Friday, March 29, 2013

Date Ideas and a Free Printable Bucket List

I'm linking up with Kelly's Korner Blog for Show Us Your Life: Date Ideas. If you're stopping by and you're new to the blog, let me tell you a little bit about myself! I met my husband 13 years ago when we were still in high school and have been married for five years. I am also a mama to four beautiful babies: an almost four-year-old, boy/girl almost two-year-old twins, and a beautiful angel in Heaven.

With three kids, we have to get really creative with our date nights, but we make it a priority. We live by the Nike motto: JUST DO IT.


Before having kids, I thought date nights meant getting a sitter - but I didn't realize the costs associated with doing that on a regular basis (first there is the cost of the sitter and then the cost of finding things to do for the several hours you're gone out of the house). I hear a lot of people say, "Oh you're so lucky that you can afford to get dates" or "you're lucky that you have family who watch your kids." But the reality is that neither of those are universally true. We have only hired a babysitter twice in all the years we've had kids (almost four years). And my parents and sister only watch the kids a handful of times a year. Because my mom watches the kids one day a week for me during the day, I feel like it'd be burdensome to ask her to watch the kids even more for us to go on a date night. So, unless it's a wedding we can't miss or a gift (for Christmas she often gives us movie tickets and a night of babysitting), we only ask her to help when it's a work function and one of us can't pick up the kids. The truth is that while we ARE lucky that we have family to help out, it isn't LUCK that gets us date nights. It's that we make it a priority. We plan it. And mostly, we get creative.

The majority of our dates are at home dates after the kids go to bed. In fact, we make it a priority to do it at least once a week. And, honestly, our dates can be as simple as sitting by the fireplace and asking each other questions to ordering takeout and having picnics, fun drinks, and renting movies.

Here are some of the things we've done at home while the kids are in bed:

(1) Date by the fire. We used The Dating Divas Questions to ask each other.
(2) We often take an ordinary evening and make it special by adding something special like Champagne on the couch. This night we watched the newest Bourne movie with champagne.
 (3) This particular night we caught up on our Hulu list with champagne (from our wedding glasses) and Talenti gelato.
 (4) This particular night we picked up a Papa Murphy's pizza and had a little picnic with champagne.
 (5) Often times we go on little "dates" to pick up the kids together from preschool. It's about 30 minutes we get in the car alone.
 (6) We haven't done these dates for a while, but we used to do bath dates at home. It gave us time to catch up on talking and we usually used the time to take a nap and relax together.
 (7) Sometimes we take ordinary things like voting and make a date out of them. Last November, we took the kids into preschool and then went to vote together. We made a quick Starbucks date out of it.
(8) On mornings when we have a little more time and aren't in such a rush, we have coffee dates at the kitchen table before the kids wake up. Some day when we are more rested and our kids are sleeping through the night, we want to do a coffee date on our patio, snuggling up to watch a sunrise!
 Because I'm a teacher and Mr. Howard works a different schedule every week, we also take time together by sending our kids into preschool for a day or two for lunch and breakfast dates on my holiday breaks (spring break...winter break...summer break). In the past, we also took advantage of the Parents' Night Out nights that our old preschool offered (four times a year). And finally, we utilize family to spend time with our kids so that we can get out of the house. We've done all sorts of fun "out of the home" dates. Here are a few:
  1. Lots of Sushi Dinners like THIS NIGHT
  2. The movie theatre
  3. Monterey Overnight Trip
  4. Our Local Comedy Club
  5. Local Basketball Game Date Night
  6. Game Night at Dave and Busters
  7. Massages, Lunch at Olive Garden, and a few Movies
Mr. Howard and I have been together for 13 years and I think it's important to try new things. So when I saw a bucket list idea for a lot of the holidays (Fall Bucket Lists, Winter Bucket Lists, etc.), I thought it'd be fun to put together a short bucket list of ideas for Dating my Husband. I put it in a frame and am going to use a dry erase marker to cross off the items as we go! Here's mine:
 I did put together a generic one (that doesn't have The Howard Bunch on it) below:
I want to share the Date Night Bucket List printable I created for all of you. Download it here. It is an 8 x 10 page, so you will want to put it in an 8x10 frame or one larger with an 8x10 mat. 

I am no expert by any means on marriage and I learn everyday right along side all of us on this crazy journey we call marriage, but I have learned a few tips that make dates possible in MY household. And you might find them helpful. Some of them include:
  1. MAKE DATES A PRIORITY. I know, I know. You're busy. The kids need you. You have so much to do. No more excuses. The way I look at it: If I don't nurture my relationship NOW, I will not have a relationship to nurture LATER. This is probably the most important of all the things I've learned.
  2. Always put your "dates" on the calendar. If you plan them out, they'll be a priority and feel more special.
  3. Find the extraordinary in the ordinary (take a normal night on the couch and introduce something you don't normally do...champagne...some fun questions...or a picnic on the floor).
  4. Have fun.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

First Half of my Spring Break

I have had such a good Spring Break so far!

The very first day, Friday, we went on a long bike ride and walk (hubby bought a new mountain bike last week!)

I thought I'd be able to do 10 miles easy-peasy, but that was stupid. We did 8.25 miles and I was pretty sore afterwards. I decided I am going to walk/run a half marathon (I say walk/run because I have NO INTENTION of running the entire thing. I do not think I'm a runner at all) in October after a work friend convinced me that the training program she used was really good. I think I'd be able to walk 13 miles (with some training), but I'm not sure I could run any. We'll see. I want to challenge myself to once-and-for-all lose this stinkin' baby weight. 
On Saturday, my brother and dad went on a 17 mile bike ride around the American River on a paved trail. Of course they didn't take any pictures, but they all seemed to have a great time!

On Sunday, the kids wanted to run around outside. It's been hard to in the past because my parents have a pool with no fence around it. But now that the kids are old enough to understand to walk away from the pool, we've been spending our Spring afternoons outside. This particular day I was sitting on the bench in the sun, while the kids ran and played on the grass behind me and then eventually sat at the jacuzzi and put their feet in the pool. Such a beautiful day. 
Such beautiful weather:
I took this video while I was sitting in the sun watching the kids play. My dad was laying out next to me and I tried to avoid filming him, but I couldn't help it at a certain point. The twins were completely talking back and forth (of course, when I started filming, they sorta stopped) and playing with each other. I just love that!

While I was with the kids at home by the pool, Mr. Howard was mountain biking with his friend!
 American River:
Later on Sunday, my sister and Denny came over

It's Aiden's week for therapy and so he had speech therapy and met with the childhood development specialist and I got to be there for both appointments. Aiden was making the funniest faces in therapy. He was gasping and saying "Whoa!" What a little crack up!
My brother is on Spring Break from Law School and he has been studying for the MPRE (the ethics test for the Bar), so we've been able to hang out a lot. I've also been thankful he brought his dog, so that Harley could have a playmate. Harley's been pretty sad about Jake not being with him.
Here he is studying:
One evening this week, with all the beautiful weather we were having, we all (Mom, Me, Mr. Howard, the kids, Katie, Denny, Colin, and the dogs) went on a walk/bike ride. It was just gorgeous out.
Because I have decided I am going to start this half marathon training in August, I decided that while I have the time off from work, I'm going to try to walk a little more. While the kids were in school, I went on a five mile walk. It's the first time in probably years that I've gone on a long walk by myself with music. I forgot how wonderful it is! For the last mile I got a little bored just listening to music (usually I'm talking to a kid or two and solving fights and telling someone to hurry up or not to throw that rock) - so I caught up on blogs.
There are some MAJOR perks about living with your parents when you have kids. When we put our kids down for bed at night, my mom doesn't mind if we run to target or ice cream. It's been such a blessing to get a little quiet time together by ourselves. I am looking forward to having my own space in my own home with my own rules, but I am seriously going to miss parts of living with other adults. One night this week we had a little target date night and then went to a creamery and got ice cream. Hubby got this ridiculous ice cream:
 And I got a chocolate chip mint malt. I only had about four sips of it (it was SO filling), but it was ridiculously delicious!
On Tuesday I picked up the kids from preschool from their Easter Egg Hunt and they were SO tuckered out. They had all jogged to the park and back earlier that day. No longer than five minutes after I picked them up, two out of three fell asleep in the car.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Aiden pretty much thinks his Mama is the coolest Mama on the block.

On St. Patrick's Day, we had lunch outside. It's been such beautiful weather and to take advantage of it, we've been eating our lunches outside on the weekends.
 My mom also put a table cloth down on the table - so the kids could color to their hearts' content!
 My mother-in-law (who just started her own handmade clothing company!!) made these ADORABLE St. Patty's Day shirts for the kids to wear.
Seriously! How adorable!
I thought it'd be really fun if I changed all the kids' food to green all day. When I did the mac and cheese, I kinda thought Connor might not eat it because it looked so different and a little scary. But, he laughed and laughed. He continued to giggle with every bite!
I let him help me turn his milk green and then he became fascinated with it (since then he has asked me to turn all of his food different colors! Ha!)
I even turned the babies' night time bottles green!
Aiden thinking Mama's pretty much the coolest Mama on the block.
P.S. Next time I decide to put food coloring in their food, I should probably warn their preschool!! It made for a very interesting and scary diaper change for them. Oops!

**I am sure a lot of you have seen that Let's Bring Holidays Down a Notch post floating around. I actually do not agree with her at all. I think she was trying to be funny, but in my humble opinion instead it came across like she was judging those moms who do that stuff. I think her intention was to say "don't judge me for NOT doing it" and I totally get that, but I shouldn't feel judged for wanting to do it either. I may do big parties for my kids, celebrate with Elf on the Shelf for 25 days, and dye all my kids' food green on St. Patrick's Day, but we also stay in our pajamas a lot of Saturdays, forget to send in stuff I agreed to send into preschool, and feed my kids McDonald's hamburgers when I'm tired and stressed. I am certainly no Mother of the Year. I think this blog says everything I feel Yes, I am one of those moms from The Larson Lingo. I just don't want to be judged for doing what works for my family.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Vacationing with three kids three and under - Part 2

Did you miss the first half of my trip? Here's a link to the Shark Exhibits Make the Best Place to Cry post I did.

After our rough start to the trip, Mr. Howard and I decided to just let the day go. We let go of our expectations, laughed at the little stuff, and went ahead and thought that regardless of how the kids' trip was going, we were just going to have fun. And you know what? We did.

First, we stopped at Pinkberry. I don't know about you, but I can't be in a bad mood when I'm eating frozen yogurt with chocolate chips. It's just chemically impossible. I'm sure Dr. Phil could analyze me and give me some sort of "you have an unhealthy association with sweets" diagnosis, but over the years I've learned it's the perfect way to snap me out of my bad mood.

Then, we drove around Monterey, looking at all the adorable houses. We stopped at the ocean and left our tantrum-y kids in the car and enjoyed the breeze for a minute or two and listened to the ocean. We snuggled and laughed about how far we had come. There may have been a time when a day like that would have broken us - we may have bickered or been snippity with each other or even exchanged are you going to help me? looks that only a spouse can give you. But it's different now. We have realized that if we're going to have fun, we're just going to have to do it. And so, that is just what we did.
 I didn't get a photo, but we also got take-out from our favorite restaurant and had a fun picnic in the hotel with delicious ribs, wine, artichokes, and fish. It was delicious.
 We had fun all the way up to the point where we decided that the hotel was not going to work. At about 8:30 at night, we packed up the suitcases and cribs and decided to head home to our snuggle in our own beds.
 And then, when we got in the car, we had even more fun laughing at the fact that it took our kids 2.5 seconds to fall asleep instantly. We toyed with the idea of turning on our lights and making noise to wake them up (Hey! You know you all think about doing that!), but instead decided it gave us a three hour car ride with lots and lots of talking.
 So, instead we giggled and laughed and spent the next three-and-a-half hours doing something we don't normally get a lot of time to do: talk!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Building Our House - Pre-Drywall Walkthrough

Hubby and I are spending the day together shopping for a bed for Connor (plus maybe a movie and lunch!) - so I need to get the kids ready for preschool soon. But I wanted to show you the house. It's SOOO amazing!
I don't think I have mentioned this before, but we have a fire sprinkler system in our new house. Apparently, it was just recently added to building codes in California for new houses. We are actually really excited about it (they are all individual - so if one goes off, it won't set any other one off...they are not smoke censored...and they are set to VERY high temperatures - so they will only go off in real fires).
 On March 15, 2013 we met our superintendent at our house for our pre-drywall walkthrough.

 They added all our insulation (below is Mr. Howard, Martin our Super, and Matt our realtor standing in the kitchen):
 This is our formal living room (that inset to the right is for a hutch or built-in. The left one is a coat closet).
 This is the upstairs playroom:
 This is our kitchen sans people:
What a difference a couple days make. We went back to the house on March 21, 2013 and they had drywalled the entire house!
 Hubby and me in the kitchen:
Hubby in the family room:
Master Bedroom:
Formal Living Room
 Master Bathroom:
They are set to stucco the outside of our house on Monday. We are having a mixture of stucco, stone, and brick on our house - so they will do the stone and brick closer to completion. 39 days until 100% completion and they are completely ON SCHEDULE. WHAT?!?

We had a painter come yesterday to give us a quote on painting all the common living space (formal living room, kitchen, family room, dining room, upstairs playroom, and hallways), so we should be getting that soon. **Please let it be within our budget...please let it be in our budget...please...!** We've already picked out our color (Sherwin Williams SW7030 Anew Gray).
Here it is in the model of the house we're building:
SW7030 Anew Gray
SW7030 Anew Gray
Our furniture won't be as cool...or expensive. BUT, don't you love the color? Oh and those are the pillars we'll have in our living room!! I do also love those curtains. If anyone knows where we can find something similar, let me know!

The next update will probably be when they tape and texture the interior walls or when they start the exterior stucco on the house. Ahhh! So exciting!

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