Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Farewell to an Amazing Mama

I'm pretty sure I've promised you, more times than I can count, that I was going to post pictures from the Bridal Shower - but I want to post the food and for some reason I didn't snap any on my camera (so I'll have to snag those from my sister). So instead I'll catch up on my weekend.

On Wednesday, I flew to LA to be with my friend and spent through Sunday with her. Mr. Howard drove out on Friday, so that he could come to Jen's mom's memorial service on Saturday. I had to be at the airport at 6am on Wednesday morning, but the nice part was that I was in LA by 8am.
When I got there on Wednesday we spent the day in Laguna Beach planning the celebration service, went to lunch at Ho Sum (a FAVORITE from college! Hello combo salad...I've missed you so much!), and then headed home to snuggle some furbabies. Mali is in the cone of shame because she won't stop licking her poor paw:
 Thanks to technology, I was able to facetime my littles from afar. I am so thankful for this technology. What did working and traveling parents do before video chatting? They were home with Mr. Howard on Wednesday and Thursday and then with their Aunt Becca and Uncle Colin for the whole weekend.
Jen came up with several things that were such beautiful ways to celebrate and honor her Mama. The first was frames filled with quotes. We had a painting party one night with wine and friends. I definitely think Sue would have approved!
 The next morning, we woke up and went and got manicures and pedicures for the service the next day. I never tire of those!
 I loved the pink, below, I chose for my nails. P.S. This is the last "action picture" I took of my engagement ring (haha...can a ring have an action shot?!)...but I didn't know that when I snapped it! Mr. Howard and I left my ring at our original jeweler to have something added (we were actually shopping for our 10 year wedding anniversary - which is 3 years away - and were trying to get a few different options priced out - so that we could add it into our budget and start saving, but instead, decided on doing something immediately!!!). Coincidentally enough, while we were sitting there, signing paperwork, etc. we realized that in 3 months, it will actually be the 10 year anniversary of our engagement. So I guess I am actually getting something added to my ring on a 10 year anniversary of sorts. I should have it back in several weeks and I can't wait to show you what it looks like! I got to keep my wedding ring; so I'll be wearing that by itself for the next 4-6 weeks.
When Mr. Howard got in town, we headed back down towards Laguna Beach and went to dinner in Newport Beach at the Spaghetti Factory - which brought back SO many memories. We had LOTS of sorority birthdays and dinners there in college. 
We spent the night at the Surf and Sand Hotel with Jen and Brett, because that's where the celebration was being held the next day! Wasn't the view amazing? This was from the balcony!
 And here was the view from the balcony at 7am the next morning. This was the morning of the Celebration. We thought it may rain, but it was literally just the most beautiful day. I'm pretty sure Sue orchestrated that for us!
These photos were taken before we took showers and got ready, so it was probably at about 7am and the light was so perfect over the ocean!
Sue's celebration service was beautiful! Jen planned a morning that really focused on celebrating the life she had led. My favorite story of the day was when Jen said that two of the custodians at Sue's school in LAUSD had come (Sue taught in Los Angeles Unified for 35 years!). They had walked her to her car every evening, when Sue had stayed to get everything perfect for her students' day, to make sure she was safe (she worked in an inner city school) and they told Jen that they were just so in awe of Sue's dedication to working with students in inner-city schools. The celebration service was nowhere near where these men lived, which meant they drove VERY far to be there. If that's not a testament to how Sue lived her life, I don't know what is. Jen really wanted us to wear bright, happy colors and I am pretty sure Sue was smiling at that! I wish I got a picture of Jen; she looked beautiful!
After the service, we called the kids. Isabella was NOT impressed by my excitement. 
 Sunday morning, we woke up and went to Paradise Bowls in Manhattan Beach. This was Mr. Howard's first time and he's sold on pitaya and acai bowls. I told him I'm going to start making them on the weekends. I just need frozen acai or pitaya. I'm going to try Whole Foods this weekend. Acai bowls are all the rage in Southern California. If you don't know what they are, google "smoothie bowls." They're amazing with the right toppings.
After breakfast, we said our farewells to Jen and Brett and headed up the coast a little before heading home. We decided to stop at Santa Monica Pier for lunch. I don't think I've ever been to Santa Monica before and it wasn't what I was expecting. I really wanted to go on a rollercoaster ride, but they were having some sort of event.
We spent a little time just sitting and talking on the pier!
10 bonus points if anyone can figure out what Mr. Howard's standing next to and what movie it's from! I passed by it and literally gasped. "Is that what I think it is?" I asked my hubby. Lucky for him he also knew what it was. A few google searches later and it looks like it's either modeled after the one in the movie or it's the original one! So funny!
 After the pier, we walked around Santa Monica a little. I love this view of the pier:
We got one last picture next to the water before heading home to our babies!! Don't worry. They didn't miss us one bit. 
I am so thankful I could go out and be with my friend and celebrate her Mama's life with her. Jen is literally the absolute best friend a girl could ever ask for. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Midweek Randoms

I am working on a Bridal Shower Recap post; but for now, here's a little teaser below. It was such fun to plan an adult party for a change.
We've had a busy week, but in the midst of the busy-ness, we've found time to just spend time together as a family. I snapped this photo of Mr. Howard and Connor watching movies. Connor is a complete cuddler at night. That's about the only time; but we'll take what we can get!
I joked on instagram that I must be completely crazy because I took the kids to target by myself more than once last week. It's definitely getting SOOO much easier to do this on my own...not because I'm some super hero or because my parenting skills have improved dramatically, but because the kids are getting older and more well behaved...that and I've learned the art of bribery before going in - "Okay guys. We're heading into target to get a few things and Mama needs you to be good. And if you're really good, we might be able to have a piece of Easter Candy early. But only if Mama can get her shopping done without any fights." Of course, I balance the I-said-I'd-never-ever-do-that guilt with the idea that they're still getting the same amount of chocolate; we're just spreading it out over the course of several days. So, I'm delusional and happy because I can smile at the other mamas whose children are freaking out in the carts and offer my I-totally-get-it face while my perfectly behaved children sit quietly and wait for their early Easter chocolate. Win. Win.  
 I also have mastered a way to get in a quasi workout with three small children: just agree to let the kids take bikes/scooters on a two mile walk. Inevitably one child...or two...or three will want you to carry their scooter or bike and you'll get in a workout trying to corral children while balancing multiple scooters/bikes in your hand. This particular walk I only carried two scooters for one mile. I call that progress. What will I do for a workout when they can make it on the entire walk?
 I love turkey burgers. Love, love, love. But I don't love that I need buns to hold my patty. So, this weekend I tried eating them wrapped in lettuce instead. It was a success! I put a little avocado in there too! Surprisingly, I didn't miss the bun at all.
 On Easter Sunday, after everyone had gone home, and my little family had had naps (including Mr. Howard and me), we went on a three mile walk to the park. We found a new path to a park that we've never taken the kids to and it goes across a really pretty creek. We had a lot of fun!
I am getting on an airplane to go be with my best friend in an hour and, while I am devastated at the reason for the visit, I am happy to see my friend!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Our Little Bunnies

On Sunday morning, the kids actually slept in for Easter. It was the first time in a LONG time that the kids have slept passed 5:30am in weeks. Happy Easter to Daddy and me! I finally woke Isabella up at about 9am because the boys were dying to see their baskets from Grandma
Grandma made them Easter Bags this year and they were a HUGE hit! The kids were SO excited! She sells them in her shop, if you are interested in getting one for next year!
 Daddy and his little bunnies!
 My little family. I was wearing Cole's footprint this year too. He's never far from our thoughts!
Since I was hosting a bridal shower the day before, we had cleared out our living room of all furniture to make room for the tables. So we thought Easter would be the perfect day to inflate the bounce house. There was obviously tons of room for it! The kids had a lot of fun all day! This year we hosted Easter because my dad wasn't feeling well. My sister, Andy, my brother, his fiance, and my little family all had lunch and then watched the kids do their Easter Egg Hunt at our house. We even went on a little walk to look at the newly built houses in the neighborhood. 
After lunch, the Easter Bunny came and the kids had a lot of fun looking for eggs. My sister took the picture of Andy and Katie with the kids on her camera - so I don't have it. Grrr. Oops. Aiden was hilarious! He opened one egg, sat and ate it, moved and got another egg, sat and ate it, then maybe got one or two more eggs. And that was it. Connor and Aiden are so similar personality-wise and so it always surprises me just how different even they are from each other at times. Connor and Isabella ran and got all the eggs they could as quickly as they could. 
I'm going to try to get a couple catch-up posts done, but then I am leaving to go to Southern California to spend some time with my best friend Jen, so things may be a little quiet around here the rest of the week. 

Have you hugged your mom today?

Friday, April 18, 2014

End of Week Randoms

Happy Good Friday!

I have had a wonderful Spring Break so far! Lots of snuggles with my parties set to the Frozen soundtrack...a few new movies...lots of party prep for Rebecca's bridal even a few dates. One day when Connor had school, Mr. Howard and I took Aiden and Isabella to sushi and then got them some ice cream. I joked on instagram that we must be doing something right, because when Isabella's food came, she exclaimed loudly, "Mama, I LOVE sushi!" Kids after my own heart...
I have been experimenting with quinoa and I think I've got it down. Upon the recommendation of my friend Diana, I tried to find a pre-washed quinoa, but I couldn't find an organic one at the store - so I googled it again and saw someone suggest soaking it. I did that for about five minutes and wah-lah: no bitter quinoa! Even the kids ate it with chicken the other night. I have served it in stirfry, as a side dish plain with a little sea salt, in salad, and I even put some in a soup. I'm a believer! =) My next goal is to figure out how to incorporate chia seeds in our diet! I've seen all sorts of articles about the health benefits of them including their healthy omega-3 fats and fiber! I think I'm going to try them in smoothies first. If you have anything you love chia seeds in, let me know.
The kids had school two days this week. One of the days we were invited to go see them do their Easter egg hunt. Look at their baskets! The kids painted and made the basket part and then their teacher braided the fabric handles and did that part! Aren't they amazing?
They also made these adorable bunny hats and sang an adorable Peter Rabbit song.
 Hubby and I were both trying to take a picture at once. Aiden's looking at me and Connor and Isabella were looking at Daddy.
 Connor Cottontail Rabbit
 And Isabella Lynn and Aiden Patrick:
They did a little performance outside by the garage before we did the Easter Egg Hunt.
Here are all their preschool friends. Connor and one other of his friends will be going to kindergarten next year. Everyone else will have return next year. 
Aiden had absolutely no interest in the Easter Egg hunt. I'm not even sure if he got one egg. When their teacher counted down, 3...2...1...Aiden made a run for it right to the playhouse and there he stayed the entire egg hunt. What a crack up. Isabella and Connor got eggs, though:
Today I have to get the kids going - so we can run several errands to finish a few last minute touches for the bridal shower! I hope you have a wonderful Easter with your families!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Closet Makeover

When we were building our house, I was SO excited about all these closets! I had all these grand plans for what I'd do with them all and how amazingly organized they'd be! And then...reality hit. We moved in and I had three small children. And a full-time job. And curtains to buy. And blinds to install. And, and, and. Fast forward a year and my closets are not pinterest worthy at all. 

I mentioned before in an earlier post that I left a lot of our holiday stuff in the garage, with the idea that I'd unpack it when I was finished with the big stuff. Well, we've now lived in our house for a year. Whoa! And time has slipped away from me (perhaps it has something to do with the three small children who inhabit my home and every thoughts! Ha!). In addition to the holiday stuff I never got around to, I also have a several closets that I have never gotten around to! I should be embarrassed to show you the before photos, but I'm not. This is reality. This is our wrapping paper/holiday/toilet paper/paper towels/game closet. And as you can see, I was VERY organized before. I am pretty sure this is exactly how it looked when I put that stuff there a year ago when we were moving in:
 I have seen all these pinterest posts and container store products that allow you to put your wrapping paper on the door of your closet and I really wanted to do that! I thought it'd be easy to find the system that container store sells (I linked to it in case you have a container store near you or you want to ship one to you), at another store, because we don't have a Container Store anywhere near us. But, I was shocked to find that no one sells anything like it! I'm sort of impatient when it comes to DIY projects. Once I get it in my mind that I want to do it, I have no time to order something and wait for it to ship! So, instead, hubby and I created our own.
 This is what we came up with:
 The top piece is a shoe rack from Home Depot (I think it's closetmaid) and the bottom is a closet basket. It ended up being a lot less than the product The Container Store sells, but it also doesn't have as many components. I think we're going to add another basket at the top so that I can put my ribbon above the wrapping paper.

Now that our wrapping paper was all sorted and out of the way, I made some headway on organizing the rest of the stuff. I organized everything by shelf so that I could figure out what kind of baskets I needed to buy. The top shelf are our Trick-or-treat baskets and Easter baskets. The shelf below that are our games. Below that are our refills on paper towels, toilet paper, air fresheners, and light bulbs. The bottom drawer are all our gift bags, tags, and boxes. And on the floor are all the holiday flags I own (I need to get a flag holder for the front of our house), and some Easter stuff.
 Once I had everything organized, I went to Michaels to get baskets. The baskets were 50% off, which made them cheaper than my go-to store, Target. I ended up getting five baskets, but I actually want to go back and get about five more. Right now I've got Christmas gift bags in one; all other gift bags in another; gift tags and tissue paper in another; light bulbs in one; and air fresheners in another.
 Here is a before/after of the closet! (I'm calling it an after even though I plan on doing more to do it)
 And a before/after of the closet door:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Baby Shower, Bridal Shower, and the Importance of Friends

This weekend I went to a baby shower for a sweet friend. Do you ever have those friends that you just meet or have a few conversations with and think, "I just adore her...How have we not known each other our whole lives?" Whitney is that friend, for me. I met her almost into my 30's and we came together over the bond of losing a child, but I feel like I've known her for years. I have been so blessed in my friendships. So blessed. I don't have a million friends I talk to every day, but I have that small handful of friends who just make my heart happy. Some I don't talk to or see very often - but when we hang out, I just feel like no time has passed. Some I talk to multiple times a week and it feels like it's never enough time. And others, I get to see and talk to every day at work and yet, still, get so excited when we get to have a girls' date.

I think the older I get, the more I reflect on these friendships and what they mean to me. Good friends mean so much more to me now than they did even even five years ago. I think having a family put a few things into perspective for me - why take time away from my family, my husband, my kids - if I don't REALLY want to be with someone?

The baby shower was just perfect and I just can't wait to snuggle her precious baby boy when he arrives in June. How loved he will be!

Hubby snapped this photo of me before leaving for the baby shower:

And this one, below, of us before I left and he went down for a nap!
On Saturday I am throwing a bridal shower for another friend who I will have the honor of calling my "family" in only a few short months. I would love to tease some photos of the party prep, but Becca is a frequenter of my blog and I don't want to spoil the surprise for her! I can't wait to post all the fun details! I did a Breakfast at Tiffany's theme ('s more of a "brunch at Tiffany's"!) and got Miss Isabella Lynn the cutest black dress and pearls for the party! (It's way more fun to dress the girl for whom every dress fits - than it is me!)

Monday, April 14, 2014

So Egg-Cited

Saturday morning I woke up at 6am and realized that the kids were going to an Easter Egg hunt later that day and I had no idea where their Easter baskets were. When we moved in last year, I left holiday-typed stuff in the garage with the thought that I would get around to unpacking it after a few months. Ha! Yeah right. I spent an hour at the crack of dawn searching through boxes for the baskets in the garage and gave up. So, instead, I got the kids ready and off we went to pick out baskets at Target. Thankfully they had three choices of similar baskets and miraculously each child was happy with what they got (although, Connor and I had NO idea what the blue one was, until we read the tag. Do you know what it is?!?).
The lady, when I was checking out, complimented me on being up and out with the kids so early by myself (I think it was 8:15am by the time we went through the checkout lane). I had to giggle. 8:15 is late for us. The kids are normally awake at 5:45am and at school by 7:30. But I will take the compliment! =) I am a morning person and always have been!

After Target, we went to Krispy Kreme donuts for hot original glazed. I told myself I wouldn't have a single one. Not one. And I refrained. Initially. But once my coffee was ready, I had one. And then another one. Grrr. Note to self: lock myself in the bedroom until the donuts are gone. 
 The kids requested this photo. "Mommy take a photo of us all of with our Easter Baskets!"
Later, I took the kids to an Easter Egg hunt with my Mothers of Multiples group. The kids had a lot of fun!! Isabella was a little shy at first, but once she got an egg, she was thrilled. Aiden and Connor had no warm-up period; they were instantly excited.
 This was the best group photo we could muster. Mr. Howard couldn't make it because he had to work, but he was missed!
 Isabella gets so shy whenever we go to events like this and tries to shut her eyes to keep everyone out. Then she'll peak out and see if you're watching her. So funny.
 Seriously! They're so cute! I love Aiden's little shirt unbuttoned. Ha! Isabella's dress is from my Mother-in-law from Matilda Jane. Every time she wears it, we get stopped and asked where it's from. It's such a cute dress!
 And, of course, checking out their loot:
 My brother and his fiance came with me to help! I'm so thankful they're close by now. The twins were in one hunt and Connor was in another one for older kids and I'm thankful for the help - because I can't be in three places at once.
 Aunt Becca, Izzy, and Aiden:
 Uncle Colin and Aunt Becca with the kids:
 "Show Mama your Easter Baskets so I can get a photo!!"
 The older kids' eggs (Connor's age) were filed with chocolate and candy. Aiden and Isabella's were filled with crackers and bubbles. I had to "hide" a lot of the chocolate (A.K.A. "Mommy's not sure where it went...maybe you ate it all, Connor") when I got home.
 Uncle Colin with the twins!
Overall, it was SUCH a fun Saturday!

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