Thursday, July 27, 2017

Epicness and Stressness

So everything is terrible. After 7 years of constantly lying about what Obamacare was and what it did and then calling vote after vote on meaningless and empty Obamacare repeals, Republicans apparently never bothered to actually think up any healthcare ideas of their own, so now they're frantically drafting increasingly shitty, harmful bills (the latest literally written in the Senate cafeteria hours ago; remember when they claimed Obamacare was "rammed down their throats" after 11 months, 220 hearings, dozens of public town halls, and over 120 Republican amendments accepted into the bill) that no one has read yet, to attempt to vote yet AGAIN (now scheduled for 2 a.m., totally normal) to increase the number of uninsured by 16 million, restrict access to healthcare, and send premiums increasing by a minimum of 20% (your employer provided plans too! because removing people from a marketplace increases costs/duh) which totally fits with their usual "pro-life" and "pro-economy" hypocrisy. Also Trump remains a deeply horrible person who is damaging America, its reputation, and its institutions in pretty much every way possible and his new Director of Communications might be even more unhinged than he is. It is a difficult time to be an informed person who is pro-America/humans. I haven't been able to blog in days because though my rage at the awful human being who is our current president is always present, it's usually more of a simmer, but every few weeks it boils over and this was one of those weeks. I worked out a lot, drank a lot of wine, doubled our monthly donations to the ACLU (AGAIN), yelled about it all in solidarity with my mom, and then deleted facebook from my phone. You know, the usual coping mechanisms.

But on Saturday- a goddamn LIFETIME ago- we hosted a really great 10th birthday party for Landon, so let's go to there.

It was, in the words of another 9-year-old, "epic."

We had 7 kids over between ages 8-10 for 4 hours of non-stop activity. It was a little longer party than normal, but I decided 10 could be a big one and also Landon REALLY wanted to swim after dark. For the first time ever there were no other parents or siblings- just the big kids and the birthday boy, plus Claire because Landon formally invited her without my knowing, which was kind of adorable.

There was swimming, then a dinner of Landon's favorite things (Costco pizza, cheeseballs, watermelon, and pizza flavored Pringles which are exactly as awful as they sound), then a silly string war, then a whole bunch of pool games, then ice cream cake that I made myself and was AMAZING (and so easy I'm almost embarrassed to tell people how to do it), then inside for an episode of Crashletes (Landon's new obsession), opening presents, and assembling 200 glow sticks to then finally go BACK in the pool for the much anticipated NIGHTTIME SWIM.

You guys, it really was epic.

And while it was kind of exhausting to be the only two adults (next year I'm making another friend stay) because we couldn't take a break from watching the pool, the kids were SO good and well-behaved and clearly had so much fun. My favorite part was how seriously they took the pool games. They needed to know all the rules and were so earnest and adorable about it.

After a round of coin toss (that one was great because it was silent; they were all under water collecting their booty) and various relay races and jumping contests, I just started making stuff up because they were having so much fun. Ping pong balls on plastic spoons? Sure!

Everyone left at 10 p.m. and after clean-up, unwinding, sorting through pictures, and taking a much needed hot bath, I was in bed at 1:30.

super hot lifeguards

So obviously, after that super long pool filled day, we got up on Sunday morning and headed to a water park.

It was one million degrees outside (actual temp = 108; "feels like" temp = 122; "cement water park temp" = one million), and I was not sure we needed to be at a water park, but Cora's school had a social event with a cabana, food, and discounted tickets, so there we were and it was SO FUN.

I forgot how much I love water slides. It's been 11 years since I was not pregnant and not in possession of a tiny, non-watersafe person and a big water park never sounded fun under those conditions. We had our pool, our zoo's awesome splash park, and we were good. I knew the big kids would love it, but I did not want a hundred dollars to helicopter lifeguard Cora around some giant concrete jungle. But now she's water safe! And the big kids are big! We all get to have fun at the same time!

There was hardly anyone there so your only impediment to how many rides you could fit in was how many times you wanted to climb the many stories of stairs. Even Landon tapped out after a little while and went with Claire to the wave pool.

It was awesome. Claire even went down the huge super fast drop water slide and was SO PROUD of herself that she did it 2 more times.

And when we got back to the house around 3 p.m. we ate all the leftover ice cream cake and then zoned out watching a movie until we went out to a margarita dinner because no way was I cooking dinner at that point. Then we watched another half of a movie. We nearly broke our children (and ourselves; I fell asleep Sunday afternoon; the last time I took a nap I was nearly dying and very drugged from the flu), but it was such a fun weekend.

The rest of the week, which I'm now realizing was a whole other 4 days consisted of work, working out, internet rage blackouts, and Winston giving me smiles at the end of the day.

I love this picture of Beauty and her Beast. Or Snow White and her dwarf...

We've been having some issues with aggressive episodes with Winston which are also a source of concern and stress this week. We have a dog behaviorist our vet recommended coming over for an evaluation on Saturday. I'll write more about it later. Short version, we adore this dog and are consulting with our vet, the rescue group, and experts to work with him and us, but it is unpredictable and well, a source of concern and stress.

My other stress coping mechanism is to internet window shop and make plan of things, so I've redecorated and redesigned every room of my house, now with saved internet folders and hand-sketches of custom built-ins in our playroom and hall bath. As soon as I get an extra few tens of thousands of dollars, it's really going to be epic. Until then, another glass of wine and/or box of cheez-its, if you please.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Fun with Food and Fitness

As I somewhat mentioned in my last post, it turns out, you can't just skip exercising in lieu of extra margaritas for a few weeks and still fit into your white skinny jeans in quite the same way. It's sad. So sad. But I've repeated the experiment over and over this summer and it remains true. So on Sunday, with a new registration for a 50% off Class Pass deal (10 classes a month for $52!) and a beautiful, healthy new recipe saved in my recipe folder for Monday, and the knowledge that accidentally stepping on the scale on Monday revealed the the middle number of my usually very consistent weight had changed, I was RECOMMITTED to healthy living.

At least until Thursday when I skipped a workout, had a perfectly good meal planned, but accidentally found myself with the kids at R Taco for happy hour 50% off queso, guacamole, and margaritas.

I have no regrets.

But in general, it appears I'm not 28 with a metabolism revved up to hummingbird levels through stress. I'm happy, well-rested, and require more exercise and less melted cheese to continue wearing all of my own clothes. Blergh.

Luckily I do like exercise, it's just hard to feel motivated when it's 112 degrees outside (not an exaggeration; my wunderground app is telling me it "feels like 112" and it DOES) and frozen margaritas are so much colder than that.

Winston just cannot even

I'm still teaching my barre (my first and forever fitness love), still doing Orangetheory (just upped my membership back to 8x/month; if there's anything I hate it's not using things I've paid for, so I will use the HECK out of those 8 classes), and still doing yoga (though my discounted pass just expired to Core Power my very favorite yoga studio so I'm waiting until summer is over and I can commit to 3x/weekly classes to make the fairly pricey monthly membership worth it). But I needed something new. Something to be excited about and obsessive over.

Enter Class Pass. For those who haven't used it, it's a thing studios opt into to fill up empty space in classes. You pay a monthly fee to get a certain number of classes, and depending on your package, you can visit each member studio a certain number of times. So with my 10 class/month membership I can use any studio up to 3x, forcing you to mix things up and try some stuff you might not otherwise. Like surfing!

Tuesday found me surfing the studio waves in Fort Worth's City Surf studio. It was a SUPER fun class. You're on a surf board strapped to 3 giant bouncy balls making for a very unstable surface for pilates, barre, yoga, and general fitness moves (burpees on a surf board! oh yeah/no). Loved it.

The whole time I was on the board (and jumping off it), I was reliving happy memories of our awesome family vacation to Hawaii when I was in college. We all surfed and we were so proud to get up on our boards and thought we were surfing such HUGE waves... only to look at the pictures later and be shocked to see these tiny little 3" rolling water ripples we were shakily cruising over.

crushing it

They crack me up every time.

I've done Megaformer classes, pilates, barre, yoga, and surfing. It's been great. Almost as great as a frozen margarita. (If it's in your area and you want to sign up, you can use this link and we both get $30!).

So speaking generally of clothes and fitting into them, I had the following text exchange with my mother on Thursday because she is adorable and more fashion-forward than me.

Then I posted it on facebook on Friday and realized everyone thought SHE was recommending the faux leather leggings to ME- which, to be fair, is totally something she would do, but no, it was me seeing some killer leggings and thinking "wow, those are great but too fashionable for me, I know! I'll send them to my 60-year-old mother!"

She bought them. Gigi = my style goals.

And now back to food. Here is our menu from last week. Monday's meal was amazing. Thursday's was too.

Sunshine Lentil Bowls. LOVED THESE. James got home late from swim lessons, exhausted and starving, and his first words after taking a big bite were "This is fantastic." And then he ate everything while barely talking again until he was done.

Notes: (It's a lot of things to make, but the result is filling and wonderful and brought joy to my soul and stomach.)
  • Dressing: made precisely as described (well, I probably used less olive oil; I really like the taste of vinegar) in the recipe and it was so good I'll put it on everything I can going forward. I need to blend my dressings more often.
  • Potatoes: I diced a bag of small potatoes into 6-8 pieces, tossed them with olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper, and roasted them at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes.
  • Green beans: I cut them up into 1" pieces from fresh and then put in boiling water for 2 minutes before dumping in a strainer and running cold water over them.
  • Lentils: Cooked by Trader Joe's, reheated in the microwave for 3 minutes by me.
  • Goat cheese: Made by the gods and crumbled into little pieces by me as a delicious final flourish. (Then Cora finished the rest of the log; girl loves her some strong cheeses.)
  • Eggs: I used this recipe, as linked in the blog post. They were AMAZING. I thought I knew how to make scrambled eggs, but I did NOT. Make these last; you want everything ready- whether warm or room temperature, then add the eggs, pour over dressing (and lick the dressing from the blender, you know you will) and eat immediately.

Easy Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Chili. Delish, always. Added chips, cheese, avocado, cilantro, and fresh lime juice on top.

Wednesday: Tacos/taco salads. Classic beef taco meat, served in whole wheat tortillas or on a bowl of lettuce with all the toppings, salsa, black refried beans, and Mexican rice. I actually always eat these vegetarian because I don't understand the appeal of fairly plain ground beef, but James LOVES them and it's easy and cheap, so why not?

Thursday: This was supposed to be my new red beans and rice recipe, but R Taco happened. Oops.

Friday: DATE. NIGHT. We are eating here and I am counting down the seconds because I've been dreaming of their food since I ate there with my mom over a month ago. (Also something for the children our nutritionist nanny will make more healthy than required.

date night selfie!

date night selfie, round 2!

Saturday: Landon's 10th Birthday Party! So all his favorite things: Costco pizza, cheese balls, watermelon, and ice cream cake. I'm trying a new recipe for the cake (or "recipe" because it's more arranging than cooking), but it looks good chillin in my freezer and was super easy! There will also be a candy bar with all the finest gummy and sour candies. You only turn 10 once.

Sunday: Skinnytaste's Naked Persian Burgers with roasted potatoes because the burgers are amazing and refreshing at the same time.

Monday: Crock Pot Red Beans and Rice. What we were supposed to eat Thursday, this is my new fave red beans and rice recipe. So easy and so cozy and delicious. Even though it's a million degrees outside, there's still something wonderful about this simple, homey meal.

The kids are having some downtime before Landon's nighttime swim party (originally planned so the kids could swim with glow sticks, but worked out extra well on this insanely hot day). We've got 200 glow sticks, an underwater laser light fountain, an eclectic playlist carefully curated by Landon, a giant container of cheeseballs, and lots of water games ready to go. Looking forward to some double-digit partying!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Double Digits, Swimming Champs, and Princess Dogs

Well, it happened. I have a 10 year old. As Landon informed me this morning, he will be 11 in 362 days so I suppose I'll just have to accept the forward march of time, though perhaps not quite so enthusiastically as he does.

We celebrated on Friday with the donuts and the castle floats and the opening of the presents.

He really loved his "10" card from my parents. Maybe seeing it made it real? Double digits, baby.

My parents got him roller blades and he LOVES them. It also ended a month long mystery of "what's in the giant box in mom and dad's room." His guesses have been legion. One night, overcome with curiosity, he lay on the floor crying out "why won't you share THE TRUTH?!" repeatedly.

But now the truth has been revealed and he is the proud owner of roller blades, knee and elbow pads, and coordinating roller blade socks. He is delighted by the fact that his roller blades are his favorite green and black color combo, which match his snazzy new roller blade socks, which match his ever-present bright green athletic shirt. Landon LOVES a matched set.

Claire also made him a card and small collection of clay items including a "hamburger" and "snake," all of which were carefully labeled on the paper. I love Claire cards.

He got a Qixel 3D maker from my sister which he is very excited about.

Landon is super active and athletic, but he also loves a good craft project. He bought himself these aqua-beads on sale at Target on a recent visit and spent all weekend making creations and then presenting them to us at his advertised and narrated art show Sunday night.

We ended his faux Friday birthday with me waxing nostalgic about the night I went into labor on facebook and then boys getting up super early on his birthday morning to head out to our Regional Champs swim meet. The girls and I would be swimming in the afternoon, so we had a lazy morning and then headed out to watch the second half of the boys events about 9 a.m.

The boys all swam well. James was actually beat in one event which has never happened before. The stands erupted in cheers for the new victor in the 200 free and James said he felt like Beat Bobby Flay where nobody wants him to win. I enjoyed the Food Network analogy and told him just because he's well known enough now that everyone know he always does. Everyone loves an underdog. That said, he obviously dishonored the family and had to wear a cone of shame for the rest of the meet.

We ate lunch with our swimming friends and then Landon got the opportunity to go home with a friend who was also done swimming for the day. Normally he'd have to stay to support the girls, but it was his birthday and Regionals is a long day and we realized he hadn't eaten in like 3 days because of his braces tightening on Thursday and our friend is a nutritionist who promised him banana peanut butter smoothies at her house, so off he went. She said one several-hundred-calorie smoothie later and he was a new man. Poor Landon.

But, though Saturday was Landon's actual birthday, Saturday afternoon was all about the ladies. Claire, who I inexplicably have no pictures of, did really great- top 3 in all her events and generally focused racing. Claire is funny- if you catch her in a focused moment, she will tear up the pool. But other times, she's bouncing around the block and seems genuinely confused at what event she might be expected to swim. She'll smile through it all, but swimming is not a blood sport for her. That's more soccer and hoarding tiny toys in small containers.

Cora had her final go at the 25 Free. It has been such a joy to see her fall in love with swimming and swim meets this summer. James and I weren't at all sure what to expect with her this season- we only signed her up because we knew she *could* make it across the pool and she had to go to all the meets anyway, so we figured she might as well get a chance to cool off. But she has LOVED it. She wears her tiny swim suit, dons her tiny rainbow goggles, and sits on the ready bench with the big girls in preparation for her big event with a grin on her face the whole time.

She is so tiny beside those blocks and I just love her courage and her joy so much.

Because the boys were done swimming, I got to be Cora's "coach" in the water at this meet. I was happy to do it, but it ended up being very special and almost emotional for me. And, due to what must have been my incredible coaching skills, she even dropped 25 seconds and broke a minute for the first time! She even beat someone! So SO proud of this girl.

And then I had my 100 free. My super arbitrary and probably unrealistic goal at the start of the season was to break a minute in my 100 free without going to practice or really doing anything to deserve that drop in time. But still, hope sprang eternal, especially after watching my tiny toddler's triumphant race. I felt maybe a little faster while racing, touching the wall at a somewhat heartbreaking 1:00.06. 00.06!!! So close! But I'm happy with the season and so glad I decided to swim it. Even the day before the first meet there was no guarantee I was going through on that plan, but it was really fun and I'm sure I'll do it again next year.

All that said, I totally scratched my other two events because it was already 4:00 and we had a party at 5:30 and Claire and Cora were done and no way did I care enough to make us stay another hour or two to watch me swim. Cora was asleep in the natatorium parking lot and stayed that way for the whole 45 minute home despite two stops by me for Sonic and gas. We stopped at home to pick up the s'more bars I'd made at Landon's request (it was still his birthday!) and headed over to our friends who were hosting the party and who had taken Landon home from the meet.

He was on his new blades, moving slow and steady and super proud of his ability to remain upright. His already giant Size 8.5 feet looked particularly labrador-like in the roller blades and I realized that yes, he really is 10.

The party was fun, though we headed home early- totally spent from the day's activities (and knowing our children were hanging on by an emotional thread). Everyone, including Landon was asleep within 10 minutes of getting home, and they were all much happier for it on Sunday.

Sunday was lovely. Our first day in weeks with no plans, no guests, and nothing to have to do except buy food. We went on a walk with the kids so they could practice their new wheels. Landon on his blades, Claire on her birthday roller skates, Cora delightedly running circles around them both in her trusty scooter. James thought Winston needed to come, so he was in the wagon, being shuttled from shady spot to shady spot like a drunken sailor piloting a boat around our street.

It was perfect.

Then we got home and the shit hit the fan- Cora refused to clean up the books she'd strewn about the house to be "jumping rocks," Claire was in timeout for reasons I can't remember but am certain were absurd, and Landon was scrubbing tile grout in his bathroom after a series of poor decisions that culminated in him screaming to the gods and throwing his crocs after being asked to please put his roller blades away.

They say you never have a favorite child, but I did, and his name was Winston.

Luckily everyone chilled out, ate lunch, and around 3:00 we found ourselves in the pool all in the float castle. I think we need to create some kind of Lag Liv family crest to hang from a turret.

We capped off our day with a trip to Mr. Gatti's for Landon's birthday dinner where the games were fun and the pizza was not the pizza of my childhood Gatti dreams. I mean, I'm pretty sure it's the same pizza, I just didn't yet know how good pizza could be. But Landon was happy and it was cheap and that was what mattered (that first part... but also kind of the second part too).

The kids don't have a camp this week, so Monday morning was lazy for them and sad for me as I dragged myself off to work to do serious legal things while they lazed about in the jammies and pet Winston and read books on the couch. I like working, but there's nothing like a morning where the rest of your family is at home to remind you that not working would also be awesome/better.

And lastly, today is our one month anniversary of adopting Winston. Obviously, he has been a wrinkly and wonderful addition to our lives.

To celebrate the occasion Cora dressed him as a beautiful princess and I really felt like his transition to the Lag Liv family was complete.

Happy one monthiversary Winston Churchill! We love you!