Friday, June 30, 2017

BRIT, bulldogs, and all the margaritas

This was a busy week. I had testimony Wednesday and received 330,000 new pages of documents in the case on Tuesday 10 minutes before I was supposed to leave for lunchtime yoga.

Needless to say, I have still not gone to yoga this week.

I worked pretty much every minute of Tuesday, putting Cora in front of the TV to watch Moana while the big kids were still at swimming so I could keep reviewing. Moana went in to watch with her and I heard her explain from the other room, "See Winston! That's the ocean!! And that's Pua! He gets lost but Moana goes to find him." I will prefer Cora's version of Moana forever.

Winston would also prefer #MorePua.

I worked until nearly 1 a.m. Tuesday night/Wednesday morning and was back at my desk by 7 a.m. to finalize my thoughts and exhibits before going on the record at 9. Tara has another job she had to be at by 6, so I needed to be home by 5:30. When it became apparent that would not be happening (which is as rare in this job as my working till 1 a.m.) I texted nearby friends to see if they wanted to bring their kids to our pool to swim while watching my children do the same. My beer fridge is your fridge, just please, come over!

[Unrelated, but I love putting $2.99 TJ blooms into cheap glass bottles scattered around the house; they make me happy, even at 1 a.m.]

I pulled up at 6:30 p.m., still on the phone with a colleague, going on 12 hours in my 3" heels and favorite fancy work dress, to find a party happening at my house with my 3 supervised children. All was well in my corner of the world. Or at least it was as soon as I made a pitcher of margaritas and poured a BIG ONE into my new giant yeti cup. We ended up eating dinner at one of the friend's houses- after a quick scan of my pantry I contributed canned black refried beans, chips, and more margarita.

It was lovely and then I came home and took a bunch of selfies with Winston and made James wonder when I might start paying him half the attention that I pay our new dog. #ThisIsMyFourthBaby

Thursday was a much more relaxed day. I actually managed to exercise for the first time since Sunday, but after I went to pick up the kids from James's pool- still in my super sweaty Orangetheory clothes, Landon suggested that maybe we needed tacos at our favorite happy hour taco place. I'd already had my official post-testimony margarita the day before, but did it count if it wasn't frozen and from a restaurant? Suddenly unsure and NEVER one to go back on tradition, I pulled into the R Taco parking lot. I paused for a moment to look in dismay at my sweaty (and possibly inappropriately tiny) Lulu running shorts and tank, grabbed a semi-sheer tshirt I'd originally worn to yoga two weeks ago and threw it over the top and we headed in.

I texted a picture of my beverage to my friend who put margaritas in my head at 2:45 that afternoon and then 10 seconds later, she walked into the restaurant with her family! Meant to be. James called at 7:30 to say he was on his way home and excited about the balsamic vegetable pasta I told him I was making. Oops? (Except not. Though we made the pasta after the kids went to bed and it was super good, esp. with shredded carrots, mini balls of fresh mozzarella, sliced cherry tomatoes, and kalamata olives added to the mix.)

And the reason I was talking with my friend about margaritas at 2:45 Thursday afternoon is because she and I were at our kids' Camp BRIT presentation!

Landon and Claire both LOVED BRIT camp last summer and even though we're only doing 3 camps this year, they both requested this one be included, even over zoo camp! (And they love zoo camp.)

It's such a great camp and the kids learn SO much, I'm not even mad that it's an impossible Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., kind of faux childcare.

They pressed and identified plants and flowers, made field notebooks, sewed botany bags, met with experts in the field and learned that plants are an exciting part of science and research too. It's really great.


Claire's group sang a song about plants growing towards the sun for energy, which was wonderful, and then we got to see all their work. I had to head back to work, so Tara met us there to take the kids home afterward (and then on to swimming, before I grabbed them and we accidentally ate margaritas and queso for dinner - it takes a village!).

This morning we all took Winston to the vet for his first appointment! We have his vet records from his foster mom and he's up to date on all his shots, etc., but we wanted to start a relationship with a local vet before any problems arise down the line. We also wanted to check-in and make sure we were doing our skin fold cleaning, allergy managing, and general bulldog loving okay.

I'd asked our neighborhood facebook page for recommendations for a vet with a lot of bulldog experience. Not 10 minutes into our visit our new dog doctor mentioned that he does the check-ups for Lonestar Bulldog Club Rescue fosters in the area -- "that's where we adopted Winston!!" I yelled out, like this was the single greatest coincidence in the history of the world. "Great!" he said, wit a normal level of enthusiasm several rungs lower than mine.

Winston did great, probably reassured by the fact I had CLEARLY found him a really spectacular bulldog vet. He's lost 5 lbs, bringing him down to 60, only 2 lbs. off his 58 lb. goal weight. The vet thought he looked very healthy and happy, was impressed with his calm demeanor, and said his skin folds looked beautifully clean! We walked out with a self-satisfied bulldog and a bottle of ear solution so we can add an ear cleaning regime to Winston's weekly toilette.

Now James and the kids are at his pool. Cora is at her school. I'm working from home and Winston is snoring SO LOUDLY on the floor next to me. It's a testament to how much I adore this dog because I find his snoring endearing, whereas when James does it I punch or kick him immediately.

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.