Monday, January 28, 2013


Tonight Lou said his longest sentence yet. I was putting his pj's on and dropped his shirt behind the dresser, to which he exclaimed, "Oh no! Mama drop Louie's shirt."

It's always Mama's fault.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Family Portrait

My family by Norah GVZ. Age 4.5.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


For the past couple of weeks at Norah's school, the theme has been presidents and patriotism.  The lessons seem to be pretty non-partisan, thank goodness, and she has come home talking about things like civic responsibility (we should vote!) and community involvement (we should help other people!).  Apparently they also learned the pledge of allegiance because tonight she told me she had a surprise for me and busted this gem out:

Because I can't help myself, we also then had a discussion about what she thinks "liberty and justice for all" actually means.  I asked her what she thought those words meant and of course she did not know, so we just very generally talked about what a "right" is and who should have them, etc.  She was pretty interested in the topic and very thoughtful of the feelings of others.

My take away lesson from Norah at the end of the day was two-fold: 1) everyone should be treated the same no matter what you look like, and 2) you should be able to marry whoever you want as long as you are both 30 and the other person is not your brother, or cousin, or mom, or dad.  Norah is planning on marrying Ruby.  Or maybe they will live together in college.  She hasn't decided yet.


I was making dinner this evening for the kids and turned my back for a second.  When I turned back around, Louis was sitting at the kitchen table playing with Norah's princess dominoes.  I had been at a hearing all day, so I thought perhaps I was just tired and had not remembered putting him up in a chair.  But then I remembered that Lou is an animal and there is no way in the world I would have put him in a chair at the kitchen table (it is higher than normal and a long way to the ground for a toddler--even one with some ninja skills).  I could not believe he had climbed up there on his own without me even noticing, so I made him do it again.

I have no idea what we are going to do now that he has figured this out.  New table?  Helmet?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Every night Norah lays out her clothes for school the next day. It's super cute but also a little creepy (in a chalk outline kind of way).

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Snap Shots

As long as I am spending my Sunday trying to update here, I figured I would include a mish-mosh of random photos from the past couple of weeks.

I got Lou a broom for Christmas and he loves it.  Unfortunately, it spends a lot of time in time-out because he also loves cracking Norah over the head with it.  It's pretty cute when he sweeps.  It is decidedly NOT cute when he purposefully spills cereal just to have something to sweep.

Nothing is cuter than kids in matching pajamas.  Especially when they have dinosaurs.

The other day Norah decided the living room needed to be rearranged.  She accomplished this by moving around furniture and strategically placing her characters around the room.  She was then "hot and exhausted" so she took off her pants.

My mom made stockings for me and my sisters when we were kids.  I still have and use mine.  She has also made a stocking for each of the grand kids.  They have each been spectacularly awesome.  I think Megan's was done before she was even born.  Lou's was done on Christmas Eve.  Of this year.

Lou and Reid are starting to play with each other a lot more.  Which of course means they fight a lot more.  One of their favorite things to do is play cars on Norah's desk.

As soon as we bought this house we talked about putting in the screen and projector and making it a movie room.  For BVZ's birthday in May, I bought him classic movie posters.  They sat in their mailing tubes until August when, for our anniversary, I framed them all.  They then sat in the dining room until last week when BVZ, Mark and Andy hung them on the walls.  A project 8 months in the making.

 I don't know why people complain that there are no cute boy's clothes.  This fleece with a dragon hood and front kills me every time he wears it.

True love.  I almost hate to mention about 12 seconds after this was taken, he punched her in the face.

Our backyard has become infested with Creeping Charlie--a fast growing weed/vine.  Norah says the yard looks like it's covered in lettuce.  BVZ and I pulled this out last week.  It's not even a fourth of what's out there.

Kiki is in NYC right now and posted a very pretty picture of herself on Facebook.  I showed it to Norah and she asked me to take a picture of her looking like Kiki.  This is what she came up with.  I asked her what she was doing and she said, "looking fancy."

Amy and I got a Groupon recently to try out a Gymboree class with the boys.  I am not a huge fan of the franchise because they really push the hard sell to get you into a contract and it's ridiculously expensive.  But the boys loved it.

By far, the favorite activity of both kids is to climb/jump on either the coffee table or our bed.  They are insatiable.

BVZ rarely, if ever, makes it home in time for kid dinner.  We sometimes will call him or send him pictures.  This night Norah wanted me to send him this picture of her using his Giants cup to 'make him crazy.'  I like the way she thinks.

Target had a sale of $3 pajamas.  You can't beat $3 pajamas.

 The End.

Baby Olympics

Last year, Megan and Trevor came up with the brilliant idea of subjecting Lou and Reid to the Baby Olympics.  They set up various tasks (crawling, knocking down blocks, pulling up on the music table, etc.) and made them compete against each other.  We definitely wanted to do it again this year, especially since it would be way more fun now that they walk and talk and knock each other around.  I can't find the actual list so I might be leaving a few out, but the ones I can remember are:

  • going up the stairs
  • a foot race
  • a race on the push cars
  • a dance off
  • building a tower of blocks
  • throwing a ball
  • kicking a ball
  • hitting the ball off of the tee
  • eating
  • crawling through a tunnel
  • jumping
They are both funny kids with different obvious strengths.  Reid has a vocabulary of about 4,000 words, eats like a maniac, dances like a disco champion, and can put together puzzles like a fourth grader.  Lou is pretty physical.  He runs fast, jumps high, kicks like a maniac, and moves like a ninja (for example, we were at the S house last weekend for Bubby's birthday and everyone was downstairs in the living room.  I turned around for a split second and he was gone.  After a few harrowing moments we discovered he had gone up the stairs by himself and was sitting in Trevor's closet pulling out his car collection.)

But pigeon-holing be damned because every prediction we made was entirely wrong.  Reid performed much better at things like kicking the ball and running up the stairs, and Lou was the clear winner in things like building a tower of blocks.  Reid did smoke him in the dance contest, though.  Kid does the 'raise the roof' move.  We thought then it was a no brainer that Reid would win the eating contest.  Reid is the best eater of all times.  Lou is the worst.  It's no contest.  But the best part about kids is that they constantly surprise you.  Constantly.

We are already working on the third annual installment of the games.  I hope it involves zip lining.


Kiki is teaching and working on her dissertation, which means that she got a bit of a break over the holidays.  Luckily she decided to spend it with everyone here and we got to see a lot of her.  The kids are bananas for her, for good reason.  She runs outside, plays silly games, paints pictures, braids hair, watches movies, and generally makes everything better.

The other day Norah told me that she doesn't remember what it was like not to have her family around all of the time and that if she got one wish it would be to have her ENTIRE family together at one time.  This includes all of us here, the VZs, Kiki, and Ruby.  (And specifically Megan and Trevor.  When I reminded her that they already do live here she said that she knew but wanted to just make sure the wish fairy heard that part).

Maybe someday we'll convince Kiki to come down here for good, but for now we will love her from afar.  A whole lot.

Holiday Wrap-Up

I know, I know, no one wants to hear about the holidays, right?  But we spent valuable time with friends and family and I feel remiss in not documenting it.

Both kids wrapped up the end of the school 'semester' with a holiday party.  Norah's school is a full time center and so was only closed for a few days, whereas Lou's school was closed for THREE WEEKS.  That's a long time.  A very long time.

Norah's ballet class also had a special class where the parents could watch them dance to the Nutcracker music (interpret the word 'dance' there as loosely as possible).

(As an aside, see Norah's cute braids?  Kiki was here for a few weeks and in that time Norah allowed her hair to be 'done' more times than she has in the history of her life.  The child does not like anyone to touch her hair.  Except apparently, Kiki.)

Among a million other things, a great thing about living in Texas is not traveling over the holidays.  We are very lucky in that Kiki and the VZs have been willing and able to travel to us (thank you!) and at the age the kids are right now, I would much rather host company than be company about a million times over.  We got particularly lucky this year because Grandpa Gene made his first visit to Austin!  I was woefully remiss in taking pictures while he was here, and I think the only ones of him are on my sister's nice camera.  Hopefully she will read this (hint, hint) and send them to me.

Grandpa Gene flew in late Friday night before Christmas and we spent Saturday at the Capitol.  Despite its political leaning, the actual building that houses the Texas government is really quite impressive.  It was nicely decorated for the holidays and there was even a quartet in the rotunda.  Lou entertained the crowds with some dancing.  We attempted to see the Bob Bullock museum, but that quickly turned into finding lunch in the cafeteria, which quickly turned into me taking the kids home before a total nuclear annihilation while BVZ and Grandpa Gene headed to the newly refurbished LBJ library (the one nice thing about always having to take two cars when we have an extra grown up is that I can make a quick get away when things get hairy).

Sunday there was football watching and bbq eating.  We spent Christmas eve morning with the G side of the family, eating brunch and exchanging gifts.  Because Trevor is awesome he gave both Lou and Reid a giant box of the cars/trucks/fire engines that he has outgrown.  A GIANT box.  I think we made it home with at least 20 cars, a dump truck that has now had its batteries removed, a fire engine that I cannot figure out how to take out its batteries, and a handful of trains.

I think it was an understatement that Lou was in love.

That afternoon, people came over to our house for chili and tamales.  BVZ and Grandpa Gene put Lou to bed and I agreed that Norah and I would go to church (gasp!) with Kiki and Bubby.  I am pleased to report that lightening did not in fact strike the building.  Norah made jewelry boxes for all of the ladies in the family.  A lot of glitter paint was involved.  

When we got back Norah put out (gluten free) oatmeal and m&m cookies and almond milk.  Plus, carrots on the front porch for the reindeer, of course.  

The only thing Norah had asked for from Santa was a make-up kit.  Did you know that most make-up has gluten?  Yeah, me neither.  Did you know that when you package a little kid's make-up kit as specifically gluten free you can charge $40 for it??  Yeah, me neither.  She also got a box of crafts.  Lou got a tee-ball stand and his favorite book of all times, Toot Toot Beep Beep.

We had a very nutritious breakfast of gluten free cinnamon rolls and bacon and watched Norah transform herself into Tammy Faye Baker.

The bulk of Christmas Day was spent at Bubby's house where there was a lot of food, a lot of presents, and a lot of fun.  I am in no way kidding when I say the only picture I took that entire afternoon/evening was of the desserts.  Sometimes I even disappoint myself.  

It was great to have Grandpa Gene here.  We had not gotten to see him since we left California (except for a quick breakfast when Norah and I went to see friends last year), and so it was a great chance to reconnect and let him get to know the kids.  We hope he will be back sooner rather than later.

I took some time off the next week and we just hung out and did nothing in particular.  New Year's Eve was at the T's house and the night of our annual cooking competition.  This year was particularly challenging, because not only did you have to draw for your course and your secret ingredient, but everything had to be 1) gluten free, 2) dairy free, and 3) low sugar (poor Amy was recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes--or as I like to call it, the beetus).

I made French 75's to get us started.  Our neighbors gave us a bottle of nice champagne as a gift and then I picked up 4 or 5 bottles of not that nice champagne I actually had to pay for.  It made a big difference.  I also didn't do the lemon garnish because people were drinking them faster than I could make them.  Which is always good.

Steph and Andy had the first course and their secret ingredient was nutmeg.  They did turnip 'fries' and baked meatballs.  It was great.  Every time I went to get something from the kitchen or check on the kids I would sneak another meatball.  I thought I was being inconspicuous about it until Andy suggested that next time I passed through the kitchen I should try another meatball.  Oops.  

BVZ and I were next and our ingredient was pears.  We did a beet and pear napoleon with a ginger vinaigrette.  And by we, I mean, I.  It was good and I was satisfied, although the beets we got were pretty small and not conducive to the fondant cutter I planned to use to make the circles.  The napoleons were slightly lopsided and very misshapen, but they still looked nice and tasted light and fruity.  I did eliminate all extra sugar from the recipe and replaced half of the orange juice with lemon juice in order to accommodate the beetus.

Kiki and Ryan were up next and their ingredient was vanilla.  They did a steak with a shallot and bourbon reduction sauce (which is where the vanilla was).  I thought it was delicious.*

Amy and Mark had dessert and their ingredient was curry.  They did a pistachio and curry crisp, which they served over sliced banana and topped with chocolate.  They intended to drizzle it was caramel but Mark burned it.  Badly.  I thought it was still really good with the chocolate, despite it being a little gloppy.

Everyone voted and the turnip and meatballs won.  I think this was the first victory for either Steph or Andy and they get bragging rights for the rest of the year.

*This was Ryan's first time in the competition and they made the rookie mistake of not playing to their audience.  I thought it was delicious, but three of the judges are not red meat eaters at all (Bubby's has to be basically charcoaled before she will even consider eating it).

The plan had been for Lou to sleep in a pack-n-play and let Norah stay up with the big kids.  Lou sleeps in a pack-n-play all of the time and it's never an issue.  Except for the time when a party is going on and his mom just desperately wants to drink a freaking French 75.  There was absolutely no way he was going to sleep (we tried multiple times), so I did what ever good mom would do and just let him stay up.  They both were good until about 11:00 pm and then one started melting down, to be quickly followed by the other.  We decided to pack it in rather than ruin everyone else's evening, so we schlepped them home and had a very anti-climactic start to the new year.

At least no one puked!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

12 in 12

Here, in no particular order, are the photos that best represent our year.  

Norah and Louis.  These guys make our world go round.  

Cousins.  Obviously these guys were a huge part of our decision to move to Texas and they have made it all worthwhile.  The "big guys" are so good with the little ones and Norah is beside herself with joy whenever they are around.  Reid and Lou spend a lot of time together and although right now their interaction results in a lot of time-outs, I know they are crazy about each other.  Things will get even better in a few months when Reid's baby sister gets her.  Norah has already claimed her as her own.  

Our new house.  It was worth it and I love it.  I never thought we'd get to live in a place with a swimming pool and a movie room and I am eternally grateful for it.  This will be our forever house, because I am never moving again.

Norah's celiac disease has changed a lot of how we think about food and our health in general.  It has made me more mindful of how complicated our food system is in this country and has been the cause of many sleepless nights.  My hope that we would exclusively eat fresh, organic, and whole foods hasn't quite been realized.  I buy a lot of gluten free pizza crusts and pancake mixes.  Eating out is stressful, both because of Norah's stomach and Lou's general disposition.  I am looking forward to that getting better.

Toys.  Despite my best efforts to be gender neutral when it comes to play things, both Norah and Louis have followed the stereotypical gender divide.  Norah is all things princess, glitter, and ooh-la-la.  Lou is all things truck, car, and fire engine.  They do play with each other's toys quite a bit now, so maybe there's hope for them both yet.

A team.  This has definitely been the year that Norah and Louis have come into their own as siblings.  They LOVE each other.  Sure, they push each other around a bit and scuffle over toys sometimes, but for the most part they are as thick as thieves.  (I attribute about 95% of this to Norah's nurturing disposition--she lets him get away with a lot).  I know it will not always be this easy, and their relationship will ebb and flow, but for now I am relishing the closeness they share.

Norah.  She has changed so much this year.  Her thoughts and ideas, hopes and fears, are so much more complex.  She is creative and imaginative and is really, really funny.  She can also be really sassy and when she's grumpy, even downright mean.  It has been fascinating to watch her grow into this PERSON before my very eyes.  It is happening way too fast.  But then I remember that she is just a little girl who still needs her teddy bear.  And I can hold her close just a little bit longer.

Lou.  He has found his voice.  It is sweet sometimes, funny most of the time, and very, very loud.  He is demanding and stubborn.  You never have to wonder how he feels about something--he has no problem at all letting you know.  He will, when prompted, tell you that he loves you.  It is easily the highlight of my life.

Friends.  We are fortunate that we have really good friends here, both new and old.  I have my new cooking club, both BVZ and I really like our colleagues at work, and we have a great built in network of folks because of my sisters, etc.  It has been great to move to a new state and not feel isolated even for a second.  I am also really grateful we still have our village out west--forever friends for sure.

Neighbors.  I really like our neighborhood.  I was afraid it would be full of conservatives (gasp!) but as it turns out there are a ton of really progressive, friendly, and funny folks around these parts.  Halloween decorations are scary and gruesome.  It's my kind of place.

Family.  I still wonder how we survived sometimes before Bubby lived five minutes away.  What a difference having grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins makes.  We have been so lucky that we get to see Kiki so much more and that the VZs have been willing and able to visit several times a year.  I dig it.  

GVZs.  It was a year of change, but I like to think we survived with (most of) our sense of humor intact.  BVZ is a great partner and even better dad and I am thankful every day that we still have the same taste in television.  I hope our kids know how much we love them even when they won't sleep in their own beds.  I am glad we are such a good team.

That's it.  Now I have to work backwards and post Santa pictures.  Stay tuned!