Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Too Much

So we had our wine party on Saturday night and it was SO much fun and I love everyone who came and it was a total highlight of my month. I want very much to tell you about it and I think you should all host your own (and invite me if you're local), and I'm even tempted to do so and pretend everything in my week is as perfect as that party, but.


This week has wrecked me. I drove home from work - early because I wasn't getting anything done anyway and the urge to crawl under my desk was too strong to ignore any longer - and wished for the first time in my life that I could go anywhere but home. I wanted to drive to an anonymous soulless hotel room, turn on the food network, take the hottest longest bath I could handle and curl up under the covers and ignore every single thing in my life besides covers and the sounds of someone else cooking food. Preferably British someones baking mysterious cakes with flavor combinations I don't understand. It's more soothing when it's British and the weird flavors don't make me hungry.

But I have children and responsibilities, so I didn't. I've never wanted to escape from my life before, but I think it says something about this week that my parents' sudden and random decision on Sunday to sell their Livingston lake house and my childhood home in Kingwood and buy another house is the least emotional thing weighing on me as I sit here not in my hotel room. I'm sad about it. I haven't lived in the Kingwood house for 15 years and have only visited a handful of times in the last decade, but every childhood memory I have is there. I learned how to ride my bike and had my first kiss on that driveway; got ready for all my first days of school, a million morning practices, prom, and my wedding in our little upstairs bathroom; ate thousands of family dinners in the kitchen; and walked in through the front door a thousand times more... I feel uprooted somehow, despite the fact that my roots have already proved to be quite portable. My childhood is more than a house; it's the memories in it and the foundation of confidence, love, and security I feel in my every day, and yet, all those memories are in that house.

I have feelings about it. Not everyone gets to return to their childhood home whenever they want and not everyone has purely happy memories when they get there. I do and I did and I won't get to go back anymore. I was taken aback by the intensity of my feelings about that. Like Miranda Lambert says, it's the house that built me. I know it was really the people and they're still here. But it's also the house and it won't be mine anymore.

~ ~ ~

Later on Sunday we found out James's dad is in the hospital, insensible and delirious, having violent outbursts, and suffering from late stage chronic hepatic encephalopathy as a complication from cirrhosis. He is unlikely to be lucid again.

James's parents are complicated and not a topic I'm going into, but as most readers know- they stopped talking to us in 2010 and we haven't seen them since May of that year, when I was pregnant with Claire and Landon was 2. He doesn't want to talk about it and for the most part, we don't.

We had to talk about it on Sunday. On Monday, he decided to call the hospital and his mom put his phone up to his dad's ear. "Hi dad," he said, for the first time in a long time.

"James. How's your swim meet?" his dad slurred.

"I'm sorry to hear you're sick."

"You need to go downstairs and let the dog out."

"...I wish things could have been different between us."


And then his mom hung up the phone.

(He does not want to talk about it.)

~ ~ ~

On Tuesday, Landon started at a new counselor. This isn't bad, I'm very pro-counseling and, as we explained to Landon, no one knows everything about everything, not even your wise parents, and we should always seek out people who know more to help us. Teachers, swim lesson instructors, lawyers, and doctors- experts! And just like how we see a doctor for our body, we can also talk to one about our mind and our feelings. I don't know if it's just being 9 and having bigger feelings than he is used to or can handle- they're certainly bigger than we're used to or can handle- but over the last year or so Landon has had outbursts or tantrums that spiral completely out of control. His control and ours. It's not that often and it's never at school or with friends, but no one in our house has any idea what we're supposed to do with them when they do pop up- including him. So we're getting help on that. Tantrum prevention and management. This is good.

It still feels shitty to basically sit down with a third party and vocalize how wrong your parenting has been and how lost you are with your own child, but along with the fact that we want to do better for him, it's important to me that he sees that when we don't know, we get help, and he should too. It's okay to not know, and it's even better to get help to do better.

But fuck it was not a great week for it. Particularly since, as James described when they got home, his stomach dropped the minute Landon went back to talk to the counselor alone and he spent 45 minutes waiting for the police to be called because we both still have serious PTSD when it comes to new health authority figures talking with our children. Never mind that there is absolutely no grounds for that, and at 9 years rather than 2 months of age, Landon would be able to say that, I understood exactly what he meant (I had my only anxiety attack of my life when Landon had to get a stomach x-ray a few years ago and I blacked out in the doctor's office) and the haunting specter of the Chicago nightmare being back in my brain was nothing we needed this week.

~ ~ ~

And later on Tuesday, James and I had one of those things that isn't a fight, it's just calm steady talk, but somehow two hours later you're both wrecked and sitting there staring at each other like what the fuck just happened? This didn't even seem like a big deal when we started talking how can I feel like the floor just fell out from under me?

(The floor is back, we have a strong foundation (which wasn't meant to be a pun, but does kind of go with the theme), but holy hell, maybe no more talking about anything that could potentially touch on anything serious or emotional until next week. Neither of us have much to give at the moment.)

~ ~ ~

And so that's the week. Or at least the first few days of it, apparently it's only Wednesday. And it's not even all bad. It's just too much.

I'd already invited over my mama friends over to help me drink all the leftover wine from Saturday by turning it into sangria on Friday while our kids run amok in our back yard. The week is going to get improve, or we're just going to wait it out and watch it die, but it will end and I will be holding sangria when it does. I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Just a Nice Little Saturday

So we left the house at 5:45 this morning to attend our first triathlon. The big kids were competing. I signed up months ago, when we were in the throes of swim team and I thought it sounded like one of those fun things I hear about after they're done and think, huh, I should have signed us up for that. So this time I did the signing up before the thing was done! Then I had my alarm go off at 5:05 a.m. on a Saturday morning after 3 hours of sleep and thought, signing up for things is the worst.

We packed the car last night. Cora was heartbroken, like actively sobbing and just devastated when her trike didn't make it into the car. Then this morning, she was standing at the door at 5:40 with her swim suit and swim diaper in hand. "I do the trathlon toooooo," she cried. And she probably would have rocked it, she's just a year and a month too young. We soothed her pain with some Beauty on the Best on the car ride out (Belle is her new favorite) and she was her usual cheerful, easy-going, spectating self when we pulled up in the cold, dark shadows of the Keller Natatorium.

(After Claire's race; they had been separated for a whole hour and Cora was beside herself at the reunion)

Having never done a triathlon ourselves, we had absolutely no idea what we were doing, so we just copied everyone else and that worked out fine. Behold, our transition stations!

Some people brought chalk to decorate their spots which is a great idea if you are artistic and like to go the extra mile for your children.

We really only go extra inches. We only bought one water bottle to share among the five of us. Also no jackets.

stealing food from the finish line to feed the baby

Claire's group went first. She rocked her swim (that's her closest to the wall) and then took off with James to the transition area.

It was all a bit chaotic, but Cora and I made it to the bike path to see her come in at the end of her mile- she was smiling and confident, but as soon as she saw me yelled, "Mom, I'm too cold!"

Then it was the run, 1/3 mile for her group, but she got confused at the end and way off course so I yelled her name and pointed to the finish line and she burst into tears instead. Oops. We course-corrected, literally, and she crossed over while telling me, "Mom, it's my FIRST RACE! I just didn't know where to go! I shouldn't BE IN TROUBLE because I DIDN'T KNOW."

And since she'd already been up for 4 hours, and she has so much of me in her and I completely understand that any acknowledgement of imperfection is "being in trouble" I gave her sobbing self a hug and then handed her one of the pancakes they were making at the finish line.

We thought we'd have a while before Landon swam, but turns out we missed his swim and bike! By the time we realized what had happened, we ran back to the finish line - Claire, pancake, Cora, stroller, single water bottle, and all to see him racing to the finish!

He's a fast little runner. His group did a 75 yard swim, 3 mile ride, and 1 mile run, and somehow he did all that while I was giving Claire the pancake, but he had a great time and didn't seem at all bothered that we missed basically everything.

And then at 8:45 we were back in the car and headed home where Cora adopted Claire's medal as her own.

I ran to Target (always) and then taught barre and now I'm party prepping for a "cheap blind wine tasting" party we're having tonight. Ten couples, ten under-$10 wines wrapped in brown bags, score cards I made all by myself, apple cider sangria, and lots of delicious foods (this pumpkin cheesecake ball is on the menu!)- should be fun and I'm looking forward to finding out the winners and some new "house" wines for us to buy!

Earlier this week James turned 35 and we celebrated with his favorite dinner (flank steak, twice baked potatoes, sauteed carrots, bread) and this year's cake selection- funfetti with dark chocolate icing. I was skeptical, but he noted that yellow cake with chocolate frosting is amazing, so why wouldn't this? Airtight logic and I can't argue with the results.

The kids made him 1,000 cards, all of which Claire needed to walk him through in great detail.

As I watched him listen attentively and ask follow-up questions while Landon showed him his swim-related art and a tutu'd Cora bounced around asking for cake, I thought how much has changed from his first birthday we celebrated together (20th!) and how freaking awesome it all has been and is now. Thirties are fun.

Also, for those who have been concerned, Cora officially LOVES cake. Using her fork and her left hand, she shoveled it in as fast as she could and immediately requested more. Her party is in 4 weeks, so maybe this year her cake won't hurt her feelings again.

Now bring on the wine and pumpkin balls!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Herding Puppies is Harder Than Herding Cats

A Selection of Short Stories

Take Your Kids to Work Day, unofficial version:

On Friday I got a text from Tara saying she had a family emergency (dad in the hospital; he's now fine) and could I be home by 4 so she could drive to Dallas to be with him. Of course I responded, we'll make it work, but I was so busy and at a critical point in something I was writing, I asked if she could bring the kids to me instead. Surely adding my three generally well behaved children would be easier than packing up and trying to write from home, right? And I think it was, but 3 kids is just a lot of energy to bring to your federal government office at 4:00 on a Friday when the only people there are the ones who really have stuff to do.


The big kids brought their kindles and read fairly quietly in my guest chairs. Cora, needing to be like the big kids but not in possession of a kindle, also packed a little Lululemon bag with a blanket, sunglasses, and a small plastic gorilla. When she got to my office she spread out the blanket, sat down in the middle, donned the sunglasses (upside down, obvi), put her gorilla in her lap, and looked around expectantly for what would happen next. I believe she was disappointed, though she did borrow my blackberry to make a few important calls.

When I went to grab something from the printer, I returned to an empty office, only to find all three of my kids newly camped in a coworker's office, like they had just moved on after my 30-second abandonment.

After an hour I finished my memo, wrapped up another document, and logged out. Feeling productive and yet also totally exhausted, we stopped at Yucatan for dinner. My meal was in the form of semi-frozen tequila and lime. Cheers.

Parental Layover:

Then my parents came to town! Arriving just in time for my mom to attend my noon barre class (she rocked it) and leaving after brunch on Sunday, we packed in the fun and even the tiniest bit of shopping.

After barre, we cleaned up a bit, ate some of my Greek Quinoa Salad, and then headed out to the Japanese Gardens at our beautiful, local Botanic Gardens. Free, and located just a few miles up the road, we'd visited the Botanic Gardens many times, but somehow we'd never bothered to turn into this other driveway and enter the Japanese Gardens, which are not free, but well worth the price of admission.

Big trees, ponds, awesome bridges, big porches, beautiful landscaping, and also this koi who wants to eat your soul.

feeeeed me

Luckily, they also have fish pellets for your convenience.

We really enjoyed exploring/running at full speed down the paths. Also, since we had to take 2 cars, my mom and I accidentally stopped at Sephora on the way over where I talked her into buying an Urban Decay Naked palette and a few other goodies. Perfect warmup for some garden strolling.

Later, my parents took the kids out to dinner while James and I went out on a fancy date for his birthday at our very favorite place, Grace.


Dinner was amazing, as always, and I even branched out and ordered not-steak, though the bruleed goat cheese cheesecake OBVIOUSLY still remained on my heart and in my stomach. Best dessert ever.

James liked his food too, but refused to post for pictures with it.

And I was pleased with my eye makeup; made possible by the earlier stop at Sephora for a replacement Naked palette because I left mine in the Orangetheory bathroom (also where I dropped a $160 bottle of skin serum; I maybe just need to stop trying to get ready there) and never found it again. I've been spackling myself together with leftover eye shadow samples, but now I have my full neutral rainbow at my fingertips again. Paying for the makeup lesson for my birthday two years ago remains one of my better life choices.

After dinner we hung out with my parents a bit, swapping stories and making them watch John Oliver and SNL clips. On Sunday we went on our long walk through the neighborhood to our favorite park. Cora really took my dad under her wing, encouraging him through all the challenges of the big kid playground.

Come ON Papa!

Yay, Papa, yay!!

We ended with then treating us to a delicious birthday brunch at James's favorite place. We ate everything, said goodbye, and continued home to give the kids some nap/rest time before...

Family Pictures
(Aka: herding three deaf, ADHD puppies who don't recognize English or you, generally, and omg just SIT. STAY. DAMMIT.):

Family pictures on Sunday night! Always a favorite of mine, never a favorite of anyone else's. We've had some outtakes, but also many many other shoots that I simply adore and don't care if everyone else found tortuous. I do a lot for this family and I'm allowed to ask for one hour back. Except, apparently, when I'm not.

They weren't bad, exactly, they were just... puppies. Like scampering about, hiding behind hedges, running along walkways, literally climbing on top of each other... puppies. Like herding cats but actually worse because puppies are so JOYFUL about the fact they're flagrantly ignoring you. At one point Landon and Claire just disappeared. The photographer and James and I were spread out calling for them and finally found them around the back of the building where they'd gone "to explore." The idea of a family picture containing all five members of the family in the same frame was SUPER CONFUSING.

In the end, I think we got some beautiful shots, and my goal this time around was really to get some nice portraits of each kid on their own. They'd get to pick the place and the poses and just have a few minutes with the photographer to be themselves (which is how we lost L&C). And I think we got that. And I even think we got some nice family shots. But OMFG when we sat down on the grass together after successfully negotiating Cora's chosen placement (NEXT TO YAYA MAMA) and then Landon pulled out a bunch of grass and dropped it down Claire's neck, the daggers that flew out of my eyes and straight for his jugular were only barely metaphorical.

As I told our photographer at the end, I'm so glad we're friends on facebook and she's shot us for the last 3 years because she knows the love I hope we were showing wasn't fake. It was just fake right then.

This week's food:
Sun: Greek quinoa salad (basically this recipe, double the dressing-except the olive oil, tossed with 2 cups cooked quinoa), naan, TJ's cilantro chive dip because it's the best
Mon: Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Chili, various toppings: tortillas chips, cheese, sour cream, cilantro
Tues: Flank Steak, twice baked potatoes, sauteed green beans and carrots (James's chosen birthday dinner!)
Wed: BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad (this recipe for the chicken; quinoa, lots of yummy toppings like black beans, corn, tomato, cilantro, avocado, cheese)
Thurs: BBQ Chicken Enchiladas (Leftover BBQ chicken rolled into tortillas with shredded cheese, topped with a schmear of sour cream and a little more cheese; bake at 350 for 20 mins); Refried Black Beans, Mexican Rice, Avocado
Fri: Creamy Meaty Spaghetti (Another one I kind of just make up; ground beef, onion, garlic + tomato sauce + half block cream cheese + 2 lbs. pasta); carbo-loading for the kids' triathlon on Saturday morning

This week's workouts:
Sun: long walk; herding puppies behind a museum and making them smile
Mon: Orangetheory
Tues: C2 Yoga
Wed: Orangetheory
Thurs: C2 Yoga
Fri: C2 Yoga
Sat: Barre- teaching

Peak Cora Sighting: kitty shirt, tutu, leggings, Christmas socks, shoes on the wrong feet, purse stolen from her sister, upside down sunglasses, and large semi-broken bow. Perfect.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Most Beautiful Butterflies

So first of all, I don't have cancer. The tech who called me emphasized that they checked the sample twice just to be sure, because it looked so suspicious, but despite appearances, my skin is NOT (yet!) a parfait of cancers and that's something we can all celebrate. I'm enjoying a nice glass of red if you'd like to join in long-distance.

Second, fall is sort of maybe temporarily here. After bouncing back to the 90's for most of October, we hit the 70's today and though it looks like we're bouncing back upwards again, Cora did FINALLY get to wear some of the fall clothes I bought her weeks ago. The kitty cat shirt, with matching half-cat leggings (she spent a long time searching those pants for the other half of the cats on each leg), were a big hit.

A friend at work gave me a big bag of extra bows. They're giant and tacky and Cora ADORES them. Her recycled infant-headbands seem so demure by comparison and now nothing but a large head bow will do (in addition to the four hair bows and two ponies of course).

Landon loves them too.

Speaking of the big kids, report cards came out this week! Landon's was typically Landon and quite good.

Claire's was too, but what was particularly special to me was the note that came home from her music teacher. As I wrote a few posts ago, music just speaks to Claire's soul. Her music teacher is brand new to the school (and to teaching- it's her first year and she seems absolutely wonderful) and Claire only goes to music once a week, so I thought it was so special that her teacher picked up on how music just "clicks" with her. We are blessed with such amazing teachers at our sweet school.

The big kids went out with James for ice cream to celebrate.

Cora and I stayed home to wear bows and read all the books. Since neither of us particularly like ice cream, and since I had had this glorious creation for lunch, and hanging out with Cora is basically the best thing in the universe right now (she is SO funny and so sweet and SO chatty, there is no level of Cora that is too much Cora), it worked out well for everyone.

Pork Belly & Angus Chuck Patty topped with a Sweet Potato & Bacon Croquette, a Bourbon Roasted Apple Chutney, sitting on a bed of Fresh German Coleslaw with a Pretzel Bun
(also French Fries)
(of course)

Since we're talking about food, we are eating more of it this week! It never ends.


Mon: Slow Cooker Chicken Gyros (SO GOOD), pita, various toppings (tomato, kalamata olives, feta cheese, cucumber), and the best dip ever- Trader Joe's Cilantro Chive Yogurt Dip (sort of like tzatziki sauce, but stronger and more delicious); these delicious Greek Potatoes. This was my favorite meal in a long time and even though all three kids included every toppings offered in their pitas, they all loved the DIY aspect of it all.

Tues: Lasagna Soup deliciousness, ciabatta bread. Cheese was the vegetable. (Changes because of course I make them: beef broth instead of chicken; 1 lb. Italian chicken sausage + 1 lb. ground beef; full small can tomato paste; and I generally use bow tie pasta and regular diced tomatoes.)

Wed: Turkey sandwiches on mini pretzel buns. Weirdly a kid/James favorite. Costco sells the BEST mini pretzel rolls and I just slice them open, add deli turkey and sharp cheddar slices, and put on a tray in the oven for 10-15 minutes until they're all warm and wonderful, then top with avocado, tomato, and balsamic or ranch dressing. Also chips, fruit.

Thurs: Chicken Sausage and Roasted Vegetables. New recipe and it was so good! I put all the ingredients in a big bowl to toss them before spreading them out on two baking sheets to roast (you probably could do one, but I wanted to make sure the veggies could get a little crispy). I used Trader Joe's Chicken Apple Chardonnay sausage and served it with pasta tossed with a bit of Italian dressing; will definitely make again.

Fri: Tamales (steamed, from frozen; TJ's are good), refried black beans, avocado, tomato, probably scrambled eggs because the kids think those always go with tamales now.

~ ~ ~

Workouts: (new thing I'm tracking weekly; basically copying Sarah)

Sat: Barre (teaching!)
Sun: Bikram hot yoga
Mon: C2 Yoga
Tues: Orangetheory; C2 yoga
Wed: eating a giant hamburger
Thurs: Orangetheory
Fri: C2 Yoga

Orangetheory is still really working for me. It's still hard, every time, but it's always different and always goes by quickly. Wearing the heart rate monitor remains distracting and educational. I've noticed that not only can I run much longer and harder than I could before, but my heart rate actually stays lower. Sometimes it's annoying that my calorie burn numbers aren't as high as they used to be (it's like getting a report card each time), but I know it's because my cardiovascular health is so much stronger. It's a great feeling, like when I first started going to barre and saw physical changes in my body in the mirror. Obviously, it was superficially thrilling, but more than that, it was powerful. I had done that. Now I feel that way when I hit higher speeds on the treadmill with each new month and my heart rate monitor doesn't flash red like I'm going into cardiac arrest.

Strength day today; many inclines; my heart is still very not used to those.

But yoga is the backbone of my workout world right now and I try to go 4x a week. I got to do a headstand with my arms outstretched sideways, palms facing up the other day and I didn't even know that was a thing. I LOVE finding new things that are things! And I continue to love CorePower. Their heated C2 classes are athletic, dynamic, and always different, and they still stretch and loosen me up like nothing else. My whole body feels better after a class; I'm sleeping better, my headaches are fewer, and I just generally love the balance it's providing me right now to connect my barre teaching (which I adore, but is intense and hard on me- I burn more calories per minute teaching than anything else I do) and OTF (also hard-hitting and intense, but has the cardio I need).

It feels like the perfect blend for me right now, and my ability to do it at all is why I continue to politely decline recruiter emails.

~ ~ ~

And finally, Claire brought home a card today. I assumed she had made it, but she said, "No, mom, this is from my new other best friend Rachel. She draws the most beautiful butterflies."

And she does. And what a delightful way to be so earnestly and emphatically described.

(Also, throwback to another beautiful butterfly.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Human Pigs and Other Animals

An illustrated survey of the Lag Liv family's interactions with the animal kingdom over the past few days

(and buses)

First up, on Friday I took the afternoon off to chaperone Landon's third grade field trip to the Science Museum and IMAX theater. I had yet to chaperone a field trip and since part of the point of my job is to be involved in the kids' schools (though to be fair I spent Monday night at the school for a PTA general meeting, Tuesday night at a PTA Board meeting, and Thursday night at a Science Fair meeting), and it was the day before a three day weekend, and I had nothing on my calendar, so I said sure! I was excited to see Landon in his natural habitat and he's still young enough to be totally pumped that I was coming along.

You guys, the kids were all really very good and the whole thing went as smoothly as possible, but a bus full of third graders is the LOUDEST PLACE ON EARTH. The giant IMAX movie - "BUGS! A Rainforest Adventure!" with 4-story tall bugs eating 2-story tall bugs piece by tiny gooey-yet-oddly-crunchy piece was relaxing compared to those bus rides. Teachers deserve so much more than we give them.

Human Pig
(which is the worst kind of pig because the real ones are actually pretty intelligent creatures)

Later on Friday I got to listen to the Republican candidate for president brag about committing sexual assault. Filmed when he was 59-years-old and at a work press event less than a year into his third marriage, while his wife was pregnant with their child, he describes his failed attempt to hook up with a married woman: "I moved on her actually. You know she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her, and I failed. I'll admit it. I did try and fuck her, she was married. . . . I moved on her like a bitch. I couldn't get there and she was married."

Then, EVEN BETTER, he sees the actress he'll be interviewing with and says:

Trump: "Yeah that's her with the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful... I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything.

Bush: "Whatever you want."

Trump: "Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."

After the rage simmered down in my belly and I spit out the phantom taste of a 59-year-old Donald J. Trump tongue shoved in my mouth, I decided a line in the sand had been drawn. I love politics. Political news, stories, theories, strategy, polling, etc. are all some of my favorite things to read and discuss and I spend a lot of time doing both. I'm politically progressive and have voted Democrat for every seat in every election since I turned 18 and looking at the current Republican party I can't imagine a time when I won't. But I grew up in a staunchly Republican community (though my parents are not), went to the most conservative law school in the Top 10 (though admittedly that's not a high bar), and currently live in a community that heavily leans conservative (though with liberals and a strong independent streak mixed in), so I regularly see and hear many contrary views, and I appreciate the insight and enjoy the way they help me shape and strengthen my own beliefs. I rarely post about politics on facebook (twice so far this year until yesterday) and it rarely comes up in my more mixed groups of friends. Day to day I'm a working mom of 3 and there is a LOT to talk about, laugh about, and discuss that has absolutely nothing to do with a single political figure.

But, bragging about sexual assault and dismissing it as "just words" and "locker room talk" is too much. I mean, to be clear: I think Donald Trump is a terrible person and a terrible candidate. He's a demagogue. He mocked a disabled man. He is racist, misogynistic, rabidly xenophobic, and incites violence. More than half - actually seventy percent!- of his statements in the campaign have been found to be "mostly false" (18%), "false" (35%), and "pants on fire" (17%). (Hillary's, for the record are 15%, 10%, and 2% in those same categories for a total of 27%, which is still not awesome, but the idea that she's "the liar" and he's not when you have a 7/10 chance that whatever he's telling you is a lie is alt-right nonsense.) He's a petulant, overly sensitive bully who can't pass up an insult, and his temper and impulse control issues render him unfit for office and an active twitter account. He has clearly made no attempt to study foreign policy or understand the complicated world we live in, and other than repeatedly claiming that everything he will do will be "tremendous," the only actual plan he has put forward with any detail is his tax plan which was found to increase the national debt TWENTY-SIX TIMES more than Hillary's, mostly because he wants massive tax cuts while also expending infrastructure work and social security, medicare, and medicaid, and mathematically that just doesn't work out. He hasn't released his tax returns like every other modern presidential candidate, and while he claims he doesn't owe money and has a "fantastic" balance sheet we can't know that because he won't prove it, and we have no reason to believe it because he lies 70% of the time (and I'm sure if it actually was true he'd have long ago produced his tax returns to prove it). But democracy means everyone makes their own choices and publicly, I stay out of it.

But. Bragging about being entitled to sexual assault women and dismissing it as "just words" and "locker room talk" is too fucking far. It's not "just words." It's words that describe past actions. And it's certainly not the offensiveness of the words as some are trying to spin it now. I curse all the time and the word pussy doesn't offend me in the least. But the idea that you can grab mine without my permission and get away with it because you're a "star" is revolting. A friend posted this meme on her facebook page and for the first time in my ENTIRE LIFE I wrote something to contradict someone else's political post.

Me, totally cribbing from a friend who posted a righteous denunciation of this breakdown in logic:

Yeah no. I stay out of my friends contrary fb posts because everyone can think what they want but this comparison is ridiculous.

We are not outraged because of "naughty words." We are outraged because Trump said he can touch our most intimate parts without our permission because he just can't help himself and because he's a powerful man. No, actually worse: he said he has actually grabbed a woman's most intimate part without her permission and he feels *entitled* to do so because he is a star.

This is not "naughty words." This is not "naughty sex." It's called sexual assault, and it's a crime.

If we must compare it to the book, Christian did not assault Ana. Christian cared so much about consent that he drafted a contract with Ana. Also, Christian is a FICTIONAL CHARACTER, not a PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. Just no.

It says something at how furious I was because 50 Shades was terrible, but I love romance novels and the fact that I enjoy reading a good consensual sex scene in NO WAY means I'm okay with you grabbing my genitals without my permission. It is insane that I need to make that clear. We've basically taken the "well what was she wearing?" and turned it into "well what was she reading?" and OHMYGOD I just cannot.

(Update: I've since had four more friends post that meme and you guys, it is illogical and beneath you.)

(Updated update: One friend pulled his down after my response, even keeping my comment visible with a placeholder describing that he'd removed the meme and why, which was actually very powerful and humbling to me. I have no intention of arguing my way through facebook, but I do think that every now and then, when something really matters to you, you can speak up and maybe make someone think about what they're posting? Anyway, I wanted to be fair and include the update though it is killing me a little how much I am defending a book I really didn't like.)

But back to Donald. So he was clearly bragging about how he can kiss women without their consent and grab their pussy without consequence, but let's say it was "just words" and he didn't actually do the things he said. But words matter too. The rape culture he's perpetuating in that video and now dismissing matters. Promoting the idea that you can just reach out and grab me, my daughter, any woman anywhere "by the pussy" and then brag that you can get away with it because you're a big important man is morally repugnant. Telling my son this is just "locker room talk" and "look, it happens" is equally so. And when you're a 59-year-old thrice-married man nowhere near a locker room, you're not only lying in your desperate attempt at spin, you're attempting to normalize unacceptable behavior and abdicating all responsibility for your own words and actions. And if you really do sit around with your guy friends and swap sexual assault stories, you're also telling me a hell of a lot about your own morals and those of the company you keep. He is vile. I'm with her.

And in a bit of perfect timing, my t-shirt arrived on Saturday!

Because hell yes we are.

(Last minute addition- I haven't been a big fan of the Daily Show post-Jon Stewart, but their clip tonight was quite good and includes a viewing of the tapes themselves about 2 minutes in and the audiovisual element really adds a layer of creepy lechery that the black and white words in the transcript don't quite convey. I can't get it to embed, but you can watch it here.)

Frogs and Toads
(and humans pretending to be them)

Also on Saturday, after testing out my new shirt and apologizing to an indignant Claire for not buying her one, we got as fancy as we ever get in Fort Worth and headed out to our first Children's Play of the 2016-2017 Casa Manana season: A Year with Frog and Toad. It was so cute and, as always, so well done.

We love that theater and feel so lucky to have it just up the road. Cora hung out with her best friend, our nanny Tara, but pretty soon she'll be coming too!

Sheep and Ducks
(also pumpkins)

We didn't all attend this, but it must be noted that Landon got to go with a friend to the Mainstay Farm pumpkin patch on Saturday morning and I think it sounded amazing. I say "think" because Landon spoke in stream of consciousness style so fast and so loud and for so long when he got home, I really have no idea what he did. The phrase "...and then we RACED SHEEP!" came out and "... we raced ducks TOO but not real ones this time," so it fits the theme. I assume the sheep were real and the ducks were rubber but in neither case were they actually riding either animal? There was also a giant maze, hay ride, go karts, a giant chair (?), giant hay bales, a giant slide, and maybe just a lot of giant things? Also pumpkins, I presume. He had the BEST time and we're going there to get our Christmas tree this year.

Giraffes and Other Noble Creatures
(plus an ostrich)

On Sunday, we headed south to Glen Rose to drive through the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. I've wanted to go forever, but for some reason we waited 3.5 years and yesterday was the day. Beautiful weather, three thrilled children who were woken up really early because their parents don't handle crowds or lines well and have to do everything right when it opens, and 9 miles of paved safari road.

This is basically Landon's heaven.

We met many a prong horn.

Landon can tell you all their official names, but I prefer to make up human ones. This is Larry.

Cora LOVED it and so did Claire, at least until this intrepid ostrich bit her hand and then it was DEATH TO ALL OSTRICHES.


Do not fuck with Claire. She never forgets.

Claire's Blacklist Entry #1

My absolute favorite was this gorgeous gentle giant. We came across about 6 giraffes and this one is my best friend. I love him and think he would be so happy in my backyard. We could gaze at each other through all my sky lights.

He had the softest nose and the world was a better place when I stood up through our sun roof and he nuzzled my head.

All in all it was an excellent few hours spent feeding and communing with the animals. We will definitely be back. The zebras snubbed me this time and while I took it rather personally, I'm willing to let them try to be my friend again.

[Cooing noises]

(it's been a busy few days)

Clearly I need to wrap this up, but the kids went to Benbrook Stables for a part-day camp today and it was AMAZING. For $55 they got to ride, groom, and feed horses, play a bunch of games, interact with the other animals at the stables, eat lunch, and be generally cared for and supervised for five hours. They loved it and had so much fun. A friend told us about the camp and if you're a local, I highly recommend checking them out.

And now I'm cutting myself off (Cora wore an adorable cat shirt but we are saving it because this is already too long and I'm uncomfortable with all the Donald Trump pussy talk and an adorable picture of my toddler in a kitty cat shirt existing in the same post). Back to regularly scheduled Cora programming (there are also new bows; GIANT ones) soon.