Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thirty-Two

I turned 32 yesterday. My first present was the snow day house arrest being lifted at 10 a.m. In my life before children, a third snow day would have been a wonderful birthday present, but not with 3 children on day 5 of not leaving the house.



I mean the kids were awesome- seriously awesome, but we all needed to go beyond our own driveway.


So on Wednesday, a reprieve was granted in the form of a delayed start that allowed me to sleep in with JP, leisurely blow dry and straighten my hair, and apply makeup for the first time since my makeover night. I was weirdly nervous about the whole thing. I'm still missing a few of my favorite items the makeup artist used (Sephora delivery expected tomorrow!) and my details of the night were rather fuzzy (other than lots of saying "awesome" and "my eyes look AMAZING!"), but I think it turned out okay.


I'm wearing foundation for the first time ever, so that was also rather exciting. And there was eyeliner. And bronzer. Multiple brushes were used. It was a big morning. And it didn't actually take very long, even with my frequent references to the note my friend sent me with the steps she remembered.

Work was crazy, a product of having been gone without notice on Monday and Tuesday, and though I thought the office would be pretty empty with people using the delayed start as a reason to work from home, everyone with children was there, and there early.

I had a quick lunch with my makeover friend where we recounted our weekend trips to Sephora in excruciating detail, and then worked like crazy to catch up on things. JP was coaching Landon at his swim class, so I picked up the girls and we headed tot my favorite frozen margarita restaurant that is also home to my favorite nachos.


The girls and I entertained ourselves before the boys arrived.


The food was fab and quick (I refused to cook on my bday night, but we're under a bit of a time crunch with a toddler who goes to sleep at 7:30) and then we came home to champagne, a wrapped box, homemade cards, and a tower of my favorite cookies ever. The infamous double doozie from Great American Cookie company.


Every birthday should involve a tower of cookies with icing sandwiched between more cookies.


I had restricted JP to only one gift since he went a bit overboard with the wedding band at Christmas, but I did want him to go to a store and select something from any one of the million categories of items I love. No hints, no lists, no help from me- just something he thought I would like. I manage it for him each year and he's way harder to shop for and it's fun to see what he picks.


And he did so great! He got me a coordinating set of things- things that match! that he purchased at two different places for the purpose of matching! things that are thoughtful and fun and practical in light of our upcoming beach vacation.


Enter my fabulous hat and very sexy bikini and I could not be more pleased. I wore the hat all night, though the bikini had to wait until a day when I didn't inhale a giant plate of nachos and four cookies. It was very sweet and nothing I already owned or had thought to buy, but will come in very handy when my skin is forced into proximity with the sand and sun in Jamaica.

And then after the kids went to bed I got to continue drinking champagne on the couch and while watching multiple frivolous shows on TV at the same time, which JP hates doing, but I love (the "last" button on the remote is my very favorite button), and it was all very wonderful.

Today was an even crazier day at work- so many cases with deadlines all at once, it was nearly firm-like in its intensity and stress levels, but un-firm-like in everyone's time out for my snow delayed birthday lunch at a restaurant with duck fat fries. And other food, but mostly the fries. And then the box of extra Great American Cookie Company birthday cake cookies that JP bought me to bring to work to share with my friends. He really gets me.

32 is going to be great.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Snow Day Retrofit Post

We're snowed in- the Fort got an inch or two last night, so the city is shut down until it goes away. I've used my bonus time to re-read every review of every picture of every eyeshadow ever made. It is embarrassing how much time I've looked at eyeshadow colors this weekend. The one my makeup artist used was discontinued, so it's all Nars' fault. I still haven't ordered anything, so I'm going to end up all eye-lined and lash-curled and under-colored. Any blue eyed girls out there? Make me pick something.



Snow/Ice Angels!


So, to take a break from squinting my eyes at tiny digital squares of Urban Decay and Make Up For Ever, I uploaded pictures and now we're going to relive the last week because for some reason, I didn't blog about it.


On Monday work was closed and school was not; this was a glorious day. I went to barre, watched the Food Network, went to yoga, started dinner, picked up the kids early, got them to swim practice early, and had a hot dinner waiting when they all go back. Being home when your kids are in school is a spectacular thing. Even more spectacular- dressing up and going on a early-birthday/belated-Valentine's fancy dinner date with your husband at the end of it!

I tossed my camera at our teenage sitter before we ran out the door. We need to stop posing in front of the air vent on the wall.


I bought this dress in black at TJ Maxx right after Cora was born and now it's too big but I love it so much I kept wearing it anyway, and then I found it in navy blue in my correct size just last week which never happens when you buy things at TJ Maxx, so I snatched it up immediately. I love the simplicity of the style, the thick knit jersey fabric, the way the high neck looks with jewelry, and the zipper down the back.


Dinner was fab- we went to Grace, my most favorite restaurant ever, and spent too much on food that was worth every freaking penny. Dessert was free, my multiple bosc pear martini cocktails were not; all was wonderful.


Also in the last week, Cora was adorable and loud and fast and adorable.


Landon started soccer practice, which he seemed to really enjoy, at a local park and Cora kept taking off in whatever direction she chose, completely uncaring if anyone went with her (no one did), if I was in sight (I was not), or if where she was headed was safe (a steep ditch, so no). I never saw Landon play for a single second, but I did get a lot of exercise running around in my work clothes.


matching is important

Claire also started soccer practice! Her first ever sport and she was so excited. I found her little leggings with an attached skirt on clearance at Old Navy, an "active" shirt on clearance at Target, pink shoes on clearance at Payless ($9!), and paired it all with Landon's old shin guards and socks (she now has pink socks because no one in this house likes to clash), and her new ball, AND her "soccer ball pony tails" (I can only get her to let me do her hair if I "name" the new 'do) and baby girl got AFTER IT.


She kicked the ball more in one practice than Landon has in multiple seasons. She's aggressive, fears no one, and has some innate athleticism. I probably hate after school activities more than anyone, particularly multiple kids doing multiple activities (we're not dropping swimming), but Claire is getting close to five and I didn't want her to think that sports are only a boy/brother thing. Because they're not, even if I didn't like most of them. And again, her personality is WAY more suited to contact sports than Landon's.

Cora is also suited to full contact sports and spent another hour living like a wild animal. Once again, she couldn't care less where I was while in the great outdoors, she climbed up and slid down slides 5x her size, and bit a child who got in her way. Next time I'm throwing her on the field.


She's teething and occasionally waking up at night with it, which I think she hates more than we do given how determinedly she keeps jumping out of my arms and back into her crib each time I pick her up. She really and truly does NOT want to be awake, but oh when I snuggle her on my shoulder and kiss her still fuzzy little head and she relaxes for just a minute before trying to get back into bed, she still feels so much like a baby that it makes my heart happy.


seriously always trying to climb into a crib

I love crazy, fast, busy Cora, but I'm really glad I can still see a bit of my foot-pj'd, soft-cheeked baby in there too. I can hear my baby waking from her nap, so here's a quick shot of what the big kids have apparently been doing while JP has working on swim school stuff and I've been shut in the TV room to stay away from the sugar cookies I made yesterday (I've had six, SIX, so far today and it must stop):


Making a table fort and doing all the puzzles we own. Perfect snowy day stuff, along with drinking all the tea and eating all the sugar cookies. JP took them sledding down a hill in our neighborhood earlier and I'm planning to move on to games and a peaceful making of dinner later. And then hoping the ice melts and we can all get back to school and work tomorrow!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Eyelining Commence!

There are several things I used to consider hallmarks for adulthood. Important grown-up stuff like "drink coffee" and "like wine." I'm 1 for 2 there (I've given up on coffee, it's just gross in all its forms, and I've accepted 85% of the Starbucks menu will always taunt me), and I've added: be able to do my hair; have a drawer with an appropriate number of properly fitting bras; have another drawer of lingerie that isn't entirely polyester and/or flammable; and wield an eyeliner pencil with confidence.


or an eyeliner brush; as it turns out, it's all about the brush

Some of those are still a work in progress (particularly hair; I have no idea how to do anything there except pile it on top of my head or flat iron the heck out of it), but I decided to tackle makeup and started googling local makeup artists one night a few weeks ago. I had a mission: I was GOING to learn how to do eyeliner (and the rest of my face) and it was happening before I turned 32. My birthday is next Wednesday, so this past Thursday night found me in my master bathroom with a friend, 3 bottles of wine, and my new makeup artist bestie who also happens to be the PTA president of Landon's school. Armed with lists and cameras and a can-do attitude, my fellow makeup challenged friend and I were DETERMINED to learn what I think we were supposed to learn in high school. Makeup. How to do it.


my new best friend/makeup expert

I warned my friends I was treating this like a slumber party, so I was in my favorite leggings (clearance Gap "cityscape" pattern that I adore), sports bra, black tee, and a headband at 8 p.m. when all the kids were in bed and my guests began to arrive. My jambox was on the tub ledge playing a surprisingly delightful Pandora station combo of Christina Perri and Taylor Swift. There was wine. JP was kicked out to the kitchen to work. It was awesome.

In my search for an expert, I stressed that I really wanted to LEARN how to do the makeup, not just have it done to me. I wanted a simple work look, but I also wanted tricks to up my game for a date night or other occasions. When I get dressed up to go out I always stare at my face in the mirror wishing I could do more with it. It would be nice to look different for a romantic evening than I do grilling witnesses on the record.


day look

And now, I can! Or at least my wine-soaked mind is pretty sure I can. I need to buy a few tools and then I'm spending tomorrow practicing. Probably with my friend back over in my bathroom while face-timing my new makeup expert. But I have the concepts. I know how to hold brushes. I know how few tools and makeup items you really need. It will be fun to add more, but my expert stressed simplicity. She pulled out stuff I already own that I can use better going forward. She made me a list to take to Ulta and/or Sephora. She made me do everything on the left side of my face by myself and then she made me do it again.


taking it up a notch for a night look


And oh my gosh it was so fun. My expert left about midnight. JP ran into our room too fast to properly appreciate my amazing new look and was asleep at 12:02. My friend came out to the kitchen where we accidentally chatted while staring deeply into each other's spectacular eyes until 1:30.

I seriously could not stop looking at my eyes. I'd be talking to both ladies and realize I hadn't broken eye contact with the mirror in tens of minutes. This would be embarrassing except my friend was doing it too. We both swam in college, are currently lawyers, and had never curled our eye lashes. We were like new women. New women who really didn't want to wash our makeup off and go to bed. I took these parting shots near 2 a.m. when my "what would it look like if you put liner under my eyes" REALLY taking it up a notch look was looking a little tired. Or maybe that's just my whole face.


Then I realized I didn't have any good eye makeup remover, a side-effect of not ever doing anything with my eyes, so I just smudged it around with some face washing and collapsed in a passed-out-ish manner on my bed. I dragged myself to barre in the morning which was exciting since I left my center of balance in my wine cup and then headed to work where I looked, if anything, even LESS good in the face than normal. But it's going to be a whole new ballgame on Monday. I just spent all the dollars at Ulta and Sephora in support of it.

It was seriously one of the most fun evenings I've ever spent. So much laughing and talking and making weird faces while trying to hold a brush still. I really did learn things-- SMUDGE!-- and I'm looking forward to re-learning them as I try to recreate it all going forward. I need to have grown-up non-slumber parties more often. Next year I'm tackling hair. I'm walking into 33 with a curling iron (or curlers? curling wand? I own none of these things) if it kills me.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sugar, all the flour, and some pink elephants.

I spent about 5 hours on Friday night baking all the things. It started with a plan for dark chocolate cake. I'm not sure I've ever had dark chocolate cake, but dark is the only kind of chocolate JP and I like and I thought it would make for a nice Valentine's present. So I turned to the google and read all the reviews and found a recipe that looked easy enough. Then, after much deliberation, I decided on a classic vanilla buttercream to frost it. Then, in between making the cake batter and the buttercream, I decided I should make cinnamon rolls for our Valentine's breakfast with the kiddos.

before the school parties on Friday

As always, I carefully set out all my ingredients and worked through the steps. Towards the end, post-kneading and pre-first-rise, I noted that the dough seemed a little denser and heavier than usual. And when I went to clean up I found the egg- an egg I thought was just a shell but was in fact a whole egg that I'd forgotten to add to the dough back at step 2 of many. So I cleaned the mixing bowl yet AGAIN and started over with batch #2. I used every single bit of flour we had in the house- to the point of turning over my giant hocking jar and shaking out every last speck and I was still maybe a little short. I left both batches to rise, curious to see how the absence of egg affected the dough, and yes--science experiment spoiler alert--it affected the rising of the dough.

no egg

one egg

So we went with the puffy dough and I rolled it out and covered it in butter and cinnamon and sugar and rolled it up and sliced it and crammed all the circles into my baking pans.


action shot!


And at 10:42 p.m., we had two pans of cinnamon rolls post-2nd-rise and pre-bake/pre-icing and I hadn't sat down in 5.5 hours.


Between dough rises I had also iced and "decorated" my dark chocolate cake. Then I ate a piece because I was starving and washing dishes and kneading bread dough feels like it burns more calories than barre.


My piece was smaller than pictured; JP got to it before I found my camera. He said it was "ridiculous" and I must admit, it was pretty darn good.

I set the table for the kiddos to find on Valentine's morning as I always do. This year's version involved some Target placemats I picked up last year, paper plates with hearts, real champagne classes for faux mimosas, and a little treat for each kid. We keep it simple, but I remember coming downstairs to a fancy breakfast set up each morning in my childhood and it's such a happy tradition. My dad would always leave my sister and I a flower in a little vase (he left for work before we woke up), candy for my brother, and cards for all three of us, and then my mom served breakfast on our "nice" dishes with wine glasses for orange juice. We loved it.


This year since V-Day was on a Saturday, I slept in a bit while JP was at practice and Cora was entertained by her big sibs. I dragged myself out of bed to get started on breakfast and found a surprise for JP and me in the middle of the table! The kids had gotten up and added the cards they made at school and a few of their most thematic stuffed animals (on loan only). It was very sweet.

L's card for us

And they even added a little bear to Cora's place since she didn't have a card. I got to make a real breakfast of pink pancakes, eggs, turkey sausage, fresh fruit, and the cinnamon rolls and Cora was an enthusiastic sous chef and eater of pancakes (and wearer of sparkly hearts).


I got to go to hot yoga and then we spent a romantic evening at the local YMCA for Landon's 6 p.m. basketball game. His team lost by less than 20 points which is a victory this season and we picked up our favorite pick-up pizza on the way home and paired it with milk in champagne glasses for the kids and disproportionately expensive champagne for the adults. And cake. Lots of cake. It was actually pretty perfect.

Yesterday involved a friend's son's first birthday and Cora was a party ANIMAL and we ended up a subject of discussion because we allowed her to wander freely around the fenced grounds of our friend's backyard, filled with people we know who are also looking after young children, for many minutes, at times more than 10 yards away from us. She was having a marvelous time running around with strangers and we didn't see any reason to interrupt.


But we ended up with a concerned grandma marching over and following the poor, maniacally smiling, lost baby around, grabbing Cora's hand and trying to walk her back our way, even after I waved in her direction and attempted to convey while waving my champagne glass that, "don't worry, we got this," and then she frowned at me and continued trying to herd Cora back towards us and then followed when Cora determinedly walked the other way (all still within our line of site). Later, JP heard someone else talking about her/us inside. Helicopter parenting, we're not doing it right.


judgment in yellow shoes

In other highlights, Cora climbed in a cozy coupe and honked the horn and Landon broke off from his friends and ran over to push her around in it. Someone asked how we got him to do things like that and we were like, we can take no credit, that's just him; our goal is just not to mess it up. I looked over again and found him pushing Claire too, which was a perfect LagLiv children moment, though we did make her get off the roof after snapping the pic (priorities).


It was all really fun and I got to put everyone in new clothes (except JP; he likes to wear the same shirt until it falls apart or "goes missing"), including a new elephant shirt I just picked up at Ross for $7.99 (and my magic jeans!). Because what's more festive than a hot pink elephant?


I got three compliments on it, two from women with diamonds and designer clothes that definitely all cost more than my car. Both of our cars. Everyone loves an elephant.

Today is President's Day and a federal holiday, but not a school one, so I'm celebrating with blogging, barre and yoga in the same day, daytime HGTV viewing, and getting L & C to swim practice on time at 4:45 (this never happens, but luckily, I know the coach). And then after all that I get to enjoy a super fancy birthday/Valentine's date night with JP tonight at our favorite restaurant! A most excellent day it is going to be!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Many Things (and Buttercream)

It's been many days, so we're taking this in bullet-like paragraphs:

Cora is 15 months old today. I will not rehash my love/hate relationship with the passage of time (short form: she appears to no longer be a baby and this makes me cry), but holy crap do I love this toddler-baby. She is EXUBERANTLY everything. Loud, fast, hungry, joyful, smiley, sleepy- she is all the things at 125% and I want to squeeze her 130% of the time.





(Note: Those are all happy faces. Exuberantly happy, even.)

Landon lost his 3rd tooth! The first one he pulled all by himself, this time while at school when we didn't even know it was that wiggly! I'm glad I didn't have to pay the $40 dental extraction charge and even more glad I didn't have anything to do with the pulling because wiggly teeth freak me out in a way that nothing else involving blood or the human body does.


He was very excited, and JP and I were very excited when we remembered to be the tooth fairy at 11:30 p.m. when we were climbing in bed. We were less excited when he attempted to burst into our locked room 20 minutes before he was supposed to be awake the next morning to let us know the tooth fairy left him a $2 bill.

Landon also typed his first report (about an animal, of course) on the computer at school this week, and then illustrated it for fun, because he's Landon and his love of illustration is topped only by his love of animals. "Mom, did you know all the letters are NOT in the right order on some computers?!"


He also wrote out his Valentines on Tuesday, the very night he brought home his class list. Without any involvement from me, he carefully wrote out each friend's name on a Valentine specially chosen for them (all wild animal themed, obvs), along with an individual note like "Dear Iris, you are a really fast runner!" or a carefully colored heart if he didn't know them well enough to comment on their running prowess (or reading, or whatever, I now regret that I didn't read them all because the ones I saw while chopping onions were adorable). Then a lollipop flavor was painstakenly selected (Mom, Iris does not like red flavor) and taped to the wild animal Valentine. He really is an extraordinarily sweet little boy.


(Who also runs really fast.)

Claire is going to play soccer this spring (blergh, after school activities) and picked out her pink soccer ball and hot pink soccer shoes and she is SO EXCITED to play soccer, though I think she has very little understanding of what that means. She does know that her soccer ball does NOT bounce very high and points this out to anyone who steps inside our house. Claire's team is called the Fighting Bees, which makes me inexplicably happy, and Cora has a coordinating soccer-themed headband to wear to games.


I have a new favorite wine: petite sirah. It is delicious and drinks like you can chew it. (Note: probably not how a sommelier would describe it.)


I read a lot of articles, but rarely link to them. Two of my faves from this week are:

(1) This article in Cosmo, which the Fug Girls pointed out to me, as I have not read Cosmo since college, is glorious: I Tried All the Sex in 50 Shades of Grey in 1 Weekend. It's funny and witty enough to make me think I should start reading Cosmo again.

... at this point, he's a shell of the man he once was. His hips are thrusting but there's no light behind his eyes. We give up two minutes in and high-five, pleased to have made it that far.

And (2) this one from National Geographic, via Longform.org: Why Do So Many Reasonable People Doubt Science. It's really good. As is science.

Maybe—except that evolution actually happened. Biology is incomprehensible without it. There aren’t really two sides to all these issues. Climate change is happening. Vaccines really do save lives. Being right does matter—and the science tribe has a long track record of getting things right in the end. Modern society is built on things it got right.

I'm also re-reading the In Death series which I find ridiculously enjoyable. It's like the Babysitter's Club for adults who like House: predictable story arc with slow character growth from book to book, but somehow thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end. A new one just came out on Tuesday and I'm waiting impatiently for my digital library to stock it.

I went to lunch with some coworkers today and ran into two people I know at the restaurant, and then JP walked in partway through our meal. I love living in my small town. It made me smile all afternoon for having seen him for the last 15 minutes of my lunch.

I am baking a dark chocolate cake for Valentine's Day. JP is supplying the champagne. I can't decide if I should frost my cake with classic white buttercream or try a new recipe for dark chocolate buttercream. This will be the most important decision of my Saturday.

It's 11:25 p.m. and JP and I are clearly failing at our nightly plan of "let's go to bed early tomorrow." So, until tomorrow, here's Cora dominating at the nightly wrestling match:


Girl plays to win.