Saturday, November 11, 2017

Unicorns Riding PlasmaCars

I started typing a post like 3 times this week but it was super busy and weird and I worked out a ton because I didn't want to waste any Orangetheory or ClassPass credits even though we'll be gone for 7 days of the month and then I subbed barre twice Thursday night (5:30 and 7:00 p.m.) and then again Friday morning (8:30 a.m.) so then I mostly just wanted to sit in a scalding hot bath with an old Ilona Andrews book on my kindle in one hand and a giant glass of wine in my other even though I'm not supposed to because I have probably-psoriasis.


And then yesterday was the one day all year when I'm off work but the kids are in school and I wanted to do SO MUCH with my 7 hours that I was nearly paralyzed in indecision. Do I do all the things because I can? Or NOTHING because I could do that too? I tried a hybrid- I taught barre, went to the post office, treated myself to a Starbucks, came home to change clothes and switch a load of laundry, did a meandering unnecessary stop at TJ Maxx for an adorable pink cowl neck sweater tunic and my first ever vest that was so soft and adorable I wore it all around the store up until the checkout and the woman was like, do you want that? and I said in a very surprised voice, yes!. I wore that to Homegoods where I fell in love with a chair I DEEPLY regret not buying, then drove to Trader Joe's for a few final groceries for our trip and to feed our hungry horde for our last 24 hours here, then home again for a overly delayed lunch that gave me a headache followed by 90 minutes of West Wing watching and couch internet time, then picking up the kids because 3:00 comes WAY TOO EARLY, then Target because that's an errand they can join me on, then Bed Bath and Beyond because it's nearby and the kids were inexplicably fascinated by the whole store, then to Montessori to get Cora and then home to start packing and making pizza dough from scratch because WTF not. I'm not sure if I actually won my day off, but I certainly got a lot out of it.

The chair that should be in my living room

Here's a pic of the Pesto Pepperoni Pizza Rolls I took to torture my mom who loves a good carb + cheese offering.

They're kind of a pain, but SUPER delicious. And perfect when you're going out of town but have a quarter package of pepperoni, the dregs of a Costco container of pesto, and half a bag of mozzarella cheese left in your fridge.

After the kids were in bed we got the table ready to celebrate Cora's birthday in the morning since we're leaving at 6 a.m. on her real birthday. We had her friend party last weekend, but family gifts and our traditional birthday donuts (and the birthday pig!) were queued up to be enjoyed first thing today, along with this magnificent unicorn Rody horse riding a PlasmaCar.

[I started typing this post on Tuesday night and have tried to publish it each night since; I have to keep going back and changing the references to "today" or "tomorrow" and it's messing with my verb tenses, so that's why this is a bit of a mess. The paragraph is from Friday night.]

Speaking of things Cora will be very excited about, I can't believe that after a 315 day countdown, my little phone app now says 1 day to Disney. The kids still don't know many details, which is exactly how I plan to leave it. They're pumped but vague and currently quite focused on the plane ride and going to a Christmas party. I did have to correct Cora on a few things- like the fact we will be returning to our house after 6 days and not "staying at Disney forever." "This house?" she replied skeptically, looking around the living room and judging it harshly. "Yes, this house." I told her firmly. And now she'll have a pet unicorn and new mode of transportation to come back to. But the trip is going to be a blast and the me of 5 years ago would NOT BELIEVE how excited I am about it. Then again, the me of 5 years ago didn't know I wanted a 3rd baby and that was the greatest decision of all time, so 2012-me still had some evolving to do.

So on to today. We did in fact start by celebrating our sweet little CoraBunny. I cannot believe that my tiny cuddly baby is turning 4 but I'm too distracted by Disney to be upset about it. Almost.

We did our traditional birthday donut run, Cora in full style as always.

Birthday pig candles were blown out and presents were opened.

She loved everything.

Anna boots, a Rapunzel playhouse full of tiny pieces from Uncle Eric, several pairs of princess shoes to replace the ones she's grown out of and/or literally worn through the soles, three new princess dresses, a magnificent butterfly barbie from Tia, and a very awesome cape (and the unicorn and a snazzy outfit) from my parents.

One of my favorite things, besides how much Cora loved everything she got, was how much Landon and Claire loved everything she got.

Particularly Landon. Whenever anyone else is excited about something, Landon is all in on being excited with them.

Barbies, Cinderella necklaces, and tiny Rapunzel doll houses. When he knows you'll love it, he's there for that.

He spent much of the afternoon wearing Cora's new cape and driving her PlasmaCar, but sadly I failed to get a picture. Possibly because I spent 27 hours of the afternoon packing for our trip.

My alarm is set for 5:15 a.m.. which is less than 6 hours from now. The magic bands are in my purse, our Disney apps are on our phones, and Cora's surprise Aurora dress is secreted away in our carry-on for our afternoon pre-Christmas party stop at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for a birthday salon appointment. It's going to be a fabulous few days ahead!

P.S. Cora named her bouncy unicorn "Sketti." Apparently like the word Spaghetti? She has never named an object anything other than precisely what it is (her stuffed animal unicorn is named "My Unicorn" so Sketti is both very surprising and very... odd. But she was quite emphatic about it and only after I referred to him as Sketti was she willing to ride him out of her room and to the playroom where he will reside.)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Cora's Princess Cake Park Party

It's important to make clear from the start of this post that Cora is still not 4. She is 3. Solidly a toddler, practically still a baby. She is FOUR whole days from being 4. I just don't want you to be confused while perusing these birthday photos.

Still 3. Still basically a baby.

So, Sunday morning dawned hot and humid and not at all what I expected an outdoor park party on the 5th of November to feel like. Here I was, hosting my first party outside of my home since Landon turned THREE, and I could have just hosted a pool party after all.

But our sweet little neighborhood park has a pavilion you can borrow and since Cora refused to tell me anything about what she wanted to do for her birthday besides "eat chocolate cake," a free park pavilion 1/4 mile from home seemed like the way to go.

I went for a 10 a.m. start time - everyone is awake because we all have children and no one is crabby yet. I had donut holes (Cora's favorite), 80+ mini muffins I made on Saturday because I forgot what a pain in the ass it is to measure out teeny tiny dollups of batter over and over to fill the teeny tiny mini muffin trays, and fruit because even though Cora hates it, I felt guilty only serving varieties of sugar.

Next year, everyone gets a full-size muffin.

We had everything set up and ready to go with five minutes to spare when Cora suddenly yelled, "I have to go potty!" Claire's head popped up out of nowhere and yelled, "Me too!" And so James took the girls home and Landon and I and 2 unicorns greeted a bevy of princesses.

Cora returned a few minutes later, running with arms outstretched to greet her friends. Many important things were discussed among the royal court.

Then I heard Cora yell, "My Madddddyyyyyyy!!!!!" and run across the park. Thirteen-year-old Maddy, daughter of good friends and our Colorado vacation buddy, had been at the top of Cora's guest list. And because she is the sweetest teenager, she came! Cora was thrilled to her toes.

The kids ran around playing and being princessy and suddenly I heard "Landon got stung by a bee!" from the older boy wing of the party (one of them belonging to a close adult family friend who Cora also insisted on putting on her birthday list; it was an eclectic gathering that was somehow perfect for Cora). And sure enough, a flushed and clearly hurting Landon limped over pointing to a sting on his leg and motioning vaguely to his booty. I got him mostly out of the way of all the guests to partially disrobe and sure enough, a big, swollen, angry sting was right smack in the middle of his right butt cheek. Poor kid. Hurting, embarrassed, and can't even show off his battle wound. I had prepared for much, but had not at all prepared for bee stings. Luckily, Cora had known to invite grown-ups and that same family friend ran home to grab ibuprofen, benadryl, and baking soda. After all 3 he was considerably better, though definitely still sore and tender all day.

Obviously, after that, it was time for cake. For two months every time I mentioned Cora's party to her, the conversation went something like this:

Me: Cora! What do you want to do for your birthday party?

Cora: Have a princess cake!

Me: Sure! But what do you want to do for the party?

Cora: EAT my princess cake!

Me: Okay, but do you want to go somewhere to celebrate with your friends?

Cora: Yes, eat my princess cake with my friends.

Me: Okay, but do you want to do anything else at the party?

Cora: No.

She LOVED her tacky plastic-y princess cake (neighborhood Albertson's FTW), but when it was time for the big moment she turned toddler.

It was perfect. Pouting and refusing to acknowledge the candle (after loving her candles so much last year we had to re-light them several times and sing again), her best bud couldn't figure out what her problem was.

Thank goodness a drugged-up Landon was nearby to step in and blow out the candle for her. And then it was time to eat! Cora was back on board and attacked that cake like a LADY.

I adore the frosting smeared gloves.

Because we did want to have one other activity besides "eat princess cake," we decided to do pinatas for the first time. I filled them with the kids' Halloween candy after they went to bed Saturday night (best moment post-pinata-bust, "Mom! I got these candies for Halloween too!" What a crazy coincidence!!), James bought some rope, and a friend brought some bats. I turned to Cora to tell her she could go first and she ran to her brother for protection from yet another horrible tradition: the assault of a mythical creature.

Claire was also called in for counseling.

Cora could NOT figure out why anyone would want to hit a unicorn. And I must say, after seeing the visual, pinatas do look pretty weird. Not that any of her other guests had ANY problem beating them with a stick and scavenging for the spoils of war.

Then it was time for presents! Those were definitely a big hit.

Cora truly deeply loves every gift she got. She has danced with her new Tangled doll (she was dancing when I got home last night; "how long has she been doing that?" I asked Tara. "About two hours."), worn her new "'Rora" dress every minute she has not been sleeping or at school, and worked on her new puzzle three times (while wearing the 'Rora dress).

She has slept with all of her new princess Barbies every night and informed me very seriously this morning that "Mommy, I just cannot get dressed until I brush Princess Belle's hair." And tonight as I was making dinner I watched lovingly pushed her new Elsa baby doll around the house in her stroller while telling her "It's okay baby, we're going to go to Disenney Wrrld and you will get to see all the princesses."

We leave on Sunday morning, her real birthday, and someone (all the Lag Liv someones, really) is REALLY excited.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Halloween and Career Days and More

Halloween happened! And it didn't rain!! I was ready in my Hunters, a hot toddy in my Yeti, and a giant umbrella in James's hands, but we ended up with marvelously seasonal damp and chilly weather and it was perfect.

It feels like a lifetime ago now, but I think it's important to go back in time far enough to note that before the trick-or-treating craziness began we had a chili and dip cook-off at work and my dip won! I entered the Pumpkin Cheesecake Ball I made for our wine party last year, which I feel like is sort of cheating because who can resist a dessert dip? But still, I won in a landslide and got a picture with my boss's boss's boss to celebrate! (Along with a very nice serving platter shaped like a pig.)

So that was exciting. I don't believe I've ever won a food-type contest before. The rest of the afternoon was pretty downhill from there. I got home a little early to get the kids ready for trick-or-treating and to attend our friend/neighbor's annual Halloween party.

I love how each kids' costume reflects them so perfectly. After many years of ninjas, Landon decided to get creative and be a bulldog. I assigned that task to James and together they found a mask and spray painted a t-shirt and attached a little crumpled Winston tail. He loved it.

Claire, who has never been into make believe dress-up, decided to treat Halloween like career day and be a teacher. We bought her glasses- which she's worn every single minute she's been awake and not in school since they arrived which has cracked me up, got her a clipboard, a lanyard, and a tote bag. She looked adorable.

And then Cora treated Halloween like any other Tuesday afternoon and wore a princess dress. She stuck with Belle and I can't blame her. With a dreamy far off look and her nose stuck in a book... other than the unfortunate bit of bestiality and Stockholm Syndrome, Belle really is one of the best. Cora was skeptical of my winterizing the costume, but decided it was acceptable when I told her she wouldn't have to wear a jacket. Princess Belle does not wear jackets.

We had a chili potluck with excellent snacks, side dishes, and adult beverages. The kids ran around until we wrangled them up to go trick-or-treating. We were something of a force running down the streets.

Cora decided she wouldn't say trick-or-treat. "I just don't like those words mom." "Um, okay, how about just saying please?"

But do you know what's weird? Saying "Can I have candy please?" to a random person actually sounds ruder than "trick-or-treat." Even though trick-or-treat is basically coercion- give me free candy or I'll hurt your yard or house, saying "Can I have candy please?" seriously sounds weird. So we settled on holding up her pink little pumpkin and saying "Please."

It was very effective, and then every house she ran away from she'd yell, "I got candy mom and I DID NOT SAY TRICK-OR-TREAT!!".

It was a great night. I loved the chilly damp weather, loved our big crew of elementary school classmates, loved seeing so many neighbors and other classmates out on our streets. The only thing I did not love was that it was Tuesday and made the week seem 15 days long, but we had everyone in bed by 8:30, so it could have been worse. James and I finished Stranger Things 2 on Monday and are super sucked in to Mindhunter on Netflix right now and I will not tolerate less than 2 episodes per night.

The week plod on. It was busy and lasted forever and I kept going to bed far too late for no good reason. One thing I can tell you is that Wednesday's soup was crazy good and I will make it again and again (I used smoked turkey instead of ham, and added minced garlic at the saute onion step, but otherwise followed the directions to the letter). All 3 kids ate every bite and Cora asked for help to tip her bowl to get the very last few drops. That's pretty much the highlight of the remainder of the week (that and I got to teach barre twice!), so let's just back to the week before.

About 6 months ago, one of my favorite fellow summer associate from my BigLaw firm in 2007- when I was between my 2L and 3L year and a million months pregnant with Landon - reached out to say hello and that he'd recently moved to Fort Worth. He had been at Harvard Law and ended up choosing a different firm in NYC after graduation, so I hadn't actually seen him since I was a million months pregnant in 2007, but I was thrilled to hear from him and happy to meet him for lunch with his wife to catch up and chat about living in the Fort. Turns out, he's now a law professor at the newly purchased Texas A&M School of Law downtown (formerly Texas Wesleyan; I don't really understand law school purchasing, but apparently you can just do that, so A&M has a law school now).

We kept in touch and I became good friends with his wife, a fellow lawyer, recommending doctors, restaurants, and other necessities of life along the way. About two months ago he told me he was teaching Business Associations this semester and was hoping to get a few practicing attorneys to come talk to his students about their career paths and particular practice areas. Basically a grown-up career day. I said sure! I love talking and the more people the merrier. Plus, I do Career Day at the big kids school ever year and I relished the chance to talk to even bigger people about what I actually do instead of little kids who just heard from a DEA agent parent and are disappointed I can't put anyone in jail.

His class is in the evenings, so I worked late and then walked over to the law building downtown. He said we could chat for as long as the questions came, but if we ran out, he had plenty to lecture on instead. I figured my part would maybe last 45 minutes. Instead, we went the whole 90 and he had to cut them off at the end. It was SO. FUN. I did a short 3 minute intro on my path from UT Plan II pre-med student to law school to BigLaw to the SEC and then opened up for questions. We talked about being a BigLaw associate. The transition from law school. The decision to leave the firm and go to the government. Would I ever leave the SEC? Go in-house? Go back to a firm? What was it like to change from the defense side to the plaintiff/prosecution? How did I know how to run an investigation? What kind of discretion did I have? What do I miss about the firm? What did I wish law school had taught me? It was like an AMA on Reddit except live and in-person and without all of us wearing pajamas.

I loved it. I hope it was helpful. My friend said he got really good feedback from them after I left. They were such an engaged group and they asked really good questions. Far better than I would have known or thought to ask as a 2L. And as someone who gets caught in the occasional thought cyclone and doubt spiral and feeling like I should be doing more, it was really nice to chat about where I am right now and feel good about it. I heard my own words about what I love about my job and listened to them. It was good.

Also good was the chemical peel and facial I had at the dermatologist's on Friday (I have to have something good and non-cancery happen there every now and then and my skin is super glowy now and I love it) and then last night's Fall Festival at our school. I took almost no pictures, but we had a huge turnout and the kids had a blast. I barely saw them, even Cora just ran around playing with people and siblings she knows and then wandered around yelling our names whenever she wanted to find a family member. Intimidated by crowds of strangers she is not. Most of the fun was outdoors with the throngs of people, but strangely one of the only pictures I took was in the cafeteria after they had their hair painted. Cora went with Princess-Belle-yellow of course.

Today involved Claire's last soccer game of the season and a lot of cleaning and prep for Cora's birthday party tomorrow. I baked about 80 muffins, went to Orangetheory, and stuffed two unicorn pinatas with the kids' Halloween candy. They won't even notice.

I can't believe Cora turns 4 in a week. I adore the little human she is becoming, but her birthdays make me ache inside. I don't feel this way with the other two- it's been such a blast to have big kids, I guess I've decided they're allowed to age, but I would really prefer Cora just stay a toddler for 10 years or so. She did something this afternoon that got her sent to timeout (almost certainly refusing to clean up something I'd asked her to), and she dutifully marched over to the chair and sat down and then I got back to my party prep and forgot she was there. A few minutes later Landon walked by and said, did you know Cora's sleeping in her timeout chair? And so she stayed for the next 90 minutes until we woke her up for dinner. All refreshed, Cora immediately cleaned up her mess and cheerfully headed off to dinner. Naps are really a timeout best case scenario.

We weren't supposed to go out to dinner this month (because Disney is in it; we should really not be doing anything involving dollars this month because Disney is in it), but we found out one of our absolute favorite local restaurants is closing on Sunday, so we had to make one last visit for some frozen cucumber margaritas and chilaquiles (and chicken enchiladas verdes and their guacamole and EVERYTHING ELSE THEY MAKE because it is all amazing).

And because we love that dinner there = a date night because the kids play on the lawn until our food comes and James and I get to have grown-up conversations without their help. Basically this means we talk a lot about Donald Trump and what we're getting everyone for Christmas.

Our food was all amazing and we were so happy and then so sad it would be our last bites of it. Also, I may have mentioned that Cora is turning 4 in a week. There was a lot of emotion to go with that verde sauce.

And now I need to get to bed so I can enjoy a bit of sleep before the time change means the kids now wake up an hour earlier than they used to. Remember when "falling back" meant an extra hour of drinking after the bars "closed" from 2:00 a.m. to 2:01-now-1:01 a.m.? Me either, barely. But there will be unicorns and princess cakes and a million muffins and an extremely excited little CoraBunny in the morning and that will be wonderful even if the clock is mocking me by pretending it's an hour earlier than it really is supposed to be.

(showing Cora her cake; apparently we're both pretty excited)