatted with James while they roamed our location with Ashley, so I have no idea what these will look like and it's so fun to get them back. At one point I did catch a glance of Landon on top of a tall concrete pillar and I thought yes, of course, that's Landon at nearly-11.

(Claire, at nearly-8, snuck some blush on her cheeks I had to wipe off before the pictures and had to be cut off from her personal portrait session because she had so many ideas. Cora, at solidly-4, had riotous curls and fluctuating enthusiasm for the whole project.)

We stopped at a McDonald's drive-through on the way back for frozen yogurt cones as a treat. Possibly Cora's first time at a McDonald's, I forgot how good a McD's cone can be, especially when you can get 4 for $2.99. This will be our treat of summer.

Cora's new mattress was delivered on Monday and that evening she finally got to sleep in her VERY OWN big girl bed. Landon and Claire were both in twin beds by 2.5, but Cora's crib converted to a toddler bed and that fit way better in the configuration of the room, so in the toddler bed she still was. Now she has a full bed all to herself and it is QUITE the upgrade.

There's still some work to do - art to hang, shelves to put up, lighting to add, furniture to rearrange, but I love the new addition.

I went to yoga Monday night at 8:15 and when I got home at 9:30 I went to kiss the girls I assumed were sleeping a second goodnight. I found Claire passed out as expected, but Cora was just rolling back and forth across her bed with a huge grin on her face. "IT'S SO BIG MAMA! I LOVE IT!" I think she'd been silently rolling back and forth for the whole 90 minutes since we kissed her goodnight the first time.

Landon also jazzed up his room a bit, relocating his snake and tidying up his bookshelves. He remains delighted with his bed and I feel like they're all settled for the next 5 years at least. Now we can move on to projects I have planned for the playroom, master bedroom, and hall bath. There's always something.

On Tuesday I picked the kids up from school to give our generous and wonderful friends a break from me asking them to do it for me. Landon, who keeps reminding me that he'll be in 5th grade next year, information I find surprising every time he imparts it, has decided to run for Vice-President on Student Council. He's in StuCo this year, but only 5th graders get to run for office. He made his posters all by himself Monday night and selected his very favorite picture to put on the poster. Obviously, it has an animal in it.

Meerkats for VP!

Our future politician declined to dress for swim practice that afternoon, so he was not able to participate in the swim meet or the dinner I took the girls out for afterward. Instead he got to bond with Coach Dad while cleaning up the pool area after practice was over still wearing his school uniform and I actually think they both enjoyed their time together.

As did the girls and I.

This is summer right here, just preferably with all my crew at the table.

Today (Wednesday for those keeping track, though it's nearly midnight so it might be Thursday when I publish this), was Claire's Field Day and Landon's Championship Round of Battle of the Books! We were so excited about BOB this year and my mom had even planned to drive over from Houston (which we were very excited about!) but then I found out last week that parents weren't invited this year. I was devastated, but got the number of one of the faculty sponsors was able to bug him to get updates while I sat at my desk. And, the 4th grade team got 2nd overall!!! Over 50 schools participated and Landon was Team Captain which meant he selected the final answers to all questions to show the judges, making decisions between his own thoughts and potentially conflicting teammates' advice and he did so great. I squealed at my desk when I got the final text. They went through 3 rounds and first v. second was decided in sudden death. I very much wish we could have been there, but I'm thrilled for him and his team.

James attended Claire's field day and she won the hula hoop contest for at least the second year in a row. Like me, she has no hips, so her hip swirling action is very impressive. She also got 2nd in the 100 yard dash which is James's very favorite thing. Go Bear!

Tomorrow is Landon's Field Day, a busy day of meetings for me, the kids' swim practice I will need to get them to, and then my mom is coming! On Friday I'm subbing a barre class, taking birthday treats to both the kids' classes (since they have summer birthdays, we try to squeeze them in near the end of school), and then two kids' birthday parties Friday night. Landon gets dropped off at his, I'll go with Cora, and then I think James and Claire will go out because they rarely get to do that on their own. And then it will be Saturday and we don't have a SINGLE THING on the calendar which is a miracle and there will be much swimming and James having to re-hang all the art he already hung on the girls' wall 3 years ago before a Memorial Day pool party, wood floors being installed in our master bedroom, a REALLY crazy and over-scheduled final week of school, and our now traditional Last Day of School Party on Friday night.

But that's all next week. Let's talk about food. This menu is pulled from the last 2.5 weeks, but there was some good stuff and I thought you needed to know about it:

Monday: Italian Chicken Stew (inspired by this recipe, I always double the broth, use two large frozen chicken breasts to simmer for 45 mins until they can be shredded by my KitchenAid, add some cooked noodles, and then add 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan at the end), served with crusty bread. Amazing.

Tuesday: Pasta with tomato cream sauce, steamed broccoli (I subbed barre and missed dinner and this is James's favorite pasta sauce to make)

Wednesday: Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches (with Costco's pesto because it is amazing and there is no reason to make your own when it is in your fridge), chips, fruit, carrot sticks. Kid/family favorite.

Thursday: Black Bean and Avocado Enchiladas (except without the sauce, because it's a Thursday and we have like 15 minutes to make dinner after barre and swimming, so I just baked them with a bit of cheese on top.

Friday: Dorito Taco Salad (SOOO good, except I simmered the cooked ground beef with the beans in the seasoning, eliminated the Catalina dressing, and added some chopped cilantro, diced avocado; it didn't need any dressing at all)

Sunday: Greek chicken pasta salad (based off this recipe, plus pasta and grilled chicken and extra dressing)

Monday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and cauliflower. (The kids new favorite meal; I love the spice mix in that recipe- it's super flavorful, and I always cheat with Costco refrigerated mashed potatoes because they're wonderful. I also top the meatloaf with a mix of 2/3 ketchup, 1/3 yellow mustard. I hate yellow mustard VERY much 99% of the time, but it is tangy and delicious mixed into that glaze.)

Tuesday: Crock pot bbq shredded chicken sandwiches (frozen chicken breasts, half a bottle of bbq, splash of Italian dressing - cook on low 8-10 hours then shred; serve on wheat buns with cheese and pickles), chips, fruit. (I had a PTA Board meeting so I was not present for any of this, but it's another James/kids favorite that I don't care about so I plan it for nights I'm away.)

Wednesday: Creamy Spinach Tomato Tortellini; salad; garlic bread.

Thursday: BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad with the leftover chicken from Tuesday; Claire's favorite meal in the whole world (quinoa, chicken, black beans, corn, tomato, avocado, cheese, chips, whatever).

Friday: Pizza (from frozen) and a giant salad. And wine.

Sunday: Easy Crockpot Creamy Chicken Enchilada Chili. We have this all the time because it's easy and and everyone loves it (I use half the amount of cream cheese called for).

Monday: A double batch of One Pan Roasted Sausage and Veggies, with an orzo pasta side I made up (cooked orzo + butter + splash of milk + parm).

Tuesday: Surprise taco outing; James and Landon had pasta at home.

Wednesday: Creamy Ham and Potato Soup, crusty bread, sliced cheese. The kids inhale this soup.


  1. That's a great bunk bed! Do you mind sharing where you found it? Thanks! -Kate

    1. Sure! I originally found it on, but then found the exact same one $200 cheaper at (and with a 10% Ebate!) so we actually ordered it from there:

    2. Thank you so much!! -Kate

  2. I frequently forget that I discovered Order of Splendor on your blog! Speaking of... Max wore the Stuart Tiara!!!!! AAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

  3. I'm sort of new so apologies if this has been answered before! Landon is almost 11 and is only in fourth grade? Did you guys decide to hold him back for a year or is that how your district does it? I haven't heard of holding back summer birthdays before, only fall, so I'm curious if it has worked well for him!

    1. Hi there! Here the birthday cutoff for school registration is Sept. 1st, so holding back summer babies is fairly common (fall babies are already the oldest in their class, so holding back a fall baby would be very unusual!). His due date was Aug. 15 and we moved here right before he was supposed to start Kinder and didn't know the schools or how he was going to do, etc. etc. [insert lots of angst and reasons] so we started him late. All his classmates turn 10 during 4th grade, he started 4th grade having just turned 10. I have mixed feelings about it now since he's obviously doing very well and I'm sure would have if he had started on time as the youngest in his class and would now be in 5th grade. But that said, being older certainly hasn't hurt him and I don't know if the confident student and leader he turned out to be was in part because he felt so "ready" in Kinder. But yes, he's a few months older than most of his friends and I'm selfishly glad he's sticking around elementary school for one more year!

  4. Was Cora getting uncomfortable with her toddler bed? I think I'd rather get a toddler bed instead of moving to bunk beds for my girls, but I'm uncertain how long it would actually last.

    1. Yeah, the toddler bed was great to bridge the gap for us until we felt the girls were old enough for bunk beds, but at 4.5 (and a very tall 4.5!) Cora was definitely getting uncomfortable. She still fit, but crib mattresses are so hard- when we were on vacation in Chicago she kept calling the bed in her room "the soft bed" and I decided it was time to get her a real bed and mattress! I'd say the toddler bed is fine until about age 4 and then increasingly uncomfortable after that (and maybe longer if your little one is smaller/lighter than mine!).