Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Storytime with Lady Maggie Moo

So after last week's heavy Thursday (all is well here; all computers remain on lock down, appropriate and positive follow-up conversations have been had, a mama's night out with friends has been enjoyed), I thought we'd turn to Lady Magnolia Jane. Also known as Maggie, Maggles, Maggie Moo, Maggie Moodle, Magna Doodle, Noodle, Gorgeous Perfect Angel Puppy Dog, she wants you to know she loves you and thinks you're doing great.

Maggie has been with us for just under 5 months and she is just the most magnificent and majestic of canines.

Her scars, skin, teeth, and vet records tell a sad story we've pieced together over the last few months, but her smiles lift her ears and our hearts and I'm so glad she's now ours to spoil.

We know that Maggie was a puppy mill mama. The industry that breeds purebred dogs to sell for thousands to those not looking far behind the curtain rests on the often neglected backs of the mama dogs. Kept in a metal box (her teeth are ground down into her gums from chewing the bars); badly bitten by one of the male dogs used to breed her (a bite left untreated to slowly heal on its own, resulting in the large, ugly scar she has on her back hip); her tail broken, likely from repeatedly wagging against the metal bars, again left untreated until it was so infected it was removed at the vet after she was rescued; ears so badly infected and so long untreated that the scar tissue inside looks like a bomb went off in her ear canal; and top teeth pulled, possibly to prevent biting, she's a bit of a heart-tugging mess. Her belly bears multiple c-section scars, something I can't even think about given the complete lack of pain and wound care she received where she was kept. Her ears were gnawed on by other dogs and scars cover their rough edges.

At some point in August of last year, fresh from another recent litter and c-section, Maggie either escaped or was dumped on a 107 degree day and was found dirty, starving, and delirious near a lone tree by the side of a road. A sweet woman picked her up and called the Lonestar Bulldog Club Rescue. She spent 6 weeks at the vet undergoing multiple surgeries and treatment for her ears, tail, skin, and heartworms. Her veterinary records frequently mention that she was in "rough shape" but was "very sweet and gentle" and very trusting of her caregivers.

I can't imagine looking in these eyes and being indifferent to her pain, but that life is far behind her now.

When we adopted her she was learning to like grass (most mills just use concrete surfaces that can be hosed off), walks (the leash was VERY SCARY and it took weeks of gentle practice and treats to keep her from cowering and peeing whenever she saw it), and a potty schedule (willing, just occasionally unable to communicate her needs without her foster pack to follow). She had nightmares, occasionally waking up from a deep sleep with a yelp and heart-wrenching cry. Maggie is completely deaf and never barks, so it was shocking to hear such a tortured sound come out of her, but it's been a few months since it last happened and I hope those bad dreams are gone for good.

Despite her background, she IMMEDIATELY loved all five of us, all of our guests, all dogs, all food, and ALL of her outfits.

When I would hold up a new little dress or sweater, she would jump up and down (as much as her short legs and general level of athleticism allowed) and duck her head so I could put it on her.

She is a natural model.

I had testimony today and start my yoga teacher training tonight (7:15-10:15 p.m. Tues, Wed, Thurs nights for the next 8 weeks!), so I thought I'd start this busy season off with a few of my favorite Maggie stories so far. I look forward to many years more:

~ ~ ~

Back in March, on her 2-month adoptiversary, Maggie celebrated by throwing a party from 12-2 a.m.: jumping up in our bed repeatedly (a trick she’d never done before and was TOTALLY delighted by), running the loop through our closet/bathroom/bedroom, collar jangling merrily all the way, and making me take her outside twice for reasons neither of us could figure out as we stood there staring at each other in the grass, me barefoot and half-naked in the dark at 1 am.

The next morning, after dragging our exhausted party-girl out of bed for breakfast, she exhibited another feat of athleticism never before seen, running through my legs and jumping up into the car while I was loading Cora and her things for school. Maggie evaded my attempts to get her out of the car, hopping nimbly between seats until I dragged her out, Cora cackling from the back row, my black pants now covered in fur.

She passed out while I re-rolled my work clothes and I left her snoring loudly, sleeping off her fun night out with mom. I smiled the whole way to work thinking of it.

~ ~ ~

Landon takes Maggie on a morning walk down the street every day before school and camp. One day in April he came *bursting* back into the house at 7:30 a.m., trumpeting news of Maggie’s incredible bravery.

He said they were walking past our neighbor’s house when Maggie got bold and decided to walk on the grass (she was still in her pavement-only days). Suddenly a squirrel ran down from a tree right in front of her! She got scared and hopped backwards twice. THEN, looking at her vulnerable human boy, she got “VERY brave” and “charged forward 3 BIG steps” and barked one time! (Maggie is deaf and doesn't bark.) Landon was SO proud. Maggie was dubbed a knight of the seven kingdoms and spent the rest of the day sleeping off her heroic act.

~ ~ ~

On another exciting night in April, she remembered she could jump on our bed around 2 a.m. and proceeded to do so four times in rapid succession. She'd jump up, I'd pick her up and drop her off the other side of the bed, and then, thinking this was the best game EVER, she'd take a running leap and do it again.

James snored through the whole party and Maggie has not attempted it again. I wonder when she'll next remember that she can.

~ ~ ~

The kids adore their new fur sibling and each of them has a unique and deep bond with their "Maggles."

One afternoon I was cooking dinner and looked over to the living room where I heard Cora crooning gently, “Okay Maggie, so you put one foot here and two feet here and that’s how you play Hop Scotch!!”

Maggie did not quite grasp the game, but Cora never gave up and declared Maggie the champion after several (unsuccessful) attempts at the first square.

She is the center of the Lag Liv household. We're 5 minutes late to everything because "Oh I didn't say goodbye to Maggie!" or "Maggie needs one more pet mommy!"

Maggie loves them back just as fiercely.

~ ~ ~

On Saturday the kids were at a swim meet with James (Claire did her first no-breather 25 free! Landon won everything!) while I stayed home with our still-sick Cora. After 4 days in the house, Maggie and I decided Cora needed a field trip so we packed her in the car and headed to a nearby Starbucks. The fact that we wanted an iced chai and a puppuccino was just a coincidence.

Maggie LOVED her Puppuccino.

She loved it so much I had to pull back into the parking lot and going through the drive-through just so she could finish it before we got home. She can't wait to go back.

~ ~ ~

Car rides remain Maggie's FAVORITE thing. She can't hear, so she can't figure out what signals whether the car is on or not, so every time I let her outside she runs hopefully towards the car, waits a few minutes, and then if I don't go open the door, she gives up and goes about her business. But when I do open that door, her whole face lights up.

On Wednesdays she was my co-pilot as we dropped various children off and picked them up at all the different activities. She took her job seriously, staying alert at least 35% of the time and getting pets from one and all at drop off and pick up.

I can tell she really misses our Wednesday routine of spending 90+ minutes in the car driving all over town. (I, on the other hand, do NOT, though I try to give Maggie rides whenever possible to make up for her loss.)

~ ~ ~

We used to have a routine where I took her out to go potty every night when I went to bed around 11.

Maggie had a routine where she absolutely refused to wake up or move until I picked her up and carried her outside, and if I set her down any moment before we were both fully outside with the door closed, she'd run straight back to her bed.

After 2 months of no accidents in the house I decided she could decide when she wanted to go outside and no longer bother her after her bedtime of 7:30 p.m.

It's going well for both of us. She gets her 12-13 hours of uninterrupted beauty sleep on her favorite bed in the art room (snuggled under two blankets we tuck around her after we finish dinner because we are all ridiculous) and I don't have to raise my heart-rate by dead-lifting a bulldog at 11 p.m. Another upside: she now sleeps in the main part of the house and I don't hit James at 3 a.m. to make him stop snoring when it's actually Maggie snoring from across the room.

~ ~ ~

One thing we noticed quickly is that Maggie will ALWAYS find her spot in the sun.

She sleeps approximately 20 hours a day but somehow she stealthily wakes up and shifts over just enough to always stay within its warm rays.

She LOVES being outside and will snooze until she's sunburned (literally, we have to put sunscreen on her scar) and near to overheating. We keep a close eye on her and she does NOT like it when we drag her inside when her time is up on a hot day.

Luckily, she's in a house full of floor to ceiling windows and skylights, so sun can almost always be found.

I feel like there's a life lesson in there.

~ ~ ~

My final favorite Maggie story from our first few months together is how she follows me around the house whenever she's awake. Having a deaf dog is such an adventure- she can't hear a thing, so when she wakes up, she's never sure if anyone is home or not (it's still funny to me that she has no idea when we come home from being out; she wakes up whenever she wakes up and is like "oh! you're here! how great!")- so anytime she wakes she does a little loop around the house to see who's here. In the mornings, she follows me from the kitchen where I start my tea, to the bathroom where I step in the shower. Once I'm in the shower I have disappeared and she spends the next 10 minutes trotting around the bathroom in circles looking for me. I'll open the (clear glass, but now fogged) shower door to wave, she looks relieved, and then I close it and I've disapparated yet again. She can't hear the water, the fog is apparently totally opaque (we're pretty sure her eyes aren't very good either), so it's a BIG surprise when I step out of the shower in my towel a few minutes later. Watching her trot circles around the bathroom hunting for me is one of the highlights of my morning.

~ ~ ~

And that's it for today's collection of Maggie stories.

I did not have this much love to give a dog when my human babies were young and demanding, but now, there are many days where she is for sure my favorite child.

[I'd be remiss if I didn't add that Fort Worth has a huge overcrowding problem in our pounds, shelters, and rescues right now. I read that over 300 pets were surrendered in the last 6 days and the city is having to euthanize animals for space. There was a devastating article last year by a shelter worker describing the physical act of walking dog after dog down to be euthanized and then dealing with the volume of dead bodies afterward. It was haunting. If you're interested in adopting, fostering, or simply donating to the cause, please google your way to a rescue organization near you! Here in Fort Worth you can volunteer with the city Animal Care & Control and Cody's Friends Rescue and Saving Hope are doing great work for foster and rescue, along with SO many others. And of course the Lone Star Bulldog Club Rescue is near and dear to our own Maggie-loving hearts and can always use donations to support the rescue of these wonderful, wrinkly, medically demanding doggos.]

Friday, June 14, 2019

Older Kids: A 3,000 Word Essay

I had lunch yesterday with three other working mom attorneys. In addition to the fact that I genuinely enjoy them as people, I've found it's essential to periodically gather with similarly situated professionals and just chat about being women and mothers and attorneys all at the same time, in all our glories and struggles and love of pizza. My youngest is older than the next oldest child in the group, so it was amusing and comforting to be back in the land of toddler and infant troubles. Not that those times aren't hard and real in their own right, I do not miss the exhaustion and the worry that comes with a screaming baby you can't decipher, but omg, I have found being a parent of older kids to be SO. MUCH. HARDER. I long for the tantrums of a toddler- the sky is the wrong color, gravity is a thing, being tired can destroy worlds... the occasional lack of sense made perfect sense to me. This is a small child. The world is a big and confusing place and they get so little control over it. Even in the frustration I generally felt like I got what was happening and we could deal with it. And if all else failed a nap, a simple break with a book or a cuddle pretty much cured all ills. And I could physically move them to make that happen. It was a simpler time.

After years of relative calm and rationality and increasingly fun and logical conversations and interactions with our ever-older children, it was such a shock to go backwards to the land of emotional extremes again. And harder, for me, because this was a bigger, older kid who had now spent years articulately communicating with me. When you step away from the emotional maelstrom, it makes total sense- their brains are exploding with growth, their hormones are a toxic soup surging around inside them, and the physical and emotional changes are as surprising to them as the effects are to me. But- and this was key for me- it doesn't LOOK like that from the outside. They still look like the kid you had a fascinating and factual discussion about world habitat preservation 20 minutes prior and now they're on the floor moaning at the utter awfulness of their life because they needed to go take out the trash. And you think words will fix it, because you have words now! You have thousands of words! And they have a grasp on the passage of time and consequences and cause and effect and all these fundamental truths that should make conversing between parent and child easier, but NO. And it's a surprise to everyone. They're also smarter and bigger and louder and omg just so much smarter. They know you, they know you better than you know yourself and they can get a rise and a reaction out of you with shocking speed and accuracy. My breath was literally taken away by the hurt that could come from these conversations- me, who totally understands they are a child and who is secure in my adult friendship and not looking for approval from a 10-year-old, but god DAMN. Pinpoint verbal arrows. And, as I learned, the emotional reaction on my part was the point, not the hurt that came with it. With toddlers I'd mastered the ability to stay calm, to be the point of true north, the center of the hurricane. With tweens I learned that response was MADDENING to the emotionally overwhelmed human hurting in front of me. It seemed like I didn't care. I wasn't affected. So the goal was to make me FEEL, to force me to be WITH them in this confusing moment of sudden big huge feelings. It didn't matter that the emotions they were pulling from me were negative- it was the emotion itself that mattered and as soon as I broke, the very SECOND I yelled or made a ridiculous threat or cried and hated myself for not being able to be the calm adult in the situation, the storm would pass. The skies would clear and that same someone would be cheerfully asking what's for dinner and can we play a game later and what's the weather tomorrow and I'm just there, crumpled on the floor in a new soup of self-loathing and regret, wondering where it all went wrong.

The other thing that is harder- at least for me- is the lack of a clear and open community of support. Toddlers are still extensions of you. They're expected to be irrational and it feels okay to share it. There's a lot of commiseration and shared stories and advice and tips you can pull from that. When it comes to parenting advice I've found what works best is just heading and sharing as many stories as possible. No one knows or sees your kid like you do, but they do see their own, and sometimes a story or approach that didn't make sense to you when you heard it pops in your head later and you give it a try. And no matter what you feel less alone. "Oh, my friend has been here, I'll tell her this story later and we'll laugh and toast to surviving another day." So I had a deep pool of stories and examples to pull from when it came to my younger children. But with tweens, there's fewer of those. Tweens are their own people and they deserve privacy, but they're also still yours and you need support. So it's a hard balance. I don't always strike it, but man do I miss it when I feel I can't connect with others. And because your children are more confusing (to both of you!) and your reaction to them is more confusing, the stories are less cute and funny and more "wtf I'm drowning here" and that also feels different. And then sometimes an internet commenter tells you that all your problems originate from the worst experience of your life 12 years ago and you just don't/can't love your oldest the way you love your other two and it's obvious to see and he feels it too. And even if you can reject that immediately (and you, always looking for things you're doing wrong, probably cannot), it is decidedly unhelpful and you're reminded why blog posts with thousands of words have gone the way of Instagram which is a single picture. I don't have Instagram but I get the appeal.

So, there's a lot of learning. What worked for the 3 year old does not necessarily work for the 10 year old. Okay. We're all handling this much better, at least until our next tween emerges and requires an approach that is totally different. And on the upside- because there is SO much upside- you do get to live with this funny, smart, fascinating human who is increasingly his or herself and not you or your partner and it is just an amazing thing to watch develop. Often surprising in the best of ways, I love have big kids in my house. I love traveling with them and showing them the world, I love hearing their thoughts on things that are so different from mine or from what I sometimes expect them to say. I love the conversations we can have, the plans we can make, the daily delight we experience in learning who they are and wondering who they might one day be. Big kids are awesome and despite the occasional challenges, I wouldn't trade this phase of life for anything.

Something I would trade? The internet. Holy fuck y'all, I feel like I'm constantly behind. We basically just ignored the issue for our first decade of parenting. We never had iPads; the kids got kindles that were charged up for 1 hour+ road trips ONLY; we had one TV and the kids watched 0 minutes of it during the week. Our general lack of electronics wasn't really based on any lofty principles, though I agreed with them, it was that our schedules were full and busy and anytime we introduced TV during the week it felt like behaviors fell apart. It just didn't work for us and was relegated to a weekend morning treat that pleased everyone. We've never used electronics at restaurants or outings or literally anything outside of a road trip. This was more of a purposeful thing- eating out and traveling is our favorite thing and I never wanted them to expect entertainment while waiting in line or for food. Handling boredom is a learned skill. But also, I just never wanted them messing with my phone, so phones were for grown-ups, full stop. Landon got a Nintendo Switch last Christmas after a year of asking and I hate it. Our house was a better place without video games, but I can make some allowances for a nearly 12-year-old who desperately wants to play with his friends. Turns out though, I was a step behind and didn't realize I could/should be monitoring his time on the device through an app on my own phone because he was sneaking it in his room and playing hundreds of hours more than he was supposed to and suddenly the prior 6 weeks made so much more sense when I discovered him paying under his pillow (very) late at night. He went into rehab (not a real thing, just his regular "boring" house without access to electronics), the Switch went to my office for 2 months, and we now have internal controls and an electronics approach based on clearly communicated rules, some slowly rebuilding trust, and daily app-monitored verification that the boundaries are being respected.

Enter the laptop. When I redid our playroom I added a laptop I'd purchased when I was feeling cheap two years ago and immediately hated and replaced with the nicer one I should have bought in the first place, and a printer they could actually use (our other printer is for the Swim School and we keep a firm separation between the personal and the business entity). Landon is going to middle school and will need access to a computer and we were already late on letting the kids play any of the educational games the school provides subscriptions to. I thought I'd put controls on the browsers and generally didn't worry about it too much because the kids aren't home that often and the computer is in an open area we keep an eye on.

And then I discovered a "sex videos" in the search history yesterday, realized it was Claire who searched it, and all the walls came tumbling down. Again.

For context I should note that this was after I got home from work to find Cora on day 2 of a fever that had now climbed to 103 degrees after Motrin, so my first 90 minutes of "home time" was spent in urgent care with a screaming 5-year-old who objected strongly to the strep and flu test swabs. The very second we got home, James pulled up with the big kids from swimming, and I spent the next 90 minutes closed in the TV room with my brand-new-9-year-old, sobbing and shaking, as she tried to explain that she just "wondered what sex was and thought videos would explain it." Except THEY DID NOT. They showed a deeply fucked up version of what sex is and the resulting images from that search haunted me all night. "It's so bad it's so bad I'm so sorry I'm so sorry," she sobbed. And so we had a sex education and counseling session that should have began a year ago and ended in reading "It's Not the Stork" together on the couch.

See, when you put limits on your kids' internet browser, you need make sure they're on ALL the browsers. I don't use Microsoft Edge and totally forgot it was installed on the laptop I never used. And not just installed, but the set as the default browser. So we're researching more comprehensive internet monitoring systems for the whole wifi network. Until we figure that out, the laptop has a new password no one knows but me and we'll add it back into our lives when I feel on top of the situation, which will be no sooner than mid-July. Also, and this is a whole different topic but one I managed to both feel passionate about and also fail at utterly: be the one who brings up sex with your children. Claire saw the word when it popped up in the title of a "suggested video" next to a totally innocent video she was watching at a friend's house (a friend she initially tried to blame for her search which caused a whole other mess, and the punishment she got last night relates solely to the lying/passing blame and not the curiosity that took her places she did not want to go). Being raised in the age of Google, she thought, I'll just look that up when I get home. And being parents who failed her on this, that was her introduction to what sex was. And it scared her and she thought it was wrong and she sat with that on her heart and mind for 6 weeks until I happened to go through the browser history.

I've read so much from the professionals who know more than me about the importance of introducing tough topics with your kids. On sex, I read and deeply believed that it's not a "talk," but rather the opening of an 18+ year long conversation. It's making yourself available as a resource. It's letting them know that this is something we talk about, not something we hide. When you don't introduced a topic and a kid hears about it, especially something as frequently coated in secrecy and shame or embarrassment as sex, your child's conclusion is some combination of "my parents don't know what this is" and "this isn't something we talk about." And that is EXACTLY what happened in my own house with my second child after we had done a generally good job educating the first in a timely and appropriate manner. We already had all the books, we've already had a round of allllll the talks, but somehow, it just surprises us when Claire pops up right behind Landon in the timeline of learning and development. She's also a curious inquisitive second kid who usually hears things way sooner than Landon notices them. She shares a room with her younger sister which make the natural nighttime solo talks we had with Landon less accessible, and, most importantly, she had access to a laptop he didn't at the same age. And my failures on this front sit heavily on my heart, particularly as I clicked through her actual search results long after she was in bed.

We're on a better path now. We started our initial sex talk a little differently than Landon- less "where do babies come from" and more "sex is a good, positive, healthy part of adult life; you completely own that part of your life and your feelings about it will change when you become an adult and we will have lots more conversations between now and then; the internet is not a good resource for childhood questions and we will be your filter; and also, yes this is about babies too." She went to bed with her new favorite book to "read again in the morning" and we now have a journal she can write down any questions she doesn't want to ask out loud and I have promised answers and/or appropriate resources to read herself. We ate a dinner James had valiantly pieced together from random things in our fridge, Landon and Claire played the game of Life, which felt almost too on point, I whisper-updated James on the journey taken in the TV room, and we tucked our feverish smallest child into bed. And then I took a very long bath with a very large glass of wine.

I'm drafting this in the lobby of a Hyundai dealership service center while my car gets its checkup and vaccinations. I'm not going to proof-read before posting, so apologies in advance (or too late, really, since you'll read this at the end) for any misspellings and sentences I altered midway through and now don't make sense. I probably lack the mental capacity to catch them right now anyway. Parenting is hard y'all. I raise a glass to all of you and am trying to find comfort in the fact that I seem to be acing my roll as a dog mom. I left Maggie sleeping the noisy but peaceful sleep of the untroubled bulldog. May we all have something in our lives that is simple.

Cannot Access the Internet

Monday, June 10, 2019

Butterflies and Rainbows and Bulldogs

Summer has blasted off in the Lag Liv household and if May wasn't quite so completely insane, we might feel a little busy right now. But since I didn't spend last Wednesday getting two children to two different activities on the opposite sides of town that both start and end at exactly the same time, without a nanny and/or without a second vehicle for my co-parent, or host three parties in seven days, it felt very nearly luxurious. Maggie though is still EXHAUSTED.

We're hard a hard pack to keep up with, but she generally manages with grace, beauty, and a heart full of rainbows.

Tuesday morning was Clairebear's birthday and she is 9! NINE! This happy butterball baby who we all dubbed Biscuit and who taught us that babies can be easy and fun and who made Landon the enthusiastic big brother he was born to be is now a long, lean, affectionate, cuddly, increasingly grown up big girl.

We celebrated in our traditional family ways.

The breakfast table decorated with things pulled from my dining room drawers, party leftovers, and sacred animal candles and Target dollar spot birthday plate after she went to sleep. Landon woke up early to slice peaches and arrange them in a smiley face for her. He remains a truly dedicated and enthusiastic big brother (92.5% of the time anyway).

She got to open her family gifts- a much-requested and anticipated Instax camera from my parents (like a polaroid! but newer!), an equally requested and anticipated FitBit from my grandparents (I found her jogging in place yesterday trying to beat Landon's step count), and a new Kindle from us because her old one shattered and I selfishly need her entertained on family road and travel trips. An unusually electronic birthday for us, but she is DELIGHTED.

Particularly with the addition of the makeup kit that arrived from my sister.

I also found her a set of Babysitter's Club books on eBay. I'd bought them for Easter but had split the bounty between her basket and her birthday. She hasn't bonded with them yet, but Landon LOVES THEM. It has cracked me up. He's very distressed that after #8 the numbers jump around. How does he know what happened to Dawn in California? When did Jessie and Mallory join as junior members. We'll never know because he had to go from book 8 to 32 and it is a real problem for him.

Also a problem? Understanding the entire premise of all the babysitters being in one room at a designated time with its own separate land line. "But can't they just take the phone with them? Why does it matter what time they're there?" Ah, my 2007-child, there was a time when you could neither make nor receive phone calls UNLESS you were home. And you had to share the same line with all your family members! And no one could call in while someone else was on the phone! So advertising the availability of a group of babysitters at a certain time on a certain dedicated number was a huge plus for any parent looking for one.

I'm still not entirely sure he gets it. I mean, he understands my words, but the extent to which people were generally unreachable from each other even in the modern phone age is pretty unfathomable to a kid who thinks he should get his own cell phone when he turns 12. (No.)

But back to Claire's birthday! She got her traditional donuts with dad in the early morning, got sung to by all of us, opened her gifts, and then packed up and headed to dad's swim camp with all of her siblings while I went to work. Swim camp was great and then I left work early to take her for a birthday manicure and pedicure, courtesy of Papa and Gigi.

And boy did she LOVE it. She chatted away with her technician, giggled through the foot rub, and had lots of questions and comments all along the way. It was a very fun hour spent together and she even got a birthday Sprite to go with my glass of champagne.

Dinner was her beloved BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad and dessert was "chocolate chip cookies with mint chocolate ice cream in the middle." Done. The singing was enthusiastic and our birthday girl felt very celebrated indeed.

Later in the week (I don't know the days; the kids had swim camp every day and I went to work, it was on one of those), one of my mamas down the street closed on a new house entire MILES away. Another good friend lives the other direction down the street and we frequently meet up at night on dog walks or to chat and I was so sad those random meets were ending (with Brooke anyway; Kim, I'm still expecting them). I was sitting on the couch with James in my pj's, face washed, and bra off when Brooke texted- "I'm on my way over. I've got a box of wine, cooler of ice, and Solo cups. Meet me on the curb."

And so we enjoyed a Wednesday night toast in the street lights. Me in my llama pants (now with a bra though), plastic cup of ice and room temp white wine like the classy broads we are. I love my people.

On Friday (apparently I can remember a few days!) James and I went out on a long overdue date. Months overdue, it was a lovely 90 minutes of tasty food and subtle flirting. It's so fun to look up into the face of the person who has been sitting next to and across from you on dates for nearly 18 years and think, you're still my favorite.

On Saturday morning our alarm went off at 5:50 a.m. because it's SWIM MEET TIME!

Maggie met her rude awakening with an appropriate amount of joy. But I managed to carry her outside and make her go potty and then cajole her back inside where I assume she napped for the entire 8 hours we were gone.

I left James in charge of all things swim meet related, cheerfully getting ready while he made the kids breakfast and attended to all the things I normally do before we leave the house. This must be what it's like for him to go on vacation, I thought as I clicked up the volume on my Spotify playlist. He forgot a few things and we left 15 minutes later than hoped, but not a beat did my heart rate rise and I did take pity on him and let him know he'd left the cooler of snacks on the kitchen table as we were pulling out of the driveway. But by 7 a.m., there we were in the team tent, ready to rock summer league meet #1!

I had two of my favorite mamas to keep me company and together we kept the number of events we missed to a bare minimum (we have a lot of children and the walk to get into the pool was long and far from shade). We also wondered how hard it would be to bring along Haley's margarita machine while her husband couldn't figure out why no one was tailgating in the parking lot. It was their first summer league swim meet, but I feel like they might be on to something the rest of us have missed...

It was a Saturday of first for the Lag Liv family swimmers. Landon moved up an age group (11-12!) and swam his first 100 yard free AND first 50 fly.

Claire (still in 8 & Under due to a well-timed birthday) did her first 100 IM and finished with good cheer despite very much looking like she might climb out after the breaststroke (length #3 of 4).

And little baby Cora, in 6 & Under for the 3rd year, swam FOUR events (previous high attempt was 2) including the 25 fly!

She was the tiniest cutest butterflyer and finished the whole length with big smiles and nearly legal form.

She also, OF COURSE, brought her "hard work" to the meet and worked intently in her handwriting workbook any time she was not actively swimming.

Hard work waits for now baby butterflyer.

James swam everything and won it all, as always. He's fun to watch, particularly as he's become more famous in the stands. "Ohh James is about to swim. He was in the Olympics you know." is something I overhear often. It's wrong- he was not in the Olympics, but it's fun to be married to a local super star. I also LOVE that he's always on deck to give the kids some advice, encouragement, and high fives as they swim.

The meet was insanely hot - our first day over 90 this summer and it was an an outdoor swim meet without shade anywhere near the pool deck. It was also very long. We finished around 1:30 and headed home with plans for lunch, followed by naps, followed by margaritas. Or apparently that was the plan for the adults. The kids did without the naps or the margaritas and thus looked like this around 4:00 in the afternoon. Not even Maggie could fix the situation.

Luckily we have a pool and friends nearby. We joined some friends for dinner on a nearby patio and then all ended up at our pool. Cora rallied, Maggie was petted, and the adults drank the leftover margaritas from our last day of school party that I'd frozen in gallon sized freezer bags. Let no margarita go to waste, I always say.

Maggie modeled a really spectacular new unicorn dress and peace reigned across the land until the early bedtime we all insisted upon and no one protested.

On Sunday James and I didn't get out of bed until nearly 9. I couldn't believe the time when I checked my phone. When the kids were tiny I thought this day wouldn't come until they were all in college. Landon had spent the night at a friends and the girls woke up around 8:30. It was magic. I put on my new favorite shirt in honor of Pride month and got to making a meal plan and grocery list while drinking my tea. The usual Sunday morning shenanigans.

We had a few errands, the kids did yard and sprinkler work with James, and I taught my barre class. The kids swam, I prepped dinner, we all watched Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2. Dallas got hit by an insane storm while we didn't have anything except a sudden, much appreciated drop in temperature. We took Maggie on a walk, unaware that trees and homes were being smashed just 45 minutes away. Weather is weird.

After our short slow walk left Maggie panting, we decided she needed some wagon training (after rest and rehydration, of course) so we could use an alternate means of umbrella-covered transportation in the hot summer months ahead.

Maggie was EXTREMELY unsure about this.

We had many unauthorized exits, but after some practice, a lot of treats, and a LOT of pets, we made it up and down the driveway two times!

Wanting to end on a high note, we all went back inside where Mags got more pets and we all told her we were so proud of her. She couldn't hear our words, but I think she heard them in her heart (and/or her stomach heard them through her treats).

We ate a dinner of my favorite salmon, roasted potatoes, steamed carrots and broccoli, and fresh watermelon. James and I watched the premiere of Big Little Lies season 2 for dessert and it was delicious.

The kids are in running camp this week and this is what we're eating:

Monday: Turkey and Spinach Veggie Lasagna
Tuesday: Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
Wednesday: Oven Jambalaya
Thursday: Tricolor Summer Pasta from the Skinnytaste cookbook.
Friday: Leftovers, maybe pizza? Definitely eaten by our pool, probably with other people.

Hope it's a great one! Remember, Maggie loves you!