Sunday, June 2, 2019

You Know I'm Back...

You know I'm back like I never left (I never left)
Another sprint, another step (another step)
Another day, another breath (another breath)
Been chasing dreams, but I never slept (I never slept)
I got a new attitude and a lease on life
And some peace of mind
. . .
I feel glorious, glorious
Got a chance to start again
I was born for this, born for this
It's who I am, how could I forget?
I made it through the darkest part of the night
And now I see the sunrise
Now I feel glorious, glorious...

That song isn't new, but I just can't seem to quit putting it on my barre playlists, and while I was teaching today - between doing a deep clean on the kids' rooms this morning (and I mean DEEP; going through ALL the pockets and purses and bags and finding ALL the garbage and tiny treasures) and mentally going through my to-do list for the pool party we were hosting for Claire's 9th birthday one hour after my class ended - I thought, these lyrics match how I've missed blogging but have needed the break but now want to go back.

And also about how glorious you feel when I make you stand in relevé forever. (And actually, having now watched the video, the song is about his grandmother's 100th birthday, but touching as that is- I love grandmas- let's pretend it's about me and my blog.) Because I'm back! Like I never left (I never left). Except I totally did and there is far too big of a backlog of information to unpack, so we're going to hit the highlights and low lights. Grab a drink and settle in, because here they are in on particular order:

After-school Sonic run

Highlight: We visited my parents' new house over Easter and my kids got to meet their new tiny baby cousin Rio and they all held her whenever I wasn't. They LOVE a baby. At one point when my sister was holding Rio and Landon was sitting nearby, he just had his hand on her tiny baby foot. Just there, touching the baby, because he literally cannot help it.

Baby cousins are the best.

Maggie thought so too

The new house is lovely and should be un-floodable. It's across the street from Lake Conroe, a new lake that can control its water level (and used that control to flood my parents' last house during Harvey, but we're not bitter). Eric also lives on this lake and it is very crazy that no one lives in Kingwood anymore. They had moved in the weekend before, but still had managed to magically unpack, decorate, and organize 92% of the house. They also bought pickleball racquets and balls and it was the hit of the weekend. Landon is obsessed and we now own our own set and he makes all his friends play when they come over. Pickleball, the game for retirees and the occasional tweenager.

Easter Sunday was also great, with an egg hunt and baskets and fabulous homemade brunch. Maggie found her basket and wore her new dress and ears for the occasion.

Lowlight: I had surgery to remove the surprise skin cancer hidden under a tiny skin tag and it was longer and possibly more involved than either of my c-sections. There was a lot of cutting and a lot of tugging and a lot of layers of stitches.

Turns out I'm still SUPER allergic to all adhesive- including the adhesive fabric tape my dermatologist was certain wouldn't bother me and my skin got very angry. I was supposed to leave the big bandage on for 3 days, but made it about 12 hours. I couldn't turn my neck, which made driving, working, talking, and general living challenging, and I'm normally a left side sleeper which put my pillow directly on my fresh and angry scar. Since I couldn't use bandaids I had to wear a light scarf everywhere I went for a week, which is totally the accessory you want on a 95 degree Texas day.

I can still feel the subcutaneous stitches, but the top scar is looking better, if still at least 3x bigger than I thought it was going to be. Wear sunscreen. Go to the dermatologist. Skin cancer sucks.

I saw Hamilton! With one of my best friends! It was amazing, I listened to the soundtrack non-stop for weeks afterward and my scarf looked great with my sundress I was pretending was fancier than it really was.

My wedding ring is still missing and James's $5,000 periodontal surgery has still not been reimbursed by our insurance. I need to call my jewelry insurance carrier, but can only handle so many insurance calls at a time.

I turned our playroom into an art room! I'd had the plan for years, but decided Cora was finally old enough to pare down her toys and the big kids were old enough to genuinely need a homework/project space. We did a very thorough cleaning out of the toys, settled on a few categories to keep (dolls, princesses, accessories, and Cora's horse set, along with the play kitchen of course), sold all the furniture, bought new furniture from Ikea (which my friend came over at 9 p.m. on a Monday night to drink wine and assemble while we watched Mean Girls) and loaded it with lots of new arts and crafts supplies and I LOVE IT.

I love it more than any space in our house. It makes me happy just to walk by and the kids are ALWAYS in there.

James's car stopped working at 5 a.m. on a Monday morning on his way to swim practice. We were down to one car for a solid week which is IMPOSSIBLE with 3 kids, a nanny who graduated college and moved far away, and two jobs on the opposite sides of town in a town without much public transportation. It was a mess. I did so much driving of people to places and I hated it. I hated even more the $3,900 it took to fix James's car, but by day 8 we were just glad to have it back. UGH. I thought paying off our student loans was going to be more fun than this. (This happened mere days after the Ikea purchase, which was supposed to be the fun "this is what we can do with our student loan payments now" thing. Blergh.)

Highlight: I chaperoned Landon's 5th grade class trip to Austin!. We left the house at 5:30 a.m. and returned home at 9:30 p.m., but it was such a special day full of great kids and better memories. Nearly the whole class of 106 was able to go and we had 26 chaperones to keep all our ducklings in check and they were SO great. I don't even like kids all that much, and I love my private office filled with organized files and quiet adults, but our charter bus adventure to Austin was not at all bad! It was even quite fun!

Watching Landon among his peers in his natural habitat was so great, and the fact that he was excited I was there was even better. We toured Innerspace Caverns, the state capital building, and a nature area in Zilker Park. Our school is Title I with a very high percentage of families below the poverty line. This was a big trip and opportunity for so many of our kids and they were in joyful awe of the whole experience.

It was a special day.

Lowlight: All the wood framing along the back of our master suite is rotted and will be replaced next week. Not quite as expensive as a new transmission or new gums, but you know, not at all free. Much like the two rounds of $200 allergy meds my bulldog has required. But compared to the car/house/dental bill, I was like oh, that's cute. A three-digit problem.

Highlight: Cora graduated preschool.

She's staying in school for the summer, making her return to class the following day somewhat anticlimactic, but much as I can't wait to not pay for full-time childcare anymore, I've developed a healthy respect for the ease and dependability of full-time childcare, particularly in the summer. I am not yet ready to add Cora to my summer camp "where is my kid this week" spreadsheet.

She picked out her graduation dress, a "just with mom" shopping expedition I thought would be fun, but she found tortuous. We went to Carter's and she selected a swim suit cover up with unicorns on it and was done. "We can get this, but I'd like to get you a nice dress too!" I tried to explain. We walked NEXT DOOR to TJ Maxx and she selected a nightgown with princesses on it. "Okay, sure, but again, we're looking for a graduation dress." "You mean we still have to go SOMEWHERE ELSE?!!" she cried, aghast. We ended up at Kohl's where she found this rainbow dress and it is everything she didn't know she wanted it to be. I love it too.

She LOVED her graduation and LOVES school and is SO READY to start Kindergarten in the fall. I think I'd be more nostalgic if I didn't know 110% that she is ready and eager for this next step (and if we didn't adore our elementary school so much). She was confident in her walk across the stage and VERY serious about the songs her class sung. It was great.

(She also got her ears pierced the day before. She loves them.)

My mom drove over for the ceremony (and then drove back at 5 a.m. the next morning to teach her classes, which was when Landon and I left the house for his 5th grade field trip, more on that below) and we snuck in a little shopping at the discount Dillard's and it was delightful as always. I got a few sun dresses and a new pair of sandals. My mom got many things, but not a pair of suede boots she decisively returned to the shelf because, “NO. I do NOT want a pair of shoes I’m suspicious of.” It won my Gigi quote of the day (I try to write them down as we go, but usually I'm laughing too hard while trying to keep up with her), though, "can you think of any reason I need a green leather dress?" was a close second. Shopping with my mom is the best. She even convinced me to get this jumper pantsuit thing that was WAY outside my comfort zone but which I also kind of love?

Thanks mom.

Lowlight: Our dishwasher broke. I bought a replacement (a KitchenAid, this is important). It was delivered last Saturday but didn't fit because it was a standard size which is apparently 1/2" too big for our custom cabinets so it went back to the store. We got a new replacement (a GE, like our currently broken one, because they make theirs 1/2" shorter for some unknown reason and we had the cabinets built for the new dishwasher when we did our kitchen). The delivery guy got sick on Saturday and our delivery was canceled. The GE is now coming on Wednesday. As with the broken car I now CANNOT WAIT to pay for it just to have one that works again.

Highlight: Landon graduated 5th grade this past Friday.

After six years and so much growing in every aspect of life, he's done with elementary school. It's been an incredible journey and a great last year - UIL Math Team, Running Club, Student Council, News Crew, Spelling Bee Champ, Math Bee Champ, and perhaps most importantly to him- 50 Yard Dash champ at Field Day... he's a sweet, smart, funny kid with a big heart and only an occasional eye roll. We are so thankful for the incredible teachers who nurtured and challenged him along the way.

First day of Kinder

At his parent-teacher conference earlier in the year his homeroom teacher told us, "no one is alone if Landon is in the room. He's always scanning to see if anyone is being left out and finds a way to bring them in. It's an unusual trait in an 11-year-old." I wish we could claim credit, but he is and has simply always been himself. Prolific reader (over 3 million words this year through AR), math whiz, obsessive climber ("Landon! get down from that!!!"), fast on land and sea, lover of animals and little kids (he spends hours playing with the two toddlers who live behind us; it will forever disappoint him we didn't have more kids after Cora), and heart of our family, he is pure joy and occasional mind-blowing frustration wrapped in a tweenage package with perfectly combed hair. (He was voted "Most Likely to be a Celebrity" by his classmates which cracked us up.)

He and his crew has been best buds since Kindergarten. We pulled them out of school after their awards ceremony and took them out to lunch and then to my house to swim.

I love these boys and hope they stay close on this next adventure in Middle School!

Lowlight: James's dad passed away on May 18th at the age of 71. Alzheimer's is a brutal disease.

Highlight: We had our traditional Last Day of School party (also the 1-year-anniversary-of-our-friend-buying-a-margarita-machine party) and it was great. These people are my support group and therapy for the next decade or five and I will NEED THEM. (Along with, you know, actual therapy.)

The kids had fun too. (At least half of them were playing Pickleball in the driveway at all times. It's sweeping the nation/our little piece of Fort Worth.)

(Also I HIGHLY recommend this margarita mix if you're ever making large quantities. Perfection in a frosty glass.)

Lowlight: After our party, and then after the after-party (drinking margaritas on the front porch step with a few mamas of the no-longer-5th-graders), I got home at 11 p.m. all sweaty and sticky and decided I needed a nice long bath. I filled my tub, stripped down, and settled in with a sigh. The door opened and in walked Cora.
She shuffled over to me and my bathtub and said, "Mommy, my tummy hurts.. I did not get a chance to respond as she immediately vomited up GALLONS of chunky vomit all over me. Me- naked in the bathtub surrounded by water with lots of floating vomit chunks. She threw up five times in rapid succession while I rubbed her back and tried not to identify the food particles now stuck to all of my skin. I yelled for James. Cora was sobbing. She's thrown up maybe once before and I thought she was scared, but no, most horrifying to my extremely neat and fastidious child was that she'd thrown up ON ME. "I'm so sorry Mommy, I so sorry," she kept sobbing. "It's fine, it's fine!" I cooed from the shower where I was scrubbing off black beans and queso from our nacho bar while James sat with her in the toilet area.

She did not throw up again, but she was terrified to go back to bed, so we read books and she apologized every 10 minutes or so for "getting me dirty." She finally went to bed well after midnight and when I heard her come out of her room in the morning she was telling a totally shocked Claire the story, "and then I throwed up ALL OVER Mommy. Of course I said I was so sorry!". She actually said the "of course." She had a fever all day and we watched The Princess Diaries 1 and 2 (and then 2 and then 1). She is better today and so is my bathtub.

Highlight:: Claire graduated 3rd grade and is our only kid not changing schools this year (which is perfectly fine with her!). She had a great year and loved her teacher, her friends, singing in the choir, and going to GT. She was voted "Future Teacher" by her classmates which delighted her to her toes.

She also had her 9th birthday party today!

It rained all morning, but managed to clear up just in time for the party, which is good, because there was no backup plan for the kids coming over to swim in our pool.

We did games and a coin toss in the pool, had ice cream cake ("homemade" by stacking ice cream sandwiches lined with cool whip; the kids devoured it), and opened presents.

Claire loved it.

Lowlight: It has rained for what seems like 50 days straight. Our backyard is a swamp land and the mosquitoes will bite your face off. Maggie, living her life of leisure to the fullest, refuses to set a fat toe in the rain, so I have spent a lot of time getting soaking wet, standing in the grass, holding my umbrella out over my deaf dog and begging her to join me in the grass to go potty. One day I just gave up and she promptly peed on a nice dry spot on our bed. Now I wait longer and get wetter.

Highlight: I got Maggie a raincoat and she LOVES it. She is filled with the spirit of adventure while she is wearing it and ZOOMS across the yard like the intrepid explorer she is. Watching her run zoomies through the rain in her yellow rain slicker while I stood under the covered porch was a genuine highlight of my May.

Of course then she ran into the bushes, because she's an explorer now, and she lost the raincoat and hauled bulldog booty back to my covered area where I could dry her off vigorously with a towel and then put on her favorite sweater. She slept for several hours to recover. Backyard rainy day adventuring is not for the faint of heart.

And that's about it. The key notes anyway. There were also lots of mamas' nights out, friend gatherings, pool parties, and time spent just being with James on the couch or snuggling in bed while we know the kids are up and the world has turned but we still just need a moment. Tons of work, tons of school commitments, TONS of kids' activities (no nannies for the month of May nearly killed us). So many laughs, some tears, and a soupçon of screaming to the heavens.

I am so, so thankful for my friends who lift me up and are there when I send out the margarita bat signal.

For my little family who brings so much joy in the chaos (and who also brings the chaos).

For my partner in all the things who always gives more when I'm at my neediest.

For my dog, whom I love more than my heart can sometimes handle.

And for you guys. For your comments, your presence, your check ins. I'm sorry I didn't write anyone back who reached out by email or message. I spent at least 70% of the last 6 weeks with my personal laptop closed. It was needed, to both soak in the joy and deal with the difficult, but I missed it and I missed you.

And so I'm back.


  1. I think it was Ben Franklin who said beer was proof God loves us? Well, you being back is mine.

    I’m so sorry for the hard things. I’m so happy to hear there was sweetness & good as well. You are such a gift & I'm happy as all get out to read your words again! xoxo

  2. First time commenting...just wanted to say I am so glad you are back!

  3. So happy you are back!

  4. I am so happy to read this. I've missed your updates, even though I am just another person from the Internet. Happy summer!

  5. Sorry for all the lows, that sounds like a stressful 6 weeks! I am so happy you're back, though! I missed you!

  6. Long time lurker, rare commenter, it's my birthday today and seeing your blog in my feed reader this morning felt like a great gift. I'm glad you're back!

  7. This post (and you being back) made my day!!

  8. Welcome back. If you have friends who won't listen to you about sunscreen et al have them Google Merkel Cell Carcinoma. That should convince them. Your kids look great, and happy.

  9. So happy that you are back! Seeing your post pop up in my blog feed this morning made my Monday.

  10. So sorry about James's dad but happy to hear all your other news. And I swear Maggie gets cuter every day!

  11. I am so happy you're back!

  12. You're back! So happy to read about your adventures again!

  13. YAY!!!! I did not realize how much I would miss the LL family!

  14. Yay! I'm glad you're back.

  15. I GRINNED FROM EAR TO EAR when I saw your post on my Bloglovin feed! Welcome back, we missed you so much, LL!

  16. Art room looks amazing! Happy to "see" you, friend. :)

  17. How busy you've been while you've been away!

  18. I just yelped when I saw you were back!! Yay! Now I can obsessively stop checking. Missed your updates!!

  19. Welcome back!! Life is such glorious chaos isn’t it?!

  20. So sorry to hear about the lows but also so pleased to see that you're back and as enjoyable a writer as ever.

  21. I just finished writing a brief and was about to head to bed (have to be up in 5 hours for a running date) but I popped over to Feedly and saw your blog post! what a thrill! It was wonderful to read. You've had a lot going on, and I appreciate your sharing it.

  22. Welcome back! I missed seeing you on my reading list. And Maggie's costumes are making me incredibly happy. She needs a calendar!

  23. Best. News. Ever.

  24. Reposting b/c I posted on the wrong one!!!! MISSED YOU and so excited you are back!!!

  25. I missed your blogging so much! I kept checking like is she back.

  26. I've read your blog for years and never comment but I'm so glad you're back. I find it so admirable how you are able to handle your life and family with a smile and gratitude.

  27. Long time reader yet never commentor-- and let me just echo all the other comments and say I'm so happy to see you writing again! Reading about your life and family has always been such a pleasure, because you tell your story with such a lovely mix of realness and sweet gratitude. Thanks for coming back to us! Clearly, your voice and story resonate so much with people who don't even know you.

  28. So happy you are back!!!

  29. Squealed when I saw your post! Welcome back!! The art room is absolutely delightful!

  30. What a fun surprise to see you back at it!! I'm happy for you that your break was rejuvenating and happy for me and my lunch breaks that it brought you back to writing!

  31. I was so happy to see you posted! I know you needed a break, but we are very thankful for the rapid fire updates. Also, I have those sunglasses and adore them! Cheers!

    1. What brand/style are the sunglasses? They're so cute

    2. They're Blenders! Super cute and affordable, I got mine for Christmas from a friend who had a 2/$50 special.

    3. Thank you! Just ordered- not for that good of a deal, but good enough!

  32. Seeing your post just made my day! I kept checking in hoping you come back...and re-reading some of your old posts made me miss your writing so much. Expecting/becoming a homeowner/renovating our new house prompted me to re-read all your early posts from many moons ago. Thanks for sharing your life, LagLiv!

  33. YAYYYY!!!! Welcome back! You were so missed and so cared for in your absence. Wishing you continued peace, and, I'll admit, continued blogging. :)

  34. Yay! So glad to see you back. You were so missed :)

  35. Welcome back! This sunny corner of the Interwebs missed you a lot. Also, the Maggie rain slicker story made my day. Pets are the best.

  36. I am so happy that you are back! I have really missed reading about your adventures with your adorable family. Life wasn't the same with out lagliv in it!

  37. I have nothing original to say other than I'm glad you're back. You look happy. I was excited when you popped up on my feed.

  38. So excited to have you back!