Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Why I can't buy a fancy house

One of the (many) reasons that I was afraid to buy a house is because I like to do things.

I really like to do things.

I am not so attached to things but experiences make my heart beat. See: buying all of the necessary supplies to teach myself how to make macarons, the World Cup, the Kentucky Derby, paying to play in every soccer league known to man, insisting on trying that restaurant everyone raves about.

I want to live. I don't want to have a house that is bigger and nicer than I can really afford and then be forced to sit inside of it as my main source of entertainment. That isn't me. I need to do.

For example: this morning, I bought tickets for my sister, Meg, my cousins Liz and Danielle and I to see Jay Z and Beyoncé.

In Chicago.

Just because. The concert will be amazing. The road trip will be memorable. I can take the time off and make the memory and take the pictures and spend the next five years rattling off our favorite one-liners that will undoubtedly be the result of a few days with three of my favorite people.    

I am in the process of buying a house. I'll tell you all about it later. But I am comfortable with what it is and what it will cost and how it will impact me and how it will still allow me to live. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

A little of a lot

1. Lucy's son, Baby A, has recently informed her that I am a garbage truck. This is apparently a compliment. Baby A also thinks that I live in the pirate ship play structure down at the beach.  

2. I have made Derby dress decisions and you guys are going to be shocked! Okay, shocked is a gross overestimation of what you all may feel when I reveal my attire but there is a (small) twist.

3. Now I'm spending all of my free time contemplating what sunglasses I should pack.

4. If I am this obnoxious about the dresses that I'm wearing to a sporting event, we're all in big trouble when I get married. We will probably need to have some sort of a blogger retreat were we all eat a lot of pie and then you guys pick out my dress.

5. With the boy drama and the dress debate, I have totally neglected to blog an update to the house search. Later this week: I promise! 

6. In the 10 days following The Coach's big decision and my subsequent disappointment (and an unfortunate cough), I drowned my sorrows in the second season of House of Cards. That show is not so awesome that it changed my life but it is relatively awesome.    

7. I'm going to try The Americans next.

8. I have been so tired lately. I can't seem to catch up. I could go for a nap right now. And still get to bed by 10:30 pm. 

9. How does one go about choosing one dating site over another? 

10. My job is hard, you guys. It's a good thing I find it rewarding and it's even better that I believe it's important because it isn't an easy job and most of the time it isn't even all that fun.

11. Over the weekend, I ran over a nail and ended up with a flat tire. It could have been worse. My dad came to my rescue and my mom eventually showed up, too. I was squatted down next to Dad while he was showing me how to change a tire and my mom said she had a flashback to when I was a toddler, squatted down next to my dad as he taught me how something worked. It must be really weird when your kids get super old.

12. My toes are currently painted OPI's Brisbane Bronze. 

13. My cousin Emma asked me if she should hand write the addresses on her sister's bridal shower invitations. She has awful handwriting and I wanted to tell her as much but not as much as I didn't want to hear her whining about how I think she has shitty handwriting. So I didn't say anything. And the invitations will probably look wrecked. I don't think that I care. 

14. On Friday, I had my first hair appointment since December. December, you guys. Needless to say, I look 100% less scraggly today and it was long overdue.

15. Last week, I stumbled across this recipe for overnight chia pudding and added the (two) ingredients to my Trader Joe's list. I have had no interest in my breakfast standbys lately, so I usually halfheartedly eat something and find myself starving by the time I get get to lunch. Chia pudding was either pretty tasty (I made mine with mango and loved it all week) or it's proof that I'll eat basically anything. 

16. I haven't gone on a run and I haven't gone to the gym since I finished my half marathon and I haven't felt guilty about it, either.            

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Derby Fashion Saturday

I ran out for Starbucks at lunch on Thursday and ended up with a few necklaces to potentially pair up with my Derby dress, too. There was nothing cute in black but a black necklace can't be that hard to find, right? (Famous last words. I'll spend all of next week at the mall.) 

But wasn't until yesterday that Lucy made a call on the hat that she's going to wear. I'm fairly certain that I've made my choice between the two remaining hats but there is still time to sway my decision!

I am totally going to be a brat and refuse to show you guys my final choices until after the Derby. This is how I repay you for being my fashion consultants.

And speaking of fashion consultation: I attempting to decide on a dress to wear to the races on Friday. I am not enamored with any of the dresses that I currently own but I refuse to buy another. I have too many dresses. It's an illness.


Dress 1: I recently saw a picture of me wearing this dress and I thought it looked a little big. Typical. I remember trying on this dress and asking my mom if I should try a size smaller. She said no, because she is forever trying to get me to size up and then I end up buying something that doesn't fit and you would think that I would learn. Anyway: the dress is navy and white and cute -- I would probably go with red accessories -- but I don't want to look like I'm wearing a striped sack.  

Dress 2: I threw this one into consideration last year. I have nothing profound to say about it.

Dress 3: The races on Friday have a pink/girl power theme and you're encouraged to wear pink. This is sort of a coral color, close enough to pink to be extra festive for Friday. The skirt is very full, which is fun. 

Dress 4: I pulled this one out of the back of my closet. Maybe it is too 2010?

I still have all of the dresses we considered last year, if any of those inspire you more than these choices. 

Or, I could wear my silly horse dress that's pictured at the very end of this post.  

Mostly I am completely undecided and leaning towards wearing soccer shorts and a t-shirt. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Horse Race Fashion Show

I am 90% sure that I am going to wear this dress to the Derby.

I was starting to get stressed about not having a Derby dress, so I picked this one up at Gap at the beginning of last week. It's the same cut as this dress that I bought earlier in the year. Every time I wear that dress I spend the day being showered with compliments so apparently something about it works for me. We will see if the same can be said for the white, sleeveless version.  

And now we turn our attention to the accessories.

I have three hats to choose from.

Does white dress = white hat?
White dress = white flower on black hat?
Or is it white dress = black hat, white feathers?

I can't decide.

But I sort of need to because I need to figure out what I'm going to do about jewelry. And handbags and shoes and coordinating with Lucy!

...who will also be wearing one of these hats. (She hasn't bought a dress yet so the hat that best works with her outfit is all up in the air and will probably also be the hat that best works with my dress. Controversy!)

Because we are very fancy ladies.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Life Advice

I am going to administer some life advice today because I know you're all like "EXCUSE ME LIFE ADVICE WHAT?" as I have done nothing over the last several days but make it abundantly clear that I am a mess.

Yes, I am a pathetic creature. You don't need to tell me. I can barely look in a mirror. But I do know something.

Hear me out.

I want to talk about pie crusts.

You should always have one in your freezer, my friends.

Because there is always a dinner where you could bring the dessert. If you have the pie crust and some berries in your freezer and a scoop of sugar and a little bit of cornstarch on hand, you're basically a hero with approximately four minutes of hands-on time.

Or, if there is someone special who you want to bring dinner (and, as the hapless old maid of the group, I'm talking more about my grandma or my best friend because, well, you know) but you have nothing in your house but you have a pie crust and all is not lost. Because you probably have eggs and some cheese and a random vegetable or two.

Quiche. Hello, quiche.

I realized this morning that Lucy, Chet and the boys were on their way home from vacation and a nice auntie would leave them something in the refrigerator but I didn't have time to grocery shop and cook something.

I broke out my emergency freezer pie crust and some eggs and the Pioneer Woman recipe (loosely followed), and by the time I was done getting ready for work (and ordering blush from Sephora and enjoying a cup of coffee) I had a quiche.

Which is kind of a miracle considering the state of my refrigerator and also the state of my head.

Pie crusts, boys and girls.    

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Week That Was

It was setting up to be the perfect week.

On Monday night, I gave my first presentation to City Council and, according to those who know about these things, I killed it. As soon as I was done with Council, I met up with my real estate agent and signed an offer on a home.

As I was walking in to see my agent, Lucy sent me a text message: they had two offers on their house, which hadn't been on the market a week, at their asking price. She was giddy.

And The Coach had a job interview lined up.

There was so much possibility in the air. I wrote about it.

On Tuesday night, the timing worked out and I got to see The Coach for a few hours. He was stressed about his interview, expecting that he would get an offer, unsure about what he would do, but the time we spent together was effortless. Easy. I see him and it's like we've never been apart. When I'm with him, it's infuriatingly simple.

Wednesday came with the delivery of our Derby tickets. We were sent four tickets, rather than the two that we ordered. Lucy and I lost our mind at this turn of events: we can sell the extra tickets and cover the cost our own, making our trip significantly less fiscally irresponsible than we previously assumed that it would be. The Coach's interview was Wednesday: he said that it went well and he made a few complimentary remarks about the program. It made me think that taking job wasn't the longshot that he'd made it seem.

He was offered the job on Thursday. He seemed tortured about the decision. Sick about making the choice. I should have known then.

I got the house on Thursday.

Everything was happening.

Everything was going to work out. It was going to be that week where all of the pieces came together.

Except that it wasn't. He told me on Friday that he wasn't taking the job. He turned it down on Saturday.

Maybe the pieces did come together last week. Maybe this was everything working out as it should. Maybe this was my fresh start, my new house, my new life. My Derby tickets and my forward motion.

Away from The Coach, it would seem.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Real life ending

What happened is that The Coach interviewed for a job here and then he got the job here and then he turned it down.

It wasn't the right fit.

I trust his judgment and I am confused and I am not an expert in his field and I question his priorities and I always knew this one was a long shot and I wanted it too much and I am so sad.

And I am turning off comments because I know, you guys. I know. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hollywood ending

It all came together too perfectly this week. I'll backtrack, later, and tell you all about how the goodness piled up and how that got me hopeful and stupid.

Hopeful and stupid is a bad combination.

I thought for a minute that maybe everything was going to work out this time. Not just some of it but all of it. Everything was going to come together at once and this was the week that I was going to always, always remember.

This week will probably still be a week that I always remember. Just not entirely for the reasons that I want.

I don't know what else I expected.

I know better.

Hollywood endings aren't real.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Return of the Derby Girls

I've mentioned that Lucy and I are making our grand return to the Kentucky Derby in a few weeks, right? Because we are. And I am so excited.

I booked us rooms shortly after the Derby last year, just in case. And then we abandoned the idea and thought we would go to the Belmont -- the third leg in the triple-crown series -- instead. I wasn't crazy about traveling to New York so close to when I was leaving for Brazil but Chet wanted to join us (and bring the babies along, too, though they wouldn't go with us to the races) and that seemed like a fair compromise.

But I didn't cancel our hotel reservations.

Then, a couple of months ago, Lucy and Chet took the babies on a short weekend trip. Chet was exposed to the challenges of travelling with the babies and suddenly he thought that maybe it would be better if we put off the Belmont for another year and Lucy and I just made the shorter drive to Kentucky, alone, instead.

What a guy.

In a matter of 10 hours after Chet made the suggestion, Lucy and I had it all figured out: we had dinner reservations and giddy plans to make up for the drinking that we didn't partake in last year (when Lucy was pregnant with Baby L and I was sober in solidarity) and return to that one amazing coffee shop and eat another sinfully delicious apple fritter and win, like, a lot of money. All while wearing the hats that we already had made.

Yes, you read that correctly. Because we are insane and also obsessive, Lucy and I made our hats last summer.

Gear up for the return of the Derby fashion post, dear friends. We have dresses to buy and accessories to coordinate! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Maybe it's The Week

If Sunday and Monday are any indication, this is The Week When Things Happen.

Since the beginning of the year, I've been juggling. Since January, my life has felt like a failing attempt to keep track of too many moving pieces: at work, for my soccer team, my hockey schedule, planning for trips to Brazil and the Kentucky Derby, a board appointment, house hunting, The Coach's game schedule, holidays, everything. Nothing is settled. I am tired.

But if Sunday and Monday are any indication, this is The Week When Things Happen.

It is about damn time.

I am ready to lock in a few pieces, to know what to expect moving forward, to expel less energy guiding along all of these responsibilities that seem to need constant attention. I want to be done with something. I want to scratch it off of my list and declare it complete and feel accomplished, even if that feeling only lasts a day.

Maybe this is the week. It feels like it.

Cross your fingers, guys.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Happy, happy, happy

I knew that Friday morning would be a rough morning at work.

When Lucy invited me to join her and the boys at the park, I jumped on it.

Mother Nature must have known that I had suffered through a challenging week, because she sent out perfect weather. And the boys must have known that Auntie was in need of a pick-me-up, because they were extra sweet.

I assisted Baby A as he jumped from rock to rock.

And pushed swings.

And rode down the slide. (At least 20 times.)

And otherwise probably was a little too physically active for the afternoon before a half marathon.

The half marathon which, I should mention, I managed to slog through somewhat successfully. My run mirrored my training -- I never made the time for a training run of over 8 or 9 miles and it showed: I tanked right around mile 8 and really suffered through the remainder of the race. I finished in 1:55, which wasn't my best and wasn't my worst.  

Surely my lack of training is more to blame, but I wouldn't have traded one trip down the slide with Baby A for shaving even a single second off of my time.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


I run a half-marathon on Saturday.

And, because of that, I had planned to go for a run on Tuesday. I looked at houses instead.

And, because of that, I had planned to go for a run tonight. I worked late. I stopped by Mom and Dad's house. I did not run.

Nor have I figured out where exactly I need to go to pick up my race packet. Or park my car on race day. I haven't bought Shot Bloks, my favorite gnarly-tasting race fuel, or looked up my bib number.

I have exactly one thing going for me: I have my race outfit picked out. Only because I bought it last month and never even bothered to tuck it inside my closet.

I'm just unprepared. It isn't like I haven't run a race feeling unprepared before. I did it in October. And I ran a personal best.

I'm still not thrilled that I'm in this position again. I should be ready. But I'm not. There isn't anything that I can do about it but be stressed over the runs that I haven't gone on. Which doesn't do me any good.

Nor do I have any room in my body for any more stress. Work. House hunting. Trying to organize for summer soccer and a trip to Brazil and a move that is probably inevitable but maybe isn't. Keeping my nail polish looking presentable. Finding time to read and cook and shop for the perfect running outfits and shower and sleep.  

This just a race.

I run a half-marathon on Saturday.

But I've been running a marathon for weeks.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014


I can barely remember three years ago.

I had two jobs and a master's degree that I was using but not using enough. I had an apartment. I had a wound from finding out that my dad was cheating on my mom that hadn't quite healed. I wore my hair curly. I wasn't yet an auntie. I didn't own a smartphone. I was 28 years, 6 months and 6 days old.

But I remember April 8.

It rained in the morning. I had a job interview. It cleared up in the evening. I had dinner with Lucy and Chet and Chet's best buddy.

The Coach came over that night. Three years ago. Three years ago today.

I was 28 years, 6 months and 6 days old.

I don't regret it. I don't regret April 8 of three years ago. I don't regret today. I don't regret the days in between.

This could all turn out to be an enormous mistake.

But it is one of the things -- and he is one of the people -- that got me here.

To 31 years, 6 months and 6 days.

Housing Crisis, Part 12

I'm just going to speed this up to get us to today because I'm as sick of writing about looking for a house as I am with looking for a house which is VERY SICK.

We went and looked at houses a couple of times following not getting the house I made an offer on. I wasn't really interested in anything that I could actually afford. Which was cool. Really getting attached to a house that isn't feasible to purchase is definitely my idea of fun.

Last week, my dad was all "let's broaden where you're looking! Maybe you can't be in the school district that you want to be in." And then he suggested what is essentially Trashville, located to the north, which is not only trashy but would also tack on a good 30 minutes of bumper-to-bumper-on-back-roads-until-you-reach-the-expressway driving to an otherwise reasonable commute if/when I take a new job. Fuck no.

I ignored him and then when the realtor started sending me listings for Trashville, I basically lost my shit. There are exactly two things I want out of a house: not to live somewhere that sucks and not to have a commute that sucks. I don't feel like this is unreasonable. And I'm not compromising.

I spent the entire weekend raging mad about this whole house situation. Pissed off that I can't afford houses that I want. Pissed off that I saw those houses in the first place. (To be fair, I suggested that we go up in price a little bit and, after I had the mortgage guy run the numbers, realized that it wasn't going to work.) Annoyed that my father even suggested that I settle for something with exactly zero of my whopping two requirements. Pissed off at my mother for giving me irritating pep talks in her understanding mom voice. Angry that this was taking so long. And very very very close to consulting Craigslist for rental listings.

I refused to see houses on Sunday. I needed a break. I went for a long run instead, because I am woefully undertrained for a half-marathon that I'm running this Saturday and also because I had negative energy to burn. And I went shopping. And I had a drink. And I got over my house hunting injustices and stopped being a brat.

Yesterday, the realtor sent over a few houses she wanted me to see, including one that she thought would go fast. Near a lake (such a sucker for the lake houses and I won't even apologize for it), in the general vicinity of where I would like to be, decent size, affordable. We need to see it by Tuesday or it will be gone, she said. Let's go tonight or tomorrow, I replied.

She clearly wanted to push our appointments until the next day and so that was the plan: to see the house that I was really interested in (along with a few others) tonight.

And she just emailed me to tell me that they've already accepted an offer house that I was really interested in.

So much for that! (Skip the "meant to be" condolences, I've already tried convincing myself of that and it is only pissing me off more.)

I basically want to light her on fire.

I also just want to give up.

Do people like this? Is house hunting enjoyable for some people? Because I find it to be nothing but an incredibly time-consuming exercise in annoyance.

I am so very over this. 

Monday, April 07, 2014

Housing Crisis, Part 11

When my mom returned home from her conference, we dragged her out to see the ranch on the lake. And we stopped in to see the small, inexpensive house again. And our real estate agent showed us a new one, too: this miniature but completely updated little cottage on a lake that was, quite clearly, the ultimate bachelor pad.

The ultimate bachelor pad was tempting. It had been completely updated. I wouldn't need to rip out the kitchen, as I would in both of the others. I could paint and move in and put my books in the built-in bookcases and start watching movies in the basement theater with attached bar. Yeah, seriously.

We ruled out the ranch on the lake on that second trip. We visited the small, inexpensive house last and I still found it (minus the kitchen) cute, I still liked the quiet little neighborhood, I still could picture myself there. All of the bells and whistles of the ultimate bachelor pad couldn't dampen my fondness for that little house.

And so the next day I put in an offer.

The process was a little bit surreal. I wasn't as anxious as I thought that I would be. I didn't have the doubt that I assumed that I would have. I was very sure as I signed my name and, at the same time, I had a feeling that this one wasn't going to go through. That this house wasn't going to be THE house.

And I say that but I suppose that statement isn't entirely true: it felt real enough to pick up paint swatches the next day.

But not real enough to cry when I found out a few days later that I didn't get the house.

Because it wasn't meant to be, I suppose. Because that house wasn't my house. It was just for practice.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Housing Crisis, Part 10

The week following our first day looking at houses, my mom was in California for work. Dad and I went out with the real estate agent twice.

There was an overpriced little house a few homes away from a lake that I liked but didn't seem to excite my dad or the real estate agent much. I reasoned that I was mostly attracted to being near a lake, which was a silly prospect being that Mom and Dad's house, on a lake, was only 10 minutes away. In hindsight, I wish I had looked at that house a little more closely.

There were a few that were complete disasters. There were a few that were simply too far from where I wanted to live. We looked at a couple that had some potential but didn't stick in my head long after we left them. And a ranch just across from a lake (I expect I will always be a sucker for a lake house) that was in desperate need of upgrades. That ranch stuck in my head.

As did the small, inexpensive house that I saw the first day we went out.

Both were worth thinking about.

And they were worth looking at again. We made an appointment for our realtor to take us to those two houses again when Mom was back in town.

There was plenty to think about in the meantime. I loved the location of the ranch on the lake. And I kept coming back to that small, inexpensive house that could be fixed up to be so cute. It had a little playhouse in the yard and I could picture Lucy's boys playing in it.

I estimated what it would cost me to live in both houses and the mortgage payments seemed realistic. I thought about paint colors and kitchen remodels and registering to vote in a new city.

While I waited for Mom to come home and see what I had been thinking about, buying a house suddenly seemed a lot more realistic and a lot less scary and maybe something that I even wanted.

So that was weird.      

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Auntie Pie

I do not keep it a secret: I love nicknames.

I love my own nicknames. I love calling others by nicknames, whether they are ones that I have coined or ones that have been bestowed upon by others.

Lucy labeled me as Auntie, or Auntie Aly, to Baby A when he was very small.  That tickled me. My mom doesn't have any friends who are my aunts-but-not-really so being Baby A's aunt-but-not-really felt special.

Eventually, he started referring to me as "me," which eventually started sounding more like "--tie" and then evolved to "auntie."

And as of a few weeks ago, I am Auntie Pie.

Of course I am.
Our favorite activities involve pat, pat, patting and roll, roll, rolling out various doughs: be it donuts or play-doh or sugar cookies.
And I am the auntie who brings over dessert on Friday nights: dessert that is oftentimes a (kosher-friendly) pie.  

The kid loves making and eating baked goods almost as much as I do.

Hence the mutual adoration. And my awesome new nickname.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Gratitude: March

  • A new nickname from Baby A.
  • The perfect tank top for my trip to Brazil.
  • Quiet Sunday mornings.
  • A more-flexible-than-not work schedule.
  • Donuts.
  • Perspective.
  • Squats. 
  • Parents who care enough to drive me crazy.
  • The first outdoor run of spring.
  • Coffee in moderation.
  • A lot of honesty on the house ordeal: from Lucy, from Chet, from readers, from my parents, from myself. 
  • The perfect top knot. 
  • Surprise and possibility.
  • The coming spring.
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