Monday, February 18, 2019

Catch-up and Collages

Alright, it's been 12 days since we had a substantive update and since there are 6 of us now and Maggie count for at least 7 children in terms of picture-volume, I had to make some collages. Even I know that no blog post should have more than 30 pictures in it. 30 separate, individual pictures. I have the day off, the kids have school (working mom win!!), I'm on my 3rd cup of Earl Grey tea, Maggie is snoring beside me, and The West Wing is on TV. It's time to check in with the Lag Liv family.


First of all, Maggie remains simply the best.

She sits with her tiny feet tucked in between her big front paws and it is my favorite thing. Such a lady. Such a delicate balance of weight distribution. She's very skilled.

Through an intense campaign of constant pets and praise, I have eclipsed James's status in her adoration. I'm first and I'm very proud of this. I tried to take a selfie with her when I got home from work the other day, but she needed snuggles and filled my camera's view finder with her love.

It's been chilly here. Maggie has discovered that her bed in our bedroom (as opposed to her beds in every other room of the house) is located directly under the heat vent.

She resists strongly any suggestion that she should move from this spot when it is below 50 outside.

We've had a few struggles with accidents in the house. Apparently it's hard to resist peeing in a really soft bed, so we have new beds of mesh that do not invite a sprinkling of urine with their soft fluffiness. And also maybe we maybe pooped a few times indoors, but no one's perfect.

But! We've upped our reward game for outside pottying (deli turkey; so delicious), we keep the girl's door closed (the pink carpet just calls out for some pooping, who can resist?), and we're on a routine and we're doing GREAT! 3 days accident free. We're going to put up a sign like a factory floor.

Spa Day!

We had our first session with our dog trainer last week and she did so great. In the words of our trainer, "Maggie strikes me as a sweet little girl that just wants to know what is expected of her ahead of time. I believe training is going to be simple and easy as long as you are consistent and rewarding. She likes the communication and she likes to learn."

Learning makes her tired, but only because she works so hard. We've got "sit" down, "follow" is 95% effective (sometimes we're just too tired to follow, what can you do), and "leave it" is going great. We've got her completely out of the walk-in pantry and though we started scratching at closed doors, we now leave them be. Training is amazing. She's deaf, so we have to be very consistent with the hand signals, but she's really doing great and I think she gets comfort from seeing the expectation and then knowing she has fulfilled it. I completely understand; knowing you've checked the right boxes is very pleasing.

She continues to be so chill and patient with all children and dogs. It is such a relief, we can literally take her anywhere and she's just happy to be part of the team. I had to take Landon and I friend to school early one day last week (they're on News Crew and do the video announcements broadcast to the school in the morning) and Maggie came along. It was early for her (she prefers to wake up about 8:30), but she kept everyone safe and loved.

She got a new hoodie last week (it's important to change up your wardrobe to match the holidays before you) and I told her to strike a pose.

Sexy beast.

We've been trying to introduce her to toys, but she doesn't understand why you would use your hand to hold a toy when you could be using your hand to pet her.

But we persisted and she now almost likes this heart. Sometimes she even gnaws on it. We make sure it follows her wherever she goes.

Couldn't care less about the bone; almost cares about the heart

Moving on to the humans, Landon was home sick from school one day last week for a short but sudden for a stomach bug. He felt pretty terrible, but assured me when I got home from work that "Maggie got a LOT of love today mom. A LOT."

We all know what's important. Valentine's Day was Thursday and it is one of my favorite days. The kids worked hard writing their names on their Target Valentine's. Landon went with a surprise taco-themed pick; Claire was unicorns and jungle animals; and Cora went princesses, obviously.

As always, we decorated the table the night before. I love our traditions- the kids LOVE our traditions- and one of the best parts (for me, as the orchestrator of traditions) is how simple they are. We've had that $3 heart table cloth for years. The kids' plates were purchased two years ago at the Target dollar spot and the kids can no longer remember a Valentine's without them. The heart garland was taken by one of the kids after a school party years ago. I keep it all in a plastic bin labeled "Valentine's Day" in our closet and it's taken out once a year for just that day. I will use those plates in high school. Traditions are the best.

James picked out special cards for each kids; the girls got a nail polish and Landon got gummies. I sprinkled a new kind of Hershey Kiss I wanted to try on the table. Joy and happiness exploded all around when the table was discovered at 6:50 a.m. We took our traditional Valentine's Day picture.

Dinner was pink pancakes for the kids and a fancy steak dinner for James and I after they were in bed, along with pink champagne and the best vanilla cake. And a new Top Chef. You can practically see the pink puffy hearts floating in the air.

On Friday, Cora's school hosted a Valentine's Dance and it was the cutest. All week she had been showing us dances she learned in class and she was SO excited and so precise and I wondered for the millionth time why she decided to quit both ballet and gymnastics, but the complex workings of Cora's mind are not meant to be understood so I moved on.

James picked up corsages for the girls and canceled his last two lessons so he could pick us up on time. We were all so excited about our date. Cora picked out my outfit and both girls got to wear a necklace from my jewelry box. (Landon was at a friend's house playing video games and eating flaming hot cheetos; we were all living our best lives.)

Cora felt strongly that she needed to eat first at the dance, then find all her friends, and THEN dance with her daddy. Claire found the older brother of one of Cora's classmates who is in her class, and was in fact captain of her BOB team, and they chatted the whole dance. I took this picture covertly. It was the very cutest.

We enjoyed an after-party at our fave taco place and then I hung out at my friend's kitchen island bar while we opened a bottle of wine pretended we were going to make the boys pack up and leave any minute. One hour later I drove him home.

And he did need to go home because he had a climbing competition the next morning! In Tyler, 2.25 hours away! James drove him and they listened to podcasts and generally bonded. Landon got second (!!!) in the comp- his second ever with ropes, and, he was quick to point out, he's the youngest in the age group. The boys who got 1st and 3rd were thirteen mom. THIRTEEN! He, for the record, is 11. Climbing remains his great joy and we're loving getting to know this new sport. (As long as he keeps it indoors and not on the side of El Capitan or wherever his dreams are currently taking him.)

My work is going well. I'm thankful we've averted another shutdown and I appreciate the transparency that comes from just admitting we need to spend billions of tax payer dollars for the idiot wall instead of lying about Mexico paying for it. I also look forward to the next Democratic president being able to declare National Emergencies over climate change and gun control since we can declare those whenever we want now.

I spent the last week with my door closed writing and escaped only for some lunchtime yoga that made my makeup smear all over my face and wonder why I'd bothered at all, especially since I literally spent all day with my door closed.

In other news, we enjoyed our Casa Manana children's play last weekend. The next one in the series is a magician and Landon is SO EXCITED. I have to admit, I am too.

Yesterday was a lovely lazy day. The girls and I had done all our errands while the boys were driving across Texas for the climbing comp, so we didn't have much on our to do lists. We played games, Maggie learned that she likes a good fire, and the girls had friends over at various points.

I taught my barre class and then afterward went to see "Isn't it Romantic" with my mamas. It was cute and silly and a perfect culmination of my years of watching romantic comedies. I didn't get any pictures of my ladies, but I did get my movie prep documented.

For the rest of my day off (all 5 hours that are left before the kids are done with school; it goes so fast!), I plan to go to yoga, stop by Half Price Books to find Claire some more books (she's flown through the first four Betsy, Tacy, and Tib books and it makes my heart SO HAPPY), go to the Disney store to get Cora and my niece this swimsuit which was Cora's favorite two years ago and which they've brought back and I feel strongly both girls need one and it's the Friends and Family sale (they won't get these suits until Easter, but I like to be prepared), and then pick up the kids and take them to their various activities. I will also spend at least an hour petting the dog. It's going to be a busy one.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Maggie Moo and all the Food

I've been trying for 3 years/11 days to write a new blog post. I have stories! And pictures! But I have 10 minutes between my barre class and heading out to see Isn't It Romantic with my mamas (juice box of rosé wine and peanut m&m's already in my purse) and there just isn't time. So instead of an actual update I leave you with this delightful series of pictures of my dog yawning and our menu plan from last week and the week ahead!

I promise a more fulsome update very soon! I'd say tonight, but Maggie is skeptical.

All is well, just busy. Also, I have to spend 90% of my home time loving on my dog.

On to food!

Sunday: Spinach Artichoke Lasagna, ciabatta bread. (This was great and super easy!)

Monday: Beef & Cabbage Stir Fry, steamed brown rice, frozen Spring Rolls and frozen Shu Mai (both from TJ's; surprisingly good).

Tuesday: Crockpot Chicken Gnocchi Soup, crackers and cheese on the side. (SOOO good)

Wednesday: Leftovers of all of the above.

Thurs/Valentine's Day: Pink Pancakes, bacon, berries (for the kids); Flank steak (my mom's marinade: 1 Tbsp sherry, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp honey, minced garlic; marinade overnight and grill to rare,slicing thin against the grain), twice-baked potatoes, and roasted carrots. and champagne. and cake (for James and me after the kids went to bed).

Friday: Out for chips and queso (and margaritas!) after Cora's dance party. The girls had chicken nuggets and fruit at the dance; James ate 3 rice taco bowls at the restaurant; Landon was at a friend's.

Saturday: Dorito Taco Salad (we do ours a little different; I use ground turkey, browned with onion, garlic, and taco seasoning and then add the drained pinto beans, red kidney beans, and corn to the meat in the skillet to warm it all up; toss with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and black olives. I don't use a dressing, just add some salsa as needed. Crunched up nacho cheese doritos - TJ's version - get mixed in last. HUGE hit.)

Sunday: My favorite salmon; roasted multi-color potatoes, steamed broccoli.

Monday: Balsamic Pork Tenderloin, Parmesan orzo with peas.

Tuesday: Chicken & Mozzarella ravioli (refrigerated; from Costco) with tomato cream sauce.

Wednesday: Out for school fundraiser at the restaurant with my favorite french fries! It's for the children.

Thursday: Out with my mamas for my birthday! Kids will have tacos at home with James.

Friday: Grilled smoked turkey sausage, homemade Mac & Cheese, steamed broccoli.

Saturday: Greek Turkey and Rice Skillet, extra olives, feta, tomatoes, cucumber, and more on top; naan bread.

Helping with dinner

Have a great week ahead- Maggie says don't work too hard!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Checking in on the Four Kids

I couldn't blog for the last three days because we had to start and finish Russian Doll on Netflix. It is SO GOOD. It has a 100% rating on rotten tomatoes and you should not learn a single other thing about it before you start watching immediately. I'm probably going to watch it again starting tomorrow.

Except maybe not because tomorrow I'm going to a course selection meeting for my future MIDDLE SCHOOLER. What in the what, how is this possible? Just this morning as I was pulling out of the driveway to go to work, I caught my almost-middle-schooler running around the pool and front yard. "What are you doing?!" I called out the car window.

"Getting in some extra steps before school!" The kid had running club and climbing practice later in the day, not to mention recess where they play tag non-stop, but yeah, get those extra steps. One advantage of my forced furlough was getting a little more downtown with my tweenager and what a funny, chatty guy he is these days.

Landon had a climbing competition this past Saturday, his first in the spring "ropes" season. His climbing gym doesn't have ropes, so it was new for him, but much to our surprise (and, I think, his), he placed 6th! He said it was way harder than bouldering because you have to climb so much higher and stay on the grips holding up your weight for so much longer. The ropes mean you won't break anything when you fall, not that you get any help to stay up there. I continue to learn a lot about this new sport.

~ ~ ~ ~

And now a snapshot of Claire, literally, as she gets her reading log minutes in but is ready to roll (again, literally) the SECOND her minutes are up.

I cleaned out our TV room bookcases and closet this weekend and came across the first four Betsy, Tacy, and Tib books! I LOVED those books! I gave the first one to Claire with my heart in my eyes and unlike Landon's total rejection of my beloved Harry Potter, Claire accepted my book offering and started reading and she loves it! She loves a book! One of my favorite books! She asked to bring it to gymnastics to read while she waits for James to pick her up! Every part of this is so exciting to me. She's a great reader, and she never complains about doing it, but she never seeks it out either. Betsy for the win, I'm going to have to read the whole series again in celebration.

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On to Cora. Our third baby continues to work on following directions that aren't her own, but she remains cheerful and so easy-going it's easy to miss the fact that she's blatantly disregarding you while charming your pants off.

Super Bowl party outfit, obviously

She remains a diligent little worker bee at school, and, since I also got a notice for Kindergarten Round-Up today (waaaaaaa), I appreciate the glimpses we get into her busy preschool day.

"Mom, these are the planets. This is Jupiter and I drew a storm on it. There's an X on Pluto because it doesn't get to be a planet anymore because it's just a star Mom. The sun is yellow but I put orange on the edge of it because it's on FIRE."

The other day I asked her what kind of Valentines she'd like to get this year.

Cora: Um, I just want some that have a princess on them. ... And a unicorn. And a rainbow. And the unicorn is jumping over the rainbow and the princess is sitting on a heart underneath. And that’s all. ‘kay?

Me: ... Um, I’m not sure Target has those.

Cora [had already walked away bc she doesn’t have time for my excuses.]

(Always has time for her doggie)

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And now for my last baby, Princess Maggie remains the greatest of "small sisters." (Cora calls herself the "small sister" because thinks that's what you say for little sister and it is my favorite. Yesterday she asked, "Mom, am I Maggie's small sister?" Actually no, I explained, she's younger than you, so you're her big sister! "And she's my SMALL SISTER?!!" So exciting, she's always wanted a small sister.

And so, our smallest sister had her first play date with our friends' dogs this weekend when we went to say hi to Claire after a sleepover at their house (to say hi, because, as she made clear, she was not ready to actually leave and come home yet). Maggie was so brave.

She hid behind her daddy's legs for 30 minutes and then at the very end, moved to sit beside them.

Her new doggy friends were very excited and did lots of sniffing and happy barking, but our sweet, submissive, very deaf dog had no idea and spent at least half their playtime turned around backwards to make them disappear like a toddler playing hide-and-go-seek with their hands over their eyes. Then she came home and took a 3 hour nap to recover. Couldn't even get her whole body on her bed and fluffy blanket, poor thing.

She continues to be showered with all the love she deserves. She gets woken up by all her human siblings each morning while they gently and lovingly try to cajole her out of bed.

She's skeptical, but willingly to be convinced, every time.

Her new sweater came in the mail today, continuing her streak of having every package that gets delivered to our house belong to her. Cora added the tutu and I think she felt very beautiful indeed.

I took her in the car when we went to drop Claire off at gymnastics and she was SUCH a cheerful co-pilot.

I mean, she couldn't see out the window, so I'm not sure she had any idea what was going on, but I felt like we were in good hands.

Kid updates complete, what should I watch now that we've finished everything that's looked good recently (Ozark, Man in the High Castle, Russian Doll, Homecoming, The Bodyguard, Narcos, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Sneaky Pete, Peaky Blinders, Barry... and probably a few I'm forgetting). I just like good story telling- something I'm excited to turn on when the kids go to bed to see what happens next. James can't do sit-coms and definitely leans toward the dark and dramatic. I prefer a little levity with my drama and darkness, but can get it from my books if needed. What's something good that you've watched lately?