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!

Friday, July 14, 2017


How has it been a week? I thought last week was the longest week ever but I don't know what happened to this one. I know that I planned our next 3 vacations, got back on my exercise track, put myself on a no margaritas/no nachos diet, and pet Winston a lot.

As James noted mournfully from the couch last night, "do you remember when you used to sit and cuddle with me?"

"Do you remember that?"

"It was nice."

And I was almost like aw, do you miss me? But then Winston spotted the pack of incredibly handsome bulldogs living in the reflection on our skylights and he was so excited yet also maybe scared that I had to turn all my focus to him again. Poor James.

So, in short, and to no one's greater surprise than my own, I remain utterly besotted with this animal. Apparently I really did need that fourth baby.

The kids are just as bad. Earlier this week Landon randomly asked, "Mom, is Winston any other types of dog?"

"No," I replied, "he's all bulldog."

"So he's a purebred?! We can enter him in dog shows!! He'll win SO MUCH money!!!"

"Um, I'm not sure he's a show level specimen."

"Mom. He's amazing." [goes back to researching dog shows on his kindle]

But speaking of babies, my three human ones are doing fine, as is the neglected husband.

does not understand doors

The big kids had a new camp this week - Camp Thurman, which is like the be all end all of day camps. We'd never done it because it's expensive and far away and we didn't know anyone to carpool and no freaking way was I getting the kids to a location 30-minutes away 2x a day during working hours for a whole week, so no, sorry kids, please have fun at this awesome $99/week camp I found for you and am 92% sure is not a child labor camp in disguise.

But now they're home with James/Tara for most of the summer which is 75% cheaper than camp, so they got to pick three camps and the sky/DFW area was their limit. They picked Golf Camp, BRIT, and Camp Thurman. And now we have friends to carpool with!

And they have LOVED IT.

Zip lines- FOUR zip lines - tarzan swings, three pools, a lazy river, archery, water guns, sand pits, counselor skits, and I don't even know what else. After day 1 the big kids agreed it was the most fun thing they'd ever done except "maybe Utah and Jamaica and Mexico. Maybe." I mean, look at this. I want to go.

It's all outdoors with no inside space at all and it's been 100 degrees all week, so I thought I'd come home to exhausted children, but no, each day I've come home to children yelling and splashing in the pool because my kids' batteries go on FOREVER and nothing makes them tired.

Luckily they have Winston to be tired for them.

Speaking of tired- we hosted a swim meet last weekend at our local pool! It went on forever because there were too many times and we're not super good at hosting swim meets, but the kids had fun.

Cora continues to LOVE her 25 free and delights in getting her event number written on her arm just like the rest of the swimmers. And by "delights" I mean "takes very very seriously."

Landon and Claire did great and I did well once I remembered the pool was 25 meters and not 25 yards. I was fairly horrified by my 100 free time until someone told me that. (You'd think I'd know this about our home pool, but that was actually the first time I'd ever swum in it... I do not go to practice.).

After the meet we were all dying of heat stroke so we stopped at our taco place for margaritas and queso. It made sense at the time, but when I got home and fell into a semi-sleep semi-comatose state for an hour I realized that maybe tequila is not best for near heat stroke? Luckily James was around to parent our bizarrely NOT TIRED children. Then our friends came over to swim and then two of our kids went to their house to spend the night, so we just had Cora!

We capitalized on our cheaper potential food bill by going out for pizza, looking like rookies rolling up to the restaurant with just one 3-year-old in tow. "Table for 3" was weird, but also fast and cheaper. And when your +1 is a toddler who has perfect table manners and is VERY SERIOUS about her children's placemat coloring activities, you can talk about grown-up things like you're on a date! I love big kids, but it was crazy to chat about something without hearing "wait, what was that? what did you say? who are you talking about?" Cora's just like, don't talk to me, I'm coloring in all the tic tac toe boxes with a complex pattern of colors. I will speak to you when I'm through.

On Thursday, Landon had a 7:30 a.m. orthodontic appointment - I can't imagine James or I scheduling one for that time, but it did work out with the camp carpool though I had to shake Landon awake at 6:30 that morning. He got to pick new colors which was VERY exciting, but he also got a wire put in to connect to his back teeth, which was less so.

His birthday is tomorrow. He's turning 10. This time 10 years ago I was in triage at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago with my friend Jenny while James and her husband drove to our apartment to throw my camera and a few other random things in a bag for me. This is what happens when your water breaks 6 weeks early in a downtown restaurant. I can't believe that was a decade ago.

Tomorrow is our all day city championship swim meet. The boys swim in the morning, so James and Landon will be leaving at 6 a.m., making most of our birthday traditions impossible. The girls swim in the afternoon, so we won't all be home until early evening when we're heading to a friend's house for their backyard games party. A bunch of Landon's best friends will be there, so he's excited, but it means we really won't be home for a minute of his birthday.

So we made his birthday today instead. It started with surprise donuts spelling out his name (he was thrilled) to share with our camp carpool crew.

Then we inflated the ridiculous and regal castle pool float we bought for him to surprise him when he got home with all carpool buds in the afternoon.

Landon fell in love with this float when he saw it in a magazine THREE years ago. And though James and I literally laughed out loud at the idea of ever spending that much on a pool float, he continued to enthusiastically and optimistically describe it to everyone for years afterward. Never with any sense of expectation, just endless hope.

And so, since he didn't need or want anything else, he is now the 10-year-old king of his own castle.

I must admit, now that we own it, it's the float our pool always needed to have.

We pulled the kids out of the pool after only an hour, knowing they were exhausted from camp and we needed to quit while everything was still fun and no one was crying. Landon opened presents, we ate spaghetti, and all Lag Liv children were in bed by 8:10. James is asleep, I'm reminiscing about this time 10 years ago, and Winston is snoring loudly enough to keep me giggling through my nostalgia-fueled tears. Goodnight to all.