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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!

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Guy Man

Now that you've had the chance to learn a little more about what life is like with Clara, it's only fair that I share with you the inner workings of her counterpart. In the early days, we began referring to Colby as "Colby Guy," which has evolved and since taken on a number of variations, but most often these days he is simply known as the "Guy Man."

Colby is, in my opinion, a wonderful (and sometimes dangerous) combination of Brian and me. He is generally pretty laid back (like his daddy), but he is also very opinionated and not afraid to voice his opinions (like his mommy).

Unlike Clara, if Colby gets upset, it is not all that complicated to figure out what it is that set him off. He's a simple boy with simple needs, and as long as you ensure that those needs are met, he's likely to be pretty agreeable. If you fail to meet those needs OR if you just fail to meet those needs in accordance with his expectations, then once again:

Clara may be the more dramatic of the two, but I would venture to say that Colby has the quicker temper. And while she is more likely to cry and have a meltdown when she's upset, he's more likely to get angry... and violent.

His usual target when he hulks out is, thankfully, whatever inanimate object is nearest by. Unfortunately, his other most frequent targets are (a) his sister and (b) his cousin, Avery. Beating up on his sister is understandable, but none of us are quite sure as to why he's picked poor Avery as his other preferred punching bag. Fortunately, she never gets too upset about it and we are usually able to catch him in the act and discipline him accordingly.

Because he's two, the two subjects that are most likely to provoke him are toys and food. He has become a major toy hoarder and once he grows attached to one (or five) toys, he wants to take them everywhere (dinner table, bed, bath, car, you name it), so he does not take kindly to having them taken away or being told that he can't take them somewhere. Same goes for food: he is generally a pretty good eater but if you try to give him something not on the approved list or refuse to comply with a specific request (I'm looking at you, hot dogs), well, let's just say he's not the type to protest peacefully.

I have noticed as well that he is much more impatient, grumpy, and likely to act out when he has an ear infection, which has been happening on and off for the last couple of months. He is on a third round of antibiotics at the moment, which we're hoping will do the trick, and if not, then it's likely that tubes are in his future, just like his Daddy had when he was little.

I know I spent most of Clara's post and now this one detailing some of their less desirable behavior, and I think that's in part because writing it down helps me to more fully analyze it, and in part because they are TODDLERS, and as such, their less desirable behavior takes the spotlight much of the time.

But just as I mentioned about Clara, we wouldn't change a thing about Colby, because in addition to all that I mentioned above, he is also our silly class clown, our curious explorer, our independent player, our conscientious helper, our affectionate baby boy, and we love him more than words could ever say!

Yes, you're seeing this correctly- he confiscated one of Clara's mutilated "fwenz" and gallivanted around the house with it, knocking over furniture along the way

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Littlest

Several times I've mentioned that I would put together a blog post about Clara and some of what makes her tick (and sometimes, what just ticks her off), so today I'm here to deliver on that promise. This won't be one of those fancy monthly updates where I talk about what she's up to developmentally, but more likely just a series of ramblings about what life is like with her. (And of course, to keep things even, I will be writing one for Colby in the near future, so stay tuned.)

As you may recall from previous posts, ever since the twins were born, we have referred to Clara as "the Littlest," or simply, "Littlest" for very obvious reasons: born weighing just 5 pounds and 1 ounce, she was tiny in the beginning. Of course, she has since surpassed Colby in size, but as is often the case with nicknames, she's stuck with it- for now at least.

I often think back to a quote I first heard when I was still pregnant and there were concerns about Clara's size:

And, oh, how true this has been for our little girl. There is nothing little about her personality or temperament, and whatever mood she's in is contagious. If Clara's smiling, the whole world is smiling with her. But if she's mad?

Seriously. It's kind of terrifying. And because she's a girl (stereotype alert, but also let's just be honest, ladies), you never really know what is going to upset her. Remember a few weeks ago when I posted a video of one of her more memorable tantrums? The cause of that was the fact that we woke her up for the day. Yep, that's all it takes.

Sometimes it's about more serious matters, like wanting apple sauce in place of her dinner or us not picking out the correct bow for her to wear. But regardless of the issue, once she has been set off, there's no turning back. 

With Colby, we can generally reign him in when he's upset (usually by means of a time-out) and redirect him, at which point whatever made him mad is long forgotten. With Clara, it takes her much longer to snap out of it and to get over it. And what's even more challenging is that you never really know what will work to get her to snap out of it: some days it's ignoring her, some days it's holding her, some days it's redirecting her, and some days it's a combination of all three!

Yes, it's exhausting, but it's also one of the things I love most about her: whenever she commits to something (whether that be eating her yogurt or pitching a fit), she commits to it fully and she will devote 100% of her effort to the task at hand- rational or not.

Another trait of Clara's that has proven to be challenging for us is what I can only refer to as social anxiety. I would normally classify her as an extrovert- she loves to ham it up for others and is not uncomfortable being the center of attention. However, in certain settings (and much to our frustration, pretty consistently with Brian's family), being around a group of people turns her into a clingy, anti-social, anxious mess.

In these situations, I become her personal jungle gym and I'm fairly sure that she would crawl under my clothes and hide there if she could. Truthfully, she probably isn't so much anxious about being in the group setting as she is about the possibility of us leaving here there. And because Brian's family babysits them the most, I think she is convinced that any time they come around, Mommy and Daddy must be about to ABANDON HER FOREVER. 

I wouldn't label it as separation anxiety because she obviously does just fine being away from us 40+ hours/week, but I'm sure it's related. Regardless, as any of you that have or had similar children know, it's equal parts endearing and maddening all at the same time!

So yes, Clara tests our patience. I would most certainly describe her as strong-willed, but with me as a mom (and a dad that's more stubborn than you might think!), she never really had a chance to be anything but, now did she?

But I wouldn't change a thing about her, because she's also goofy, enthusiastic, thoughtful, helpful, loving, and loyal, and we're so very thankful that she's ours!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday morning observations

A few observations from my weekend...

- I'm so glad you all got such a kick out of Brian's guest post on Friday! One of our friends at church yesterday mentioned she wasn't quite sure she'd ever be able to look at him the same now that she's seen his "dad bod" ;)

- Whenever we have child-free plans and a babysitter lined up, I feel like I catch the parent version of senioritis in the 1-2 hours leading up to said plans. My (already low) tolerance for whining and tantrums plummets to approximately zero and it takes incredible self-restraint for me not to hand them a sleeve of cookies and call it a day. I'm guessing this is what the last 1-2 hours before dads get home feel like for SAHMs every day?

- Speaking of minimally caring for one's dependents, the dogs had their semi-annual bath this weekend. If you think I'm exaggerating, then you should know that the last time we had them bathed was literally 6 months ago. The good news is that (a) we bathe the children much more often than that, and (b) the twins were excited about another excuse to visit the pet store:



- We experienced our first double time-out situation yesterday (both twins in time-out at the same time) and it was really neat. As you might expect, Colby fought it but eventually cooperated, calmed down, and went back to eating his lunch. As you also might expect, Clara lost her marbles, simultaneously reached out her arms for me/hit me when I tried to get closer, and received 2 spankings before deciding to rejoin the human race. Good times.

- Pretty sure that this amazing and patriotic cake that we prepared for a church event yesterday proves that we should quit our jobs and open up our own bakery. Agreed?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Fitness Revolution

Hello faithful readers of Amanda’s blog! Back by popular demand/Amanda's request to post as birthday present, I (Brian) would like to present something that I discovered – nay, was revealed to me like the Revelation to the apostle John.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I scroll through the stories on Yahoo!. If you haven’t ever done that yourself, you will learn such interesting things as “Jennifer Lawrence Rocks Impossibly Short Shorts While Apartment Hunting in New York”, “Police Shut Down Girls’ Lemonade Stand”, “Highest Paid Athletes”, “Ancient Church Discovered”, “What Bill Clinton Will Stop Doing if Hillary Wins”, and “We asked an exercise scientist how many days a week you need to work out to actually make a difference”.

All things that we must learn about – obviously. Oh and to make sure your curiosity doesn’t get the best of you, let me SaveYouAClick by giving you the answers: her shorts were short, they didn’t have a permit, #1 is Floyd Mayweather with $300 million/year, they were making a road in Israel and found some rocks in shapes that looked like church, paid speeches, and 3 days/week. Wow I feel better already.

It is in this vein that I discovered that I apparently am/have been participating in the latest fitness trend for 30-40 something adult males. I had been waiting the last decade or so to finally have my fitness routine be accepted by others. To be seen in the same light as the crossfitters, joggers, weight lifters, etc. That time has come, my time is now.

I am talking about Dad Bod.

Hell yes.

Oh you don’t know or haven’t heard of Dad Bod? In a Pulitzer Prize winning article by a college student from Clemson, it describes Dad Bod as “a nice balance between a beer gut and working out. The dad bod says, ‘I go to the gym occasionally, but I drink on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.’ It's not an overweight guy, but it isn't one with washboard abs, either.”
Friends, if you have ever met me, this is my life. I actually ate eight slices of frozen pizza about a week ago. The gym part, notsomuch, as the last time I went to a gym was 2009 or 2010… I can’t remember honestly.

Back to yahoo articles – Rob Lowe is “Obsessed” with Dad Bod. “Science” proves that Dad Bod is for real.

Rob Lowe and Science agree – Dad Bod is great. What more do we need?

If you are confused as to what Dad Bod is, please allow me to present some examples:

Leonardo Dicaprio

John Hamm

Adam Sandler

Will Ferrell

Still Confused?

Here is one that labels what is and what is not Dad Bod:

Ok at this point I know you all must be wondering to yourself, “How can I or my spouse achieve this model of fitness known as Dad Bod?” Well, the good news is that I found a three-day sample diet (repeat twice per week, and the 7th day is your cheat day) from I've included day 1 as a sample:

Day 1:
Breakfast: Orange Gatorade and a Clif Bar
Snack: Protein powder mixed into JIF, smeared on a single slice of white bread
Lunch: Two Trader Joe’s frozen burritos and a Wendy’s Frosty (no fries for dipping)
Snack: Two-thirds of a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, two Coors beers
Dinner: Six slices of a large Papa John’s pepperoni pizza dipped in garlic-butter sauce and three Budweisers

Here's another example including some of my recommendations:
 • Breakfast: Two donuts + a kolache from Shipley's
 • Lunch: Italian BMT sandwich + Cheez-its
 • Snack: Kid's meal from your fast food establishment of choice
 • Dinner: Chipotle burrito + your children's quesadilla leftovers
 • Dessert: Mixed drinks

Please consult a nutritionist or physician before starting any new diet plan, specifically this one.

So there you have it friends, you too can have a Dad Bod. Ladies, you are welcome for the hot rockin’ bods your husbands will soon have. Men, get to work as this doesn’t happen overnight… or does it?

Oh, and in case the moms out there are wondering if there is a Mom Bod… there is! However, the method to get Mom Bod is different.

How to get Mom Bod:

And for those curious minds that want to see my Dad Bod, here is your reward:

You're welcome.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Weekend of reviews

As opposed to a weekend in review, I shall call this a weekend of review(s), because I am here to share with you some promised product reviews as well as some event feedback from the littlest members of our household. 

1. The hair dryer. Here is my professional review: it's heavier than my old hair dryer but a lot more powerful. Sort of felt like sticking my head in a wind tunnel, but not in a bad way. I'm pretty sure it takes less time to dry my hair than my old dryer did as well, so I hereby provide my stamp of approval.

2. The Jurassic Smash blizzard. Brian lovingly fetched one for me on Friday night and it did not disappoint (though the customer service at the Missouri City DQ did, in fact, disappoint!). I will say that I wasn't expecting caramel and I definitely did taste caramel in it, but I'm 100% ok with that. So I hereby provide my stamp of approval on this product as well.

3. The River Park Splash Pad. (Try not to be too overwhelmed by the flashiness of the website... it's pretty modern and fancy.) We decided to check this out on Saturday morning with the Olivers and I was surprised how long it took the twins to warm up to the idea! 

Water + the ability to roam freely = what's not to love? But it surprisingly took a lot of persuading to convince Colby the splash pad was more exciting than the neighboring playground... and to convince Clara that the water would not hurt her (believe it or not, our little princess can be a bit of a scaredy cat). 

Once they figured out that it wasn't the most terrible place to hang out, they had a good time, but Clara remained much more cautious than Colby. Ultimately, I'd say they provided their stamps of approval on this one as well.

Is she beaming with enthusiasm or what??

All I'm saying is that I'm thankful no one takes pictures of me running in a bathing suit :)

I think it's safe to say he's now a splash pad believer, no?

Good thing these two needy little girls have basically two mommies at their beck and call


4. Clara's first (very unprofessional) pedicure. She was excited about it in theory, but as soon as we tried to get her to sit still and actually have polish put on, she wanted nothing to do with it. Once she watched Avery go through with it (unimpressed but at least without protesting), she agreed to participate, but as you can see, she wasn't necessarily thrilled about the whole thing:

That would be me painting her nails while she sits on Allison's lap... and yes, we're both wearing the same shirt. Confused yet?

So as far as her review goes, I think it's safe to say she's still undecided. Colby, however, cannot provide input on this event, because as you can see, he was quite busy with his "ah-muls":

So there you have it: the Joiners have spoken and I'd say endorsing 3 out of 4 ain't bad!