Tuesday, August 26, 2008



- erratic sleep

+ beautiful weather

+ more walking

--- hurts to pee

+/- less blogging

- moldy shower curtain (right after I washed the dang thing)

+/- seeking part-time employment

+/-aching for a haircut

- missing my Texas friends

+ homemade banana-zucchini bread

- short attention span (hey, look, a piece of lint)

+++ new baby in the family

+ more artwork done

+ less TV

- very tired

+ just ate a yummy Boca Burger

Thursday, August 21, 2008

And the winner is...

My contest is over and the winner of That Nora Girl's Pay It Forward contest is...

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-08-22 03:10:50 UTC

Comment number 6! That would be HAYLEY, who said:
My first real concert was The Warped Tour when I was 14. My best friend Heather and I decided at the last minute to sneak past our parents and go to a dangerous city to head to the concert. We met so many cute boys and listened to great music, including L-7 and Seaweed. LOL. Good times!

Congratulations, Hayley! You now have an email waiting for you about what we do next.

Thanks to everyone who entered!

"We've changed a lot and then some..."

Eleven years ago today I was 15 years old and standing in the pouring rain for my first 311 concert. The night was monumental, as 311 was THE favorite band of both my younger brother Isaac and I. He was 13. We were too young to go ourselves so our sister Karsten, her boyfriend at the time and a friend of his took me and Isaac. Isaac and I wanted to get really close to the stage but Karsten wouldn't let us because her boyfriend had already been kicked in the head by a crowd-surfer and she didn't want to return us home with blood dripping anywhere. Mum would have never let her take us anywhere ever again.

This was the summer of 1997, the summer 311 released Transistor. Isaac and I had been listening to the self-titled album for the past year non-stop, ever since we saw the video for the song "Down" on MTV the prior summer. (They opened the show with that song. Perfect.) 311 was everything to us. We bonded over their music and quizzed each other on lyrics. Isaac was really good at SA's parts and I always sang Nick's.

So we screamed in the pouring rain at the no-longer-there Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach. It was amazing.

My first concert ever was also at the Ballpark but quite a few years before my 311 experience. I saw New Kids on the Block there when I was 8. I'm serious. I got a Donnie shirt to take home because they were out of Jordan.

There's still an hour and a half to qualify for my Pay It Forward contest (see most recent post before this one) if you want to tell me about your first concert. It's open until 11 pm eastern time tonight, August 21.

Have fun laughing at the image of my 8-year-old self in an oversized Donnie Wahlberg shirt, singing "The Right Stuff" or "Hangin' Tough." To my NKOTB poster in my bedroom. Into my hairbrush. Trying not to be seen by Karsten, who was 13 and into metal.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pay It Forward contest! Tell all your blogging friends!

On Tuesday of this week I received a box in the mail, addressed to me from Caley. Liam was very happy to see it too, as he did his little toddler tap dance and jazz hands in anticipation until I opened it. You see, I won Caley’s Pay It Forward contest and this package was my prize!

On the inside: gum (because I love gum!), stationery made from recycled paper (because I love stationery and recycling!), homemade caramels (because I love candy!), homemade strawberry jam (because she freakin’ rocks!), and a handmade felt food breakfast buffet! This felt food is amazing, and Liam thinks so too. He was distracted at first with shaking the box of gum, but he saw the felt pancakes, stopped tap dancing, put the box of gum down on the floor, and wandered off to play with the goodness of felt food.

Thank you, Caley! I love getting mail and you thoughtfully put together the best package I could ask for!

Now it’s your turn to get mail- if you’re lucky! This is your chance to win That Nora Girl’s Pay It Forward contest. All you need to do is leave a comment on this post before Thursday, August 21 at 11:00 pm. In your comment, you need to tell me about your first concert you ever went to, no matter how embarrassing, to be eligible for the contest.

After the end of the contest I will use one of those random number generator things I've heard about to randomly select a winner, and I will send the winner a package of goodies. Whoever wins will then carry on and hold their own contest on their blog, and eventually every blogger in the world will be getting happy packages! Ok, not really. But you should enter and have some fun with this anyway!

***Everyone with a blog is welcome to enter, whether you are a regular reader or commenter or not!***

I don’t know what my own winner will receive, exactly, but I can tell you this: I am crafty and I like to make art so there will be something original and handmade just for them! And I will throw in some other fun things too. Don't you want it to be you!??

So, comment away and good luck to you! Thanks again, Caley, for such a lovely surprise.

my face again

I've now been using honey and brown sugar to cleanse my face for one week.

And I want to urge you all to try it. Especially if you have problematic skin.

Now, my skin is still my skin. I still have acne scarring, wounds from recent breakouts, and my general Nora-ness. I do now, however, have brighter skin. My healthy skin looks wonderful and my non-healthy skin looks better than it used to. (It'll never be perfect and I'm done expecting that.) My tone has evened out a bit, and I haven't used moisturizer or toner all week. I haven't needed to.

My face doesn't look shiny in a matter of a couple hours anymore and it feels a lot softer. In fact, I showered yesterday morning and it was well into the evening when I started looking a little oily- and that was only on my nose, not my forehead or chin. This was well after I'd taken a 2+ mile walk which included a little uphill jogging with our regular stroller and some sweating. I haven't had any new breakouts. I'm still seeing tiny pores being cleared of what I didn't even realize was in there.

So do this: buy a honey bear and find a small container to keep your brown sugar in. (I'm using a round plastic container that used to have a single serving of baby food in it.) Keep these in your shower or on your bathroom counter. Whenever you wash your face, squeeze a dime-to-quarter size drop of honey in your hand and take a pinch of brown sugar. Mix them well and rub it on your face. Let the concoction sit on your skin for a few minutes if you can. (In the shower I do it before shaving and when I wash my face at the sink I just rinse it right off.) Rinse. Enjoy.

I haven't been wearing my usual mineral powder and I am pretty sure honey and brown sugar won't remove makeup. I am going to do a little research and see what I can do about this in the future if I'm wearing the makeup for a special occasion.

But really. Give this a shot for at least a week and see what it does for your skin.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Anniversary Squared

I just realized that I started this blog on my first wedding anniversary. So happy anniversary, That Nora Girl!

Thank you to all of you who read me!

xoxo Nora C. McCourtney-Wolf

on this day in history

Two years ago today, Gabe and I were married in Lewiston, Maine, in the yard of my aunt and uncle/Godfather, in front of our friends and family. It was sunny and 75 degrees. No humidity. (And my skin was even cooperative!)

I am unable to form a sufficient group of words about our wedding day and about our marriage, so enjoy my six favorite photos of us from that day instead.






One of few times you'll ever catch me dancing in public: my wedding day.

I was going to say, did we really look that young two years ago?? Then I remembered, I got pregnant one month after our wedding so yes... it is possible that we looked that young just two years ago.

Tomorrow will mark five and a half years to the day that we've been together. I know we're still young yet but when I put numbers on it like that it's hard to imagine that span of time and how things were before it.

Photo Bonuses:
This was taken sometime in 2003, less than a year after we met. We are leaning back on our bed and trying out the timer on the camera. For some reason I have always loved this photo a lot.
(This was when I had to wear glasses, even in my sleep, and Gabe dyed his hair black. It didn't match his brown beard but this man was [is] one sexy fool.)

And this is one of my favorite photographic memories of our honeymoon. This was a photobooth at the arcade at Old Orchard Beach.
(The little red splotch on my forehead? That would be SHINGLES.)

Happy Anniversary, Gabe.
xoxo Nora
I love you.

Monday, August 11, 2008

sweet like honey (and clearer skin)

I've had skin problems since I was eleven years old. It started out as just your standard adolescent pimples. They'd come, they'd go, I'd forget them. I don't remember when it started happening but I eventually developed cystic acne. This was a physical and emotional burden. Cystic acne hurts. My face was swollen and throbbing throughout most of high school and even sometimes since. I would cry sob from the pain and the feeling of disfigurement. That might sound overly dramatic but if you've ever had an acne cyst, surely you can understand. I have a lot of scarring on my face from it so even now when I am occasionally acne and pimple free, my skin is still bumpy and unevenly toned.

I tried a lot of different antibiotics and other medications back then and nothing worked. When a friend would complain about a tiny pimple that would surely disappear and leave no traces behind, I wanted to scream. They had it so easy. I was even questioned about my hygiene. No less than a few times, if I ventured to talk or vent about my skin, someone would say to me, "Nora, why don't you just wash your face?" And I wanted to punch them in theirs.

Once I was out of high school, my skin cleared up a bit, thanks to my lovely birth control (yeah right like I needed that then!) skin and menstrual cycle control pills, Ortho Tri-Cyclen. I actually started getting attention from boys at college and back home after I dropped out and it was flattering and weirrrrrd! I felt pretty, and not just to my mum, for the first time. When I stopped the pills (can't remember why) my skin flared up again and for one reason or another (different types of birth control, pregnancy, breastfeeding, laziness now) I haven't taken them back up.

At my next OB/GYN appointment I'm going to ask about Yaz because (even though I think the name is ridiculous for birth control) it touts help with acne as one of its benefits. I need it again.

The other night I ran out of face wash and I panicked a little. With my skin I can't skip cleansing. I texted Gabe at work to ask him to pick some up on his way home, but he didn't have his phone on him. Without face wash the next morning, I remembered something that had recently been recommended to me by Malisa. She saves a bunch of money and pampers her skin by cleansing with honey and brown sugar! I happened to have just bought honey that week to make glazed carrots, and I didn't have any brown sugar but I'd read honey can work alone. So I tried it.

So really, this post is about using natural products on my skin now, and I also gave you a LOT of background. That's how I roll.

This is how it is to use honey on your face: delicious. Honey smells so good, and it's so soft. I worried about it being too moisturizing but so far has caused no issues that are out of the ordinary for me. My skin isn't looking amazing or anything right now (yet!), but I haven't gotten that tight dryness and little flaky patches like I would get from even the "best" commercial face wash.

I picked up brown sugar yesterday and that helped cut out some of that extra moisture I was feeling from the honey. It also exfoliates without irritating and causing redness. And it smells good to rub it on your face too. (Today when I got out of the shower I asked Gabe if my faced smelled like a cookie; he said no but I like to think it does anyway.) One surprise it gave me was, it's drawing out little blackheads that I have never even seen before, from pores that weren't even very big. Thank you, brown sugah.

So while I may not have that "My skin is glowing!" effect I had read about, the fronts of my cheeks closest to my nose are less red than usual. I am feeling good about my decision to go natural on my face. After years and years of bombarding it with various chemicals and toxins that never even fixed my face anyway, I'm ready to be kinder to it. I am hoping I do see a noticeable improvement in a few weeks.

I also decided to stop wearing my L'Oreal mineral makeup because I want my skin to breathe for a while and really heal from the honey.

Do any of you have any all-natural face and body remedies?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

ill, iller, illest

I am not-so-secretly loving that fact that today was only in the 60s so even though it was raining, it wasn't all sticky-humid. I'll be the first to admit that I'm a total baby about the heat and I'm even worse about humidity. It makes me ill to be hot. And iller (spell check tells me that's not a word but I like it) to be sticky.

We've been cooped up because it's too hot to play in the yard. Plus there's all this rain. Now, I love rain. LOVE IT. I actually love it so much that I take it personally when someone complains about it. But. I never before had a 14-month-old child to worry about keeping busy and now I understand. Flooding aside because that's obvious, there really is such a thing as too much rain. There's only so many times we can walk around our little local mall, only so much TV we can handle, only so many songs to sing and games to play, only so many books to chew corners off of read. Remember when I mentioned he's getting molars? It's making him far less patient with the day-to-day and nothing is fun anymore.

I took Liam for a walk today despite the weather, out of desperation. There was a definite drizzle. I covered his stroller in blankets, leaving enough of a gap for him to look around, and off we went in the cool sprinkly summer air. And you know what? I jogged as I pushed the stroller back up the little hill behind our house. How unlike me!

In honor of my pretty crummy week, Gabe has officially issued me a Get Out of Jail Free card for the weekend, which means he's in charge of Liam while I am free to clean, work, read, be alone, or hang out with them as I please. I've only ever had this card for one day at a time before, like all of two times or so, so this is a big deal and I am so ready for the break. It's refreshing and helps me appreciate them better and want to spend time with them afterward, instead of wanting to pull my hair out at the first whine about not being allowed to play with electrical cords or the first time I am asked, "What's to eat?"

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


It's 10:55 pm and Liam won't sleep. Something about this past weekend (I'm stink-eyeing you, Gabe) has him all thrown off and sleeping has been a struggle between us this week. I've decided, for my sanity and his, to leave him alone and stop forcing it. We're both tired.

You know what the kid is doing? For lack of a better phrase, he's very busy farting his ass off. No wonder he can't sleep.

I smell a diaper change coming on.

Oh and today Liam is fourteen months old!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Oh my gawd Becky, look at her butt.

I've decided to take a more active role in controlling my mood and health, and until I can seek medication and/or counseling, I'm going to (gasp!) start exercising again.

In the year leading up to my wedding, I was busy with a full-time school and work schedule and of course the planning of the wedding. For those of you who don't know, we lived in Texas and got married in Maine, so all the planning was done on the phone. Not fun. I managed though to stay active- not full-on working out, because have you seen me? but exercising at home, doing a lot of yoga and floor exercises and taking walks when the Texas heat wasn't trying to melt me into the soles of my shoes. I was tired because of everything going on but I managed to maintain a great weight (125) for my height and build, and because I bought my wedding gown so far in advance it helped guarantee it would still fit me by the time our wedding happened. It did fit and may I say, I looked pretty nice?

One month after the wedding, I became pregnant. By the time I began suspecting it a couple weeks later, I was already feeling dizzy and fatigued. Another couple weeks later when I finally had a positive pregnancy test, I was on the slippery slope to the all-consuming nausea, vomiting, fatigue and dizziness. All day, every day. Needless to say, I was unable to keep up with my fitness. I didn't gain a ton of weight during my pregnancy but I was on bed rest and then restricted activity, so at that point I couldn't exercise even if I wanted to.

If you're a mom, you know what it feels like in the days and weeks following the delivery of your child. And if you breastfed and experienced the engorged boobs FOR. EVER. you know what that feels like too. Feel like exercising? Notsomuch.

And there's the whole depression thing, and I had a nice little recipe for not exercising, ever. Sure, I do stretches a lot and we were taking frequent walks when we first moved back to Maine before it got all humid, but I wasn't making enough effort.

And I am tired of it.

It seems the humidity is getting lower, and I plan on walking as much as I can with Liam. Then I want to work up to running, which I will have to do alone since I don't have a jogging stroller. I'll keep up with my stretching, and push myself back into my former yoga routine.

In these five or six weeks since Gabe's been working overnight, I have lost weight- somewhere between five and seven pounds. This has been the push I needed to exercise again. I lost the weight from being so busy with Liam during that day and didn't have time for all the snacking I used to do. I am flirting with weighing less than my pre-pregnancy weight and since it was accidental, I know it'll be easy to lose a little more, maintain it and get my sorry mama ass into shape. Weighing the same as before does not equal looking the same as before, and I am sick of being tired and tired of being sick.

Not to mention, I replaced the swimsuit bottom I told you about with one I actually like (thanks to an amazing summer clearance at JC Penney) and while it looks great from the front, there are things going on on my backside that I am not exactly thrilled about. I still have sweet hips though.

Are you bored yet? Yeah, I bored myself writing it. I just thought, if I tell people my agenda I will have more accountability for my actions and I can't slack off and make excuses.

Thank you to Pauline and Gentri (real names!) for inspiring me to get healthy again.

So. Happy Sunday! Dear reader(s), do you have any health and fitness tips to share?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Paying it

Keep your eyes peeled sometime soon for my own Pay It Forward contest. I won Caley's and now one of you lucky ducks might win mine!