Saturday, October 9, 2021

Right Now

I'm hanging out with our broken-armed child while her siblings are at swim practice.
My parents sent her an Amazon gift card so we're watching all the movies from my childhood, currently Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which has some terribly misogynistic messaging, but also great dance scenes and Jane Powell. In one of the first scenes when Adam brings Milly to the homestead and tells her to get dinner ready, Cora turned to me absolutely outraged, "he's not going to help?!! Mom!!" Her favorite part so far is when Milly hits all their hands with a spoon. Will be interesting to explain the stealing of the women and the Stockholm syndrome and marriages that result at the end. Ah beloved childhood classics!
Last Saturday, after a week full of missing all the fun things and being incredibly cheerful about it, I took her to get her first pedicure. And let me tell you, she is a FAN.
I've mostly adjusted to my new shorter hair. The first time I washed it was a shock, but it dries so quickly that I've actually dried it (almost) every day! I'm almost like a real grown up!
Landon had his first middle school dance and it was apparently very fun, though he did NOT dance. James, who went to all-boys private schools his whole life was shocked at his failure to capitalize on an opportunity to mingle with girls, but Landon was like eh, I see them everyday.
Claire has her next dance next Friday and cannot WAIT.
The kids continue to have sleepovers every Friday and Saturday night (and this past Thursday and this Sunday night thanks to a short Fall break) and I realized I didn't have a picture of this regular occurence that is just one of my favorite things.
Life continues to be weird and normal. I work from home, Cora visits me every day when she gets home from school and tells me about her day and sings to the cat. And then she goes to eat a snack and play with her horses or draw pictures and I go back to my legal work and this is normal now.
It's October 9th and fall simply refuses to come. Maggie desperately wants to wear her seasonal sweaters, but has to make due with a tutu instead because it's too hot for anything else.
I keep trying to take her on walks because exercise is good for us, but she just wants to sit in the yard and look pretty.
Meanwhile Milo has promoted himself to my supervisor and spent all day Thursday micromanaging my work.
He has very high standards.
And apparently I was not meeting them.
Sorry Milo, I'll try harder next week. Meanwhile we're still earnestly pretending fall is here. We made Trader Joe's haunted cookie houses.
And yesterday we used the kids' school holiday for our favorite fall tradition - the Arboretum Pumpkin Village! With the traditional stop at Tacodeli for 18 tacos (actual count) which were devoured in mere minutes.
We've been going to the pumpkin village since 2013 when I was 8 months pregnant with Cora.
The kids keep getting bigger, but their love of a good pumpkin house remains the same.
As does their penchant for sticking close together in their little trio.
A kidpack if you will.
This year's theme was Bugtopia and they did a great job.
Nothing like sweating through your bra in 96 degrees surrounded by pumpkins. Fall in Texas! So crisp and refreshing.
Cora obviously followed her doctor's directions and walked at a safe and moderate pace.
Absolutely no running through hedges without looking where she's going.
That would be unsafe.
The kids solved the riddle of the children's garden maze, and were JUST as excited about it as they were last year.
Any time we go anywhere I get home and realize I have 67 pictures of the three of them together taken from behind where I'm strolling with James. And I just love them. Because that's generally our view the whole time we're anywhere - the three of them racing ahead to enthusiastically explore all the things, and James and I holding hands and walking like normal people behind them, smiling at their exclamations over everyday things they've probably seen before.
It's the best.

And now, food!

Sat: Chicken Enchilada Chili, toppings.
Sun: Driving to San Antonio and back to visit the grandparents, so probably stopping on the way home.
Mon: Sheet Pan Roasted Veggies and Sausage (I use that recipe as a base with chicken sausage and change up the veggies), Garlic Parmesan Orzo.
Tues: Black Bean Tortilla Pie (family recipe), side salad.
Wed: Fettucini with prosciutto and peas.
Thurs: White Bean Soup, bread.
Fri: Homemade Pizza.
Sat: Lasagna Soup, bread, side salad.
Sun: Out for a fancy family dinner to celebrate James's 40th birthday!!!
Mon: Mississippi Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Carrots, Rolls (James's chosen birthday meal).
Tues: Chicken Verde Enchiladas, Mexican Rice, Black Beans.
Wed: Cauliflower Soup, bread.
Thurs: Pasta with Vodka Sauce
Fri: Date night!

Maggie hopes you have the very best week ahead.

Friday, October 1, 2021

The Last 8 Days

Hi all and welcome to October! September was busy and then it was bad and now here we are. I want to go back and fill in early September because it was wonderful- we surprised my mom for her 65th birthday and the kids met their newest, tiniest cousins and James and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary and the 20th anniversary of our first date. Claire had her first dance, Landon had a girl ask him out, and Cora played her first outdoor soccer game and scored her first goal! Maggie loved us through all of it.
There is and was so. much. good.
Also in September I applied for a promotion that was very wanted and much anticipated. A few interview rounds later and I found out I was not selected and it was such a devastating blow. I'm not going to get into the work part, but on the personal side, I just want to capture a few of the brutiful snippets of life that followed.
Cora was quietly working on her homework on my bed while I finished out my work day and received the call with the news. She looked up, saw my face fall, and whispered, "you didn't get it?". I shook my head and she quietly and carefully set down her work, got off the bed, and walked over to give me a long, quiet hug while I continued the call and it was such a source of genuine comfort.

Later, when the big kids were dropped off at home, I heard Cora run out the front door and knew she was probably warning them of the news, since they'd burst in the house to ask me for an update each day that week, and she didn't want me to have to answer. Landon walked in and says with an encouraging nod, "I'm sorry mom. Okay, so it's time to talk about our options? Let's talk about it at dinner." Claire immediately cried out, "but I don't want to move!" and Landon interjects with "Claire, can we talk in your room?".

Ten minutes later, Claire walked into my bedroom office with a house she'd found in another city I'd semi-jokingly said we'd move to if I didn't get the new role. "We can move mom, it's fine! I want you to be happy and I might even get my own room!" (Note: I don't actually think we're moving, but man do my children love me.)

James wasn't home yet, so he had no idea, and I just can't tell you how wonderful it is to feel such love and outrage and "we'll figure this out together"-ness from your own only semi-grown children. I cried my eyes out after they left for swimming, but their support and empathy for me was just another side of how much I love this little family of ours.

And then James himself was utterly pitch perfect. I got to feel all my feelings, he was here for ALL of them, we had some really good talks that even got into his as-yet-unshared feelings when he lost his job back in 2012, and eventually I almost got mad that he wasn't giving me anything to get mad at him for and he exclaimed, "Oh! We've moved to anger now! Great! You can yell at me if you want." And so of course I couldn't.

My family sent flowers. My sister dictated the expletive-filled card to a florist who refused to transcribe it. I reached out to mentors, friends sent cookies, and I gave myself space.

James and I went out for a date night on Friday - not the celebratory night I envisioned, but lovely as always to sit and talk with my favorite person.
On Saturday I taught my yoga class (I'm teaching a new 6-week yoga series at Urban Yoga, it's also available on the streaming service for you to take live or at your convenience later on. The studio has a $25 unlimited monthly streaming membership if anyone is interested! You could fit in the remaining 5 classes in one month. I get to wave at one blog reader already - hi Amanda!) and then took Cora to her soccer game.
A soccer game at which she tripped, fell, and broke her arm. Because the Universe was still mad at me and decided to drag her into it.
We went immediately to urgent care where they confirmed the break and set her up in a soft cast until we could get into the orthopedist.
We got into the ortho on Tuesday where she got her giant purple hard cast that has been considerably more comfortable for her than the soft one.
She's doing great, remains cheerful, and is enjoying the attention of everyone helping her at school and wanting to sign her cast.
In the days between the break and the cast, I managed to treat myself to a BBL facial and personal stylist shopping appointment at Nordstrom, both optimistically scheduled prior to knowing The News, but kept anyway because retail therapy is real and I decided I was still worth it.

I love a good laser facial and my skin was glowing the day after this one. This was my first time getting one at a doctor's office instead of a medical spa and they had a new machine that was painless, quick, and very effective. Big fan. I'm not wearing face makeup below and resisted the urge to put a filter on the photo.
The personal shopping appointment was really great. I've gained about 10 lbs in these Covid Times and they don't seem to be disappearing (then again, neither is Covid) and rather than continuing to get depressed and be mean to myself whenever I put on clothes, I decided to bring in a third party with a new eye and fresh perspective on what fits and flatters me.


the outfit I wore to the appointment, which I picked out all by myself

The appointment is free and the stylist reached out to me a few days in advance for sizing, preferences, needs, etc. When I arrived she had already pulled a number of items into a large dressing room and then we worked from there.

I tried on many things and ultimately selected the following items, all of which I really love, and some of which I actually really needed:

(1) Nordstrom Everyday Skinny Fit Stretch Cotton Ankle Pants. Kind of boring, but I didn't actually own black dress/work pants, because I'm terribly about buying staples and these are so flattering and comfortable and I really love them.
(2) Halogen Suplice Blouson Top. This is probably the only top I would have picked out myself without help and while I tried to stay away from things I could have found myself, I loved this one enough to buy it anyway. It's comfortable and flattering and looks great with the new black work pants or the white jeans I wore it with to lunch this week.
(3) KUT from the Kloth Jasmine Top. I would never have selected this top to try on and I just adore it. The colors are so pretty and it's so light and gauzy.
(4) Free People Gather Print Turtle Neck. This was the 2nd biggest surprise find and another I would have NEVER thought to wear. But it is so cute and so light and I just really love it. It looks great casual with jeans or under a blazer.
(5) Halogen Open Front Long Blazer. And speaking of, I didn't have a blazer that fit and now I do and this one is really flattering and light and still gives me a decent shape.

(I also forgot to take a picture in it because I knew I was going to buy it; the rest of these were snapped to send my sister and mom to assist me in my selections, though they mostly just wanted me to buy everything :)

(6) Finally, and I don't have a link for this one because it's not online yet, this dress that I scoffed at when I saw it in the dressing room - no way would I look good in a high neck, high waisted, bottom flounced, animal print dress.
And then, I just completely fell in love. It has a big tie in the back up at the neck and it is so pretty and makes me smile everything I think about it. No idea where I'll wear it yet, but it was my one fully indulgent, "this dress makes me feel amazing and I'll figure the rest out later" purchase and I have no regrets.
My parents stopped by on their drive up to Colorado and then Utah (they're doing much of the same trip we just did!) and I only took one picture- mostly to memorialize the fact that this is how Landon sprawls on the couch every night to chat with James and me. Sometimes he's completely upside down, but he's never fully rightside up and I stopped even noticing it until I saw him "sitting" next to my dad while they were chatting away. 14 remains a complete goddamn delight of an age.
And finally, I capped off Day 8 by chopping off 8" of my hair and I think I love it?
I haven't had hair this short in at least 15 years, so it's a bit of a shock, but it feels lighter and easier and I'm here for both of those things.
So that's where I'm at.

Landon is off to his first middle school dance tonight (he's vaccinated, it's outdoors, he voluntarily changed into a fresh shirt for the occasion), Claire playing with some new friends (she is THRIVING in middle school and loving every minute), and Cora and her broken arm are drawing Halloween scenes to tape onto our windows (it's her left arm and she's right-handed, thankfully). I have chicken noodle soup simmering on the stove, Great British Baking Show on TV (new season!), and two cats and a bulldog within a non-broken arm's reach. James will be home soon and we'll watch the new Ted Lasso episode when the kids are in bed. I'm still sad, but that's okay, because things are also really good and I've learned I can embrace both of those feelings at the same time.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

UTAZ Day 9: Page, AZ - Horseshoe Bend & Lower Antelope Canyon

Back to vacation recapping (also, I added reviews to the meals we've cooked so far on yesterday's menu plan because man our first two have been delicious!). On Day 9 we said a nearly tearful goodbye to our yurt. We LOVED our glamping home and its homemade breakfasts, comfortable style and space, and most of all the kids *loved* their loft (the second bedroom remained unused the whole stay 😂). Landon is now going to live in a yurt when he grows up and the girls look forward to visiting him.
We drove down Scenic Byway 12 one more time, waving at the parks we’ve visited so far and saying a happy hello to Arizona- a new state for the kids! The Navajo Nation reopened the Antelope Canyon tours one week before we arrived and we were thrilled to add a stop in Page on our way to the Grand Canyon. We arrived early due to some confusion about time zones (Arizona does not observe daylight savings time, but the Navajo Nation does, it's VERY CONFUSING as you cross back and forth in the same few miles), but that gave us time to run over and hike to the iconic Horseshoe Bend!
Parking is $10 and then it's a short half-mile walk to the Bend.
It's pretty crazy to see the river turn so tightly around the rock, though seeing the very teeny tiny kayakers below gave some perspective on the size of it all.
Pictures taken, we took our now sweaty selves back to the Navajo Nation tour location. There are only two operators with permission to enter Antelope Canyon from the elder matriarch- Ken's Tours and Dixie's Tours (fun fact: Ken and Dixie are brother and sister). The tribe was hit hard by Covid and our guide Stacy explained that August was a trial period to see if they could allow tours without putting themselves at too much risk. Masks were required at all times and the tour groups were kept very small.
Our group was just our five and Stacy and it was really an honor to get to walk through the canyon with her, hear her stories, and soak up her knowledge and history. The whole experience was one of my favorite parts of a trip full of favorites.
First you walk across flat land that makes you wonder where this giant slot canyon could actually be.
Then you walk down a long line of steep steps and BAM.
There it is.
The color, the movement, the light...
It was incredible.
Absolutely otherworldly in its shapes and motion and beauty.
The kids immediately declared it their new favorite moment of the trip and we all felt blessed to be shown through such a beautiful and sacred space.
Our guide pointed out so many fun shapes and images in the stone.
Like Bruce the shark from Finding Nemo.
And this woman with her long flowing hair.
Standing under the profile of an Indian chief.
And inside the teardrop.
I keep saying it, but my overall memory of this tour is just feeling so lucky to get to walk through this spectacular fissure in the earth.
It's an extraordinary place.
To be surrounded by this vibrant orange and look up to the bright blue far above you...
At the end, you climb back up a long ladder to the sun and flat earth all around.
From Page we pressed on to the Grand Canyon and checked in to our very classic motel room at Maswick Lodge inside the park. We were in Cottonwood, which incidentally was the same name as our yurt. This wasn't quite that fancy, but it was clean and serviceable and great to be less than a quarter-mile from the Rim, shuttles, restaurants, and hikes.
We walked to Bright Angel Lodge for our first view of the Grand Canyon (it is very big; like so big it's hard to wrap your head around the scale of it all), ate a tasty dinner at Fred Harvey Tavern, let everyone have ice cream for dessert, and set our alarms for 4:30 a.m. to see the sunrise because my family loves me and humors me so.
One more big day of our epic journey left to go!