Friday, June 26, 2020

Portraits of 2020

As I mentioned before I was distracted by a fungal plague (more on that in the next post) and COVID exposure (my brain may be damaged by the test, but it was negative; also more on THAT in the next post), we got our family pictures back last week!

We took them on a Sunday evening in a mostly empty downtown Fort Worth, in and around Sundance Square.

I really wanted to be downtown, where I (usually!) work, amidst the skyline we look at almost every day.

Sundance Square is such a classic part of this city-- this little big cow town where we NEVER imagined we'd live, but have come to truly love.

When we moved here in 2012, we almost chose to rent rather than buy, assuming we'd be leaving in 3 years or so. But here we are, 8+ years later, with friends and community and roots growing as deep as our giant oak tree out that's been thriving in front of our house for at least 150 years. I rarely, if ever, go to the grocery store or run an errand without seeing someone I know.

Between schools and PTA Boards, Barre teaching and yoga going, James's swim school and our kids' activities, I am continually surprised by the threads we have woven into this downtown urban suburban neighborhood, and after spending several lonely years when we first arrived, I never take seeing a friendly face for granted.

Everything shut down for the pandemic around the time I decided we needed updated family photos this year (the last round was in 2018; we've had the same sweet photographer since Cora was a baby. Here's 2014, 2015, and 2016), so I didn't get to do much shopping.

The girls both loved this dress from Old Navy online, Landon was fine with a polo as long as he could wear shorts, I already had the blue dress for work, and James wore that white button-down in our wedding. We kept it simple. It's always a big deal to me that everyone look like themselves, just an unusually coordinated version.

Cora insisted on having her hair blow-dried straight again, like the stylist did after her haircut. And while I missed her beautiful crazy curls, I feel strongly that you should get to look however you want to look in your pictures.

And on that note, I let each kid bring a change of clothes - anything they wanted - to get some updated individual portraits along with the family ensembles.

Landon, who turns THIRTEEN in a few weeks, obviously went with an Under Armor athletic shirt and shorts.

He got some jumping pictures and actually maybe had fun with it!

He's always a good sport- his willingness to go along with things and have a good attitude is one of my favorite things about him. He knows the pictures matter to me and so he grins and bears it.

He still loves to just play, particularly with little kids like his toddler cousins and our preschool-age neighbors, and continues to play games and make believe with his sisters long after the age I was quite over my own younger siblings. He reads voraciously, a book a day when he can keep getting his hands on new ones, and now embraces fiction and nonfiction with equal fervor.

He's funny and smart and truly kind. He can be annoying and loud and leaves his giant size 10.5 mens running shoes everywhere. He does the dishes every night without complaining and loves playing frisbee after dinner with his dad. If there is something I am truly grateful in this pandemic, it's spending more time with our almost-teenager and getting to know layers of him we maybe didn't before.

Claire, our recently turned double-digits second baby, opted for a fancier ensemble.

She had so much fun posing for pictures and kept wanting to run back to see the images on our photographer's camera screen.

She was game for anything and always had a big smile on her face, which fits who she is away from the camera too.

She LOVES to sing and dance, is willing to read but never does so without being prompted, loves to write stories and make cards for family and friends, ALWAYS wants a hug or cuddle, is easily hurt but is also quick to bounce back, needs to know the plan and is happy to dig in and help you make it. Wants to be part of all the things and loves her family very much. Still can't believe she has a kitten.

Sisters! (I'm printing this shot to their room for sure.)

And Cora. Long past the days of princess dresses and opera gloves (sob; who knew how much I loved them?), she opted for a hand-me-down dress from her big sister.

She is "six and a half and almost seven," an amazing reader with perfect handwriting (I often get hers and Claire's confused and Claire's handwriting is beautiful) who only reads when repeatedly prompted. Independent, super strong, and occasionally emotionally fragile. Somehow equally focused and scattered, she will work on a project she's invented for hours and later be truly apologetic when I've had to ask her to do the something for the 67th time. A memory like an elephant, she'll recall (and rely upon) any time you ever bent a rule for her, but also tracks the appointments or illnesses of anyone she cares about and ask about them days and weeks later. She remains somehow 100% herself while parroting phrases she's heard from her big siblings. She's a roller coaster ride we're all (mostly) delighted to be on.

She was also VERY OVER the pictures when it got to her turn, so we got a few and then let Cora be Cora.

Which mostly involved running around in circles and dancing in the middle of the Square. Our photographer captured that too.

And finally James and me.

We've got our own milestone in 2020 - 15 years of marriage on September 3rd.

Highs and lows, we've had a share of both, but man do I love this guy and love how much he loves this family we made together.

And that's us right now! At 38, 37, 13, 10, and 6-and-a-half.

Everyone says it, but the years- they fly.

But for now I just need to stop critiquing myself in each picture and pick a favorite to print for the mantle...

Monday, June 22, 2020

Quarantine in a Quarantine, and Other More Fun Things

So I have many updates beyond just the kitten and my closet, but suddenly none of them matter when compared to the kitten now living in my bathroom.

Mr. Moose, the spunky black wonder kitty and Maggie's very best friend, has RINGWORM.

Oh yes, mere MOMENTS after the two of them snuggled up for the first time and my heart exploded and Maggie was so excited to have a snuggle buddy that she didn't even move when she woke up so as not to disturb her tiny fuzzy friend, I texted my best friend about a bald patch on Moose's back. Her dad is a vet and I knew he was at her house celebrating Father's Day (sorry Dr. Pops, hope the steak was delicious). I wasn't super concerned, but I thought the sudden bald spot was weird and seemed worth a quick picture. She immediately called me, "do you have a black light?" Thanks to a laser pointer toy they'd just bought the cat, we did, and when we turned off the light and shined the black light on his bald spot it lit up bright green. Mr. Moose had the ringworm.


Not actually a worm, but a fungus, I was told to put an OTC anti-fungal on the spot and scan Maggie with the same light. She did have any green, but got a bath just in case. I bought the cream, felt okay about things, and then- out of pure unhealthy compulsion- turned to the google. And the google told me terrible things.

I knew from Dr. Pops/science that ringworm was highly contagious and can jump between pets and humans, but everyone online treats it like Ebola. Next thing I knew we were moving furniture, vacuuming carpets, spraying furniture down with a 1:10 bleach spray, and washing everything soft that Moose has ever touched which is basically everything in the entire house. Mr. Moose was quarantined to the bathroom and VERY SAD about it. He sang a loud and lonely song while we disinfected and we were all very sad. It was an EXCELLENT pre-Father's Day evening for the father who was skeptical about getting the cat.

Today, when I had pretty much convinced myself that all this prevention seemed worse than the disease itself (I mean, it's ringworm, it's the same fungus as athlete's foot; kind of gross, but perhaps not as emotionally taxing as eyeing every surface of my house suspiciously and wondering if it had received a sufficient amount of bleach; also, Moose remained the SADDEST and he's just a baby), he had possible new spots by his ears that were losing hair and were now scratched from his claws. I talked to Dr. Pops again and he supported the 2+ week quarantine I was hoping he'd say wasn't necessary, but did say that I didn't need to clean the house again (a benefit of the quarantine setup). I called our vet again (I'd tried earlier, but appointments were at least a week out) and begged for a closer one- we're now on for this Wednesday afternoon. I've added ketoconazole shampoo baths, which has been SUPER FUN for both me and Moose.

Poor Moose, one day he's a rescue kitten living large on top of a tall cat tree surrounded by love and cat toys, and the next day, you're living in a bathroom, separated from your tiny humans, sleeping in a bathtub and turning into Wolverine while getting a bath. What in the actual fuck, says Moose.

So if you have a ringworm cat success story I would very much like to hear it. Particularly if it doesn't involve things like "throwing away anything that can't be disinfected, like your cat tree" which is something I read online but just can't believe is necessary. I've sprayed it thoroughly with the bleach solution twice and vacuumed it. He won't get it back until he's clear. SURELY that is overkill. But I'm only a google trained vet and my training is mostly reading things and thinking "no, please, that can't be right."

Maggie is bereft without her new friend and has no idea where he's gone. I got her a new dress for comfort and though she still has a hole in her heart, it's now rainbow colored and that helped.


Now I'm just sitting around in my jumpsuit trying not to google anything else terrible.

Kidding, though I did keep the jumpsuit!

You all convinced me and it is the most comfortable thing in the world. I actually ended up keeping the whole Fix because the 25% "keep everything" discount meant it would cost more to send back only one thing than to keep it all. Maybe boho chic will finally work for me with that white blouse and if not, I have friends I can give it to. Same with the maxi. Mostly it just killed me to send back 2 items for a difference in price of exactly $9 and so I kept it all. MATH, I know it.

But it was super fun to get your comments, thank you! You inspired me to take an aimless trip to TJ Maxx on Saturday to just look for things that make me smile behind my mask. Like this dress.

And this one.

Someday when we leave the house again, I'll have pretty things to wear. And after really shutting down all nonessential spending since March, it was fun to loosen just a little for a weekend.

Also this weekend- beyond sterilizing the house and buying a party dress for a currently partyless lifestyle- was Father's Day!

James insisted it not be a big things ("no presents"), but the kids still made their sweet cards and I make breakfast and his choice of dinner.

There was confetti and a tiny present and pasta puttanesca for dinner.

We did very little and just hung out a lot and it was a lovely day.

Also in the past week, before we knew the cat we couldn't stop touching had a contagious fungal disease, we played the vintage/original game of Life! I LOVE Life. It is my favorite boardgame, but I must confess I have been unimpressed with the new version you can buy in stores. It tried to hard to be modern and shiny and took all the fun away- plus it separated jobs from salary and you bought different houses and it all ended up with very odd results. But the old version - sold at Target briefly earlier this year - it is CUTTHROAT and wonderful.

There's a lot of gambling and emotion.

Landon discovered a gambling addiction and learned you could be loaned money when you didn't have any. He went deeply in debt and would have had his knee caps broken in Vegas for sure.

Last Wednesday our entire HVAC system was pulled out and replaced. We now have two brand new HVAC units and all new duct work throughout the house that properly pushes air to the various rooms for an even temperature. It was very expensive and very necessary and, as boring grown-ups now, we were very excited to have it done.

This giant fan used to be in our ceiling- it would move air through the back hallway before the house had AC. Old houses, while expensive, are also fun.

Also last week, Cora went to Zoo Camp. It's the only week of camp anyone is doing this summer and she only got to because I signed up back in March before our trip and it wasn't canceled. We debated whether she should go, but they had a lot of safety protocols in place, including daily temperature taking, and we decided that more than the older two, she needed her peers for a week of fun, hands-on, in-person education.

And she had a BLAST. Songs! Coloring! Animals! She needed all of these things for her poor denied Kindergarten loving heart. Having to pack a lunch and get her somewhere at a certain time nearly killed James and me - we are SO out of practice - but it was great for her and worth the hassle and concern.

It also wiped her out. We found her fast asleep before dinner three times last week.

(Also, when she found the stick in the picture above while we were walking to my car, she exclaimed, "Mom! Look at this stick! This might be the greatest stick I've ever seen!" and that is all very peak Cora. She is exuberant and loves a good weapon.)

And now, on to food! And speaking of, Landon continues to love his online cooking class. Last week he made granola and when I got home from a doctor's appointment it was to a post-it letting me know my piece of the finished product was in the fridge. It was the cutest - and delicious!

(Later he explained he picked the clear glass so I could admire the layers and he tried to make them very even. Top Chef has had a big impact this summer.)

Recipes for the next 2 weeks!

Sun: Roasted Tomato Pasta Puttanesca, Chicken Meatballs (double batch to freeze half for next week).
Mon: Run Fast Eat Slow Fartlek Chili (made with Ground Bison), toppings, chips (TJ's Organic corn chips are THE BEST).
Tues: Big Salad Night! Big bowl of lettuce and all the things (tomato, carrot, cucumber, bell pepper, hard boiled egg, avocado, kidney beans, olives, cheese) and balsamic dressing.
Wed: Tacos, Mexican Rice, Refried Black Beans.
Thurs: Minestrone Soup with Farro
Fri: Out!
Sat: Pizza. I made Chicago Style Pizza again this past Saturday as a pre-Father's Day gift, thinking about trying a new crust this time... maybe this Detroit-style? I like as much carb as possible in my pizza pies...
Sun: Salmon (I coat the salmon in the rub and broil for a few minutes), Mashed Potatoes, Sauteed Vegetables.
Mon: Garlic Herb Spaghetti with Chicken Meatballs (using last week's double batch).
Tues: Dorito Taco Salad (I use a dash of Italian dressing in lieu of the Catalina in the recipe).
Wed: Red Beans and Rice, corn bread.
Thurs: Grandma Mary's Mexican Rice, all the toppings.