Saturday, August 4, 2018

State Road Trip and Swim Meet

Y'all. How has it been so long? Two weeks ago I had a super busy and challenging and fun and satisfying week at work, taught an extra two barre classes, and somewhere in the middle James took the kids to the swim team awards ceremony while I worked late. He gave Cora one of his gold medals from Regionals and she wore it to school for the next 3 days.

On another day (Wednesday?) I paid our nanny extra to meet friends for an after-work drink (mine was iced tea; I had to work again later) and it was $15 well spent.

kills me

My life is so pleasantly full right now. Friends, the kids, James, work, barre... I am finding all of my satisfaction in these things and at night, if I'm not working or chatting with a friend until 10 p.m. while our thirdbabies run around in princess-wear way past their bedtimes, I'm reading on the couch, tucked up against James, thinking of all the emails I should respond to and the blog posts I should write and wondering if my laptop is even charged. It's so different from when they were little and I so desperately needed the outlet at night.

But last weekend was a whirlwind of fun and happy moments and must be recorded! So let's go back to July 27th, at 4:05 a.m. when my alarm went off so we could get in the car and drive to College Station for the summer league state swim meet! I was not feeling that exclamation point at 4:10 when I gave in to the alarm dragged my body out of bed, but I did by the time we pulled up to the natatorium at 7:30!

Friday morning's session was Landon's and he would be competing in the 50 free, 25 fly, and 100 IM. He'd been to a state meet once three years before and scored three ribbons (the meet was held in the valley the last two years and that is way too far to drive for a summer league meet) but this year he was going for medal. He and Claire got their athlete tags, James scored his coach's badge, and the girls and I headed up to the stands where my mom joined us to cheer on our Landon.

And Landon did GREAT! All best times and two golds in the 50 free and 100 IM and a close silver in the 25 fly. It was so fun to watch him swim in such a great pool.

"Next year...," dreams the tiniest family swimmer

After his session we got a great lunch (Harvey Washbangers, thank you Yelp app for finding me the perfect place for "french fries and beer" as I requested) and then mom headed home while we headed to Uncle Eric's new house on Lake Conroe! Obviously, after getting up at 4 a.m. and being in a pool all day, they immediately jumped in the lake.

Eric drove us around on his snazzy golf cart which the kids enjoyed VERY MUCH.

We swam in the lake and his neighborhood pool, toured the marina and his frisbee golf course, and then generally enjoyed his awesome new community. He turned 30 the day before, so I made him one of our favorite childhood recipes (mom's spaghetti!) for dinner after having sent him a very detailed list of ingredients to purchase ahead of time (and then finding that those ingredients were the entirety of the contents in his fridge; the kids had never seen a fridge so empty and were truly fascinated by the sight). We took a few more golf cart rides and tucked our ducklings in bed for another early wake up call, this time a luxurious 5:45 a.m. after the day before.

And then boom, it was Saturday morning and we were back in College Station, soon joined by both my parents, and ready to watch James and Claire swim in their sessions!

Partway through James's morning session, I gave up on any attempt at active parenting and let our exhausted third baby zone out in front of Aristocats, muttering "everybody wants to be a CAT" under her breath repeatedly.

James killed it, winning all his events and breaking all the records. Literally all of them. Now that he's 36 he's in a new age group and had a whole new slate of records to smash. And he looked so pretty while doing it.

The number of times I was asked, "so do you know that guy?" is my second favorite thing about watching him swim. (The first is actually watching him in the water; he's a fish.)

Funny story - the Texas A&M Natatorium was built in the late 90's and hosted the U.S. Open in 1999. I was at that meet, and a few weeks into dating James in 2001 I saw a t-shirt in his closet with "U.S. Open 1999, College Station" stretched across the back. "Were you there?!!" I exclaimed. "Um, yes," he replied, mildly concerned by my screeching. You guys, we swam the same event- 100 Breast- so we had to be warming up and down at the same time, possibly in the same lanes, and certainly saw each other on the ready bench. So crazy. He was a senior in Washington, DC and I was a sophomore in Houston, Texas. I love it. I also had a really good swim in that pool.

Back to the present- we grabbed some lunch in the break and then headed BACK to the pool for our final round, now for Ms. Claire in her state meet debut in the 25 free and 25 breast!

I love how it looks like we brought a private coach.

And the little Bear did AWESOME! She was tired and a little nervous but she dropped a little bit of time and touched the wall third, earning her first big medal! I was so proud of all my medalists.

And my tiny cheerleader who was a total trooper, other than that sobbing meltdown in the lobby midway through James's session before my parents arrived and I remembered she had a kindle and knew how to use it.

Cora wore all of James's medals on the walk back to the car and then napped in them on the way to the lake - my parents' lake this time. Earning all that hardware really wore her out.

After getting to my parents' house, after 2 days of waking up before the sun, driving from Fort Worth to College Station to Conroe back to College Station then to Houston, the kids were obviously exhausted and wanted a nap. Except the opposite of that.

Really just James and I wanted the nap.

But then I found out I'd made it to the next round of my interviews for the job promotion I applied for, so I got a second wind while we celebrated that. I get my delight in making up occasions to celebrate all the things from my parents.

We all slept VERY well that night and woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed (just the kids; James and I were woken up two hours later by the kids, fully dressed in boating ensembles, telling us the boat was loaded up and everyone was waiting on us to go water skiing). So boating we went!

I tubed with Cora and it was a DELIGHT. She squealed in joy the whole time and just chanted over and over "faster faster FASTER!". We got thrown off pretty hard and she immediately asked to go again. So we did.

Then I went with Claire, who feels differently about high speeds and flying dismounts. Most of the pictures show her looking concerned, but James happened to capture this one where you can see the increased flexibility that yoga is giving my back.

My parents had to buy a new boat because Hurricane Harvey broke their old one and it came with this fun water ski tube. There are small wooden water skis encased by inflatable tubing to hold them together and cushion you to sit down or stand up. Landon tested it out first, managed to stand up, but asked to stop after a few seconds. Cora watched from the boat and thought, I can do that.

And then she did. And she KILLED IT. It was the very best. She laughed maniacally and would let go with one hand to give the thumb's up "go faster" sign. She leaned to the left and right to ski in and out of the wake and generally looked like she was back at Disney World.

Until she threw a tantrum when it was time to stop because the boat was running out of gas. Reality can really get her down.

Luckily Uncle Eric was here! And it was time to celebrate his 30th birthday! We had chicken fajitas followed by my mom's homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream cake. It's amazing and brought back many memories. For some reason in this picture, my little baby brother looks like he's trying to punch it.

After I ate an accidental second slice of cake, we packed up the car and headed home with one child! Landon and Claire would be staying at my parents' house until Friday for Camp Papa Gigi.

Cora took this largely in stride, though she is VERY anxious to be five and go into Kindergarten so she can go to Camp Papa Gigi too. It's a four hour drive home, but the impact of her missing siblings didn't hit until we pulled up in our driveway around 6:30 p.m. "WAIT!" she exclaimed, "Landon and Cwaire and sleeping at Papa and Gigi's house AGAIN??!! And I am at my house BY MYSELF??!!". It was a blow.

We decided to seize the moment of having only one kid, which basically feels like an effortless rounding error at this point, and go to our favorite date night sushi restaurant. Cora changed into a particularly appropriate princess dress and off we went downtown. She LOVED the fancy restaurant and really loved the giant aquarium that stretches across the bar near the ceiling. Suddenly, life as a temporary only child didn't seem so devastating.

We got home later than we should have, but eh, one kid. We could laundry tomorrow and we barely needed to buy any food. It was a weird and wonderful few days. James went out of town to California for 22 hours on his first ever overnight business trip in a million years, leaving a bewildered Cora and I behind as single ladies for a night. We called in friends for reinforcements on that one. The big kids had the most amazing few days at their camp. Cora had her first sleepover. I worked a lot and skipped yoga every day. But we'll get to all that in the next post...


  1. Awesome!!! Love your blog!

  2. What a fun weekend! I can't even with Cora on those skis! How adorable!

    I have a question for you regarding swimming. My oldest is 5.5 and starting kindergarten. She loves to swim and I think she would be a great swimmer. However, the only swim team in our area is really competitive in that they practice 4 nights a week all year long. Although all the practices aren't mandatory, they are strongly encouraged. This makes me hesitant to even sign her up because she is one of three kids and I don't know if our family can commit to that. I also want her to try other things and don't want to silo her into one activity when she is only 5. On the other hand, this would be a great opportunity to do something she is good at and would keep her active during the cold Kansas City winter months.

    You are obviously a committed swimming family. What are you thoughts on this?

    1. Hi Racheal! This is an excellent question. James and I have strong opinions about delaying the start of any kind of USS/club swimming training until kids are at least 11 or 12 (and likely older, Landon will probably be 13 before we let him do that). As competitive swimmers ourselves we watched hundreds of kids who started out loving swimming push too hard too early and at worst, get injured, and at best, simply burn out. The kids who are on top and setting records at 8 and 9 are almost never the kids setting them at 18 and 19. Keeping the love for the sport alive, along with maintaining good technique (and actual technical coaching; most of club swimming is just laps back and forth with little feedback which results in a lot of bad habits that settle in for the long haul) are the most important things.

      All that said, is there a Y near you? They often have year-round swim teams. Is there a swim school that offers any kind of larger group lesson or class she could participate in? Once a week is plenty for a 5 year old, though you could do twice if it was something she loved and she wasn't doing other activities. Even a group lesson with other swimmers at her ability and higher would be awesome for her and should start to involve some yardage and endurance building.

      If there are really no other options, maybe talk to the swim coach. Is there an option for 5-year-olds for 1-2x a week? Usually 8 & Under is the youngest age group at that level, so 5 would be really young. No matter what, yay for swimming- it's a FABULOUS life-long sport that brought me much joy for my whole childhood and high school years (and no regrets despite the 5 years of 5 a.m. practices), and yay to you for wanting to find a way for her to grow without doing too much too soon!

    2. Thank you so, so much for this insight!

      She has been taking once a week classes at a swim school in the area (Emler) for a few years now. I suppose I just assumed she would "graduate" from that and on to swim team, but there is a huge difference in commitment! Ha! They do have a more advanced class, so I think the answer might be to stick there. The last thing I want is for her (or our family) to burn out, so thanks for that assurance. I will also look into a Y near us...I am sure there are!

      I actually did reach out to the coach and ask if 5 year olds could practice less and his answer was pretty much no, that they expect everyone to come to as many practices as possible, which I wasn't stoked about.

      Seriously, thank you so much, you saved my family from eating sandwiches for dinner four nights a week. Only half kidding. :)