Monday, December 31, 2012

A Super Quick House Update

We are almost ready to close on the house! We are literally scrambling with three kids, two dogs, and an entire house worth of stuff to pack - to sell a few things, give a few things away, and take several trips to the dump to recycle and dump stuff that we no longer need. It's been crazy. And, of course, anyone who has moved knows it's so hard to figure out what you can pack that you won't need for the next two weeks and what you can't live without. This will be the seventh move that we have done together (and one of them was from Southern California to Northern California), so we certainly aren't newbies to this whole moving thing - but boy are we newbies when it comes to doing it with three kids. The hardest part for me is that I am an organization/neat freak (less so since having kids...), but moving makes SUCH a stinkin' mess. Grrrr.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mr. Howard's 30th Birthday

My darling husband turned the big 3-0 on December 15th. Whoa! He's eight months older than me, so for a good portion of the year I get to tease him...although I will say, I am not that into numbers. I've known 30-year-olds who act 50 and 40-year-olds who act 21.

I know a lot of people get nervous about the big milestones, but Mr. Howard and I feel honored to reach each milestone. We have no regrets...nothing we wish we had done before we turned 30. We are infinitely blessed in all that we've accomplished and experienced. Plus, it doesn't hurt that I think my husband is JUST as stinkin' hot as that day I met him at Rafael's birthday party when he was 18. Seriously.

All of these were taken on my phone. I totally forgot my camera. Oops.
Hubby's delicious ice cream cake!
After dinner. We had prime rib. Mmmm.
Connor wanted in one!
We had already put the babies to bed before we ate dinner.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Eve - Tamales, Talking, and Treats

Mr. Howard had Christmas Eve off. I honestly can't tell you the last time that has happened. It was amazing!!! There are so many things I love about his new job, but the thing I love the most is that they constantly talk about (and follow up with action) work life balance. I am thankful that he got Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off. It was such a blessing.
I think I've mentioned this before, but Isabella is so clingy whenever we're around people (be it family, friends, or strangers). If anyone is around, she is in my arms or Mr. Howard's arms. I wanted a cuddler and boy did I get one!! She LOVES to be held and rocked and cuddled!
 We tried getting a family photo, but Connor wanted no part in it (see him hanging off the couch) and Isabella wanted to have a funny little chat with her brother. Apparently, he thinks she's quite funny.
 As always, the hubby and I took a self picture!
 We host Christmas Eve dinner and Mr. Howard (Senior)'s birthday and I try to come up with a cute dessert every year. Last year I did those Santa Claus strawberries, but this year I wanted to do cupcakes. I found these North Pole Cupcakes on pinterest and they were super easy!
 I used Hot Chocolate Cupcake Mix (I got a box at Target), and then used a cream cheese white frosting. I topped them with white sugar sprinkles (for snow), a candy cane (I just broke them all at the right height and then stuck the broken side down into the cupcake), and a red m&m on the top (stuck with some frosting). I downloaded free printables from THIS site.
 Connor said he wanted to be in a picture with me (when he saw me taking one with the cupcakes), but what I think he meant was, "Will you lift me up in your arms so I can get a better view of the cupcakes I've been asking for all night?.
 Isabella reached for my sister and made her night!
I think I mentioned this last year, but I have a friend who hosts a tamale party. She makes traditional tamales and orders 10 pound bags of masa. This year I made four dozen. Once they are made, they are so easy to cook (they only take about 2 hours of steaming and I can cook them all at once in the giant pan Mr. Howard got me a few years ago!)
This year we made a 7 layer dip to go with the rice and tamales. I learned a little pinterest trick this year for my seven layer dip too. We added taco seasoning to the layer with beans. Mmm. It gave the dip such great flavor.  
 We tried getting a family picture at the end of the night and apparently Nova wanted in. Do you see Connor's face? Oh my goodness; he thinks that dog is just the most amazing family member ever!
 And we tried again. This time Nova stayed out, but Connor was still in hysterics about her joining us. Oh goodness..I just love my little family.
I completely forgot to get a picture of the rest of the family! Eeek. But my sister, brother, mom, dad, and Mr. Howard's mom and dad all joined us!
I wore Cole's footprint on my neck (you can see it on the picture with me and Connor or me and the cupcakes). He is never very far from our thoughts on normal days, but especially momentous special days like Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. He would have been just over two-years-old and I'm sure he would have been into cars and running around and opening presents. He would have added such laughter and happy chaos into our lives. I am, however, certain he was having such a wonderful celebration of his own in Heaven. I pray my Aunt cuddled him for me and gave him lots of kisses. I miss them both so much.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

I know I'm not the first person

Last night we got the official word that our buyers' funding approval came through!! We should be receiving the official Contingency Release today.
I'm about two hours away from having our office packed up. My goal is to have it packed up by Friday (I'm putting that down in writing so that I can't back out!). I don't want to start packing up curtains and things I have to look at every day until have the official contingency release is in my hand. Sometimes I look around the house and think, "This won't be so hard to pack up!" and then other times I start to feel like I'm going to have a panic attack because I think, "there's no way I can pack all this!" I know I'm certainly not the first person to pack a house up, and I'm probably not even the first person to do it with three little kids at my feet, but I'm kinda freaking out about it. Tell me I'll survive, right? Riiiggghht??
So instead of packing, I do what any sane person who is totally stressed about packing her house would do, I sit around and take adorable photos of my kiddos!
These are their Christmas outfits from last year, but seeing as though they're both so tiny, I went ahead and put them in them again. They were so ridiculously cute. They were laughing at each other and really interacting. The last one on the bottom right cracks me up, because Aiden was mid-pout (have I ever told you about that boy's pouting? I have never seen anything like it!!! Such a personality!).
 The kids' daycare/preschool always gives the kids little gifts from them and then Mr. Howard and I always get gifts from each kid. So sweet. We got ornaments (made by Connor) with each kid's picture on them. I love them!
Alright...enough avoiding the office to work I go.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

We're not homeless. Whew.

How on earth did December fly by so quickly? I was driving home from my parents' house yesterday and had that sudden overwhelming feeling that things were happening too quickly. I always wish the holidays would come quickly because I just love December and then they just fly by. We have 15 days before we close escrow and 14 days to move out. Oh holy moly! And we're still in that limbo land because they haven't released their contingencies. I'm hoping we get the official document today! Cross your fingers for us.
My parents very graciously offered (with some major negotiating skills on our part over the dogs) to let us stay with them until our house is built. I'm thankful for that because I almost had a complete melt down yesterday (and I may or may not have bawled on Christmas and told my husband we were homeless). I was just so worried we wouldn't be able to find something that would fit my whole family (plus dogs) that would be willing to only rent to us for 2 months and wouldn't charge us more than what we could afford (considering we'd also need to rent a storage unit for 2 months). So I'm thankful we have a place that will work.
In addition to packing and cleaning and taking care of adorable little ones, we've been enjoying time with family and friends. My brother came into town about a week ago and he and Mr. Howard have been able to hang out twice - one of the times they went golfing. Mr. Howard's parents came in town Christmas Eve. And my brother's girlfriend comes into town in a few days. I just love all the extra time with family.
Isabella's Gramma got her this adorable reindeer hair clip. I mean... seriously.
Daddy and Isabella 
Daddy and Aiden
Apparently we've never told Connor what fishing is because he asked us why on earth Buddy had a fish on his "stick." Oh well, Buddy, we appreciated your creativity. 
Speaking of Buddy, we had so much fun with him! We are soo thankful the kids' Great Granna got it for them!! I can't wait for Buddy to come back next year and I KNOW Connor can't wait. The babies will have so much fun too!!!
Buddy got into some mischeif while he was here though. On Day 10, he taped Minnie Mouse to the fridge!
 On Day 11, he brought muffins for Connor to eat, but then ate a bunch and got stuck in the box. Oops!
 On Day 12, he snuck over to the cabinet by the kids' rooms and swung on the door!
 On Day 13, he got into the cheerios and wrote a message for Connor and the babies!
On Day 14, he grew some candy canes for Connor to eat!
 On Day 15, he got into the chocolate and got it all over his face.
 On Day 16, he put a Christmas movie on and watched it from the kitchen counter!
 And on Day 17, he got the chocolate out for Connor to have his first glass of chocolate milk ever!
On Day 18, he slid down Connor's car toy!
 On Day 19, he went fishing for gold fish!
And on Day 20 he went zip lining from our refrigerator to our celing fan, but someone was busy making tamales and she forgot to get a picture of it. Oops.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Winter

I hope your holidays are filled with magic, sprinkles, chocolate, family, and lots of laughter!
Merry Christmas and
a belated Happy Hanukkah
from the Howard Bunch
And the Kirkpatricks

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Lights with a Few Families

Last year we started a tradition of driving around and looking at Christmas lights. We went with Mr. Howard's parents and had fun, but didn't realize how crazy busy it was going to be. So this year, we wanted to go early. We also decided that instead of spending an hour trying to drive the block, we'd walk it. Just as we were planning to go, one of the gals in my Mothers of Multiples group posted that she wanted to know if anyone wanted to walk and look at the lights with her family. We decided to go! There were three of us with twins.
This is Mr. Howard and me before we left!
You can't tell, but I dressed them in their Santa Initial shirts that Gramma made them. Connor was SOOO excited. Aiden and Isabella liked it, but I can't imagine what they were thinking.
 Did I mention how excited Connor was?!?
 I didn't get a great photo of one of the families who went with us. But she and her husband have adorable twin girls!
 Erin and her girls, Grace and Ana, were ridiculously cute. The girls were pointing to things and naming them. Such a cute stage!!
 Connor walking around!
 My big family!
I just adore making these kinds of memories with my kids. I can so vividly remember my mom driving us around to look at lights when we were little too. It's so fun to incorporate new traditions into the family each year at Christmas time. And during these moments, I am always reminded of how blessed I am to have the husband I do. We couldn't be more compatible when it comes to getting out of the house and taking our kids on little adventures. I hope our kids see what a special Daddy they have. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

December Catch-up and Ramblings

We have been so busy with Christmas, selling our home, building a new one, daycare, work, family, etc. Whew! We just come home at night and collapse we're so tired. On Friday I showed up at daycare in the morning to drop off the kids and was about to leave, when our providers said, "Did you remember Connor's present for the gift exchange?" *&#@ Not only had I not remembered, I hadn't even remembered to go buy one!!!! It was awful. I felt like such a horrible mom. I have never picked out a kid's gift so stinkin' fast (did I mention it was Pajama Day at my work and I was in blue flannel pj's?!?). I wrapped it and drove back to preschool as fast as I legally could!!

One huge thing I did was cut my hair! I have had long hair for as long as I have been married. I think the last time I had hair this short was early on in college. While I think that long hair looks best on me, I just couldn't justify the 40 minutes it was taking me in the morning to blow dry my hair. Plus, at night it was tangling so badly that I had to wash it every morning. It's been SUCH a nice change and who can beat the 4 minutes it takes for me to blow dry it now?!?

During this crazy month, we also had our laptop stop working. We did everything to try to make it work and then realized that it might have been the power chord. I took it in to a computer place and they determined that it was, in fact, the chord. Whew! That was a relatively inexpensive fix. But we've been computer-less for a couple weeks now. Since we have no T.V., our laptop is essential to us! Hopefully it arrives soon. With everyone ordering Christmas presents, it said it may take a while to ship to us (or we could have paid for 2 day shipping which was $78!). No thank you.
We've been having lots of Christmas fun in the shirts Gramma made us. These reindeer ones were a huge hit!
Connor asked, when I was taking the babies 17 month photos, if I'd do one of him in his chair!
 These blue ones were adorable too. Aiden was in a bad mood and that was the best photo I could get of him. Isabella kept saying, "Uh-oh!" and pointing to her brother who was standing in his chair. I tried telling little Miss Sassy Pants that she, too, was standing. But she just started saying, "Uh-oh!" louder. They are a crack-up; I'm telling you!
The next series of photos pretty much sums up group photos right now. This was after dinner; they were tired and wanted bottles. I had to bundle them up for a Christmas Light excursion and they wanted no part in these photos.
 I think it's hillarious they're both looking at Aiden like, "Come on, bud. Mom's crazy. She wants this stupid photo. Will you just comply so we can get in the car?!?"
 At this point Connor was losing his patience. I think at this point I may have promised him a piece of chocolate. Whatever. I'm okay with you judging me. ;-)
 This one, below, cracks me up the most. Connor and Isabella finally sorta just went with it. Aiden still wanted no part in it, but at least he was looking at me. Mission accomplished.
I've gotten a few emails asking how the house sale is coming along. Our buyers decided to go forward without the repair requests. They haven't released their contingencies quite yet, though. So we only have a couple more days until they can back out without losing their deposit. I think it is very unlikely that they will back out at this point.

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