Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunsets and Swimming

Our week was largely dominated by the fact we have a Winston. I called to check on him. I took pictures. I took more videos of Winston than I've ever taken of a child in a week. We love him a lot.

His new harness came on Tuesday and he did not appreciate his handsome and practical new look. He pancaked on the ground immediately and refused to move for 2 hours. I kept my family updated via text. I scooped out his dinner, tried to cajole him with cheese, but to no avail. The harness was a hill he was willing to die on.

But then the kids came home.

And he decided life with a harness was worth living after all.

Other things besides Winston did happen this week. I decided to both stop working out and also start drink margaritas every night, a double-decision that is serving me both wonderfully (more time at home with Winston (um, and my children)) and terribly (tight jeans; missing abs) in equal measure. I took testimony again on Tuesday, so that made the front part of the week a little crazy and then I was tired and then I found myself canceling my Orangetheory morning workout every night just before bed. It felt too hot for yoga and I was just kind of in a sluggish slump. Winston's 0.1 mile walks just spoke to my soul.

I finally dragged myself to OTF on Friday and of course it felt terrible but mostly wonderful and I was wondering why I hadn't gone sooner. So I'm trying to get back to my pre-bulldog self. I'm subbing a barre class this afternoon so that'll shove me right onto that wagon without a seat belt. Teaching remains my highest best workout. Faking that you're not dying over your own choreography while shouting out numbers over pop music is hard. I'll probably need a margarita after.

Friday was a long and emotional day.

It began with my OTF class which was neither of those things, but it was early. One run/row later and I was on my way home for a few hours of teleworking before putting on a new dress and the pearl set I last wore to my Aunty Mary's funeral to head to the memorial of a dear coworker.

I sent a picture to my grandparents, uncle, and mom to tell them I was wearing the pearls Mary Beth gave me and was thinking of her. If there's anything I've learned since her passing it's that you can't bring up a departed person's name too often. Particularly for my grandparents who are grieving so deeply- you should never have to pick out an urn for your child, they are already thinking of her. Telling them that I am too brings joy, not pain, and lets them know a part of her is still here.

I've learned a lot about grieving since my aunt's death. Not so much for myself, but in watching my mom, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Talking about the person is a big one, but the most indelible lesson is going to the funeral. Do you know the person? Or know a member of their family? Go to the funeral. Show up. Be there. It doesn't matter if you didn't know them well (or even at all). And it doesn't matter that you feel awkward in your own grief when you know it is only the shallowest reflection of what the immediate family feels. You go. Let the living know their lost loved one mattered and will be missed and remembered.

Our entire Enforcement division was at David's funeral on Friday, including many alumni who had left the office over the years. He was an incredible asset to the Commission, a brilliant accountant and dedicated civil servant. Leukemia took him far too soon and the hole he's leaving in the office cannot be filled. The SEC took up roughly half the seats at his service and though very few of us knew his family or his two teenage children, I'm glad they saw us there and knew how important he was to us and our office. It was a beautiful service and a difficult afternoon.

That very quickly transitioned to a busy evening. Within 10 minutes of my getting home I was changed into my black competition suit and swim team t-shirt and pulling out of the driveway with our whole crew headed to an afternoon swim meet in Weatherford.

It was 105 degrees outside, but pleasantly breezy at the city park that held the meet. As we set up our chairs and bags I noticed the pool looked a little odd. Too long for a traditional 25 yard pool, but not long enough to be a regulation 50 meter Olympic sized variety.

We found out it's a 40-yard pool. Why on EARTH would anyone build a 40-yard rectangular pool??

They had some creative solutions. All 50-yard events would be a one length 40. All 100's were a two-length 80. The 100 IM became the 160 yard IM (UGH). And 25s were swim by stretching a rope across the water with parent volunteers standing in each lane with a kickboard for the kids to touch as the "wall." Despite all this, and all the times they had to move all the timers from the two ends and sides of the pool, the meet went quickly and the night turned breezy and beautiful.

It was a really great meet.

I didn't miss a single kids' swim. Cora dropped 20 seconds in her 25 free (!!), Claire won her events, and I even got a video of Landon's 40-yard freestyle!

He is very fun to watch. I wish I could take some credit, but it's all him + some James coaching.

I swam five events, thanks to two relays I didn't know I was in, and including the 160-yard IM I was kept thinking I would scratch only to find myself on the block at the last minute. Apparently I'm really kind of liking this swimming thing.

But oy the IM hurt. I don't have the speed right now to make any of my other events hurt, but 160 yards at the end of my other events after OTF that morning- that hurt at the end. I was also in the men's heat (I was the only adult woman entered) so I had some stiff competition. James won, obviously/ugh, but I got second! I'll admit there was a bit of a thrill to that, especially given that two of the guys were right by me the whole race.

It was 9:00 when we finished and I yelped a place that was open for dinner. We ended up at Nizza Pizza, an obsession of one of my coworker's in Fort Worth that I did not realize was a chain. It hit the spot for everyone except Claire who decided she wanted sleep more than pizza.

On our drive home we passed a spectacular fireworks show going off just past our car off the highway. The kids were so excited, particularly Cora, who I don't think had ever really seen a fireworks show before. Again, Disney is going to blow. her. mind.

We got home to a crated and well-behaved Winston who seemed very happy to see us. We got the kids in bed at 10:30 and ourselves in bed at 11:30, just in time for huge storms to blow through the DFW area. I cursed our skylights while hanging out in a twilight half-sleep state and then woke up at 9:15 a.m. next to James, shocked at the silence in our house. Everyone had slept in!

Or so we thought. The girls had, but Landon had been up with Winston at 7:15. He took Sir out on his morning walk and hung out with him in his room and the living room until the rest of us woke up.

Landon has always been obsessed with animals, but was never particularly into dogs. Until Winston. They are brothers, besties, and roomies and it is my favorite.

The rest of Saturday was delightfully lazy. After two weekends with guests in town and Saturday swim meets, we didn't have a thing we had to do. It rained, we ran errands, I canceled my yoga class and got a pedicure instead (about getting back on that wagon...).

at least one of us was busy

I made a tasty dinner (the chicken sesame noodles below) and rented the Lego Batman movie to watch with the kids. The big kids and I had already seen it, but James and Cora had not and we all loved it.

Today is just as lazy, other than the fact that I'm going to go teach barre in 15 minutes. The big kids are cleaning the play room and Cora took Winston on his walk. I've got soup in the crock pot for dinner and we might have an evening swim (and by "we" I mean the children; I will have wine). Next week is busy- the kids are in a new camp, I'm taking testimony yet again, and James is busy at the pool and then we're heading to my parents' lake house for the weekend, but it's been nice having a few days with no appointments or events.

Until next time, here are a few of the meals we've had lately (or are about to have):
  • Chicken Tamale Pie- super good! I love love love tamales and corn masa and anything involving corn that isn't just corn kernels and I really liked this. Next time I think I'm just mixing all the ingredients together instead of doing the chicken layer on top.
  • Green Goddess Quinoa Salad with Magic Green Sauce- Love! It's like all my favorite things in a salad. We added kalamata olives and you should definitely do that. James loved the green sauce and put it on everything he ate until we ran out.
  • Crockpot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup- in my crock pot right now; a new recipe that looks easier than the one I normally make (and love!) so I'm hoping it's as good!
  • Southwest Black Bean Casserole- liked this very much, will also make again. 
  • Sesame Chicken Noodle Stir Fry- love! Less than 30 minutes, I doubled everything and added more veggies.
  • Orange Beef with Broccoli- also very excited about this one. Orange beef is my favorite Chinese food takeout meal that I never order because I have no faith in the beef from the places we like.
  • Crockpot Red Beans and Rice- crossing my fingers on this one; I've been searching for a good but easy red beans and rice recipe for my whole life.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sir Winston Churchill II

You guys, I've become a person who is obsessed with her dog.

I go to work and I miss him all day.

I call James to ask how he's doing.

My new phone has 200 pictures of Winston, 15 videos (of Winston), and an old family photo I downloaded to make as my background but then used a Winston picture instead.

I just feel like now that we don't have a baby in the house (sob, though perhaps an ever so slightly less forceful sob now that I have this bulldog baby) I have so much more love and patience and energy to GIVE a dog. I do so little day-to-day hands-on care for the kids- they put away laundry, get dressed, groom, eat, shoe, and generally handle their shit, that brushing a dog doesn't sound like such a burden. Plus, he hangs out with me while I cook when the kids are too busy playing independently and generally taking care of themselves. It's nice to have a buddy.

The kids adore him just as much.

Landon tells me multiple times a day that "Mom, Winston loves me best." Whenever I need Winston to come to me for something, Landon pops up, "don't worry mom, he'll follow me to you."

And it's pretty true.

He seems to love all his humans.

Especially that tiny one. I feel Winston appreciates a good bow game.

And a hug.

He's like a teddy bear cow dog.

One who really liked watching Moana with the kids.

It's bizarre having a dog that is so low energy. Tex was as chill of a lab as I've ever seen, but if you said "walk" or if he heard his leash he could not CONTAIN his joy and excitement. On Monday night I asked Winston if he wanted to go on a walk.

He did not.

Cora comforted him after my unreasonable suggestion.

We carefully monitor his outside time. He's obsessed with his tennis balls and plays soccer with them between his feet. With the summer heat so high between 10 am and 8 pm he can really only do that for about 5 minutes before he needs to take a break inside. He disagrees with this and makes us chase him. Luckily he's not SUPER nimble and you can catch him and try to convince him to walk inside.

He does not acknowledge any English words, commands, or even his own name. He looks at you like, "your mouth appears to be moving... what are these nonsense sounds you're making? OOOH TENNIS BALL!" Moving from room to room, getting up to go for a walk, eating his dinner, doing much of anything- these are things he decides to do, and only occasionally in conjunction with your repeated commands, cajoling, and efforts to mime the action.

I love him so much.

Last night James and I were watching TV and Winston was playing with his tennis ball when it rolled under the TV stand. He ran (waddled?) after it, lay down, and stretched his giant head towards his ball. Five seconds later his breathing changed. Panicked that something was wrong with him, I jumped up and ran over to find my dog FAST ASLEEP- his tongue mere inches from his ball.

About twenty minutes later, he woke up, and appeared delighted to see his ball right in front of him.

Oh Winston.

We're getting into a groove of (very!) short, but regular walks (we've had two accidents in the house, so we're working to remind him that he is potty trained and the outdoors is his toilet), skin fold, ear, and foot cleaning, brushing, regular administrations of benadryl (he is allergic to grass/Texas/summer), and lots of water refills.

I promise to talk about my children and all our lives again soon. In fact, James had to unexpectedly cancel all his lessons yesterday when his pool was closed for maintenance. This sucked for him, but was awesome for us because we got to go out to an exciting and rare mid-week happy hour dinner! The kids all donned their finest accessories and hair dos.

Dinner was great (and the margaritas were better), though Cora did not understand that we ordered the guacamole for the table and took personal offense at anyone who tried to dip a chip into "her" bowl.

But back to Winston.

He FaceTimed with my parents tonight so they could meet him and the conversation completely wore him out.

When we finally got him awake to go potty outside before us going to bed, he sat up with his tongue still stuck in the same position. It took him a few seconds to unstick it.

I have filled carts on no fewer than 4 times since Sunday. Winston now has all the things except a much-needed bow tie and a tuxedo t-shirt. His girth is so magnificent he needs to get fitted for those things in person. I tried to measure his neck last night and the measurement exceeded the 3XL option, so I'm pretty sure I'm doing it wrong. Though he does have a regal neckline.

He's just kind of the star right now. We will return to regular programming, including my crazy work week, Claire's TERRIBLY belated birthday letter, my recent lack of interest in exercise, delicious new recipes, the awesome rashguard set I just got from Cabana Life (use discount code LLSPF for 20% off!), and how happy/sad I am that Orphan Black is back for its final season, shortly. But first, bedtime. Or as Winston seems to think of it, what you should do every hour or so.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Swim Meets, Father's Day, and a NEW BABY

Let's not bury the lede here, we became a family of 6 today.

Sir Winston Churchill has joined our family from the Lone Star Bulldog Club Rescue organization. He is approximately 4 years old, weighs a stocky 65 lbs, and has a tongue that won't quit.

James surprised me by submitting an application to adopt from the bulldog rescue group about 4 weeks ago, on what turned out to be the 1-year anniversary of Tex's passing. We had just put the kids to sleep that night when he said, "hey, I have a surprise for you, we have a call in 10 minutes to be interviewed to maybe adopt a bulldog."


He knew I was ready to add another animal to our family whenever he was, but I thought he might not be ready until our kids left our house. But on what he says was an impulse he researched lazy dog breeds- in his paraphrased words, "we're active people who are super lazy at home... I want a dog that doesn't make me feel guilty when I work out in a gym and not by taking it on long walks every day." So true.

1 block walking

So we had our call, learned a lot about bulldogs, explained our wants and limitations, waited for our home visit, added rocks to block a gap we'd never noticed under our fence, waited for another home visit, and then we were approved! Winston Churchill popped up on the website somewhere in the middle of this process and James emailed our liaison at nearly midnight when we saw him. He was an owner surrender by a college student who was going up north for medical school and didn't think she could keep taking care of him. He does not have a sad story and has been loved every day of his clearly happy life.

We had a "meet and greet" last night after the swim meet. It went well, though he was a little aggressively affectionate with Cora. Not actually aggressive, he just REALLY wanted to love on her and since he weighs double what she does, she did "not like that Mom." But we all think he'll chill out once the kids are an everyday thing instead of an exciting novelty.

Speaking of the swim meet- because we have to - it was also on Saturday and it was awesome.

We all wore our new team t-shirts, matching as only the coolest of families do.

Cora donned a swim cap for warm-up and I got a million pictures because Cora in a swim cap is my new favorite Cora.

"No mama, I like it like this, 'kay?"

her poor adorable ears

She LOVES her "sweeming."

James remains the only person she acknowledges as coach and I love the two of them together SO much.

Tiny swimmer, big pool.

Cora's 25 free was amazing. She wasn't intimidated the by the big pool or giant blocks and spent the minutes leading up to her heat dancing for the crowd.

She managed to add time from last week, mostly because she started her race with a front flip over the wall and took a little while to figure out what she was supposed to be doing once she came back to the surface. Then she discovered lane ropes and thought those were fun to hang on, but once James coaxed her away from the rope, she found her focus, and her 1:45 second swim ended in the biggest round of applause of the night.

Love her. Even if her method of entry almost made me drop my phone.

My new suit came in the mail the day after my last swim meet, so I finally looked like a coordinated member of the team.

Lag Liv Family Swimmers!

My plan of just showing up for meets and not swimming in between is working out well so far. I dropped time in all my events, and though I had to swim next to James in the 100 free (ugh) and he beat me by 16 seconds (UGH), I still got second- beating all the men and feeling quite speedy indeed (even though I STILL didn't break a minute- 1:01.00. Next time, I can feel it.).

In my long break between 100 free and 100 IM I snuck some old school swim meet nachos in the stands with Cora. Mr. I-packed-us-all-almonds-for-snacks didn't need to know.

It was an afternoon meet, which is weird, and in Southlake 45 minutes away, so it made for a long day. Particularly since we went to visit Winston on the far side of Dallas afterward.

We got home at 9:30 and everyone was exhausted. The kids let us sleep in until 9, which was amazing, and then even more amazing- we realized the TV wasn't on when we woke up! The kids had slept in past 8 and then used their time to surprise make James Father's Day cards since we didn't have time to properly prepare on Saturday.

They were adorable.

And 3-dimensional!

We went on a short walk/bike ride/shoulder ride, tested out some new exercise equipment at our park, and then explored a river bed at the insistence of Landon.

Father's Day Adventuring

Then we just lazed about the house debating whether or not we should really get a dog.

It felt like when we used to debate having a third baby. We could think of so many reasons not to and yet we wanted one anyway. Finally we just pulled the trigger and texted the foster mom, made our kids very happy, and piled everyone in the car for another hour+ drive past Dallas.

And came home with this fine fellow.

And now here we are, a family of six once again. Winston is snoring up a storm in his crate in the living room. He was in the TV room but he breathes so loud we couldn't hear our movie over his noises and I think the violent stylings of John Wick II weren't exactly soothing to him in his new environment. We're looking forward to getting to know the little/big man and to start using all the bulldog care accessories I ordered on Amazon on my way home from Dallas. I look forward to sharing his antics and the stories of cleaning his nose folds with you all for years to come!