Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Seven Year Itch

This July 14th, we celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. It's hard to believe we've been married for 7 years!! On August 1st, we'll actually celebrate 10 years since we got engaged. That is crazy to me. We usually try to do adventurous things for our anniversary, but this year we hosted a bunch of people for the twins' birthday and then our anniversary fell on the Monday afterwards.

We didn't do anything spectacular, but we put the twins to bed on Sunday night, and ran out to a quick sushi dinner (photo above taken before dinner). It was quick and easy - but even an hour with my cutie alone is worth it.

And, of course, we just got back from an amazing trip, that we called our anniversary trip, a month ago. So we are ridiculously blessed.

Marriage is hard. It's the hardest thing I've ever done in my whole life. But it is by far the ABSOLUTE most rewarding thing I have ever worked at. I think because we went into marriage thinking it was going to be a priority and something we'd have to work at - we're happy. I think if we had gone into it thinking that we were just going to effortlessly stay married and in love for the rest of our lives, we would have been disappointed. Because it takes work to stay in love. It takes work to be happy. It takes work to stay married. Fun work, of course. But work. Dates. Reconnecting. Compromise. Lots of talking. More compromise. Communication. I laugh about the bachelor because it's easy to be in love and happy when there's no stress. When Mr. Howard and I went on our vacation without kids, we did not fight once. Not one argument. Not one frustration. Not one sideway glance or sarcastic reply. We were like newlyweds all giggly in love, all over each other - sneaking kisses when no one was looking on the elevator, rushing up to the room in the middle of the day. Because we didn't have any stress. Our kids were taken care of...we weren't paying bills...or cleaning the house...or writing to-do lists...or getting by on only a little sleep. We weren't stressed after a long day of work...or a long day at home with the kids...or a long day of a million errands. It was easy because we weren't in real life. The true testament to a relationship is how you get along when you're in real life with real stresses, with real problems. That's true love. And I can honestly say that after FOURTEEN years with my husband, we have figured out how to have a relationship in real life. It doesn't mean it won't take more work; it doesn't mean I have it all figured out or have all the answers. But it means I know that we will have to work at it every day for the rest of our lives if we want to stay happily married. And there's no one I'd rather work at it with than this handsome man.

July 14, 2007

Happy anniversary, my love!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Cowboy/Cowgirl - Woody and Jessie Party for Twins - Part 2

For Aiden and Isabella's third birthday, we decided to do a Woody and Jessie Cowboy/Cowgirl  party! I had eight million plans for things I wanted to do and then life happened. Ha! So, we did what we could do and called it a day! The party is for the kids. But the fun, little details the kids maybe don't notice YET- I just like doing them. It's fun to me; and it's fun for the kids. This year their party came right after a 10 day vacation hubby and I took 2,000 miles away. Because of how much we spent on our vacation, we really were on a tight budget for this party! My point? Budget parties can still be JUST as cute - if you just focus on things that make big statements!

I got this Wanted Poster idea from THIS pin. There's even a link to print the wanted coloring sheets. All you need are the printed coloring sheets, sheriff stars (we bought 4-packs from the dollar store), some twine, and paper lunch bags. Super easy and it made a BIG statement on the tables. There are no instructions on the website, but all we did was got the normal lunch-sized paper bags and unfolded them and pushed them so they were flat (instead of 3d), then re-folded them so that they could fit the coloring sheet inside (we cut the sides of the coloring sheet a tiny bit), cut a tiny one inch line down the middle, folded down two little triangles, put a sheriff star right in that opening, and then tied a piece of twine around the whole thing. Here's a closeup of what they looked like:
This was the first time I made a big long kid table at any birthday parties I've thrown and I loved that idea! I'm definitely going to do it again! It was so nice to have the kids all at one table - and I could focus all my decorating on those tables!
Once we decided on a theme, I begged my mother-in-law to make outfits for Aiden and Isabella based on some ideas I had pinned. She came up with these outfits and they were SOO adorable. The only big difference between their outfits and the REAL Woody/Jessie costumes, was that we made them short-sleeve, since their party was in July. Their cowboy boots and hats were from Boot Barn. I linked to the exact place we bought the hats for the Jessie and Woody costume below.
The gift bags were super easy for me to make by hand. I just made one, got it the way I wanted, and then traced my pieces for the 15 others I had to make (and then enlisted my mother-in-law to help me cut!). I got inspiration for the Jessie Gift Bags from THIS pin. You can order 12 of them for $15, which is so great! And then I sort of tweaked THIS pin for the Woody Gift Bags to make my own. I stuffed them with coloring books, crayons, bandanas, and something else (I can't remember). 
The cake I had made from Legacy Bakeshop (local here in Sacramento) and then we added the figurines.
Here's a close-up of the cake and figurines from Toys-R-Us.
Here are the invitations we sent out (obviously our address has been removed). We ordered them from GirlsatPlay on Etsy and I just asked her to change the bottom color from blue to yellow to fit better with our theme. I found a million toy story invitations, but none that I thought were perfect for twins. So, when I found this - I thought it was perfect!
Connor originally wanted to be Buzz Lightyear and we were all set to order his costume. And then the more I started actually planning out some of the details of the party, the more we realized the party was less Toy Story themed, and more Western themed. So at the last minute, I convinced Connor to dress like a cowboy. We ordered his costume from HERE (beware, they run REALLY small. We ordered a 4-6 and it was way too small. It probably would have fit him when he was 3 or 4, definitely not 5, and he currently wears a size 4 in clothes). But for $18, it worked and Aiden will be able to wear it as dress up for a while. 
I have a friend who has several horses, but one of her newest babes is a miniature horse named Skittles. So when I invited them to come to the birthday party, she asked if I wanted her to bring Skittles to the party. Ummmm. YES! The kids were SO ridiculously excited! They brought horse brushes for the kids so they could brush and pet her. I'm pretty sure she was LOVING our grass (maybe the kids too - not sure -ha), and we were thankful for the extra mowing.
For additional party gifts, I made cowboy and cowgirl cookies (recipe HERE)  for everyone to take with them! I used cowprint fabric from JoAnns to make the cowprint toppers and then just bought a 12 pack of mason jars from target (a little note if you decide to do this, I would by a little funnel for a couple dollars - we had to create one because it's hard to pour some of the ingredients in the jar, without it spilling everywhere). And then we downloaded the cowboy Cookie and Cowgirl Cookie labels and instructions from THIS website. For these photos, I set the labels on the top so you could see them.
I got some ribbon to tie around the side, hole-punched the labels and directions, and attached them both with the ribbon. Here's how the jars looked before passing them out! For the cowgirl cookies, I found pink m&m's at Party City.
I have heard from two friends that they made these and they turned out great! So, if you're looking for a good m&m's cookie recipe, check out the link above!
This was the first time I ever did a backdrop for my cake table and there are things I would do differently next time; but for my first one, I thought it was cute. Some notes, if you want to do your own: I would HIGHLY recommend using fabric. I was totally on a time crunch and didn't want to have to stand in a line at JoAnn's to get yards of fabric cut - so I went and picked up plastic table clothes. Unfortunately, they were sort of shiny and also very see-through. If I could do it again, I'd spend the time standing in line. I think it would have looked better. You live and you learn. **P.S. I didn't get a good photo AT ALL of the backdrop for the table and I was all set to re-create it, until my husband called me crazy. Okay fine. Not my best idea. Here's the table sans cake. 
And one with the cake:
One of the things I had fully planned on doing was printing/ordering printables for cupcakes, etc. and I had visions of having the cake table filled with cute stuff, but time got the best of me and it didn't get done. Then, the morning of the party, I thought, "Oh no! I don't have cupcakes!" So I sent my husband to costco to pick up blue, yellow, or red cupcakes. And guess what? Costco didn't have ANY. So off he went to the next store. And again: nothing in solid colors! So, we had balloon cupcakes that didn't really match anything. I'm sure you're shocked, but no one noticed!
If you missed Part 1 of this Cowboy/Cowgirl birthday party, HERE is the link.
For the twins' first birthday party, see HERE and HERE

If you want to re-create anything, here are links to everything we bought:
Cowprint table cloths: Set of 6 of them for $7.90 from Amazon HERE.
Cowprint cups: An 8-pack for $4.09 from Amazon HERE.
Red Bandanas: Dollar Store find (2 pack for $1).
Cowprint fabric for jars: JoAnns
Sheriff Stars: Dollar story find (4 pack for $1)
Cowgirl/Cowboy Cookie Recipes and labels: Bakerella HERE.
Connor's Costume: Amazon HERE (warning: the costume runs small!).
Jessie's Cowboy Hat: HERE.
Woody's Cowboy Hat: HERE.
Cake: Legacy Bakeshop HERE.
Invitations: Etsy HERE.
Wanted coloring sheets: HERE.
The Woody/Jessie outfits were custom made by Grandma N Ellie Handmade

Friday, July 25, 2014

Aiden and Isabella's Party Part 1

Aiden and Isabella had their third birthday party on July 13th! I gave them a couple options and then let them pick their favorite one for a birthday party theme. They were both pretty thrilled about the idea of a cowboy/cowgirl party and since we've been watching a lot of Toy Story 3 in this house, A Woody/Jessie Party cinched the deal! They were so excited! I have a post all ready to go live that has all the details of the party, with links to things I bought or places that gave me inspiration. I will post that tomorrow for those of you wanting to recreate anything.

**Before I post these pictures, let me also state that I am going insane with Photoshop's "Process Multiple Photos" watermark feature. Is there not a way to make all the files the same size and then watermark them at once? Someone with more photoshop knowledge than me, please help.**

This year we threw the party right after a big vacation and so I just didn't have the time like I normally do to some of the projects I had pinned.

The decorations were pretty simple! We did cowprint on the tables, with a coloring sheet, sheriff star, and red bandana for all the kids! We focused our decorating on a kids' table so that they could all eat together (this is the first time I did it and the kids LOVED it!).

Aiden and Isabella thought they were hot stuff eating with their older friends!
I also had a table at the front of the house for cowboy hats for anyone who wanted one (can you see it by the presents in the photo above?)

Here's a closeup of the coloring sheets and table decorations:
Remember these chairs I bought for another party I hosted? See I'm already getting great use out of them!
 For lunch, we bought costco sandwiches, wraps, macaroni salad, potato salad, and pretzels. Easy peasy. Making the food was one of those things I had grand plans to do - but just didn't have time, at the end of the day. I usually love cooking for parties.
 The cake MADE the party. It was just absolutely amazing!
I don't have a ton of "musts" with twins. But one absolute must for me is that each birthday baby gets their own song. I alternate the order we sing it. So for their first birthday, we sang to Aiden first. This year Isabella got her song first. So adorable!
 Here's Isabella blowing her candle:
Seriously. This is my favorite photo of the entire party. My mother-in-law captured Aiden blowing out his candle (while looking at it). Ridiculously adorable and funny.
 Aiden asked for a million pieces of cake. He's still asking about that peanut butter and chocolate cake.
Holy adorableness. My mother-in-law made Aiden his very own Woody costume and then my mom bought him this hat and boots:

 All three of my littles:
My oldest:
And my youngest. My mother-in-law made Isabella's costume and then my mom bought her the hat and boots.

 My friend has several horses and when she found out it was a cowboy and cowgirl party, she offered to bring her miniature horse - which pretty much MADE the party. The kids were so excited! Our neighbors were leaving their house and actually drove over and said, "IS THAT A HORSE?!?" Probably not something you see every day on someone's front lawn.
Aiden wasn't afraid at all. He walked right on up with a brush and wanted to brush her. Isabella took a tiny bit of warming up: 
 Skittles, the horse, was beautiful:
Of course Isabella needed her own little trusty horse:
 The birthday boy and girl:
I love this one of my brother's dog and my dad. Nova always wants to be right in the action:
Among their little friends and local friends, they were also blessed to have their Grandma (who flew from Alabama), Nana, Grandfather, Auntie Jen and Uncle Brett (who flew from Southern California), Aunt Becca, and Aunt Katie be with them! The babies were so blessed with such an awesome party!
Stay tuned for tomorrow's post with all the details!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Calling all Minions

I mentioned before, but in my family everybody gets a Kirkpatrick family dinner at my parents' house. The birthday boy or girl gets to pick out his/her choice for dinner and everyone hangs out! Connor's birthday dinner was the Friday before the twins' big party! Auntie Jen and Uncle Brett and Grandma joined our normal group (Nana, Grandfather, Aunt Katie, Andy, Uncle Colin, Aunt Becca, Daddy, Aiden, Isabella, and me). Connor requested Grilled Cheese for his birthday dinner choice, so that is what the kids had!

 Connor got the coolest gift from Auntie Jen and Uncle Brett - a PUGG portable soccer goal (the four footer, in case you want to buy one!) and soccer ball. I'm pretty sure he hasn't stopped playing with it since he got it a week ago. If we'd let him, he'd take it into his room and practice all night. Ha! They have the same goals at soccer practice each week and he loved telling his coach that Auntie Jen got him a goal so he can practice at home!
 He had such a good time opening gifts!! He was so excited about EVERYTHING!
 Opening Presents:
 Our whole group:
 Pirate Izzy. She even made an argggg face.
 Pirate Aiden:
Our birthday group!
 Mommy, the Birthday Boy, and Daddy!
A week before party, when I asked Connor what he wanted for his birthday dinner, he told me he wanted a Despicable Me cake. I was kinda surprised, as he usually doesn't have a big opinion about those things. I scoured the Internet for one I could make and realized it was going to be WAY too time consuming. So, instead, I had this cake made at the grocery store (I've never custom ordered a cake from a grocery store before) and it was SO cute. It was an edible image that they stretched and then put frosting around the top. We got these little figurines for the top and it was just perfect for what he wanted. And then, my handsome, big 5-year-old decided to get the cake down out of the microwave on his own, and then tried to carry it to the car. Unfortunately, mid-walk, he dropped it. I was so bummed that I hadn't got a photo of it beforehand.
 The top didn't look horrible, but here's a better photo of the disaster. I had them wrap an orange candle edible image around the sides and then do Connor in a turquoise on the side. Connor felt horrible about messing it up and, honestly, I was just bummed that no one got to see it before the disaster. But, really, in the big scheme of life - it was so not a big deal. It could have been a lot worse. Thankfully, it was in a cake box when he dropped it, so it was all still edible.
We all had a great time and we were so thankful that Jen, Brett, and Kathe were able to be there to celebrate with us!

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