Friday, July 31, 2015

Spoiler Alert. It Didn't go well.

I just got back from a week long leadership camp with about 100 middle and high schoolers and I have a lot of blog posts and SLEEEEEEP I need to get caught up on! And, of course, any normal person starts with blogging.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Howard and I decided we needed to do a practice camping trip with the kids, since we had a real camping trip planned for a few short weeks later. The last time we took the kids camping was when the twins were a couple months old. We set up the tent in my parents' yard.

The kids were so excited. Spoiler alert. I almost think that's where we went wrong. Haha. We started them off TOO excited.
They were pretty adorable about the whole experience...at first...
We bought stuff to make s'mores, because what's camping (even practice camping) without s'mores?!
My mom bought the twins their very own brand new sleeping bags for their birthdays, so this was their first chance to use them! We got everyone set up and then we all crawled into bed. And then Mr. Howard and I waited...and waited...and waited...and waited for them to settle down. I am pretty sure we gave it almost two hours before it became apparent there was no way we were going to go to sleep. Do you see the puppy dog blur in the bottom left photo?!? Yep. Reese basically ran back and forth on the kids, biting them, barking, and trying to nip their feet under their sleeping bags. It was definitely not great.
I think one of the hardest parts about having twins is that you've got two kids who are exactly the same age and maturity. With two kids...or three kids who are different ages, there's a maturity difference (even just slightly!) between the kids. And maybe it'd make a difference if my twins were the older kids, but when you have a big brother and two little siblings who are exactly the same age, it makes things like this hard. I'm definitely glad we practiced before heading out into the woods.

We'll give it one more year and try again next summer. I really am quite optimistic that without the dog, and another year of maturity - it'll be an awesome experience!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Midweek Randoms

I'm still catching up from our week with Grandma. We tried to do something fun every day. Most days we were able to get out of the house to have a little mini summer adventure. One of those mini adventures, was a day of bowling. The kids really liked it, but were done after one game. I definitely think we'll be back for some summer bowling a few more times!
Another day, we all went to the Zoo with Grandma. The kids had a lot of fun looking at all the animals and showing Grandma all their favorites!
Another day we went to Studio Movie Grill to see the Minions movie. I especially love that we can distract the kids with a full dinner in the theater; it definitely makes the movie go much quicker. The kids did SOOO well. I had Connor on one side of me and Aiden on the other and neither one made a peep through the whole movie. Seriously. This was by far the best they have ever done in a theater. I do think having three adults paired with three kids helps.
Grandma doesn't have a Pinkberry in Alabama near her anymore, so we always "have" to make a stop. It's definitely a happy excuse to go.
Being a stay at home mama is mostly amazing, sprinkled with a few "What on Earth am I Doing?!?" moments, but I cherish ones like this below. When they are all happy and getting along, and doing something together (even if it's watching a cartoon), it makes me happy. I hold on to these moments to get me through the moments when everyone's crying...they're all fighting...or someone's shouting "I don't like you" at someone else.
In addition to our mini summer adventures, the other major events that have been filling our days are swim lessons! I am going to do a separate post on them, so that I don't forget a few things; but until then, here's a little snippet of what we've been up to. All three kids were in lessons at the same time (a free 30 minutes for me, sitting by the pool every day).
My goal is to read nine books this summer (one a week) and I am well on my way. This week I finished One Fearful Yellow Eye, which is the 8th book in the Travis McGee series. This is my fifth book this summer and I'm already half way through with my sixth book.

Do you have any book recommendations that I need to add to my list?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Six. Seis. Sei. Roku. Sechs.

On July 7th, we celebrated Connor's 6th Birthday with our traditional morning french toast. He requested six candles and when you are the birthday boy, you get what you ask for! Hubby is gone in the mornings, so it's usually just me and the kids. But since Grandma was staying with us, I got a photo of me and the birthday boy, jammies and all.

We celebrated during the day with a low key day. We ran errands and just had a bit of a relaxing day.

For dinner, just like his siblings, he requested sushi from our favorite place! Of course, his favorite part was spinning the wheel!
After dinner, we had to rush over to Reese's first puppy class. Connor wanted to go with us, so Grandma watched the twins for us! 

This year was Connor's year for a birthday party (we alternate years, since Connor's birthday comes 7 days after his brother's and sister's birthdays. I may be super mom, but I cannot do two parties in a week). This summer, more than any other, I really did not want to do a party. It's very unlike me, because normally I love everything about party planning. But I just wasn't in the mood for it. In fact, if I could have somehow avoided it - I would have. Alas, Connor was thrilled for it and so I did the most low key BBQ birthday party I have ever done. "Low Key Everything" was the theme of the day - and honestly, I didn't even invite people until a few days beforehand. Because of that, there were people I missed and I feel so horrible about that! Sorry if I missed your invite. Forgive this uber busy Mama. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Was it a Birthday? Or did he Win the lottery?

For the twins' fourth birthday, we did our extended family celebration at my parents' house. My sister, Andy, my mother-in-law, and then my little family all celebrated together (my parents had their own separate celebration, because they were in Palm Springs). We did a BBQ and swimming party! And we ended the party with cake and presents!

Andy snapped these photos for me, so that I could help the kids open presents! How awesome was that! I love all their little expressions.
 The kids got amazing clothes from their grandma and toys from their Aunt Katie!
Connor was such a good sport. It isn't easy to be the oldest and have to watch your little brother and sister open their presents only a couple days before your birthday (I remember when he was little, he'd try to argue. "But I'm older. My birthday should be first!"), but he did a great job being supportive and helping - without taking over. Such a sweet big brother (sometimes!).
My sister and I got in a little selfie before we changed into our swimsuits and the kids and I got in a little selfie before heading into the pool.
Aunt Katie and her neice and nephews:
We bought their cake from the grocery store, because, like always, I waited until the day before their BBQ. Oops! But they were thrilled, none-the-less. Do you see that picture on the top right of the collage below? They put their heads on the table and just smiled at each other while we were singing to them, individually. I love their bond. 
Because of where the window was in this photo below, half of it got overexposed. I turned it to black and white because it looks a little better that way, but it's still super bright half of us. I wanted to include it for memory purposes, anyway. The only person missing is Andy (they couldn't find their wireless remote for the camera). 
My brother and sister-in-law sent Aiden his present and he was ridiculously overjoyed. I'm pretty sure this would be my reaction if I won the lottery. See video below:
Isabella got a castle decal for her wall from her Aunt and Uncle. She likes to show it to me multiple times a day. 
The kids were so wonderfully blessed. We are all so lucky to have family so close and so sad that my brother and sister-in-law couldn't be here to celebrate with us this year.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fourth of July

On the 4th of July, we got dressed in our fun outfits and did a little photoshoot.

Connor was working on writing in his journal with his Grandma, so the twins and I snapped a photo! I am not sure why it's so hard for my kids to take pictures with me, but then I ask them to take one with Daddy and we get the perfect photo the FIRST time. How does that happen? Look at their faces!? What is going on?
See? This was the first one I took. Three smiling kids all looking at the camera.
Grandma even got in on the action! See one perfect shot - all three kids smiling and looking.
We spent the morning at my parents' house celebrating Isabella and Aiden's birthday with my sister, Andy, my mother-in-law, and our little family - but I'm going to do a whole separate post on that. Afterwards, the kids were exhausted! Isabella gives the best cuddles to her daddy. 
That night we went to the fairgrounds for fireworks. We had to get there pretty early to get good seats, which is always tricky with littles to entertain. We broke out the phones and showed them videos, after running around for an hour or so. The show was absolutely great and we had so much fun! This was the first time Aiden and Isabella were actually interested in the fireworks and could sit through the whole show. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Rookie Twin Mom - Oy!

We did a countdown for the kids' birthdays (we're big countdown people over here!) and I did something like a complete rookie parent-of-twins. I made one countdown for Aiden and Isabella to share (I did a green/pink chain..so Aiden could take off the green ones every other day and Izzy could take off the pink on the opposite days). Oy the fights! Next year they get their own birthday chains. Duh. Here was Aiden taking off the very last chain on his BIRTHDAY MORNING!!!
A birthday morning tradition for The Howards is birthday french toast. I made them their french toast with birthday candles and powdered sugar. Hubby had to work all day, so I tried to make the day special for them! Yes, I'm in my jammies.

They love being sung to!
I took the kids to get birthday cupcakes for our evening celebration and while we were there, I let them each pick out a mini cupcake bite. #coolmom
I joked on instagram that we must be doing something right because our four-year-olds picked sushi as their birthday dinner and I'm not even joking. I asked them where they wanted to go for their birthday and they said "SUSHI!!!" 
Daddy with the twins at Dinner. 
The kids were so tired after dinner that we went to bed and did cupcakes the next day (hence the clothing switch). They each had picked out their own cupcakes (except for Daddy...we did the best we could on what we thought he'd want).
I got my trusty red velvet. Aiden got mint. Connor got vanilla with chocolate frosting. Isabella got vanilla with vanilla frosting. And we got Daddy pistachio. 
 Daddy came home from work, so he's looking all dapper. I had my stay at home Mommy uniform on - jeans and a teeshirt!
Overall, it was a great day!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Midweek Randoms

In the summer I find that my inclination is to stay up later at night and sleep in a bit (like 6:45 instead of 5:30am). This, of course, is completely fine - BUT I find that I'm wide awake long after my husband goes to bed and then sound asleep when he's leaving for work. So I decided that I'd wake up with him every morning. It's only 20-30 minutes I get with him in the morning, but it's syncing our schedules a bit more and then we can talk and connect before the kids even wake up. We've been doing this for a couple weeks and minus one or two days, we make it a date every single morning.

Mr. Howard's mom has been in town this past week, so we've been doing them in bed so we don't wake her. 

After pinning a million summer fruit ideas, I found one that the kids and I both love. You slice kiwi, freeze them, then dip them in dark chocolate and coconut oil, and finally re-freeze them. We have a slice of frozen kiwi when we get back home from the park or the pool and feel great!
They are so refreshing and the kids just gobble them up.
While the kids have been napping, I've been trying to read or blog every single day. It's important for me to give myself a little break each day - or I find I'm super grumpy at 5pm. I'm reading my 8th Travis McGee novel right now, but I should be finished with that any day now! Do you have any recommendations?
I got my hair done last week. It's been feeling VERY long lately, so I wanted a couple inches off. My hair dresser is always great about taking the length and making it healthy, but not drastic. It's lighter and feels much better, but isn't short.

When we built this house, we had 11 windows in our living room and family room. That meant 11 curtain rods, 11 sets of blinds, and 15 curtain panels to install (two of which I had to sew). We got to a point where we were over it. Earlier this week we finally installed the last of our curtain rods and curtain panels downstairs. Hallelujah! 

These little cuties turned FOUR last week. I will do a whole post about it soon, but FOUR. FOUR?!? Holy moly.
My handsome hubby needed some new suits for work and so we thought Fourth of July would be the perfect time to go and get some, since there were lots of sales going on. He ended up getting three new suits, so that he'll have a navy and two black ones for meetings, trainings, and travel! He is so ridiculously hot!
My mom very sweetly offered to have her house cleaner come and clean my whole house before company arrived. I can't even tell you how wonderful it is to have EVERYTHING clean. No matter how much I clean and organize, I never have time for certain things (like cleaning the blinds by hand...or cleaning the banister on the staircase). I am so thankful for my mom!
Grandma's here and the kids are SO excited.
Grandma wanted to meet an old friend from high school and so we went to eat in downtown at Sutter Street Grill. While we were waiting, we went and looked at the trains. 

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