Sunday, June 30, 2013

Happy Birthday, my precious babies

I asked the question on instagram the other day if you can still call your kids "babies" when one is almost four and everyone agreed that you can, so I am sticking with it.

Oh my babies. I swear I was just getting out of bed yesterday to the feeling of both of my waters breaking. Birth Story Here. And whoa. I must really, really, really love you - because look at what I looked like a WEEK (a whole week, folks - do you understand what that means? It means I actually got BIGGER) before giving birth to you:

Aiden in the NICU with Mama:
 Aiden in the NICU with Daddy:
 Isabella in the NICU with Daddy:
 Isabella in the NICU with Mama:
And now you are two. Two years old. Whoa. I may have to say that a few times in my head to truly grasp that or I may just wait until your next birthday to fully comprehend this one. How can you be two?
I heard a quote once and it has stuck with me. “Making the decision to have a child - It's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”- Elizabeth Stone. And seriously. That's exactly what you are. You are my heart walking around outside my body. There are no words to describe how I feel about you, so I'm just going to say the very thing I say to you every single night when you're all snuggly in your bed, the last thing you hear before you go to sleep: "I love you to the moon and back." and back and back and back.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Very Hungry Catepillar Preschool Performance

The kids had their very first End of the Year Preschool Performance on June 14th. Hubby and I got off of work (I didn't "work" in the traditional sense, but I was working at home) and headed over to pick up the kids from preschool. Here was us on our way:

 
We rushed home, fed the kids a snack, grabbed our pool stuff and camera, and headed out the door. We snapped these photos on my iPhone below. Just keeping it real.
 I am pretty sure he was saying, "Isabella, just close your mouth." Oh Lordy. Can you tell what we're working on right now with big brother?

 Oh. My. Goodness. I seriously DIED at the cuteness of their performance. They acted out The Very Hungry Caterpillar and sung If I Were a Butterfly. Aiden, I think spent a total of about five minutes participating in the performance, but that's okay. He was go, go, go, go, go. He was running around and walking up and down on a slide (see square picture on the toppish left) they had in the background of the "stage." Isabella participated once or twice in the performance, but ran back and forth between sitting on one of her teacher's laps (who was videotaping it)... to Daddy's lap...to mine. Connor did pretty well staying up there the whole time.
 Isabella played the part of the "Little Egg on a Leaf" from "In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf" and I'm telling you, I laughed for about five minutes straight because girlfriend literally layed on the leaf. Frozen. With her little tush in the air, waiting until the next part of the story came. The other parents were giggling and giggling. Her teacher told me afterwards that Isabella KNEW her part. In rehearsals whenever the music came on, she'd go right to her leaf and lay there. Maybe she'll be an actor? Aiden and Connor played caterpillars who turn into butterflies. Holy Moly. I was smiling from ear to ear. I am so in love with our preschool and it's just so clear how much love their teachers have for them.
Oh my heart. This is one of their preschool teachers taking a photo of them:
 "On Saturday he ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle,
one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie,
one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon. That night he had a stomach ache!" Oh you should have seen their stomach ache acting skills. So adorable. Aiden completely participated in the stomach ache. And, not that I am biased or anything, but I am pretty sure he had the most realistic aching tummy. Ever.
Connor was SO funny during the "If I Was a Butterfly" song. The only lines he knew were, "If I were a butterfly, I'd thank you Lord for giving me wings" and "making me me." What a crack up. He has since sung the song about once a day for us. He's getting better and knows a few more of the lyrics. He asked me yesterday if I'd download the song so we could listen to it in the car, so that's going to be on my to-do list. And now I'm going to have that song stuck in my head all day. Just you watch.
 
We all brought food for a potluck party and I was in charge of chocolate cake and fruit. I found THIS free printable on pinterest and then sort of improvised!!
 
Disclaimer: It was super dark in my kitchen and we were in a SERIOUS hurry and I didn't get great photos.
 I cut up fruit used in the story The Very Hungry Catepillar, put them in cupcake paper cups and used a cupcake stand I had to display them. Then I glued the printables to appetizer forks and randomly put them in a few of the cups (example: "On Tuesday he ate through four strawberries!").
 I wanted to bring more fruit, so I also put some in a glass dish to be served.  I really think these fruit cups were the BEST THINGS EVER. I would so, so recommend them for a party, because it is so convenient. Usually when you bring fruit salad to a potluck you serve it in a bowl with a big spoon and then everyone has to find room on their plate (with all the potluck food that run all over - like baked beans or ribs with bbq sauce). None of that happened with these. I also liked that you could go back for seconds and just grab a little cup. I made Mr. Howard and I real plates with real food and then just grabbed some of these fruit cups for each kid (plus then some pasta...because when it comes to potlucks, they decided all of a sudden that they are the pickiest eaters ever. Does that happen to you?). Super duper easy.
 
I've been so amazed because the preschool Connor goes to doesn't do a lot of worksheets. They don't do a ton of "paper practice." They just talk a LOT. And explore A LOT. And do things like nature walks where they explore and discuss why a leaf looks the way it does. It's been amazing to see how he's been able to grow in this type of environment. His vocabulary amazes me and I know that's because he's hearing rich language all the time. His stories amaze me, "Mama, today at preschool we crawled like crocodiles and slithered like snakes to the park. We went on a nature walk and I found leaves from a tree. But don't worry Mama, I didn't pull the leaf off the tree. It fell. Do you know why leaves fall of trees, Mama? Do you know that trees need water and soil and sun to live?" So much fun. And his ability to process things and make connections is just so fun at this age. "So, Daddy is big because he is older. So, when I am older I will be big? And my feet will be big?"
 
Connor has learned SO SO much this year. He can spell his name; recognize the letters in his name; write his name (with some help); use scissors; draw people and faces; knows and can draw: squares, circles, triangles; knows: stars, heart, check mark, stop signs; knows all his colors; can count to about 14 consistently (and then gets confused and says "28, 40." Haha); he has a one-to-one correspondence to about 10; he can hold a book correctly and understands that each grouping of letters is one word; he understands that we read from left to right and top to bottom; he knows where the cover of the book is.
 
We're just now starting to do math (not worksheet math, but just math understanding). So we're talking about things like, "Aiden has a spoon and you have a spoon. How many spoons do you both have?"...things that start getting him to do a little more advanced math thinking.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Midweek Randoms & Advice Needed

I'm linking up with In This Wonderful Life for her Midweek Randoms!

We've been making little tweaks here and there to the house (can you believe we've lived here for almost two months?). It's taking much longer than I thought it would to get it all decorated, but I don't know what I expected. We debated and debated about doing a gallery wall on our stair wall, but when we found this clock - we knew it was perfect for us! Harley thought so too!
 We also knew we wanted to do a full-length mirror on the wall in our master bedroom. We searched for the perfect one and finally found one we both loved.

Here's a before:
And an after:
We still need a new comforter (the comforter we currently have on the bed is a king, but not a California king and it's too small!) and a headboard and then this room will be set.

We also started on our playroom. We are NOWHERE NEAR being done, but we're making progress. I'm trying not to get overwhelmed and just do what I can when I can. With three small littles that means that some days I get a lot done and other days I get nothing done. You know how it is. Here's a quasi before (we actually bought and assembled these white bookshelves right before I took this picture - so it isn't a complete "before" photo):
This space is still under construction because we haven't picked out playroom colors. Do you want to cast your votes? We are debating between a yellow and grey theme or red and grey. So the paint  will stay grey, but then we'd add curtains in yellow or red, cushions for the cubbie seating we've got alongside two of the walls, and baskets in the cubbies in the color theme. I love the idea of yellow and gray. I think it will look so cute (I have seriously been drooling all over the cute yellow and gray playrooms I've seen), but our kitchen set is red. And there's nothing I can do to change the color of that. Help! Do you think it will look silly to have a yellow and gray playroom with a red kitchen?!? Here's the kitchen color:
Here's the little reading nook we made in the corner (until we pick our colors we're just using the little carpet squares we bought from our old house - we'll replace these with yellow or red depending on what we choose).
We started working on our entryway hallway. We bought these Threshold Avington 4-cube shelves (there's three of them side-by-side) from target and found these wicker baskets to put in them. I've been stacking all the picture frames I want to put on this wall to get it all organized and ready to go so I could hang them. But I'm kind of liking the stacked look (obviously not stacked like this). I still think I'm leaning towards a gallery wall, though. This is hilarious. I actually had such an easier time making decisions when we were building the house than I am about decorating it.
In other non-house news, we've made little paper countdowns for birthdays (to save myself from answering Connor's "Is today my birthday?!?" questions everyday 100 times a day). Ha! Everyday we take a paper chain down (the twins alternate taking one down every other day. Probably next year I'll make them their own countdowns - but since they don't really get it, I didn't think they'd mind sharing one this year). We are celebrating Aiden and Isabella's birthday this Saturday with just my family. Can you believe they are going to be two-years-old? WHAT?!?
 Here's Connor's countdown. We are doing his birthday party on July 14th!! He'll be four. Ridiculous. I swear I just had him five minutes ago.
 Isabella with her countdown:
And my last random thing of the day. When I was uploading my pictures from my camera, I found this gem below. Look who took his very first selfie?!? Seriously. I am dying!!!
Hope everyone has a great week!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Closet Organization and The Beginning of the Kids' Rooms

When we moved out of our other home, we split the kids' clothes into two different groups: one half would come with us and the other would go in storage until we moved into our new home. Additionally, when we were living at my mom's house, we only had one dresser for all the kids. So all their pants and shorts, socks and underwear, and pajamas were all together in one closet and dresser.

Finally, when we moved into this house, we had a lot of stuff to go through: boxes that had been in storage for 5 months, boxes of mixed items of clothing from my parents' house, and new clothes that we had bought in the meantime. For about a month we lived with the kids each having a box and tub in their room filled with miscellaneous stuff. Whenever I'd get the kids ready in the morning, I'd have to go from room to room to search the tubs and boxes to find items that went together - sometimes finding Aiden's pants in Izzy's room, Connor's shirt in Aiden's room, and Isabella's dress in a box in Connor's room. It was a pain.

Then, one day - stupidly - I left a huge trash bag filled with clothes that needed to go to goodwill in Connor's room and then decided to put him in his room for timeout. Bad idea. Can you guess where this is heading? Connor took every ounce of the contents of the bag and spread it all over his floor - in addition to ripping down most of the things that were hanging in his closet. I decided that that was the sign that I needed to finally take on the closet project. Here's what it looked like in Connor's Room:

 My plan was to do one room at a time, but that plan didn't work out so well when I went into each room and started to sort boxes, only to find some stuff that needed to go into the other two rooms. Eventually I took every single piece of clothing and shoes from all three rooms and sorted it all at once. I also set aside 5 huge bags of clothes and shoes that needed to go to goodwill.
 Here's what Aiden's Room look like before:
 And Aiden's Closet before:
Aiden's Closet Afterwards:
 Isabella's Closet Afterwards:
 Connor's Closet afterwards:
Here was everything we set aside to donate to goodwill:

After getting their closets all sorted and organized, I also needed to buy dressers for Aiden and Isabella (in our other house, Connor had a dresser in his room and then Aiden and Isabella, who shared a room, had a built in closet organizer with drawers). Those arrived at the end of last week and we were able to get them both built and set up in the kids rooms. This is Aiden's dresser for his pirate room. We did get him a mirror too, but it was broken - so we have to have it resent:
 And Isabella's for her Castle Room:
We've picked out the bedding and themes for all their rooms, but we still need to pick out paint colors and start working on it. Mr. Howard is going to custom-make Izzy's bed as a built-in along one side of her wall. It should be adorable...if we ever get it done.

Slowly but surely, we're making progress on the kids' rooms. I'm hoping to get at least one kid's room (or maybe two?) plus the playroom done while my mother-in-law is here for three weeks! She arrives in a few days.

Alright...off to get dressed and ready to start my day! Do you want to know how amazing my friend is? She's taking her daughter into preschool and coming over to help me/hang out with me and my crazy kiddos. Am I blessed or what? She'll be here in a few hours!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Travel Around the World

Now that I'm a Stay at Home Mama, I've been trying to find LOTS of things to entertain myself  and the kids. We've been going on Wednesdays to the library at my work because they are doing a Travel Around the World Program where the kids get little passports and each week they travel to a new "country"! It's been so much fun! The first week I only had Connor and Isabella because it was Aiden's last day of Wednesday Preschool (I think I mentioned this before...but on Wednesday's the twins alternate going to preschool by themselves. My mom watches the other two). I had to run to the grocery store before we left and someone asked how old Isabella was. I don't know why I do this, but I literally feel COMPELLED to tell people she's a twin. Part of it just comes out, I'll say something like, "oh they are two-years-old" and when they say, "they?" I'll explain that he/she is a twin. But sometimes I feel compelled to tell people who don't even care. So strange. I have problems.

The first country they visited was Australia! 
 For their snack they had "ants on a log."
 For their craft, they made boomerangs. Did you know that in Australia they used them for hunting? I didn't!
 Isabella mainly just ran around, but she did throw her boomerang a few times!
The second country we went to was Italy! And I was in charge of that one. Can I tell you something so funny? For a living, I get up in front of people and speak publicly every SINGLE day. I am not a person who gets shy talking to kids. AT ALL (or else, I would SERIOUSLY be in the wrong business). But I was so nervous about doing this. I think mostly because I didn't know what to expect. Mr. Howard came with me (thank goodness) because there would have been no way for me to teach people about Italy and wrangle my littles. I snapped this as we were walking in:
Story time (Connor is in the back left corner of the library):
 Daddy, Aiden, and Isabella:
 Me teaching about Italy:
 Daddy wrangling the kids. They did really well at first. They even sat still long enough for a coworker to snap this adorable photo of them while I was teaching. But about 5 minutes after this, Daddy had to take all three out of the room because they were being too disruptive and loud. Two is a hard age for a 20 minute presentation about Italy.
Afterwards the kids had biscotti, penne pasta, and breadsticks! For their craft they could choose to do a penne noodle necklace or a Leaning Tower of Pisa. We didn't stay for the craft because my kiddos were WILD. Whew! Afterwards Daddy said "Wow. This is hard. I don't know how you stay home with them all day." Yep, babe. That's why I'm near tears when you call and say you're going to be five minutes late. Hard. Hard. Hard. Not that I'd trade it for one minute. I know we're in a stage that will quickly pass.

Alright, well I better get my butt in gear and get ready. I'm off to try a new church with a good friend this morning. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Moving Announcement Card



 
I really wanted to do a story card for a Moving Announcement and tried searching all over for one I loved on Etsy. I found a few I liked, but none that I LOVED. I really wanted a very unique and custom card, so I started looking for a template I could customize on my own. I found THIS Christmas Year in Review one by Birdesign and fell in love with it. I honestly wasn't looking for a free template; I was expecting to have to pay for it - but this one was my favorite AND it was free!

Of course, because it was a Christmas Year in Review One, I had to tweak it to make it work for a Moving Announcement. But my vision for it seemed to come together!

I printed them as 5x7's (it really is made for a full-sized piece of paper) and because of the dimensions of the original and because I didn't want to crop any of it, it came out a little smaller than a 5x7 - but I didn't hear any complaints.

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