Sometimes, when you are seven and outside for the first time in AGES because it’s been raining in Austin for approximately one million days, and you are at a party for a sweet friend, and there are cookies and juice and goodie bags and a playground…you just cannot even.
In their defense, thanks to the Texas Monsoons of 2015, the air was sticky and gross and the entire city pretty much reeks of mildew. There is green gunk growing on my porch and maybe even on my skin.
NOT in their defense, my parenting motto for years has been “Nothing makes the Torres kids grumpier than a party!”
Proof: Happy birthday songs are depressing. And apparently not just for my kids.
Further proof: My niece’s 5th birthday party last summer. Bowling. Cake. Punch. Goody bags. Grumpy Torreses.
Okay, so that’s not really a good example because you can’t see her face, but if you COULD, she would be pouting because bowling is hard and the shoes are weird and WHYYYYYY can’t I have more SPRIIIIIIITE?
Oh wait. Here’s proof that they were happy at a party once.
Maybe we should play a game: Party or No Party?
Answer key: Unusually chipper party, no party (but close – playground!), special movie sneak preview (kind of like a party, so SAD), and of course, cannot EVEN (definitely a party).
As a part of the Netflix Stream Team, each month I get to share what I’m streaming on Netflix. What should I watch next?
The first time I met Christian’s mom, we went over to her apartment for her birthday, met the family, had some cake, and he and his little sister and I ended up watching a documentary on penguins on the National Geographic channel or something. Could have been Discovery. I don’t know, it was a long time ago.
We’re both nerds for documentaries – I for the social/cultural type and he for the nature/science type. Sometimes we have these evenings where dinner is eaten, baths are done, jammies are on, and because time stands still on the most exhausting days, it’s still not bedtime. Someday our children will be of the age where they just go to their room and squirrel around until they pass out in their beds, but let me tell you, today is not that day. Which I’m fine with, because I prefer the hugs to the impending, “Ugh, YOU again?” that will come in the teen years. But you get what I mean when I say ETERNAL EVENING.
So to pass the time on these evenings where we don’t necessarily want to parent – I mean entertain them, Christian started dialing up some nature shows. Here are a few of our favorites:
Mysteries of the Unseen World – Prepare to be bombarded with never-ending questions as you discover things that are invisible to the naked eye, like the flight patterns of a dragonfly’s wings or the teeny tiny teensy weensy mites that live in your eyelashes. Oh, FFS.
Speed Kills – We’ve watched all three of these docs: Jungle, Savannah, and Ocean. Yes, it’s a little dramatic, but that’s what makes it interesting for the kids. Just a warning though, we learned that hard way that it can be a little graphic for pre-bedtime viewing. Oh look! That crocodile just mutilated that wildebeest! Well, sweet dreams!
Blue Planet – Explore all facets of the deep blue sea in 8 episodes and maybe even let your kids fall asleep on your lap because the ocean is super relaxing, unless it involves sharks, and then it is not really all that relaxing at all.
Expedition: Borneo – I initially thought this would be more about the nature of Borneo, but 1 episode in we learned that it’s more about the scientists and camera people that are exploring the land. It’s still fascinating, but less so for the young kids. But I will always have this series to thank for my kids’ fascination/fear of blood sucking leeches. Also, scorpions. And centipedes. Really, a whole lotta bugs. You’ve been warned.
So maybe a lot of these docs may be a little heavier on the killing and the bugs than some would prefer right before sending kids off the bed. But they are pretty relaxing. I rarely sit with them to watch kids’ movies or shows, so watching these documentaries gives us all a chance to spend a little time together in the evening. Bonus if any of us actually learn something.
What are you watching?
I bit the bullet. I signed up for Stitch Fix.
Originally I scoffed at the idea. Because who really needs to have a box of clothes sent to them in the mail every month at exorbitant prices in the name of convenience? Lazy people, that’s who.
I’m pretty lazy, but the main reason I signed up was to spice up my wardrobe a little bit. I mean, sure, I can solve all the navy, black, and gray needs you’ll ever have, but that’s not exactly exciting. I want color! New styles! Florals! But not really with the florals.
I am not a Stitch Fix stylist’s dream. I only opted to get my fixes every other month. I selected the lowest prices available. The chances of me purchasing every item in my fix, even if I do love them and despite the 25% discount when you do, are slim to never gonna happen. Even at the lowest available price point, my items still average about $48 for tops and up to $98 for dresses. I mean, do you know how much black and navy I can get from my local Gap Factory and Old Navy for that?
Anyway, I figured I’d break down my fixes and say what I loved and what I didn’t. Why? I don’t know. Because getting new clothes is fun, and maybe I’ll inspire someone else to go out of their black and navy comfort zone.
The 1st fix
I got really excited when I opened this first box. The clothes were the perfect mix of things that were in my style range, but I maybe wouldn’t have picked out myself. Because pink. And in true anti-style-blogger fashion, I don’t plan on posting pics of myself actually in the clothes. Because I am terrible at posing and flattering angles and just photos in general.
1. Esla Split Neck Top – $48
I liked this top on the card. So plaid! Great for summer! It makes me look like a plaid cow!
So the fabric was nice and thin, but the cut of the sleeves made my shoulders and arms look like sides of beef in plaid wrapping. The pockets on the front looked like gigantic, diagonally-plaid nipples. The top was shorter in the front than in the back, a look that I am not a fan of. But this is about getting out of my comfort zone! And I did, for the 2 minutes until I could wrestle myself out of it.
FTR, Christian really liked it. I think it was the diagonally-plaid nipples.
2. Floria Split-Back Knit Top – $48
I don’t usually pick up pink, but this looks like an adorably comfy baseball tee! Only it’s not that at all! Wait.
So this top was made up of a floral tank with a pink sheer-ish sweater fabric over it. And the pink fabric in the back was split, allowing the floral fabric to peek through.
These are the kinds of tops I don’t understand. Like, why would I want it split in the back so you could see my flowers? As cute as it looked on paper, it just didn’t deliver. I felt like I was wearing a backwards cape.
3. Adorra Skinny Jean – $68
I thought there was no way in hell these pants were going to fit me, but they did! They were nice and stretchy and a gray color I never would’ve chosen for pants. Only problem was they gave me wicked camel toe. #YouAsked. #WaitNoYouDidnt
Also wishing they’d sent me that cute gray and white 3/4 sleeve top pictured with the pants. Y u teez me so, Stitch Fix?
4. Corinna Striped Dolman Top – $48
I don’t love dolman sleeves. This fabric felt like it would be weird and clingy. It was navy and black, which I definitely don’t need anymore of. I tried it on anyway.
Of course I kept it.
To be fair, it fit way better that I anticipated it would.
5. Some silver necklace not pictured – $38
It was cute, and definitely something that I wouldn’t have chosen for myself, but for $38, it went back. I usually don’t buy accessories unless I have a specific reason or event, which is probably why my accessory game is so weak, but I’d rather spend that money on clothes.
In conclusion… (because I have no idea how else to wrap this up like a profeshunul would)
So for my first fix, I kept one top and paid $28, plus my $20 styling fee, for a total of $48. I’m sure you could do that math, but it felt wrong to leave it out for the additionally challenged.
I gave some feedback to my stylist (OR the person who just grabs things willy nilly from the Stitch Fix warehouse. However you want to look at it), so we’ll see how the next fix turns out. If this endeavor turns me into a famous fashion blogger, I’ll give you all a nod at the fashion bloggy Stitch Fix awards or something.
*affiliate link. Here’s another one.
When Christian gets a package delivered, it’s usually one of three things:
• a work purchase (I can’t argue with that)
• a frivolous present for me (I definitely can’t argue with that)
• a frivolous Groupon purchase
Naturally I assume it’s for me. He’s been known to order me random little things that I never, ever, ever mentioned wanting, which begs the question, “Hi, have we met?”
I’m not sure if this one is for me or not.
It’s a Banana Bunker, you perv. It will protect your banana when you take it…somewhere. Because I never go anywhere without my banana. (Also, that’s an affiliate link, because why the hell not.)
Honestly, while a brilliant marketing strategy, the Bunkers themselves are not really all that useful. I mean, we all know those things come in all different shapes and sizes; they’re not one size fits all. Some are more curved than others, some are girthier. Some are crooked. And of course I’m talking about BANANAS.
So far the Banana Bunkers have managed to
• take up precious space on my already crowded countertops
• house a small colony of fruit flies when an errant banana was left to rot
• mostly look completely obscene
Let’s talk about how awesome kids can make you feel when they’re asked a series of random questions about you. And then let’s talk about how when you dig a little deeper, kids are, like, really self-absorbed, right? It’s like they know Mother’s Day is ultimately all about them, because without them, you would not be celebrating Mother’s Day. Then let’s talk about how much we all miss being self-absorbed, happy kids.
I am special because I give her gum and popsicles.
I excel at making her meals she doesn’t eat.
I am prettiest when I straighten my hair. So practically never.
Dear Momey, I love you soso much. I love you as a baby hart. I love to cook with you. Love, Rachel. [insert custom comic book characters for effect]
Aw. I feel the same. Baby hearts are my favorite. Except when they are beating inside the chests of real live, screaming babies. And cooking! I love it when you help. So fun and not at all stressful.
Dear Mom, I love how you snugll with me. I love you so so so much! I like how you go to the stor with me. Love, Rachel.
Oh, I love snugll-ing with you too. Your snugll-ing game is on point, especially that elbow in the bladder move. And I must say, as a stay-at-home mom, going to the stor is totally one of my favorite things. Especially with you. When I’m by myself, listening to my favorite podcasts in lieu of repeated requests for Cocoa Puffs, not only does it take half as long, it’s half as fun.
Eternally yours (no seriously, forever. You’ll never get rid of me.), Mom
WHAT DO YOU MEAN I AM NOT COOL OR JOLLY. LOOK AT HOW COOL AND JOLLY I AM. And thank you for the boucka of flowers. They are lovely!
Let’s point out the most important and/or most disturbing items here:
• I only weigh 100 pounds (IMPORTANT)
• I make the best ment balls
• My job is longry (laundry), make brefix (breakfast), and dishis. THIS IS HOW YOU SEE ME??? Wait. It’s kinda true. Ironically, she said she got a 100 on her spelling test this very same day, so I’m guessing “breakfast” is a 2nd grade word? IDK.
• If I had time, I would go on a field trip with her. Because she’s still giving me grief about the ONE (out of three) field trip I missed because I had a very important “no more babies” appointment at the doctor.
• I am sweet and butefll.
• I really love her and her sisters. TRUTH.
I mean, really.
(Photo courtesy of pre-carb-free life and minus the straight hair that makes me the prettiest.)
Last week my parents and sister watched our kids while Christian and I were at the evening production of Listen to Your Mother Austin.
I’m going to interject here and say that earlier in the afternoon, while my parents and sister and our dear friends attended the afternoon show, Christian dutifully and willingly hung out with SIX CHILDREN. Sure, three of those were our own, but the other three, my niece and our friends’ two children, were not ours at all, not even a little bit. So in case you were wondering who was winning the Mommy Wars, it’s this guy right here.
Anyway. When we got back and relaxed and took off the Spanx (not a euphemism), my sister said that before they went to bed, she couldn’t find any pajamas for Rachel and Claire. Only I had just put stacks of pajamas in their drawers.
“Everything in they drawer was a size 6! I couldn’t find anything that fit them!”
So I had to explain that yes, of course I had been putting my kids to bed in too-small jammies for months now, because that’s what you do when you’re forgetful and busy and in denial that your kids are growing.
She ended up putting them to bed in regular t-shirts and shorts and just let the shame of the midriff-baring jammie tops and hot pants fall where it may.
Pajama shamed by my own sister.
And then she said that when it was time for bed and she asked them to put away their tablets, my girls swore up and down that I let them take their iPads to bed every night.
“Oh she does?”
All three, very enthusiastically, “Uh huh!”
So she gave them the benefit of the doubt, bless her. I’m pretty sure that all along she knew this wasn’t the proper protocol for her strict-scheduling, rule-following little sister. But then she probably thought, “You know, Leigh Ann may be a rule follower, but she is such an easy breezy gal. Maybe these girls are telling the truth. Because that would be the cool thing to do. And if my little sister is anything, it’s cool.”
The iPads did not last long and apologies were doled out in the morning because while I am quite easy breezy and cool, and while I admired their fortitude in coaxing her to believe them, iPad shaming trumps pajama shaming. YOUR MOVE, SISTER.
The other morning Zoe told me she wished she could go to school every day. It isn’t so much going to school that she loves as much as going to aftercare, the one hour play time between the end of the school day at 1:30 and 2:30 final pickup. One of the hardest adjustments for her this year has been being separated from all of the friends she made last year – namely her, um, boyfriend. They all go to aftercare, so it quickly became her favorite part of the day.
I told her that while going to school every day would be fun, I enjoy the time we have together on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She’s an old soul, one you can talk to like a normal person. You don’t have to dumb down your sentences for her. She gets it. She quickly reversed her decision and told me that she wanted to stay home with me, because I’m “so cuddly.” I guess that extra padding is doing me some good somewhere.
Christian and I have often reflected on how fortunate this youngest child is. She’s had quality alone time with us, mainly me, since she was 18 months old, a luxury we never had with her sisters. Sure, we do the odd errand or grocery run with either Rachel or Claire on the weekends, but an hour or so once a week just doesn’t compare to entire days where all the attention is on you. When her sisters started preschool, it was Tuesdays and Thursdays with Zoe that I got my grocery shopping done or spent time browsing Target (how cliche of me, I know). Now that Zoe’s in preschool 3 days a week and I work from home on those days, it’s still Tuesdays and Thursdays that I try to squeeze in errands and to-dos, but there are also lunches with Dad and trips to the bookstore for coffee and gigantic cookies and maybe a book or 17. I’m going to miss her so damn much when she starts school in the fall.
I credit Zoe’s maturity to the fact that we were still so overwhelmed by her sisters when she was younger, she had to learn to do everything herself. Do or die, or maybe just get left behind. She learned to put her shoes on at 18 months, when I was still doing most of it for her 3.5-year-old sisters, partly because I never pushed them to learn, partly because it was just easier and faster to do it for them. Patience has never been my strong suit, and it showed with 3 kids so close in age. On the flip side, I lament the fact that I didn’t have more of an encouraging “take your time” and “do it yourself” attitude with Rachel and Claire. What did I know? They were our first kids, and preemies to boot. We were used to doing everything for them, until we saw what happened when we didn’t. And what happened was they start doing things on their own.
“Zoe, what would I do without you?” I asked on afternoon when she was begin particularly Zoe-like, probably insisting she climb up and get her own cup and bowl and spread her own Nutella on her own damn sandwich.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. Probably BORING stuff.”
So…I kinda started this thing. Not a diet thing. More like a plan. I had been unhappy with myself in the past several months, and although I didn’t feel like I had been making such terrible choices, those choices showed up on photos and in the tightness of my clothes and in the fact that when I ran I felt like I was pulling a mack truck behind me. Listen to Your Mother was coming up, as well as summer, and I didn’t want to look back wishing I had taken action instead of just wishing I could make better choices. (I hate saying “I want to lose weight for XX or YY, because I think we should all do things for out health and not for photos, but I guess I need deadlines and motivation and stuff.)
Christian had done some research on something called Carb Nite Solution. I won’t bore you too much with the full explanation here (because I would hate for someone to take my words as medical/dietary advice), but in plain talk, I pretty much cut all carbs and sugars from my diet and try to eat mostly proteins and fats, keeping the carbs under 30 grams per day. I’m not gonna lie. It’s been hard. There are occasional indulgences, which makes it less daunting. But the payoff has been incredible, both in the number on the scale and in how I feel.
So lets run through my first 10 days of reorientation. (Warning: What follows is approximately 1450 words of me babbling about life on the Carb Nite Solution. You’ve been warned.)
Day 1 (Monday) This is exciting! We are doing this! And by we, I mean me.
Day 2 (Tuesday) Day 2! Let’s keep this gravy train going! Only without the gravy. So no gravy on this train. Man, I really want to lick that Nutella off that knife. But I won’t! I’m committed, bitches!
Tuesday evening I met some of our Listen to Your Mother cast members and alumni at the ABGB for happy hour. I asked Christian, “So I guess this means I can’t have a beer?”
My water was delicious.
Day 3 (Wednesday) Day 3 was less exciting. My head was in a fog, and I had a constant headache that wouldn’t go away. I had to consciously remind myself not to pop a few pieces of Pirate Booty into my mouth while making lunches or handing out after school snacks. That evening I met up with my monthly writers’ group, where the hostess had laid out an entire spread of crackers, spinach spanakopita (good Go-o-o-o-o-o-d), banana bread, and carrot cake. “I’m on an ultra low carb plan,” I told her. “Oh, I’m doing low carb too,” she said.” I can’t eat any of this stuff.”
I would’ve popped about 3 dozen of those spanakopita in the old days, AKA last week. But I resisted.
Day 4 (Thursday) Woke up with a headache. Ate breakfast too late (9am). Way too hungry and cranky. Can no longer speak in complete sentences.
When I let myself get too hungry, I feel like I can’t catch up for the rest of the day. I had some errands to run with Zoe, and I forgot to pack a snack. Big mistake. Big time crash. I ended up super low on energy, with a raging headache. It was all I could do to make myself a salad once we got home, but I felt a little better once I ate.
I did some reading, and turns out I had the carb flu, defined by exactly what I was experiencing: headaches, fogginess, crankiness, exhaustion, and general feeling like complete shit. If you’re not prepared for this kind of thing during reorientation, I can see how it would be easy to give up and give into the carbs again. It was truly shitty.
Day 5 (Friday) The girls had been begging Christian all week to take them to school early for breakfast (because Cocoa Puffs), so my morning was significantly easier. I decided to eat breakfast a little earlier in order to stave off the starvation that plagued me Thursday morning and made me want to eat the first person who crossed my path.
Breakthrough: I hardly felt hungry at all on Day 5. Holla! I got my hair done after dropping Zoe off at school, and it took HOURS, and even though I was armed with a serving of almonds for a snack, I didn’t need them. I ate them in the car on the way home though, because those things are damn good. Maybe it was because my body is adjusting, or maybe it was because I didn’t let myself get so incredibly famished in the morning. But I felt…good.
Day 6 (Saturday) Saturday we were out of the house from early morning until late at night. We headed Seaworld for a special VIP breakfast and peek into a newly remodeled sea lion venue. I was in danger of getting too hungry before we were scheduled to eat breakfast at 9, but loading up on coffee helped a little. You’d better believe I piled my plate high with eggs and bacon though. But damn those blueberry muffins looked good.
I knew that theme park food that fell in line with my plan would be hard to come by, so I had to plan carefully. I packed a leftover chicken breast Christian had grilled for me the evening before, a serving of almonds, and a string cheese for lunch. In one of the 83 trips to the potty, I almost mauled a couple of guys carrying trays with burgers and fries. ALMOST. Progress.
And then we headed straight into a birthday party, where the only thing available for me too eat was celery. We were at our dear friends’ house, so of course I could have asked for something or even raided the fridge myself, but I hate bothering people with my speshul dietary neeeeeeeds, so I just chomped on 27 celery sticks. Problem was when the rest of the guests left, we hung around until late, and I was having a hard time resisting that pizza sitting right in front of me. As I snacked on some lunchmeat and cheese, my friend said “Oh! I have meat!” And she directed me to some leftover barbecue.
I was so grateful for her meat.
Day 7 – 9 (Sunday – Tuesday) Just normal days. My new normal, that is. I’m so used to being carb free by now, and I have a small selection of foods to choose from for snacks and meals. It’s second nature to me to just grab a serving of almonds or a cheese stick if I need a snack, instead of mindlessly munching on Pirate Booty or pita chips while scrolling through Facebook on my phone. Everything I eat is intentional (said in completely non-patronizing fashion, because choices are choices).
Day 10 (Wednesday) Oh, sweet Day 10. The day I could indulge a little in the evening. I’ve been looking forward to this all damn day. Come 4pm it was time for me to start snacking and slowly introduce some carbs.
4:21: I pop a piece of Pirate Booty in my mouth. It tastes weird. I’m not sure how I feel about this.
4:30: I eat a piece of toasted Ezekiel Bread with natural peanut butter. Christian watches me intently, like I’m either going to spontaneously combust or start making sweet love to the snack. 15 minutes later I have to go take a nap. NO JOKE.
That evening was Spirit Night at a local restaurant to support our elementary school. Perfect timing. I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich, fries, and Christian and I split a chocolate milkshake. It was delicious and amazing and I left feeling like I was going to burst. (The restaurant was not that great, but FRIIIIEEEEEESSSSSSSS!)
Before bed I ate a cereal bar. Livin large.
Day 11 (Thursday) Back on the wagon and feeling pretty shitty after the previous night’s carb bender. I felt lethargic and bloated all day. But by Friday I was feeling good again and back to my low carb self. And here we go again until the next carb nite, which was scheduled for the day of our Listen to Your Mother show (because wine) (and cake).
So. The takeaway from this whole thing?
- I love carbs and carbs love me. They love me so much they love to stick to my body in all the wrong places.
- I’ve now been on the plan for 3 weeks and have lost 8 pounds. And I feel fantastic.
- I’m hardly hungry in between meals, as opposed to when I would snack on carbs and feel hungry again an hour later.
- I don’t necessarily care as much about the calorie count, but honestly? I almost never exceed my allotted calorie for the day (which My Fitness Pal calculated based on my fitness/weight loss goals).I track everything in My Fitness Pal, mainly so I can keep track of my carbs, fat, and protein intake.
- This plan is not for everyone. When people hear I cut all carbs and sugars, they think I am crazy. *I* think I am crazy. But I know I didn’t feel great when I was reaching for carby things.
- 8 pounds is not a lot, but it has made a huge difference in how I look and feel and how my clothes fit. I know how easy it could be to put those pounds back on, and that’s motivation for me to keep up with these choices.
This post is sponsored by YOXO.
Please excuse my frantic Listen to Your Mother planning to bring you an actual, honest-to-goodness blog post! About toys!
A few weeks ago the good people at YOXO (pronounced “yock-so,” in case you were uttering some intelligible, guttural sounds for several days like I was) sent me an invitation to test out some of their building sets. Gift card in hand, we headed over to Target on a mission to secure one owl, one robot, and one fly.
In case you were wondering, the order is Rachel, Claire, and Zoe.
We are going through a serious building phase. After years of anxiety that my kids would never really pick up on building toys like LEGO, Tinker Toys, etc, they’ve totally proved me wrong in the past year. And they build some of the weirdest contraptions. (I really wanted to use another word there that starts with sh and ends with it, but, you know, sponsored post and all.)
When we got home, it was time to YOXO. (YOXO isn’t technically a verb yet, but stay with me. It will be.) Immediately when we opened the packages, the girls started building. It’s a gun! It’s a car! It’s a …thing! With a thing on top! And it has antlers!
The pieces are made from thick, sturdy recycled wood pulp and fit together through various slits. Some sets come with cardboard tubes, but the great thing about YOXO is that you can add to your constructions with things like cardboard cereal boxes,like on our owl below, or empty toilet paper rolls (because we are never short of those. I know you feel me on this one.).
Me, ever the uncreative YOXO-er (I can build a square brick house in Minecraft, no more, no less), I went through the instructions with Zoe to build her owl, and Rachel to build her robot, and each one took mere minutes. The owl was later disassembled for more creative play, but the robot guards the playroom, in case any of our Littlest Pet Shops decide to go rogue on a random Tuesday.
I love how Rachel’s shirt makes it look like the robot is wearing Hammer pants.
It’s not often that I am just flat out impressed by a new toy, but I have to say, I was flat out impressed by YOXO. It just thrills me to watch my girls jump in and immediately start creating, and I love that they are encouraged to add other materials to make their creation just right. I can see their little brains working as they put together pieces and say, “Look! Can you tell what is it?” and I squint and tilt my head and say, “YES. Yes I can.” And they say, “It’s a ladybug named Leema!” And I say, “Of course it is.”
The best part – other than the learning and the building and the molding of small, genius minds – is that these toys are recyclable and eco friendly, and are designed to create little to no waste. No more guilt about throwing out a bunch of plastic crap! It’s also refreshing to see toys that aren’t heavily licensed or promoting the latest movie. The girls had so much fun playing with them, they’re now on my radar for upcoming friends’ birthday presents. We YOXO’d, and we want our friends to YOXO too.
And when it’s raining or when it’s like 8 billion degrees this summer and we are hibernating in the air conditioning, or maybe when it’s just a Thursday, I’m just going to dump all of the pieces on the floor and scream, “YOXO!”
To find out more about YOXO, visit their website.