Thursday, February 22, 2018

All the reasons I cannot be sick right now

So it's been rainy and cold and miserable here for days, and will continue to be for days more. On Tuesday night my throat hurt at dinner but I ignored it in hopes it would go away, which is always my go-to health plan even though it has never worked. Yesterday it hurt when I woke up, but I didn't FEEL bad, yet, so I persevered. I went to work, I went to yoga at lunch because Wednesday's teacher is my favorite, and then I went back to work only to watch the office clear out under a dire extreme freezing rain/thunderstorm forecast that made the whole weather radar screen look purple which is a color we hadn't seen before.

Sadly, instead of going home to be warm, dry, and cozy, I had to go sub a barre class I'd agreed to weeks ago. So me and my sore throat put on our rain boots and ran across a college campus in the pouring rain to do that. It was actually a great class, and the adrenaline I get from teaching tricked me into thinking my "ignore it" plan had been successful, but then I got home and felt terrible and I didn't want wine even though we were eating pasta and I knew that I probably had Ebola.

Claire had her first soccer practice! (And not Ebola)

My throat talked to me all night, every hour, even through ibuprofen and 1.5x my official dose of sleeping pills. This morning I felt extra terrible, so I dragged myself to the doctor (with a wax appointment on the way because I already had it scheduled and I would be driving by it anyway, but seriously, it's been a weird day) and got diagnosed with pharyngitis. So no strep, but a trained physician agreed sympatheticaly my throat was red and angry and looked painful. I got a steroid shot and a Z pack and a second Venti Citrus Defender tea from Starbucks (white citrus tea + steamed lemonade + extra honey; it is excellent).

Let it be known that Cora remains focused and hard at work

I went to work because we had a case up before the Commission I wanted to watch and a group meeting with a birthday cake for me and my group birthday buddies. It is the saddest thing to have your favorite cake before you and wonder if it's worth the pain and effort of swallowing to eat it.

It was.

Nothing Bundt Cake "Funfetti" Flavor of the Month. I'd have to actually have Ebola to not like that.

The rest of the week looks like this:

5:30 Teach Barre (yelling over music with a sore throat is the BEST, but no one could sub, so off I went)
7:00 Landon's championship basketball game (they won!)
8:00 Dinner out after Landon's basketball game (I left the game at halftime with the girls and James and Landon had a boys night out)

Friday (I have already used up precious credit hours to take the whole day off)
8:30 Blood work appointment (unrelated)
9:30 Yoga with one of my fave teachers I usually don't get to see (I really hope I feel good enough to go to this; mostly because it would mean I felt better, but also because I really like this class)
midday My mom comes to take me shopping and to a birthday lunch! Harvey has meant we didn't get to see them much this fall/winter, so I am so excited about this and really want to feel good and enjoy it.
6ish My dad flies in from NY (where he was for business)

4-fucking-10 AM James and I leave for the airport (ughhhhh, you know I'm not getting any sleep Friday night) to go to Maryland to visit his very ill dad
(Landon has a basketball tournament; my parents will be here all day with the kids.)
11 pm James and I get back home from the airport/Maryland

6:05 a.m. I officially turn 25!
10ish Birthday Brunch with my parents!
2:30 Another fave yoga class
6ish Birthday dinner with my little family of five that was supposed to involve margaritas and really big funfetti cookies with buttercream icing between them

12:00 Work friend birthday lunch at Lili's which sells Gorgonzola fries that will blow your mind
6:00 Claire's school program; she is "Clownfish #2" and VERY excited

So I have a lot of fun stuff in there I really want to enjoy. I have some stressful emotionally draining stuff where I need to be strong for someone else and on my A game. I need to not feel fire in my throat every time I swallow. I need to be able to sleep without waking up every 10 minutes because of the fire in my throat when I swallow. I need to figure out what you wear to see your in-laws for the first time in a decade on a 20-hour travel day.

I don't know how much I'll write about Saturday. I'll be there, but it's not my story. I'll say that it's going to be a hard, long, emotionally draining day. At the very best we are visiting someone who is dying who chose for the last ten years to not have any part in our life or the lives of our children, two of which he's never met because it was easier to do that than to challenge his spouse. That was true, in every iteration, for James's entire life. James sees his father as a fellow victim of his mother; I see him as a weak man who failed to protect a child and enabled his wife. His wife who has still, not once in 10 years, ever asked about us or any of our kids. Luckily, I'm not who I was 10 years ago. I've learned that you can't judge a family you weren't part of. I've learned that very few people know that. I've learned that I knew all the good stories when we were dating (most of which I thought were the bad ones) and I've learned the bad ones later. I've learned that I will never learn them all. I've learned that family can be an enormous blessing, but it can also be an enormous blessing to be separated from your family. I've learned the naive hubris of my belief that I could fix his relationship with them; that if we just worked hard enough we could be close to them and have a normal relationship with them for our kids. I've learned to follow James's lead, and at the end of the day, it mattered for him to see his dad once more. I booked the flights that day and I'm glad we're going. I also know it's going to be a long difficult day that is not going to end in family bonding and happy tears over baby pictures. Some stories aren't like that and some people aren't capable of it. But I'm glad we're going, together. Unlike all past trips, I don't need to make them like me this time. I'm just there for James.

But I would really like my throat to not be on fire. I would also like to be able to drink wine. I have, in preparation, downloaded The Cutting Edge, Center Stage, and Step Up for airplane viewing while James sleeps beside me and I hit his shoulder whenever he snores. I'm a little sad that our second trip away together, ever, does not involve an actual night away, but I also know we're both going to be drained and we'd rather just be home. Home with the house and the family we've built for ourselves. Home to celebrate my birthday and eat cookies and stay up too late sitting on our own couch. I would like my throat to not be on fire for that too.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Pour Yourself a Drink, We've Got Some Catching Up to Do

So I was on a podcast! And then I accidentally disappeared for a week. But thanks so much for your sweet comments on the last post! I really did have so much fun talking to Sarah and once I got over the horror of having to listen to my own voice (a voice with an accent I swear I'd never noticed before), I felt pretty good about it. I could have talked for at least 3 more hours and still not gotten close to actually answering any of the logistics and balancing questions we were discussing, but for a 30-minute snippet, I feel like the words I did manage to say captured me and our life pretty well.

Date night margaritas also capture me well

So the next day was Valentine's Day! I really do love it- it's such a cute little holiday with low expenses (at least in this house), dollar store decorations, excited kids, thematic foods, and the promise of mid-week champagne. I enjoy a random, formalized reason to give each other cards with love notes and I really love a reason to split a bottle of champagne (and by "split" I mean 70/30, me.). And adding a little something to the lingerie/parcheesi drawer is always welcome.

Heart pizza James made before he left to coach

The kids woke up to their dollar store decor, sweet cards picked out by James, and candy picked out by me.

Just when I finally stopped buying thematic clothing for the kids because they have to wear uniforms to school, Valentine's Day falls on a once-a-month dress-out day and we were caught flat-footed. Landon, who is with me (and in this case, ahead of me) in all things themed, told me had had specially saved his one red shirt to wear on Wednesday because he is still sometimes just The Cutest. As it turns out, neither girl owns anything red at all, so they went for a sparkly unicorn theme.

(Flashback to 2014! Themed attire and chubbier cheeks for all! This picture squeezes my heart strings; every year with the kids is great, but Cora's first year was truly one of the happiest of my life.)

I was VERY on theme in a red silk blouse and black cropped pants. I wish I'd worn Claire's bouncing heart headband. Next year I'm determined to get my hands on some heart leggings. I like stretching the work dress code in honor of holidays.

The kids were so excited to pass out their cheap Valentine's at their parties, and I couldn't wait to hear about all the fun when I got home. And oh my gosh you guys, this year brought us our best collection of Valentine's stories EVER.

First, when I got home from work, Claire ran up to me and in one breath exclaimed:

"MOM. So. I got this giant pink stuffed poodle and I LOVE it and it’s SO SOFT and fuzzy and Antonio gave it to me and I’m the ONLY one who got one and I think that maybe this means he likes me or something and anyway I just LOVE this poodle and Antonio is okay too I guess.

She then told me Landon had "big news" but he had to tell me when he got home from basketball practice because she wasn't allowed to say. So I waited, while Cora got sent to timeout because she stole and consumed an entire bowl of m&m's under the table. She likes to create her own drama.

At 6:40 Landon was home from practice and he immediately spilled the news:

"MOM! I found out SO MANY girls have crushes on me. I heard them talking about it at lunch. I mean, basically they all do. ...

It's kind of a lot for me to handle.

Later, I overheard the big kids talking:

Landon: So one of the boys in my class got one of the girls a special present and she got him special chocolates. It’s because they like each other.

Claire: So they play together at recess?

Landon: No! He plays tag with us and she plays with the girls.

Claire: So they sit together at lunch?

Landon: No. [duh implied]

Claire, with a sigh, Well it’s a good thing there’s a Valentine’s Day, otherwise how would they even know they’re boyfriend and girlfriend?

The week pressed on, I taught barre, we started watching Ozark, I did yoga after skipping for three straight days. Oh! I completed 26 online modules for my CPR/First Aid certification course. You guys, I learned so much. I had to get certified to teach barre at TCU, and they paid for the course, but it was something I'd been wanting to do for years anyway and I'm SO GLAD I have it now. Even if it made me cry at least five times during the CPR sergments. I just kept thinking of my grandpa and those EMTs who saved his life. It felt so personal and raw. I was relieved to get the first aid portion. Having never known someone who had a tourniquet placed on massive leg wound, I could handle those videos as stone cold as the training course creators probably envisioned. And I learned some genuinely useful tips to treat early hypothermia.

I passed the written exams and dummy test portions of the course today. I feel very empowered. James is CPR certified for his swim school, but what if he has a heart attack? Who is going to do CPR on him? Also, after reading all the stats on the effectiveness of CPR (not very) I've realized what we really need is an AED machine. I looked them up on Amazon and you can have your very own for a cool $999. Maybe in his stocking next year? Basically every family member of his over the age of 50 has had a heart attack, so this feels like something we need to carry around with us.

On Friday we CPR certified members of our house went out on a date. Belated Valentine's, Early Birthday, Happy Friday- take your pick of justifications, we embraced them all. I had a beet-infused-tequila margarita with rosemary salt and vegan queso that was magically delicious (and I do mean magical because how the hell can that be true) and an entree bowl with sweet potato, tomato, lettuce, avocado, over-easy egg, and quinoa balls and you guys, it was so good. But the banana chocolate chip pizookie with almond ice cream and bruleed bananas was the best. James won't smile for pictures with food, but that dessert deserved it.

On Saturday James swam, Cora had a birthday party, I went to yoga, we all went to Landon's basketball game, and then we had our Casa Manana children's play. Cora took the opportunity to take a little TO at the basketball game. It's hard to be #3.

The play was excellent. It was called Neverland and was a very creative take on Peter Pan. I always like when I don't already know the whole plot of a children's play, so I loved it. And I love that the kids enjoy the plays so much. They really notice the acting now- "Mom! That whole play was done with only THREE people?! That's amazing!"

This was actually a musical, as they all are, and they're just captivated for the whole 90 minutes. Our yearly season tickets to Casa, and the fact such a fabulous theater is just up the road, are two of my favorite things about living in Fort Worth.

Our Sunday was the opposite of Saturday. After having 12 hours without all of us ever being in the house together at the same time, we had a day where that is all we did. It was lovely.

I did take the girls shopping at the mall at one point because Landon was having a moment, many moments all at once, and really nothing nips that in the bud faster than me leaving the space. So off we went, the return I needed to do at Children's Place in tow.

While I did my return the girls found these fabulous hats in the $1.99 clearance bin, so obviously they were purchased for next season. And also, right now. Cora was wearing a sleeveless maxi dress that had been perfectly appropriate the day before, her heavy coat she calls her "raincoat" because it was raining outside, and this very warm and wonderful ski hat on a dreary 50-degree day. That's Texas Spring in one outfit, right there.

We spent an excellent hour at the mall. I got them lunch at the Food Court and realized they'd never done that before. Having a mom who does 99% of her shopping online really takes away a lot of delicious/terrible food eating opportunities. We stopped in Gymboree on a whim and scored on their sale section. 8 items purchased, including 5 dresses (like the one below Cora felt so strongly should be hers she changed in the car in the parking lot before heading home) for a total of $42!

We got home to a refreshed Landon and dove back into our project du jour: reorganizing his room and putting together his new bed.

I love it. He LOVES it. And then I love it all over again.

I'd been looking for a new sleeping solution for his room for a while. I loved his queen size bed frame. I'd originally purchased it (a splurge from Crate & Barrel with our renovation money) for our beautiful new guest room in 2012, precisely one year before I got pregnant with Cora and realized we'd never have a guest room again. But I made it work. It lived in the nursery, it became Landon's bed when we switched up the rooms. But it really was too big for a kid's bedroom space. Landon needed more storage and room for Legos and K'nex and building intricate traps for spy games. So this full-size captain's bed with trundle finally found it's way to me through the internet and it was *perfect.*

He has so much room now! Many many more square feet of floor space! Look at that awesome rug I got at Ross 2 years ago for $15. You can SEE it now!

He also needed a way to have friends spend the night, and he has that now too! (Just pretend that bottom drawer has a twin mattress in it instead of the Legos its currently holding. Though it is REALLY working for me as a Lego drawer... do we really need sleepovers?)

But most importantly to Landon, it has bookshelves for ALL his books (that he spent nearly an hour organizing; there's a system and its adorable; all the books I've given him are in the "fake" category) and this AMAZING SPY CABINET. Or a storage cabinet. Whatever you want to call it.

I also spent ages finding him new animal sheets for his new sized bed. Finding big kid animal sheets than don't look like they should be in a nursery is harder than you'd think. He enthusiastically approves of the alligators, hedgehogs, and foxes that I found him and had a very tough time picking out which would get the honor of First Sheets.

He just loves it.

He told me first thing this morning, "I had SUCH a great sleep last night mom. I think it's because of my new bed."

We are all reminded so frequently that he's a tween with bigger feelings and deeper thoughts and a broader world view that is as exciting as it can be challenging, but it was so fun to have an afternoon where we're also reminded he's still very much a kid. A kid who spent over an hour crammed inside a storage space in the back of his bed TOTALLY TICKLED that it was there and determined to make use of it.

On another note, today was a federal holiday but not a school one, so I got to live my best life for the 8 hours between 8-3. I went to a yoga class I never get to attend (9:30 a.m. Monday morning! craziness!), did my CPR certification test without having to take off work, made lunch at home (so indulgent! no packing required!), got a pedicure, ran errands alone, picked up the kids from school, ran two more errands when they ended up going to friends' houses (an indulgence for them, since usually I'm not there chatting with moms while that happens), and made dinner. Somewhere in the middle of there I watched a full hour of the West Wing just sitting on my couch doing absolutely nothing for as long as I could stand it and it was DELIGHTFUL. All of it. James coached late and Claire had soccer practice and now I'm watching the Olympics and trying to type without missing any ice dancing. It was a lovely day.

And now we end with food (as I watch Virtue and Moir wrap up my ice dancing obsession. We need a "Step Up: On Ice!" movie in our lives; why don't we have that?):

Monday: Veggie BBQ Quinoa Salad. Usually served with leftover bbq chicken, I'm just doubling up on the black beans this time. (I've posted this many times, but it's a great wing-it kind of a meal: make a bunch of quinoa, top with black beans, corn, diced tomato, diced avocado, cheddar cheese, cilantro, and drizzle with BBQ + ranch or Italian dressing. Delish and Claire's favorite meal of all time.)

Tuesday: Greek night! Pitas (and Trader Joe's Naan bread because it's amazing and more carb-y than pitas), TJ's gyro slices (also amazing and so fast, just a couple minutes heated up in a skillet and the kids LOVE them), Ina's Greek salad that I basically just call my Greek salad now, TJ's tzatziki sauce that isn't my favorite but is also way easier than making my own, and roasted potato wedges because I have potatoes leftover from the pea soup I made on Saturday.

Wednesday: I'm subbing a barre class from 5:30-6:30, so we're doing a pasta bake I can throw in the oven when I get home and eat after I take a shower: cooked whole wheat rotini tossed with a jar of Trader Joe's marinara sauce + pepperonis leftover from our homemade Valentine's Day pizza + sliced olives, put in a 9x13 pan topped with mozzarella. Bake at 350 for 20 mins until everything is warmed through. Cucumber slices, carrot sticks, and bell pepper on the side, probably eaten by hungry children while the pasta is baking.

Thursday: Landon has a 7:00 basketball game after I teach barre and James teaches the girls swimming, so we'll almost certainly be grabbing tacos together on the way home.

Friday: Tomato soup (total cheat version, like all of this week: two boxes of Trader Joe's boxed creamy tomato soup + 1/2 herb & garlic boursin cheese mixed in until warmed through); served with TJ's tomato soup crackers and sliced sharp cheddar on the side and probably pesto grilled cheese sandwiches because those are amazing and I love any excuse to make them.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Best of Both Worlds

So remember when I told you I'd been interviewed by Sarah (@ the SHU box) for her Best of Both Worlds podcast a few weeks ago? Today was publishing day. I woke up, realized the significance of the date, and immediately felt like I was going to throw up. A feeling that was relieved only by the email I found already waiting in my inbox from someone telling me how much they'd enjoyed the interview. Thank you M, your efforts to find my email address on my blog, type up such a nice message, and sent it out all by 7 a.m. meant I could find the courage to defeat the nausea and listen to my own recorded voice rambling in response to Sarah's questions.

(Here's the co-host Laura Vanderkam's blog post re: the podcast; she was traveling out of the country and wasn't on air with me, so got to be a listener this time instead.)

Verbal responses are hard y'all. I work with written words, lots and lots of typed out words I can read and edit and finesse until they match what's in my head. But I was relieved to hear I sound coherent. I sound generally like myself. Would I like to edit, you know, every single thing I said? Absolutely. But it's okay. My rambling run-on fears are unrealized. I very genuinely enjoyed getting to talk with Sarah and I think that comes through. I first met Sarah when she asked me about having a third baby, a question that resulted in my favorite and most heartfelt blog post I've ever written. It was an honor to be asked to be on the podcast and I hope you enjoy it!

But because this is a balancing of many worlds and humans, that was only a small part of the day. A day that began at 11:15 p.m. the night before when book #5 in Kresley Cole's Arcana Chronicles (which I ADORE far beyond what is reasonable or really even earned) downloaded onto my Kindle. Oh I'll just read the first few chapters, I told myself, knowing I was a lying liar who lied. At 2 a.m. James rolled over in bed, saw the light from my phone screen and sighed, "Really? Really." and then rolled back. "I'll stop soon," I lied again, knowing already my words were false, but he worries about me and my sleep and I like to make him feel better even though underneath he knows I'm lying too. At 3:08 a.m. I was done. I loved it. I have criticisms, many of them, but it doesn't matter. I love that series. I'm so sad I have to wait another year or so to get a new book again.

And then four hours later I was up and bracing myself for the impact of listening to my own recorded voice. Work was good. I was supposed to go to yoga at lunch but it was so cold and dreary outside and I was so tired, I thought I'd skip in lieu of obtaining emotional support french fries. Of course the one week I actually publish my little workout/dinner plan post-it system I flagrantly violate it immediately.

James called around 11 and asked if I wanted a Freebirds burrito. I used to have a Freebirds by my office but it closed and I miss it and I mentioned it to James the other day. So when he drove by today he thought he should bring me some. And with the burrito came a big bouquet of cheerful flowers.

I'm so glad I skipped yoga.

I left work at 4:45 to come home and pick up the kids to feed them an on-the-go dinner, another extreme rarity, but a promise met with much excitement among by the party pack when it was mentioned last night. We had our school's science night at our local museum of science and history from 6-8 p.m. (bedtime!), so a quick dinner on the way felt right. They chose Subway of all things, so sandwiches it was.

Science night was a huge hit. Free admission, many kids, lots of noise, LOTS of fun, and even a few attempts at academic enrichment.

We came across many friends and I even had fun as I logged two extra hours in my heeled boots and work clothes.

Cora LOVED the bed of nails and beamed her way through her every turn. As soon as she popped off, she'd run to get back in line to go again, glaring at any kid twice her size who dared to try to cut in front of her. It was amazing to watch from a distance.

The kids had a GREAT time and we stayed longer than I'd planned. James stopped at the store on the way home from lessons to get his heart-shaped pizza ingredients and a few extra things for the kids' Valentine's breakfast table, and we all got home about 8:15.

The kids got ready for bed, I readied a well-deserved margarita (or Mexican martini, if we want to be accurate), and James boiled some pasta because he's practical and didn't pick up takeout somewhere like I totally would have after all that coaching if my family had eaten earlier without me.

And now it's nearly 11 and I must go to bed on time to atone for my ridiculous behavior last night, especially since I know we'll be up early with the kids' Valentine's Day-fueled excitement. They love a dollar store decorated table and I must admit, I love it too.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Crunchwrap It Up

So we've been totally caught up in Olympic Fever. I *love* the Olympics but this is the first year the kids have gotten really into it. I mean, they enjoyed the swimming and gymnastics in 2016, but this time they're watching all the things and listening to the commentary and learning and, by the end of the first night, offering the athletes advice and commiseration from the couch like any good sports fan.

We don't watch any sports, really ever, outside of Olympic years, so it's funny to watch the inevitable armchair coaching evolve on its own in each of them. Yesterday they got totally caught up in the speed skating and biathlon coverage and it was the best.

But first, when we last left off I was in San Antonio for work by day and grandparent tours by night. Night 1 involved a meal at my Grandma Mary's FAVORITE restaurant- "the one with the shrimp scampi." So, Red Lobster it was.

They are so cute. My grandpa continues to be a living breathing miracle. He's still coping with the changes to his health and life- he was so robust and active right up until the moment he collapsed on their lake property. But they also live every day so thankful to have it together. They've always been very openly affectionate with and about one another, but there's an added layer of simple gratefulness to greet each day side by side. I sent my grandpa a packet of my blog posts and facebook updates when he had his heart attack. I hoped they wouldn't be too hard to read, but I thought he'd want to know we were all thinking of him during that time. He called in tears, so many tears, SO very moved to be able to read what was going on while he was unconscious and recovering... I didn't know anything from when I got back to the cabin from my walk until I woke up two weeks later. I'm glad to have filled in a few blanks with all the love that was surrounding him, including that which was sent from you all.

On a lighter, but colder note. I have never mis-packed more for a trip in my life. When I left Fort Worth on Sunday it was lovely outside. I wasn't at the counsel's bench for the trial, so I was excited to be more casual and comfortable in the galley. I knew I'd be visiting my grandparents for dinner each day and wanted to be able to go straight there without changing, so I went with simple work dresses. I was proud to pack super lightly with my two dresses and same flat shoes so I could have room for my workout clothes and running shoes, because I'm a person who works out while traveling now. I woke up early on Monday, did my workout (running on the treadmill + yoga), got ready, and walked outside to 38 degree temperatures. 38 degrees, grey, and windy, in my dress and ballet flats and no jacket. I walked the River Walk anyway, because I had 30 minutes to kill and I was pretty sure I'd find a Starbucks over there (yes!), but it was very cold. Luckily the River Walk by morning is empty and lovely and I didn't regret it.

That night I had dinner at the retirement community with my other set of grandparents. I love that one work trip can take me to see them both.

We had a delightful chat over wine in their apartment and then headed down to the main dining room. I was feeling festive and asked if I could have a glass of champagne. My grandma immediately told my grandpa to order a bottle for the table and a bottle for the table was had.

It was such a great dinner. I told them stories about Disney that made my grandma cry and she told stories of taking my dad and his sister there when they were young. We closed down the house, the very last to leave the dining room that night. I left with hugs and a smile on my face as I Ubered back to my hotel, very much wishing I had my full complement of fleece clothing waiting there for me.

While sadly, I was to remain cold for the duration of my trip, my hotel did have a resident peacock. I tried to bond with him on numerous occasions, but he could not have been less impressed with me and my black work dress.

Isn't he magnificent? Sadly, I was judged to be not that.

I flew home after a second day in court on Tuesday, landing in Dallas at 7:30 p.m. after a quick 48 minute flight. Unfortunately, everything had fallen apart weather-wise while I was gone and it was 26 degrees outside and there was ice all over the runway. We sat on the runway for nearly 2 hours, waiting to be allowed to move forward. Then we sat by a gate for another hour because the planes were grounded and all the gates were full. FINALLY they moved a plane out of the way for us so we could disembark. I had not been prepared for a 4 hour plane ride- just my 1 hour one, so my phone was dead, I had no water, and my single snack of peanut m&ms had been eaten up LONG AGO. Then I had to take a tram and walk a million miles to get to my car because we didn't land where we were supposed to and it was TWENTY-SIX degrees outside and I was still in my dress and it was SO COLD. Once I unfroze myself on my car's seat warmers I realized I should be thankful to have been allowed to land at all- the airport was a disaster and I'm sure tons of people were having their trips ruined. Still, if it would have been possible (and legal, and safe) to drink a glass of red wine while on that drive, I would have.

My very sweet welcome home card from Claire

And then my week at home started on a Wednesday which always makes things seem a little off. Happily, James 100% handles life when I'm gone and we had food and meals for all the nights and can pick things back up without pause. Thursday was barre teaching and swim lessons and this amazing crock pot recipe. New family favorite, I served it over mashed potatoes with steamed green beans on the side. Light and flavorful and different. 12/10.

Toddler at Work

We didn't have our nanny on Friday and I had a big meeting at work at 2, so I couldn't get the kids either. Luckily James owns his own business and can host bring your kids to work day at any time. At the last minute, Landon ended up going with a friend to Main Event (lucky him!) but Claire was cheerful about her swim school Friday afternoon while her brother was taking down monsters with laser guns.

It helps that she'd had a field trip to Bass Performance Hall she was VERY excited about on Friday and then ended up getting to spend the night at a friend's that night too.

Also on Friday night, we had an Olympics Opening Ceremonies party! The kids ran around outside like crazy people and the adults ate and drank and wore festive necklaces. Our beverage contribution was a pitcher of excellent sangria carefully crafted from all the leftovers from our wine party the Saturday before. When you have 10 bottles of nearly-empty wine, you dump it all in a pitcher, put it in the fridge and wait for a sangria opportunity. I added OJ, brandy, and a bunch of cut up fruit the night before, let it all marinate, and then added a can of sprite just before serving. In no way authentic or official, but it was *delicious.*

Cora is always delighted to see her fans.

Ladies in blue! Had we actually coordinated ahead of time, I feel like we would have managed more of the red and white.

I feel like our Saturday was a pretty typical Saturday-with-three-kids situation:

6:30: James wakes up to go swim (I actually have no idea when he leaves, but I know he always gets home a little before 9).
7:38: Cora wakes me up in a panic because she couldn't find Claire (she'd left the party early at her bedtime with James and Claire got permission to sleep over after that). I set Cora up with Beauty and the Beast in the TV room ("the one with REAL people mom"), sleepily realizing how nice it is to have big kids because I usually never have to get out of bed earlier than I want to anymore. I check under Landon's door, but don't see a light and am shocked and pleased to see he's sleeping in.
8:00: I mourn my lost 30 minutes of sleep, but put on fuzzy clothes, make some tea, and pull up to my usual Saturday morning spot at the kitchen table with my laptop, iPhone calendar, and a post-it to plan the week's menu and schedule.

our life; 2 weeks at a time

(I do this every Saturday morning at exactly this time; I write out the next 2 weeks (really only the first week counts, but I like the blueprint for the next one already there), look through our calendars, jot down anything that's unusual for the day and then start to fill in meals. This means I ensure all our meals work each day's schedule and conflicts and I'm never forced into a fast food dinner or abandoning the good food I've bought to cook that day. Then I write in my work-outs. This means they all fit in our schedule (like this Saturday's when I realized I could squeeze a 2:00 yoga in between Cora's friend's birthday party and Landon's basketball game) and I don't have to abandon them either (this is of course also because I have a steady and predictable job, as does James- whatever our schedule will be for the week, I generally know it in that moment on Saturday morning). It's old-fashioned and involves a ruled post-it note, but it works for me and I get a thrill each time I check off a workout and a meal I cooked because dammit those are each their own accomplishment.)

8:30: I'm done with my week's plan and make Cora pause the movie to eat some breakfast. Landon wakes up and expresses great surprise for sleeping so late while I thanked the sleeping gods because this means it will be a good day. We turn on the Olympic coverage.
9:00: James gets home and, in the middle of eating the scrambled eggs he just made, gets a text that he needs to teach his Saturday swim lessons because one of his instructors has the flu (usually he doesn't go to those). Cora has a birthday party at 10, so we decide James will take the big kids to the pool.
9:45: We all pull out of the driveway to go in opposite directions, with James planning to stop at our friend's house to pick up Claire on the way . (I found out later Claire was still in pj's and looking forward to waffles so our friends said they'd drop her at the pool when they were done with breakfast.)

Cora and I went to her friend's bounce house birthday party, and though it was a Star Wars theme, she INSISTED crowns and gowns were appropriate. "Mom. We wear crowns to birthday parties, she explained patiently.

Nailing it

action shot

11:30: Cora and I are eating pizza at the party when our friends text saying they had so much extra beer we should come back for Olympics night 2 and they'd order pizza. I offered to bring a salad (my FAVORITE salad, mostly because I'd already had pizza, but also because it's delicious), so we stopped at Trader Joe's on our way home for the necessary ingredients.
12:30:: We get home and I prepare the lemon miso dressing because Landon has a late basketball game that will go until right before the party.
1:00:: James and the kids get back and make lunch. (the kids make their own on weekends and always involves a lot of peanut butter and fruit, with a few reluctant slices on cucumber)
1:45: I run out to a 2:00 Corewpower yoga class while James and the kids hang out at home (biathlon coverage was on; also I believe a fort was built while Cora napped). I brought clothes to quickly change into after class ends at 3 because Landon has a 4:00 basketball game and changing at home takes way longer.
3:30:: I get home at 3:20, James goes to wake up Cora, and we all leave for Landon's basketball game. He scored a basket (yay! I mean, it didn't count because the ref called a foul right before he shot, but we're claiming it anyway) and we could really see his improvements in the game, though ultimately his team lost. It's been a good season so far, and since I almost know all the rules of basketball now, I'm really hoping he'll play again.

5:25: We leave the game, stop at home to pick up my salad and some other offerings, and head down the street to our friends' house for Olympic party round 2.

There was more eating and drinking and Olympic viewing, though it was now below freezing outside (after being 60 the night before), so the kid craziness was all indoors.

7:50: James left with Cora and Claire (and my car) so they could go to bed on time. Claire burst into tears at having to leave and we gently explained this was exactly why she had to go to bed, particularly after spending the night the night before.
8:30: Landon and I left when other friends packed up so we could hitch a ride home. It's a short walk, but it was also well below freezing. Landon stayed up with us for a little bit to watch the snow boarding.
9:15: It's just James and me and some fuzzy blankets on the couch watching the Olympics and perusing rental homes for a friends skication trip our group got inspired to take for January 2019 while watching the downhill coverage.
11:00: We go to bed; I read until 12.

And that was our day. It was a good one. Cora doesn't always nap, but she had time and she always loves an opportunity for some daytime sleeping. Mostly though we just go from 8-8, carve out some time for ourselves, and enjoy being at home with whatever collection of children/adults are with you at whatever time. It's a lot more relaxed that it probably reads.

Today involved another birthday party for Cora, some yoga, a workout for James, a trip to Target with the big kids, a visit from a customer of James's who happened to be in town from Kansas and wanted to buy 35 swim bags for his team, and me making CRUNCHWRAP SUPREMES. Details below. They were delicious. But it started with a viewing of Cool Runnings, and you guys, as the tears poured down my face during the last scene and I freaked out my children, I have to say, that movie really holds up. And it's streaming on Netflix right now.

Oh and the kids did their Valentines. They're store-bought Valentine's because this is a store-bought kind of holiday and I love it in all its $4 for 28 card glory.

They take it so seriously and select the Valentine's for each kid in their class with such care and earnestness.

I have little heart emojis eyes while they do it.

And so, also with hearts in my eyes, I offer you our weekly meal planning. I haven't had them all yet, but I can definitely vouch for tonight's. Everyone in my family, none of whom had EVER experienced the joys of a Taco Bell crunchwrap supreme, gave rave reviews. I want to crunchwrap everything now.

Sunday: Homemade Crunchwrap Supreme!! After my quadrenniel visit to taco bell a blog reader informed me that one of my favorite restaurant blogs (home of this fabulous recipe we eat ALL THE TIME) has a recipe for it and it is HAPPENING in our house tonight. I'm the only one operating at all caps levels of excitement, but that's just because the kids don't know what they're missing yet. (Will also be served with Mexican rice and refried black beans.)

Monday: Veggie Turkey Chili (I'm making this up, it will involve diced onion, diced green pepper, diced carrot, a can or two of diced tomatoes, 1 lb. ground turkey, a packet of Ranch seasoning mix and 1-2 packets of Taco seasoning mix (or the equivalent from the Costco size containers I have of each in my pantry), and some of whatever stock I have hanging out in my fridge, probably chicken?), plus TJ's organic corn chips because they are amazing and make you almost feel healthy for eating Fritos.

Tuesday: Pasta with a TJ jarred sauce because we have science night at the children's museum after work and it's going to be a night of craziness. (I've also allowed that this may be a night we just have to stop for tacos on the way home; I can't predict the future, but it may be necessary.)

Wednesday: Valentine's Day! I like to embrace the kitsch here. We decorate the kitchen table for the kids in the morning with dollar store supplies and for dinner we used to order heart-shaped pizza from Mangia's in Austin. James picked up the tradition by hand-making a heart pizza here in 2013, and after a detour for some heart-shaped pasta last year (swim lessons really make mid-week holidays difficult), he's determined to pick up the mantle yet again and have heart shaped pizza waiting in the fridge for us when I get home. A really good bottle of champagne after dinner and a date night on Friday will also be involved.

Thursday: Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken, broccoli, brown rice. I teach barre on Thursdays on my way home from work and get home at the exact same time as James pulls up with all the kids from swimming, so Thursday is ALWAYS a crock-pot night.

Friday: Date night! We're headed to HG Sply and the kids will eat something terrible and delicious with the babysitter.

Saturday: We have a children's play in the evening, so I've learned I have to have a crockpt recipe to come home to to resist the urge to eat out afterward. This one looks delicious. Grilled Pineapple Pulled Pork Sandwiches, chips, fruit.

Sunday: Run Fast Eat Slow Bison Meatballs with Marinara Sauce. DELICIOUS and will make your whole house smell amazing.