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Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween goes on forever, and the sugar never ends

I don't think I was adequately prepared for the fact that when you have children, each holiday or special event is basically a marathon. I feel like we have been celebrating Halloween for at least the past 8 million days. At least. BUT I do love all things festive, so even though it leaves me feeling over-sugared, overstimulated, and overwhelmed, I press onward. 

Last week was actually off to an interesting start as Colby came down with a stomach bug on Tuesday. He threw up when we picked them up from school and as sad as I was for him, I was so relieved that (a) he didn't miss school pictures that morning and (b) he did it before we got in the car. I'm a loving and caring mom, I know.

He was feeling 100% better the next morning, but had to stay home from school nonetheless, so Brian and I took shifts staying with him. I decided to take advantage of the unexpected free afternoon and took him with me to vote... or as he understood it, to see "the boat."

I asked him if I should vote for Hillary or Donald and he responded, "Donald... Duck"- not a terrible suggestion given the options.

Clara had dance class that night and they got to wear their costumes, which pleased her to no end; however, as soon as we got there, she insisted she was "so tired" and didn't want to go to dance class anymore. After bribes of candy gentle coercing, I convinced her to participate, and thankfully she eventually gave in. 

Thursday brought another full day, as we had parent/teacher conferences for the twins, an ENT appointment for Colby (during which we found out he has to have another round of tubes and a tonsillectomy, boo!), and the family Halloween party at my grandparents' assisted living home.

There was dinner, candy, treats from Jean Mom & Roy, and a cake walk during which both of the twins won dessert, so it's safe to say they enjoyed themselves!

How cute are these little lanterns my grandparents gave them for trick-or-treating??

On Friday (yes, I'm sorry, this is still going), we hit up Brian's office for trick-or-treating. We've gone to this every year and it's always fun for Brian to show off the twins (who actually spoke to people this year) and as a bonus, they always hand out the best candy, upon which I later apply a very significant mom tax :)

Belle, a Financial Analyst dressed for casual Friday, and Batman

My parents arrived in town late that afternoon, so we headed out for Mexican food on the patio, which is basically my love language.

The only picture I got, sadly

Saturday started off with soccer (which, if we're being honest, we're all pretty much over at this point). All 4 of the girls on the team were protesting playing this time, so at least Clara was in cute company.

That evening, we celebrated cousin Avery's 3rd birthday with a princess-themed family birthday dinner... yet another excuse for the kids to dress up, stuff their faces, and sweat a lot.

Colby totally looks like Allison here!!

Clara, Avery, Colby, and Pop Pop, all very much engrossed in "Frozen" :)

And finally, on Sunday, we took it easy after Franny & Pop Pop left that morning before attending our church's "Scare-Free Fest" that afternoon. 

Because they needed more sugar, obviously!

Why the sad face, Batman? Maybe because it was 150 degrees outside.

Phew, are you tired yet? Batman and Belle were exhausted when they went to bed last night, but I'm pretty confident they'll have no trouble rallying for today's excitement. Happy Halloween, everyone! And to all you other parents of little ones out there, hang in there- the marathon is almost over (... until next time)!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Standard October weekend

How can one live in a world where cold fronts arrive right in time for the weekend and still doubt the goodness of God...? 

I don't have pictures to show for it, but we kicked off the weekend with dinner on the patio at Live Oak Grill with some friends on Friday night. Covered patio, fenced in grassy area with play equipment for the kids, and queso on the menu, so pretty much the greatest thing ever. 

Saturday was the same routine we've been practicing for several weeks now: soccer in the morning and Aggie football in the afternoon. We sprinkled in a lunchtime picnic at the park to spice things up a bit. 

As usual, Clara opted not to participate in the game because she was "so tired" [Insert eye roll here], but you better believe she had the pep back in her step when it came time for the post-game snacks to be doled out. At least Colby played, and if I do say so myself, he looked pretty cute doing it:

Pumpkin photo sesh break during the A&M game

Making Halloween cookies!


After: nailed it!

After church on Sunday, we hit up the pumpkin patch at the church across the street from ours. It ended up being a flop for us, so after I spent an hour or two pouting about it, I put on my big girl panties and decided to make the most of the afternoon. And that we did:

Went on a walk to the store to get a few more pumpkins

Painted pumpkins (clothing optional)

Carved a jack-o-lantern

...dined al fresco, dressed up in last year's Halloween capes/masks, watched a couple of "spooky" cartoons, read our new Halloween book...

and checked out our jack-o-lantern in action before hitting the hay!

October, I heart you.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A break from the routine

Last weekend, I joined 39 other women from our church at a retreat in Crystal Beach. I wouldn't say it was a relaxing getaway (sleeping in a room full of bunk beds kind of prevents any quality rest, sadly!), but I will say that I left feeling more connected both to the friends I already knew along with a few dozen new ones. It's also nice to spend time with people that aren't in your exact same season of life every now and again, so that brought a refreshing change in perspective. It was also nice to get a change in scenery and spend a little time by the ocean- another activity that always gives me a change in perspective!

Allison and I were in charge of the Games Committee - I think that's because our spiritual gifts include being silly and bossing people around.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch in the suburbs, Brian graciously held down the fort with the twins, and even obliged my repeated requests for photographic proof of life evidence of the fun they were having! (But seriously, he is the best dad and handled it like a champ and without a single complaint, which is the exact opposite of how I probably would have handled it!)

Clara opted to hang out in the tent and eat snacks with friends instead of actually participating in the game. Sigh.

But this guy actually got out and played!

Clara and Avery catching up after the game, or as Brian captioned the picture, "Girlfriends Talk Show"

I am thankful to report that we all 4 finally seem to have recovered from last weekend's activities... just in time for the coming weekend to begin. A "cold" (I use that term loosely) front is headed our way this afternoon, so perhaps we will not spend this one drenched in sweat? One can dream...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Five on Wednesday

That's a thing, right? Too bad if it isn't.

1. This article is not tactfully titled ("She's Not an A-hole, She's Just a 3-Year-Old"), but it is accurately titled, and relatable.

"When in my threenager's company, I rarely go more than several minutes without encountering her dark side. She is constantly sobbing over some injustice. . . It's as though she lives in a constant state of PMS and has just found out that chocolate is now illegal and her favorite soap opera has been canceled. I contemplate crushing up some mood stabilizers and sneaking it into her yogurt tube.

But then I remember: she's not chemically unbalanced. She's just a 3-year-old."

2. Speaking of that threenager, a friend gave her some Princess Jasmine jammies this week and she was pretty darn pumped about the whole thing:

 3. Meanwhile, her brother, who is admittedly going through a slighter sweeter phase at the moment stopped in the middle of eating dinner last night and asked, "Mommy, can you marry me?" And of course I said yes... how could I not?

4. Another mom article I have to share: "5 Reasons I 'Lose It' With My Kids". Somehow thinking of my children as "little goal-blockers" seems a little less harsh than the alternative suggested in item #1 above!

5. Do any of you remember Baby Dinosaur? A couple of years ago, he dropped out of elementary school. He briefly worked at a local dry cleaning business after that, but decided that the boss was abusive and quit. So in recent years, he's just been living the life of leisure, mostly driving around in a van full of squirrels. All until a couple of days ago when he took up a new job as a pizza deliveryman. So far, he has a 50/50 track record of pizzas consumed vs. pizzas delivered. His target goal is to get to 70/30 by the end of his first month.

And also, yes, we are still that strange.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Asking for a friend

Um, have any of the rest of you repeatedly caught hand, foot, and mouth disease as adults? As in, 3 times in a 4-year period? As in, 2 times in the past 5 months? As in, more often than your small children that apparently carry the virus regularly but miraculously do not actually show symptoms of it? I'm just asking for a friend (... that also developed shingles as a 32-year-old).

My friend feels like this is incredibly relatable.

Has anyone else already ordered their Christmas cards? I mean, probably not, because it's way too early and who would be that neurotic, right? Well I have a friend that's that way (it's so obnoxious) and she told me that there's an amazing deal on 5x7 cardstock cards from Snapfish at the moment (75% off + free shipping!!), so if you like to plan ahead you're crazy like her, you should check it out.

Do any of you have book recommendations for people that are attempting to recover from perfectionism? Preferably something that's applicable and not just full of cheesy self-help fluff? Bonus points for being a Christian book, but not a requirement. Again, just asking for a friend, obviously.

And in the meantime, you can find me gargling salt water, updating my Christmas card mailing list, and perusing book reviews on Amazon... you know, to help my friend.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Soccer, pumpkins, and lowering expectations

Soooo does anyone else struggle with setting unrealistic expectations and holding yourselves and everyone around you to unrealistic standards? And then losing your ever-loving mind when you and everyone around you fail to meet said unrealistic standards? I know there is a fairly simple solution to this problem (recognize that no one is perfect and let more things go); however, that is a solution that I have yet to embrace.

And in fact, in this past year, where it feels like there have been an exceptional number of circumstances vastly beyond my control, it seems that the further away from perfect life becomes, the more stubborn I become about insisting that everything be, well, perfect. As a result, I spend an absurd amount of time being disappointed with myself and others. And everyone around me (particularly my family) spends an absurd amount of time being on the receiving end of my disappointment, which I can assure you is not fun.

So why, you ask, does this have anything to do with the following blog post about soccer games and pumpkin patches, etc.? Because, my dear friends, nothing screams, "YOUR STANDARDS ARE TOO HIGH AND YOU NEED TO CHILL OUT!" like attempting to get two 3-year-olds to cooperate.

To make a long story short, week 3 of soccer did not go as well as week 2. In fact, it went a lot like week 1. Clara was in a bad mood the minute we got to the field and that continued for the duration of the game, wherein she did not play and instead cried, whined, and refused to participate. Is this that big of a deal? No, I realize logically that it's not. But logic doesn't always apply when you are a type A mom.

It's my soccer game and I'll cry if I want to...

Yep, standing in the middle of the field crying while the game is going on. God bless the coaches.

Eventually Colby, who had actually been happily playing for a while, decided to protest the game in solidarity with his sister. You can imagine how excited we were about that development.

After we got home and all 4 of us had some time to wind down (read: eat... aka: our therapy of choice), we decided to continue our quest in futile behavior by taking the kids to Froberg's Farm with the Olivers to take pumpkin patch pictures. We went last year and we were sad to see that the set-up this year left a little to be desired (including no actual pumpkin photo opps!). The twins didn't seem to mind, though, and if nothing else, we got some tasty kettle corn out of the deal, so let's pretend that was worth the $20 we paid while there and 30+ minute drive each way to get there/back.

As Allison pointed out, don't they look like giants here?

Best we could get!

Bean bag tossing

Duck racing

Picture hating ;)

She was SO excited about this glittery pink ballerina tattoo- 36 hours later, it's still hanging in there!

We spent the evening grilling out and watching the Aggies win with the Olivers, after which I collapsed in exhaustion and spent a blissful 9.5 hours sleeping. Being a disgruntled perfectionist is tiring work, y'all.

Sunday was fairly low-key, and although I did bust out the camera (yes, again) to take pictures of the twins with the pumpkins they picked out at the store, I tried to keep my expectations low. By the grace of God, the twins were relatively cooperative (cheesy smiles notwithstanding):

So with that, our weekend was complete. If any of you are like me, then you know that the upcoming holiday season can be a source of major anxiety as expectations are at all time high. And in case you're needing this reminder I'll be clinging to, I thought I'd share:

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9