Sunday, June 27, 2021

Fun, Frenzy, and Forehead Cancer

Y'all there is too much to catch up on for one post. I'm going to try but this may be a two-parter. We have been SO busy and then I have worked every minute not actively doing something else (and sometimes also while doing that) and still squeezing out my one hour of yoga because without it I think I might just fall apart.

Maggie gets it

And while I don't really have time to write this post, my motivations are strong, namely; (1) the aforementioned near-falling-apart and need to see/hear my blog community; (2) James and I both love reading back on these posts years later; (3) Landon keeps bugging me about it ("Mom, do your readers get mad at you when you don't post? Because it's been WAY too long."); and (4) I need my menu posted so I can easily re-find each recipe I picked out while watching the Big Shot finale with the kids last Friday. So hello friends, I hope you are further back on the overwhelmed spectrum than I am.

medicinal mid-week secret Sonic ice cream stop

So 8 days/several lifetimes ago, the kids had their last day of school. Landon is now in 8th grade, one year shy of high school, and James is in pre-mourning for his eventual high school graduation.
Cora is now a 2nd grader and will never be in the same school as a sibling again, which I find sad and Cora finds totally fine because she's got this.
Claire graduated 5th grade and became a middle schooler.
We went shopping to pick out her dress as part of her birthday present the week before and she felt very grown-up about the whole thing.
I can't believe she's done with elementary school or that I now have TWO middle schoolers but I am so extraordinarily thankful for our sweet public school that has so lovingly guided her through her early education. She has such an enthusiasm for learning and is so blessed with her memories and experiences from the last six years.
Sweet girl on her first day of Kinder, which feels like maybe only 2-3 years ago.
Since this year's crop of 5th graders didn't get to do a lot of the traditional 5th grade things (like the field trip to Austin I chaperoned for Landon), our little friend group decided to throw a graduation party for our four graduating girls. We decorated with posters and pictures of the four of them through the years, had a nacho bar, and ranch water table (tequila, Topo Chico, fresh lime, ice - the best), beer cooler, and giant cake from Costco and it was perfect.
I was SO HAPPY to have people at my house again.
And the kids seemed to have a great time.
I think we all missed hanging out because James didn't even play "Closing Time" on the speakers until 10 p.m. and nearly everyone was still here.
We cleaned up, packed up, crashed hard, and then woke up at 6 a.m. so I could drive the kids to Houston for my sister-in-law's babies shower AND to drop the kids off at Papa and Gigi camp!!

And so we drove and drove to my parents' house, changed into party clothes and dropped Landon off for a fishing adventure with his Uncle Eric, and checked in on my dad who had developed an infected tooth the day before which was now making him look like a chipmunk and putting PapaGigi Camp in grave doubt. I wore a dress I bought in February before Covid that still had the tags on.
The girls and I headed to Kingwood, another hour+ away, with my mom for Aunt Tamires's baby (babies!) shower.
It was just beautiful and so fun to see family friends I hadn't seen in years. I still can't believe our family is being blessed with twins, but they'll be here in just a few more weeks and have many books, diapers, and baby entertainment devices waiting for them!!
Doesn't she look amazing? We're all so excited.
As we drove back from the shower it became clear my dad needed an emergency root canal and was in no place to entertain grandchildren, so my very disappointed, but very sweet children who tried so hard not to show it, piled back in the car with me to drive all the way back to Fort Worth.

I must confess, I was just as disappointed - I knew I had SO much work to do and was really looking forward to doing it guilt-free while grabbing late dinners with James (such an exciting life; what are you plans for your child-free week? Oh, just working ALL THE TIME, and also eating food I didn't make) and I didn't handle it nearly as well as the kids.

The next day was Father's Day, so James was very excited to have the kids around for that even if I was still in mourning. But James always loves having our ducklings all together at home. Anytime a kid spends the night, the first thing he says to me the next morning is, "when are we picking up X? can we text the parents now?" And I throw my pillow at him because it's like 7 a.m. and no.
We ate brunch AND dinner (and dessert!) out because screw it and then James planned the rest of the week's meals because I didn't want to cook.
And then began a week of James being slammed with his new summer session lessons (still at our house, omg), me being slammed with work, and the kids also present without a camp or parental supervision. Cue flashbacks to sumer 2020.
But they kept busy, I almost mostly didn't break down, and James had the life drained out of him from being in the sun all day Mon-Fri supervising his enterprise. Oh, I also had two doctor's appointments - allergy food testing (cow's milk, corn, and tomatoes were flagged, which is basically a nacho platter which is my favorite food, but the doctor thinks my eczema can be controlled with a better ointment we're going to try first). I also got a biopsy at the dermatologist for a spot on my forehead that's been stubborn and bleeding any time I pick at it.
One biopsy and a few days waiting later and it's confirmed as skin cancer, a-fucking-gain and I was so sad. It's a basal cell carcinoma again, which is for sure the least scary kind of cancer, but I just hate - I HATE - that it's in the middle of my forehead, I'll have another damn scar, and my skin is just betraying me. The surgery is scheduled for July 6. In related news, I wear visors now. Ugh.
James and I did sneak out for a date night at a new restaurant on Wednesday night, just so we could have a face-to-face conversation, something we'd both been too busy to do the previous four nights when we passed out in bed after closing our computers sometime around 11.
It was lovely and delicious and then hot tea was my dessert so I could turn comments in a documents while he attempted to sleep behind me. I'm sure the clicking of my keys was very soothing and romantic.
I worked a lot more, snuck in yoga, mourned my forehead, and didn't sleep very much. Hopefully the week ahead will be better. And to get us there, here is a Maggie story from sometime mid-week.
Scene: Maggie head-butts her way through a door a human child failed to close properly and settles in to the flaming hot grass.
Me: Maggie! You have to come back inside, it's too hot.
Maggie: I would prefer to be roasted whole at 105 degrees.
Me: No, you're scar is getting burned. Come inside.
Maggie, turns head: I can't see you.
Me: You're hot to the touch.
Maggie: I love it.
Me: [Points to the house with authority]
Maggie: [Closes her eyes to better soak up the flames of the sun]
Me: Fine! Roast Yourself!
Also Me: [Picks up the bulldog and carries her inside while telling her she's perfect.]
I love her so much. Now, food!

Fri: Chicken Picatta, whole wheat spaghetti, side salad (delish!)
Sat: Beet and Goat Cheese Salad (this was great! I added some apple cider vinegar to the dressing because vinegar is my favorite).
Sun: Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Potato Salad, Watermelon, Corn on the Cob
Mon: Pulled Pork Enchiladas (with the leftovers), Mexican Rice, Black Beans
Tues: Pizza Melts, whatever sides I can pull from the fridge at that point - raw veg, fruit, and chips?
Wed: Ang's Creamy Tortellini Soup
Thurs: Gyros, Greek Salad, Naan, Tzatziki
Fri: Cashew Crunch Salad with Sesame Dressing
Sat: Shrimp Tacos, cilantro lime rice, black beans. (Once a year I try to like shrimp; I really think this recipe might do it).
Sun: Takeout BBQ for the 4th, some sort of dessert- maybe magic bars with thematic m&m's?
Mon: Honey Mustard Chopped Chicken Salad
Tues: Pineapple Pork with Coconut Rice
Wed: Pesto Pasta Salad (whole wheat penne, cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, diced grilled chicken, kalamata olives, tossed with Costco's pesto because it's amazing)
Thurs: Strawberry Crunch Salad
Fri Roasted Tomato Pasta Puttanesca with Chicken Meatballs

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Mid-June Madness

Spring Madness continues! [Author's note, I wrote most of this on Sunday between barre and dinner but didn't quite finish, so references to times and dates are fluid.]

I just got back from teaching my barre class, which continues to give me SUCH a high. I had two new/old students walk through the door today, both delighted I was back teaching, and it just warms my whole heart to be reunited with each one. Teaching has given me so much, but my favorite thing is the community. I leave the studio each week smiling so big and sweating so much and it's just such a highlight.
While in New York, I missed Cora's first field day. She's been looking forward to it FOR YEARS and then Covid took away her Kindergarten chance and then work took me away from her 1st Grade round, but James filmed every single event and I watched them on breaks. This one had me nearly cheering out loud- look at her go!

Cora LOVES to run and is fiercely competitive and field day is definitely her new favorite thing. Besides perhaps soccer, which she also just started.

Landon and Claire had each retired from soccer by the time they were her age, but by the third baby, I'd decided soccer for 3-year-olds was not our thing and Cora never seemed interested, so I kept letting registration deadlines pass. Last spring she asked to play and then Covid hit and well, here she is at almost 8, playing in her first soccer game.
And she LOVES IT. Running? Stealing the ball? Kicking things? RUNNING?! What could possibly be better? I missed her first two practices for NY (apparently she asked to go to an extra one) but I was there for her first game and I look forward to many more!
Speaking of NY, my two months of workouts enabled me to fit back into one of my favorite dresses, so that was nice!
I wonder when putting on real clothes and heels and makeup won't make me feel like I need to document the occasion? Because right now it feels these dressy, dried-hair moments deserve a scrapbook page.
When I returned, very late Wednesday night after a very delayed flight, it was to jump back into more work and then Claire's field day!
Her last one, she was SO excited I made it.
She placed first in the Hula Hoop - a 6 year streak!
And first in the wheelbarrow race and the egg toss, and decidedly not first in the shoe kick or 5-yard-dash.
Landon continues to heal from his own athletic endeavors and is walking almost normally! And sweet fluffy Milo continues to be an excellent therapy cat.
Speaking of Milo, Sir would like to know what we're having for dinner. Can he get a menu please?
Sure Milo.

Thurs: Summer Soup (in the crockpot with extra farro and green beans instead of zucchini; try it with the plain yogurt, fresh lemon juice, and parmesan toppings - RIDICULOUS).
Fri: Lasagna. Landon will be at a birthday party so we are eating something with ALL THE CHEESE that is deliciously baked into every bite.
Sat: Carbo loading before the kids' first summer league swim met! Roasted Tomato Puttanesca, leftover frozen chicken meatballs.
Sun: Swim dinner with friends: Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad, Watermelon.
Mon: Grandma Mary's Mexican Rice, toppings, chips.
Tues: Rainbow Chicken Salad
Wed: Black Bean Quesadillas, Mexican rice, avocado slices on the side.
Thurs: Antipasto Tomato Salad (it's a crazy night with everyone doing something at some point, so this way everyone can eat a bowlfull anytime they're here!)
Fri: Last Day of School/Elementary Graduation Party! We're hosting and there will be a nacho bar and cake and margarita machine.
Sat: Gas station snacks? I will be driving back from Houston after attending my sister-in-law's baby (babies!) shower and dropping off the kids for 5 days at Camp Papa Gigi.
Sun: DATE NIGHT. No idea where, but we will flirt and eat and enjoy the hell out of being near one another without children
Mon: Beet and Goat Cheese Salad, shredded rotisserie chicken mixed in.
Tues: Probably out again? We still won't have the kids, so who knows- I could go to the store at the last second and whip up a late dinner or we could grab something out. The culinary world is our oyster.
Wed: Same as Tuesday. Maybe this Mango Salad?
Thurs: The kids return! This will be cooking in the crockpot while we go get them. Crockpot Red Beans and Rice, Cornbread.
Fri: Greek Pasta Salad, Gyro Meat (from TJ's).

Friday, June 11, 2021

Rescue Pets: Inaugural Team Meeting

Moose: I now call this meeting to order.

Milo: I was told there would be snacks?

Maggie: [Deaf, but somehow understands her presence is expected and happy as always to be included.]

Moose: The humans have changed our kibbles and I would like to lodge a complaint.

Milo: Kibbles? Where?

Maggie: Everything is so great and I'm so glad the cats think so too.

Moose: In terms of retribution, I'm currently glaring at the head human whenever I'm near my bowl. What steps are you taking?

Milo: Sometimes I try to nap and eat at the same time.

Maggie: I love naps and also eating.

Moose: Next, sometimes I grace a human with my presence and then they move before I am ready. I'm currently on day 3 of ignoring one of them for adjusting their legs during my second mid-morning nap. I expect you all to join me.

Milo: I love naps.

Maggie: I love everything.

Moose: Next, sometimes my toy spring goes under the couch and remains there for hours before someone fetches it for me so I can hit it back under again. This process should repeat itself much faster.

Milo: I don't like toys that require running.

Maggie: Do you think I will get cheese again with my dinner?

Moose: Next, the humans trimmed my nails last night, neutralizing my natural weapons. How can I now flay the skin of my enemies?

Milo: My fur is so fluffy.

Maggie: Sometimes I get a piece of cheese with my dinner.

Moose: Next, the new cat keeps taking my favorite nap spot and no one is fixing it.

Milo: Naps!

Maggie: Cheese!

Moose: The revolution begins at dawn.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

One Week Full of All the Things

Things have been SO BUSY. I thought that our delayed start and thus delayed end to the school year (the kids don't get out until June 18th!) might make late May/early June less insane, but no! It's just the nature of the season I suppose, but I do love this time of year and LOVE that some of the people and interactions I've missed over the last 15 months are slowly making their way back into my life. I'm actually back in NY again today- this time in lower Manhattan, my room on the 52nd floor looks directly at the river and the 9/11 memorial which is deeply poignant. The last time I was in this part of NY I was at the top of the WTC with my best friend Sean in September 2000.
I woke up early and did a full workout in my hotel room (haven't missed a workout in 45 days!) and now have 30 minutes before I need to walk to my first meeting, so I'm going to try to bang out a quick update. We'll see how it goes. (Lol, definitely didn't finish, now working a little more before dinner.)

(1) My parents visited on Memorial Day! We were the last stop on their 3-week road trip through the National Parks of the Pacific Northwest. They had an incredible time and we were glad to be their last itinerary item. We canceled their February trip for my birthday due to Landon's positive Covid test, so my mom and I finally embarked on some VERY overdue birthday shopping while my dad remained trapped indoors in the rain with three energetic kiddos.
As always, shopping with my mom is just THE BEST and we hit up the Clearance Dillards hydrated and vaccinated and ready to roll. A few highlights:
Oh my gosh Rebecca- A GOLD BOOTIE!

Oh Rebecca, wouldn’t THIS be fun??! Gold animal print heels? With a black dress? I don’t normally buy things like this.

Rebecca, you must keep me focused. I ONLY need a pair of black wedges WITHOUT rope.”

[minutes later]

Rebecca look what I found!
Mom those are not black or wedges.”
No I found those too see!
[Unearths another pair of shoes from under her arms like magic.]

Later, in separates:

Oh look at this! It’s kind of weird, but I like that. It’s sort of my thing.”

Mom, bursts through a clothing rack wearing a very shiny puffer vest: “look what I found!! I’ve never had a *metallic* puffy vest!” [proceeds to wear it for the rest of the shopping trip]
Later, in line for the dressing room:

I can’t believe I only found four things. This is so embarrassing.

Even later, in line for the dressing room, again:

Mom: “Do I need this leather snake print corset top? Remember, I’m supposed to be buying retirement clothes.”
In the end, dehydrated and exhausted (only me), we found many perfect items, all with an average price of $9, and had the very best time. And in another year when I’ve recovered, I can’t wait to do it all again.
I was able to find some new tops that are perfect leaving-the-house-wear and will transition to casual-work-wear and I've worn one almost every day since they left.
(2) Landon Got a Phone!
An early 14th birthday present, two weeks before the end of his 7th grade year, but close enough to 8th grade that I feel like we fulfilled the "Wait Until 8th" pledge that our pediatrician, principal, and teachers have all basically begged parents to take. Everyone is different on this and I get it, but we've always been super anti-technology/screen time with the kids and I don't regret a single bit of abstinence or days (years) of delay. Every time we let the kids watch TV during the week or more than usual on the weekend, they are significantly less pleasant human beings to us and each other. It's an extraordinarily annoying bit of cause and effect that has yet to change.

I feel some trepidation about the phone, but don't mind the time to continue shaping his relationship with technology as he moves to high school and beyond. Social media remains a hard no (he hasn't even asked) and I'm grateful for the fence posting we're doing before we get to all this with the girls.

I also love that he can text me real time updates about his life while I'm away again in NYC. Updates like the fact that Milo somehow escaped the house and was found basking on the front porch, just watching the world go by: "He looked so happy mom."

You know, the important stuff.

(3) Landon's 7th Grade Athletic Awards Ceremony!

This was on Tuesday? I think? He won the Best Jumper award for track and that was exciting. I remain just so proud of him for trying all the sports this year, including two he'd never played before, and I will never forget him watching a football game on TV with James the night before tryouts so he could learn the basic rules and positions.
(3) Landon's Dramatic Injury at the District Track Meet!

Two days later we were at the District Track Meet, me in a new shopping-with-mom shirt, Cora in my sunglasses, and everyone ready to cheer on our Lanman in the 4x100 and 4x200 relays and the Long Jump!
Except, 70 meters into his 100 meter relay leg, sprinting his heart out in the very first event of the meet, he suddenly shot up in the air and then almost went down. He hopped his way to their anchor, passed the baton, and went down on the track. He told me later all he could think about was getting the baton to his teammate. He left the track in a golf car, was diagnosed with a pulled hamstring by the trainer, and scratched his events. He watched the rest of the meet from the stands, cheering on his teammates and icing his leg. We remain very proud of him and his hobbling is getting a little better each day.
He had to miss a fun school event on Friday - the first bit of middle school normalcy in a weird 1.5 years, so my sister sent him some $$ for a treat and of all the options in Fort Worth, he picked Chick-fil-A. And then, encouraged by my confirmation that he could order ANYTHING ordered and ate every bite of: one fried chicken sandwich, 12 piece nuggets, large fries, large lemonade, and ice cream cone.
(4) Claire Turns 11!

We got back from the track meet very late Thursday night and prepped our traditional birthday party table before collapsing in bed. For the first time ever Claire got to celebrate her birthday at school and nothing could be more exciting for our school-loving girl in her last year of elementary school.
She got to bring donuts to her classmates and then go shopping with me after school. We were trying to find her a dress for her Elementary School Graduation but it is very hard to find clothes for an 11-year-old who is still a girls size medium/large but really wanting clothes a little more grown-up than the Children's Place and Target kids' section. We did walk by Bath & Body Works and immediately had to stop inside which brought back ALL the memories of my own middle school shopping trips with friends.
And we eventually lucked out at TJ Maxx with a very cute dress she is VERY excited about (that was $7.99 which made me excited too). Landon's gift arrived just on time when we got home - something very sweet and thoughtful that she absolutely loved, but while he can apparently spend an hour searching for the perfect gift, he CANNOT handle the hug she wants to give him when it arrives. #TeenBrothers
Since it was a Friday night and James didn't have any lessons, we decided to go out with the birthday girl, who IMMEDIATELY picked hamburgers, so off to Hop Doddy we went.
With homemade chocolate cupcakes and the birthday song back at home.
(5) The Cats Will Not Wear Party Hats!

As is tradition, Maggie proudly wore her party hat for Claire's birthday.
(The face of a dog who knows the mean cat is making fun of her.)

Having already learned that Moose is a no on the hats, we thought sweet, chilled out, chunky Milo might be game.

But NO.
Hard no. Needed much comfort to get over the horrors of the attempt.
(6) Claire Gets a Birthday Pool Party!

So last year Claire got a kitten, but this year she got the other thing she'd been waiting years for - a glow stick pool party with friends!
Landon got one at age 10 and now she got hers at 11 and it was everything she wanted it to be.
(7) We Attend the Gymnastics National Meet!
The US Nationals were in Fort Worth this year (like everything, originally scheduled for 2020) and on a whim, after the realization that we'd never taken our children to a sporting event, I purchased tickets for the senior women's finals.
And they LOVED IT.
We were right in front of the uneven bars and arrived early just as Simon Biles was warming up. She is so freaking incredible.


It was so fun.

We got home late, went to bed, and in the morning the kids were off to school, James was off to a day full of lessons, and I was off to the airport.

And Maggie went right back to bed.