Memorial Day Weekend

Four baseball caps on a bridge

Four baseball caps on a bridge

We had a MDW that was action packed and also leisurely.  Since the kids have short attention spans, all of our “action” was relatively short, punctuated with long spans of lounging.  On Saturday, we woke up and went swimming at the gym we just joined.  Before getting there, we ducked into Walgreens and purchased a floaty vest for Craig, since he hates to be held in the water and prefers to “do it himself”/drown.  The vest does float him, just about at nose level, so he bobs around in the water, still unable to breathe, but at least he’s drowning quite close to the surface.  Though the thing is quite thick, he can still feel the slightest buoying touch by a concerned parent, which sends him into paroxysms of fury, so we have not resolved our problem of him being a total nightmare at the pool, though we’re getting closer.

We hit the McD’s on the way home for burgers, then relaxed at home for a while.  I hit the gym for a couple of hours, which felt great, but now I have a tennis-elbow situation after lifting weights, and so basically I’m too old to go to the gym.  After dinner (Cajun tilapia!), we ended up going next door for a drink and chat with the neighbors, while the children frolicked and played.  It was quite nice.

Sunday morning, we went on a hike (pictured above), which turned out to be a jaunt to a splash pad.  The state park we went to was more of an island surrounded by bayou, with a splash pad and playground nearby.  At first, we did walk around the island part a bit.  It was a lush meadow, filled with buzzing bees and dragonflies and littered with egg shells – clearly, there was either some major baby chick hatchery happening, or some snake had gotten into a nest and had a snack.

Death or birth? Who can say?

Death or birth? Who can say?

Jack suddenly decided he would freak out at the grass.  He declared himself “afraid of bees” and “a city boy,” and practically climbed up me like a tree as we walked around.  I didn’t mind.  How much longer will my eight year old hold my hand?

Buddies

Buddies

Craig, meanwhile, kept stomping on ant hills and saying “Step on this!  Step on this!”, after we told him to stop stepping on those.

No fear, lots of orneriness

No fear, lots of orneriness

We exhausted the possibilities of this tiny meadow-island quite quickly, and then put the boys in swimsuits and ducked across the street to a splash pad.  Craig took a while to warm up to it, but eventually he was running through the water with the rest of the boys, like a wild thing.  They had a great time.

Splash

Splash

Cooling off

Cooling off

We headed home, eating crackers and goldfish for lunch, and Craig fell asleep on the way.  The boys insisted on being shirtless.

Shoitless

Shoitless

Once we got home, Craig transferred to his bed quite nicely, and Jack lounged on the couch and watched tv.  I took Liam to a garden center nearby to grab a few plants to fill up our porch pots.  Since we’re obviously staying here at least a while longer, I felt it was wroth sprucing up the porch, and Liam seemed eager to go.  We had a great time.  This garden center is sort of a wildlife refuge as well – right in the middle of the city.  It had penned goats, free ranging chickens, docile bunnies chilling in cardboard boxes at each cashier stand.  You walk through a tunnel of trailing plants to get to the place where you pay, which itself is a small jungle-like interior of a small building, dripping in greenery.  It just thrilled him to death, and I’m so glad I brought him.  On our way home, trunk full of plants, we stopped by the grocery quickly, buying some cupcakes and beer for a crawfish boil we would later attend.  We got home, planted the plants quickly (using a ladle instead of a trowel because my trowel is in the pod), washed off, then got ready to go to the boil.

Mudbugs

Mudbugs

The kids played in paddling pools, slip n slides, and traipsed in muddy, nasty swimsuits up into the host-children’s bedrooms.  Meanwhile, the adults enjoyed cold hard cider, Stellas, watermelon, and the boil.  We chatted, tried to stay in the shade, and had a great time.  The kids ate nothing – Jack is allergic, and I don’t want the other boys eating crustaceans til I know if they are allergic as well.  So we ordered a pizza on the way home, and then rented a movie via apple tv – Monsters University.  It was a busy, fun day, and they basically collapsed into bed mid-movie.

Monday – today – we hit the French Quarter first thing.  Given that the temps are rising, I suggested we do an activity early in the morning, and spend the heat of the day at home.  So we loaded up and headed into the Quarter for beignets.

So-called city boy also hates the city

So-called city boy also hates the city

The boys were not totally on board with this plan.  We kept telling Jack – you hate the country!  You’re a “city boy!” Here is the city!  And he said – but it’s so loud.  Plus all the fetching window boxes full of flowers were also apparently a terrifying source of potential bees.  Although they enjoyed playing with a street performer’s accordion (with permission – we gave him some money, so he gave them a chance to play), otherwise it was basically torture.  We dragged them on a death march through the horrifically charming French Quarter, even going so far as to purchase a bribe/book in Pirate’s Alley, but we still ended up carrying the two boys piggyback on the way back to the car.

We came home to chill, watching the rest of the Monsters University movie and relaxing for a bit.  I made a spaghetti dinner at about 3pm, because we didn’t know what else to do with ourselves, and then the boys began complaining that they’re booooored and we never do aaaaaaaanything.  Ha.

The Prof took Craig to Walgreen’s (don’t ever say the “W” word in front of Craig, or he’ll insist you take him there – the Prof usually ducks down there once or twice a week for milk or coffee, and Craig always HAS to go).  The big boys played with Play Doh.  All three had popsicles on the porch.

Shoitless part two

Shoitless part two

We had a little wrestling, a little cleaning of the house, a shower to scrub the French Quarter filth off their little boy bodies, and then put them to bed.  And I sat down to get it all down, lest we lose yet another felicitous weekend with our still-little boys.  Happy Memorial Day, all!

Posted in Everyday Adventures, Holidays and Celebrations | Leave a comment

Dinners

An old college friend with three elementary-school aged children was recently widowed.  Her husband was in his early forties when he died – he had been dealing with cancer a long while, which is terrible in many ways, but also gave them a long timeline for death. With all of its many cruelties – the logistics of dealing with treatment and feeling bad, the pressure on the children, the burden on the healthy spouse, the anticipatory grieving – the long timeline also, mercifully, allowed them to get the family well situated in advance of his death.  He quit his job as a pastor in South Carolina, she (a SAHM for years) brushed up her resume and found a job within a few miles of her parents in Indiana, and they moved the children and got them well settled into life there.  They switched roles – he became a SAHD, and they made the best of things for a while, before the cancer took his life just a few months ago.  (If you’d like, you can follow her here.  She herself was also a pastor – they met in seminary – and she is now converting to Catholicism.  It’s a long story but she is telling it beautifully.  Even for the atheist and agnostic, her exploration has something to offer, I humbly submit.)

Elise wrote a blog post recently that resonated with me: Pattern, Presence, and Passing it on.  In it, she describes how inserting some rigid rules into her household, her “little family boat” with just one adult left in it, has left her more free in many ways.  I’ve thought about it a long while since reading it.  And for various reasons, I’m going to take a leaf out of her book and give it a try.

I have always abhorred rigid rules.  I chafe against the bonds of scheduling and routine.  I was attracted to the field of law in part because, from what I’d read, every day is different.  (And it is, if you land in the right place – certain bigger firms have you at your desk 16 hours a day reading documents, but I had the luck at both firms to be given myriad responsibilities immediately, meaning one day I’m writing a brief all day and the next, I’m driving to a client’s site to interview witnesses, and the third day, I’m in the courtroom half the day and answering emails the latter half, and then the fourth, I’m in mediation, and the fifth, I’m in depositions.  That has literally been a week in my life, at least once. That aspect of this job suits me – it’s challenging, it’s varied, its interesting.)

But I’m going to try some rigid rules.  This may not work – what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander.  But I’m willing to give it a try.  Though I am not a single mother, I am part of a pair of full time professional working spouses/parents, with no local family to help ease the pressure.  And it’s very hard to do anything well, when you’re in that situation.  All things suffer.

We aren’t perfectionists around here, by any stretch.  The kids watch a lot of tv.  We order pizza on the reg.  Often, we are all fishing wrinkled (but clean!) clothes out of a laundry hamper because I managed to wash them, but not fold and put them away.  I go to about 10% of the kid events at school, and miss about 50% of the “bring a bear to school today!” or “wear purple today for our purple party!” school assignments.  They’ve been tardy 10 times (less than 5 minutes each time, but still . . .)  As for work, though I get my work done, I often look less professional than I’d like (read: hair not dried, clothes wrinkled, jacket with stains).  I have written a brief with a fevered kid in my arms more times than I can count.  Point being, I’m not aiming for a blue ribbon here – just a finishers medal.

Nevertheless, when I have so much incoming information to process, the constant barrage of newsletters and emails and stuff – when I’ve got so many obligations, which often directly compete with one another – when I have a spouse in the same boat . . . something (more) has gotta give.  I feel like I’ve let most things go, but more needs to go.

So, my one domestic chore that I actually like is what’s going to go.  And that’s my meal planning.  On the one hand, this ticks me off – I am forever giving up things I enjoy to make room for obligations I don’t enjoy, and while I suppose that is the definition of “adult,” I feel we’re taking it to the extreme in this latter gilded age of America – we all work way more hours for way less money.  On the other hand, it is what it is.  I’m already doing the bare minimum where laundry is concerned.  The kids are in zero extra curriculars right now.  All we do is work and church, and we even skip church on occasion to ease the pressure.  But I’m still losing my mind with carrying all of this, even with a living partner carrying it with me.

I canceled Blue Apron, which we barely got anymore anyway given the cost, and we’re doing the weekly same-easy-menu thing.  Mondays are spaghetti and meatballs.  Tuesdays are sandwiches (grilled cheese or PB & J) and canned soup.  Wednesdays are frozen chicken nuggets and frozen veg.  Thursdays are mac and cheese and frozen veg.  Fridays are Mexican – something in a tortilla.  This takes from me a thing I love (cooking), and also could possibly make the children fat. But it also gives me time and brain space, and probably won’t make the children fat, especially if we do it just a brief while.  It’s also, depressingly, much cheaper to buy pre-made crap food.  So it gives us more money, too.  The Prof and I can either eat what they have, or range around in the fridge for something else – easier to do when you’re taking care of just yourself, and not making a meal that feeds five.

I also bought a ton of Lean Cuisines, which are OK I guess but I never loved.  Now I don’t have to make my lunch every day, just grab a frozen meal and go.  Yay?  You can tell how grudgingly I go this route.  Food is such a pleasure, a daily pleasure both to consume and create.  Even the planning I love – picking through pinterest, thinking about what’s in season. I’m chafing at the bonds already, and I just put the darn things on.  But now, I just have one grocery list, and it’s the same every week.  No more thinking, planning, selecting ingredients, writing up a list, pre-making foods on the weekends.  We’ll give it a try, and see if the extra time I gain makes me a less heinous and more resilient person.  Something’s gotta give.  We’ll try this.  Maybe it doesn’t work, and I miss it too much.  Maybe it does, and I feel way less out of control all the time.

As for chores, the boys are pretty helpful.  They clean their room, clear and set the table.  I’m teaching Jack laundry.  Perhaps a poster will help.  A “do all this before you get to watch tv” kind of thing.  There will be whining and griping, but by God there may also be more time for rest for the parents.  Which, right now, is the main thing.

We’ll see how the pattern thing goes.  I think so much and so deeply and under so much pressure for my job, constantly – I’ve simply got to give my brain a rest when not at work.  I hate that all of my passion and energy and brain space is being siphoned off into one place . . . the law is a greedy mistress, as they say.  But this is but a season in life, and it shall pass.  Let’s see if we can make it a more pleasant one.

Posted in Domestic Bliss | 4 Comments

Picture Post

So I recently came into possession of a laptop computer, which is a giant big deal in my world.  I love having it, but I keep forgetting I have it, since it’s been so long (since 2003?) since I had a working laptop of my very own.  I always just used the Prof’s or my work laptop – which was fine except I could not store pictures on those.  So, bringing us around to our point . . . now I have one, and it’s mine, and I can put my pictures on it, and voila!  You get picture posts!  I’m about to get a new phone as well – mine is many years old and I used it so darn much, it’s just worn itself out and turns itself off a few times a day.  So once I have a new phone with some actual memory, plus a computer, then I shall have photos to share!  All the best blogs have photos, and I’m gunning for a blue ribbon here.

So, the following is a narrative loosely knitting together some photos from the last few months:

First, we shall return to the bachelorette party to end all bachelorette parties . . . downtown Nash Vegas, karaoke bar and beers!

Sisters, sisters . . .

Sisters, sisters . . .

On the left thar is the mom of Baby Cute, which is the name that Craig calls my niece Hannah.  (I used to show him pictures of her on my phone and say “isn’t the baby cute!”  So he just started calling her Baby Cute.  WHICH IS DARNEDEST CUTE.)  That’s Amanda.  She’s three and a half years my junior and lives in North Carolina.  She got married in November 2011, had Hannah 4 years later.  In the middle is our youngest sibling, Corrie, who lives in Texas and was married in July of 2011.   On the right is me, in a slightly unflattering pose but ok w/it.

Twinsies

Twinsies

This is Amanda on the left and the bride on the right.  So the bride (Caki, short for Catharine) just had a birthday, and we facetimed her.  At the end of the call, Liam asked if we could buy her baby Hannah a present.  I told him – “Wrong brown-haired aunt, buddy.”  Another funny story – when Jack was a baby, we lived near Aunt Amanda.  We would occasionally visit Aunt Caki.  So he knew them both.  One Christmas, during a visit to my parents, both Aunt Amanda and Aunt Caki were there.  And Jack was dumbfounded – looking at one, then the other, then back to the first one.  He had never realized they were two different people.

Twinsies part two

Twinsies part two

I am also frequently mistaken for these other two by my parents’ neighbors.  Corrie, the blond, was spared this fate.

Holding Baby Cute

Holding Baby Cute

Craig asked to hold the baby.  She was very tolerant.  This picture makes them look roughly the same size but the camera lies – she is actually quite small and his head is probably twice as big as hers.  Nevertheless, he is still a very small human and him holding an even smaller human was pretty adorbs.

Sharp

Sharp

I only took one or two pictures of the wedding day, as I wanted to keep my phone out of my hands and keep my focus on the moment.  This is one of them!  Doesn’t he look sharp!

Breathtaking

Breathtaking

This is the only photo I got of the bride, with my mom photobombing with some kind of stealth move there in the back.  But she looked stunning, and I can’t wait to see the real pictures.

Mother's Day

Mother’s Day

The boys took me to burgers on Mother’s Day.  The meal was good, but even better?  They behaved themselves!  That thing in Jack’s hand is the insert to a stuffed giraffe that plays jungle sounds.  The giraffe was discarded in favor of this hard plastic box. Kids are weird.

Summer backseat

Summer backseat

This is often how the boys look on the weekends in summertime.  I think I took this photo while we were on our way to a birthday party that included a giant blow up waterslide, a paddling pool, a squelchy, sodden backyard, and tons of stand up fans and some karaoke equipment plugged in everywhere.  Basically, I spent the entire party certain we were all going to be electrocuted at any time.  It is difficult being a lawyer.  Just ask my kids what I do when I have to sign a release to let them go to a birthday party in a bounce house place.  There’s lots of reading and scribbling and thinking real hard, as they stand there rolling their eyes.

We spent the morning swimming, and then grabbed some burgers on the way home.  Right now the big boys are playing “dad” in the hallway, with a stuffed lamb, a nap mat, and an empty pizza box.  It’s thunderstorming outside.  Craig is napping.  I am about to go work out.  I shall leave you with this – Baby Cute, in all her wedding finery.

Ange

Angel

Posted in Domestic Bliss, Everyday Adventures | Leave a comment

My Two Nemesese, the Skillet Basil Cream Chicken and Spatial Relations

The Prof sold one of our vehicles.  I’m sure it was a long thought out decision for him, but my experience of this process was that one day we had a van and a couple days later we didn’t have a van and there were not any articulated plans for immediate replacement of the van and I was like – van?  Sold? Huh? What just happened?

So until we have a second vehicle, the Prof is dropping me off and picking me up, and I don’t mind it because I get in the office and billing by 7:30, instead of spending 1.5 hours in the car every morning dropping children all over the city and then doing battle with my poorly designed parking garage (this garage is epic, right down to gates that don’t work, concrete barriers placed almost two feet away from the end of the space forcing cars to stick way out, and 3 sets of lines painted on the ground, none of which is the clear “current” line, leading to all kinds of crazy choices by the mall-shoppers who share the garage and don’t just know which space is really a space and so people park straight in some areas, slanted in other areas . . . Listed in my nemeses above should also be this parking garage).  The impact on my ability to bill is hugely positive, as he has basically entirely absorbed the consequences of being a one car family.

Friday afternoon, he was on his way to pick me up, but I had a meeting run long and told him I’d catch an Uber home.  I got downstairs at 6 or so and hit my Uber app, and it required an update, and so I clicked update, and 10 minutes later it was still “waiting.”   Since using Uber (that one time) I have become an anti-taxi snob, since a woman alone in a taxi is often a woman subjecting herself to sexual harassment for the entirety of her drive home, and it had been a long week with little sleep and I wasn’t feeling it.  (Not All Taxi-Drivers – Yes Every Woman.)  I decided to take the streetcar.  Having zero cash, I googled the nearest grocery and toddled there in my heels, down the terribly potholed sidewalks, to get myself $1.25 in change for the fare, and then google mapped “St. Charles and Canal” to find my stop.  I was standing on Royal street and Canal and the map told me I had arrived, and I was like “surely this is wrong.  I’m on Royal street.”  So I went one block over and then another block and this way and that way trying to find St. Charles Avenue since google maps kept telling me I was there already, when clearly I was on Royal Street and Canal and St. Charles was nowhere to be found.

Royal turns into St. Charles if you cross Canal.  Eventually I figured this out, after blistering my feet and ruining my heels, then cursing my truly atrocious spatial relations skills.  Meanwhile it started to rain.  It was a somewhat unpleasant afternoon, but I made it home – an hour and a half after leaving my office.  I find my stupidity re: spatial relations to be both baffling and yet intractable.

**************

Caught up with another Mother in the Legal Profession last night!  They were in town for a conference and we caught up one night for tapas and cocktails, then beers at a second location.  It was great – our children enjoyed each other as well.  Good times!

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I’ve sat down several weeks in a row and put Skillet Basil Cream chicken on my meal planning list, and I have yet to make it.  One week I forgot to by the cream, one week I forgot to buy the chicken stock, one week I forgot to defrost the chicken, this past week my husband ate the Boursin cheese that I bought to put in it.  The basil I originally bought has long been used elsewhere lest it spoil.  I keep re-buying the ingredients and never making it and FINE.  I give up.  No skillet basil cream chicken for us.  Instead, we’ll have this:

Perfect pork chops, baked potatoes, brussels sprouts

Chicken curry (I use bottled sauce), rice, vegetables

Cajun grilled tilapia, black beans and rice

Bean tostadas

Chicken broccoli mushroom stir fry

Posted in Bitchin in the Kitchen, New Orleans | Leave a comment

Housey McHouseyface

We’ve made our five millionth offer on a house and are waiting to hear.  We are one of many, and we offered low because it needs work, so I’m presuming our offer will expire without word because that’s just how this process rolls.

We’re definitely in compromise mode.  I’ll take anything!  Anything that’s not $750,000 but still has three rooms that can reasonably be described as bedrooms, and two baths, only one of which need actually have a bath in it!  Well, that’s an exaggeration of our position, truly.  I can live in just about anything, but we have to think of this as an investment as well.  After watching many folks I love be stuck in homes that they could not sell for years, I am a tiny bit gun-shy about living any old place.  We would consider renting, except rents are out of control here right now.  Totally bats.  Like, $3000 a month for a 3 bedroom, if you can even find one.  Also, there are no tenant protections in Louisiana – you can be evicted or have your rent hiked without much recourse.  Also, we need the mortgage interest tax deduction, or we’ll just have to pay an extra $500 a month toward tax from here to the end of the year anyway.  So we can rent for essentially $3500 a month . . . or sink our savings into buying and pay less per month for a bigger place.

This one we offered on has some issues, but it’s huge.  Huge is helpful – huge means plenty of space and not opening closets only to have stuff rain down all over you.  The Prof is a minimalist (she says, furrowing her brow with remembrances of fishing stuff out of the trash, the disposability of which was the subject of Much Marital Wrangling).  I, while not quite as weird as him (he throws book jackets away, people – BOOK JACKETS – to SAVE SPACE), also lean toward Less is More, and I’m really pretty good at keeping clutter down and cleaning out closets.  When I get to it.  It’s a seasonal thing, though, because it takes some physical effort and not a little emotional fortitude to clear away the mountains of stuff that seem an inevitable accompaniment to three boys.  I can’t keep up with it all day by day, and so I like having a spot to shove everything that needs dealt with, for a later time.  (Just today I cleared just such a pile out of the boys’ closets, in fact!)

All this to say, I’ve looked at tiny homes but I’m much more enthused about this big one.  It has 5 bedrooms – it’s listed as having 4, but I definitely counted and there are definitely 5.  (It’s possible one didn’t have a closet – you aren’t allowed to call it a bedroom if it doesn’t have a closet, I’ve learned). It also has a giant pantry, attached to an admittedly terrible kitchen.  It has three full bathrooms, although the master bath sucks.  It also has a “dressing room” attached to the giant master which is probably bigger than our current bedroom.  There is room for each boy to have his own room, a separate guest room, a study (the dressing room would likely serve as our study), a formal living plus casual den, double porches . . . lots to love.

Ahhh, but I’m not in love – too dangerous.  Also it has issues, as aforementioned.  And the kitchen is a dungeon – kind of a bummer, as I really wanted an open plan.  But like I said – compromise!  Our offer expires in an hour, and no word.  Another one just popped up on the MLS – I’m already planning to visit its open house tomorrow, as my beaten and scarred househunting heart has learned that we never win offers – even ones we make within a day of listing.  One day we’ll win.  In the meantime, I’ll stay pessimistic so I can be pleasantly surprised when that day comes.

Now, off to bill.

 

****Updated literally a half hour after publishing to add – nope! Declined! And the search continues. . .

Posted in Everyday Adventures, New Orleans | 5 Comments