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Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving highlights

Short work/school week. Lots of eating. Lots of togetherness. Extra time spent in the car. Minimal sleeping (due to room-sharing with toddlers and colds for 3/4 of the family). That basically sums up our Thanksgiving "break" in a nutshell, but lucky for you, I took plenty of pictures and have included the highlight reel for today:

1. Pictures from my SIL's fancy camera
Seriously, if you don't have a sister-in-law with a nice camera AND the willingness/patience to photograph your family whenever you're together, then you need to remedy that.

Thanksgiving 2015 family pic at Brian's grandparents' ranch in La Grange

Laughing at Mimi and Granddaddy

Looking for cows/horses/deer

2. Hanging around the ranch with Brian's family



They love this window sill, if you can't tell.







3. Getting pumped up for Christmas






4. And last, by not least, recovering (complete with meltdowns, Mexican food, and reuniting with the Olivers)


This kid loathes wearing shirts with a collar but will happily keep a hood on his head for hours...


Hope your turkey days were happy and that you're feeling #blessednotstressed about the Christmas season that is now upon us!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Most memorable vacation (Week 23)

I hate to be cliche, but this one was too easy: our honeymoon!

Way back in August 2007, Brian and I got hitched and then spent 5 wonderful days in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We stayed at an all-inclusive beach resort called El Dorado Royale. It's a pretty popular destination wedding/honeymoon spot, so I will be surprised if I don't get at least one comment on this blog post saying, "Hey, we stayed there, too!"

We only left the resort one time, and if we could do it over again, we wouldn't have left at all because the "adventure" outing was not worth our while and almost resulted in our only squabble on an otherwise conflict-free trip! Ah, newlyweds.

Anyway, there was a lot of time spent lounging on the beach:


...eating (so much so that on the last night, I refused to eat dinner because I simply could not consume any more food):

...encountering wild life:

... snorkeling:

... posing with towel animals:

... taking selfies before the term "selfie" actually existed:

... and occasionally asking strangers to take non-selfie pictures of us:

We would love to go back again some day and will gladly accept any donations to the Send the Joiners Back on their Honeymoon campaign ;)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving pre-party

In this case, "pre-party" means watching a bunch of toddlers not sing the words to songs they've memorized and then all of the parents and kids eating a pot luck turkey dinner together at 4:30 in the afternoon. That's how most people define the term... right?

Yes, the twins' daycare held its annual Thanksgiving program/dinner last Thursday and it did not disappoint. You might recall that during last year's performance, Colby stood motionless and speechless while Clara lost her faculties and spent the majority of the program recovering in Mommy's lap. Standard protocol for 1.5-year-olds.

This year, however, I had set my expectations a little higher because they had been singing the songs at home and showing some actual interest in the event. The verdict? It's safe to say that my expectations were too high, BUT neither of them cried and at one point, Clara even moved her mouth ever so slightly along to the lyrics of one of the songs. Meanwhile, Colby alternated two expressions: totally-pissed-off and slightly-amused-but-unwilling-to-fully-smile:


During the group song where all of the classes sang together at the end, the twins, for one of the first times in their lives, actually looked like twins:


Yes, they spent the entirety of "This Land is Your Land" with their hands in their mouths, but again, no tears, so I'm not complaining. Also, how festive were their outfits? Brian's mom got Clara the cute turkey dress and I got Colby's football turkey shirt from Screaming Owl.

After the program, we joined the kids in their classroom for dinner. Brian and I were actually the first to sign up, and I think all working moms will virtually high five me for snagging "4-2 liter drinks" and "rolls" from the sign-up sheet.

We had fun chatting with the other parents and getting to watch the kids in their element (their element being semi-organized chaos). Colby took his meal very seriously and stayed in his seat to eat every last bite while the other kids ran around like rabid monkeys. He's going to be in for quite a treat when the real Thanksgiving arrives this week!


We're looking forward to spending Turkey Day with Brian's family... and let's be honest, we're also looking forward to a shortened work week. Hope you all have a fun and safe Thanksgiving week/weekend as well!

(Don't worry, I'll be sure to squeeze in this week's writing challenge post before the week's over!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

One thing I've never done that most people have (Week 22)

I mean, I definitely know how to belabor a point (just ask Brian!), but how do the creators of this writing challenge expect me to devote an entire post to something I've never actually done? I'll give it my best shot nonetheless.

So one thing that I feel like everyone has done except for me is go skiing. My family and I went to the mountains in New Mexico every year growing up, but it was always in the summer. We did visit Santa Fe during the holidays twice, but we were too busy partaking in activities that didn't involve potentially decapitating ourselves to hit the slopes.

I actually went so far as to go on a ski trip with some friends in college, but never actually went skiing. Truth be told, I only went on the trip to spend more time around a boy I liked, and since he wasn't planning to ski, the decision to stay back and hang at the house was clearly an easy one for me (Clara, if your future self is reading this, please don't follow my example).

Speaking of boys I like, Brian is a big fan of skiing, so I suppose we'll take the kids one day, but chances are high that I will hang back and enjoy looking at the snow from the warmth of the indoors. Don't get me wrong - I'm all about enjoying the great outdoors, but from what I've gathered, skiing is:

1. expensive
2. dangerous
3. cold
4. exhausting

And those 4 adjectives don't make for an ideal vacation activity in my book. And while I like to think I'm still in pretty decent shape, I'm not getting any younger, so I don't know how well my body would even respond at this point.

Here's me and Brian (ALMOST ELEVEN YEARS AGO AND HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!) hanging out in the snow and not skiing during a trip to California

So now it's your turn: what one thing have you never done that most people have?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Monday musings*

*How have I only used that title twice before now (here and here)? I'm patting myself on the back for that.

- A couple of weeks ago, we passed this billboard while driving one afternoon:


In an effort to pump the twins up for Thanksgiving, I pointed to the turkey and excitedly asked, "Do you know what that is?" Colby paused to think and then exclaimed, "A snail!" Mmm, nothing completes a delicious Thanksgiving brunch quite like a giant snail.

- Am I the only one that thinks there should be episodes of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood geared towards the parents instead of the children? Like maybe an episode about how WE are supposed to keep our cool when our children lose their minds in public (or private, for that matter)? Or maybe one about how WE are supposed to deal with potty training?

(Related side note: I am majorly stressing out about potty training these days. I know we need to do it sooner rather than later but I simply do not want to. It sounds like a lot of work, a lot of messiness, and a lot of frustration for all parties involved, so I'd really prefer to just not do it... ever. Is that so wrong? I'm channeling my anxiety by doing "productive" things like buying the twins underwear and potty books for Christmas.)

- Want to know the only thing that will make your children love you more than taking them out for donuts or kolaches for breakfast? Take them out for both. 


And if you really want to ensure that they won't even bother to eat lunch that day, take them to Target shortly afterwards for a free cookie sample.

- A lesson learned yesterday: sometimes it's better to let your children miss their naps entirely rather than put them down early for a 45-minute snooze session and then jolt them out of a deep slumber to take them to a birthday party. Waking up these sleepy heads...


... resulted in two anti-social and uncooperative party poopers:


After much reassurance from Mommy, Clara eventually warmed up and decided to participate on her own:


Colby played along with Daddy for approximately 3 minutes and then spent the rest of the time pouting, disobeying, or being stuck in time out. At least we have one picture that suggests he wasn't miserable:



- And lastly, if you haven't watched this video yet about how crazy moms get when getting the house ready for company, please go do it now. I can't stop watching it or laughing at it!


"There cannot be any sign of LIVING in this house!"

Friday, November 13, 2015

Someone who inspires me (Week 21)

OMG. I've had a busy week, and thanks to PMS hormones, I've had a stressful and somewhat exhausting week. I did get to try out Dream Dinners (my verdict? meh.) and FINALLY crossed off a 25 before 32 list item/New Year's non-resolution by seeing "You've Got Mail" with Allison and Brittnie, so my tiredness is definitely a major FWP.

But I was not about to let a week pass without completing my weekly writing challenge, so here I am, just barely scraping by with a post before the week's end. I didn't have the energy to come up with anything of real depth, so you'll have to settle for light-hearted instead.

You might think I'm taking the easy way out with this one, but my chosen source of inspiration is none other than my genetic other half:


Obviously she inspires me to be a better mom, friend, person, etc., but instead of flattering her/boring you with all of the serious ways in which she inspires me, I decided to focus on some of the more amusing ones:

1. She inspires me to consume more alcohol. Before she moved here, I drank maybe 1-2 times per year. I wouldn't exactly call myself a lush now, but I suddenly can't seem to go more than a month without having a frozen margarita.

2. Relatedly, she inspires me to consume a lot more Mexican food. I have always been a loyal Tex Mex fan, but I think Allison might have an actual chemical dependence on chips and queso, so when we go to meals together (which is fairly regularly), we seem to end up at Mexican restaurants even more than I used to.

3. Also relatedly, she inspires me to be more spontaneous. This is actually pretty amusing considering both of us are very type A and like to plan everything in advance. But (most likely due to the fact that she needs some kind of release after spending her days at home with children), she encourages me to stray from my boring routine more often than I ordinarily would (... usually to go have Mexican food and margaritas).

4. She inspires me to be more social. I'll be honest: after spending all week working, I usually want to do one thing in the evenings/on the weekends: NOTHING. And although I want to hang out with friends and engage with adults in a non-work environment, I'm normally not motivated enough to make plans to do it, or at least not regularly. But now that Allison's around, I feel like she has taken on the role of my Social Chair (to borrow a term from our soro days). 

5. She inspires me to spend more time at Target. I'm pretty sure my frequency of Target visits has at least doubled since she moved back. And I'm 100% ok with that, because the only thing more fun than making impulse purchases and eating cookie samples at Target it is doing it with your BFF.


So in conclusion, friends, if you want a little more excitement in your life, get yourself an identical twin and convince her to move .5 miles away. You won't regret it, I promise!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

5 things I'm passionate about (Week 20)

This is tricky because if I'm being completely honest, as a working mom, I sometimes feel like I don't have the time or energy to be passionate about anything except, well... surviving. But in an effort to comply with the writing challenge make it seem like I have some depth and purpose, I've come up with 5 things I'm passionate about (and yes, I'm aware that I shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition). Fair warning, however: if you thought I was even remotely cool, this post will likely change your mind about that.

1. Sticking with commitments
If I were to pick a "life verse" for myself, it would most certainly be Colossians 3:23, which says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men."

I have always been of the mindset that if a job is worth doing, it's worth doing well- even if it's a mundane and seemingly pointless task. I applied this attitude toward my school work and extracurricular commitments growing up, and now as an adult, I do my best to apply it not just to my job and outside activities, but to my relationships as well - my faith, my friendships, and of course, my marriage and my children. If I say I'm going to do something, I make every effort to do it.

I simply don't see quitting as an option, and as those who know me well can attest, I don't "allow" it to be an option for those I care about, either. This is why flakiness is an especially offensive character flaw to me... and why I have a tendency to not know when it's time to give up on something (or someone) and just let it go :)

2. Routines
I know- I am so boring. But I think there is so much to be said for having a routine, and even more so now that we have kids. Yes, I see the value in being spontaneous sometimes and not always being super rigid, but in general, I think the consistency and predictability of a routine is so comforting. So go ahead and laugh at my hair and breakfast schedule- I'm ok with that because I heart knowing (generally) what each day will hold.

3. Maintaining a (relatively) active lifestyle
I think there are a lot of benefits to being active. I'm not talking about being a CrossFit junkie (although more power to you if that's your thing); I just mean that I think it's really important to stay moving and not to be a sloth. (And as you're well aware, having a FitBit has only further solidified this addiction passion in me.)

Relatedly, I am also a huge proponent of staying hydrated and drinking as much H2O as possible. Again, I know what you're thinking, and yes, life with me truly is a thrill a minute.

4. Grammar
I don't know when this started, but I do know that in 8th grade, we learned about diagramming sentences, and once we learned how to do it, one of my friends and I started diagramming sentences on our own... outside of class... for fun. I also know that when my mom told us to, "Sleep good!" growing up, I always corrected her. And I also know that I did the same when my high school soccer coach told us we "played good." As you can imagine, being in charge of me was no easy task for either of them!

But seriously, especially when it comes to writing, if you want people to take you seriously, you have to have a good grip on the English language and how it's intended to be used. I know my grammar isn't always perfect, but I understand the basic concepts and do my best to come across as educated (without sounding like a stuffy English professor).

5. Being festive
I feel like this is stupid, but it's true. I really like celebrating holidays and getting "in the spirit," even for the less popular ones. I will always ensure that my entire family wears green on St. Patrick's Day. Same goes for red, white, and blue on the 4th of July. I will always make pumpkin-flavored food when October rolls around. And so committed am I to ensuring that we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas to the absolute fullest that I am certain it will put me (and my family members) into therapy at some point.

I've said before that there are two types of people in this world: those that got colored bands on their braces to coordinate with the upcoming holiday, and those that stuck with the boring gray bands year-round. Clearly, I fell into the first camp and will enthusiastically encourage Colby and Clara to do the same.

See? This is me at work on St. Patrick's Day in 2012. I can't help myself.


Alright, so now that I've unleashed my major life passions to the world, it's your turn: what gets you fired up?

Monday, November 2, 2015

TWICK-OR-TWEAT!

I'm not gonna lie: I'm going to miss hearing my little munchkins exclaim, "Twick-or-tweat!" and "Happy Hawoween!" on repeat. They really got into the festivities this year and I think they're going to be disappointed in the coming weeks to learn that costumes, candy, and all things "spooky" will not be a part of their every day routine.

It was really fun to watch them and made me excited for the enthusiasm that they're going to have for the upcoming holidays... but for the sake of keeping it real, it was also really exhausting! So many activities, so much sugar, and so little downtime. As usual, the female members of the family were the hardest hit by the disruption of our normal routine. Clara has been acting like a tiny terrorist for the past week and Mommy has likewise been majorly on edge. Thank you, Daddy and Colby, for putting up with us.

Anyway, let's get on with the picture overload:

Friday was spent with (1) a costume parade + party at daycare, (2) trick-or-treating at Daddy's office, and (3) dinner with the Olivers and my parents. Much of my time between (2) and (3) was spent saying, "No, you cannot have another piece of candy," and, "Please stop whining or I am going to run away."

Tiny terrorist, er, I mean, Super Girl was surprisingly cooperative for our early morning photo shoot

Superman was not, but promises of candy at 6:45 am helped somewhat

Clara was "hulking out," in case it isn't obvious.

Fueling up for the big day ahead

Cute Franken-feet crafts


This was a great warm-up for Saturday night, although Daddy's co-workers were so generous that I was worried the twins were going to expect that at every house we visited!

Just a few super heroes watching the cars pass by

Saturday started off with some pretty yucky weather, but we still squeezed in a short visit to a local church's Fall festival before nap time. We spent the afternoon and evening doing a little early birthday celebrating for cousin, Avery, and of course, trick-or-treating! 

As per usual, neither of my children will even look at the camera, while Avery and Davis are perfectly cooperative!

Chaos aside, at least we got a decent family pic!

Guess which Super Twin was the most overwhelmed...

Allison and I dressed up as each other... genius, right? ;)

One of Brian's bosses gifted us with this wagon when the twins were babies and I always envisioned them going trick-or-treating in it... fun to see it in action!

Davis did a great job leading the way for the little ones... he was also the designated doorbell ringer, but that didn't stop Colby from following up with a few repeat rings once he got up to the porch. Sorry, neighbs!

Also amusing about Colby: at one house early on, he got a ring pop that looked like it had a spider web on the package, so at each of the following houses, he would pull out the ring pop to show the person and yell, "I GOT A SPIDERMAN!" He then waited to leave until the person expressed an appropriate amount of interest in his treasure ;)

I know, seriously, these two are just too much!

Even Superman needs a hand to hold every now and then :)

And when the kids decided to walk, my dad and Brian (aka: Spiderman) made sure the wagon was still put to good use...

Winning son-in-law points

This house was seriously terrifying, but our brave little ones didn't let that deter them from getting candy.

And my two favorite "aftermath" pictures...

Clara and her bucket of candy (which we miraculously convinced her not to take to bed with her)

Colby on Sunday morning- as soon as he woke up for the day, he insisted on putting his mask and cape back on :)

Hope you all had a happy Halloween weekend!