Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sir Winston Churchill II

You guys, I've become a person who is obsessed with her dog.

I go to work and I miss him all day.

I call James to ask how he's doing.

My new phone has 200 pictures of Winston, 15 videos (of Winston), and an old family photo I downloaded to make as my background but then used a Winston picture instead.

I just feel like now that we don't have a baby in the house (sob, though perhaps an ever so slightly less forceful sob now that I have this bulldog baby) I have so much more love and patience and energy to GIVE a dog. I do so little day-to-day hands-on care for the kids- they put away laundry, get dressed, groom, eat, shoe, and generally handle their shit, that brushing a dog doesn't sound like such a burden. Plus, he hangs out with me while I cook when the kids are too busy playing independently and generally taking care of themselves. It's nice to have a buddy.

The kids adore him just as much.

Landon tells me multiple times a day that "Mom, Winston loves me best." Whenever I need Winston to come to me for something, Landon pops up, "don't worry mom, he'll follow me to you."

And it's pretty true.

He seems to love all his humans.

Especially that tiny one. I feel Winston appreciates a good bow game.

And a hug.

He's like a teddy bear cow dog.

One who really liked watching Moana with the kids.

It's bizarre having a dog that is so low energy. Tex was as chill of a lab as I've ever seen, but if you said "walk" or if he heard his leash he could not CONTAIN his joy and excitement. On Monday night I asked Winston if he wanted to go on a walk.

He did not.

Cora comforted him after my unreasonable suggestion.

We carefully monitor his outside time. He's obsessed with his tennis balls and plays soccer with them between his feet. With the summer heat so high between 10 am and 8 pm he can really only do that for about 5 minutes before he needs to take a break inside. He disagrees with this and makes us chase him. Luckily he's not SUPER nimble and you can catch him and try to convince him to walk inside.

He does not acknowledge any English words, commands, or even his own name. He looks at you like, "your mouth appears to be moving... what are these nonsense sounds you're making? OOOH TENNIS BALL!" Moving from room to room, getting up to go for a walk, eating his dinner, doing much of anything- these are things he decides to do, and only occasionally in conjunction with your repeated commands, cajoling, and efforts to mime the action.

I love him so much.

Last night James and I were watching TV and Winston was playing with his tennis ball when it rolled under the TV stand. He ran (waddled?) after it, lay down, and stretched his giant head towards his ball. Five seconds later his breathing changed. Panicked that something was wrong with him, I jumped up and ran over to find my dog FAST ASLEEP- his tongue mere inches from his ball.

About twenty minutes later, he woke up, and appeared delighted to see his ball right in front of him.

Oh Winston.

We're getting into a groove of (very!) short, but regular walks (we've had two accidents in the house, so we're working to remind him that he is potty trained and the outdoors is his toilet), skin fold, ear, and foot cleaning, brushing, regular administrations of benadryl (he is allergic to grass/Texas/summer), and lots of water refills.

I promise to talk about my children and all our lives again soon. In fact, James had to unexpectedly cancel all his lessons yesterday when his pool was closed for maintenance. This sucked for him, but was awesome for us because we got to go out to an exciting and rare mid-week happy hour dinner! The kids all donned their finest accessories and hair dos.

Dinner was great (and the margaritas were better), though Cora did not understand that we ordered the guacamole for the table and took personal offense at anyone who tried to dip a chip into "her" bowl.

But back to Winston.

He FaceTimed with my parents tonight so they could meet him and the conversation completely wore him out.

When we finally got him awake to go potty outside before us going to bed, he sat up with his tongue still stuck in the same position. It took him a few seconds to unstick it.

I have filled carts on no fewer than 4 times since Sunday. Winston now has all the things except a much-needed bow tie and a tuxedo t-shirt. His girth is so magnificent he needs to get fitted for those things in person. I tried to measure his neck last night and the measurement exceeded the 3XL option, so I'm pretty sure I'm doing it wrong. Though he does have a regal neckline.

He's just kind of the star right now. We will return to regular programming, including my crazy work week, Claire's TERRIBLY belated birthday letter, my recent lack of interest in exercise, delicious new recipes, the awesome rashguard set I just got from Cabana Life (use discount code LLSPF for 20% off!), and how happy/sad I am that Orphan Black is back for its final season, shortly. But first, bedtime. Or as Winston seems to think of it, what you should do every hour or so.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Swim Meets, Father's Day, and a NEW BABY

Let's not bury the lede here, we became a family of 6 today.

Sir Winston Churchill has joined our family from the Lone Star Bulldog Club Rescue organization. He is approximately 4 years old, weighs a stocky 65 lbs, and has a tongue that won't quit.

James surprised me by submitting an application to adopt from the bulldog rescue group about 4 weeks ago, on what turned out to be the 1-year anniversary of Tex's passing. We had just put the kids to sleep that night when he said, "hey, I have a surprise for you, we have a call in 10 minutes to be interviewed to maybe adopt a bulldog."


He knew I was ready to add another animal to our family whenever he was, but I thought he might not be ready until our kids left our house. But on what he says was an impulse he researched lazy dog breeds- in his paraphrased words, "we're active people who are super lazy at home... I want a dog that doesn't make me feel guilty when I work out in a gym and not by taking it on long walks every day." So true.

1 block walking

So we had our call, learned a lot about bulldogs, explained our wants and limitations, waited for our home visit, added rocks to block a gap we'd never noticed under our fence, waited for another home visit, and then we were approved! Winston Churchill popped up on the website somewhere in the middle of this process and James emailed our liaison at nearly midnight when we saw him. He was an owner surrender by a college student who was going up north for medical school and didn't think she could keep taking care of him. He does not have a sad story and has been loved every day of his clearly happy life.

We had a "meet and greet" last night after the swim meet. It went well, though he was a little aggressively affectionate with Cora. Not actually aggressive, he just REALLY wanted to love on her and since he weighs double what she does, she did "not like that Mom." But we all think he'll chill out once the kids are an everyday thing instead of an exciting novelty.

Speaking of the swim meet- because we have to - it was also on Saturday and it was awesome.

We all wore our new team t-shirts, matching as only the coolest of families do.

Cora donned a swim cap for warm-up and I got a million pictures because Cora in a swim cap is my new favorite Cora.

"No mama, I like it like this, 'kay?"

her poor adorable ears

She LOVES her "sweeming."

James remains the only person she acknowledges as coach and I love the two of them together SO much.

Tiny swimmer, big pool.

Cora's 25 free was amazing. She wasn't intimidated the by the big pool or giant blocks and spent the minutes leading up to her heat dancing for the crowd.

She managed to add time from last week, mostly because she started her race with a front flip over the wall and took a little while to figure out what she was supposed to be doing once she came back to the surface. Then she discovered lane ropes and thought those were fun to hang on, but once James coaxed her away from the rope, she found her focus, and her 1:45 second swim ended in the biggest round of applause of the night.

Love her. Even if her method of entry almost made me drop my phone.

My new suit came in the mail the day after my last swim meet, so I finally looked like a coordinated member of the team.

Lag Liv Family Swimmers!

My plan of just showing up for meets and not swimming in between is working out well so far. I dropped time in all my events, and though I had to swim next to James in the 100 free (ugh) and he beat me by 16 seconds (UGH), I still got second- beating all the men and feeling quite speedy indeed (even though I STILL didn't break a minute- 1:01.00. Next time, I can feel it.).

In my long break between 100 free and 100 IM I snuck some old school swim meet nachos in the stands with Cora. Mr. I-packed-us-all-almonds-for-snacks didn't need to know.

It was an afternoon meet, which is weird, and in Southlake 45 minutes away, so it made for a long day. Particularly since we went to visit Winston on the far side of Dallas afterward.

We got home at 9:30 and everyone was exhausted. The kids let us sleep in until 9, which was amazing, and then even more amazing- we realized the TV wasn't on when we woke up! The kids had slept in past 8 and then used their time to surprise make James Father's Day cards since we didn't have time to properly prepare on Saturday.

They were adorable.

And 3-dimensional!

We went on a short walk/bike ride/shoulder ride, tested out some new exercise equipment at our park, and then explored a river bed at the insistence of Landon.

Father's Day Adventuring

Then we just lazed about the house debating whether or not we should really get a dog.

It felt like when we used to debate having a third baby. We could think of so many reasons not to and yet we wanted one anyway. Finally we just pulled the trigger and texted the foster mom, made our kids very happy, and piled everyone in the car for another hour+ drive past Dallas.

And came home with this fine fellow.

And now here we are, a family of six once again. Winston is snoring up a storm in his crate in the living room. He was in the TV room but he breathes so loud we couldn't hear our movie over his noises and I think the violent stylings of John Wick II weren't exactly soothing to him in his new environment. We're looking forward to getting to know the little/big man and to start using all the bulldog care accessories I ordered on Amazon on my way home from Dallas. I look forward to sharing his antics and the stories of cleaning his nose folds with you all for years to come!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Golf and Grandma's Blankies

Thanks all for your sweet messages after the last post. It was a big weekend. Flush with victory and pride, I took the week off from swimming and went back to my yoga mat, barre, and treadmill, but I'll be back in the pool tomorrow for meet #2. I'm just going to keep showing up for meets and see how it goes. Maybe next summer I'll graduate to going to a practice or two. ... Or the summer after that.

This week we were back to summer camps and craziness. Monday morning was a shit show, and I did not expect Monday evening after 7.5-hours of all-day-in-the-sun golf camp to go any better. I texted Tara saying "it's okay if the kids just watch a show. don't make eye contact. just turn on the TV when they walk in" but when I walked in the door after work I found three cheerful children diligently working at the kitchen table, no TV or screaming in sight! Cora was working on "her letters" and Landon and Claire were working very hard on a 60-page golf rules book they had to complete before moving up to the next level at camp.

Tara said they were very calm and chill and very focused on golf. All the golf. All the golf all the time. When they saw me, I cringed a little, remembering that I *might* have yelled "I hope you get burned!" at Landon after he collapsed bonelessly to the ground in the kitchen and refused to put on sunscreen when I suggested it in the morning, but they were all smiles- giant megawatt smiles- followed by cries of "Mom! Golf camp is the best camp EVER!"

I got to hear all about the long drive contests, the putting contests, the rules of golf ("there's ETIQUETTE mom. do you know what etiquette is? it's how you know how to behave."), all the golf clubs and their names... and other golfy things I might have glazed over a bit. We called my dad so they could talk golf with someone who properly appreciated it. When Landon got to a question in his booklet that read, "where can you find out more information about golf rules?" he answered, "my Papa."

Darn right. I may not have the tiniest iota of interest in the sport (sorry dad), but I can still be super proud of how good he is at it. He's also the reason why when Landon was talking about his "scrabble" and his ball always got chosen, I knew the right word was Scramble. I was super proud of that surprise hit of knowledge as well.

And despite two additional swim practices, more days of hot sun, and four more mornings of casual suggestions they put on sunscreen, their love of golf camp did not diminish. This might also be because our friend who picked them up each day could always be talked into a Sonic run on the way home.

For those in areas where it's available, I really cannot recommend the First Tee program more highly. The camp ran 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and cost $90 per kid. And you got a set of kids' clubs with a bag to keep so you could practice after camp is over. They learned SO much and loved every minute. They've requested another week and though they could stay home with James for free, we might add one in July as a present for them.

The rest of us muddled through the week without golf. I had another day of testimony and lots of other work. Cora went to preschool where I learned her "ballet" class has switched to "hip hop cheer" for the summer. Her recital in August is going to be amazing. Her outfit involves sequined shorts and a tank top with a bow on it. It feels very dance mom.

I ran a lot of errands including upgrading my phone today, the very first day I was eligible to do so. Apparently dropping your phone on concrete lots of times doesn't make it like you or want to listen to you when you tell it to do things. My new phone is very obedient. And shiny. And with so much storage I can download ALL the apps I ever wanted. Which is like two, but it was annoying that I could never put anything on my old one.

Also today, my grandparents and cousin arrived on their way to Wisconsin!

Chez Lag Liv is a way point on the big migration up north for summer and we LOVE getting to see them. This year my 18-year-old cousin is accompanying them and assisting with the driving, so we got to see him too! The kids love a (second) cousin.

And my grandma knit each kid a new blanket in special colors she picked out just for them. It all started last summer when Landon saw her knitting a blanket in a multi-color pattern and he asked if he could have one like it (because Landon loves all things cozy and/or homemade). She got right to work and made one for each of the girls too.

They love them.

Cora immediately made a bed with her other "Grandma-blankies."

And Claire brought out her very precious Grandma blankie that my grandma made and brought to her when she was born.

2010 throwback

She still sleeps with the original one every night- badly discolored and always smelling a little questionable (washing on gentle can only do so much), but hanging in there and MUCH beloved. It even went with her two weekends ago for her first ever sleepover.

They'll be on their way bright and early tomorrow morning, but I love and treasure each and every stolen minute I get to spend with them. I wish we were going to Wisconsin again to see them this summer too!

And finally, before I put myself to bed to prepare for my big races tomorrow, I made some delicious recipes this week:

Monday: Meatball sub, oven roasted potato wedges, steamed green beans. Handmade the meatballs, but next time it's a weekday dinner instead of a weekend extravaganza, we're going frozen because that took way too long.

Tuesday: Turkey Sausage and Veggie Sheet Pan Dinner. Served over angel hair pasta with herbs (from a box; two of them, to be exact). Loved this very much. Made it with tons of broccoli, cauliflower, and red potatoes spread over two sheet pans. Super quick, everyone loved it, will definitely make again.

Wednesday: Mexican Sweet Potato Hash, with a fried egg and sliced avocado on top. SO GOOD. I loved this. Black beans and sweet potatoes are one of my favorite flavor combos (and two of my favorite ingredients). Next time I think I'll roast the potatoes separately and then toss them with the beans, shallows, and spinach. It's probably my lack of proper cooking technique, but I found they got a little mushy in the pan. I did a mix of half Russet and half sweet because James and Landon think they don't love sweet potatoes (poor confused souls) and it was great.

Thursday: Costco mahi mahi frozen filets, rice pilaf, roasted carrots. Super healthy and solidly good, but Tuesday and Wednesday's dinners were so much better.

Friday: My grandparents are here, so we went traditional: slow cooker meaty spaghetti sauce, whole wheat spaghetti noodles, salad with mango (a TJ's bag salad that was super good), garlic bread, and ice cream sandwiches. Really liked the spaghetti sauce, especially the part where you made it early in the day and just let it simmer. I still don't think I've ever found my gold standard pasta sauce (I'm not even sure what it would be), but I'll definitely make this one again.