Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkins Come And Pumpkins Go, But A Jack-O-Lantern Steals The Show

One of my least favorite Halloween things to do as an adult is carve pumpkins. It's just so messy and if you've met me for even 5 minutes, you'd know that I am not a messy person. But, one of the most awesome things about becoming a parent is that we get to reinvent the things that aren't terribly fun as an adult and see them through the eyes of our kids. And let me tell you...carving a pumpkin for a kid is a BIG deal. Even my kids who hate to be dirty....And hate to stick their hands inside the pumpkin. They may make Mr. Howard and I do most of the work and I may have to stick my hand in a pumpkin more often than I'd care to, but the prize of seeing my kids giggle and laugh is pretty awesome!

This year was pretty special too because the twins got to participate, really, for the first time. They were SO excited about THEIR pumpkin!
And, of course, having Aunt Becca and Uncle Colin there to help made it all the more exciting (plus they could help chorale our little monkeys.
Nova was their trusty sidekick!
Aiden was pretty much the only kid who didn't care about being messy and kept moving his pumpkin around. Once he realized he could roll it down the driveway, he figured it was MUCH more fun to do that than to sit patiently while Daddy and Mama helped him carve it. I get my workout with Aiden, daily. Whew!
Once they had their little faces cut out of them (and yes, we went SIMPLE! VERY SIMPLE!), they took such pride in putting them up on the windowsill. For a week they'd point to their pumpkins and, with HUGE smiles, say "Mama! Look! Pumpkin!"
Our little punkins:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

An Engagement

My brother planned a big surprise for October 4th and enlisted his family and his girlfriend's family to help pull it off.
For months, he planned a surprise engagement - coordinating 13 people's schedules, booking flights for three of Rebecca's family members, buying decorations, custom designing an engagement ring, and renting out a beautiful home in Tahoe to serve as his backdrop. Every detail was thought out. Every person sworn to secrecy.
My brother, husband, mom, dad, and sister drove to Tahoe early to set up the house - moving furniture, hanging twinkle lights, spreading rose petals, and lighting candles.
When everything was set up and ready to go, my brother and hubby went to the airport in Reno (45 minutes away) to pick up Rebecca's sister, brother, and nephew as a surprise.
While they were driving to get her family, I was driving three kids and Rebecca up to Tahoe as SLOWLY as possible. I even drove the wrong way up so that it would take me an extra hour - and stopped twice to use the restrooms to delay the trip. Poor Rebecca probably thought her soon-to-be sister-in-law was certifiably insane, but I didn't want to beat the boys up there from the airport.
When we arrived, I texted everyone and people came quickly and scooped up my kids. After Becca got her stuff out of the car, I told her Connor had a surprise for her and he wanted to perform something for her. She needed to count to 50 and then come inside. Unfortunately, she didn't hear me and stood outside and waited for Connor to come get her - in the cold, shivering. Oops. Finally she walked in, followed the rose petals, and saw my brother down on his knee in front of her.
Afterwards, she said that Connor's surprise was awesome and looked down expecting to see Connor. Only it wasn't Connor at her feet. It was her nephew from Texas. This is the moment she realized it was her nephew!
After realizing her nephew was there, she looked up and saw her sister. And then her brother, who had also flown in from Texas.
She was so GENUINELY surprised and OVERWHELMINGLY happy.
Here is her family from Texas, Becca with her beautiful ring, and my brother:
I am so excited for them, and can't wait to have her as my sister-in-law!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Date Day with Connor

One of the perks of living with family is that when the kids are in bed, we can sometimes sneak away to do fun things! A few weeks ago, we took Connor with us for a fun treat of a movie and dinner!

Daddy had never gone with Connor to a movie before, because one of us always has to watch the kids. We took Connor to see Planes and he is STILL talking about it!

**Connor left his monkey (it's his comfort little lovey) at school and was SO upset. He cried and cried, until Aunt Becca told him she'd give him her SPECIAL sock to wear. Connor was so excited and wore it to the theatre, in the movie, and afterwards. So funny. That Aunt Becca is one smart cookie! What would we do without her?!?**
Connor was such a good boy! He was appreciative and thanked us and was so quiet during the movie! We are blessed!
When we were leaving the theatre, Connor asked me if he could take a picture with the Planes sign. Oh goodness; is he my child or what?!?
I can't wait until we can take the babies with us to the theatre too! It'll be so much fun to make family trips to the theatre.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I Did a Half Marathon and I Liked it. A lot.

If you would have asked me five years ago if I'd ever do a half marathon, I would have laughed. For a long time. And then probably laughed some more. Because that was not on my realm of possibilities. At all.
I've written a lot about my journey to running and how I literally just decided that I wanted to run/walk a half marathon on a whim. I do interval running, which means that I run and walk for a set number of minutes and continue throughout the whole race. I do a 1.5 minute run to 1 minute walk interval. I am slow. Ridiculously slow. And, for years, I let that define my status as a non-runner. And then this summer I had an epiphany: slow or not - I wasn't going to let it stop me from doing what I wanted to do. If I wanted to do a half marathon, it was better to be slow and do it than to not do it at all. And isn't that the motto of my life or what? Stop complaining that you're not good enough and be the best you that you can be. 
So, I joined an interval running training program with a friend, committed to the hours and days I'd need to train, and started from ground zero. On October 6th at 7:35am, I began my three hour journey to finishing my first ever half marathon.
Here were my times (I don't know why it's saying missing data for 5 mile; it was there a week ago):
The best me that I could be finished the race in 3 hours, 5 minutes, and 59 seconds. And let me tell you, I am damn proud of that. It may be someone else's worst nightmare of a finish time, but for me, a self declared non-runner, it's a damn good time. Period. And at the end of the day, I can honestly say I DID A HALF MARATHON!!!!
Here was the exact moment that I crossed the finish line. The man in blue behind me is in my training program and he is in his 70's. He is such an inspiration! The woman in pink next to me is a dear friend who got me over that finish line. She was my encouragement when I wasn't sure I could finish and my motivation when I realized I could.

I wrote a post for those of you that Want to Become a Beginner Runner, but have no idea where to start. It details out your must haves to get you started. I am happy to answer any questions, but honestly I am a beginner just like you. If I can do this, ANYONE can.
 So. It's official. I did a half marathon and I liked it. A lot. So much so - that my next goal is to do another one before I turn 31. Who would have thought?

Monday, October 14, 2013

I Did a Half Marathon...and I liked It

When I decided several months ago that I was going to run a half marathon, I started googling what I needed to buy and I really couldn't find a comprehensive list of the must haves. I didn't want a list of a million things I could buy; I wanted a list of the things I had to have. I am not an expert. I am just like you. Someone who set a goal and achieved it. Someone who went from walking a couple times a week to completing a half marathon. So, without further ado, here is A Beginning Guide to a Runner's Must Haves. ((I haven't been paid a penny from any of these companies to advertise; this is my honest opinion and review of what I use.))
In my opinion, there are five things you MUST have.

1. Shoes. You must, must, must have good shoes! I suggest you go somewhere where they'll fit the shoes to you, watch you run in them, and really work with you to get you in a shoe that works with your body. I went to Fleet Feet and they fit me with Brooks Ravenna 4's. You always want to buy a shoe that is a half a size-full size bigger than what you wear normally.

2. A watch or arm band for your phone to track mileage and time. I chose to go with a sport armband for my iPhone. You'll need a timer app (if you're going to do interval running) and an app to track your mileage. You can download any of the following apps for your phone: "Nike+," "Map my Run," "Run Keeper," or even "Endmondo"

3. Some way to bring water with you on your runs. I bought a Nathan hydration belt that had two 10oz bottles. For my long runs, I added a third bottle. I LOVE this hydration belt. There are a million other options for hydration belts, hydration backpacks, and handheld water bottles for runners if you don't want to wear something on your waist.

4. Body glide. I had to wear this underneath my armband for my phone - because it chafed after about mile 8. If I wore body glide, I didn't have any problems at all. You can put this ANYWHERE you have any rubbing/chafing at all. This is seriously a miracle in a stick. Side note: the women's body glide is more expensive for some weird reason and it is EXACTLY the same. So buy whatever's cheaper.

5. Energy food to eat on long runs. I used sport beans, but you can use chews, bloks, gu gels, or energy bars. I, personally, could only eat the sport beans because of the way they made me feel. Try a bunch of different things and find what works.

In terms of clothes, here's what you'll need:

1. NON-COTTON socks. Seriously. Do not wear anything with cotton in it as it will rub and give you all sorts of blisters. You may have to hunt for these and look for them in the athletic socks section, but they are a must.

2. Some sort of non-slip headband. I actually wear two different types. I wear one when it's warm that is designed to hold my hair back away from my face when my hair is in a ponytail and then a thick cotton one that goes over my ears when it's cold.

3. Moisture wicking pants. I have long pants and capris because I hate to run in shorts. But if shorts are your thing, find some moisture wicking ones that don't rub (if your thighs rub, you can use body glide to prevent chafing). Just find a pair that works for you!

4. Moisture wicking shirts. I hate to run in sleeves (even in the cold weather), so find what works for you. Do NOT wear cotton. You will rub, chafe, and have sweat marks all over you.

5. A good sports bra. If you go to fleet feet, they will actually fit one to you. I am lucky (or unlucky depending on how you look at it) that I am small chested and can wear the bras that are inside the tanks I run in. If this is not you, GO AND GET fit. You shouldn't have to wear three bras to feel comfortable. Again, do not wear cotton. You want to wear one that is designed to be worn for working out (moisture wicking).

I hope that helps some of you who want to start running and don't know where to start!

UPDATE: I ran my second half marathon! For more tips, click HERE
UPDATE 2: I ran my third half marathon! Find out about it HERE

Friday, October 11, 2013


There are a few monumental occasions as a parent that I put on a mental list. List of things to remember.

First time you hold your baby in your arms.
First time you leave your baby with someone.
First smile.
First laugh.
First sleep through the night.
First steps
First words.
First school field trip.
It was worth the wait. Attending my kids' first field trip, I mean. Seriously. There was a whole year, in 2008, when I didn't know if I'd ever be able to have a child and now I have four. FOUR. Let that sink in. Does that make me sound old or what?!? When I heard Aiden, Isabella, and Connor's preschool was going to have a field trip to the pumpkin patch, I booked my sub before I finished reading the flyer. There wasn't even a slight chance I was going to miss that! Because Mr. Howard couldn't come with me, I enlisted the help of my brother. I was so thankful he could come with us to help!
Mr. Howard's mom had planned on making pumpkin shirts for the kids, so I asked if she'd get them to me before their field trip and boy-oh-boy were they cute!! You can order your own pumpkin shirts by Grandma N Ellie Handmade Clothing too. They make the perfect fall shirt and I'm going to have the kids wear them all the way until Thanksgiving too!

The field trip was at Bishops Pumpkin Patch and my favorite thing about it is how much they have for the kids to do! They had this adorable pumpkin cart that Aiden and Izzy could get in and steer.
Isabella thought it was hilarious that she had a wrist band on her arm and played with her "pretty jewelry" the whole time we were there.
Connor was SO SO excited to have Uncle Colin on his field trip. His excitement rivaled my "Holy Moly. Remember this moment. You're chaperoning your kids' first field trip!" moment.
The moments on my mental "must remember" list:

Pumpkin patch giggles and smiles with my oldest.
Pumpkin patch cuddles with my youngests.
Pumpkin patch running and playing.
Pre-hay ride jitters with preschool friends.
And during hay ride excitement.
Little Sister/Big Brother photo ops while little brother runs in the hay in the background.
Family photos on the back of the hay ride trailer.
Sharing the experience with my own brother.
Watching my own little brother with my littlest son on the train through the pumpkin patch.
Post train ride tantrums and "I don't want to get off the train" sadness.
Songs sung in front of all the parents in Spanish and English.
Laughter. Lots of it.
And, most importantly, overwhelming feelings of being truly, TRULY blessed. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Desire for Change

Ever since last March, I have been on a Healthy Journey. This journey started with a boot camp I organized at my work, continued with a lifestyle change for Mr. Howard and me (of getting out and being active), and transitioned into my desire to do a half marathon. I really want to model to my kids how important it is to be physically fit and active (to be clear, I don't mean that I care about being "skinny"...I want to be healthy!).

Hubby and I have made it a point to go on hikes with the kids, take them on walks around the neighborhood, and just model getting out and moving our bodies. We have even planned a few hikes with friends to keep it fun and different. ((side note: Courtney, we need to plan a hike to Hidden Falls SOON!!!))

We took Nova and the kids a few weeks ago with a friend and we had such a good time, despite the 90 degree heat.

Isabella loved the CamelBak water!
Aiden loved the granola bar. Ha!
The kids were surprisingly NOT a fan of the water. I have no idea why at all. It was certainly warm enough to want to cool off.
Aiden liked it a little, but he wouldn't move in it at all.
Now, Nova...Nova was THRILLED about it!!! Ridiculously thrilled! Connor liked the water the best out of all three kids!
My friend and me on the overlook point:
Hubby and me:
My little family in their backpacks. The babies stay on our back the entire time and Connor hikes alongside us. It's about a 4-5 mile hike and he's usually able to keep up with us with only a little complaining towards the end.
All my little ones:
I am still catching up on old posts, but I can't wait to post about the HALF MARATHON I just completed yesterday. It's still crazy to me to say out loud that I did a half marathon. WHAT?!? Who have I become?

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