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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

4th of July memoir

I know it probably sounds trite to start off recaps of big events with the twins with, "thankfully, {x} went better than I expected!," but as any of you fellow pessimists realists with small children know, the potential for disaster when plans are made is very real. So with that, I am legitimately thankful to report that our 4th of July trip to Dallas was a success! 

We hit the road on Thursday afternoon and I can't tell you how relieved I was that the movies we downloaded on the iPad actually held the twins' attention. I also read somewhere that baking sheets were helpful for activities like coloring (sort of like a lap board with edges), and although we never busted out any colors, they proved very helpful at mealtime, so I would highly recommend that you take some along on your next car trip with a toddler:

Also, dinosaurs... always a good idea to take along some dinosaurs.

We spent the long weekend at my parents' house, along with the Olivers, and since our older sister + family live close by, we were able to spend some quality time with them as well. And with 8 adults and 8 children involved, quality time mostly meant watching the 5 older cousins chase the 3 younger ones around while hoping no one was injured or went missing.

Two firsts occurred during this visit: (1) Avery got to experience room-sharing for the first time, and (2) Colby discovered how to climb out of the pack-n-play for the first time. Both proved highly entertaining for the toddlers and mildly concerning for the adults, but overall the sleeping situation went relatively smoothly.

Sorry, ladies, but whether or not you two become lifelong besties is really not up to you...

Full circle moment: the twins checking out the ducks and turtles at North Park, a favorite pastime from my own childhood 

Poor guy had just fallen head-first off the couch, so of course I obliged with his demand request to have the musical tractor and bus accompany him during snack time.

In a sharp contrast to what all other Americans were probably doing that day, we spent the 4th of July parade-watching, eating, baby pool-ing, more eating, and fireworks-viewing. I took about 8,000 pictures at the parade, so you can thank picmonkey for the fact that I condensed them into collages. I have also categorized them because I'm neurotic awesome like that:

Parade-watching Pictures

Candy-Collecting/Consuming Pictures

Posed Pictures

And last, but certainly not least: Selfies

I wasn't satisfied with our attempt at a family pic above, so I was appreciative that Allison snapped a couple of other shots for us back at the house. Flag waving? Check. Patriotic attire? Check. All 4 family members looking at the camera? You can't win 'em all.

Busting out the baby pool was the perfect activity to pass the time between naps and dinner with the fam, in no small part because Brian and Wade agreed to watch the children so Allison and I could "help our mom get dinner ready" (read: peruse facebook and not melt) inside. 

One orange-sleeved toddler who shall remain nameless decided his climbing skills weren't limited to the pack-n-play and got in/out of the pool no less than 100 times, so we obviously bribed him back in with juice... and bubbles:

Please zoom in so that you can see the bubble residue all over his mouth. He won't eat vegetables but soap? Right up his alley.

We don't get to see our grandmother all that often so it was a nice treat to visit with her for a bit. Hopefully she won't hold it against us if our children contributed to her hearing loss :)

We hated to leave on Sunday, but alas, all good trips must come to an end, so after lots of hugs, kisses, and snacks were doled out, we bid Franny and Pop farewell...

... and much to our delight, this occurred (only for 45 minutes, but still):

So yes, it's safe to say that this long holiday weekend surpassed our expectations, and we hope to do it again sooner rather than later. And in the meantime, I'll leave you all with this 2013 (3 months)/ 2014 (15 months)/ 2015 (2 years) 4th of July picture comparison:

Hope you all had a happy 4th, too!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Something I look forward to in the next 12 months (Writing Challenge: Week 2)

First of all, happy July and rabbit, rabbit to you all! I'm back with week 2 of the writing challenge, tackling the topic of "something I look forward to in the next 12 months." As you might recall, last summer we took a family trip to Breckenridge, Colorado, along with the Olivers and my parents. We enjoyed the escape from the summer heat so much that we decided to do it again this year, only we picked a different destination (and sadly, my parents won't be joining us this time).

July 2014 in Breckenridge

So next month, we're headed to Lake Hamilton, Arkansas (just outside of Hot Springs) for a few days of resting and relaxing surviving with 4 children aged 4 and under! We found a cute house on VRBO that we're hoping will be as big of a hit as the one we stayed in last year in Colorado.

I'm admittedly a little nervous about the 7-hour drive with the twins, but they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, so if we make it to Arkansas alive, we will no doubt enjoy ourselves. If nothing else, it will be nice to get a break from our routine and spend some quality time with our favorite partners-in-crime.

We have no real agenda yet, but my limited research thus far tells me we can look forward to a children's museum, amusement/water park, aquarium, fishing, and other miscellaneous outdoorsy activities. Also, eating, because calories don't count when you're out of state.

If any of you happen to be familiar with the area (or bored and interested in planning other people's vacations...), please feel free to send tips our way!

"Majestic" sunsets, here we come!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Summery things (and bonus dad bods)

FIRST WORLD PROBLEM ALERT: There is plenty of guilt that comes with being a working mom (or any mom at all, for that matter), but I've found that one of the biggest sources for me is the fact that my kids don't get to have a "normal" summer. They don't have the luxury of spending all day, every day at the pool, they don't get to try out all of the area's splash pads, they don't get to participate in any of the fun summer camps, etc.

And because we don't have all week to do All The Summery Things, I feel compelled to cram them all into our weekends. All the while, I don't want to over-program our time with the twins, because, well, we don't get a lot of time with them and they don't get much time to relax at home. So therein lies the perpetual dilemma. 

We were able to achieve somewhat of a balance this past weekend, thanks to a pool party with our small group from church and a quick sno cone outing, amidst our normal lounging around the house/errand-running adventures. We actually kicked the weekend off with a trip to the pediatrician for Colby. He's been fighting ear infections since April and after 3 unsuccessful rounds of antibiotics, we left the appointment with a referral to an ENT. 

He really has been feeling mostly fine, so even though he looks pitiful here, he was just acting unsure about the whole visit, which I clearly did not mind :)

We had a lot of fun at the pool party, particularly because it was the first time the twins have been in the pool this summer. And as is always the case with our cautious little ones, they were hesitant at first but quickly realized there is nothing not to love about a pool party: undivided attention from parents, non-stop playing with friends, and, of course, food.

Here they are upon our arrival, clearly both confused as to what the heck there is for us to be smiling about.

Ok maybe this isn't so terrible...

I personally don't like watermelon (I know, gasp!), but I made darn sure they had some, if for nothing other than a picture. As is the case with pretty much every fruit, Colby went to town. Clara, however, opted for Cheetos, hot dogs, and brownies, because she's my daughter.

My two favorite pics: Clara looking ready for a water gun battle and Colby just chilling in the pouring rain

Top pic: DAD BODS!
Bottom pic: all of the kiddos that were in attendance (again, please note Clara's goggles...)

Thanks to the festivities, the twins slept great on Saturday evening and though I doubt it's related, they also took extra long naps on Sunday (allowing us to make more progress on Parenthood...), which is just another reason why it's so tempting to give them exposure to pool time whenever possible. 

We finished off the weekend with sno cones with some friends, and it's safe to say Colby was a bigger fan than Clara... of eating them, at least. She took great joy in playing with the umbrella, force-feeding all of us with her spoon, and most specially, dumping the sno cone in my lap. I'm still glad we were able to do it, because what better way to put your children to bed the night before the school week starts than full of sugar, am I right?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

30 Week Writing Challenge: Week 1 (Basic things about myself)

My fellow working mom blogger friend, Emily, announced that she's going to undertake a 30-week (not to be confused with 30-day) writing challenge, and given my complete inability lately to write about anything other than my weekend recaps or the amusing things my children do, I decided to join her.

I'll be tackling one topic each week, and if you're also feeling lazy and uninspired motivated, you should hop on board and join us! I'm going go ahead and kick off week 1 with today's post topic: "basic things about myself." For the short version, you can click on the "meet the Joiners" tab above; for the longer version, read ahead:

My name is Amanda. I'm married to a man named Brian that, according to the Myers Briggs personality assessment, is basically my exact opposite. We have 2-year-old boy/girl twins named Colby and Clara that are an answer to 3+ years of prayers (see here for more details). They are also simultaneously my greatest source of pride, entertainment, joy, and utter exhaustion.

(We have two dogs, Buster and Noah, that have definitely taken a backseat since the twins' arrival, but are still very much a part of the family... so much so that they apparently are only worthy of being discussed as a parenthetical aside.)

We live outside of Houston, Texas, where I work in Human Resources for an oil and gas company and Brian works as a Portfolio Analyst for a wealth management company. I didn't grow up dreaming of working in HR, but then again, I also didn't grow up dreaming of living in Houston- in fact, I wanted to be a broadcast journalist- but I'm glad to report that both have proven to be a good match for me... minus the humidity and traffic.

I grew up in Dallas until the age of 13, at which point my family and I moved to Austin, where I lived until graduating from high school and moving off to College Station to attend Texas A&M University. I graduated with a degree in Spanish & International Studies... and a boyfriend named Brian. I initially had no interest in attending "that stupid farmer school," but once again, God knew best and I'm thankful that He changed my heart and redirected my path.

My parents have been married for 43+ years and I'm one of four children. I have a sister that's 6 years older (who has a husband and 4 kids), a brother that's 3 years older (the outdoorsy/artistic bachelor), and last, but certainly not least, an identical twin sister that's one minute my senior.

If you know me at all, then you know that it's actually pretty amazing that I made it through 5 paragraphs without mentioning her because you really can't get to know me without getting to know her, too. She and her husband + 2 kids recently moved less than a mile away from us which was essentially my dream come true. You can read more about her (and probably me) here.

I'm tempted to provide more information, because one more "basic" thing about me is that I compulsively over-share, BUT to make sure I save some material for the next 29 weeks, I think I'll stop there.

Even if you're not participating in the challenge, I would still encourage you to write a "basic things about yourself" post because it's easy to forget how many of those basic details your readers probably don't know about you (which I realize is sometimes probably not such a bad thing ;)!

Monday, June 22, 2015

All about Daddy (... sort of)

With Father's Day being yesterday, this past weekend was all about Daddy, but because he is who he is, it was pretty much about everyone else, too. We did our best to make him feel special, but there was also a lot of normal parenting-two-toddler stuff in the midst of that, and because he's the greatest, he didn't complain about that one bit.

On Friday, the twins' daycare had a Father's Day program and Brian and his dad were both able to go. Colby and Clara apparently acted shy and anti-social (so, the usual), but hot dogs, Cheetos, and cookies were consumed, so I think everyone left happy. Not for long, however, because we then had the audacity to try and get Colby's hair cut.

No success at the first place we tried, so we finally moved on and gave the kid-friendly place a try, where he still threw a fit, but at least he wasn't the only one doing it. Please note the tear he was holding onto in this pic.

On Saturday morning, we hit up the Sugar Land branch of the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It took Clara longer to warm up to the place than Colby, because DINOSAURS. To him, they are amazing and worthy of praise. To her, they are scary and she just kept looking at their teeth and saying "owie" and clinging to my neck. Thankfully, there were enough other cool things to distract them both and in the end, they both gleefully waved and yelled, "Bye, dinosaurs!" on our way out the door.

Please note my necklace that Clara confiscated. She was swinging it around at one point and I said, "Be careful with Mommy's necklace," to which she responded, "NO. MY necklace." Oh, ok then.

One semi-amusing parenting fail: we decided to check out the movie playing in the (very small and inflatable) planetarium while we were there, and it turned out to be a pretty un-kid-friendly animated movie about the Mayans during which a man's heart was actually ripped out and eaten. It's a good thing the twins had no idea what was going on but we definitely did not stay for the duration of the film.

This has nothing to do with Father's Day or the children, but during naptime on Saturday, I decided to check out our neighborhood pool. Our former neighborhood was newer and had lots of young families in it, so the pool was pretty much always packed. Our new neighborhood is the opposite, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that I was literally the only one at the pool (besides the ducks in the neighboring lake). 

We had dinner with Brian's family on Saturday night for an early celebration of both Brian and his dad. I like to think that the first picture below is what people pretend fatherhood is like and the second is what it's actually like:

Father's Day itself was filled with some of Brian's favorite food, a few presents, church, and a movie outing for him and his dad while the twins napped. Oh, and plenty of playing, which is what I think we can all agree that Daddy does best:

Brian, there really are not enough words to sufficiently explain how much all three of us love you (... and desperately need you in order to maintain our sanity). Thank you for being the glue that holds us together and the most selfless man there is- hope you felt as appreciated yesterday as you truly are!