Sunday, February 26, 2017

35! No wait, 34!

I turned 35 yesterday! It started out with a freezing cold soccer game on a windy field with a REALLY pissed off toddler and ended...


Ohmygosh you guys. I titled this "35!" like 20 minutes ago and then got distracted by watching Trolls with the kids (it's not really that good and yet it's oddly hypnotic... so bright! so cheerful! then so... occasionally cannibalistic and dark) and I wrote that first sentence and decided to check my math and no, I'm not 35! I'm 34!! You know, most people don't round up to lie about their birthdays. At least not after they turn 21.

So let's try this again:

I turned 34 yesterday! It did in fact start with a freezing cold soccer game on a windy field with a really pissed off toddler and ended much worse, but we'll get to that. First it actually started out with a whole bunch of fun the night before. One of our great school family friends has a birthday 4 days before mine in the same year as mine-- we were born 4 days apart in 1983! Obviously, this kind of coincidence required margaritas and a party and so margaritas and a party we had! Though first it took me like 45 minutes to pick out an outfit. I'm good with work clothes and I'm good with barre clothes (rainbow mermaid pants forever), but I feel like I'm terrible at casual clothing. Layering is beyond me. I literally have to put ensembles together on the bed so I can judge them from various angles. I went with this mixture, plus skinny jeans, and tall brown boots. I don't know. I ran out of time to agonize any more.

But, after the gauntlet of dressing, I had so much fun and even got a present! It's so rare at my advanced age to open a present you don't already know the contents of. Or at least the cost and store of origination because you and your husband only have one credit card and you obsessively check the balance all the time. But a covered wine glass with a straw and a reminder of all the times everyone is coming to our pool this summer? As the cup says, yay!

We started at Tortaco and if you're a Fort Worthian, I highly recommend it. Free valet in a crazy part of town, incredibly reasonable prices ($6 tortas with delicious and creative fillings! James had 3, but a normal person would just need 1), lots of space, and not too loud.

After dinner, we headed to Barcadia. We aren't cool enough to ever go out after dinner, so this was a new place for us too. So fun! Skee ball, giant jenga, air hockey, and lots of old arcade games- all 25 cents. Of the six of us, five were college athletes, so we have some VERY competitive people in the group. Good thing I'm not one of them, because I'm mediocre at skee ball and scored on myself twice in air hockey. I've never played an arcade game, so I just focused on my margarita and the french fries I ordered for dessert.

James gave me a glimpse into the James he was before I met. That James was... very focused on the video screen.

We got home at 11 when the DJ started gearing up and we were losing our voices yelling over the music. Tara was very 50% impressed with our stamina and 50% ready to send out a search party. We usually get home from date nights precisely 10 minutes after the kids are in bed at 8 and we have to waste time at Stir Crazy just to wait that long.

So that was super fun. Saturday started, as described twice now, with Claire's first soccer game! It was 35 degrees, super windy, and 9:00 in the morning after multiple margaritas, but there we were- ready to conquer the field!

Or at least Claire was. Cora was just pissed we'd dare to bring her out in the cold again so soon after her skication debacle and then refuse to read her princess stories the whole hour.

Claire really did great- she's surprisingly aggressive and her kicks went where they needed to go like 90% of the time! Honestly, I think she was as surprised as we were! Also a surprise- I managed to get all her super fine baby blonde hair to stay out of her eyes the whole time! I may not be able to braid like Tara, but I can use a bunch of rubber bands!

It was a fun, if chilly hour. I was thankful for my free birthday Starbucks and Cora finally rallied thanks to our friend reading to both toddlers in one tiny chair (why the tiny chair? I have no idea, ask the toddlers). Go Claire!

The day continued with errands and another kid's birthday party. Birthdays on the weekends area pretty mundane thing. We all came back together to go out to my traditional birthday spot- giant nachos and the city's best margaritas at Yucatan Taco Stand. I almost didn't go since we'd just had Tortaco the night before, but what do you know, the Pavlovian response kicked in just as the kids put my gift on the table and got our my birthday cards (they arrived during the week, but I wasn't allowed to open them until my actual birthday) and headed out for more Mexican after all. I mean, who can say no to this?

No one. Except the boys, who didn't have nachos or margaritas. They're cute though.

Once back at home the double doozie cookie tower was assembled (TRADITION!), the happy birthday candle animals were gathered, songs were sung, cards were opened, and birthday gifts were unveiled.

uncertain if I'm up to the task of the cookie tower

But first, the wrapping paper:

I do love that Claire decided my real name needed to go on it and then failed to give Cora any credit at all. Oddly, Landon left Cora off too. Maybe because this was Cora during the soccer game? Maybe.

I was very excited about doing a little shopping this month after our credit card diet (I had a shorts victory at Target! More on that later), so I told James to keep it small and only buy things I didn't know I really needed. And he did exactly that! After 4 years of searching for an exercise headband that will stay on my narrow oval shaped head (I wore a juniors size helmet when we were skiing) I have found one! And he picked out three new ones for me, and crazy enough, TWO were the exact ones I had saved in my shopping cart on my laptop. He really didn't know that and it just shows how well he knows me and my love for the brightest, loudest exercise gear.

He also got me new oven mitts, as modeled above. I know that sounds terribly boring and married, but you guys, it was the most thoughtful thing. I have been burning the shit out of my hands for 6 months with our broken mitt that I always forget is broken until I go to take out a 425 degree roasting pan from the oven. And then I go to Target 1,000 times and shop online always and NEVER remember the broken mitt until I burn my f-ing hand again. So now I have mitts! Two of them even! And I think they're industrial strength and possibly certified to touch the surface of the sun.

The kids went to bed and I had more champagne and it was a thoroughly excellent birthday. Until, just before midnight, and juuuust as I was getting into bed, I heard a wail from the girl's room. I tip-toed in, hoping to soothe a simple bad dream when the rank smell of vomit knocked me back several paces. I whipped on the light and uncovered horrors. Puke everywhere- all over Cora, her bed, her pillow, her blankie, her stuffed loon, her baby that sleeps in the little bed two feet over from her bed... the walls, the floor, the toddler bed bars... just everything. I called James for back-up and thirty minutes later, we had everything cleaned up, including Cora, and I got back in bed again. And so my birthday ended.

I feel like this is related

Today dawned with a free birthday spin class with mimosas after (love "Sunday Brunch" at CycleBar), a nice way to ease back into reality, and stops at Target and Costco. Friends stopped by to play and go on a walk, James and Claire are practicing soccer in the front yard, Landon is practicing head stands, and Cora is in a floor length Princess Belle gown prancing about in the bushes. I'm probably going to pour myself a final glass of "birthday" champagne because it's almost 5:00 and it's still my birthday weekend and the horrors of Cora's bed last night have yet to be scoured from my seared corneas. Oh! I also updated my blog! It's still a work in progress, but I like the clean updated design and I'm a sucker for dots and confetti. I mean, this is the champagne glass I was drinking out of when I purchased the design- coincidence? I think not. Have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

To PapaGigi's House We Go (and Food, of course)

Thank you for all the fun styling comments on the last post! After sleeping on it and letting the excitement of opening a box full of clothes died down, and I tried everything on in my un-lockable office for my coworker friend, I decided to send it all back. The dress ended up being my favorite piece, but since it's a shirt dress, the hemline goes up on the sides and it was SO short. I definitely couldn't wear it to work and I didn't know how often I'd wear a cute white dress on the weekends. The decision was easier thanks to the $78 price point- not unreasonable by any means, it was a well-made, fully lined dress, but the one I was wearing was also lined at $6 at Last Chance Dillard's, so, sadly, no. But after talking to Stitch Fix customer service I'm trying one more time. I really do want some cute summer separates and my two favorite summer tops in my whole closet were from them last year. Also, it's fun to try on clothes and have people judge them. This is why I always want friends to go shopping with me- now we get to do it virtually instead! The only downside is we can't all drink margaritas together afterward.

But moving on! By going backwards! This past Saturday we headed to my parents' new lake house for an early birthday celebration for me! By 8 a.m. we had two suitcases packed, three kids' kindles charged, and all the children fed when suddenly, Cora's eyes got huge and she threw up all the milk she'd just drunk, all over the floor. Having never thrown up before, she was shocked at what her body had just down and immediately cried out, "I tooted!"

"No, you threw up!" Landon corrected. "I tooted UP?!" Cora replied, delighted by this new phrase. Then she realized she'd gotten a bit of toot-up on her new "mingo dress," a flamingo dress of Claire's (one Claire wore when she was 5 and that fits Cora beautifully at barely 3; Cora is so tall you guys) that she was SO EXCITED to wear to Papa and Gigi's house and she started to cry. Surprising liquids shooting out of your mouth with force? Totally rolls with it. Little bit of liquid on her new dress? Devastation.

So we put on another old Claire dress (Cora may never wear her tutus again, which breaks my heart a bit) and off we went, armed with trash bags, antibacterial gel, a full roll of paper towels, and our last package of wipes leftover from all those Honest Company diaper orders. Lake Houston Or Bust was our motto and since 4/5 of our little family wasn't throwing up, we decided to to stick to our plan. Also we were going to celebrate my birthday and I REALLY WANTED the dark chocolate Hostess cupcakes my mom ordered from a local bakery and the fancy brunch we were eating on Sunday and what I was sure was going to be a late night bargain shopping trip with my mom. I was willing to clean up puke in the car for these things to happen. Let the festivities begin!

And they did! And Cora never even threw up again! It was July in February! Everyone was winning.

Especially me because I got to wear my new $3 dress and drink margaritas and then eat two dark chocolate ganache topped white buttercream filled gourmet Hostess cupcakes. I had some fajitas in between.

My youngest cousin's birthday is 3 days before mine. He's turning 18. I'm turning 34. Way to make me feel old coz. Though he did point out in our texts today that we're the oldest and youngest of the Nordin grandchildren- the bookends- starting and ending with the best.

His mother is my Aunty Mary, so this will be his first birthday without her. As I was filled with a rosy glow all day Friday knowing I was going home to celebrate my birthday, looking forward to my favorite foods and sneaking in some of our beloved mother-daughter shutting-Ross-down bargain shopping, it made me so sad to think of his birthday without his mom. He's too young to be robbed of so many.

I'm glad they were able to be there.

We went on a boat ride, and my parents new/old pontoon boat that I fondly dubbed Bob. Bob is a sturdy vessel, perfect for navigating the occasional 1-foot deep waters of Lake Houston. We got stuck on sand bars twice when we were there in January for the funeral and the kids were SO disappointed Houston had gotten just enough rain in the past month to keep us from getting stuck again this time.

Claire kept asking if pretty please we could go back and try to get stuck again. Upon our boringly safe return, there was much swimming. But before there was swimming there was a sobbing Cora who was appalled that her mother would pack her a two-piece swim suit that "doesn't fit! It doesn't fit!" as she yanked the (very long and modest) tankini top down to try to make it touch the bathing suit bottoms. She FINALLY got over it, though I'm sure I have not been forgiven, and she decided to go for a swim in the hot tub with the rest of her crew.

After a lot of eating and my total domination at corn hole (a bean bag toss game I'm usually not awesome at, but I scored more points than James, my dad, or my mom on Saturday and it was a highlight of my life), and just after the sun set and my dad pulled out the Jiffy Pop for the kids to pop over the fire, I turned to my probably tired mom and asked, "want to go shopping?"

And oh did we ever. TJ Maxx has decided you can try on as many items as you want at a time, so I tried on 36. My mom made me try on a ridiculous white crocheted short + tank combo that did not make the final cut, but I did spent all my birthday money on some beautiful and long-desired tunic tops that actually look good on me, some super cute workout tops, and a fabulous maxi dress. My mom found many treasures as well. We laughed at many an inside joke and thoroughly enjoyed shutting TJ Maxx down.

Sunday morning dawned cool and wet, so the kids got their energy out in my parents' sun room/exercise room downstairs. Landon did 4 miles on the elliptical and now desperately wants one for our own house. Claire perfected her pushups and Cora worked to beat Landon's distance. I drank mimosas with my dad's fresh squeezed orange juice (with oranges from their old lake house orange tree) in the kitchen, exercising by proxy.

The new house looks absolutely beautiful. My mom has everything decorated so well (of course) and its full of long-loved family treasures and new fun pieces to jazz it up and fit the new space. I'm obsessed with this new and utterly impractical umbrella stand.

The kids adore the "bunk room" with all my siblings and my best childhood toys, books, and movies, and the real pièce de résistance- a triplex bunk bed! There has much debate over which berth is best, but the short answer is- all of them.

In one of the upstairs guest rooms, my mom made frames of all our school pictures. "Mommy! You look like a boy!" Claire exclaimed upon seeing them, bringing all my childhood insecurities rushing to the forefront. Kids and old school portraits- so good for your self esteem.

We said goodbye to their beautiful new house and headed out to brunch. Ever since we planned this birthday trip back in December, before we knew we'd be headed to Houston a few weeks earlier for my aunt's funeral, I'd been craving a fancy brunch. And a fancy brunch I had! Bananas Foster French Toast and California Eggs Benedict- it was delicious.

Full and happy, we headed back home with sleepy children and a need to grocery shop.

Sunday: TJ's pesto tortellini with tomato cream sauce, green and veggie salad, garlic bread
Monday: Chicken Rollatini with Prosciutto and Cheese, Orzo with Parmesan and Peas, Kale Caesar Salad (from Costco). (SO GOOD. James declared it one of the best meals ever and the kids inhaled it all.).
Tuesday: Slow Cooker BBQ Brisket, Costco pretzel rolls, Mac and Cheese, other half of the Kale Caesar Salad
Wednesday: Tomato Basil Soup, Pesto Grilled Cheese (loooooove those; love them so much)

Cora does too

Thursday: BBQ brisket enchiladas (just toss any leftover pulled meat with bbq sauce and shredded cheese, roll the filling up in tortillas, top with a bit of sour cream and more shredded cheese, and bake uncovered at 350 for 20 mins; this is my favorite way to use leftover pulled pork, chicken, etc.), Mexican rice, refried black beans
Friday: Out with friends for my birthday; kids are totally going to have Trader Joe's finest organic spaghettios and whatever healthy things Tara adds to it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Stitch Fixing, Revisited and Conflicted, and Some Things I Love

We spent this past weekend at my parent's new house and I have wonderful pictures and stories to share, but first, I have important time-sensitive decisions for you to make about what I should keep from my most recent Fix! Because yes, after a year or so off, and in honor of my birthday and the (now temporary) lift of my credit card diet, I signed up for another round of Stitch Fix!

For those who don't know, Stitch Fix is a personal styling service where you fill out a detailed style profile, including sizes, preferences, needs, wants, non-wants, and price range, pay $20, and wait for a magical box to arrive on your doorstep full of clothes picked out just for you! You get a style sheet with outfit ideas and a personalized note. If you keep anything, you can deduct your $20 styling fee from the cost (making the styling free) and if you keep everything you get 25% off the whole order! You get a postage paid return package to send back anything you don't keep, give feedback on your items, and then decide when you want a box to come again. For those who hate shopping or don't have time or just want someone else to mix up their wardrobe, it's great! I enjoyed my Fixes in the past, but took a break when I decided I wasn't getting enough items I loved and I no longer needed to expand my wardrobe. (Note: the links in this post are referral links.)

On to the items!

Item 1: 41Hawthorn Shelley Split Neck Blouse, Coral, XS ($48.00)

I like a geometric pattern and I love coral/orange, but this just isn't killing it for me. But it would be nice and light to wear during the summer. If it cost less, I'd probably keep it, but for $48? Probably no? (After typing this whole post I've realized this is my answer for everything. I have a lot of questions. Questions you'd think only I could answer, but instead am asking you.)

Verdict: Probably send back?

Item 2: Cosmic Blue Love Adrianne Distressed Boyfriend Jean, Light Blue, Size 2 ($88.00)

So I asked for white jeans, but they didn't have any in stock. As it turns out, I really do need other jeans- I currently have one pair that I like and I don't really even like them very much, but I HAAAATE shopping for jeans with the irrational fire of a thousand suns, so this could be very serendipitous. But I'm not 100% sold. Are they too short? They're supposed to be a little short I think? Right?

There's also this gap in the back, but all my jeans gap in the back, so maybe this is the way of the world. If I was keeping all 5 items and could get the 25% off, I'd keep these for sure.

Verdict: Undecided.

Item 3: Alice Blue Zinnia V Neck Blouse, White Floral, XS ($48.00)

I love a good floral, but I do not love sheer tops because I'm not big on layers or visible bras. It's too hot here for sleeves in the summer, even sheer ones, but if it was cool enough to make me want sleeves, I wouldn't want them to be sheer. Plus I just bought this floral tank from Express for $21 and it fits me perfectly, so I'm going to stick with that. (Right? Should I like the sheer?)

Verdict: Going back.

Item 4: Dear John Finnegan Roll Cuff Chino Short, Blue, Size 2 ($58.00)

I specifically asked for shorts. I have some old pairs from Express that are really too small/short for a woman of my now-advanced years. I like these. I like the faded blue color and relaxed fit but still fairly short length. Do I love them?

Verdict: Undecided; probably keep?

Item 5: 41Hawthorn Cristen Shirt Dress, White, XS ($78.00)

I assumed this would be a hard no. I look terrible in shirt dresses and anything that ties at the waist, but then I tried it on and I was no longer sure. I like the bright white and blue colors, I like the pattern, I like the neck, and I surprisingly like the fit. What's up is down. I usually have such strong opinions about my clothes, but I don't know anything anymore.

Verdict: Who knows; do you?

I do know that I need a better place to take brighter pictures. I also know that Stitch Fix seems to work better for some of my friends than it always does for me. Two of my favorite shirts in my closet are from Fixes in the past, so it's not that I never have victories, but I also enjoy shopping when I have the time for it and generally find cute things for far cheaper than the average Stitch Fix price point. Plus I'm (probably overly) picky about how clothes look and fit and don't like straying outside my comfort zone. But then I get something like that white/blue dress and think, maybe I should?

I do know that I love this necklace I got for Christmas from Stella and Dot after the cheap initials trio I got on etsy after Cora was born finally broke.

I love this new print from Cabana Life (they're getting more pieces) and I love that Cabana has extended my Lag Liv discount code of LLSPF through the end of the year for anyone who would like 20% off their order. I have found their stuff to be incredibly high quality- I'm not even mad I paid full price for the first five things I bought from them. I also got the girls their rash guard sets for Mexico from Cabana's end-of-summer sale and they were gorgeous and held up so well after endless hours in the pool, sun, and sea. My sets also still look perfect. I can barely even justify buying them something new for this summer, though of course I'll manage. (No referral links there, just a code if you want to use it!)

Cabana Life girls

I'm also loving the Legend series a co-worker recommended and am very annoyed at the person taking so long to read Book 3 so I can't check it out from the online library. I'm not loving that Landon got stuck really high up in a tree today for nearly an hour and scraped his legs and arms all up trying to get down while obstinately refusing any advice and telling an increasingly stressed-out me that he's "always wanted a broken bone anyway." He was eventually able to jump out onto the roof and then climb down a different tree. He's literally grounded to the ground for the next month. Argh.

So tell me what to keep because I/you only have until Friday to put anything I/you don't want back in the mail!