Friday, September 28, 2018

Fall, Food, and Pumpkin Tea

James just surprised me with a bag of Candy Corn Popcorn from Trader Joe's ("look, it's two of your favorite things!") and I now wish very much I did not know how delicious it is. Because it is delicious. I need to make the kids eat it all as an after school snack so I can save myself. I am trying to embrace the fact that I really have gone up a size since 1-2 years ago. I mean my old stuff fits (with the exception of the very unforgiving pants in the unforgiving beautiful old interview suit), but it's not as comfortable and doesn't look as good. I could stop eating everything delicious and drinking wine at night, but in my current mental state I just don't want to do that. America is ruled by a racist misogynist and my god I need my candy corn popcorn and glass of red wine. But it's a mental adjustment and I alternate between struggle and acceptance. I went to Old Navy today at lunch to buy a few new fall things and I will say, man does it feel good to put on jeans that don't rearrange my innards like an Old South corset. I now own these skinnies in the burnt gold, dark green, and pink colors. And some soft shirts and a burgundy vest to layer with them. It's a "chilly" 68 outside, we closed up the pool this morning, and I'm here for it: a new season, sub-90 temperatures, new clothes, fall colors, and my candy corn popcorn.

Until next year!

Oh and this tea.

I'm on my 3rd tin (each tin comes with 20 bags). It's perfect. It's not actually pumpkin-y, just the right amount of spicey and I love it with my whole tea-drinking-heart. I think I drink 5 cups a day. There's no caffeine so I'm pretty sure I can just pretend it's water and I do.

I drove Cora to school earlier this week and we had the following discussion:

Cora: Mommy, who will be my dad when I am big?
Me: Um, daddy. The dad you have now.
Cora: No, when I'm a MOM, who will be the dad with me?
Me: Oh! the person you decide to marry and have kids with.
Cora: but WHO?
Me: Well you'll have to meet them and decide later.
Cora: How about I just marry Papa?
Me: He's already married to Gigi.
Cora: [throws arms up in frustration because apparently all the good men are taken]

Upon arrival at school:
Cora: Mom, can you carry my lunchbox because I do not have 3 hands.
Me: Sure!
Cora: Why DON'T we have 3 hands? Why do we just have 2? Three could carry SO MANY more things Mom.


Also, my action got approved by the Commission which was very exciting. You investigate cases for a long time; it's a big day when you reach the publicly disclosed finish line.

The day before the big meeting where I would make my recommendation we have a call with the two Directors of Enforcement and the case teams and management for every case that will be on the Calendar that week. I was item #13 on Wednesday's call and all of my management was traveling out of the office, so it was just me in my office on the call. I dutifully put it on mute and waited until my big moment. The discussion for case #12 wrapped up and I went to unmute and instead HUNG UP THE SPEAKERPHONE. A dial-tone greeted me just as I opened my mouth to introduce myself and a cuss word flew out instead. I frantically redialed the conference line and passcode, waited for case #14 to finish up and then interrupted my boss's boss's boss's boss to announce my moment of fail and endear/embarass myself to those listening. My part went well and at least I made people laugh. Oy.

That night I had another humorous conversation with Cora. She's very wise.

Cora, from the bathroom across the house: MOMMMMM! Can you come fix something?
Me, upon arrival: What’s wrong?
Cora: My tummy hurts, can you put cream on it?
Me (despite conditioning them that Aquaphor can fix anything): I don’t really think that will help.
Cora, resigned: Well I need a bandaid then.
Me: I don’t think that will work either.
Cora, knowingly: Because it will take too many to cover it all?

We've been trying to fit in some games between dinner and bed and belatedly introduced her to Memory. Claire has been killing it at memory since the age of 3 and she remains a worthy competitor. Cora caught on pretty quick and I see a lot of Memory games in our future (I must say, it really does help your memory; I get SO MUCH better at it in weeks when Claire requests it on a daily basis).

Landon has also been in around and in the mix, but the only evidence I have on my phone is a picture of this picture he got at school that used to hang in the hall for him being Wrangler of the Year last year. My little baby Landon.

Moving on to food! I have WEEKS of recipes for you. Three, to be exact, with lots of links and even more words. It's been a tasty few weeks, even without the candy-corn flavored popcorn.

Last Week
Sunday: My Mom's Chili served over Stove-Top Mac & Cheese with veggies. This is the greatest of fall food combinations.

Monday: Meatloaf (This remains one of my kids favorite meals; I mixed 1 lb. of organic ground beef with 1 lb. organic ground turkey and it was finally enough for our crew; I use the linked recipe for the seasoning mix and generally follow the directions, though I mix the remaining ketchup with equal part yellow mustard for the glaze on top and it is SO GOOD), mashed potatoes, roasted rainbow carrots (Cora will only eat the purple ones).

Tuesday: Honey-Chipotle BBQ Pulled Pork. This was AMAZING. I just did the rub on the pork tenderloins (I used 2) and cooked it as directed. It shredded so easily and was so delicious I didn't want to add a sauce. We ate it with Parmesan orzo and mixed frozen veggies (that I dumped in the cooked orzo with some butter and parm).

Wednesday: Ramen Stir Fry. I made this up and it was delish and super fast. I cooked ground turkey with onion and garlic, then added shredded carrot, shredded cabbage, and cauliflower rice (all pre-shredded/riced in bags from TJ's), cooked them for a few minutes with a mix of soy sauce, hoisin, rice vinegar, and sesame oil (I just dumped some together in a measuring cup, tasted it, and poured it in). I cooked 3 packets of Ramen noodles (flavoring packets thrown out) separately, drained them, and added them at the end, mixing it all together. The kids loved it ("it's NOODLES?!").

Thursday: Pulled Pork Enchiladas. I had a meeting for our school's 5th grade trip that required me to get margaritas with my mamas afterward, so the night before I rolled up the leftover pulled pork with shredded cheese and black beans into tortillas, filled a 9x13 tray, topped them with shredded cheese (except Landon's, OBVIOUSLY), and James baked them for about 20 mins at 375. There's a refrigerated Mexican rice we really like that steams up in the microwave with avocado and refried black beans on the side. I heard it was delicious.

Friday: DATE NIGHT. Balsamic glazed Brussels sprouts. And other stuff, but mostly those.

Saturday: Friend's 40th Birthday Party!. There was chili and many other delicious things. She taught me the sorority girl pose that makes your arm look skinny.

This Week
Sunday: Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon, Spiced Applesauce Cake. The Beef Bourguignon was very good, but frankly required too much prep to result in anything other than a mind-blowing meal. My mind was not blown, but it was great to smell it cooking all day with the rain and gloom. Since dinner was effectively done by 10 a.m. I made one of my favorite cakes. It's foolproof and amazing and I highly recommend it.

Monday: Beef Tacos, Mexican Rice, beans, all the toppings. Your traditional old ground beef + seasoning taco night. This time I made double-decker tacos with a layer of refried black beans on a flour tortillas wrapped around a crunchy taco and it blew the kids minds. Highly recommend.

Tuesday: Pumpkin Pasta. I made this up from a Trader Joe's sample: TJ's Harvest Autumnal Creamy Pasta Sauce + TJ's fresh Sweet Potato ribbons + organic ground turkey (from Costco; like pretty much every other meat I've mentioned so far, I love their freezer packs of organic chicken breasts, ground beef, ground turkey, and bison). Cook the turkey, add the sauce and sweet potato, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add in the cooked pasta (I used whole wheat penne), toss, serve. SO GOOD. Super fast and super easy.

Wednesday: Jambalaya, biscuits. A long-time family favorite.

Thursday: Crock Pot Creamy Chicken Enchilada Chili. Foolproof, always reserved for a Thursday night when I teach barre, the kids swim, James coaches late, and most of the fresh produce is depleted from the fridge. (I do use half the amount of cream cheese and it's perfect for us).

Friday: Chili Pizza . Another TJ sample I'm going to try to replicate: pizza crust + chili (really cooked down so it's not liquid, or just use a can of it; it's Friday and life should be easy), topped with cheddar cheese and baked. Raw veggies on the side.

Saturday: Cauliflower & Potato Soup. I haven't made this yet but it looks delicious!

Sunday: Bison Bolognese. Ditto.

Cora's unicorn likes to watch the rain

Next Week
Monday: Veggie enchiladas, Mexican rice. I made this up a few weeks ago when the meat I was going to use in my dinner looked off: Dice up zucchini, squash, and onion. Saute with shredded carrot, black beans, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper until veggies are cooked, but not soggy. Roll into tortillas with shredded cheese and bake 20ish minutes at 375. We loved them!

Tuesday: Bolognese leftovers From Sunday, I'll be at a PTA Board Meeting and then celebrating a friend's birthday afterward.

Wednesday: Southwestern Quinoa Salad. Quinoa, black beans, tomato, corn, avocado, cilantro, topped with a swirl of BBQ and/or Ranch. Served with chips.

Thursday: Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce, Sausage, and Spinach. Mine won't be spicy, but a friend made this recently and raved.

Friday: Pesto Pizza Rolls. I made these a year ago and totally forgot how amazing they were until a facebook memory reminded me. And Landon even likes them bc "there isn't too much cheese."

I'm off to make my mom's pumpkin bread. It's basically a cake, but it's delicious and it's Landon's favorite baked good of all time. Plus, it makes the kitchen smell amazing. Happy fall to you all!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Proof of Life

I had no intention of disappearing for weeks on end after writing my last post. And I so appreciate those of you who reached out and checked in on me (I'm here! We're good!), but for the first time since I started this blog in 2006, not-writing has felt good. Freeing, even. I've thought a lot about this, because for so long the urge to write was a mental and emotional imperative. The time stamps on most of my posts are between 11 p.m. and midnight because I genuinely needed to write down the day, to share the funny stories, to put words to the tough ones, and to connect with all of you. To restart the cycle of sharing stories before bed and waking up to comments from my friends I'd never met spread all over the globe. And the best I can figure, without sounding dismissive of the enormous and vital role you played in my life for over a decade, is that I have that feedback loop in my real life now. When I have a shitty day or a difficult marital or parenting moment, I can text my mamas and meet them at a restaurant or patio down the street to hash it out. As the stories invariably get more personal, and the key players grow to be less of an extension of me, working through them in an open internet forum isn't really appropriate or even all that tempting.

When the kids were babies and toddlers, when we moved to a new city where we didn't know a single human being, this blog was a lifeline. I'm not exaggerating. When we were going through hell with Landon in Chicago, your comments- comments from people I didn't know who believed me when for the first time in my life I wasn't being believed- were precious and make me cry now just thinking about them. When James lost his job a few months after moving here to Fort Worth, I spent Landon's whole soccer game that next morning just reading and re-reading your comments, feeling the support, and winning my war against breaking down and sobbing on the side of the field because I was so stressed and overwhelmed and utterly alone. When it took six months to find a job after I had calculated we had seven months we could continue paying our mortgage, when James fell into a depression it took us years to pull out of, when I had no one in 100 miles I could talk to about how fucking hard it was getting to just come home at the end of the day, I had you all and I cannot put into words how important that was. The word "lifeline" is frankly perfectly accurate. And through all that, to also have this forum to share our joys, the funny moments, and the love I have for my life and the people in it, was just as vital. I am someone who needs a community. I need to share. I crave connection and I love stories. Through my ancient blogger "compose" window and the magic "publish" button, I was able to have that at any hour of day. To share, to connect, and to put to words- with much deleting and re-writing and editing until the words matched the emotion behind them, whatever had happened over our last few days. I used to attempt to keep a journal, but always abandoned them despite a deep love of writing. I need an audience. And you provided that for me.

I know this reads like a goodbye, but it is in no way intended to be one. I think I just needed some time to process what this blog was, what it is now, and what I want it to be in the future. One of my great joys when I can't sleep at night is re-reading old posts, reliving the mundane and the wonderful of my children at different ages and James and me at different stages of our life together. I love this archive and am so grateful for it. I also google my own dinner recipes to figure out what to make in the future and refer back to vacation dispatches on a regular basis when trying to remember something I want to recommend to others. I still need this space. But as our days grow busier, our life wonderfully fuller, and the allure of keeping the laptop closed sometimes at night grows stronger, I needed to recalibrate what I want to do in this space (and to push through the overwhelming guilt I feel when I go to bed having not written anything; clearly I found a way to make some peace with that one).

So before I get to the updates and snippets from the last 17(!) days, I want to say thank you. In my usual nighttime musings where I pre-draft a million blog posts in my head and wake up the next morning remembering none of them, I always circled back to an enormous feeling of gratitude for this little spot in the interwebs. For the people who found me and have read my ramblings for so many years. It is with a sense of wonder that I think of you, caring about me and my family and reaching out with love, support, laughter, and grace so many times through the years. I am deeply thankful for you.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And now, some snippets:

In a preview of what I expect our next decade of life to look like, the last 2.5 weeks have been a blur of school stuff, sports stuff, work stuff, fun stuff, date stuff, and friend stuff. And cooking, photo booking (2016-2017 COMPLETE!), TV watching, reading, wine drinking, and raining. SO MUCH raining. We've made the most of it with lots of movies (Flubber was a huge hit, along with Enchanted, Brave, The Descendants, and The Descendants 2, plus Jurrasic Park The Lost World and an Indiana Jones with Landon spread out over a few nights after the girls went to bed) and games (Candyland for Cora ALWAYS; Jenga, Trouble, and Memory with the big kids) and the building of gigantic forts. It's been fun and cozy but I would really like one dry weekend to kick them all outside for a while.

We've hit the ground running with school stuff. All three kids love their classes, teachers, etc. The homework level has increased dramatically- Landon actually has to do homework at home this year (in all his years of schooling we've never seen his work; he would just magically do it early in class or in the line to go home) and Claire had to make a chart assigning her work to various days so she could keep her beloved gymnastics class after failing to do her required book reports the first week. (Claire, shrugging, "I just forgot mom, but it's okay, I sat out at recess and finished them." Me, inner monologue, "Ahhhh, you got in trouble, from an authority figure, and had to SIT OUT, and were LATE on an assignment, omg you will dwell on this forever." We are so different and I am so grateful.). She crafted a lovely schedule on green construction paper that lives on our fridge so she knows what she needs to do each day in a way that works with her activity schedule (i.e., accepting that no homework will get done on Wednesdays because she has gymnastics early in the afternoon) and it's been working out great. I don't know what Landon's doing, but I assume it's all as it should be. Cora continues to color with GREAT concentration and only do "HARD WORK" at school and scoffs at all other practical Montessori activities.

Landon is LOVING his climbing team. He had his first competition this past Saturday and we all piled in the car at 6:30 a.m. to drive across town in pouring rain to cheer him on.

3.5 hours later we were driving back home, still confused at how exactly climbing competitions work, but with a very happy kid with very red hands. He placed 13th out of 23 which he found acceptable since it was his first one and he's young (the age range is 11-13), but he has big plans for improvement. He remains sociable, busy, sweaty and sweet, and his hair continues to always be perfectly combed.

At 11 years old and 5 feet tall, I feel like he's basically ready to go to college, so James and I have been trying to fill in gaps in the practical knowledge we take for granted. He started doing all his own laundry at 10 (conveniently timed around the time his dirty laundry wasn't anything I really wanted to go near), we've recently had many discussions on the difference between fact and opinion, and, in a surprise bit of real-world learning, last week he mastered the nearly overwhelming task of calling a third party on the phone.

We don't have a home phone. Very few people we know have home phones. When my kids want to play with a friend, I generally text that friend's parent, or now that Landon has one of our old iPhones hooked up to wifi and an icloud email address, he can "text" a small group of friends on his own. When I was 11 I had been using our home phone to call other friends' home phones and talking to the humans on the end of it for years. My child does not have this specialized skill.

Last week Landon left his climbing shoes at climbing practice. "Okay," I said, "why don't you just call the front desk to see if they have them and can hold them somewhere until you go back for your next practice."

"Wait, what, ME call them? ME?! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO SAY?!"

"Um, exactly what I just did. Introduce yourself, explain what happened, and ask if they could set them aside for you somewhere. You know, just what you'd say in person. But into the phone."

The next 10 minutes were tortuous. He couldn't hold the phone. He tried to yell into the speaker instead of talking at a normal volume into the microphone end of the phone. Every time he'd speak he'd then pull the phone away from his ear and look at us with wide eyes, like "what do I do next?!" while James and I were pushing the phone back to his ear while mouthing "LISTEN TO THE PERSON RESPONDING TO YOU!". The call ended with 50% of the information being conveyed and the person at the front desk saying she'd look around for the shoes. "Okay great," I told him, "we'll eat dinner and then you can call back to see if she found them, but this time make sure to give them your name and and see if they can hold them for you." Landon looked like he was going to pass out.

He made it through and has improved dramatically in the phone calls since (I'm now always actively scouting phone call opportunities for him). Claire will be next. I'll admit I don't talk on the phone a ton in my personal life anymore, but I do it all day at work and there are still MANY things that need to be done over the phone and I just hadn't realized that training is completely absent from my children's lives. Twenty-first century problems indeed.

On to Claire, she is LOVING her gymnastics class and now alternates between playing gymnastics coach and school teacher for most of the weekend. Cora is her semi-willing student/prop, but she frequently recruits her baby dolls to participate. And speaking of her renewed affection for her dolls, she told me the other day that, “Mom, I’m going to try playing with just one baby today. Three is just too many. They need too many things.” She cracks me up.

James is the President of a wonderful non-profit, The Fort Worth Drowning Prevention Coalition, and we all attended their banquet two weeks ago. The kids were thrilled to hear James speak (Claire turned to me in awe and whispered, "I can't believe he's talking in front of all these people." and Cora yelled out "YAY DADDY!!" at the end) and always enjoy a social occasion. Claire loves to dress up and hopped out of the car once we arrived announcing, "Mom, do I look AMAZING? I put on makeup. That’s okay right?” and then flounced off to climb a piece of equipment with her brother.

She begins volleyball in a week and is SO excited. I never played volleyball (or really any sport with a ball) so I'm excited she's trying it out. We are beginning to see in her the emotional volatility of her older brother about a year early. The good news is, we totally recognize it. The bad news is, it's here. The other day she was upset about something I couldn't figure out and she marched off to her room, closed the door, screamed into the void, and then marched back out. "I'm sorry," she said calmly, "I'm not sure why I was so mad," and went right back to playing. I waited a few moments and walked over and hugged her and said I understood and I loved her. Landon looked over and said "yeah, but you handled it well." I feel like we're a little better for this being our second time through.

The two girls are playing together more and more as their interests begin to overlap and their conversations are always a delight. Claire, the fairly grounded and mature 8-year-old, and Cora, the I-want-a-pet-unicorn 4-year-old.

Claire: "Mom I really hope I can be a teacher one day."
Me: "You definitely can if that's what you want to do!"
Cora: "Well, I'm going to be Princess Elena."

Cora, our nearly FIVE year-old, remains a joyful spirit with a surprising backbone of steel and ability to get around doing almost anything she is supposed to. We're working on it. Our biggest problem is recruiting her pushover big siblings to back us up.

She completely believes she still fits in our laps and should be carried anytime her legs are tired. I've tried to explain that at her age her older siblings already had a 2-year-old younger sibling but she can't imagine why that would matter.

She is very smart, very fast, and very funny. She takes the things that are important to her seriously and nothing on earth can make her care about what she simply doesn't mind. She holds her own in our nightly dinner conversations and likes to intersperse our discussions with random declarative statements that make a strong, unrelated point.

She adores gymnastics and focuses VERY HARD while there. She is filling up stars in her chart and continues to finish all activities in her life with a beautiful salute to the (invisible) judges.

On the family front we've had PTA Meetings, Board Meetings, fundraiser nights at local restaurants, and a wonderful date night for James and I last Friday. Nothing special, just a babysitter and 2 hours away at our favorite local place up the street.

I pre-gamed with some mamas at our favorite taco (margarita) place because James coaches until 6:00 and I was home from work at 5:00. It's like being in college, you drink the $2.50 margarita before you head to the tasty restaurant with the expensive drink menu. Some things you don't grow out of (not yet, anyway).

We were home from dinner a few minutes after 8, gave our kids kisses, and curled up on the couch to watch something good. I don't remember what (maybe the last few episodes of Jack Ryan?), but it was good and I was happy and it was all exactly what I love right now. Picking up the kids from school (just on Fridays, but I love it), chatting with them and their friends, getting dressed up, drinking margaritas with my mamas, eating a delicious meal with my person, and then being home in time to soak up as much post-bedtime-couch-time as possible. I didn't know that was everything I'd one day want in life. And then teaching a barre class on Sunday that made all my students yell at me (with love, and sweat) and spending the rest of the time at home, finishing photo books (VICTORY IN OUR TIME!), and making the most delicious beef stew (the temperature was below 80! maybe it was 79, but it was stew weather!).

I need to do a menu update because there have been some GOOD recipes lately (I love fall, even when it's Texas and it's fake fall), I spoke at Texas A&M Law School yesterday and had the best time- it was like a grown up career day, and I'm presenting a recommendation to the Commission on Thursday which is always exciting and fulfilling. Life is good. I've missed you. James was working on the couch next to me and said, "oh, are you blogging again?" Only here do my fingers move this fast. As I said, I've missed you.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Fun Before the Fall Before the Photobooking

I dragged myself out of bed on this rainy, lazy morning to go to 7:30 a.m. yoga. I was rewarded for this show of initiative by my car refusing to start in the Starbucks parking lot across the street where I stopped after class. The lesson I have learned is not to go to early morning yoga on rainy Saturdays. (James gently suggested, after he rescued me, that perhaps the lesson was not to stop at Starbucks, but that's clearly erroneous. The answer is to not leave the house in the first place.) I ended up spending the day trapped in the house with pouring rain, an increasingly flooded driveway, a (new!) roof that leaks, a wall in my sun room caving in with water damage, and three little girls who alternated between princess movies and chasing each other and giggling at the volume of a scream. James was coaching lessons and Landon had escaped to a friend's house for the next 24 hours. I wore pj's and got a lot of photo booking done (photo books are my perpetual white whale) and then I happened to check blogger and saw comments blogger failed to tell me I had (sorry! I'm fine!), which prompted me to finally post while we watch Season 2 of Ozark and hope three girls can fall asleep quickly in the same room.

There's no one reason I haven't posted in 2+ weeks. I've been teaching some extra barre which has been great fun. My classes at TCU have consistently had more than 20 people in them and that's a blast. Work is super busy. It's nearly the end of our fiscal year and my days are very full. The kids are great. We hired a new after-school nanny and everything is finding it's new school-year rhythm.

To celebrate making it through the first 5 days we had a Back to School Pool Party.

Literally, any excuse fr a party and I'm there.

We did frosé, one snack/fruit/veg/dessert item, preferably store bought, and threw in $10/family for Costco pizzas. It was the best.

The kids are mentally exhausted but physically wired from sitting still all day for the first time since May.

And the Mamas need to dish, commiserate, and experiment with making frosé, a beverage recipe on which google was not super helpful.

This was good for everyone.

Except my flamingo leg. It struck again.

And our trash and recycle bins. The pizza boxes actually totaled 7.

On Saturday night I went to see Crazy Rich Asians with my mamas. And one of our favorite dads (who is married to an Asian, also in attendance, so we allowed it). We ordered three bottles of wine to start in the movie theater and I got seasoned fries for dinner. It was an excellent night and I LOVED the movie. I've missed having rom coms in my life.

I straightened my hair just for the movies and felt that act of valor required a selfie with my post-movie champagne. Someday when I'm a real grownup I'll consider doing my hair a normal part of my day instead of something to be celebrated.

Then on Sunday I got a blinding crushing headache that made me think my head would explode and that would be a blessing. It ended on Tuesday. Or, it lessened on Tuesday. I had to go to work anyway (because of the busy) and it was not awesome. What is awesome is that Landon continues to love his climbing and is deeply proud of all his new calluses and blisters.

Also awesome? Cora rode a big girl bike without training wheels for the first time and totally rocked it. A year younger than her big siblings and while wearing as many necklaces and bracelets as possible. I was able to convince her to wear a practical "biking tutu" instead of the ankle-length Princess Elena gown she was wearing beforehand.

Also, on Wednesday, when I was home feeling super sick with nausea and the stubborn remnants of my headache, I ordered a new electric tea kettle and a random book for Landon. It was delivered at my house 5.5 hours later. How is that possible? It'd be wrong if it wasn't so right.

About 9 days ago (headache now definitely cured; stomach still annoyingly iffy; barre classes and work proceeding as scheduled), it was the 17 year anniversary of the night James and I met.

I can't remember if I recorded the story here, but it makes me smile:

17 years ago today I met this guy in a bar on 6th Street. The swimmers were all at Platinum X and a tall, happily drunk guy asked if I wanted to dance. I assumed he was a swimmer and said sure as he handed me a Jack and Coke. About a minute later, a bouncer walked by and kicked us both out for underage drinking. I was 18, he was 19. I thought I was going to jail while he gallantly held the door open for me and assured me everything was fine. Our teammates didn't know we'd been kicked out and it was early in the night, so we ended up walking up and down 6th street together for the next few hours. I found out his name was James. He was a junior and a finance major. He wanted to start his own business someday. We talked and talked and he finally asked for my number when we reunited with our friends. His teammate drove us home and I learned later that James valiantly waited until I was inside my dorm to jump out of the car and throw up in the bushes by San Jac. He called me the next day. We went on our first date the night after that, to The Oasis on Lake Travis. I learned later he drove all the way out there earlier in the day to be sure he knew the way. (He also described his car to me so I’d walk towards it since his memory wasn’t entirely clear on what I looked like...)

Two weeks later we took these pictures at Cherry Bomb 2001. We’ll have been married for 13 years on Monday with 3 kids, 3 moves, 2 graduate degrees, and a thousand ups and downs. But I love thinking of that night we met, just seventeen and one million years ago.

As noted, Monday was our wedding anniversary. Lucky number 13. We went out Sunday night to celebrate.

On Monday night we did a fancy meat and cheese night with the kids. They LOVE this dinner and I love setting it up.

It was the perfect anniversary celebration. A fancy night out for just the two of us and then a fun night at home with the family we've created together. Plus champagne and chocolate cake.

On Tuesday he delivered flowers, because I adore them and love seeing him midday. And also because the federal government doesn't accept personal deliveries from vendors.

They brought me joy all week.

As did this conversation with Cora on Thursday morning while I was putting on my makeup:

Cora: Mom did you like going to my school when you were a little girl?
Me: I didn’t go to your school. I went to preschool in California.
Cora, aghast: You did not always live in this house??!!
Me: No silly, we moved here 6 years ago.
Cora: But who built this house?
Me: I don’t really know. It was built before Papa and Gigi were born.
Cora: But what is it made of?
Me: Bricks, and some other things.
Cora, nodding bc something finally makes sense: Oh, so the wolf will not blow it down?

I love how they work to make their world make sense.

The rest of the week had a PTA Board meeting, going out with friends late Tuesday night, more teaching barre at TCU, running through the pouring rain to get to my class on Thursday, and then more rain today (SO MUCH RAIN). The last two weeks also contained the anniversary of my parents' house flooding in Harvey, me driving down there to help, and me struggling when I got back home.

Parts of Fort Worth were flooding today, but nothing like Houston and in our corner we just had Landon running around in his swimsuit to rescue earth worms while the girls choreographed new dances to The Greatest Showman and One Direction.

Both activities were perfectly suited to the person(s) who chose them.

And me, I've created a 102 page photo book of the 2016-2017 school year with 989 pictures (did you know Shutterfly restricts you to 1,000? I do now.) of our life, their art work, birthday invites and cards, sweet notes they sometimes write each other, and literally anything else I want to save from the year, plus quotes, snippets, and funny stories I go back and pull from Facebook and the blog. It's a goddamn labor of love (literally more hours than I spent in labor for the one child I labored with, times about ten) but the kids adore them- they read them on a weekly basis and the quotes and stories are their favorite part. It's worth it- I love them too and I love that I feel like there's nothing else I need to save once the book is done, but man, they're a lot of work.

I have two pages to go. And then I get to start on 2017-2018. Never let yourself get behind.

But I promise to try to stay more up to date here. In the back of my mind I've been thinking about what I want this space to be now. We're fairly settled. Our days, nights, and weekends are full. Our kids are older and their stories increasingly belong to them. My job doesn't allow for much work discussion. Or my legal one doesn't- and the barre one gives me enormous happiness but few stories. I'm not going away and I doubt much will change, but I understand more and more why most blogs don't last forever (or don't sound the same forever). I've been writing in this one for nearly 12 years and published 1,699 posts. (This is number 1700!). I was 23, married for 15 months, and weeks away from finding out I was pregnant with Landon when I wrote my first one. That woman seems a million years away, much like the goofy drunk guy I met on 6th street a different million years ago, but I like that when I read her words I recognize her voice.