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.


  1. I'm sorry about the passing of your coworker, and appreciate your thoughts on the grieving process. Too often I assume my presence won't be missed.

    The only thing that makes me happier than cora in her tiny competition swimsuit is when you find awesome recipes and link them so I don't have to hunt. Can't wait to try some of these...I've made those French dip sliders weekly since you posted the recipe.

    1. Yay on the French dip sliders! I'm making them again this Sunday. And I loved your intro to that paragraph - literally made me laugh out loud :).

  2. How did the chicken/wild rice soup turn out? Worth making? I'm also going to try the chicken tamale pie you linked to above...sounds delicious (and easy)! I have a really easy (and incredibly tasty) red beans & rice recipe, but it includes sausage and as I recall you (or James) don't care for sausage. Not sure it would be quite as good without it, but I'd be willing to forward it to you if you'd like.

    1. The chicken and wild rice soup was really good! I needed more broth to keep it soupy instead of more of a casserole consistency once I added the roux at the end (and I used skim milk, but it was still thick with the butter + flour), but it was great and SO much easier than my other recipe. I'll definitely make it again. (Sadly I cannot recommend the orange beef with broccoli recipe we had tonight; it was fine, but it wasn't great.)

      I'm excited to try your red beans and rice recipe after this one! It's true we're not big sausage people, but as long as I can sub turkey sausage (and when can't you?), we're up for trying it! In some dishes it just makes the meal (my jambalaya is one) and I'm sure this is one of them too.

  3. After I clicked your link above (for red beans & rice) I see that it DOES include's my favorite recipe for them that we cook at least twice a month (only change I've had to make is because HEB stopped carrying Zatarains seasoning I had to substitute Tony Chachere's Creole...or TC "It's Spicy" More Spice Seasoning is obviously spicier if you like your food that way)

    1. The recipe I posted was *delicious* for the red beans and rice. Definitely the best I've found so far, but I'm always up for another one- I'll try yours next!

  4. I watched Landon's race...holy crap he's fast! Love Winston.

    1. He's so fun to watch :) (Winston too!)

  5. Winston is adorable! I am at a training in DC this week and the building has Vinson & Elkins offices in it. I kept thinking, how do I know that name? And it just hit me that you are how I know that name. So I came here to tell you that :)

  6. Omg, I can't wait to watch Landon in the Olympics in a few years!!! That wasn't even a race!!! And I cannot WAIT to try some of these recipes - the soup, tamale pie, and noodles all sound delicious!