Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Scientists and Single Ladies

I've lost all sense of time as summer dwindles into the next school year, but I believe I'm talking about last week. Two Sundays ago we drove away from Houston down two ducklings and took our remaining chick to sushi for a normally ill-advised Sunday night dinner that was delicious and made even better by Cora's newfound enthusiasm for edamame.

For 5 days we were a family of three and it is super weird to only have one kid in the house. Weird and quiet and easy and so incredibly low energy.

But mostly super weird.

Hated sleeping alone, but stealing her sister's top bunk really helped

To make it even weirder, James took his first business trip in forever and left me alone overnight in my own home for the first time since early 2012. (The last time this happened we had a dinosaur cockroach situation and I have not yet recovered.) Cora and I were single ladies for the night!

Barre teaching assistant

So we immediately called in reinforcements. Cora's bestie, who is a third-baby herself and whose mom is one of my best friends, was also an only child for the night because her two older sisters were at various camps and grandparent's houses, so we met for margaritas after my barre class. The girls got their own table.

Then we came back to my house for a swim and some chatting. Chatting that lasted until 10 p.m. when we realized it was a Tuesday night and we had work the next day and our Third Babies were running around in princess dresses 2 hours after their bedtimes. The girls decided they were going to have a slumber party the next night and spent a while packing. That bag contains every princess dress Cora has.

James got home the next day- 22 hours in California to attend a meet-and-greet for the world champs team along with other swim companies; he got invited because he sponsors one of the guys who made it, so he was in the room with Speedo and TYR and the big guys and it was awesome. It also required him to get up at 3:30 a.m. two days in a row to fly home in time to coach his lessons on Wednesday.

But then, on Wednesday night, Cora had her first ever sleepover! She was SO EXCITED! And then! James came home from coaching and we had THE WHOLE HOUSE TO OURSELVES! You guys, this had never happened since we had Landon just over 11 years ago. We were in our house ALONE. OVERNIGHT. I mean, my god. The mind boggles. What should we do first? Do we go out to eat because we can do that without paying a babysitter? Or is that wasting a whole hour we could be IN OUR HOUSE ALONE? I froze in indecision. Eventually it was decided that we should go eat out and then luxuriate in the alone-ness. And we did. And no babysitters were notified or paid. And then we came home. "What do we do first?" James asked. "You mean besides have sex in every room of our house?" I replied. I mean, duh. But then he reminded me he'd woken up at 3:30 for the last two days and I should probably temper my expectations.

We fell asleep with our bedroom door opened, feeling emboldened in our empty house. And then I walked over and closed it because it weirded me out. We can only be so liberated.

Before we left for the State Meet Landon was super concerned about his plants. I've never kept a plant alive for more than a week and the fact that leaving his plants for 10 days didn't seem like a problem to me is probably why. I told him we'd water them while he was gone. He was skeptical, but also pointed out we'd be in Houston for 3 days before even we could take over. I told him I'd ask two of our friends who live on the street whose daughters are his friends too. They were honored and approached it with all due seriousness. When I told Landon the next day I'd arranged for his plant's care, I thought he'd be relieved. Instead he had numerous follow-up questions. Who was it? Did they know which days they had? Did they know how much water to use? Did they know where to get the water?

After a while he nodded and said with a nod, "Okay. They'll do a good job." I've hired babysitters for my human children with less consideration.

Cora took over the duties upon our return. She also took it very seriously. Landon approved.

Speaking of Landon, he and Claire were living their best lives in Houston with my parents.

Like seriously.

Trips to Moody Gardens, ropes courses, 4-D movies, aquariums, trips to the health museum and cell lab, art projects, trips to the movie theater, tons of swimming, and LUNCHABLES ON THE BOAT.

And the making of fresh-squeezed lemonade.

I absolutely adore the cell lab pictures. Claire rocks the lab coat and the kids were FULL of stories that night on the phone. "I saw my cheek cells!!" "I did a stain!" It was so cool. And when your Gigi is a former microbiologist turned biology teacher turned master biologist, it's EVEN COOLER.

They also always research an art project. This time it was plastic bottle bubble painting. It was a hit.

Then they kicked it up a notch with a trip to a real ceramic studio.

Really we all want to go to Papa Gigi camp. Cora gets to go next year because she'll be starting Kindergarten and she is SO EXCITED. The other night at dinner we were talking about camps and how Cora will to do a bunch of them next year. "Um, I am just going to do Camp Papa Gigi for all of the weeks," she informed us.

I really can't blame her. I drove to Buffalo, Texas to meet my mom to pick up the kids on Friday. They were happy and tired and full of stories. They then fought with each other the whole drive back, so we went directly to the library to pick up something to entertain them.

Landon read that whole stack of books by Monday morning, so we went back again today for a larger one. I love how much he loves reading, but sometimes it is also a pain in the neck, particularly since he refuses to read on a kindle because he likes "to turn the paper."

We're now almost caught up to the present day. I have my second round interview tomorrow. I'm prepped and ready and excited and terribly nervous.

To distract from that, here's our meals for the week because they've all been hits:

Saturday: Trader Joe's Chile Lime Chicken burgers (in the freezer section, amazing grilled), pesto pasta salad, watermelon, chips.

Sunday: Oven Jambalaya. So good, every time.

Monday: Sunshine Lentil Bowls. Discovered last summer, this remains a family favorite.

Tuesday: Dorito Taco Salad. My kids' new absolute favorite meal, they ate a ton and fought over the leftovers (leftovers I whisked off to work before they woke up to eat today). Brown 1 lb. ground beef or turkey in a skillet, add whatever taco seasoning you prefer with whatever water is needed, and a can of black beans (or pinto or kidney beans, it's super flexible), simmer. Chop up lettuce, tomato, avocado, green onion, and black olives. Toss all the things together. Crush a bag of nacho cheese dorito chips (or the Trader Joe's organic knock-offs that I love) and stir them in. Eat it. Love it. SO GOOD. (I don't add any dressing bc it doesn't need it, but you could add salsa, sour cream, or whatever else you want.)

Wednesday: Greek pasta salad (this recipe, plus a pound of tortellini pasta with double the dressing; I'm obsessed with using tortellini in my pasta salads right now), TJ's gyro meat (in the deli area, griddle it for about a minute, it's fabulous), naan bread, tzatziki sauce, TJ's falafel mix. Basically a Greek smorgasbord and it was delicious.

Thursday: Creamy Chicken Enchilada Chili. Truly my favorite crock pot meal; I'm subbing a barre class at night, so this will be ready when we're all home.

Friday: James and I are going out on a fancy date night because we feel like it and the kids will eat mac and cheese and spaghettios (organic, to show we care from afar) with their babysitter. We all can't wait.


  1. I am so excited for your interview! I know you will do wonderfully!

    I also love sunshine lentil bowls and will add a few of the linked recipes to our meal plan next week - thanks! <3

  2. Good luck tomorrow! What are you going to wear???

    I want to go to camp Papa Gigi, do you think they'll take a history teacher and her 5 year old Cora?

    1. Yes we all want to be on the camp papa gigi roster!!

  3. Hope the second round of interviews went well! Fingers crossed for you.

  4. Yeah! Your taco salad is similar to my family's, but we add Western/French dressing and call it Polish Taco Salad. Summer is almost over! Yeah and boo!

  5. I finally made the enchilada chili tonight. It was delicious! Thanks for continuing to share your meal plans.