Sunday, November 21, 2021

Running on Caffeine and Christmas Pajamas

Y'all it has been a DAY. I'm typing this at 3:39 p.m. and in one minute I will have already been up for exactly 12 hours. I should be on a beach in Belize right now, sipping a cocktail and watching my hot husband and smiling children splashing about the cerulean blue sea (a sea which I had already painted my nails to match).

Instead I'm very much in Fort Worth, wearing my flannel polar bear pajamas at 11 a.m., watching Christmas movies with the girls, drinking a diet coke to stay awake and wondering what meal I should be eating now.
Because we left our house at 4:30 this morning to get to the airport for our much-anticipated un-Belize-able Thanksgiving in Ambergris Caye, Belize. Our first family beach trip since Curacao, we were really looking forward to the ocean views and quality time together with our five pack. We got to the airport in plenty of time, parked the car, sailed through the international check-in with our negative Covid test results all printed out and vaccine cards in our passport holders, watched the kids breeze through security like pros, and waited by our gate for flight 1 of 3 today, expecting to be beachside by mid-afternoon.

Except no. When it was finally it was time to board, everyone lined up... and then nothing happened. And then more nothing. And then they announced they were taking our plane out of service. They found another plane, but it would take two hours to get it in place. That meant we- along with nearly everyone else headed to Miami at 7 a.m.- would miss our connection to somewhere else.
The line for the gate agent was longer than the length of the plane. I jumped on the phone, James got in line, and we tried to figure out what on earth we could do. There were no other flights from Miami to Belize later today or anytime tomorrow. The one time we check bags and they were now trapped on a plan we'd no longer be on. Our shuttle flight to the island was already booked, along with our snorkel tours and family golf cart (you can't rent cars on the island, which is adorable)- it was all a mess.

But with patience for the poor airline employees who caused none of this, and two phones, two hours, and three patient kids now sitting on the airport floor, we made a new plan and will now travel Tuesday - Sunday, waited another hour at the airport to get our bags off the plane, retrieved our car from long term parking, and by 10 a.m., 5 hours after arriving, we were on our way back home.

The kids were such troopers, so much so that James and I couldn't even complain; it seemed like we should really follow their example. I'm now going to put up our Christmas decorations tomorrow (sitting on the couch and watching cheesy movies is all I can handle today), so our Christmas House will be ready on our now late-Sunday night return. Everything is staying packed - we hardly need swimsuits and sundresses here, a new round of Covid tests have been scheduled, and hopefully the next time we drive to DFW we won't drive back for five more days.

As luck would have it, one of my first thoughts on our drive home from the airport was "well I guess I could do a blog post today!" and right about then I got two comments asking how I was doing after weeks without any posts. So here I am! Literally, right here. On my couch. I never intended to take a break from the blog, but life, work, and family got so busy and so full - AND I started and finished (just last night!) our annual photobooks, and I could not spare a moment. Or rather, when I did have a moment, I did not want it to involve a computer. Plus we had a lot of events and travel and November was (still is?) CRAZY.

But we are doing well! Very well in fact and I'm going to do a quick and dirty picture-filled recap because if there's anything my thousand-hour annual photobooking marathon reminds me of, it's how much I treasure writing down our day to day. And if there's anything that comforts me when James and I both talk so fondly of the golden toddler years, it's looking back through my stories and knowing we soaked up every ounce of them that we could. And that we're doing the same now.
So! Jumping back to when we left off, in mid-October when James turned the big 4-0!
He's not really into celebrating his own birthday, but we went out for a fancy dinner with the kids and they got quite a kick out of it. Then we got home to a surprise yard sign (well, surprise to him) and he seemed pretty tickled.
The kids made him a pile of cards, I made him his favorite cake, and I think he had a pretty happy birthday indeed. Not to mention the fact that he broke all his previous lifting records at the gym that same week and continues going best times in the pool (and heads to compete at the U.S. Open again in two weeks!) and I think 40 looks pretty great on him.
The next week I got to see my very first broadway show of my very first Bass Performance Hall Broadway Season Pass! I've wanted season tickets for years, waited until our budget allowed, then waited on the waiting list, then waited through the Covid shutdowns, and just now FINALLY got to bid for seats and I got two GREAT ones in center orchestra with a friend of mine from work and I AM SO EXCITED.
I wore my new shirt and new pants (from this trip), dried my hair for the first time in forever, and nearly danced into the beautiful Bass Performance Hall. We were seeing Come From Away, which I had never even heard of. I had zero expectations and knew whatever it was it would be great. And then, 100 minutes of non-stop magical musical perfection in which I laughed and cried throughout, often both at the same time, I clapped so hard my hands got swollen. It was one of the best plays I've ever seen. I truly cannot recommend it more highly.

Soon after that night we got a brief bit of fall-ish weather and Maggie joyfully returned to hoodies and sweaters for a few days.
We enjoyed a very fun Halloween with friends- Landon was a Hawaiian tourist guy, Claire was an angel, Cora was a puppy, and Maggie was a rainbow.
For the first time ever, Claire didn't trick-or-treat with us and instead spent the evening with new friends a few neighborhoods over. She is LOVING middle school, has massively expanded her social circle, and I'm just thankful she still loves a couch date with mom.
A few days later I headed over to San Antonio to love on my grandparents as my grandpa is just not doing very well. His heart, which has done its best after his heart attack four years ago, is simply starting to fail. These extra years with him have truly been a gift, and while we don't know that this is truly the end, we've had some scary moments and I'm trying to visit all three of them as often as possible. After my Grandma Jo passed earlier this year I know more than ever how precious each moment with my grandparents is to me.
That weekend we got to celebrate James's big birthday with a grown-ups only trip to Monterey, California.
We spent 3 nights at an inn on the ocean outside Carmel and just like when I visit Colorado, any time I go to California I leave wondering why on earth I don't live there too.
It is so spectacularly beautiful. And while James wanted to call the kids 6x a day (I got him down to 2), we both definitely enjoyed our second-ever trip away from them. We hiked, slept, ate, napped, enjoyed the inn's daily afternoon wine and cheese reception, hiked some more, saw sea lions in the wild, visited Bixby bridge, explored the Aquarium, shopped, and ate- and then ate again. It was glorious. After 20 years together, I sure do love this guy.
And as is traditional for your spouse's milestone birthday, I got a diamond necklace.
It was an accidental find, in a charming little jewelry shop in Carmel- but I have been looking for a few years for something small, but nice, that could be worn dressed up at work, but also dressed down on the weekends, that was meaningful, but not cutesy, and mostly, that was not something I was seeing at every other store. And on our way to lunch (or possibly second lunch?), I found this little 5 ring necklace- one ring for each member of my precious family- and I just couldn't stop thinking about it. And so we went back the next day and bought it. James was so pleased with his gift. I wear it everyday.
The week we returned I had an appointment with a wardrobe stylist. I decided this was my year of using experts in areas were I myself lack skill. And one of those areas is outfits and layering and using what I already have to feel fabulous instead of looking for something elusive to get me to feel that way that likely doesn't even exist.
I found Bonnie recommended on our local neighborhood page and oh my gosh she was everything I hoped she'd be. She gave me ideas on styles that look good on me (I haven't moved out of the low rise jeans of the 90's), suggested brands to look for online and in resale shops, and gave me an overall review of my closet- pieces that stood out to her, areas where it might be worth investing in a piece. I then spent a weekend doing a deep clean of my closet and she came back to create an outfit "look book" for me out of clothes, shoes, and accessories I already owned:
My goal with the closet edit was to remove absolutely anything I didn't want to see in an outfit created by her. That perspective helped so much- just because I used to love something doesn't mean I'd be excited about wearing it now. I also switched to velvet hangers, decreased my inventory by nearly half, and genuinely LOVE everything left in there. And then when Bonnie came back she spent 2 hours putting together more creative work and casual outfits for me. In her words, she steered clear of the obvious (I've got that covered), and focused on combining things in new ways. I absolutely love it and have worn top-to-bottom at least half of her looks already.
I think this might be something I do each season until I feel more confident in pulling things together. And I LOVE how it's made me view my clothes- now I see my closet as a hallway of treasures instead of this crowded space where I can't find anything to wear. It was the best $$ I've spent this year.
And two days after that (5 days after returning from California), we drove to San Antonio for my cousin's wedding! Kristian is my second-youngest cousin, born a full 16 years after me, so he's closer in age to all my children than to me. His mother is my godmother, my Aunty Mary, who died four years ago, so we all wanted to be there to support him on this big day.
We rented a giant house on the Guadalupe River with my parents, sister and her 3 girls, brother and his twins, my aunt and uncle from Atlanta, my cousin and her 2 kids, and my other cousin. 25 people and it was a BLAST. We grabbed a quick photo of my parents and all 8 of their grandchildren! Hard to believe we added 3 just this year.
I taught yoga by the river in the morning.
Tiny cousins ran around everywhere and with 4 babies under 9 months old, my kids were in HEAVEN.
Also on the day of the wedding, Cora turned 8!
My sweet tiny, perfect, easy, desperately-made-me-want-a-4th, her-first-year-was-the-happiest-year-of-my-life, third-baby is 8!
We are all a little shaken by this. Except Cora. She's aboslutely got this big kid thing down and she LOVED being an "older" cousin (2nd cousin?) to my cousin's daughter. They were absolute besties all trip and we had to FaceTime yesterday to keep them in touch.
We celebrated with a puppy party in the rental house.
My sorority sister cousin did my hair for me before the wedding. 38 years old and I have still never held a curling iron. That is the next expert task I am going to find someone to teach me. Why am I so inept at simple grown-up things? Anyway, I loved the look, especially with the shorter hair and have vowed to recreate it before I'm 39.
The wedding ceremony was held at my grandparents' church, the same one that my parents and both my mom's sisters (including my godmother) were also married in. My grandparents were able to be there and it was so very special. My grandpa did the same reading he did at my Aunty Mary's wedding and it was so meaningful to all of us.
We loved the reception- it has been a lifetime since our last dance party!
James is a great dancer and I just shuffle around like a mess and love every second.
It was interesting to see the big kids be old enough to be self-conscious about the dancing, whereas Cora just let the music fill her soul and move her from head to toe. I think she danced for two hours straight. She ended up in the middle of the bridesmaids' dance circle and later she told me, "that was the best part of my whole birthday."
Landon refused to dance and instead ate every mini chicken and waffle he could get his hands on.
Claire held babies (this is my sister's youngest) and we all just had so much fun together.
We got back home last weekend, I made a case recommendation to the Commission this past week (work has been SO busy), and then we tried to leave today for Belize. Now it will be Tuesday (fingers crossed!) and we're back Sunday and then we launch into the happy holiday season with its cookies and gifts and sparkles everywhere. I can't wait. But first I hope to sleep and then spend some time on the beach.