Weekend Update

Not that one

Not that one

The heat has broken, and every single resident of the city of New Orleans is out on the town, enjoying a breezy, bluebird day.  The kids go to a private episcopal school and today was their day to go to the attached episcopal church and perform for the congregants.  After they had played handbells, recited Bible verses, and sung dona nobis pacem and a few other Sunday school classics, we all retreated to their playground area for a church cookout.  It was about as glorious and perfect a scene  as you could imagine – kids running wild playing soccer and basketball, large foil dishes full of grilled hot dogs and baked beans, ladies in dresses and heels sitting as daintily as possible on the ground, paper plates of food perched on their laps.  I chatted to several friends, drank about five gallons of lemonade, and enjoyed the feel of the sun and breeze and perfect, perfect weather.

Last night the Prof and I went to a party thrown by colleagues of his – a tiki party, where we all dressed in Hawaiian shirts and wore leis and drank rum drinks out of large plastic cups.  It was a really good time, though this morning when I took some of the communion wine and realized it was actually wine and not grape juice like we Presbyterians do it, I got very woozy and nearly made a scene in front of the entire congregation.  (I’ve since napped and drunk plenty of water, so I’m feeling more human!)  Before that party, I’d attended another party with the boys, a little birthday party at one of those kid places that is a warehouse full of trampolines.  Craig trundled right into the dodgeball area with Jack, and was perfectly happy to be pelted with dodgeballs and get knocked over again and again.  No toddler trampoline area for this boy – he hangs with the big kids.  Meanwhile, Liam found a giant pit full of foam chunks and jumped into it about a thousand times in a row.  I just wandered around keeping an eye on them, talking to all the other moms and dads, occasionally hauling Craig out of trouble (my back is not happy with me today . . .)

Now we are all lounging.  Craig is napping, the big boys are watching tv, and the Prof and I napped and puttered around and napped some more.  I have another big week full of almost impossible deadlines, but I’m resisting the urge to try to ‘get caught up’ today.  I think I need rest more, and so I’m resting (well, doing hours and hours of domestic chores, but also resting).  We ran errands yesterday, too – getting some items framed, getting my wedding rings sized up at last – they haven’t fit for about a year, and I finally gave up on the belief that my fingers would shrink back to normal, but then it became an issue of making time to drop them off at a jeweler.  There was one close to this kid birthday party, so that worked perfectly!  I’ll run to the grocery store in a few minutes – we have zero food, as my kids keep whining and reminding me.  This is what we plan to have this week:

Sour Cream Noodle Bake, green beans and crusty bread.

PW Perfect Potato Soup – I made this a few weeks ago and froze half, so we’ll defrost that and heat it up.  Bread, apples, and cheese will go nicely with this.

Leftover honey mustard chicken and vegetables – that made a TON and we’ll be eating on it for a while!

Chicken patties, mac and cheese, and mixed veg.

Smothered baked chicken burritos.  These things are so good.  I’ll slow cook the chicken this afternoon and then assembling these will be a cinch.

Have a great week, all!


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Saturday Morning Doors-Flung-Open-Wide Meal Planning

Thank the weather gods, it’s cool today.  It’s seventy something degrees and the dog, the Prof, and I are loving it, though our ridiculous swamp-acclimated sons are dying of hypothermia.  New Orleans hit a record high of 40+ nights where the temps did not dip below 80 degrees this summer (previous record was 13 nights – cough, climate change, cough cough).  Each month this summer was the hottest on record.  In short, it’s been brutal to experience, and we are glad the heat has broken for now.

My father-in-law came for a brief visit last week and taught us how to work the back door (thanks for that!), so now we know how to open and lock it properly, which apparently we had not been doing all this time.  This tricksy house and its tricky tricks.  (It also required a facetime call to the prior owners to figure out how to turn on the hand-spray in the master bathtub.  In our defense, many of these quirks are not exactly intuitive or obvious.)  So our back French doors are flung wide, and the dog is bee-bopping in and out enjoying this more Welsh-ish weather (he’s a Pembroke Welsh corgi, so not really the right breed for NOLA’s swampy summers).

Meanwhile I am planning Halloween costumes and meals for the week, and plan to pull out the Halloween decorations this morning.  We’re also watching College Game Day, and the kids are doing crafts and getting all up in my business as I try to do this.  Jack is doing dances in front of me trying to distract me from what I’m doing so I’ll go help him make a construction paper t rex.  So, in short, here are the week’s meals:

Mon: Chicken and black bean enchiladas, and rice (I’ll toss cooked chicken and black beans in oregano, cumin, chili powder, and paprika, then roll up in a tortilla with some shredded cheddar, smother in canned red sauce, and bake)

Tues: Stuffed peppers – mother-in-law’s recipe.  I happen to have a ton of ground beef right now so this will use it up.

Wed: Sheet pan honey mustard chicken with vegetables.  Looks delicious and autumnal.

Thurs: Ginger beef stir fry and rice

Fri: Baked potatoes with broccoli cheese sauce

Now I must go referee the children!



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A Needed Morning Off

I worked both days this weekend, and Sunday and Monday nights til approaching midnight – all to meet a Monday filing deadline (met).  So this morning when I got a call from Craig’s daycare saying it was 10:30 a.m. and he’d been uncharacteristically asleep for two hours, I was almost relieved to have to leave work and come pick him up.

So I’m spending a quiet, lazy morning with a little piglet who is lethargic and listless, no fever or symptoms besides being very sleepy and very gassy (I need a gas mask – I can tell he’s sick, the smell of him is making me kind of sick, too.  I have lit all the candles.)  He’s watching tv and in and out of sleep, and while I’m still covered up and have tons upon tons of work to do, I’m grateful for a little unplanned respite.

Our stream of beloved and welcome visitors continues – my in-laws came for a whirlwind one day stay, mostly to drop off our dog.  I haven’t seen the pup since Christmas, and while he and I have a somewhat tetchy relationship, I’m glad he’s back.  He seems happy to be here, too, though still finding his feet in a new house, after 9 months at the “grandparents’ house.”  They got in some good NOLA food and oohed and aahed over the house, then headed home.  We’ll have a nice long visit at Thanksgiving, more time to catch up.

Reading stories with DeeDee

Reading stories with DeeDee

My brother came for an even quicker stay – after a Saturday night out on the town (bachelor party), he spent a few hours sleeping in our guest bed before being awoken at a dreadfully early hour by the children, then gamely reading them Halloween books for a few hours before heading home to work the rest of his Sunday.  No full weekends off for him – he works too much, too.

Apparently if you come to visit our house, your book-reading skills will be exploited by my many children

Apparently reading books is the price of admission if you want to stay in this house.  Ignore the junk behind the couch – that will eventually go into a shed that we will eventually assemble.

In the absence of visitors, this guy reads to his little bros

In the absence of visitors, this guy reads to his little bros

After laundering all of the guest sheets and getting re-acquainted with the dog, we spent the rest of the weekend trying to keep ahead of work and kid obligations, mostly succeeding.  We had a couple of illnesses (so today’s sick two year old was predictable), an infection that required yet another ER visit (post-office-hours presentation, very significant symptoms, pediatrician told me to go so I went – cleared up now).

At the ER.  This thing fascinated both of us for hours.

At the ER. This thing fascinated both of us for hours.

We also managed to host friends for a lunch of hamburgers on the grill.  The boys went to Boy Scouts, and I (as aforementioned) worked, making a little time in between times to grocery shop and manage the boys doing laundry.  These days Jack washes all of their laundry, and then each boy folds his own.  (Liam’s not old enough to really do a good job washing it, but his other job is to help unload all the dry groceries into the pantry, so he carries his load of chores.)  I am so glad they are now old enough to do this – it makes a big difference in the workload, let me tell you!

Crack that whip.  Boys folding their clothes.

Crack that whip. Boys folding their clothes.

While at the grocery, I spent some birthday money on houseplants, which my husband promptly teased me for but he enjoys the fresh oxygen my plants are pumping out just as much as I do, so he can hush.

My three new beauties.

My three new beauties.

And now it’s Tuesday.  Jack has soccer after school today.  The Prof gets a full day of work in while I get a lazier day off (I mean, I’m still caring for this 2 year old, but he’s being pretty chill so far).

We’re eating a lot of freezer meals this week as well, as I’ve stockpiled enough to start defrosting them:

  • Chili.  I used half ground turkey and half ground beef, and it was actually kind of perfect the first time we had it.  Not too greasy, but not too dry.  I also bought a challah loaf to have with it – both are defrosting as we speak/I type.  Delicious.
  • Turkey tetrazzini.  I found this recipe on another blog and it was delish – we only had half so this week we’ll defrost and eat the other half.
  • Chicken korma. This isn’t frozen, but it’s easy – it’s just chopped chicken, onions, bottled korma sauce, served over jasmine rice.
  • Slow cooker baked ziti.  We had the first half of this last week, and I’m probably going to throw some meatballs in this other half once it defrosts, because while it wasn’t at all bad, it was just a bit bland.  It’s a good base – needs some experimentation to make it really awesome.  I’ll make a side salad to go with.
  • Beef with snow peas, which I bought for last week and we’ve really gotta get it eaten up.

All right, time to go pick up the big boys.  Have a great week!

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Labor Day Weekend Recap

Two of my sisters, one with her baby in tow, came to visit over Labor Day weekend and help me celebrate my birthday.  Both showed up on Thursday evening, one (plus her mini) by plane and one by car.

Sweet thing in a swing

This sweet thing in a swing was apparently a dream on the plane

I drove straight to the airport from work to get one girl plus her baby girl, and then got home with them to a house that was smashingly decorated . . .

Happy Birthday to me!

Happy Birthday to me!

Though it was clearly done by a couple of short guys . . .

Decorations right at Jack/Liam height

Decorations right at Jack/Liam height

Not my most flattering pic, but Hannah looks perfect as always

Not my most flattering pic, but Hannah looks perfect as always.  I did as much of this as Ms. Mama’s Girl would allow, which was not much

The boys had bought me a chantilly berry cake from Whole Foods, plus a mason jar of late summer flowers, and a “cactus.”  It’s actually a Jade plant, just a succulent (no spines!), but Jack will not be convinced that it’s not a baby cactus that will develop spikes when it grows up.

My birthday "cactus"

My birthday “cactus”

The group

The group

Two faces that love to share . . .

Two faces that love to share toys  . . .

After cake and greetings, the second sister arrived late.  We shared a glass of wine and then all went to bed, long days for all three.

The next morning the spouse flew to Philly for a conference.  It was just the girls and the little boys, and we took them to the park Friday morning early, before it got blazing hot.

He asked me to take this one

He asked me to take this one

We always bring random stuff everywhere

We always bring random stuff everywhere

She got some grubby knees/shins after crawling all over the place - now she walks!

She got some grubby knees/shins after crawling all over the place – now she walks!

This one sweats like it's his job out there

This one sweats like it’s his job out there

We all got hot after an hour or so (even at 8 in the morning), and meandered back home for cold drinks and indoor play.  I had a lunchtime meeting, so got myself dressed and went into work for a few hours, but then I got out of the office and we all managed to wrangle the children into a fave Mexican place for Friday night dinner.

We braved dinner out

Behind me is a wall with a corner, and we trapped Craig in that corner all night, while my sister had to fish her baby from off the table and deposit her back in the high chair about 100 times.  Squirrely.


Avoiding sitting in the chair like it's made of fire

Avoiding sitting in the chair like it’s made of fire

Saturday morning we again decided to head out super early, before it got blazing hot, and took a bike ride around Audubon park.  Sadly, it was only after I had the kids with helmets in hand and getting loaded in the car that I realized that I have three sons, and two bikes.  Oh Lord.  There were tears.  However, we worked out a compromise that involved taking turns.

Even with ice water, everyone was boiling

Even with ice water, everyone was boiling

So we cooled down with some snoballs

So we cooled down with some snoballs

Jack's was king cake flavored

Jack’s was king cake flavored

Sweaty baby wanted "green kind!" so he ended up with a pretty tart lime

Sweaty baby wanted “green kind!” so he ended up with a pretty tart lime

After all the sweaty sticky outdoor time, some little imp needed a bath

After all the sweaty sticky outdoor time, some little imp needed a bath

Monkey see monkey do.  Porky Craig didn't fit quite as well in the sink, but he insisted after watching Hannah's bath

Monkey see monkey do. Porky Craig didn’t fit quite as well in the sink, but he insisted after watching Hannah’s bath

We had pork chops, asparagus, and baked potatoes for dinner that night, and got the kiddoes down before enjoying lots of wine and conversation among the girls.  Most of us couldn’t stay up too much later than the kids – even with three adults on four kids, it’s still pretty exhausting.

The next day we went swimming at our local gym, and when the indoor pool proved a bit chilly, we cut swimming short and went and played basketball a while instead.  I didn’t catch any pix of that, sadly, but it was good times, and we wore the turkeys out.  We had po boys for lunch and I want to say NOTHING for dinner, because we were still stuffed from the po boys (it’s possible we ordered a pizza or something, but I can’t remember).  Another evening of playing puzzles, drinking wine, and chatting, and then it was bedtime.

The next morning I had to take Amanda and Hannah to the airport pretty darn early, and my car didn’t start.  Luckily my other sister’s car was working fine, so we got the luggage and car seat transferred to her car toot sweet and made it to the airport on time.  (We had to replace the battery, but that’s done and it was a minor repair).  My next sister hung around for the morning, and we had a good breakfast and some leftover po boys for lunch, and did lots of chatting in between that time.  She’s the one who just got married, so we had lots of fun talking about married life.  (She and her new hubs are on their honeymoon right now in France, floating on a boat down a narrow canal, I AM SO JELLY).

And that was my weekend – two weekends ago!  Last weekend we had some friends in town from my last law firm – they came by to watch football and chat.  This weekend another set of friends from the old law firm were in town, and we went out to dinner with them and had a great time.  Next weekend my brother might be here . . . and more of my old law firm friends are coming in October and November.  The nice thing about living in New Orleans is that everyone comes to visit at one time or another!

Have a great week – I’m off to enjoy the last bit of Sunday with my boys.

Posted in Holidays and Celebrations | 1 Comment

Saturday Morning Meal Planning!

So!  Meal planning is back.  Allowing us to rely on a less elevated fare for a short while helped get us through the home purchase (very stressful) and move.  Now that we’re here and largely settled (still need our shed delivered and built so we can get the “garage stuff” out of our living room, but we’re close), planning meals and cooking feels less like “another thing on my plate I can’t get to,” and more like it used to . . . fun.  My abandonment of the meal planning for a few months was also an exercise in trying some new strategies for feeling less buffeted by responsibilities.  It worked, and I learned a lesson I keep having to re-learn again and again . . . it doesn’t have to be All In or All Out. Sometimes you can let things go without feeling like you’re letting things slip . . . As best I can, I’m trying to make smart choices about where I spend my time and energy.  Most weeks, this is a worthwhile place for my precious efforts.  (Although I’ve been so busy at work these days, we’ve been eating at 7:30 pm most nights!)

(A new thing I’ve started is meditation.  There’s an eight week program sponsored by Seyfarth Shaw and the National Association of Women Lawyers, and I’m participating in it and actually trying to meditate daily, for a minimum of two minutes and sometimes up to ten.  It’s helped a ton with stress and happiness.  I’ve got weeks to go before real lasting change begins to happen, but I can already see it’s worth the time!)

I have a post started all about my sisters’ weekend here in town, plus some lilypads we have to look forward to in the coming year.  I will probably even be able to take a bit of vacation next year!  I billed a 200 hour month last month (even though we moved!), and I’m on track for the same now, which is only really tolerable for two reasons: (1) the people I work for are just hired someone new so we have help, aka this won’t last forever, and (2) I’m going to over-bill and get myself set up for some time off in the future . . . (and (2.5) – although I’m busy I have a lot of control over when I do things and I get amazing amounts of billing done at 4am, I have a great team of partners who work with each other to make sure I prioritize things in the way that’s best for the group instead of fighting with each other over who gets my attention, they’re starting to trust me and be really hands-off, and the work is substantive, interesting, and diverse – I think working in a law firm as a fifth year is ten million times better than as a third year).

The move, the settling in, the meditation, the fall – it’s all working together to make life a lot more pleasant, on a day to day basis, than it has been for a while.  I’m tired, but largely happy.  It’s been a while since I could say that.

For now, Craig is bee bopping around and the boys are vegging on video games, which we shouldn’t allow to last all day, so I’ve got to wrap it up and pay attention to the kids.  I’m planning the week’s meals, writing up a grocery list, and then may see if the spouse wants to take turns going to the gym.  Happy Saturday to all.

Beef with snow peas

Easy crockpot baked ziti

Turkey tetrazzini (looks good Lag Liv!  Giving it a try.)

Chili lime chicken kabobs (a friend dropped off a bag of about fifty limes from his lime tree, and I’ve been putting lime slices in my water pitcher at work and trying to make lime flavored things, just to use them all up.)

PW perfect potato soup

And this (smothered baked chicken burritos) is a thing I made last week which I highly, highly recommend.  I used the cheese sauce on the burritos, but we had leftovers and I drizzled it over some leftover boiled red potatoes, mixed in some frozen mixed veg, and had a nice veggie/cheese/potato dish that was great for lunches the rest of the week.


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