forty is the new forty

I gambled big, and I won. There were so many things that could have gone wrong in planning Alex's surprise 40th birthday party--starting with the guest of honor not being there himself--but everything went off without a hitch! Alex was genuinely surprised and never stumbled upon the liquor I had hidden in my closet or the tortilla chips in the back of our kitchen cabinet. Whenever the old guy ends up wearing gold Mardi Gras beads and a pink hat at the end of the night, you know you did a decent job. My only regret is not getting more photos of the action, but that just means I was too busy enjoying myself. Sometimes you need to put the camera down and have fun.

This is a list to remind my future self (in case she ever thinks of throwing a surprise party again) of the potentially disastrous hiccups that could have happened along the way:

1. Alex would not be here for his own party. Three weeks before the big event, I made the executive decision to move ahead with his party and have it the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. This was a weekend he was scheduled to work, and I had to gamble that he would be home by Saturday night. He did not get confirmation of his travel schedule until the Monday before the party. That's five days before the party. And if that wasn't stressful enough, I found out on Friday night at 11:00pm that if Oklahoma had lost its softball game, which it won by one run, there would have been a third game on Saturday at 5:00pm (in Oklahoma) that Alex would have had to work. If that's too confusing, the point is that he/we got lucky. 

2. Alex would not have friends at his party. His birthday always falls on Memorial Day weekend. People travel that weekend, so the odds that our friends would be out of town were stacked against us. It turns out, however, that our friends must be just as boring as we are because most of them were here and made it to the party.

3. Alex would not have any food to eat at his party. Last minute RSVP's jacked up my numbers after I had ordered all the tacos. My mother-in-law came to the rescue, however, with a tamale run that saved the day. There was plenty to eat...and drink!

4. Alex would not have a decent margarita at his party. The bartender that I hired for the event told me she had never made a margarita before "except the frozen kind." Girl. This is Texas. If you're a bartender who doesn't know how to make a margarita, you're in the wrong business. I had it under control though. Because even though I don't make the margaritas in my house, I know how to make the margaritas in my house.

5. Alex would have to stay huddled in our tiny house with 35 of his closest friends at his party. It rained the day before the party. And the day before that. And the day before that. There were flash floods and tornado watches. But Saturday was hot and sunny--a little humid for my taste, but I couldn't complain because we were able to spread ourselves out in the back yard and order drinks from the bartender who didn't know balnco from reposado.


it's a black (and white) thing

I wish I had taken more "before" pictures of what our house looked like when we bought it, because it was so much uglier than I remember in my mind. Take our hall bathroom, for example. What you can't see in this picture is how the top of the pedestal sink was precariously balanced on its pedestal (or perhaps you can see it...look at the gap). The toilet leaked and a warning scribbled in pencil on a piece of paper wrapped around it--look closely--told us not to flush. And the tile? Blech!

Alex got his demo on so quickly in this mess of a room that by the time I arrived with my camera it was stripped down to its stinky bones (uneven floor and all). I watch a lot of Fixer Upper on HGTV, so I was psyched to see the shiplap Alex had uncovered. I wanted to salvage it as an accent wall, but, alas, it was not meant to be. It only covered about 2/3 of the wall and didn't make its way all the way over to the shower tile. We were on a tight deadline--remember how we had to walk outdoors to use the restroom for a week or so?--so I let my dreams of shiplap flutter away.

This is a photo I snapped on my phone the day the tile was laid. Happy. Happy. Joy. Joy. In the end, I took the black and white theme as far as I could starting with the black hexagon floor tile and white subway tile with black grout. You can't see it from the pictures here, but the white shower curtain has a thick black border at the bottom. The top 2/3 of the bathroom is painted white while the bottom 1/3 is black with an accent rugby stripe that wraps around the entire room. It wasn't until Alex uncovered our weird Elvis photograph while unpacking the casita, however, that the room really came together. I love it so much I would almost shower in there myself.


the butterfly effect

I'm glad that I've been given the gift of having houses "speak" to me because, looking back, our tiny hallway had nothing going for it when we bought this place. Except that arch. It was the arch that spoke to me, and I knew I could glam it up with our antique chandelier and an accent wall. 

I knew from the start the wall needed wallpaper. I also knew that after Alex and I "experimented" in hanging wallpaper ourselves when I was six months pregnant at our house in Charlotte, this time I would call in the experts. Factoring in the labor costs associated with my "vision," I had to do some thrifting to find the solution that would bring it to life. The result was a remnant roll of fancy Osborne & Little wallpaper that I found on eBay for about one-third of the retail price. You can find everything on eBay; I swear by it.

So once again, I give you a space that went from totally drab to totally fab. Actually...strike that for a moment. If our bar cart were completely stocked the hallway would be totally fab. Right now it's just so-so fab. 


first splash of the season

It's May in Texas, so that means the splash pads are open. This morning the Wheat children celebrated the beginning of another hot summer season at a birthday party for one of Scout's kinder buddies at the Pease Park splash pad. This was a party I was actually happy to attend (I've become very discriminating after dragging three kids to birthday parties for the last four years) because it was at 10:00am, and the party planners served coffee and breakfast tacos. The kids stayed busy ducking in and out of water shoots, blowing bubbles and drying off on the adjoining playground. The parents stayed busy drinking coffee and gossiping on the sideline (or was that just me?).


my balls look better

Hey guys, guess what! I have a picture of our house to show you!

I think my contractor said it best when he asked me "Where do you get these ideas of yours?" I wish I had the answer--or maybe I don't because it makes me sound "artsy" and "creative" to design on the fly--but honestly sometimes things just pop into my head. When it comes to most things in life, I am not spontaneous, and I am not a "fly by the seat of my pants kind of gal" (even though that is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies).

In regular (non-decorating) life I like to make plans, and I don't mind if those plans change as long as someone gives me advanced notice of those plans changing. I do not fly by the seat of my pants. In decorating, however, I do fly by the seat of my pants. Except the phrase I like to use, which is arguably odder and perhaps sounds clairvoyant, is that something "spoke to me." I don't have a problem hearing these decorating voices, but they kind of drive Alex crazy when he doesn't get the memo that now we're painting the dining room ceiling black, for instance.

Me: I don't know. I'm into this black thing right now. I just want to paint the ceiling black.

Alex: You said everything in the house was going to be white.

Me: I know, but that was before.

Alex: Before what?

Me: I don't know. I'm just feeling the black right now. I'm into the whole contrast. Just don't ask me. Whatever. Paint it black.

Alex: [Eyes rolling behind my back. No words, but he's thinking "crazy bitch."]

So this is what happened that time I bought black paint for the interior doors (that was part of the original plan, by the way) and then we painted the fireplace (on the fly decision because it was speaking to me)...

The dining room went from drab:

To fab:

The balls are another story that involves one dropping from the ceiling and hitting Alex in the head before shattering on the dining room table. "At least it didn't happen to one of the children," is what I said. "That's what happens when you buy stuff from China on eBay," was Alex's take on the situation. Either way, we got a replacement (from China on eBay) and then blew out the socket when we hung it for the second time. "I really don't care. They look nicer than those other crap-ass lights," I said. "It would be nice if they worked," countered Alex. #formoverfunction


some days you win

and some days you lose. I'm pretty sure I lost today. I know that because I found this note left by Catcher on my beside table:


rainy day mom's day

Alex had big plans for Mother's Day this year. Or maybe he didn't, but he convinced me that he did. His plans, unfortunately, were derailed by the unexpected rain we experienced on that most blessed day for moms. So instead we had a taco brunch at our favorite neighborhood taco joint--they have $2 Bloody Marys on Sundays, so that's a win--and then we came home and watched the kids play in the gutter in their bathing suits.


another season in the books

And just like that Scout's soccer season is over. This spring the Black Panthers (yes, that's the name Scout's U6 team picked out for itself) dominated on the field. I'm kidding; watching five year-olds play soccer is almost as amusing as watching four year-olds. However, the team was excited to be back together for its second straight season, and the little guys had fun out there.

The most exciting thing for the parents was our group decision not to provide after-game snacks. We opted instead for halftime oranges, and I have to tell you how much this improved my soccer Saturdays. Instead of having my two children--the two who did not participate in the game--screaming and whining about snacks, snacks, snacks and grabbing with their greedy little paws for players' snacks, we were able to exit the soccer field with little drama. And no one crashed from a post-8:00am game sugar rush at 9:00 in the morning. It's the little victories that count.


i need the force

Let me take you inside the journey of a mom who wanted to treat her nerdy Star Wars-crazed children to an afternoon of fun on May the 4th, which any respectable Star Wars fan (do they have a name for themselves, by the way, like Trekkies?) knows is national--or perhaps international--Star Wars day.

Immediately after picking up the children from school this afternoon, we headed over to our local vegan ice cream joint (because who doesn't love vegan ice cream when it's sunny and 84 in Austin?) and then on to the public library for its Star Wars Day celebration. While images of Star Wars-shaped cookies and a library filled with characters danced in the children's heads, the reality of a Star Wars party held at your local public library did not live up to the hype.

Instead of Chewbacca or some other equally charming character greeting us at the door, we were shuffled into a small, carpeted florescent-lit room where 50 other children, in various iterations of Star Wars garb, were already crowded around folding tables littered with the makings of do-it-yourself Star Wars crafts. There was a "Make Your Own Light Saber" table along with "Build a Droid." There was also a Darth Vader puzzle that, when complete, would reveal the secret hiding place of a secret prize. If all this sounds like fun, then I'm painting a picture that is too flattering.

This party was not fun. My children told me so. It was "boring" and there was "nothing to do." There weren't any of the cookies that Catcher had promised himself in his head. There weren't life-sized photographs of Star Wars characters lining the library walls, as Scout had imagined. There wasn't even a Star Wars character scavenger hunt like Tillie thought there would be. Instead there were a bunch of other children using up all the supplies for making your own light saber and taking up all the slots in the Jedi competition games. The horror!

All of this commotion brought each of my three children to tears--for his or her own reasons--as we were crowded in that little room with stinky kids and weird parents who had actually dressed themselves as Star Wars characters. After Catcher yelled at me because his name was allegedly skipped in the Jedi competition order, I made the executive decision that it was time to cut our losses and get the heck out of dodge. This did not go over well with my comrades. Now instead of being cramped inside a poorly lit room in the public library, I found myself walking through the library with three crying, screaming children and Scout throwing her light saber at the glass entry door (don't stress: it was made of foam; the organizers must have seen this type of resistance coming).

When we finally made it to the car, after cries of everything being my fault and a round or two of "You're the worst mom in the universe," Catcher ripped apart his own light saber with his bare hands (remember, just foam here) and proceeded to yell at the girls the entire way home because, ironically, they were crying and he wanted them to be quiet. I think this will go down as one of my most unpleasant car driving experiences ever. Honestly, I'm just happy we made it home without getting in an accident. It is very distracting having three children trying to out-scream one another in the car. And believe it or not, I don't think this story captures even half of the real-life turmoil. Don't let these sweet faces fool you.