Saturday, August 30, 2014

Remember that time my husband ran over a wasps' nest?

When I met my husband in high school, he had a Jeep CJ7 that he'd go on offroading trips with friends from church. Actually our first long date was an all day Saturday offroading trip together; I still remember the panic and anxiety of that first trip (offroading is scary if you've never done it before!)...oh and I also remember the secret hand-holding and quick, sly kisses when everyone was occupied. I remember the butterflies in my stomach when he showed up at my house to take me on an adventure, and the hazy "love aura" that surrounded us as he introduced me as his "girlfriend" for the first time ever, to people he had known for years. I loved how confident he was, how secure he was in taking me on the trip, and how knowledgeable he was about EVERYTHING (I still feel that way). That jeep is cemented and intertwined in our love story and it's impossible for me to think of us (the new girlfriend and boyfriend) without thinking of that jeep. Offroading was such a part of who we started out as.

That CJ jeep is now a sensitive subject in our household, as my husband sold it when we were in college. Depending on who you ask, you'll get differing accounts of what happened to it. My husband says he was "forced" to sell it and still if you ask him about it, he'll give you an ear-full about what he wouldn't give to have it back. But don't ask him. Seriously. It'll be a half hour conversation filled with drama. Ha! Weeks afterwards, when regret sank in, my husband pined for a replacement. And over the years, we have had vehicles we could take offroading - but they were always cars or trucks we'd then need to take to work the next day. Until this summer.

This summer we bought a third vehicle and made my car (an LR3) our offroad vehicle. We lifted it, put offroad tires on it, and did a couple minor things to get it ready for some offroad adventures.

We've already taken it out several times since then, but this past weekend, we decided to test its capabilities in Tahoe. We started our journey with a dead battery. Grrr. Once that was fixed, we ran out of gas less than a mile from my parents' house. Grrr. Determined, we left a final time with good attitudes and excited spirits!

We did Signal Peak in Tahoe and my sister and Andy came with us. Unfortunately, we took my sister on a pretty adventurous trail that was rated difficult in some areas and moderate in others and it scared her. When we got pretty close to the top of the trail, we stopped and had homemade sub sandwiches, chips, and soda.
We did really well on the trail, until we got to the "difficult" part and then we just got stuck. Part of the trail said you'd need 35 inch tires to get up and we have 33 inch tires. We thought we'd be able to do it, but there was just no way. The sand was too soft if you went one direction and the other direction was just too steep.
 I was starting to get a little worried we wouldn't make it and then Mr. Howard ran over a wasps' nest. SERIOUSLY?!? One flew into the car and stung him on the ear. With his bee allergy, we were all a little petrified of what would happen. It was a LOT stressful, because we were so far from any sort of help. Luckily for us, after all the adrenaline, he discovered his reaction only occurred in his ear. Thank goodness. My sister, Andy, and I were all out of the car too when it happened, but thankfully Andy was able to run away quickly and my sister and I were already out of the way. Whew! Scary!
What a way to ruin an absolutely beautiful trip! We were a little concerned about heading back down the trail (the way we had come up) because there was no way to fit two cars on the trail and there weren't any places to turn off and let someone pass. But, we had a completely uneventful trip down the hill.
I think my sister actually had fun going down (she was so scared going up!). 
I didn't get any pictures of the kids, hubby, or Andy. But they were kinda busy dealing with trying to get up the hill. Oops!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Mom First

As will probably happen every year, I took Connor's first day of school off from work. I wanted to be there to make his breakfast for him in the morning, be there to walk him up to his class and drop him off, and be there when he got done with school to pick him up. I am "Mom" first and "Teacher" second and I want my kids to know that.

The night before kindergarten, when he came home from my mom's, I had all his stuff laid out for him - his clothes, some kindergarten books for us to read, and his new backpack and lunch. This thrilled him to pieces.

 We then spent that night reading the books, talking about school and what it would be like, etc. and just making sure he was ready! Hubby and I crawled into bed with him and we just snuggled and read.
In the morning, we woke him up first and let him have some quiet time with Mommy and Daddy by himself (before getting the twins up). We got him dressed, did his hair, and spent some more time talking about what was going to happen at school. After our little family time alone, I woke up the twins so we could have a family breakfast.
We took all the kids out for pancakes and eggs. Connor's start time is a little later, so we had time to go out to breakfast at 7:30am on the first day. He was SO riled up about starting kindergarten.
Then we came home and did first day photos in his shirt that Grandma made him! (I had also done first day photos the day before in a different shirt, so that his photo would match his brother's. Can you say crazy?!? I know, I know). 
 Connor requested that "the babies" get in one picture with him!
We loaded the stroller up and walked over to school with our neighbors and their kinder daughter! Our neighbors and Mr. Howard are going to split drop offs, so that the kids never have to go to before-school care. 
 And then, finally, we got Connor all settled in his classroom with his teacher!
 He has his own little cubby, which he is RIDICULOUSLY thrilled about.
 At Back To School Night a few days prior, the teacher had said that she wanted us to come in and see the room and get the kids settled. Then, she said, she'd talk for a bit and then tell the kids to turn around and wave goodbye to us. Connor barely waved goodbye; he was too excited about coloring and sitting in his classroom. Honestly, this was the best way that the goodbye could have happened. I felt such peace about knowing that he was ready for us to leave.
 Here was Connor's first day photo taken in the red shirt:
And because I love seeing all the kids photos together...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I think the word "excited" doesn't even capture it. They were beyond thrilled.

Because I get the amazing opportunity to be a stay at home Mama each summer, I have lots of time to reflect on the things we did the past year. Each summer I tweak a few things, get a few things more organized, and try to streamline our lives/routines for the following year. Considering we were getting ready for our BABY to enter KINDERGARTEN, we also needed to tackle a few new routines/processes this summer. I know, I know. He's too little to be in kinder. Don't worry; I'm not going to get sappy YET (I'm saving that for a whole 'nother post!). Because of that new little kindergartner living with us, we needed to come up with a few organizational things and routines for handling THREE different schools (my school, Connor's, and the twins') and FOUR different schedules (mine, Daddy's, Connor's, and the twins'). Crazy!

The first thing we needed to tackle, in anticipation of Connor's first day, was lunches. This was the first time we've ever had to pack a lunch for our kids. So, we started doing a few test runs on days when he came with me to work and on a few days when he stayed home. We ended up getting him the Rubbermaid Lunch Blox, which came with these little containers that snap into an ice tray (that goes on the bottom). They fit perfectly in his new lunch box, which we had embroidered with his name from THIS shop, and it also matched his new wildkin orange backpack.

The first day for lunch we did grapes, Greek yogurt, strawberries, chicken, and orzo! I plan on doing Greek yogurt every day, because Connor has had some digestion issues in the past and it's the perfect tiny amount to help his tummy. Personally, I think everyone should have at least one serving of yogurt a day if you're not allergic, because it's just so good for you (I eat a bowl of yogurt with granola every day for breakfast, except on running days).

Some days I'm going to do left overs for his lunch. Like this day, when I put in chopped up pieces of left-over pizza (also included: grapes, yogurt, juice, mozzarella cheese, and strawberries):
Or this day, when I put leftover chicken pasta:
I won't always do strawberries and grapes, but since I'm only packing one lunch a day (the twins don't have to bring lunch to preschool), the fruit lasted a whole week for him. I'm going to do other vegetables and fruits as the weeks go by. In fact, I've already started mandarin oranges and he loves those!

I'm really lucky because Connor is a pretty un-picky eater. For the most part, if I put it in his lunch, he'll eat it (although I tried a taco today and he told me he didn't like it...I'm not really sure I'd like a cold taco either, but I thought it was worth a try). I never have to worry if he doesn't like something in his lunch, because there's always at least three other things he can eat.

In addition to getting Connor's lunches down, I decided to find some fun ways to make my lunches! I discovered and delved into the world of mason jar salads. I've made several so far and have loved them all. This one had an avocado and greek yogurt homemade dressing, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chicken, and lettuce. My husband, who has a habit of eating cheetos or cookies for lunch, has even taken salads and loved them! It's easy for me to whip out six of these salads on Sunday night for our week and they stay fresh all week since the lettuce doesn't touch any of the wet ingredients.
The next thing we needed to tackle was a process for backpacks and paperwork. We decided to get the kids a hook to hold their backpacks right by the garage door. I can't even tell you the squeals I heard when they got home and saw it hanging. They are so ridiculously excited! I actually want to do another set of hooks on the other side of the wall for my purse and hubby's keys, etc.
I want to add some sort of art work or something above their little hooks, but I haven't thought of the perfect thing yet! We put the hooks right at the garage door, so that they can hang their backpacks right when they come in the door; I wish we had a mudroom or some amazing spot for their shoes, jackets, AND backpacks - but this space will work for now.  
Connor, Aiden, and Isabella were so excited about all the changes and it made their first days at school all the more exciting!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Frustrating Week Ending in Some Fun: My First 10k

Do you ever have those weeks where you wish you could just go back to bed and start over the ENTIRE week? I had one of those last week. You know...those weeks, where it requires lots of prayers, multiple "deep cleansing breaths," and Mama timeouts alone? The weeks where you wonder how you're going to survive with the 48 different hats you have to wear (secretary, teacher, working mama, just "mama" (said 4,000 times in a five minute period with increasingly exasperated tones), chef, housekeeper, nurse, wife, lunch maker, pre-school drop-off-er, kindergarten drop-off-er, friend, backpack packer, list maker, school form fill-out-er, laundry washer/folder/and put away-er, dinner maker, runner, etc.) and you wonder if you are, in fact, making ANYONE happy at all? Am I doing any of my jobs well? I asked myself. Am I being a good wife? A good Mama? A good teacher?...When I'm spread this thin.

There's so much that happened; it'd be hard to even recap it all. The synopsis of the week is as follows. We found out frustrating news about Connor's schedule - which threw a wrench into our work schedules, including the work schedule that my hubby had completely re-done to accommodate the kids' preschool and kindergarten schedules. Then, we went to register for after-school club for Connor and realized they may not have any spots left (WHAT?!?). All the stress led to bad attitudes. BAD. My husband and I fought; the kids fought; our temper wasn't great with the kids; and I may have even shed some tears. It was a stressful week.

I don't want to give the impression that I have this perfectly rosy life all the time. Yes, I'm blessed. Beyond. I smile and laugh EVERY SINGLE DAY, but some weeks it's all it takes to just keep it all together.

The good news, however, is that in the end, after all the tears and stress - it all worked out. Our schedules worked out. We got Connor into the program we needed. We apologized and made amends to each other and the people we were grumpy with. We had some long chats about how we're going to talk to each other from now on. And we spent time as a family laughing and playing. Through this all, I feel thankful that I get to see what it's like to be a parent and be on the opposite end of things (I'm a teacher and so it's good to get a reminder about what it's like to be on the other "side" of the school system...of course we're all on the same "side," but hopefully you know what I mean).

Then on top of all that excitement, last week was my first official full week at work with students, which meant for a relatively low key running week, lots of early morning wakeups to hurry and plan and get ready for my middle schoolers, and the stress (and fun!) of memorizing 100 new names.

Despite the crazy beginning to the week, I ended it with my first ever 10k. I know, I know. I do things backwards, since I've already run 2 half marathons. But it was SO fun. I can't even believe how much less stressful it was than running a half. Of course it helped that I had such fun friends and awesome conversation during the whole thing!

I love this one below because there I am, in pink, in my own element ALMOST to the finish line. Candids are so fun! And there's my friend in the green that I run with multiple times a week. I'm so thankful for all the new running friends I've made, especially the two girls I'm running my half with.
Despite my horrible beginning to the week, I felt like the weekend ended on such a fun, positive beat. I am so thankful for discovering my love of running...thanks to my best friend Jen (when Jen started running, I thought she was amazing and then I thought, "but I could NEVER do it!") and my inspiring work friend Leslie! It has definitely been the most fun way for me to work out and I rarely feel guilty about the time away from my family.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Having Kids is a lot like Living in a Frat House

Nobody sleeps. Everything's broken. And there's a lot of throwing up.

Which is why I need play dates. A lot of them.

I always have the best of intentions of getting together with my friends in the summer, but summer just seems to FLY by. This year, with Connor and Aiden both in swim lessons for a total of four weeks every day, it took a lot of time up that otherwise would have been spent doing more play dates. So, towards the end of the summer, my friend Diana and I decided we needed to get in one play date while Connor was at pre-k, before we started back at work. Someone in my mothers of multiples group suggested this place near Sacramento, called the Busy Kidz. It was SO much fun.

They have a parent "lounge" with free WiFi and then the kids can basically roam around this play city. There's a post office, doctor's office, bank, school room, restaurant, costume room, library, grocery store, and, Aiden's favorite, a lego room (a room JUST filled with legos!).

I am so lucky to have friends I just adore and Diana is definitely that friend for me! And who doesn't love finding new places to take the kids?!? The kids LOVED it.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Third Half Marathon Journey: Weeks 1 - 3

I took a little break from running, but am back! If you haven't read about my second half marathon, you can catch up here.

I am running a half marathon in October, so I've been back to following a training schedule! It's the first time I haven't trained with a training group and so far it's going well because of the group of two twin Mama friends who are running with me and training for the same half!! They have been SO encouraging. One of the girls I'm running with created a schedule using the Hal Higdon Novice plan and I feel really good about it. We've already completed the first three weeks of our twelve week plan!

I ran/walked my first half marathon at a 1:1 ratio (one minute run: one minute walk) and my second one at a 2:1 (2 minute run: one minute walk) and have currently been training at a 3:1. But we'll see where we end up (we're trying to increase our run ratio even more). My goal is just to PR, which I think should be pretty easy! The newest thing for me is that I have been running between 5 and 6am every morning (which had been un-doable previously because it's dark and my husband is uncomfortable with me running by myself in the dark...understandably so). Sidenote: The 5am wakeups are the reason that I am not wearing makeup in any of the photos below:
One amazing thing about running so early, has been the sunrises. I've seen more sunrises in the last three weeks than I have in ten years.
I can't even tell you how amazing and inspiring these Mamas have been. Some of us are training for halfs; some are training for fulls; some of us run a 13 minute mile; and some of us run 8 minute miles; some of us walk and run; and some of us just run. But you know what we all have in common? We run. As someone posted in our group, "No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everybody on the couch."
We even run in the dark.
Some mornings, it's even been cold. WHAT?!? Love it.
Sunrises really never get old.
Fun, sassy, running group!
These are all my twin Mama friends I ran with. Between the four of us, we have eleven kids at home. Can you say #noexcuses. We are all training for halfs in October and one of us is training for the California International Marathon full in December. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Backpack Sneak and a Tantrum

Monday, August 11th was Aiden and Isabella's first day of Pre-School for this school year. They got new backpacks from their Auntie Jen and were SO excited about taking them to school! They had been wearing them everywhere for about a week before the first day. See evidence below:

Then on the first day of school, below, Aiden tried to sneak a blue car into his backpack and was way less than thrilled about Mommy taking it out (as a teacher, I know how annoying toys are and so I really try hard to do backpack checks). He screamed and cried and threw a huge fit. I couldn't get him to calm down, so I had to shut the door, when I dropped him off at preschool, with him in full blown tantrum. I couldn't tell if his crying was because I was dropping him off for the first time in 2 months...or if he really was just upset about the car. He is SUCH a big boy, though. I saw this picture and thought, when did I turn in my baby for a little boy?!?
 Isabella clung to my leg and was a little shy when I tried to drop her off, but when I gave her a kiss, helped her hang her backpack up in her cubby, and said goodbye, she was happy. She has grown so much. I can't even believe how much she's coming out of her shell!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

31 Again

The day after my birthday, we celebrated with a BBQ at my parents' house.

Since I am usually the photographer, I only have two photos.

 A picture of my handsome hubby and me on my 31st birthday!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


My husband had to work on my 31st birthday, so a few nights beforehand, he got a sitter (thank you Rebecca!!!) and took me out to a movie. 
When I got in his car, he had this sweet card for me:
We were hoping to have time to go to dinner beforehand, but because of the movie time that we had chosen, there just wasn't enough time. But we didn't let that stop us from going to sushi! We did a to-go sushi date in the car!
We went and saw Sex Tape, which was pretty darn funny. Afterwards, we drove through a drivethrough, so that Mr. Howard could get a milkshake. Perfect end to a perfect night.
Happy Birthday To Me. 31 feels exactly like 30 does; afterall, age is just a number.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Foot

Connor had his last day of Pre-K this past Friday. He starts kindergarten in just a few weeks, which is INSANE to me!

And because, who doesn't love a good comparison photo? Can you even believe how much he grew?!? I wish I had measured his height, because I seriously think he grew a whole foot!
I would have been devastated that Connor's last day of preschool EVER was Friday, except that Monday was the babies' first day back. Thank goodness we still have two years with their amazing preschool, because I might go into a deep, dark depression over that.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

I'd Rather Be

"I'd Rather be Playing Soccer"

We signed Connor up for a recreational soccer league this summer. I really wanted to sign him up for a competitive league (as much as a 5 year old team can actually be competitive), but we missed the cut off - which was in March. Ummm. Seriously? Signing up in March for a league that starts in September? That's insane. But since I had missed the cut off, we found a four week class he could take that was organized through our city.

Connor LOVED it. Love, love, loved. Seriously. Every single week he'd ask me if people were coming to watch (Is Nana coming to see me? Grandfather? Aunt Katie? Aunt Becca? Uncle Colin?)...and whether or not he was going to get to wear his soccer shorts...and, don't you know, he needed a special water bottle because soccer players NEED water bottles...and then he'd ask nine times on Wednesday if, in fact, today was Wednesday and how many hours until soccer practice. So sweet. (The first two photos were taken by my sister Awe Captures Photography)

It was a Daddy and Me (or Mommy and Me) participation class and I'm pretty sure Mr. Howard learned just as much as Connor did (my husband is VERY athletic, but never played soccer. It's probably the only sport he didn't play).
They learned basic skills like dribbling, "squishing" the ball, kicking with the inside of your foot, and shooting.
I think the hardest part for Connor (and probably all the kids) is not using their hands.
Grandma was even able to come to Connor's first practice, which made him pretty lucky!
Overall it was such a good class.
We can sign him up for a Kidz love Soccer class that is 8 weeks and goes throughout the fall and we're considering it. I just don't want him to lose his momentum. But with Kindergarten starting, I don't want to stretch us too thin, when I'm not certain how our routines are all going to go managing THREE school schedules (mine, Connor's, and Aiden/Isabella's). So we'll see.

The hardest part of the whole thing was keeping Aiden and Isabella off the field. Ha! They just want to go out with their big brother and don't understand why they can't play.

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