Friday, February 23, 2024

This post took 2 weeks to write and I only have this to show for it

The last week was a long one. It's always longer when I start the week in another city, then you add a silly beloved holiday right in the middle, and a lot of work, some angst, and honestly just missing having a local friend who could have met for a margarita after work on Friday. But this morning James took Cora to her swim meet at 6 a.m. (I went yesterday) and I woke up at the indulgent hour of 7:30 and am currently downstairs on my fluffy couch with an even fluffier cat curled up beside me, Love is Blind Season 6 (episode 5; I don't like Jimmy, Trevor deserves the world) on TV, the big kids still fast asleep, two cups of tea brewing next to me, and my personal laptop on my lap.

(*Author's note: I did not manage to finish on Sunday, so now it's Monday morning which I very belatedly realized was both a school and work holiday, except it's really only the former, so I'm sequestered in my study between calls and the kids are doing who knows what throughout the rest of the house. Maggie has sought sanctuary here with me.)

(**And now it's Thursday. [shrug emoji] I don't know. What is time?]

[OMG IT'S NOW FRIDAY. I'm sitting in the stands waiting for the Texas High School State Meet to begin and I will press publish before it does. I'm not writing the great American novel here.]
Today Bonnie comes over at noon to make new outfits and I cannot wait. She has changed how I look at my clothes and put together my outfits so much. [Update she did and it was awesome and is getting its own post.]
Back to (last) Monday. Chicago was great. The weather was pure perfection and I felt like it was taunting me with what I could have if I lived there instead of the Hades inferno of my current locale. I treated myself to one medium sized bag of Garrett's Chicago Mix popcorn and enjoyed every single cheesy caramelly kernel. Then I held myself from buying more for the next 36 hours.
Wednesday was the first time I've woken up away from my Valentine's since James and I met.
As I've documented every year, we have a bunch of Valentine's traditions that we've gathered over the years. Decorating the kitchen table after the kids go to bed with the $3 Target plastic table cloth I bought many years ago and the fake rose petals I picked up at a dollar store many years before that. James picks out a special card for each kid and some sort of treat- candy or, now that Landon won't eat it, a $2 lottery card. Our Valentine's is simple, repeatable, and can be done even when I'm not there.
James sent me that picture below on Tuesday night right before I went to bed and it made my heart happy.
I was able to jump on an earlier flight home and getting up at 5 a.m. was worth arriving in time for a sushi lunch date with James.
We made our traditional heart-shaped pizza with the kids for dinner and opened our cards. Everyone had saved theirs until I could be home to open mine too.
We learned that James picked out the exact same card for Cora two years in a row. He works really hard to find ones personalized for each kid, so of course the puppy with the googly eyes was going to accidentally get selected twice for Cora. At first he didn't believe her but she ran upstairs to her special memory box and immediately produced the receipt. It's all very Cora.
We also learned that Landon doesn't understand how envelopes work.
Cora surprised us all with painstakingly hand-crafted cards personalized to each one of us. Mine is on my bulletin board at work where it makes me smile every day.
Valentine's Day is a silly holiday, but I love our version of it quite dearly.
Also Claire met up with a friend and borrowed my white velvet jeans, jean jacket, and necklace and I cannot. Sharing jeans was a parental milestone I did not foresee having an impact on me, but man. Also this picture reminds me that I still haven't gotten any of those things back. She needs a sign-out sheet.
Thursday dawned and I found it quite shocking I still had two work days left in a week that already felt sufficiently long. I did still work out every day, one day solely because my sister's apple watch makes me (her watch brags to my watch and my oldest child self is powerless to resist) and I mean, whatever it takes.
On Friday I finally wore this super cute outfit Bonnie pulled together for me seasons ago and I loved it.
And then we made it to Friday night, and that was good.
Until my alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. for Cora's swim meet Saturday morning, but this is our current chapter of life. I'm here for it. Literally, with my little stadium chair, water bottle, and very strong black tea.

And now a whole other week has happened, so I might as well include a bit from that. I did not travel, which is always nice. (Well, I didn't travel for work, I'm literally in Austin right now as I type this, so my trusty suitcase did not go empty.)

I wore the most fun dress on Tuesday for a client CLE and then dinner with all my women partners to celebrate our newest female partner! She's currently on maternity leave, so it was wonderful to see and celebrate her since we haven't seen her since she made it.
On Wednesday Landon finally got his class rank (top 5%!). We know he is so very smart and he's the only sophomore in his school currently in Chem II AP and Pre-Cal AP and he's in English III AP with all the juniors and he swims all the time and gets up at 5 a.m. and meal preps his own lunches and we have absolutey zero involvement in any of this. We're so proud of him. We also had this conversation on Monday night:

Landon: “Mom you never really hear about the coast of Montana.”
Me: “Landon, Montana borders Canada.”
Landon: “Huh. Probably not much of a surfing scene then.”
I mean.

I continue to love texting with teens. This is basically Claire's whole world view in one text message:
Also James and I went out for a random date Sunday night at 5:30 p.m.
I corrected her grammar in response and got a DON'T BULLY ME in response.

The meet is about to start, so we'll close with how Milo arranges himself after our housekeepers come on Monday. They always arrange Cora's myriad of pillows and animals in a cute we and Milo adds himself to the arrangement.
Happy Friday and go Wildcats! Our meet begins!

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Hello from Taylor's Boyfriend's Usher Concert Game

Okay, I've tried to write a post for DAYS and have obviously failed. Life is just so dang busy and the rare moments it's not, I want to read or rest or flirt with James, and so my personal laptop is almost never opened. But the Super Bowl is on and this has become MY TIME to get a blog post done. We made a delicious nacho bar, signed up for a free trial of Paramount+ and now everyone is on the couch half-watching the football while Landon tells us the over/under on every crazy Super Bowl bet you can make. We've seen our goddess Taylor 2 times and apparently the over/under is 5.5. Also we all just learned what a horse-collar is.

(James is offended by my use of "all." To be clear, he was the one explaining it to us.)
I have many a random update and a lot of selfies. I was trying to figure out why most of my pictures are of me, Maggie, or Milo these days and then the answer came to me: my kids are big, busy, and no longer in the phase of doing adorable things I can publicly post. They're still adorable, but they're funny and nuanced and mostly look the same day-to-day and these are not things you can capture in a photo. But a perfectly fluffy perfect cat? Or a new outfit that makes me feel good and confident and strong? Yes. The iPhone was made for moments such as these.
(Also Bonnie sent me the link to buy that white "worth it" Veronica Beard blazer in an amazing end-of-year sale so it was well under $200 and this is one of many reasons why she actually saves me money. #GirlMath #AlsoActualMath.)

(Also ALSO, those black pants haven't fit me in 2 years and I remembered I'd put them in a bin with holiday clothes so that looking at them in my closet didn't make me feel bad and I pulled them out last Thursday and they're basically brand new and it's nice to see results from all the "no I don't drink at work events" and "no, I'll take water instead of that welcome glass of champagne" and "this cup of grapes is the perfect in-flight snack even it doesn't involve chocolate in any form." I travel too much to make everything a treat, and dammit if I don't feel SO MUCH better following these general guidelines than anything more fleetingly indulgent. Plus, it's been nice to save those indulgences for friends and family; I still indulge, I'm just picky about it. Oddly, this is a lesson Bonnie taught me too.)

(Like this hot pink L'AGENCE blazer I stalked on The Real Real. It's an indulgence that ALSO makes me feel good. I try to wear pink every Wednesday in honor of the Mean Girls of my young adulthood.)

But in lieu of an actual topic, I do have big kid updates! Sometimes it truly shocks me how very big they are... that we’re on the back half of parenting with kids at home. This picture popped up in my memories from 5 years ago when we adopted Maggie and they all look so small and soft.
Only 5 years ago!

Now Landon drives himself home from his high school swim meets and I see him out of the corner of my eye and wonder who that random man is in my house. He's rocking 5 AP classes we basically never hear about, swims 4 hours a day, eats a full dozen eggs for breakfast (plus a tall stack of pancakes and two biscuits), and if his brain occasionally goes offline while he grows another foot, he is secretly outrageously smart and surely the practical knowledge he had two years ago will one day come back to him.
Claire saves all her babysitting money for Lululemon and Sephora purchases, requested layers at her haircut on Saturday, and bought a flat iron so she could do her own hair in the morning. She is kind and quirky, strong and yet a little bit fragile. She goes to high school this fall. I don't even know what to do with that.
Cora, our squishy third baby, is 10 and tall and strong and so independent that she really could be the one going to college in 2 years. She adores all animals and spends her free time watching animal documentaries that are often too sad for me to handle. "That's just life mom," she says knowingly, "sometimes it's hard in the wild." She reads a book every 2 days, cares deeply about everything, and tells the best longest stories about her days at school.
I try very much to live in the present, but I'll admit that sometimes I look around the table at dinner and cannot imagine we’ll be eating there without Landon in two short years. That we'll be a sort of family of four with no fifth person sitting at the end of the table and I absolutely hate it. But the only thing that keeps me from wishing for time to stop is knowing that we have soaked up every bit joy we could from every year of being their parents and it reminds me to keep doing the same. We played Uno Attack the other night and were laughing so hard and I clicked the camera in my mind to just hold it tight. I love this crew and someday this phase will seem young and nostalgic too.
But back to me. I went to Washington, DC last week. My first trip there since November which is by far my longest gap in trips in the nearly 2 years since I started this job. It has been LOVELY actually living in my house with my family, but I feel rested and ready for the next few months of trips ahead of me.

I feel like I have a solid routine now: my trusty carry-on suitcase with packing cubes, my toiletry bag that has a travel size of every single thing I use and never has to be unpacked or repacked, and my makeup bag with the same. My giant LV purse that can fit all the things and still look profesh, and that has my smaller clutch-on-a-chain purse inside to use for dinners and events. James bought me that Burberry trenchcoat for Valentine's Day 2022- our first fancy purchase after I'd accepted (but not yet started) my new job, and it has gone with me on almost every trip in the non-summertime.
New to my packing routine: workout clothes! I have kept up my exercise every damn day commitment since last fall and work travel is no exception. I either use the gym at whatever hotel I'm at, or use the resistance bands I keep in my suitcase with my beloved HIIT Dog app which has a "resistance bands" option. On the DC trip I stayed at the Ritz which has the fabulous Equinox gym attached so I got to do a Pilates and Barre class in the mornings before work. I can never make group fitness work at home, but it felt SO GOOD to fit two in on my trip.
Tomorrow I go to Chicago and my work and workout clothes are ready for that too! Also, a quick shout out to the women's bathroom in the hallway leading to Terminal 1 at Reagan National Airport. It has the BEST natural light.
Last week I hit my 2-year anniversary of leaving the SEC which means I don't need to pre-clear every case I take through the SEC ethics office anymore, so that's exciting. I celebrated by getting drinks with a friend (my first margarita since November-ish and it was delicious; I stopped drinking Diet Coke last September and think I've hopefully lost my taste for it, but apparently frozen margaritas are forever), wearing my Barbie Lawyer sweatshirt (at the top), and finding a meme that spoke all the way to my soul.
"in the distance, sirens" reads like a poem. I love it. It's also agonizingly accurate.

And now we've reached the past weekend, which in a world where I blogged more I'd save for another post, but who knows when I'll find myself at this laptop again: my parents came up from Houston and Landon competed at his High School Regionals swim meet, and he did GREAT!
He has been working so hard and it is so fantastic to really start to see it pay off. He went all best times in prelims and finals. He got 3rd in the 100 fly (51.95) and 100 back (52.80) with times that both got picked up for State (in Texas the top 2 finishers from each of the 8 regions automatically go to state and then the next 8 fastest from any region are also picked up to make 24 swimmers in each event). He was actually the 1st pickup in the 100 back and the 5th in the 100 fly and that's pretty great for a sophomore.
It was so fun to watch. I failed to take any pictures besides this one, but James was of course there both days and the girls were there for finals. Landon is the only boy to qualify from his under-funded inner-city public high school and one girl qualified as well, so we will be a small but mighty team at state, but we can't wait to cheer them both on at the UT pool in two weeks! I always love being back in the pool where I have so many state memories of my own and where James and I spent so much time in college.
And now I need to go pack for Chicago. Happiest Sunday my friends, may you all have a great week. Maggie loves you.