You too can be a Wall

Once a year we try to go back to Austin where we both went to school. Usually we go when we are invited to the football game, thanks to my Aunts and Uncles. They are brave souls as James always ends up with cheese all over his shirt and rolling around on the ground. Always.

This year, both Lauren and I got to go – so that was four cheese eaters and floor rollers. And the children did not disappoint.

We started our tour by going to the School of Engineering for Alex. He just knew the boys would be so excited to go. Ummmm, it was a Saturday and locked. We had to follow some kids in who tried think about not letting us in. Guy going to the engineering school on a Saturday, what are we going to do? Mess up your concrete sample? Calm down.

img_5070

We found some ruler, or something, from the honor society Alex was allegedly in his senior year. His signature was not on it. I told him that he, for sure, ignored the email about coming to sign it back in 1999. We took this photo for his mom. Don’t tell him it is on the blog.

img_5049

He also thought it would be a great idea to take our kids to the Posse East before the game. For those of you unaware (or who forgot like me), this is a bar. Yes, they serve some food, but it is a bar and mainly outside. So kid appropriate.

img_5050

And SO hot. Lord, it was hot. Look at Zach’s face, he really needs some AC.

Once we got into the stadium, all of a sudden people were roping off a hallway and I was all, let’s see what this is about. Well, it was the parade of the cheerleaders, pom squad and the bank. The biggest drum in Texas cruised by right in front of us, followed by the biggest band in the West which went on for a while. My children were almost trampled when the entire band was crammed into this makeshift hallway and jumping up and down.

But we made it and the cousins could not have had more fun being together at the game. They were tackling Zachary and throwing a football around. Lauren and I kept looking for the people in charge of these children to come make them mind. All we really wanted to do was sit and drink and talk to each other. Naturally.

At halftime Alex wanted to go down and meet our friend Phil so we started to head that way. Lauren told her girls that just the Walls were going and they both started crying. Ummmm, not acceptable. I told them no one needs to cry about not being a Wall; they could of course come.

Which is what lead to Alex and I being in charge of four children under seven in the crush of a UT halftime. Everyone who knows us knows this was not a good choice.

img_5069

Luckily the children kept up with each other and Alex ended up carrying Vivi and she was trying to stroll. I bribed everyone with cotton candy at the end.

Look at these precious faces who just want their sugar on a stick.

img_5071

Four kids is no joke, I am in awe of people who do it! I was exhausted from it all and had to go sit down. And keep drinking and talking to my sister. WHICH IS ALL I EVER WANT.

Maybe it is just me

Guys, you are all the best! I could not have anticipated how reassuring you all have been after my traumatic experience. As one friend said, “the reason it is so funny is that it could not possibly be true.” OR I am an amazing grandma and should be looking much more rested since all my children are grown and gone.

Either way, Alex assured me it was time for a new hat. I told him I needed him to help me pick it out since arguably he is the one who stares at it the most. We came up with two choices to pick from and I threw The Hat in the mix too.

A few things you might be asking:

  1. Kinsey, could you not have bothered to put on makeup? Nope. I wanted this to be a real life test of the hat. And this is what I look like on Saturday mornings. Sitting in a chair, in a t-shirt and cheering for some child doing something.
  2. Really a pony-tail? Yes. I look MUCH better with my hair down in a hat. Like I am basically a model, but again, that is not real life. It is still a bajillion degrees in October and not realistic.
  3. Who is your photographer? Zachary. I told him I needed him to take photos of me from the front and side for my blog and he just shrugged and said, “OK”. Like that is a totally normal mom request.

So pick a hat, any hat! Let me know what you think. I can’t wait to find out which one you like best….

Floppy sun hat

img_5576

Rounded hat with a bow

img_5577The Hat (original)img_5578

 

 

Ugh, I can barely even with all these photos of myself. I really should have put on makeup and changed my shirt. Next time a lady calls me a grandma and I need a new hat, I totally am.

I clearly need to up my hat game

On Saturday I was asked, by an actual grandmother, if my sister-in-law, who is five years younger than me, was my daughter and if my 18 month old niece and 5 year old son were my grandchildren. This clearly insane woman was so perplexed when I calmly told her no, that was my sister-in-law, niece and son. She kept digging the hole by asking if my grandson was then playing on the soccer team we were watchin. Nope again, cra-cra, that is my other son playing on the team with HER GRANDSON.

I tried to be cool. I really did. I was praying Alex would not hear, but no luck. He managed to hear her say that (and not his children ever asking him for milk) and jumped on it. Again, I tried to be so cool. But she kept talking….I had to detail that yes, that was my husband. Nope, not Vince, he was my father in law. Again, I am the MOTHER of these children. She finally asked me how old I was and when I said 38, she said, “Oh, you can’t even be a grandma!” Correct. I am sure if you want to get super technical, yes, I could be a super young grandma, but point being, I am not.

When I was telling my friend Darren the story – oh wait, it was Alex was telling him the story because it was not traumatizing for him – Darren said, “Oh, do you need to up your hat game?” And I was all YES. That has to be it. Clearly, that is the ONLY reason that insane woman thought I was someone’s grandmother.

I mean, I had just switched my moisturizer to Renewed Hope in a Jar and was feeling pretty good about my aging. I was wearing ripped up boyfriend jeans, a t-shirt and converse, something I have seen no grandma wear ever. So clearly, it has to be The Hat.

My FB and Insta friends will recognize The Hat. I have had it for years. It was a Target (I think) purchase that will not die. I have taken it to Mexico (twice), Coasta Rica, the Cayman Islands, Florida and all over Texas. It has been squished into suitcases, gotten soaking wet thanks to someone splashing me, and been folded in half to stuff into a beach bag. Every time I pull it out of my suitcase, Alex says, “Oh, The Hat made it?”, clearly hoping it did not. Rude coming from the man who still looks like this:

Here is The Hat in 2013.

img_1715

And here is the hat in 2016 (with mygranddaughter)

img_5396

The hat attends birthday parties

jacobs-birthday-party

Loves the beach

beach

and is ready for field trips.

field-trip

The Hat excels on sweaty zoo carousels,

zoo

and still looks the exact same.

Because it is a solid hat. I have a freakishly large head for a woman. No one believes me, but I do. It is no accident that both my boys have large heads. I mean, duh, so does Alex, but it has to come from both sides.

And the hate shades my entire face and part of my neck. SO I DON’T LOOK OLD TOO SOON.

I mean, I can’t even.

But clearly The Hat’s time has come. So good luck to me finding another hat that is big, lasts for three years, fits my man sized head and doesn’t make me look 65. I am taking recommendations for hats and moisturizers immediately.

It took some getting used to

The boys have been back in school for almost two months now. It seems like it has flown by! The question I get asked the most is, “How is James doing/liking kindergarten?”. So I thought I would take some time to answer that here. And maybe mention my other son too. Maybe. I mean, look at that sweet smile he gave me with minimal yelling on my part.

img_4774

The short answer is “Great!” James has really assimilated into his class and already has a group of new friends that he loves hanging out with. They are all, except one, younger siblings of other kids at the school. One of them told his mom that he lifts James up on the monkey bars because James’s other “top friend” is shorter than James. True.

There have been some hiccups….for the first two week, he cried every day after school. I had to carry him out of school twice hysterically crying. Those were both fits about the school store not having a white dry fit shirt in his size. I am not kidding. It got to where we could not even walk by the store or he would start to lose his mind.

We got through it and it helped when the white shirts FINALLY came in. Isn’t it just amazing and totally worth torturing your mom for??

img_5369

Then in week four he had a screaming, crying, clutching my leg fit when I tried to leave. You guessed it; I was “too far from him” and he was “all alone”…in a class of 22 kids. I cannot even. The fit gave me flashbacks to every day of his 3’s class when this would happen. I left the elementary school in a cold sweat. Not again. I can’t have another year like that. I might have been slightly shrieky and panicky to Alex on the phone, so he handled it. He told James that it was his job to go to school and not make his mother’s life hard. Yes and yes. We have not had another outburst since. Oh, there have been tremblings, don’t be mistaken, but no full out crying/wailing fits. But I am clearly still too far away, so it could come any day.

But on the whole, he is so happy at school. Today when I dropped him off it was “backwards day”. His teacher had her shirt on backwards and he immediately turned his that way too.

img_4895

Let’s be clear, he is still my baby and looks tiny in the hallways next to the 5th graders. But he mixes in and (clearly) leaves me in the dust on the regular, as exhibited by this blurry photo I snapped of him running to get his HISD breakfast this morning.

img_5456

Speaking of that, yes, my kids are still eating breakfast and lunch at school. I have not gone back on my promise from August. I am not making lunches. They can do it, or buy the $2.35 HISD lunch.

lunches

Guys, it is life changing. I have my nights back! We look at the menu (online now bc HISD is so 2016) and they decide. The usually both eat breakfast too. Mainly because James eats soooooo sllloooowwwwllly we would never get out the door, but also because Zach loves the chicken biscuits and James loves Cinnamon Toast Crunch! Duh, who doesn’t.

img_4800

Just for funsies, I have included, all the boys first day of school shots – well, the ones with them together. I can’t go back futher as I get too sad about my babies being so big. So sad for like 5 minutes then I am off to lunch ALONE and I get right over it.

But this one…

e5e42-img_2228

Stop. That is Zach’s first day as a Honeybee. He is like 18 months old. If he ever doubts my love for him I will just direct him to this blog from 2008-2011. Hundreds of posts. HUDREDS about that sweet face.

2015

img_0778

2014

2013

725c7-img_5588

James was not impressed with first day of school photos. But my first born angel people pleaser sure was! I love that face.

 

#WallSummer2016

We are two weeks into the 2016-2017 school year and I have already ordered my #Wallsummer Chatbook and started a new blog post. Clearly, back to school suits me. What doesn’t though are the morning fights of “yes, you have to put on clean underwear” and the evening fights of “IF YOU DON’T GET IN BED THIS MINUTE I AM GOING TO LOSE MY MIND!” But I digress. I am back to tell you about our fun, busy and OVER Wall summer!

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you have seen shots of all we did, and don’t worry, this not a super long detailed post about everything that happened. That would bore me to tears too. But there are some stories I have been wanting to share, and I try to keep it short on Insta and FB. Plus I need a summary for my memory!

We started the summer by going to Galveston the Saturday of Memorial day. A bunch of my family was down with my grandpa (they had taken a 91 year old to the beach, aka they are braver than me) and the boys got to play with some cousins from DC whom they don’t really get to see. Zach staged a talent show which he promptly tried to win. Don’t know where he gets that…IMG_3775-001

We stupidly thought if we left late enough we would miss the traffic. False. It took us an hour to get off the island (it should take us an hour to get all the way home). After that hour the boys were starving so we pulled into McDonalds. Alex decided he needed a second dinner, so he got a big mac which apparently he had been craving for a while.

IMG_3774-001

I was driving, so he could eat, and he started hollering about me taking the turns “too aggressively” and “accelerating too quickly”. I screeched the car to a stop in the parking lot and told him that we still had an hour to go and I was GOING to drive as fast as I can, and that is how I turn! I then threw in,  maybe he didn’t need to try to eat the messiest sandwich around while I do so. [Insert tires pealing out noise]. I didn’t get any further complaints.

Zach swam on a local swim team this year. I really thought this was going to be his sport! He loved the first week, but once the practices shifted to 8:00 am swimming lost its luster. Fair.

IMG_3779-001

We missed a week of swim team to go on our family vacation early Whitefish Montana. And guys, it was COLD. Like really, really cold. I was not at all prepared. Lauren had told me to go to REI and get hiking boots and pants but I was all, gross, no.. When would I ever hike again? And pants, like with pockets? She basically told me i was the worst and would regret it. She was 100% correct.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My yoga pants and running shoes were NOT helpful. When we made it up to the top of the glacier the last day, Alex wrapped a towel around my waist for added warmth. It totally worked and I had lost all ability to care about my appearance, which is obvious by my caveman lawyer look here.

IMG_0969

IMG_4211

But the constant on the trip was Alex and his bear spray. There are bears in Glacier and around Whitefish so he was not being totally crazy. He tried to buy bear bells, but the guide told us that the locals say, “how do you know when a bear has been in the area? You see bear bells in their scat.” Which the boys found hilarious. Anyway, Alex bought bear spray and wore it, on his belt, everywhere. And I do mean everywhere.

IMG_1011

But first he insisted on testing it. You can only imagine how hard I was rolling my eyes. We were NOT going to see a bear. Our family does sneak up on anyone or anything. Someone is either loud talking, singing, crying, complaining (me) or throwing rocks. The bears are going to be well aware that we are coming.

He would not be deterred (such a good protector). So at our first stop in the park when the boys are throwing rocks into the lake and I am deciding if I really should pee behind a tree, he sprays the bear spray where he thinks there is no wind. It promptly blows back into his face. Not all of it, but enough that his eyes start watering and I have to hold my pee so we can get to a bathroom to flush out his eyes. And let me tell you, laughing at your husband only makes you have to go pee more.

The photo above is taken at a 400 foot tall dam. He went back to the car to get the bear spray. I was making fun of him (obviously) and he was all, “Kinsey you don’t think in the 30 years this dam has been here a bear has not walked across it??” totally seriously and annoyed at my annoyance. Cue more eye rolling.

IMG_1003

In summary – no bears. We saw some chipmunks, fish and lot of deer, including this one that let Zach get pretty close.

IMG_4210.JPG

But guess who got all sorts of vindicated when he received a photo of a black bear on the property where we stayed. Basically right where our kids were playing all the time. Alex is impossible to live with right now.

Once we were back in Houston, it was back to camps. I did pretty well this year with the boys camp schedule. I learned from the past two years and think I struck the right mix of camp choices – and friends to attend camps with.

Alex and his dad also took the boys fishing in the Gulf. It was a glorious night for me – punctuated by concern about one or both of my children being thrown overboard. But they were totally fine. James got seasick (he has his father’s stomach) and they caught nothing. But the excitement of trying to sleep on the boat made it all worth while. However, the boat AC turned off in the middle of the night so they had to stay in a random Holiday Inn somewhere off 288. Again, I was SO glad to not be there.

IMG_1039IMG_1041

About a week later, Alex and I took advantage of our kids being further Catholicized at Catholic VBS out at their grandparents and we went to Canada. Why not?? Alex had been wanting to go to Montreal and Quebec City forever, and it is so close, this was the perfect time. We flew on points and going there I got my own pod for the short 45 min flight. This was my face most of the time.

IMG_1059

I am the least cool person when it comes to having nice things. I am NOT used to it and you can’t take me anywhere.

Both cities were super cool! I will not bore you with all our photos of the old towns, the music festivals we came upon and the many French restaurants we ate in. I will just leave you with this image of me in our “rental car” in Quebec City.

IMG_1086

This was the last vehicle they had on the lot and the WORST car for driving around a tiny French speaking town. I had just gone down the wrong way and was yelled at by a Quebecian for it.

Once we got back began our every weekend trip out of town. We went to the Guadalupe River, then Dallas, then back to the River and BACK to Dallas. My sister was super annoyed with me as her family would have liked to have gone to the river but we were either there…or in Dallas! Poor baby sister.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I loved my #Wallsummer2016 hashtag and honestly feel lost without it. But #Kinseyisfree just does not have the same ring to it….

A Reminder

I have been going through photos from 2013 as I work on our photo book from that year and yes, I have completed books up to 2012. Please don’t hate me for my togetherness. I add my blog posts to the books as well as a written history of our time and man, was a writing A LOT in 2013. Like, Kinsey, calm down. It would appear now that I don’t give two craps about my kids with how much I wrote about them then. That is obviously not the case, but it did made me wonder what the difference was. And I think I figured it out – Instagram. That was before Insta took off and now I just snap photos of my kids doing their obnoxious precious things, add a fun filter and post it instantly. I am never at the computer during, so that is basically my new blog (which my father does NOT appreciate).

I am going to actually blog more, but in the meantime, please enjoy this post from March 2013. I need to update the photo for my sister to have though. I am not nearly that young any longer and if someone spotted me, they would not know I was missing.

See you guys soon!

Just in case – March 2013

You go missing that is.

What? We are not supposed to talk about this? People- we are living in serious times, and serious times call for planning.

As I was preparing to go to Mexico and possibly die, I got to thinking about the photo I wanted splashed on the national news (because obviously the authorities would be involved) and I sent this one to my sister to submit.

I want my photo to say “There is a lovely young mother missing! Someone go find her! Her husband does not know how to turn on the stove or how to clean out the school bags at the end of the week!”

People, you cannot leave this your parents or horrified spouse. You know your parents think you look wonderful all the time and will send something like this:

And your husband. He will not be able to find a photo because he is so sad and under investigation so he will send your work picture. This photo will not represent what you need. It does not say sweet young mother, it says professional business woman who looks better with her head tilted at that angle and whose wrinkles have been Photoshopped out.

Truth.

So in conclusion, get your self a Just In Case photo. And hope you never have to use it. But when you are found you will be glad that is the better photo they have on file.

Spring Break 2016

Well hellooooo my seven followers!! How I have missed you! I have SO much to tell you…Well, actually I don’t have that much to tell you. Most of the things I have wanted to blog about this past year have been super mundane.  I really wanted to start back with an entire post about wet meat and how I don’t like it. But then I totally forgot the context of that post and was concerned people would be put off by a title of “Wet Meat = No”. PS Wet meat is just meat in sauce, aka sloppy joes, pulled pork in sauces, crock pot stuff. No.

Anywho, it feels good to be back! Instead of trying to recap what has happened for the past year, I am just going to push on like nothing has happened; like the good WASP I am. And really, not much has happened. We have two kids, they go to school, Alex goes to work, I try to take over stuff. Just the usual.

What really got me back was our spring break. My Aunt-in-law (totally a thing) Sally, happened to comment on Spring Break 2015 which reminded me that it had been a year since I blogged – and I missed it. So here goes…

You guys, Spring Break 2016 was good. Like actually relaxing and productive. Before you think I have changed and I am now cherishing all this time with my children, I should admit – I was down one child. Zach stayed in Canyon Lake with my parents until Friday. They lured him in with the promise of shooting the BB gun they got him and all the chocolate ice cream he could eat. They did not disappoint.

IMG_3058

IMG_3115

IMG_3116

When my mom was listing the things they were going to do during the week, she mentioned they would go to the library, hang out with Jenny and Harry, oh and go to a pub crawl for St. Patrick’s day. Sure. I did not think she was serious.

I really should know better. Around four on St. Patrick’s day, I started getting texts from my parents and Jenny, with photos of my child. In a bar.

IMG_3127

IMG_3134

PS That lady is not Jenny. That is a stranger my baby is playing against after she put her quarters down on the table and called “next”. She smoked him.

As a side note, I tried to get Alex to meet James and I at an Irish bar that serves pizza and was told he didn’t think it was a good idea because James could not “get in”. Like he is 20 and will have to have large X’s on his hands. He could get in; he is four, we are in charge (for better or worse). But whatever.

IMG_3125

I didn’t really think much of Zach’s pub crawling until Wednesday of the next week. I go into his class to pick him up and his teacher says, “Well, Zach sure had an eventful spring break!” She then proceeds to tell me how she asked each student to tell the highlight of their spring break and Zach stood up and said, “I went on a pub crawl with my grandparents.” To the entire class of 1st graders. His teacher was a tad taken aback and asked if maybe there was anything else he would like to highlight? Nope. Just the pub crawl. Some children asked what it was to “crawl a pub” and Zach explained it was when you “go to a bunch of bars all in one day”. Ever the one for complete facts, that guy.

Not that it ends there, no, he then drew a picture of the pub crawl, complete with him at the pin ball machine and my parents sitting on a picnic table nearby. Oh and wrote three lines of text about it:

“Over spring break I went on a pub crawl in New Braufels with my grandparents. We went to four bars. We had to leave one because it smelled.”

Oh. My. Lord. Guys, I about died then and there. Luckily, Zach’s teacher really likes him. She thinks he is super funny so she just rolled with this and said it would give her a lot of material with her friends. I also told her to direct any calls she might receive from parents my direction. And I had a lot of fun texting my parents out it.

Yes, he also got a shirt from the pub crawl. Totally, totally normal.

Not to be outdone, James and I went to the Buffalo Wildlife Zoo in the middle of nowhere and almost were mauled by an ostrich. Also totally a thing. The zoo is a sanctuary of sorts for exotic animals from all over the world. We saw zebras, wildebeests, ostriches, camels (one hump and two), crocodiles, giraffes and, what seemed like 52 types of deer. I get it, they are deer, calm down. You pay your fee and drive into the range where some of these animals are just wandering about. Then you get on an open air tram, pulled by Jeeps that look like they are from the Vietnam war and drive through all the other large enclosures to see all the animals and more deer.

IMG_3106

And yes, that is a 65 lb longhorn horn about two feet from James’s face.

Just after we passed the longhorn (and were told to keep all hands and faces inside the tram because said longhorn was dangerous) the teenager in the seat across from James and I mentioned that her seat was getting really hot. Oh, that is because the tire was ON FIRE. So we quickly come to stop in the middle of the open range. The driver, Jackie, gets out to check on it and about that time an ostrich starts making a beeline for the tram. Jackie shrieks and jumps back into the cab of the jeep instructing everyone else to remain calm and to NOT FEED this ostrich. Apparently this was a rather aggressive male ostrich. And we were stranded in his stomping grounds.

He circled the tram a few times then sauntered off. Jackie has those of us sitting in the back of the Jeep move into the tram, quickly and again, don’t make eye contact with the ostrich. At this point, two more trams drive around us and everyone just stares. In the open, with a dangerous longhorn and an aggressive ostrich. Finally two people roll up in a golf cart and proceed to lure the ostrich into a pen so we can all be transferred to a new jeep/tram situation. The “lady” tells us that the male ostrich does NOT like her; that he always tries to kick her. I’m sorry, what?? So she hops out of the golf cart, the ostrich sees her and he starts running towards her. She lets him get close then hops into the cart and speeds into the enclosure. Where she hops out again to close the door, leaving the driver in the pen with the ostrich who then begins chasing the ostrich with the golf cart.

I am not making any of this up. I wish I was.

We finally get transferred back in to a new, functioning tram/Jeep and off we go. James thought this was the best day of his life. He loved every second of it and wanted to stay to pet the deer that were wandering around. I wished I was handed a drink when we got off the tram.

IMG_3093IMG_3099

You will note, that is not me helping him pet the baby deer. I am not an animal person and basically had to take deep breathes to keep my anxiety in check the entire time we were there. Luckily this redheaded animal lover was sweet enough to help James. She was already sitting next to the deer anyway. (Why? I am SO confused about people’s choices.)

IMG_3100

STOP PETTING THE DEER AND LET’S GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!!

We got home and my always a Wall was raring to do something else. NO. We were basically almost mauled and I am exhausted. He appeased me for 30 minutes of rest by reading the #WallSummer2014 book filled with photos of he and I.

IMG_3113

No one loves me like James.