Friday, December 31, 2021

The Holidays Were/Are Here!

It's been a month and about 84 years since my last blog post. I just double-checked the date and it says I published it on November 21st and I have no idea how that's possible because that would only be 5 weeks ago and it seems like MUCH longer than that. So much has happened and things have been so busy that Maggie is exhausted and flatly refusing to take walks.
I tried pulling a few pictures to tell the tale and quickly had a folder of 87, so I'll do my best to cull that down a bit. On my end I brought two more cases, including one that made front-page news, so that was exciting and rewarding and this post is now brought to you by a minor toe surgery and sick day off work [Author's note, then my computer died, then I had to watch Harry Potter 6 with Cora, and then I had to make cinnamon rolls for New Year's Day, so this post was like a 3 day project. My toe is healing well though!).
When we last spoke we had tried and failed to go to Belize for Thanksgiving.
We did end up making it there! Two days later after re-doing our Covid tests and everything else that goes into leaving the country for five days. Travel went well- even if we were told we didn't have seats on the plane two different times and I stayed impressively calm while explaining we very much did. Once we arrived in Belize City we took a tiny transfer flight to Amerbris Caye island and I was selected to fly as copilot. This scared to shit out of a tired Claire because, as she tried to explain to the crew, "my mom does NOT kmow how to fly a plane."
Luckily we landed safely anyway and made it to our beautiful rental condo at Gran Caribe.
We LOVED the combo of independent apartment (we rented a 2-story, 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom oceanfront STUNNER) with hotel amenities like activity concierge, room service, pool bar, daily housekeeping with laundry, and more. We travel a lot and a big reason we can is because we do it as cheaply as possible - I make my reservations nearly a year in advance, track prices, make our meals, and more. I made every lunch we ate in Utah, slapping together sandwiches in the front seat of the car between hikes, but man was it nice to send the kids to the pool to order pancakes at the swim up bar each morning.
Two highlights of the trip were our all-day snorkel cruise and night snorkel through the Hol Chan marine preserve.
The day cruise was wonderful- so fun, with food and drinks included, and a fabulous staff. The night cruise quite simply blew my mind. If you've never done a snorkel or dive at night, it is quite simply a MUST. I had no idea the ocean comes alive at night in a way it isn't during the day, and seeing the underwater world through the beam of your flashlight like a real-life treasure hunt.
We so SO many huge stingrays gracefully glide by, giant nurse sharks that nearly brushed against Landon, three porcipine puffer fish, two lion fish, three moray eels, a baby octopus chasing a clam, a big sea turtle, and a gigantic Cubera snapper over 4 feet long eating a pretty blue tang we'd just been admiring in front of us. That Cubera followed us all evening to take advantage of the little fish attracted to our light. By the time we climbed back into the boat we were pretty chilly, but the stars in the pitch black sky above us gave us a spectacular show on the ride home. It was a magical night.
James swam everyday and I did my traditional packing, but not using, of the yoga pants. We've reached a phase of life where we usually wake up before the kids, so he'd go to the pool to workout and I'd go sip a daquiri and watch. We all embrace vacation in our own ways.
We rented a golf cart, as you can't rent cars on the island, and loved heading into the bustling town to shop the market and shops.
We played and swam and ate and swam some more. Also, Claire wanted a "jumping" picture and I took this shot on my first try with one hand while holding a lime daquiri in the other.
And with that I reached Peak Vacation Mode.
We took our (negative!) Covid tests and got back home very late on Sunday night, grateful to have spend our bonus two days before the trip decorating the house for Christmas so the sparkles greeted us on our return.
Life has gotten so busy as the kids have gotten older that I had to sit down with James on our return to pencil in the days we would decorate our tree, go to the zoo, decorate cookies, etc. But don't worry, we made our Christmas magic!
One of the reasons things were so busy was because James competed at the U.S. Open in North Carolina in early December!
And he did AMAZING! He finaled in the 100 breast and got 2nd in his heat and the girls got to watch him on TV and it was the best.
Then the kids had a swim meet and then James had another meet and then he went two new lifetime bests and broke three National Masters Records for his age group and we are so proud of him. Landon has reported that at meets James is "even MORE famous now that he's 40. A kid even asked him for his autograph - an OLDER KID mom! Like a cool one. And people ask me questions about him because I'm his son. It's pretty weird... and a little bit cool."

When not at the pool, James joined Cora and me for a trip to see Rudolph at the Casa Manana Theater. I wore a new dress Ann Taylor accidentally shipped me and then said to keep and while I would never have ordered it I LOVE the fabulous bright color. I paired it with the red lipstick I wear approximately twice a year and then wonder why I don't wear it more.
Speaking of wearing things, I've been clicking through the outfits Bonnie made me at my closet consult and it has seriously upped my game. And most importantly, on the rare days that I leave my house, I feel so good about it. Powerful and confident and pretty and like my own clothes are new again.
This was me at Cora's soccer game (her broken arm is fixed and like a phoenix she rises to play again).
One new thing I have gifted myself is the Chi Spin 'n Curl, immediately dubbed the Vagina Curler upon opening the box and you guys it is as magic as my favorite holiday traditions.
I have never used a curling iron and never curled my hair and I don't understand how to do do anything except blow dry and straighten the heck out of it. But this machine- it can CURL MY HAIR. Curl it! Without any effort and accidental burns on my part. It was my single greatest purchase of 2021. I got to curl my hair for various events in December, including the one day I returned to the office to find my March 2020 calendar on the wall, some stale snacks in my drawer, and the realization that I am now far more productive at home.
All the pets got matching sweaters. Moose tolerated it because we put cat food on the ground for him to eat. Milo tolerated because he knew he looked so handsome. Maggie loved it and was so excited she got to match her feline friends/overlords.
Milo got out one night through an accidentally open door and we spent a terrifying two hours looking for him. After knocking on the doors of all the neighbors and calling for him with flashlights and cat food, James triumphantly walked in the door yelling "Look who I found!!". Milo had been tucked under the pool heater, with giant eyes, and a heart full of regret for entering this scary world without kibbles or fluffy blankets.
Thanks to another round of negative Covid tests, we spent Christmas at my parents for our first full family Christmas in their home in a VERY long time- and this year we had three new babies to celebrate with.
Landon was in heaven.
It was full of love and total cousin chaos.
My mom and her girls (and me and my curls #vaginacurler).
It was a wonderful 3 days full of thoughtful gifts, delicious food, cuddly babies, and happy cousins. And surprise tickets to Hamilton in February.
I took off the week between Christmas and New Year's from work.
It's been wonderful.
Cozying up with the people I love most. Watching movies, baking, snuggling pets, making plans for the year ahead.
The kids continue to have sleepovers in the girls' room every night. With every year that passes I'm more and more grateful for this little kidpack we have.
I feel like we're in the golden era of parenting. The first many years, while bright and wonderful and full of chubby toddlers who screamed in pure joy everytime you walked in the room, are so much more physically intensive. These years, while at times heavier emotionally (oy the talks we have had in dinner the last year or so: school shootings, Texas's blow to women's health and rights, hunger, homelessness, and working through so many more "Mom I heard this at school, is it true?"), is just a time of such ease.
It feels like we're reaping the rewards of a decade of discipline and boundaries and lots of love and very little screentime. These interesting, polite, inquisitive little humans are just genuinely fun to be around. We eat dinner together every night - at 7:45 so we can all be there - and we talk and we are TOGETHER and I just love them so damn much.
I wish I could have shown this to the me of 10 years ago with a toddler and a baby and a demanding job and a feeling like there would never be a break. That I loved it all so much, but oh my god I needed a day, a night, a something.
And now, James and I can head out to dinner on a moment's notice and come back to join the teen, tween, and big kid for a movie on the couch when we're done. Every phase is my favorite phase (except the baby Landon ear infection phase), but maybe this is my favoritist of all?
Happiest Holidays everyone, I wish you the very best in the New Year,


  1. Frequent reader, very rare commenter here! Just wanted to say that it was helpful to hear about this golden stage of parenting. I have a 1 and almost 4yo and work full time at a demanding job. The baby is in the ear infection stage and probably/hopefully will get tubes soon. And sleep is awful. And I’m just so tired. Sometimes I feel like I am doing something wrong? Like I should be loving this stage more? So it is nice to hear you say how tired and overwhelmed you were but how much you enjoy this current stage.

    Thanks for sharing your life with us! Happy new year!

    1. Reporting here from the 1yo and 4yo era too and IT MADE ME SO HAPPY AND HOPEFUL to read about the golden age. I'm tucking this in my virtual back pocket to read on the days where pandemic chaos is just UNREAL at my house. :)

    2. Also here in the land of 2 and 5 year old tantrums and screaming and sick day logistics and this is so hopeful. Also love the comments about limiting screen time and discipline because we try but it is SO hard, nice to hear the battle is worth it!

  2. That red dress looks stunning on you, and I do like the curled hair. If you aren't getting $$ from Chi you should be!

    Go James! My husband follows him in some Master's swimming magazine he gets. Though neither of us can understand the appeal of breaststroke, it's always great to see "old" people setting PRs in the pool. I know it has motivated my husband, who now thinks he is going to Master's Nationals this year, to swim harder.

  3. What’s your policy on screen time?

  4. I found the same thing - these ages of the kids were such a sweet spot. But I also found that they were an additional layer of precious foundation for the teen/young adult years that came after. I have an almost 19 and 20 year old now and it has its tumultuousness but the bond and connection is there because of what you are investing now! 🥰 Also, that red is fire on you and I love that you got to see family! (And night snorkeling.... OMG you are brave!) Happy New Year to you all!

  5. Long time reader - it has been so heartening to follow along with you and your beautiful family over the years. Wishing you and yours a joyful and healthy 2022 and may you continue to blog and inspire us!

  6. Your vacation in Belize looks amazing. Can you share where you stayed?

  7. Longtime follower and lover of your blog. :) Please tell me the dinner thing gets easier. I have a 21 month and 4 year old, and by 5 pm they turn into ravenous hyenas. I love the idea of family dinner, but my husband and I are not hungry at 5 pm (nor do I have time to make a legitimate family dinner prior to 5 pm - fellow lawyer here). So currently, the kids get a kid dinner at 5 pm, and we eat after they go to bed around 7:30/8.

  8. I bought the vag curler upon your recommendation and I LOVE it. I have never been able to curl my hair, so I'm pretty sure this thing is magic. My 3 y.o. twins even tolerated it for half a heads worth, haha.