Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Science Marching and Dog Petting: The Rest of the Weekend at PapaGigi's

The weekend fun continued the morning after our fun and fancy event! We slept in as much as I am now capable of sleeping in (7:30ish- I let James sleep until the luxurious hour of 8:00 before I woke him up to entertain me) and then we lounged a bit before getting ready to attend the March for Science!

This trip to Houston worked out so perfectly- fancy party, local grandparents (for 24 hours anyway), and the March for Science in a big city with a huge scientific community! We love a good march and we love science (and facts, progress, technology, the earth, and more), and my parents wanted to come join in since both of them are also pro-fact/science/progress/earth and Gigi is a science TEACHER and master biologist, and our hotel was a few blocks away! It was all meant to be.

Gigi found a fellow teacher!

I packaged up my dress to be shipped back to my Fairy Godmother, donned my brand new science shirt (girls' section at Target!), and ventured out to the foreign streets of downtown Houston with James to find an open Starbucks. I haven't really explored Houston in years and it's such a real city now! You can walk the streets! There are green spaces and restaurants and trams and stores! It's now on the list of places I could live.

I had gone to Target earlier in the week to see if I could find some glitter for our Science signs, but ended up in the kids' t-shirt section instead. They have so many science ones! $22.50 later I had 4 shirts- one for me and each of the kids and I was so excited I forgot the glitter.

We worked on our signs on Thursday night. I just sort of wing'd it and hoped the letters would turn out somewhat even. James painstakingly hand-lettered perfect block letters in pencil until almost midnight and then never had time to fill them in. He did pause in the middle to draw me a picture of Earth. I know my limits.

We helped the kids with their signs when we got to my parents' house. I wanted them to hold signs that came from them, so we read them the March for Science mission statement and talked about the reasons we wanted to go. Landon, our life-long animal lover, decided to go with an animal theme, and Claire decided to pick one. I loved them both.

Cora's sign noted that all toddlers are Scientists-in-Training on one side and just said "VACCINATED!" on the other with a bunch of her doodles all around it. She declined to hold it at any time on Saturday. She also "lost" her dog-in-a-space-shuttle t-shirt I got her from Target and showed up at the march in her beloved rainbow maxi dress from her Easter Basket. Basically, Cora does Cora. We roll with it.

The march was super fun. Scientists and science-enthusiasts are such an earnest and nerdily adorable group. The signs were fabulous. Tons of kids were there. It was all very positive and just... earnest. So much earnestness. They just want their work to matter you guys. It's hard to describe if you aren't there, but it was just a really such a happy cheerful exercise. Sure most of the people there probably also think Trump is the worst and are mad about it, but that wasn't the main vibe of the event. It was nerdy and full of camaraderie. Like these are my people and we're all giggling over the fact that the square root of -1 is irrational and that makes your sign funny. Also, climate change is real. Facts are too. Now let's all admire this woman's Ms. Frizzle costume and this man's umbrella with DNA double-helixes hanging off the sides. Yay science!

Organizers were expecting 10,000 marchers and the police department estimated 15,000! (They were a lot of nods to the new "paid protester" fallacy- "I'm a Grad Student. Where's my check?" and "Unpaid Protester. Barely Paid Scientist.", which made me giggle. Also, I have not received my check.) Despite the 50% increase in participation, it was all super calm and organized. After the march there was a band playing- Tulipfinger- made up of five neuroscientists, and several speakers from the local scientific community.

Unfortunately, Cora was super done with her act of citizenship so we headed home, but it was fun. I'm really glad we were able to be part of it.

Back at the house, the kids immediately jumped in the pool even though the water was freezing and the temperature was like 20 degrees colder outside than we were marching.

Kids are crazy.

Also, while we were away being fancy, my parents took the kids to an arcade/bowling/movie place and they had a BLAST.

Obviously, they missed us every minute.

And last, because it's late and I still haven't recovered from returning from our first ever ER trip with Claire at 3:30 a.m. Monday morning. (She's fine now. Thanks science!), Cora is obsessed with dogs. And cats. But my parents happen to have dogs. She sat next to Maximus for hours (really, lots of minutes, but in toddler time, that's hours), just petting him and telling him he's so soft.

All in all it was a pretty great weekend! We left early Sunday morning because Landon had a birthday party at 12:30 and it's a 4 hour drive home. The birthday party was at a TCU baseball game, Landon's first ever baseball game, and now he is OBSESSED. This was... unexpected, particularly since neither James nor I enjoy baseball even a little bit, but now here we are, pitching and tossing balls in the front yard every single minute Landon is home, we are awake, and the sun is out. But more on that- and the seriously great recipes I've tried so far this week - the next time I try to get a post published before midnight while semi-paying attention to whatever TV show we're watching (currently Girlboss, which is entertaining enough that it took me Forever to write this. I need James to pick duller shows.).

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Champagne, Cookie Dough, and Faking Fancy

It was not quite a year ago when I last got to play princess, so after years of having no reason to dress up all, two times in twelve months just seems like an embarrassment of borrowed riches.

But I'll take em!

And then I'll mail them back.

As I mentioned, my old law firm is celebrating its 100th anniversary (founded in 1917!), so its usual biennial prom blowout - already one of the most incredible parties I've ever been to - was dialed up to 11.

Something the ridiculous and magnificent super-thick see-through gold embossed acrylic invitation made clear. Literally.

Alumni are always invited to prom, but in the past I haven't been allowed to go. Luckily, our ethics rules were recently reinterpreted such we can now attend former employer events when they are open to all alumni. And since I love a fancy party, and my life as a government attorney in Fort Worth married to a swim school owner does not give me many opportunities to be fancy, AND my parents live in Houston and volunteered to watch the kids for the night (the whole night!!!), we were IN!

And when almost all my favorite people from the firm said they were coming, it just got that much better. Only a few of those people still actually work at the firm (like 3 of them), but it was SO fun to see so many familiar and fabulous faces. I worked with really great people. I still work with really great people, but I think I was unusually lucky in my first professional job, particularly for BigLaw. V&E Austin was a pretty wonderful place to learn how to be a lawyer.

My rented dress came in the mail on Thursday and it fit! I continue to love Rent the Runway for my rare nights of fancy. A blog reader had told me she'd rented it a few weeks ago and while it didn't work for her, she thought it would be perfect for a person with "boobs and no hips" and that's basically me! Plus some red hair and disproportionately long legs. The dress was perfect. I loved the colors. Much more rich and saturated than they looked online and they were so fun with my hair. Speaking of hair! I got it blown out and curled (because I an incompetent at these things) and it was maybe my favorite blow-out ever! I felt like it still looked like me, hair-incompetence and all, with just a little extra flair.

I did my makeup as fast as possible in my mom's bathroom, feeling a lot like high school prom circa 2001, and googled a youtube video for my eyes. I added my clearance-sale sparkly shoes, a borrowed bag from my mom, my rented earrings, the bracelet I borrowed from a friend, and my own wedding watch/ring set and I was set!

James was supposed to be in a tux, but we didn't really feel like renting one, and the past 12 months notwithstanding, he usually never has a reason to wear one, so we took black tie literally and just got him a beautiful black tie to go with his beautiful black suit he had custom made for our wedding. I got his black boots shined and he was good to go.

And so off we went. We checked into our hotel room (!!!) and then walked over to the Four Seasons where a few hundred friends and colleagues and some shuttle buses awaited. After a few reunions with some of my faves, we took the buses over to the Hobby Center and were greeted by ladies in long gold gowns spiraling and spinning overhead. Oh yeah. This was going to be good.

Inside was flowers and name tags and another reunion with a high school friend I totally forget was working as a social media manager at the firm now.

Moving onward and upward we came to a beautiful bar area with lots of tiny foods being passed (James ate all of them; the duck empanadas, steak skewers with peanut sauce, and mango cucumber ceviche were his faves), signature cocktails, signature cocktails with logos floating in them (a repeating theme, as you'll see), beautiful flowers, lights, and people,

and also a woman in a jumpsuit climbing up silks suspended from the ceiling while playing an electric violin.

I mean, of course. Such an obvious addition. Like the indoor fireworks.

Delighted by the absurdity, I drank some really good champagne and found friends!

I'd almost forgotten how people I once knew at the firm- I was here for the food and fancy, and then James disappeared at some point between one friend and another.

I got a text from him minutes later that said simply, "Jackpot!". When I found him, I also found a mile-long sushi bar.

A sushi bar next to a dumpling bar next to a crepe bar next to a noodle bar. The fresh crepe with the peking duck was one of the best things I've ever had ever.

More friends! The three of us here, along with five other naive and optimistic baby lawyers, all started in Austin together in the Fall of 2008. All but one of us left. He just made partner. I feel like there's a lesson here.

We discovered more rooms - a dueling piano bar with incredible charcuterie spread and desserts. A cigar and scotch lounge (no.). Suddenly drums were sounding in the main lobby and fireworks were going off (wha?!) and we found ourselves in the main theater with a great band and tons more food. I had steak and really good vegetables. A tostada with fresh lump crab, avocado, and a magical sauce on top. Also other things. Definitely more crab.

There was a Selfie Cocktail Station and I decided I like all of those words! I need to know more! And next thing you know, I have a drink with my face on it.

I can't mix alcohols without my head exploding, so I couldn't actually drink the cocktail because I was in champagne-mode, but I enjoyed the novelty of staring at myself in my beverage.

Totally coming to a kids' birthday party near you.

We had some dancing, more food (James), more champagne (me), more reunioning! I love all of these people.

Around 11 p.m. they ran out of champagne (what?! I would have traded in my cocktail selfie for more of the bubbly stuff) and I suddenly realized my feet hurt. Like a lot. So we secured an Uber and ate fresh nutella crepes (James; nutella is the worst) and scoops of magical safe-to-eat raw vegan cookie dough (me; sooo much me) while we waited, before grabbing our boxes of salted chocolate covered almonds they were handing out as parting gifts. All in all, we ate well.

Omg this stuff was so good. I had two cups. Maybe three.

It was a SUPER great night. Like taking a single page out of an old book I used to read- and it's the BEST PAGE.

We got to our room 1 minute after midnight, on a day that started with us in another city getting our kids off to school by 8, and we were so proud. We can still be young and crazy! High-fives all around! It seemed appropriate given the Cinderella feel of the whole night and I had fears my dress would turn back into a pumpkin right about then, or at least demand to be dropped off at the nearest UPS box. Then it was off to sleep because the next day started early and was pretty fantastic too.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Post Before the Upcoming Post about Our Weekend

Thank you all SO much for your thoughtful and detailed replies on my Disney post. It was so helpful to have read them before talking with our Disney Planner yesterday. I got to say things like, "oh yes! my friends highly recommend that" and "yes, my research [blog comments] let me know we definitely want to do that." Also it verified what I already thought which is our Planner knows her stuff and understands our vacation style and goals because nearly everything she said lined up perfectly with what you all wrote. High fives all around. I'm going to continue letting everyone else do my Disney work for me, though I did lose a few hours of my life last night researching adorable do-it-yourself autograph books and looking at Disney shirts at Gap and Old Navy. I have never bought a Disney shirt in my nearly 10 years as a parent and now there's like 6 hanging out in my shopping cart. Shit's getting real and we're still 6.5 months out. We are for sure not done talking about planning and packing for this trip.

Chin stand!

[Totally irrelevant fun with the 10-second camera at the studio last week. Pretend I'm wearing mickey mouse leggings; I'm certain they exist.]

Moving on! It's 11:45 p.m. and we have a big day ahead of us tomorrow. But first! A few Easter-themed pictures I didn't post before Easter and then I posted WAY too many pictures about Easter and couldn't add these. It's Cora at her school egg hunt!

Except not really because we missed her class's designated hunt time AGAIN. Two years running I have read the times, thought Cora had one teacher only to find out when we arrive at school that NO. She's in the OTHER class. The one that JUST FINISHED. I can't even explain it. It's like my brain breaks when looking at an egg hunt time schedule and then my heart breaks when I miss it. I love toddler egg hunts and I have been denied two of them. This is why we needed a fourth baby.

Luckily, Cora's hunting instinct kicked in just fine on her own and she had a great time.

Picture taken by a parent who isn't us

Even more luckily, while she was delighted to see us when we crashed her classroom while that other non-Cora class was doing its egg hunt, she just gave us each a hug and then raced right back to her table to continue her work. Cora takes her schooling VERY seriously.

And speaking of breaking brains, I broke mine after brunch on Sunday. Around 12:00 I could feel the beginnings of a headache. I got water, took medicine, and laid down immediately, but it was not daunted. Quite the opposite, it was intensely painful for the next 27 or so hours. I could barely move. Each time I dared to try to even turn my head to the side, while still reclining, it felt like a bomb went off in my skull and the whole room would go black. It was... really bad. Scary bad. I had to miss a full day of work on Monday and it wasn't finally fully gone until Tuesday evening.

Because of this, we spent all of Sunday in the TV room, sitting in various chairs, watching various screens. We never do that outside of road trips and it was just the treat that everyone needed. Cora, of course, did it in high style.

The week did move on and I even taught barre and crammed in a whole bunch of other extra workouts I needed to use up before their expiration dates. The kids had swimming, Claire had soccer, Landon had practice for his literary team competition at school. Tonight, in the midst of all the scheduling madness I was reflecting on how good we've been about not eating out since Christmas. We've had the occasional date night, but we haven't eaten out with the kids more than once or twice since December. Feeling very proud of our hard work and resolve, I immediate texted James and said "we should go out tonight!"

And so we did. Back to Americado, where we went on our last date night, this time with children who could fully appreciate the grassy knoll that is part of the restaurant's grounds.

Claire had so much fun she forgot that touching grass makes her skin swell up, but she remembered quickly when she got home and looked in the mirror. Oops. Luckily we are never without Benadryl for our sensitive Bear.

But it was a lovely night and break from cooking all the things, with a side of frozen cucumber margarita and beautiful spring evening.

Back to our big day tomorrow - we're headed to Houston for my old firm's 100 year anniversary prom party! We're sending the kids to school for a few hours and then leaving here at 10 a.m. My rented dress and jewels arrived today (and the dress fits!!!), my sparkly shoes are packed, my hair appointment is confirmed, and the manicure I got yesterday barely looks chipped yet. We are so ready to fake some fancy.

Preview from a dimly lit closet!

We're staying in a hotel downtown that night and then on Saturday morning my parents are meeting us downtown with all the kids because right next to our hotel is the Houston March for Science! Houston has such a huge scientific community, I'm looking forward to a large and enthusiastic gathering. There is even a house band! Named Tulipfinger and consisting entirely of neuroscientists, I don't even care what they sound like- I'm just delighted to know they exist. As most of you know, my mom is a science teacher, with an undergraduate degree in microbiology and a masters in biology and we are super proud to walk with her and all our scientists, future scientists, and science/earth-enthusiasts on Saturday.

(The best part of the march so far is following the facebook page and the delightfully earnest and adorable science humor that it brings to my life. I pink puffy heart them and all their puns and nerdy jokes.)

James and I have been working on our posters tonight. We have... different approaches. I just jump in with a marker and color over my letters until they look somewhat even. James painstakingly free-hands perfect block letters that look like they were done with stencils and a ruler. I've done three signs. He has yet to move past the pencil outlines on one. He would make the better scientist.

Hope all of your weeks are going well- I'm off to get some beauty rest so I can live up to my gown tomorrow!