Monday, June 12, 2017

Of Pools and Tears and Wonder Toddlers

Our weekend was long, wonderfully busy, and full of fun, but it came to a harsh end at 5 a.m. this morning when a too-tired Cora wet the bed for the first time in forever and woke up Claire while industriously changing her own sheets (#MontessoriBaby). Claire, justifiably horrified that there was pee anywhere in her room and/or on her sister, ran to alert us to the situation. Cora couldn't figure out what the big deal was, but cheerfully went along to the shower with James while I sorted through her 25 loveys to determine while were contaminated and which could remain in bed. At 6 a.m. we were back in our own bed for a short extra hour of semi-sleep when we then had to shake awake a comatose Landon who made us regret awaking him with every fiber of his emotional rage-filled well-coiffed being until a friend came to pick up both big kids for camp. An all-day golf camp that one kid attended without breakfast, sunscreen, or a hat because fuck it I can only try so hard to save you from yourself. Thirty minutes later, as I was riding the elevator up to the 19th floor of my building 20 minutes before testimony was set to start with a big Starbucks and a lot of fluster, a very nice woman told me I looked very nice today, I nearly cried and almost hugged her and made everything awkward for everyone.

Cora, a calm center in the storm, waiting patiently for James to drive her to preschool

But let's get back to the weekend because it had all the things: food, family, fun, swimming, rainbow goggles, and the victorious rise of a middle-age mom triumphing over adversity, her discomfort in not being able to wear makeup in public, and a newfound fear of tall diving blocks. It's a surprisingly emotional tale.

To set the stage: my mom drove into town in the early afternoon on Friday to hang out with the big kids while James went to swimming so they could have a break from having to go to James's pool with him (last week was crazy). I joined in the early evening with Cora and then my mom and I went out on a dinner date on our way to pick up my dad from the airport (coming back from a business trip) after James got home. I loved dinner with my mom- a rare and special treat that just happened to be crazy delicious, even if I was skeptical of "vegan queso" and other things that should be terrible but were amazing instead. We got home from the airport around 10:30 and were up at 5:30 for the meet. Oh summer league, you can be a bitch. James had pre-made brioche french toast the night before because while he won't ever pack a school lunch ahead of time, he will prepare for swim meets like you can't believe, and we were all out the door at 6:45. Five swimmers, ready to rock.

FIVE swimmers. We were all entered in the meet, ensuring that you could enjoy a Lag Liv family swimmer every 10 minutes or so.

First up was Cora, the tiniest swimmer in the meet.

The official age group is "6 & Under" and seeing a 4-year-old is pretty rare. 3 years old is a first for me, and I was a little worried she'd get overwhelmed.

But not Cora. She refused the cap, but donned her rainbow goggles and lined up with all the kids she's never seen before and marched to her lane. James got in the water to help coax her down, but she took off like a pro, using big arms and big kicks and just generally killing it.

Obviously, I cried.

She's just so little and it was so sweet and she was so sweetly delighted by all the claps at the end. A year ago today she was having one of her first lessons in our pool and now she's a certified swim team member. It was very precious to me. I'm so proud of her. And so proud of James too. Our kids are great swimmers because of him, his coaching, his patience, and his passion. For as intense and competitive as he is (and he is very much those things), he is even more genuinely in love with the sport and that always shines through in the way he works with them.

I just teared up again. I'm feeling emotional about swimming again, I can't tell you how weird this is. Here, Cora found you a flower. (Always; wherever we go.)

Adding to the emotion of Cora's first swim meet ever, was the fact it was my first meet in a very long time. Sixteen and a half years. Basically half my life.

I'd once told James I might sign up once Cora was on the team and I didn't have to chase her at the meets. This was last summer and given that our little toddler could barely kick to the wall when dropped into the pool a foot away, that future magical day felt a safely long way away. Fast forward 12 months and James signs us both up for swim team. Feeling a sense of unreality about the whole thing I said sure, I can do the 50 and 100 free and 100 IM. Why not?

Then the meet got closer and I started thinking wait, can I? Why am I assuming I can? So I did my 15 minutes of practice, ensuring I could physically complete the distance and promptly went back to ignoring the future until I stood on the very high block for the 100 free at the swim meet, my parents beaming from the bleachers, and my stomach telling me I should probably throw up now.


You guys, it was so fun. It didn't feel great, but it didn't feel terrible. I have one speed and I can't seem to make myself go faster and I went a time I used to be able to sprint in practice (1:02; I didn't even break a minute, that did sting a bit), but I won the adult heat and more than anything I felt so empowered. I thought I would feel more sad or empty- I'm really not near as fast as I was and I didn't get to witness the slow down: the last time I raced a 100 free I was a senior in high school and went a high 54 and then BAM 34 years old going a 1:02. But it didn't feel like that at all. It was powerful.

I managed to go slightly faster in the 50 (27.8) then it was time for the 100 IM, my toughest event of the day and one the meet organizers saw fit to combine with the 15-18 age group since I was the only adult doing it. The next oldest competitor was precisely half my age. And I mean no disrespect my young and un-wrinkled competitors, but it felt fucking fantastic to win that heat. Even if I had to stop breathing for the last part of the free because I can no longer breathe to my left to see how close the race was.

Claire and Landon won all 3 of their own events, both swimming beautifully and dropping time from last year. It was super fun to hang out with them on the ready bench.

James swam 8 events, winning all of them, and then joined me for an adult relay race at the end. We both anchored. Obviously, I smoked him.

My parents loved it all. Their such swim fans and we capped it off with a fab lunch and even fabber frozen cucumber margarita at Americado afterward. Because this is how adults cool down after a race.

After the meet we took a short break from swimming for card games and Connect 4 (the kids are obsessed and my parents are willing) and then, obviously, got back in the pool for more swimming.

My mom and I swam really hard.

Cora took to the skies, resulting in one of my favorite pictures ever.

She flew through the air with calm acceptance, clutching the turtle she didn't want anyone else to use and a small toy caterpillar she found in our old pool bin and adopted as her own.

After the extra bonus swim time, James and I changed for dinner and a movie and my parents took the kids out for giant ice cream cones to celebrate their stellar academic year. They were going to take them anyway, but their high-A report cards happened to come in the mail that very day, so everyone got extra toppings and double scoops even though we've never let them have more than a kiddie size. It blew their minds.

Wonder Toddler; also mind-blowing

James and I saw Wonder Woman and while I've expended all my bloggy emotions on the swim meet (seriously, I teared up again while typing, I don't even know), I must tell you that I cried sporadically throughout Wonder Woman too. It's so good- in a classic, fabulous, action movie way (truly one of the best we've seen in a very long time), but also in a surprisingly empowering and emotional way. TLo's review sums it up pretty well. In all my years of watching movies I'm not sure I've ever seen one where the woman drives the action of the movie. Truly drives it. Is not the victim of it, changed by it, or looking to marry it. She just gets to be the hero, and she's incredible. It's a great movie. I was awash in its glory the whole drive home and until we tucked ourselves in bed, one million hours after our day began to go swim. It was a really good day.

On Sunday my parents left the morning and I sent Cora to her room to get dressed for our usual litany of errands. James went to help her get down her chosen dress and came out of her room, shaking his head and laughing, "you're going to love this one."

Possibly her best erranding ensemble ever.

She leaves a trail of smiles wherever she goes. Costco has never been so fancy.

We had friends over to swim in the afternoon and then followed said friends to their house to grill dinner. I made Greek pasta salad and Greek marinated chicken breasts. James made children cry with his four square skills and strict rule enforcement. It was a good time.

That all ended up 5 a.m. this morning. But then testimony went well, the kids LOVED golf camp and were in the best moods ever when I got home, and so our days will start again tomorrow.

And then on Saturday? I'm swimming in a meet again. I can't believe how excited I am.


  1. I loved this post. I was so sad when there was no post Monday morning. I've never been a swimmer, but all of these swim pictures and stories make me want to learn (ha!). And I'm with you on Wonder Woman. Seeing Princess Buttercup as a General... made me cry.

  2. I loved all these swimming updates!!!! You and your family are my favorites. I was a high school swimmer and college water polo player and even though it's been a million years since then (and I'm hugely pregnant now so not swimming fast at all these days) I can completely understand why the meet made you so weepy. So much nostalgia! I'm really hoping my kid will be a swimmer. Wish we lived nearby so I could send him to James for lessons!!

  3. Oh, I'm so happy for you!! I loved the "Go MOM!" chorus in your video! That is the sweetest part!

  4. Oh my word! I may just be emotional because I'm doing finals this week (and my baby is moving on up to high school!) but first watching your baby and her daddy in the pool and then you… I cried too! This is the sweetest and bravest post! Thank you so much for sharing with us all. I would say you've conquered that get-back-to-working-out goal you set a few years ago and have SMASHED it beautifully! So inspiring for my own summer fitness goals. : ) xo

  5. Go girl! How cool for you and how cool for the kids to see you doing this sort of stuff. So great that the whole family shares in this hobby.

    And, 100x yes w/r/t Wonder Woman.

    And, I obviously need to up my game when dressing for my Costco trips. She is adorable.

  6. This is the best post ever! Great job to you and your entire family! Keep at it! Liz

  7. I've been waiting for this update. I got teary just watching and im neither a swimmer nor a former athlete (though I did pick up running a few years ago). I think our Coras would be fast friends - mine also believes you're not ready to go anywhere unless your dress is twirly and you're fully accessorized!

    I'm glad your first swim back was a good one - and that you beat the teens!

  8. Echo everything said - I have been thinking of your return to swimming and i am so glad it went well! Sometimes we need to reclaim things we loved. Also, love your acceptance that there sometimes are mornings that do not go well - and it's ok!