This has been a very busy week. I have five active investigations and will be taking testimony four times in the next 3 weeks. I stayed late at work Monday and Tuesday nights, arriving home at the shockingly late hour of 7:30, to the very minor irritation of JP and the complete disgust of my children. On Monday I was met with wails and tears and "where have you beens?!" and accusing tales of eating dinner with ONLY THREE OF US AT THE TABLE WHERE WERE YOU HOW COULD YOU. By Tuesday my arrival was barely acknowledged while they showered affection on their dad who was buried under them on Claire's twin bed reading books. This morning I tried to sneak out of the house at 6:45 before anyone woke up, planning to get my extra hours in early and be home before dinner, but as I went to open the side door, I looked up to discover a disheveled Claire standing tall and silent in her judgment, framed in the kitchen entryway, pink blankie, baby, and kitty in her hands, glaring at me in shocked disapproval.
I'm happy to report that I returned to their good graces this evening with my prompt arrival at 5:15 p.m. and participation in a nice family dinner. I realized two things in this week of overwhelming case work: (1) since JP and I can't afford date nights, never travel, and are always home together by 5:30, family dinners have achieved sacred status for our children and despite their horror at my absence this week, nothing could make me happier; and (2) clearly they remember nothing from my schedule in Austin and that makes me happy too.
As I've alluded to a few (dozen) times, the Lag Liv family is on a budget. A budget that up until this month, we'd always passed by on day 20 or 21 of our 31 day budgetary credit card cycle, so it's been more aspiration than reality. We're trying, really trying, but the holidays and things like broken water heaters and the kids' feet constantly growing keep getting in the way. But finally, this past month, we were going to make it under by $200. From December 27th to January 25th we bought not one single thing besides groceries, a doctor copay for me, a small indulgence in a Mexican restaurant happy hour ($23 for 2 margaritas, queso, tortillas, and 2 entrees- worth every freaking penny on that particular Friday), and a trip to Costco to replenish all the household items we were suddenly out of because I can't be trusted in Target anymore. We can't follow such austerity measures every month, but my god we were going to make it this time! And then I got home early on the evening of the 25th, one day before the billing cycle closed, to join the family in a nice long walk before dinner. We bent down to put on Tex's leash and discovered a... wetness, an odor, a virulent flesh eating bacteria that had eaten away half of my dog's throat. Only a slight exaggeration and of course it had to happen the day before our triumphant fiscal month was to close. One trip to the emergency vet later and we had a nice $200 bill and a freshly shaved dog on three kinds of antibiotics. Because, of course.
(Tex is fine and never seemed bothered by the infection ravaging his throat. He has healed up nicely and remains thrilled with the extra attention the administration of two topical antibiotics requires; he also appears pleased with his new avant garde hairstyle.)
I've read three books in the last four days, because that is what I do when I'm stretched and overwhelmed on every front: Again the Magic, Lady Sophia's Lover, and Worth Any Price, all by Lisa Kleypas. Again the Magic was my favorite; if you've read the Wallflowers series, you must read that one- it's basically a prequel that tells the story of Lord Westcliff's older sister, Lady Aline. Worth Any Price was a very close second favorite. All three have stolen all my sleep. I had to give in to glasses today because my eyes were too bloodshot for contacts this morning. In so many areas of my life I have extraordinary self-discipline; in reading, I have absolutely none. I suppose there are worse addictions, but I did not think so when my alarm went off at 5:45 this morning after reading till 2.
JP has an offer to start a swim school in Fort Worth through the local USS club team's head coach. The club wants it to exist and will support it however they can, but it would be JP's to own and run. It should be his dream opportunity. And yet his voice doesn't have any inflection when he talks about it. That stubborn against-all-odds enthusiasm that I'm realizing now was such an essential, elemental part of him seems completely snuffed out. Today I found myself verbally smacking down all of his dream killer objections to the idea - he was me, I was him - and I felt near tears by the end of our phone call, a feeling I seem to have after most of our phone calls lately. In-person is better, except sometimes when it's worse, and while there are so many moments of complete normalcy and laughter and flirting and happiness, so much of the whole job situation continues to suck so much I have lately wanted to hide in my office with the door closed for much of the day. I don't, but only through sheer will and a lot of acting to maintain the bright, sunny reputation I developed so genuinely my first several months here.
The weather jumped above 70 for two random days early this week, so I told the kids they could pick out short-sleeve shirts. At my notice (i.e. yelling down the hall to their room), I heard Landon exclaim, "Claire! You can wear your puppy shirt!!" and heard her scream of excitement in return. A friend of mine from Austin was in town a few months ago and brought along a few of her daughter's hand-me-downs. She knew of Claire's preference (insistence) on wearing shirts with animals on them, so she culled her stack down accordingly. Included among them is a light blue summer shirt with a puppy on it. I had no idea of her love for this shirt, but apparently she and Landon talk about it quite a bit. On that Monday morning when I stepped out of the shower and into my bedroom, I found a half-dressed Claire, bent over the shirt carefully spread out on the floor before her, saying, "Hello Puppy! Your ears are SO soft!", as she softly stroked its ear. Remembering that moment made me smile all day.
We took the kids to the TCU v. UT men's and women's swim meet. I love college dual meets- they're fast and spirited and so much fun. Diving competes too and you can watch both at the same time in the adjoining pools. We assumed the kids would only last a few minutes (a prediction Landon fulfilled), but Claire was ALL over it.
After 45 minutes I finally scooped her up to go home so I could start a late dinner (JP was staying for the whole meet) and she started sobbing on the way out the door. I asked what was wrong and she said, "But I was gonna swim too!" I think she genuinely believed she was going to do her floats and her kicks to the applause of the whole natatorium. Oh, to be 2.