Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Holiday Adventures and Traditions

Happiest Holidays! For those who celebrate, I hope your Christmas was sparkly and cozy and happy. As we wind down on the last two days of 2020, I find myself reflective and hopeful for what 2021 can be. If nothing else, I feel I at least have my expectations set to an appropriately low and local starting place whereas 2020 began with far loftier hopes and plans for what the year would bring.
We spent Christmas with my parents in Houston. We missed them for Thanksgiving as they were quarantining after a Covid exposure, but after 6 weeks without symptoms and multiple negative Covid tests, we felt comfortable driving over to share the holiday with them. It was fun and lovely and full of all the thoughtful touches they bring to any stay, but my standout memory of the night is singing Christmas carols with my mom while FaceTiming in both sets of great-grandparents.
My mom's retirement goal was to learn piano. Breaking her arm while skiing last year delayed her a bit, but she worked hard to master a few carols before Christmas. And in a year without an in-person church service, standing around the piano and singing together is a sparkly memory in my heart.
After our fancy traditional Christmas Eve meal of flank steak, twice-baked potatoes, asparagus casserole, salad, and rolls, we changed into pj's and got ready for the gifts. Me, with nonalcoholic champagne in hand.
The gifts were, as always, thoughtful and fun. Another highlight was the fact that the kids decided to buy gifts for each other this year. I've never bought them gifts to/from each other, since it would be "from" them in name only and I loved that they decided to save up and exchange on their own. The preparation began weeks before Christmas with the saving up, requesting extra chores for extra dollars, online window shopping, agonizing over which selections their sibling would like most. And they got to feel that joyful anticipation of waiting for your gift to be opened by the recipient, you possibly more excited by them, and I loved how much they loved the giving part of the night.
They also made gifts for my parents (and James and I), as they always do. We take turns opening gifts on Christmas Eve, moving slowly from youngest to oldest and then back around again, so everyone can admire each item as we go. It's important to me that the kids see the adults giving and receiving thoughtful things from one another- it's a family holiday and everyone shares in its joys.
From James this year I got my own set of hand weights (I'd been borrowing the swim school's every time I worked out at home and they're usually outside, wet, and/or dirty, not that I've worked out once since Christmas, but that's what January is for), a beautiful set of fancy teas, two new mugs, including one that stores your tea bag alongside it, and, my favorite: a headache kit made up of every headache remedy google could find him, including the blue light glasses I'm wearing in the picture.
Other highlights of our brief stay in Houston: playing frisbee golf on an empty course on a beautiful Christmas Day, driving the golf cart to the park, playing Pickle Ball in the driveway, racing remote controlled cars around the backyard paths through the trees, learning a new card game, and eating my weight in food and sugar.
Also, my sister-in-law got me a mug with Maggie and me on it that says "World's Best Dog Mom" on the back and I love it.
After packing the car up to the rafters and hugging my parents goodbye, we returned home on Saturday and will remain here for the foreseeable future.
Unlike every year for the last eight, there will be no New Year's ski trip to Colorado to break up the winter holiday, but we're still trying to make it a fun respite from the usual grind. I've taken off work for this whole week and have very purposefully turned off my work phone so as not to casually check my email throughout my time off as I've been doing since we started working from home in March. I had no idea what a weight the dual monitors lurking in my bedroom corner had become until I turned them off and didn't preview their contents through the iPhone, so as not to log in "just to do this one thing" which then turns into five, which then turns into a lot of me telling the kids to get out of my room so I can work. I have been so very present- even in my time along with myself- in a way that I think has been really important and restorative.
Part of my goal for the break was to be purposeful with our time. This doesn't mean a packed schedule- I love a day of nothing, but I want it to be a purposeful day of nothing, not several of them in a row with me back at work feeling like we wasted our days together. So on Sunday we put away the Christmas decorations, cleaned the house, put away new things, and generally felt ready to live in the space again, and then talked as a family at dinner to make a plan for the week ahead, with one goal or activity per day.
On Monday we drove to a nearby state park to hike, picnic, and climb rocks.
I accidentally checked the weather for Houston (sunny with a high of 75!) and not Fort Worth (cloudy with a high of 52!) before we left, so I was a little chilly, but Lake Mineral Wells is a beautiful state park and the rock climbing was a great. We hardly saw a soul and enjoyed the solitude and scenery.
After two hikes we parked near a picnic area and scoped out a table. A woman at a nearby campsite yelled over, "are you guys looking to picni?" "Yep!" I yelled back, wondering if perhaps we were supposed to reserve a table. "We have shelter #3 over there on the point if you'd like to use our space, the kids would love to climb on the rocks and we're headed out on a hike."
It was the most thoughtful gesture and turns out, it was the site on the point that we'd been admiring from across the lake. The kids did love climbing on all the rocks jutting up from the lake and each picked one to eat their sandwiches on. We left them a note of thanks and headed home, with card games to play and jambalaya to make for dinner.
On Tuesday, we lounged and the kids played outside. At one point I realized I was alone in the livingroom midday and fired up the TV with Bridgerton- books I read ages ago and were surprised to see on my Netflix screen. The show is delightful and I was a little sad when my family rejoined me and I had to turn it off. Since then I've been sneaking in parts of episodes when possible, including from 6:30-8:30 this morning, with a cup of tea in a new mug, sleepy bulldog, and quiet house.
My goal for that day was to make pasties. For those who don't know, my grandma Mary is a Yooper from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and pasties (pronounced "pass-tees") are a long-held tradition there, beginning in the early 19th century when miners carried them down the mines to reheat on shovels over an open flame for lunch. They're based on the Cornish meat pie and I can't properly describe the magical combination of flaky shortcrust pastry stuffed tight with piping hot beef, potato, rutabaga, onion, and carrot. The only seasonings are salt and pepper and for reasons I can't explain, they taste AMAZING with ketchup.
Back when we used to visit my grandparents at their summer lake home in Wisconsin, we'd often drive over to my grandma's hometown of Ironwood, Michigan to see her old house and buy Yooper pasties from Joe's Pasty Shop. It's been years since we've been and I've missed the pasties so much. So, after much internet research, I became determined to make them and this became Tuesday's project. It took two stores to locate the lard and a rutabaga and the pastry cutter I'd ordered on Amazon arrived literally moments before I needed to begin.
The pastry was a bear- I've never made a shortcrust before and doubling the recipe on my first attempt probably wasn't the brighest, but despite my rolled out ovals looking more like amoebas, it came together okay. I was skeptical of the raw ground beef in the filling, but blindly followed directions anyway, adding a little pat of butter to each center as other blogs had directed me to do. I crimped the edges of each pasty most sloppily, despite my best attempts, and crossed my fingers as I cleaned up the kitchen during the cook time. These pasties are such an important memory and I didn't have any backup plans for dinner, but I need not have worried.
The were perfection. The pastry came out strong yet almost unbelievably flaky and light. The filling was tender and everything I remembered it to be. The kids were in raptures, James wanted to eat three, and I was choked up as I lifted it up and took my first bite. 12/10 highly recommend.
We have our menu planned out through January 8th and a fancy New Year's Eve charcuterie to look forward to tomorrow. Our last few New Year's have either been in Colorado or a combination of at home and partying with friends, so I thought I'd check in to see what you do for New Year's? Or what did you do once and think it would be fun to do again? Or read about, or heard a friend say? So far we have a menu of beloved appetizers and meats and cheeses, an eclectic playlist with 5 songs contributed from each person, and a list of games nominated by each family member. I got some surprise table decorations and hats for all, but would be happy to add a little something additional to the plan!

Menu: December 26 - January 8

Sat: Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo
Sun: Slow Cooker Pea Soup (I used 6 cups of broth instead of 7; smoked turkey legs instead of ham; extra 1 tsp. of garlic powder and onion powder), corn bread.
Mon: Oven Jambalaya, steamed green beans, Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits
Tues: Pasties!
Wed: Takeout! (on the way home from outdoor ice skating)
Thurs: Flank Steak, Charcuterie, Fruit, Raw Veggies, Crackers, Cocktail Meatballs (made into sliders with Hawaiian rolls and melted provolone cheese), and a Cookie Assortment for Dessert.
Fri: Eggs Benedict for brunch; our traditional Bermuda Hopping John for dinner (I don't have my mom's recipe written down, but this is similar!), corn bread.
Sat: Lasagna Florentine, salad, bread.
Sun: Mississippi Pot Roast (we can't stay away; also, I used a full stick of butter and I stand by that decision), mashed potatoes, cooked carrots, wheat rolls.
Mon: Chicken & Pineapple Teriyaki, carrots and broccoli, brown rice.
Tues: Taco Tuesday!, Mexican rice, black beans, toppings.
Wed: Vegetarian Chili, corn chips
Thurs: Chicken Meatballs with Peppers and Orzo, side salad.
Fri: Homemade Pizza!, possibly this Detroit style because I miss it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Rebecca the Red Nosed Reindeer and Other Stories of Holiday Magic

So I have Nasal Vestibulitis. It's a "rare type of bacterial infection at the opening of the nose." It makes the tip of my nose swollen, tender, and very red.

"I look like a clown," I lamented to James a few nights ago.

"Or," he responded, "in this holiday season, you could say you look like..."

Rudolph. I look like Rudolph. I've dubbed it Rudolph's Disease and sing extra loud when the song comes up on my Christmas playlist.

Yay for makeup

I went to the doctor on Monday and got topical and oral antibiotics. Apparently my tiny red nose requires multiple meds, plus a probiotic and decongestant because it was probably caused by me constantly squeezing my nose to clear it due to my chronically retracted ear drums. So now I have a chart because the oral antibiotics are 4x a day, while the topical is 2x a day, and the probiotic is only once but not within 2 hours of the antibiotic. It's ridiculous; all for a swollen little tip of a nose.
But it's timely, not only because we're almost upon Rudolph's night to shine, but because it was exactly 7 years ago yesterday that I, a 30-year-old well-read lawyer, googler, and mother of 3, first learned that reindeer were real.

[Scene: Visiting the Dallas Arboretum on a freezing day with all three kids, including our tiny 6-week old baby (#ThirdKid), to see Santa.]

Me: Oh look kids! It's Santa and one of his reindeer! *wink wink*

[The kids said hi to Vixen and then walked off with James to see Santa.]

Me, to the handler who almost certainly wasn't being paid enough: So, what animal is it really?

Handler: Um, it's a reindeer ma'am.

Me, motioning to the absent children: It's okay, you can tell me, they can't hear you.

Handler: Um, this is a reindeer.

Me, equally annoyed and impressed at the commitment to holiday magic: Yeah, okay.

[I walk off to join James.]

Me: So I tried to find out what kind of animal the pretend reindeer is, but the guy wouldn't tell me!

James: Um, that's a reindeer.

Me: Ugh, stop it! I really want to know!

James: Wait... do you not know that reindeer are real?

Me, googling: Oh my god.

James, dies of laughter. [End scene.]

The kids love that story and honestly, so do I. It's like the time I learned in college that snakes can climb stairs. I grew up in a house that bordered a forest and small creek. Snakes were a frequent guest in our yard and occasionally made it into the house via our cat. And while I liked snakes and often caught the garden variety ones to temporarily house in an old aquarium on our porch, I had one night where I guess I got scared that one would appear in my bed. My dad, probably tired and wanting alone time with my mom, told me snakes can't climb stairs. I took this as gospel truth and stubbornly believed it for YEARS despite knowing on some other level of my brain that snakes often live in very tall trees. My freshman year of college someone was telling a story about a snake that was found in an attic and I said, "No, they couldn't have; snakes can't climb stairs." There was also laughing- it's good to be humbled every now and then and I totally yelled at my dad the next time we talked on the phone.

But back to Christmas! While this is a strange and socially distant holiday season, we have been able to check off a few of our favorite traditions! Claire was able to perform in the 5th grade play, a mask-wearing, socially distant play that the music teacher filmed in small spread-out groups and then spliced dozens of video clips together because she is amazing and wanted to give the 5th graders a final play. Claire played "Mom" and Maggie played the puppy the little boy wants for Christmas and it was the very cutest.
The girls had their much anticipated annual Pajama Reading Day at school on Friday.
And I still got to read them our favorite Christmas book, Christmas Delicious, via Zoom from our living room. I wore my pajamas in solidarity, and not just because I'm pretty much always in pajamas. It was so special to still be able to read to them and I was surprisingly sentimental about the fact this was Claire's last PJ Reading Day. When Landon graduated 5th grade it felt okay since I had Cora about to start Kindergarten the next year, but now I'll just have one baby in elementary school and that seems impossible and gives me lots of feelings.
Maggie and Moose were also featured in the Zoom reading and the girls were so excited to show them to their classmates. It was a fun kick off to Winter Break for them.
Later that day, Moose got to open his stocking early and he was very excited about his new toys.
In other new toys, James designed holiday suits and they are the cutest.
Cora also wanted you to see her outfit for going out to net leaves from the pool.
On Monday we went to see Santa on my lunch break!
Maggie came too obviously. She's a Believer.
Cora wants a puppy, which is a hard no, so hopefully she'll be satisfied with legos, a marble run, and the perfect angel of a bulldog we already have.
My constant companion, she is beauty and grace and pure wrinkly love.
Also, pure love: my shipment of Twinings tea that got delivered yesterday. This is what happens when your friend recommended a tea you can't get in any nearby stores and the free shipping minimum is $50.
$51 and 13 boxes of tea later and I have quite the assortment now living in my old built-in wine storage rack. The Christmas Tea is perfection and Winter Spice and Peppermint Cheer are also lovely.

And while gingerbread houses aren't our usual treadition, a friend gifted us an extra set and the kids were very excited to put it together. They divided it into sections for decorating and then begged to eat it.
We tried to warn them that gingerbread houses don't usually taste like the soft, chewy, amazing gingerbread cookies their Gigi makes, but parents don't know anything.
Except when they do.

Their reactions cracked me up. They ate all the candy, we tossed the house, and considered it a successful holiday project. Then we drove around the neighborhood singing loudly to the Raffi Christmas album and admiring the lights. I'm on Day 62 and it's been a good month so far.

[I should also add that I am so enjoying and appreciating your comments and feedback. Each comment email that pops up in my inbox during the day is like a little hug from the outside world and it's the best. I've gone back to respond to the ones from the last few posts, but in case I missed any, I just wanted to say thank you for still being here when I wanted to write again and I wish you the Happiest of Holidays and a Joyful New Year.]

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens...

James and I wrapped presents one night last week and with that, our holiday preparations are done! The kids were so excited to see the gifts by the tree that morning and there have been LOTS of guesses as to what each box or bag might contain (you're allowed to touch and gently move the gifts for name identification purposes only, but no lifting or shaking; I did not make up these rules).
And so in the spirit of gift-giving and favorite things I thought I'd round up a few of my favorite online stores and items in hopes of finding some new ones of my own. I also have a $50 Amazon gift card that am determined to spend on something purely for myself, so I would love to hear your favorite things- an indulgence or practicality (I looooove a good hot nightly bath, candles, cozy things, tea, cute but comfortable clothing, fuzzy socks that might actually keep my chilly feet warm...) that would be a post-holiday treat. But what are the things you're most excited to give this year? Or most hoping to receive?

Sweet gifts from a friend

Rakuten. First up, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Rakuten (formerly Ebates). At my last check I've amassed a lifetime cash back total of $3,479.03 just by doing my normal online shopping. The cash back changes based on the store and day (Shutterfly was 15% the other day! usually it's 1% and Target, which is usually 1% was 5% yesterday, and Ebags was 20%(!!) on a day I happened to go buy a new suitcase) and you get a check in the mail every quarter. No financial informatoin is exchanged, you just use a link from the Rakuten website or app to go to your store and shop so your total can be tracked. This is my referral code- we both get $20 if you use it, but seriously, make sure you pay yourself for being the person in your family who probably does everyone's shopping.

Vuori. I heard of this brand for the first time when work-from-home first began. Desperate for lounge clothes that I could wear to take Maggie outside for potty breaks (not that my neighbors didn't see plenty of me in plaid PJ pants) I ordered joggers and a pair of long lounge pants they now don't seem to sell. The joggers were so soft, but too short (my legs are too long to look good in anything but full-length leggings; nothing hits at the rigth spot), but LOVE the loose lounge pants and wear them nearly every day. I got James this pair of pants for Christmas (shhh) and they are so soft and light and smooth that I occasionally take them out of the box just to pet them. I just saw they now have "long" joggers, so I may end up with another treat-yourself kind of item in the new year...

Free Fly. I've had the Bamboo Weekend Pullover for about 18 months and wore it all spring and summer. It's so light and breathable and I love the sun protection that's comfortable even in warm weather. (I hiked a mountain in sunny humid Curacao wearing that shirt and it's the only reason I wasn't burned.). This Black Friday I treated myself to a new offering- the Bamboo Thermal Fleece Pullover and it's possible I wore it every day last week (with the Vuori pants).

Blenders Sunglasses. I received the North Park - Rose Theater ones as a gift from a friend and loved them so much that 2 years later I finally bought an identical replacement pair and treated myself to the A Series - High Class Jes before Curacao and I love them both. (I got James these and he wears them every day. I've always been able to get them at least 40% off, so if you're interested, wait for a sale.) They're fun and well made and not so expensive that you have to beat yourself up if you lose them in a lake like I did once earlier this year.

Skinceuticals Emollience. I've tried many a moisturizer and always come back to this one. It's light and smooth but super moisturizing and nothing else feels as good going on my dry winter skin.

Nars Powermatte Lip Pigment - Save the Queen. I discovered this lipstick through a Sephora sample and now I have the full size in this great mauve-y color. It's matte, stays for hours, looks great on Zoom, and doesn't rub off on your mask. On days I want to look less like a pale, washed out attorney working in a dark corner of her bedroom, I pull this out and it makes me feel fancy.
We do a "Favorite Things" party with my mama friends each year. You can spend up to $25 on your "favorite thing(s)" from the year and you draw names to exchange what you brought. I always love what I get and leave with ideas of several other new things for myself or others when the party is over. Usually it's a sparkly and champagne-soaked evening affair, but this year we did it a little different with a smaller group for an "afternoon tea," outside only and spread out in chairs, but it worked and the holiday fun and mama fellowship were badly needed and still warmly felt, even from 6+ feet apart.
The favorite things I gifted this year were:

Meat Masher. I adore this tool and you should get one. Everytime I use it I can't believe I spent so many adult years without one.

Mask Lanyard. I don't run errands often these days, but when I do, I like having this around my neck for the off/on in the car between stops.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Mint Jo-Jo's. Cookie of champions. Available once a year, it is with ENORMOUS restraint that I restrict myself to one box.

Trader Joe's Chai Tea Concentrate. Shelf-stable, located in the bottle by the tea bags. I make one every morning around 10 a.m. with warmed skim milk, whisked in my saucepan until frothy, with a little squirt of vanilla syrup in the mug before pouring in the tea and you guys, I'm my own fancy barista and it's the best little mid-morning life-raft in an ocean of emails.

Insulated Mug. I bought this 2-pack to split between my two gifts, but any mug will do!
And the gifts I got were:

(1) Hot chocolate bomb the kids immediately wanted to claim (no) and these shower steamers that smell amazing and will be a nice complement to the bath salts I use at night.
(2) A hand-made blown glass candycane by a friend with far more talent than I have, earrings from a local artist, tea, and a face and eye mask I very much need to try because the wrinkles and dark circles are real.
It was such a fun afternoon with perfect weather and thoughtful gifts.
Other tiny favorites of mine from the last several months, perfect for a stocking:

Fuzzy Socks. I wear them all day, every day, and had to expand my collection. Meanwhile my shoes sit unworn and dusty in the closet.

Pens! Uniball Deluxe Micro Point Blue are my very favorite and when I'm down to a dozen I know it's time to order more.

Tweezerman tweezers. Everyone needs really good, really sharp/precise tweezers. I have a pair that lives in my travel toiletry bag and they've come in handy a million times over the years. Same with small nail scissors.

Measuring Spoons. I love this brand for the regular spoons and my stocking this year will be treated to this set with 2 tsp, 1.5 Tbl, and 2 Tbl scoops.

Bandaids. These, from Target, are adorable and are the only ones that my skin can tolerate for more than an hour. I still have to take them off within 24, but at least I can literally stop the bleeding first.

Miss Maple's Seeds. A random detour to children's books, I found this book for my niece for Christmas and it is the sweetest story. Highly recommend for the children in your life. I also got one for Cora's first grade teacher, who also taught Landon and Claire, and it is perfect for anyone who has taken temporary care of the little seeds in your life.

I'm still working this week, which is kind of the worst as everyone else in my house is out of school and swim lessons and having fun without me. And since I'm not at the office blissfully unaware and listening to Christmas carols, I KNOW they're having fun without me because I can hear them playing games in the house and yards. But the photos of all my medical field friends getting their Covid vaccines have been giving me life and I'm so excited about a gift, cookie, and tiny tradition filled end to the week ahead!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Human Kids are Also Here

So most of the pictures on my phone are of our animals, but thanks to a 3 month backlog I was able to unearth a few of the human children!
First up, the teenager.
Landon, now 13, is a gangly delight.
He is obsessed with our cat, whom he has dubbed "Da Dubba Tiny Moose", a name he sings in the most unique and absurd voice- a voice that absolutely forces you to crack up each and every one of the 100 times a day that he does it.
He carries Moose around the house, sings Moose original songs, and has Moose sleep under the covers with him every night. Claire still loves having a cat, but Landon was a closet Crazy Cat Gentleman and none of us - including him - saw it coming. (I was typing this paragraph at 9:08 p.m. last night and Landon just walked through the living room holding Tiny Moose up against his chest, singing him a bedtime song, as he takes him to their room.)
He went back to school in person in late September. It's a little weird, of course, but he's glad to be there. About half the students in his classes seem to be in person and half are at home. Everyone is super spread out and of course masks are worn all day and it seems to be working? Lunches are a little sad- they're SUPER spread out, as they need to be, so there's no socialization and everyone stares at their phones, except he doesn't have one so he brings his Chromebook and plays a typing game. Thirteen years of raising kids without electronics at meals or restaurants and here we are [insert shrug]. He rides his bike to and from school, so I often forget he's still here after we've gotten the girls off and he'll surprise me by popping in my bedroom office to chat around 8 a.m. which is the best.
He's funny and smart and can run very fast for a very long time. Still into climbing things he shouldn't, and now also jumps to and over all the things all the time.
His sisters think he is the most hilarious human on the planet, which only encourages him, and so much of dinner is spent laughing and then trying to get everyone to stop laughing so they'll eat something.
He does all the dishes every night (by far the best big kid benefit so far; it has been life-changing to sit and chat with James at the table after dinner while the dishes are done), wipes the counters, does all his laundry, and takes out the recycling.
Frankly, teenage Landon is a delightful Landon and we enjoy him so very much.
Next up, our 10-year-old!
Claire has grown 2 inches in the last 6 months, wears a women size 7 shoe, finally changed sizes (she was a girls medium for like 15 years) and LOVES her new clothes and booties.
Of our three, she has probably enjoyed all our extra time together the very most. Claire LOVES school and loves her friends and loves her activities, but she also really really just loves all being in the same room together at the same time. A Claire under a stay-at-home-order is a happy Claire.
She was actually the last to go back to in-person school (our district did a staggered start based on grades) and though I think she really enjoyed her last two weeks as an virtual learning only child, she was quite ready when it was her turn. As with Landon I think it's going as well as it can!
The teachers are incredible, the students are far more tolerant of their all day masks than the average adult seems to be, and all the protcols are being followed. Our school is Title I and majority low economic status and I'm so glad they've found a way for the kids to be safe, fed, and educated in the building.
She's an enthuastic crafter who rarely finishes her projects, a hugger, a planner, and a singer who always has a song in her heart and playing on our speakers. She wipes the table after dinner, empties the dishwasher each morning, cleans the litterbox each night, does her laundry, and takes out the trash.
We walk the girls to school every morning. We started it went Cora went back in October and have continued any morning it's not raining or below 40 degrees. Maggie loves it and now knows when it's supposed to be time to walk to school for drop-off and pick-up. It's also great for me to get out of the house and move a little and I love walking the girls to the corner of the property, where they mask up and march in for their temp checks, and then walking back with just James, holding hands and chatting about whatever pops in our heads.
Cora, our enthusiastic and independent little 7-year-old actually went back to school first and oh was she EXCITED about it.
Cora is very strong, a super fast runner, and still wants to pet every dog who passes by our house.
She wears her bunny mask every day and loves every minute of being a first grader. She loves to write stories, illustrate them in GREAT and painstaking detail, and will read books for hours.
She is the only kid in our house I will let paint in the dining room unattended and know that nary a drip of paint will fall anywhere she doesn't want it to go.
Her favorite color is purple, she loves gymnastics and dancing to her own rhythm. She often disappears during the day to go work on some project or other task that just popped into her head and requires no help or interaction of any kind. She's busy and focused, yet easily distracted. Confident and compotent and capable of losing thirty minutes playing with her hair in the mirror. She is currently putting on a performance in our living room without an audience or music. Her chores are clearing the table at night, taking larger individual items out to the recycle bin, picking up Maggie's poop, and folding and putting away all her clothes.
We've been able to take our pack on a few socially distanced adventures. We rented a cabin in Utopia, Texas in October and hiked at two state parks (Garner and Lost Maples; both beautiful!).
We've done the Arboretum Children's Garden and lots and lots of neighborhood walks.
And of course, lots of playing in the house and yard. They started having sleepovers in the girls' room early in the pandemic and they still do on most Friday and Saturday nights. Landon still loves playing- tag, games, forts, anything involving imagination- he's just here for playing with his sisters in a way I was completely over by 13 and I love it so much. (I believe they were Santa's sleigh below?) I continue to love our three-pack and am so grateful for how much joy the give each other and us every day.
And that's the update on the human children! Everyone is good and healthy and whole and anytime I feel overwhelmed it helps so much to zoom out and remind myself of exactly that. It's been a weird year, but a good one in many ways and I feel like we've learned so much more about each kid in this strange, extra time we've had together.
Though I am not opposed to spending less time with each of them at some point in 2021...