Friday, May 31, 2013

I become a Stay at Home Mama Tomorrow

One of the absolute wonderful and terrifying things about being a teacher is that each summer I get the joy of becoming a Stay at Home Mama. It is such a wonderful, humbling experience and it always makes me appreciative of what I do for a living - because, while working away from home brings about ridiculously difficult challenges, it is still easier for me to go to work all day. Being a stay at home mama is the most difficult job and I have an infinite amount of respect for those of you who do it (and the ultimate respect for my mom who did it for us). And, I pray that people don't take this the wrong way, but I was not built for it 12 months a year. Three months a year is enough for me to love on my kids, get projects done around the house, go to the park 300 times, giggle, have dance parties, and make a million messes, only to clean them back up again. And then, I get to go back to teaching and empowering kids and hopefully (if I'm lucky) making a difference in their lives, while other wonderful, intelligent, and loving men and women do the same for my littles. I could forsee a day when three months a year isn't enough, but for now - I feel so blessed that my kids get to be molded and shaped by their wonderful teachers and loved on by my family on days when Mr. Howard and I work.

 I was watching the PBS documentary "Makers: Women Who Make America" and it documented the feminist movement and the transition where women started to work outside of the home. In it, a woman was interviewed and she said that there was this big push for women to work outside the home (a real devaluing of SAHMs) and she was frustrated because she was completely fulfilled being a stay at home mom. And it struck a chord with me. I don't know why as women we have to devalue anything that is different than what works for us. Does it come out of a fear that we aren't enough? One of the wonderful things about being a woman in 2013 is that we have the choice to choose what is best for our family. I love that. I love that some of the blogs I read are written by women who spend their days working inside the home and yet others work outside the home. But you know what we all have in common? We love our children. Equally.
 So, for the next few months, I will spend my days inside my home, cleaning, cooking, and raising my three kids and being so appreciative of all you wonderful women who do this year round.

I vow to take lots of pictures. Spend a lot of time being active and going to the park. Laughing a lot. Dancing even more. Loving on my kids. And enjoying these simpler three months, while simultaneously exercising and modeling patience, kindness, and lots and lots of prayer.
 And when all else fails and I am getting cranky, tired, and overwhelmed - I'll turn to the woman who raised me and my siblings as a stay at home mama. It takes a village, right?
Some of you may have seen this floating around by Jill Smith, but I just love it:

To the mom who's breastfeeding: Way to go! It really is an amazing gift to give your baby, for any amount of time that you can manage! You're a good mom.

To the mom who's formula feeding: Isn't science amazing? To think there was a time when a baby with a mother who couldn't produce enough would suffer, but now? Better living through chemistry! You're a good mom.

To the cloth diapering mom: Fluffy bums are the cutest, and so friendly on the bank account. You're a good mom.

To the disposable diapering mom: Damn those things hold a lot, and it's excellent to not worry about leakage and laundry! You're a good mom.

To the mom who stays home: I can imagine it isn't easy doing what you do, but to spend those precious years with your babies must be amazing. You're a good mom.

To the mom who works: It's wonderful that you're sticking to your career, you're a positive role model for your children in so many ways, it's fantastic. You're a good mom.

To the mom who had to feed her kids from the drive thru all week because you're too worn out to cook or go grocery shopping: You're feeding your kids, and hey, I bet they aren't complaining! Sometimes sanity can indeed be found in a red box with a big yellow M on it. You're a good mom.

To the mom who gave her kids a homecooked breakfast lunch and dinner for the past week: Excellent! Good nutrition is important, and they're learning to enjoy healthy foods at an early age, a boon for the rest of their lives. You're a good mom.

To the mom with the kids who are sitting quietly and using their manners in the fancy restaurant: Kudos, it takes a lot to maintain order with children in a place where they can't run around. You're a good mom.

To the mom with the toddler having a meltdown in the cereal aisle: they always seem to pick the most embarrassing places to lose their minds don't they? We've all been through it. You're a good mom.

To the moms who judge other moms for ANY of the above? Glass houses, friend. Glass houses.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Road Trippin it with Kids

After a morning that can be summed up by saying I'd REALLY like to forget it, we went bright and early to Starbucks for coffee and pastries (mainly just so we could get out of the hotel with our three screaming/squealing children). Yikes. I think we were out of the hotel by about 7am dressed, showered, and packed up. We walked downtown to give the kids a little break.
Afterwards, we came back to the hotel, passed our little Airplane Traveler (Aiden) on to my mom and got on the road. I was BEYOND nervous about the drive, because our morning had been one long test of Mama and Daddy patience, and thought that the earlier we got on the road - the better. But, honestly, they did REALLY well. It took us about 11 hours, but we stopped to get my ring cleaned, stopped for lunch, and stopped for dinner. So we made pretty good time considering.

Even though I had driven the whole way to San Diego, I offered to drive the first chunk of the road so that Mr. Howard could re-do the work project he had done the night before. We stopped at a Starbucks in Valencia on our way so that we could use the wifi to send the file to his colleague. Afterwards, we switched places and I took a good solid 1.5 hour nap with the kids.
 Anytime we are in Southern California we stop by the store that Mr. Howard bought my engagement and wedding ring at to have them re-dipped and cleaned (he bought a lifetime service plan when he bought the rings). I try to go twice a year, but it's been a lot longer than that since we last stopped. The nice thing about having it serviced, cleaned, and re-dipped is that they check the prongs and make sure everything is okay. As long as I have it serviced every six months, if anything happens to the diamond (like it falls out or breaks), it will be 100% covered and replaced. My diamond was actually loose, so I'm so glad we went! (Side note: They had to rhodium dip my ring TWICE because it was so dirty. Eek.)
Here's Izzy and Daddy in the waiting area:
After waiting inside for a little while, I took the kids outside to play and burn some energy:
Connor was playing Jake and the Neverland Pirates with Isabella and eventually Daddy came out and joined them (since they were re-dipping my ring a second time):
 Connor and Izzy finding the perfect pirate props:
Meanwhile, while we were driving, our family was having breakfast together (from left to right: Colin, Jake, Rebecca, Valerie, Kira, my dad, my mom, Aiden, Erin, Debbie, Nathan, John, and Adam) - My sister was there too, but she was the photographer!
Colin and Jake:

When we got back into town, we had to go to the airport to pick up the hubby's car. I then headed home and bathed Connor and Isabella - while Mr. Howard went to pick up Aiden from my parents' house. He had an okay flight, but was overly tired and squeeled and cried a bit. Poor guy.
Overall, our trip to San Diego was RIDICULOUSLY amazing. Of course traveling with kids is not the same as traveling without them, and things are always a little trickier; but overall we were very blessed with a relatively easy trip. I am thankful I have a husband who helps out and kept the twins Saturday night so I could go out with my family for a little bit and I know he was thankful that I could keep the babies Friday night so that he could go out to a baseball game with Connor and the boys. Traveling with little guys means practicing compromise, patience, and a whole heck of a lot of eating good portions of humble pie.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Gas Lamp District in San Diego

A few hours after lunch on Saturday, in San Diego, we made plans to meet in the lobby of our hotel to go out for dinner with our family. Unfortunately, Katie, Colin, Rebecca, Valerie, and Jake were late because they fell asleep and overslept.
Because it took us so long to figure it out and the babies were falling apart, Mr. Howard decided to stay at the hotel and put the babies to bed - while I took Connor with me out to dinner with the family.
My mom, dad, The Genrys, The Dunlaps, Connor, and I started to walk downtown to the Gas Lamp District for dinner. After a lot of walking and trying to find a place that would work, we ended up at the Old Spaghetti Factory. I don't think I've been there since we lived in Southern California about 7 years ago.

A picture at dinner (I just noticed that my cousin Adam is sticking his tongue out at me):
I ordered my food right away, fed Connor, and ordered some food for Mr. Howard to go. I only stayed for about forty-five minutes and then Connor and I made the trek back to the hotel by ourselves (8.5 blocks).
The Gas Lamp District on our walk Saturday night:
I posted this on instagram with the caption: "What do you do when your hotel doesn't have a refrigerator and two out of three of your children need milk for their bottles at night? Why, fill the sink with ice, of course!" I know it's kinda hard to see, but we bought a half-gallon of milk and then filled the sink with about 4 bucket-fulls of ice (on a side note, you know it's a sad, sad moment when you and your husband are "arguing" over who "gets" to go fill up the bucket with ice so that you can have a break from the kids. "No, no, hunny. It's okay. I'll go fill up the ice bucket."...."No, it's okay, babe. You sit, and relax. I'll go fill up the ice bucket." Ha!). I won that battle and went, sans kids, to fill up the bucket. Several times. Ahhh. Those four minute walks by myself...with no kids...were amazing. It was just enough time away to start to...ahh, who am I kidding. It wasn't enough time.
 Connor thought he was quite the funny man:
We were SO unbelievably thankful that each night the kids went right to bed. We didn't have any problems at all (for those of you who've been reading for a while - you know we took a trip to Monterey a few months ago and had to come home in the middle of the night because the kids would NOT go to sleep in the hotel. It definitely scared me for our future hotel visits). They were even so tired, I was able to snap some photos of them sleeping (minus Aiden because he was in the bathroom and I wasn't going to dare the chance that I woke him up! Sleeping pictures are cute, but not cute enough to risk waking him):
Isabella slept in our little entry way (sort of a teeny-tiny hallway); Aiden slept in the bathroom; and Connor slept in a bed next to us. I really think it helped TREMENDOUSLY having Aiden and Isabella go to bed earlier than Connor each night. That way, it was completely quiet in there while they were trying to go down. So later, then, when Connor came into the room and was whispering, they were already asleep. We will have to remember that trick for next time.

While we were at dinner, Mr. Howard was able to get some work done on a special project he does for work each week (where he creates talking points for team meetings for the 95 stores - in California and Nevada - in his regional group). He was so thrilled to get that done. **SIDE NOTE: It wasn't until the next morning that he realized that none of his work saved. We still have no idea what happened. He saved the file MULTIPLE times - over and over as he worked. So on the car ride home from San Diego he had to do it all over again!**

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

And will you succeed? Yes! Yes, you will indeed. (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed)!

You'll move mountains, Colin.
Bonus points to anyone who gets the title reference. It's my favorite.
After my brother's Law School Graduation ceremony on May 18th, we went outside for a few minutes to take a few pictures! Some of these are my photos and some are ones my sister took (I assure you I will not need to tell you which ones are which. Ha!). Here's my mom and dad with my brother.
And my brother and Connor in Uncle Colin's Graduation cap:
Colin and his girlfriend Rebecca:
After pictures, we drove over to Coronado Island to Il Fornaio for a lunch/dinner party. The menu had my brother's name and date on it. So sweet.  
 This is the only photo of Aiden I got and it's blurry. He was go, go, go. Unfortunately, right when Rebecca and Valerie went to pick up the kids from the sitter at their house to bring them to the restaurant, they had JUST gone down for their naps. So, all four of them were in some serious moods. In retrospect, we probably should have left them there so we could enjoy our lunches.
I put the boys in matching outfits, but didn't get a single photo of them together. This is the best (below) I have. We set up a little coloring/toys station on the floor with stuff that Valerie and Rebecca brought. All four kids had a blast for a little while.
 The boys:
 Me, Aiden, and Isabella. At least I'm looking.
 And now in this one, none of us are looking. So much for my plan to get a picture of me with all the kids.
Below: Colin, Rebecca, Devin, David, Jordan, Katie
 Connor in Uncle Colin's Gown:
And apparently this is the only photo I have of Izzy. She looked quite cute in her turquoise and purple dress though. Hmph.
 Colin and Rebecca:
 Jake, Rebecca, Colin, Rafael (from our high school), Brytni (his wife), and Olivia (their daughter)
 Jake and Connor:
 The Kirkpatrick Siblings: My brother, sister, and me
Hubby and I left after about an hour because the kids desperately needed naps. But here is a group shot taken after we left. My Uncle John and cousins Kira and Adam (from Orange) were there, along with my grandfather's wife, Aunt Erin, and Uncle Nathan too from Arizona. It was so much fun to see everyone!
We had such a great time celebrating my brother and were so thankful we could spend the day celebrating his HUGE accomplishment!
Side Note: I went back and updated THIS post with the pictures my sister sent me of Aiden on the airplane for the first time!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

My Little Brother Graduates Law School

On Saturday morning in San Diego we woke up early and started getting ready. There's something I just adore about hotel bathrobes. They're so plush.
 After I got the kids ready, Mr. Howard took them to my brother's house (we all hired a sitter to watch the twins and Rebecca's nephew during the ceremony) and then Mr. Howard took my brother down to the ceremony.

Connor asked to take a picture of me. What a cute boy:
Connor and I finished getting ready in the room and then walked over to the ceremony which was also downtown:
 Mr. Howard and Connor at the ceremony (Connor was in a mood. Whew!):
 I think this pretty much sums up his mood. Here he is on the floor in the middle of us:
 He just refused to smile. What a bummer. He looked so stinkin' cute!
 Mr. Howard and Me
And more proof of the mood he was in (with my mom and dad):
 Connor and Me at the ceremony:
Here was my brother coming down the aisle at the beginning of the ceremony:
 I didn't get any pictures of them, but my grandfather's wife (the kids call her Great Granna) came, along with my Aunt Erin, and Uncle Nathan!

How to keep a three-year-old distracted during a ceremony? The Disney channel app with full episodes of Jake and the Neverland Pirates:
 My sister and Me:
 My handsome brother with his juris doctorate hood:
 Me, my brother's girlfriend Rebecca, and her sister Valerie:
 The Program:
 My brother:
 I posted this photo below on instagram, but it was too cute to not post again:
 I'm going to have to post the pictures from the Graduation Lunch in a separate post, because I don't have all the photos yet and this post is getting long.
After Connor sat for about an hour, Mr. Howard took him for a walk and they went and got coffee and donuts across the street from the graduation. He then played soccer with Connor and several other kids (who were ALSO too restless for the ceremony) in the lobby for a while. Connor and Mr. Howard were able to come back to see Uncle Colin walk across the stage. Afterwards, we took a few pictures outside of the ceremony and then went to Coronado Island for lunch at Il Fornaio.

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