Sunday, April 30, 2023

5 on a Friday (er, Saturday) (actually, Sunday)

Copying the theme of great bloggers before me, I thought I'd catch up on things non-Taylor Swift with a quick hits list. Here are five random things I thought were worth covering when I sat down just now, without my emotional support work laptop because our firm is updating some systems this weekend and I had to leave it in the office which is something I've never done since I re-joined and it's acutely uncomfortable. Yes I can login with this personal laptop if I had to, but it's not the same. Milo is holding me for comfort.
Anyway, I just sat down to watch the latest episode of Top Chef Season 20, which is generally the highlight of my Friday evening, post-work and pre-boys getting home from swimming, and thought I should blog! I should blog while I sit alone on the couch with popcorn, Top Chef, cat, and my non-work laptop. So here we go, five things on a Friday!

1. A foyer full of boxes. After months of having boxes everywhere in the house - moving boxes, furniture boxes, Amazon boxes, and more - we've finally had a nice clean foyer for the last several weeks. Until last week when I ordered all our new patio furniture and it arrived on the same day.
Our backyard isn't done yet, but we thought it would be soon, so James and Landon go to work assembling the furniture while the girls and I were at the Taylor Swift concert.
Landon questioned his life choices (I offered him a ticket).
But then we got rain every day forever and the backyard still isn't done so we have a million chair options in our living room. Milo appreciates them.
2. Lake walks. I love so much about our new city, new neighborhood, and new home, but I think perhaps my favorite thing about it is living near a beautiful lake and getting to walk along it almost every day.
Any day it's not raining, or I'm not waking up in another city, I walk 3-5 miles along the path with my 50 lb bulldog in her stroller.
I listen to podcasts: Pod Save America, The West Wing Weekly, We Can Do Hard Things, I smile at the people who smile at Maggie, and I admire the wildlife. This is our first Spring here and the baby ducks and abundance of birds has been so fun. In the evenings, while Claire is at rowing and the boys are at swimming, Cora and I will often ride our bikes around the lake looking for Claire. When I go on my morning walks I walk very fast- faster than some people run, but with Cora, even though we're on bikes, we cover ground slowly. We stop often.
We talk about the ducklings and the birds and the trees and that one dog that just walked by. Since I've already had my walk I let Cora set the pace of this outing and it is a delight. She is a bright soul and I like seeing the world through her eyes.

3. Cora's art. Speaking of Cora, she is our independent child who often spends hours on her own in her room, always busy, never looking for input or collaboration.
At the moment she is working on a "Peace Place." She has yet to explain what precisely that is, but it is beautiful and she is working very hard. She did show me her list of things she's going to draw for it and it is, in true Cora fashion, incredibly detailed. She will follow it to the letter, because this is Cora, and then she will start a new project.

4. Wine/cooking. Now that we don't have Becca in our lives any more (we miss you Becca!), James researches, shops for, preps, and cooks all of our meals. It's been an interesting adjustment- he is allergic to planning more than 6 hours in advance, so he goes to the grocery store everyday and I have to bite my tongue a lot for the sheer inefficiency of it, but it works and he does it well, and I'm not the one cooking.

Last week he decided to make a vegan walnut lentil bolognese. He called as he and Landon were headed to swimming to let me know it was simmering and to stir it when I got home.

James:"Oh, I used some of that wine you had in the pantry because the recipe needed a cup."

Me: "We don't have any wine in the pantry right now."

James: Huh, well there was a bottle and I opened it.
Oh. THAT wine. It was the $300 bottle of wine I won at a business development event and was saving for a special occasion, which turned out to be last Tuesday night.

The bolognese was incredibly delicious, and should you choose to make it, I think it would still be delicious even with much cheaper wine.

5. Newcomer of the Year. Landon's high school swim banquet was this past week and it was earnest and adorable and full of nostalgia for me remembering my own high school swim banquets.
Landon was awarded Newcomer of the Year, which made his ears turn pink and he waved to everyone from his seat at a table instead of going up to the get the award until his friends finally made him.
The seniors gave their speeches, which were emotional and wonderful and again full of memories for me. High school swimming is so wonderful and remains one of the brightest spots of my life. The seniors also give silly "paper plate awards" to every member of the team, and this year Landon and his best buddy got the annual "Best Bromance" award.
Forever thankful to this sweet extrovert who adopted Landon in the first week of school and decided they'd be friends. The slideshow was filled with photos I hadn't seen of Landon and I was particularly struck by this one, and asked the senior parents who put it together if I could get a copy.
I'm good at living in the moment, and we are, but sometimes it takes my breath away that he'll leave this house in 3 years.

And now it's Sunday. I'm sitting at our new table in the screened-in porch finally finishing this post I started Friday. James and I decided to go on an impromptu date that night, so I had to go change and didn't go back to my laptop. Then yesterday we had a family work day, finishing the furniture assembly and setting up the porch. We now have a couch in the screened-in area and I adore it so much I accidentally fell asleep on it for nearly 2 hours yesterday afternoon when I sat down to finish this post. Milo has since taken up my post.
It's been a wonderful weekend- full of little projects and no big plans. And now- it's off to my walk! Happy Sunday everyone.

Sunday, April 23, 2023


Friends, I tried to be practical and frugal after I was initially not selected by the Ticketmaster gods to buy tickets to any of the Taylor Swift Dallas shows. It's okay, I decided, it's been an expensive year, the girls have never been to a concert so they don't know what they're missing and we never do big crowded things. This is fine. I planned my birthday Rice Ladies trip to Colorado for the same weekend and didn't think about it again.

Then everyone I know went to one of the Dallas shows and I was filled with crushing regret. Not for my trip- that was a highlight of my year, but I felt like this concert was one of those moments where whatever the cost and hassle, you're just glad you went. And so I jumped on the internet, decided we didn't really need to landscape our front yard this year, and bought three tickets to one of the Houston shows coming up in two weeks. Middle of the stadium, halfway up, directly in front of the stage. They cost a ridiculous amount, but I hadn't been to a concert since 2006 and the girls had never been and I decided this was every concert and sporting event we've never taken them to because we're bad about planning things that involve local hassles.

We told the girls a week later. They flipped. I booked us a hotel room north of Houston, on what would be our drive back home to Dallas. On Friday I checked them out of school early and we road tripped down I-45, playing a 4 hour "Road to Taylor" playlist Claire had made.
We stopped at Five Guys (Claire's favorite restaurant) for an early dinner, checked into our hotel, changed, and continued on to NRG Stadium. Claire wore an old pair of white shorts I no longer fit into, my favorite pink silk top, my earrings, my necklace, and most of my makeup. I can't believe how grown up and teenagerish she's looking, my little 12 year old Clairebear.
We parked on the street near the stadium and followed the crowds streaming in.

There were lines and crowds and a palpable buzz from thousands of people who were VERY EXCITED to be there. It was wonderful.
We checked out the merch, bought snacks, and found our seats. They were amazing.

The group to Claire's left were four friends in their early-20's who could NOT have been more excited to be there. They adopted Claire for the night and she danced and sang with the best of them. Everyone around us - moms with kids, moms with mom friends, 20-somethings, 30-somethings, dads with delighted daughters, EVERYONE, was just so excited. The show hadn't started yet and we already knew it was going to be worth every penny.

And then Taylor came out, to screams and tears and explosions of joy all around us.
She performed 44 songs over 3+ hours and it was simply incredible. The show, the graphics, the design, her costumes and costume changes, the sets, her songs, her voice, her little talks between them... it was a core memory I'll never forget. Both the actual show, but also watching the girls watch it.
Claire danced and sang and screamed and cried the entire time. Cora sang to the songs she knew, smiled through the ones she didn't, and true to the Cora that she is, announced she was done about halfway through because it was time to go to bed. She still enjoyed it - loved it, she said, and she does NOT exaggerate just to be nice - but if she could have curled up on the floor of the stadium for a 30 minute nap and then popped back up for the last hour, she absolutely would have done so. I went and got her a funnel cake instead, which seemed to do the trick.
We walked back to the car, retelling our favorite parts, and drove back to the hotel. Cora was asleep before the car was in drive. Claire made it 10 more minutes and then she was out. We got to the hotel about 1:15 a.m., both girls were sleepily agreeable to transferring themselves to the bed from my car and we all passed out. It was the best night ever.

We woke up around 8 the next morning, enjoyed the hotel breakfast, and did some shopping for summer clothes since I had them stuck with me for the next several hours and drove back to Dallas, arriving just in time to hug our boys before they headed out for a swim meet.

Another day later and I'm still just buzzing from the whole thing. It was an EXTRAORDINARY concert. I don't know that any other will ever top it. She is an amazing performer, a talented artist, and a brilliant businesswoman. Cheering her on with my girls was something I will simply never forget, and I know they won't either. No regrets. We'll make the front yard look nicer next year.

Sunday, April 16, 2023


I am so behind in blogging- St. Lucia seems incredibly far away and it's been non-stop action since then.
So I typed that first line 3.5 weeks ago and never managed anything further. As an example of why, this past week found me in Chicago for Monday to Wednesday, DC from Wednesday to Thursday, and speaking on a panel in North Dallas on Friday. My carry-on suitcase and I had a wonderful time, but were very glad to be home.
In reviewing this old draft, it seems I managed to upload some photos when I started it in March, so let's go through those to start. Like this random one I guess I took on a family bike ride. I do love those.
We have some house updates! Back then it was that our last little in-house project, the beautiful built-in we added to our game room, was complete! We spent a weekend unpacking the very last boxes in our house, which was soothing to my produtive little soul, and I think it looks so great!
Now I'm just waiting on the last piece of our orange sectional to arrive after the first corner piece was made with the wrong fabric. We're so close!
And, jumping back to present day, our pool, which has been a large hole in the ground since early November, is finished!! It was filled while I was in DC and it looks SO BEAUTIFUL. The final landscaping begins tomorrow and I just spent the morning agonizing over the selection and ordering of patio furniture. We are so, so excited to have a pool back in our lives. Until last summer I hadn't realied how much of our parenting depended on being able to say, "why don't you go for a swim?" or "why don't you invite some friends over to swim?".
We're all excited to have that back in our lives. Cora had two friends over today to swim, Claire had a whole gaggle over yesterday, and Landon had a friend over this afternoon. Maggie and I did have done our path along the lake every day for the last 3 days and she is feeling very fit.
Also something I'm always excited to have in my life- the brilliant Bonnie who came to style me for Spring.
I can't tell you the comfort and ease I get from her little album of outfits. Before a work trip I'll just flip through and pick a few that share the same pieces and bam, there's my packing list. And there's such a confidence that comes from knowing it's an outfit Bonnie put together. I still feel like me, just a more stylish version, and I trust her so implicitly that even when it's an outfit I never would have put together, I still feel like me when I wear them. I feel so lucky to have such expertise and joy in my life. And it has so completely changed how I shop and think about my wardrobe. Instead of buying one "outfit," I buy high quality, longer-lasting "pieces" that combine to form so many outfits. I've slowly reduced the number of items in my closet and I truly love each one of them.
Like this gorgeous silk top that was my Spring treat from Vince. Paired with the black pants from 1.5 years ago and the white Veronica Beard blazer that was my biggest treat of Spring 2022.
I wore that when I gave am in-person talk to a hedge fund last week and it may seem superficial, but clothes matter, and the way you feel in them matters more. Thank you Bonnie! Maggie loves you almost as much as I do.
Moving on! Backwards. As I mentioned in the last post I had an amazing little trip to Colorado at the end of March. My sister-in-law flew up from Houston to meet me in the airport and we met up with my sister in Boulder to do a yoga class and hang out with her three girls before our planned journey up the mountains to my parents' house in Winter Park.
Unfortunately a big blizzard descended upon the mountain and we all decided it was safer to stay in Boulder for the night, so while we were sad for our Chief Rice Lady to not be able to join us yet, we had a great time going downtown for drinks and dinner and then sitting around my sister's fire pit and drinking prosecco from the silly straws she ordered.
On Saturday morning we did a gorgeous and TOUGH hike up a mountain- 1.5 miles and 1300 verticle feet straight up to gorgeous views and a great sense of accomplishment.
From there my dad drove down the mountain and we drove up to meet our mama bird and go straight to the hot springs.
And then we dressed up Colorado style (jeans and sweaters) and ate at the famous and delicious Tabernash Tavern for a birthday dinner.
And after that we put on pj's and did EVERY favorite thing I have, which includes playing cards, eating chex mix, drinking prosecco, and watching Top Chef. It was absolutely everything I hoped a 40th birthday Rice Lady getaway could be.
On Sunday Tamires got up early to return to my brother and her babies and my mom, sister, and I went cross country skiing, something I'd never done before and found out that I LOVE.
It's so beautiful and serene and a great workout, but more relaxed and simpler than a day of downhill. If I thought I could convince my speed-demon husband and children to join me, I'd opt for cross country over downhill skiing every trip.
From THERE we stopped in Golden to meet my dad at our favorite pizza place and then I Ubered to my law school friend's house in Denver because crazy enough, years after graduating, two of my very best friends from law school moved to Denver and live about a mile apart and we got to meet up for drinks and dinner and it was so wonderful.
On the home front, Claire has joined the rowing team and now rows on our beloved neighborhood lake 3x a week. It's really hard work, but she's enjoying it so much and we love seeing her so excited.
I'll close here, because I've already posted too many pictures and jumped around too much trying to capture the last few weeks (months) of time, with a quick recap of the day, which is everything I hoped we'd eventually find in our new city. We woke up to a front yard covered in toilet paper and caution tape, something which apparently didn't happen in DC and Potomac, MD where James grew up, but is a sign of great favor and popularity here. We sent Claire out to start cleaning it up (because it's always Claire who is the intended recipient of this odd form of love) and then a car of boys (the very ones spotted traipsing about our yard around midnight) pulled up to help and I got to watch her flirt and hold court with a whole gaggle of 13-year-olds. James had gone to pick up Landon from a friend's house where he spent the night last night and take him to practice, and then met me, Claire, and Cora at Cora's soccer game, which they won, and in which Cora was a fierce defender. We brought a teammate home with us, dropped Claire off at a nearby restaurant to meet up with friends and eventually walk home. Landon had a friend over, everyone was swimming in the new freezing pool, I took Maggie on a long 5 mile walk along the lake, and Clarie swung by with her crew before she and Landon and their friends went to a friend's house one street over to play on a slip 'n slide. Friends were collected, our kids came home, and now our 3-pack is at the park at the end of the street while James and I chat and make dinner. We'll eat outside in the screened-in porch and listen to the waterfall in the pool and I am grinning ear to ear because this, this is what I wanted for us all.
Happy mid-April to you all!

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Snapshots 2023

I am horribly behind in my blogging. I can't believe my last post was about St. Lucia, because that trip seems like a happy hazy memory from 100 years ago. Since there it's been non-stop kid activities, work, work, work, bulldog walks, Bonnie stylings, a random quick visit from a law school bestie to see Moulin Rouge in Dallas, more work, and a Rice ladies (Mom, sister, and sister-in-law!) trip to Colorado this past weekend to celebrate my 40th birthday that was completely wonderful and special and ALL of that deserves its own post and will (hopefully) be blogged about soon. But for now, I got our family pictures back today and I love them so very much and surely I can at least finish a short ("short") snapshot post to share the pics and where we are right now.
Because let me tell you, the days fly by so fast and I feel like I'm just trying to soak up the love and laughter I can squeeze out of each one.
I will literally lie in bed at night and picture myself twisting the day in my mind like it's a sponge so that all the good drips out to be saved: like the animated conversation I had with Cora about the cute duck couple she often passes on her walk home from school, the way Maggie's ears perked up in the window when I walked up the front path, the way James always touches me when he walks past me, the way Landon makes the weirdest purring noise that makes us all laugh even if we still can't figure out what it means, the smile on Claire's face when she showed me her planner for the day because we're trying a new system of tracking her homework and she's very proud of how it's going... just these little moments. Time is FLYING and I feel like I'm just grabbing around for scraps of paper in a wind machine to hold on to what I can.
We took these pictures a little over a week ago. I threw together the outfits the day before after forcing Claire to shop with me so she could pick out something she liked and then pulling the rest of our outfits around it (tween's privilege). We took photos for all of 15 minutes, my children were throwing peace signs and sticking out their tongues for 7.5 of them, and James growled at me anytime the photographer told us to look at each other, so I had my doubts as to the outcome.
But they are perfect.

And they are perfect not just because they look beautiful, but because they looked relaxed and like US.
We hadn't done family portraits in a while and when I realized all the milestone birthdays in 2023 I knew we needed to get a session on the books.
These three... so much has changed and so little. They snipe at each other more than they ever did when they were little, but Landon and Claire are super close and all three of them still play together constantly and generally without issue when we're home or on vacation.

Somehow, our baby Landon will turn 16 in July.
He is learning to drive despite his extreme lack of interest. He had his first girlfriend, swam in the high school state meet, and was just interviewed for an article in our local paper. He creates his own one-man-show every night when he does the dishes and remains hilarious, generous, adventurous, and a friend to all babies and animals.
Claire will turn 13 in June.
Frankly it's a little surprising she wasn't already a teenager, but this girl remains a bright ball of love and feelings and words. She has worked through some really big fears in the last year and we are so proud of her. She is now an enthusiastic member of the White Rock Rowing Rec Team, knows everything Sephora sells, and unlike her brother, cannot wait to drive.
Cora will turn 10 in November. All our children will be in "double digits."
She is smart, fast, incredibly thoughtful, and extremely meticulous when it comes to her school work. She does soccer and gymnastics, wants to add swimming, and walks home from school by herself every day, collecting sticks and other treasures on the way. She begrudgingly admits Dallas is pretty great, but plans to buy our old Fort Worth house when she grows up.
James and I celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary in September- our marriage is a legal adult, and honestly, that feels right.
We've had some huge changes with my new job and this move and I'm so proud of how we've navigated them. I don't think we've ever been stronger, happier, or, per our children, more annoyingly affectionate. We have been THROUGH some things and our lives are better through work, listening, therapy, and chemistry, but man do I feel more solid and crazy in love than ever. The 18-year-old me who met a tipsy 19-year-old James while getting kicked out of a bar on 6th Street would never have seen this coming. I am so damn lucky.
I'm so thankful for our photographer for capturing us as we are, in our favorite place in this new city.
I love this crew with my whole heart and love the way they love me back with all of theirs. I'm so glad to have this evening frozen in time so I can remember exactly who we were right now, while feeling happy about wherever it is we'll be in the future.