Saturday, July 24, 2021

Portraits of 2021

It's been a while, again, but we're here! And we're good! Life is just very very full.
Work, life, kids, activities, summer camps, stitches, yoga any time I can manage it... it's just back to being a lot. There is downtime, glorious wonderful downtime, but I find I want (need) to just sit on the couch with my people and soak that in. We've been watching The Mysterious Benedict Society on Disney Plus as a family when new episodes come out on Fridays and it's just so fun to have a traditional, serial show to look forward to watching together, and I don't want my laptop out when we do that. Then the kids go to bed and I hang out with James and read or talk or watch the next episode of For All Mankind (or Ted Lasso!!! finally back in my life after re-watching Season 1 any time I was feeling down. #DiamondDogsForever) and then we have to go to bed because the days are long and start early.

Maybe it's the new perspective after 18 months of working from home and the swings between what sometimes felt like too much family time contrasted to the small but normal amount we're back to getting now, but I find I just want to soak it in. To marinate in the togetherness of our family of five. These years are so precious and so short and it is a genuine comfort to me to read old blog posts and know that we have tried our best to squeeze all the joy out of them at every step along the way.
As I mentioned in the last post, we took our family pictures a couple weeks ago. It was a mini session I almost canceled a dozen times - work was so busy, I didn't have time to buy any coordinating clothes, I had stitches poking out of my head that made me feel self-conscious and sad. It was hot, humid, sticky, AND windy. They were scheduled for a Saturday night after a CRAZY week and long day at a swim meet and then a soccer game. But we did it. I pulled clothes out of everyone's closets, talked to our sweet photographer about photoshopping my forehead, and put on makeup for the first time in 10 days.
We got to the location at 8 p.m., started our shoot at 8:15, and were on our way home at 8:30, thankful we'd pulled ourselves together and captured a bit of us right now. The kids LOVED the mini session and I'll never convince anyone else in my family to do an hour long session again. And I just love the pictures. The colors are rich and vibrant, the location was so pretty, and we all look like ourselves. I'm so glad we made those 15 minutes happen.
Landon turned 14 on the 15th. Thirteen was a delightful age- funny, sweet, enthusiastic, chatty, and full of questions and commentary on his increasingly broader world. I look forward to fourteen while feeling heavy with the knowledge we only have five years left with him at home. He's the leader of our sibling pack - the generous, inclusive, creative non-Alpha who sets the tone for the rest of our crew. His sisters think he is hilarious and sometimes encourage his particular brand of teenage humor a bit too much. They've had sibling sleepovers together in the girls' room every night since summer started - he's on the trundle with his blanket and a cat while his much larger and nicer bed is a room away and everyone seems very happy with this arrangement. He loves swimming, running, reading, pancakes, Crumbl cookies without icing, singing to the cats, talking nearly non-stop about absolutely nothing, and climbing on everything. He spends much of his day laying on my bed narrating the inner thoughts of our cats and asking unanswerable questions while I work.

Conversation the week of his birthday:

Me: Landon what do you want for your birthday dinner on Thursday?
Landon: Well, I’ve been thinking about it mom and I’d really like to go out to a restaurant this year but it might be a little expensive.
Mom: Hmm, okay, we could probably do that. Where?
Landon: IHOP! It’s the INTERNATIONAL house of pancakes mom!

And that's exactly what we did and he said it was everything he hoped it would be.
Our little Clairebear starts middle school next month and I find that just as hard to believe. I'll only have one elementary schooler to bring to Meet the Teacher night at our sweet elementary school. This seems impossible. Claire remains enthusiastic about all things, listens to music every second she can, and writes original songs in a collection of journals she leaves all around the house. She likes things to be organized but doesn't mind letting it all slide for a few weeks before tidying up again. She loves to run, swim, hit volleyballs, play school, and do gymnastics on our blue mat in the playroom for hours at a time. She loves her friends and always wants one around. She is deeply gullible and knows it, wants to be as funny as her brother, and still hugs you until it's awkward and you have to unhook her from your person. She is deeply thoughtful and passes me notes taped to my cups of water whenenver I'm working late.
Cora will be going into 2nd grade and that is the only thing keeping me from being overwhelmed by the thought of how old my kids have become. She is somehow both easily distracted and sharply focused. She is fiercely competitive, confident, and strong. She is also easily wounded and takes slights very seriously. She will sit and play out complex stories with her horses for hours, but she also can't find her shoes on her feet. She loves to read, draw, color, and do worksheets. She runs very fast and gets out the door very slow. Her whole face still lights up when James or I walk in the door and she still wants to pet every dog she sees. She loves card games (ALL games) and I have beat her at Memory exactly once out of 100 times. She is more like Landon than Claire and the two of them can play for hours together despite their 6.5 year difference in age.
These three... As the kids have gotten older we've talked a lot about the family we want to be and the siblings they (should) want to be to each other. They've always gotten along well, but I also step in pretty fast when they don't. As I'm often saying, this house is a place where we all get to be safe and to let our guards down. It is a refuge, and it is not a place where you come in from the world only to find criticism or insults within its walls. You can be kind or you can be neutral and if you can't do those things, you can also be quiet. James and I try to hold ourselves to the same standards, and for the most part, we all do.

We had the Regional summer league swim meet last weekend and every kid swam in a different session. Claire swam first, on Saturday morning, and we all woke up at the crack of dawn to drive to Decatur, Texas to cheer her on. Landon's best buds were there from another team and I told him he could hang out with them as long as he didn't miss any of Claire's races. And he didn't. Without any prompting from me, we found him in the stands before every one of her events, sitting with his friends, telling them about her upcoming race, cheering her on, and comparing her splits to her competitors. It was the best. And it continued into Cora's session on Saturday afternoon and then both girls were screaming for their brother on Sunday.
I had two cases approved by the Commission last week, which is a pretty huge deal and caps off what has been a crazy few quarters of work for me. James remains super busy with the swim school and we are all happy that he will be back at his old pool starting August 23rd. I can actually spend a few months working from home in a quiet house with kids at school and a husband at a pool and I AM SO EXCITED. Also, exciting: our upcoming vacation! Twelve days driving through the National Parks of Utah and Arizona and we can't wait. So much hiking, so much togetherness, so much trail mix, and no working. I have a very detailed list of recommended hikes, new rainbow colored hiking shoes, and an even more detailed packing list. I also treated myself to a new camera in celebration of my cases and surviving over a year at home and I can't wait to use it for some old school travel blogging.
I also have a new hat and a lot of sunscreen and SPF clothing. Magical memories, here we come! Landon is totally going to try to pack one of the cats.


  1. Such a lovely update! One of my favorite and the most sparkling person in my world is also very gullible and knows it and it’s that which makes her so amazing

  2. Love this update (as I do all your updates!) but just wanted to say that this part particularly resonated: "As I'm often saying, this house is a place where we all get to be safe and to let our guards down. It is a refuge, and it is not a place where you come in from the world only to find criticism or insults within its walls. You can be kind or you can be neutral and if you can't do those things, you can also be quiet."

    YES, YES, YES to this! What a beautiful articulation of a really wonderful parenting/household philosophy and practice. My little guy is only one, but this captured perfectly the tone I hope and strive to set in our home as well. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Your photos are wonderful (and kudos to the forehead photoshop- can't tell at all!).

  4. I love these updates so much! I hope you healing okay ❤️

  5. That color pink is really fabulous on you.