Friday, January 26, 2024

5 (or 6) on a Friday

Maggie says hi.
Today is her 5-year adoptiversary! She spend her first few years of life in horrific conditions as a breeder mom for a bulldog breeder and she encourages you all to adopt and support your local animal rescues. They do hard, life changing work. Lonestar Bulldog Club and Rescue saved our sweet Mags when she was a starving and broken and we're all so thankful for them. She now lives a life of strollers, fluffy blankets and winter sweaters (and allergy shots and opthamologist visits) and she deserves every bit of it.
(Yes, the cats have taught Maggie to loaf. They are her alphas and she does whatever they say.)

Okay, I've been trying to write a post for 2 weeks so I'm going to force myself into the "Five on a Friday" format stolen from Shu and Sarah and see if that will carry me through to the publish button.

(1) Changes. I'm coming up on my 2-year anniversary of leaving the SEC and rejoining private practice. It's been a lot of change: new city, new house, new schools, new needs, new routines, new support, new income, new goals, new expectations, new almost everything really. And I finally feel like I'm right now in a pretty good place with it all. I know we only moved an hour away, but that hour was far enough to need to change basically EVERYTHING. Every doctor, every specialist, every person or place we saw regularly in Fort Worth had to be replaced in Dallas for five people and three pets and that takes a while. I just finally found a hair salon and got my hair cut for the first time in over a year and I've already made my next appointment so I can be a real grown-up who gets regular hair cuts.

Speaking of changes, I found grey hairs the other day! I don't know why it shocked me so much- I guess because neither my mom and maternal grandmother have grey hair even now, but as part of my grown-up maintenance, I'm getting my hair "glazed" at my next appointment. I've never dyed my hair in my whole life, not even a highlight or teenage from-the-box boondoggle, but I really love my haircolor and just want to keep it vibrant in this next decade. I'm fine with some grey, and definitely can't handle regular maintenance (see first haircut in 14 months above), so the stylist recommended some glossing/glazing (I can't remember what it's called) to keep my color up but also let the grey blend in. We'll see.
On a related note, I got Skinvive yesterday. I've been really happy with my skincare since switching to Dr. Whitney Bowe beauty, but I haven't had a facial or laser treatment in two years and felt I could use a little extra "glow." The RN who does my Botox (I do a light touch around my eyes 3-4x yearly) recommended the Skinvive so I decided to try it as my treatment for the year. It takes a few weeks to show up and then continues improving your skin for approximately 9 months. I'll keep you posted.
A friend had an extra ticket to the Dallas Bar Association Inaugural Ball last weekend and asked if I'd like to go. I love a fancy night out with a friend and James had a swim meet, so I jumped at the chance for a Black Tie event. This is also why I finally remembered to schedule a haircut for that day, figuring I'd take my blow out to the ball. I also got to wear the dress I bought in 2019 to wear as a bridesmaid in my brother's summer 2020 wedding that got postponed and then canceled due to Covid. My dress, hair, and I were so happy to go out!
I wore my grandmother's pearl bracelet, my grandma Jo's garnet ring, my aunty Mary's pearl earrings, and the purse I bought myself for Christmas and had a great time.
(2) Winter Weather. I really like it when it gets cold outside and I get mad when it gets hot again (which is why I'm basically mad from May-September), but I do not always enjoy how Texas likes to have random extreme cold followed by mild weather followed immediately by a day it doesn't get above zero followed by 78 degrees. Just stay in the 40's for a while. Then I'll know what to wear when I leave the house.
We lost power during the last ice blast and spent a cozy evening playing cards by firelight. Maggie loved it.
(3) Travel. I spent last night booking our summer vacation! I felt we were really missing a good hiking adventure trip (like our Utah trip, which resulted in one of my favorite pictures of all time), so we're headed up to Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho- three states none of us have ever been to, to explore Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks!
I'm so excited.

Current plan is to fly into Glacier, stay 3 nights near there, drive down to Yellowstone and stay 2 nights near the top of the park, and then drive down to Swan Valley to stay in a friend's house for 4 nights and explore the southern side of Yellowstone and Grand Teton. I have a private all-day wildlife/hiking tour booked for our first day in Yellowstone, but that's it so far. If you've been to any or all of these places, I would LOVE your recommendations. Favorite hikes, stops, restaurants, etc.

(This seems the right spot to throw in the fact that I did in fact finish the kids' photobooks for last year and they got them at Christmas and they love them and even though they are my annual albatross, the kids love them SO much and so do I. I constantly find them reading them (we keep a random stack in the living room and change up the years) and repeating stories I've captured inside to one another.)
Looking forward to photobooking this next big adventure!
(4) Health and Fitness. As noted in my last post, I recently got into running. I even ran during our crazy snow and ice storms of 2 weeks ago when the lake I run along looked like this:
Then my knee started hurting pretty badly, so I took a little break before running again when my knee hurt just as badly. So then I decided if it's going to hurt I might as well run (spoken like the true high-level athlete I used to be), but then it started hurting when I wasn't running so now I have a physical therapy appointment on Monday. I'm annoyed because I was genuinely enjoying running and particularly loved feeling like I got a really good workout in the smallest possible amount of time. But I've been doing my HIIT and pilates work outs up in my room, so I'm still feeling pretty good. Missing running is almost as weird as the fact I started running in the first place.

(5) Clothes. As I've written about intermittently over the last two years, I embarked on a major clothing/style journey when I took this new job. Particularly after 2+ years of working from home during Covid, I needed an upgrade of nearly everything for going back to the office (I'm in 4 days a week), a lot of work travel and speaking engagements, and just a generally more dressed-up environment. Even when it's casual, it's a designer casual and while this is superficial, when you're building something new, the superficial matters.
Bonnie has been my style guru for the past 2 years and has completely changed how I think about my clothes and shopping. After spending the first year in an acquisition phase- actively adding to my wardrobe with each season, I now just add the occasional piece, or sometimes replace an old staple with an updated one. And after years of wearing dresses to work, I now almost never do- it's always 3 pieces: top, bottom, and blazer, and I love how it looks and feels.
I love The Real Real and have picked up a few pre-worn/consignment pieces from there over the last year. I'm now so picky when I shop. I actually hardly ever shop anymore at all- just my annual birthday trip with my mom and the occasional online order. I feel like I have to justify any add to my closet to Bonnie when she comes so it's a very strict and deliberative process. I have some favorite brands and I now keep an eye out for their occasional sale or perfect new piece, but overall, I love where my clothes are at. I feel strong and smart and put together and it matters.
Favorite Brands:
Vince (skirts, pants, cashmere sweaters, silk anything)
Veronica Beard (blazers!, dresses)
Frame (jeans, tops, dresses)
L'AGENCE (blazers, jeans)
Evereve (denim and sweaters)

Bonnie is back for my Spring styling appointment in mid-February and I can't wait. I got the most beautiful hot pink L'AGENCE blazer on The Real Real in November (and an amazing sleeveless vest blazer from Veronica Beard at their year-end sale) and she's going to do magical things with them I'm sure.

(6) The Kids. I knew I couldn't keep to 5, but a quick note that the kids are all fine.

The girls had their first swim meet together last weekend and both did great. We're still playing it cool about the fact Claire is back in the pool, but we're secretly VERY EXCITED and HOPE SHE SWIMS IN HIGH SCHOOL VERY MUCH. But also, you know, whatever, it's cool if you don't want to, we just love you so much and want you to have a team who loves and supports you and helps you feel connected and successful. But whatever. (We love you.) (You should swim.) (Love you.)
Landon's sophomore year is going well. He's progressed to needing a large pizza for dinner on Friday plus a bowl of cereal after. He's looking forward to the end-of-season swim meets that are coming up and to finally receiving his class rank for the first time. Also, I sometimes feel like I can't breathe when I realize he has less than 2.5 years living in this house, but that's okay everything is fine.
I've been writing this off and on for most of the day and I'm now on the couch with my Milo snuggled next to me and life is very good. I will now press publish nad move on to sipping my Friday glass of wine and googling everything on the internet about Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks. Happy Friday to everyone!

Saturday, January 13, 2024

TV Star Miscellany

2024 just took OFF this past week and I was still hoping to catch up on the rest of 2023, so we'll dive right in. This has been a super busy work week, which is great- I feel like so many of the threads I've been weaving over the last nearly two years are coming together, but my jam-packed calendar threw a big wrench in my previous five-months-long committment to daily exercise. And I was doing SO well! But life is life and I've decided it's okay to pick a glass of wine and an extra hour of sleep over a workout every now and then.

On Monday the kids were STILL off school, so I was the only person in my house awake when I left to get my run in before work. To get myself excited about leaving my cozy house with its fuzzy blankets and purring pets post-run, I wore the skirt my sister got me for Christmas.
I love it. And I love how Bonnie has helped shape my wardrobe so I know exactly how to put this outfit together and already have the solid color staple pieces to make it happen. The nearly 4" booties, while gorgeous, were perhaps not my best choice for the first day my feet were not in fuzzy crocs, but look how pretty:
On Tuesday I was very proud of the fact that I got home from work at 4:45 pm so I could fit in a run before dark, even though I was on a call my whole drive home and as I was changing and I literally RAN out the door as soon as the call ended instead of changing into fleece clothing and cuddling on the couch with Milo like I wanted to.

And look at the gorgeous cotton candy sky and sunset that kept me company until it all turned dark 40 minutes later.
And yes, I did type "run" (multiple times!) above.
In the last month, I've somehow started running. At first it was just because I still wanted to do my 4 mile path along the lake, but I only had 45 minutes isntead of the hour it takes me to walk it. So I alternated running and walking by song on one of my old barre playlists. That felt good, so a few days later, I went to walking 1 song and running 2, then repeat. Then walking 1 song and running 3, repeat, then 4, and last week I started walking 1 song and running 5. I'm slow, but it feels good, in a way that running never has, and I was genuinely sad when I couldn't even fit that into my schedule Wedneday - Friday of this week, but I'm heading out as soon as I press post this morning. (Wait no, I have a call at 10, but THEN I'm going.)
Part of the reason my exercise schedule got off track was because I found out Tuesday night that I was going to be on CNBC's Squawk Box the next morning and I was up late accepting a Zoom invite from "NBC Universal" like that's a normal thing to do and then I couldn't sleep for fear I couldn't wake up at 4:30 to get TV ready. Next thing I knew it was 6 a.m. and I was on live TV, wearing pink (it was a Wednesday), beaming out from my home office, with no prep or warning on questions I'd be asked and it was all terrifying and exciting and over before anyone else in our house is awake.

So yeah, I was on TV! It took me all day on Wednesday to actually watch the segment, but while I wish I'd known better where the questions were going and I wish I didn't have a stutter that still pops up and makes me get stuck on words at completely random moments, AND that I had a hair and makeup team and better lighting in my study before the sun rises, I feel good about it.

I had a moment realizing that the first person I probably would have texted about my TV apperance would have been my Grandpa, and now I couldn't. Grief hits at surprising moments. But I wore my grandma's pearl earrings he gave her when they were married, and the pearl necklace my Aunty Mary gave me when I turned 18, and while my grandpa and aunt are gone and my grandma is both gone and still physically here, I loved feeling them with me. Like when I wear the beautiful garnet ring that was my Grandma Jo's, I've really become attached to the special, tangible items I have from those I've loved who are gone.
And my Aunty Lee happened to be visiting my Grandpa Jim, who is still very much with us but not a texter, so he got to see my interview and respond through Lee!
Grandparents are so special.

Post-interview, and still very early in the morning, I changed into a slightly jazzier ensemble that I knew wouldn't have translated as well on TV, but that made me happy and almost able to forget that I'd gotten about 3 hours of sleep.
I love that houndstooth blazer and I got to wear the gorgeous Chanel necklace James got me for Christmas for the first time. I adore it. Maybe one day one of my granddaughters will wear it with the earrings from their great-great-grandmother and feel as happy and sparkly as I did.
The kids all went back to school on Tuesday, so here we are in the back-half of Landon's sophomore year (what/how), Claire's last year of middle school, and Cora's second-to-last year of elementary school.

Speaking of children, a few random updates I didn't post before because they weren't related to Christmas or skiing:

On December 31, 2023 we marked the end of an era.
Landon has been doing the dishes every night since he turned 13. It takes him anywhere from 25-65 minutes. He often stops for musical numbers or a dramatic retelling of the day's events. He sings to the cats, tells long-winded stories, and sometimes pauses for some almost deep thoughts on life. He's had to take a break for cereal because he's taken so long he's hungry again, and he has made us laugh about a thousand times. Doing the dishes for the last 3.5 years has meant that Landon is obsessed with how many dishes are used in a meal (“No Claire! Your salad can ALSO go ON YOUR PLATE” and “Mom! just reuse the same pan!”) and that James and I could sit at the table and chat when dinner was done, in what was sometimes our only direct conversation of the busy weekday. It has been lovely, even if (and sometimes especially when) Landon interrupted frequently with notes of his own.

We’ve always felt strongly that it takes a lot to run this house and there’s no reason everyone in the house shouldn’t help. But Landon recently pointed out that Claire is now 13, and he doesn't get home from swimming until 8:15 and also he's taking 5 AP classes, and we agreed it was reasonable to pass the torch. And so on the last night of the last year, Landon hung up his scrubber brush. As he washed that night he asked if he will receive a plaque and/or if he can film a "how to wash dishes class" to sell online “because I have a lot of knowledge.”

So far the transition has been uneventful, with Claire noting on her first night of dishes that "this isn't that hard, why did Landon take so long?"
Speaking of, Claire is doing okay. We're working through it and no one in this house is sad that middle school will be over for her in just over 4 months. She has joined Cora's swim team and that is going great. She needed an activity and even if it's not her favorite, swimming is something she is so good at and we'd love for her to swim in high school. Swimmers are a welcoming bunch and I think she'd love it, but we know well that ideas work better when they come from the subject themself, so I'm just playing it cool, secretly whispering thoughts of swimming fun in her ears while she sleeps.

Before the break, our little elementary schooler was in the school spelling bee!
She made it through many rounds and did not get embarassed or cry and we all considered it a great success. She's excited for next year.
She also built a robot named Bob. Bob had to show three types of energy (she chose thermal, sound, and light) and she spent 3 weeks steadily and carefully creating him. Absolutely no parental help, no last minute work, just Cora being Cora- doing things on her own with a mapped out scheduled that ensured she'd be done at least 3 days before the due date so she "wouldn't feel stressed."
It will always blow my mind when I see how different my children, who I grew and birthed and raised, can be from me. It's one of my favorite parts of parenting.

Milo also loves Bob and is glad that he is back in our house.
Also in the last two months, I got my first mammogram. Then I had to have a follow up mammogram and then an MRI, but all is well. I'll see the squish machines again next year.
Alright, it's time for my call and then my run. We've lived in this house for 14 months now, and living this close to White Rock Lake remains my very favorite thing about it.
Happy Saturday all.
Stay warm (and safe).

Saturday, January 6, 2024

New Year's Road Trip

Happy New Year from Winter Park!
We celebrated New Year's Eve by going to bed very early and driving to Colorado on New Year's Day. (And also being woken up by a sick Cora from 2-7 am and delaying our trip to take her to urgent care where it took forever to find out she had justavirus and the result was just everyone being tired and getting to my sister's house in Boulder hours later than originally planned.)

Luckily, Cora rebounded in the fresh Colorado air and no one got altitude sickness this time, so despite our ominous start, the journey was a medical success.

I did an insane cardio class workout with my sister the next morning- it involved climber machines and ski machines and I thought I was in pretty good shape but I nearly died. I cheated so much at the ski machine I kept expecting to get in trouble with the teacher/authority figure, but not even that grave fear could get me to pull harder on the handles. Altitude is no joke and neither is group fitness, something I hadn't done since the last time I was in Colorado and did a yoga class with my sister in April.

With my first workout of 2024 checked off, and my heart still beating (if perhaps too fast and loudly), we packed up and headed up the mountains to my parents' house in Winter Park. Now with a hottub on the back deck!
Which Landon turned into his own form of hot/cold therapy that made me hurt just to watch him. Exhibit #1 million that he is way more James than me.
We missed skiing last year- our first year without a family ski trip since Claire was born, so we made it work in a tight turnaround this year between Landon's equally dreaded and highly anticipated New Year's Eve swim practice (20 x 500's; he did the last one all fly because he is a crazy person) and the amount of work I need to do in the first half of January. This was my road trip reading for part of the ride:
It was a lot of driving (for James; I don't drive on family trips), but I think we all missed the mountains and I forgot how much I love watching the kids ski.

The five of us headed out early to hit the slopes when the lifts opened.
It was a gorgeous day- about 20 degrees and bright blue skies.
Cora had a moment where she forgot she liked snow when skis were on her feet (I mean, she did spend about 7 years absolutely hating it), but luckily she was back on board by the time we got halfway down her first green and she was all the way happy as we cruised down our first blue.
She gets such a grin when she's going fast.
It's possible Landon has more confidence than actual skill, but he enjoyed himself, swerving in and out of trees and getting down the slopes first.
Claire is smooth and controlled. Nervous, but game to try, and I'd see her smiling whenever she made a clean swish of a turn.
The conditions weren't perfect- the mountain needs more snow and the runs were a little icey, but the views are so beautiful, and you just feel so lucky to be able to see them the whole way up and down each run, it doesn't really matter.
James usually leads the way, then Landon, then Cora, then Claire, then me, making sure no one falls or that I can grab their skis or poles if/when they do.
Halfway through the day, I released James to go do all the double black diamonds he loves so much while I met my parents, sister and crew at the base to eat our packed lunches.
After lunch, my sister and brother-in-law went back to the bunny slope with the littles, while my parents joined me, Landon, Claire, Cora and my oldest niece Sky.
It was so fun. My parents are great skiers and enjoy skiing with the grandkids so much.
I think maybe the best part was listening to Cora and Sky encourage each other as they skied. Every time they paused, you'd hear "you can do it Sky!" and "great job Cora!". Cora's my only kid with a cousin close in age and it's such a joy to watch them.
Towards the end of the day, as we got to our last run right before the lifts closed, Claire's legs just decided they were done.
She kept falling and she was tired and I was SO PROUD of her every time she got back up and kept going down. My dad stayed back with us and it was a long, slow way down, but she did it and she was smiling at the end and told my dad she had a GREAT day and it was.
We were kicked off the mountain at 4 pm and trudged our way back to the car with our skis, boots, and poles. That walk is always the worst part of the day, but the kids were in good spirits and can carry their own gear now, so it's not nearly the hellish march it once was. We stopped in the village to get cookies for everyone, stopped to swing on swings, and then made our way home.
We finished the day back in the hottub, which was lovely.
The next morning we slept in, which was ALSO lovely, and lazed about the house (and/or answered a bunch of work emails, depending on your current professional status). I also made two kinds of scones which were AMAZING and, I decided, calorically neutral after all the skiing we did the day before.

We only bought lift tickets for one day because skiing is so freaking expensive and we only had two days and wanted some time to play, so we headed off to the historic Fraser Tubing Hill for some afternoon fun.
I got to tube with my girls, with my boyfriend, with all of my nieces, including a round with each of my tiniest ones in my lap and it was so fun and fast.
We love a snowy play day.

Unfortunately we got some bad health news about my Grandma when we returned from the hill, so my parents packed up and started the drive back to Texas right behind us. Thanks to her sweet nurse, we were able to FaceTime with her. She couldn't open her eyes, but she recognized my mom's voice immediately and we all sang "You Are My Sunshine" to her and she even sang along. I'm so grateful we all happened to be together at my parents' house in that moment- my dad, sister, me, all our kids.
She's holding steady right now, but my parents are glad to be back in Texas and nearby. And I'm so glad we were able to fit in our mini ski trip, nestled between hosting Christmas, recovering from hosting Christmas, and school/work starting up again. It was a lot of driving for one full day in the mountains, but as always I'm so thankful for James and his willingness to drive us anywhere and the kids for being such good travelers.
And now I'm reunited with the pets and the couch and my much bigger monitors for my work computer. I have thoughts on the New Year and I'll write about them next. But for now, it's off to bed wish good wishes for a Happy 2024 to you all!