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Monday, January 25, 2016

Brought to you by the number 2*

*Contrary to what the title suggests, this post will not be devoted to potty training (though in the interest of full disclosure, the topic will be mentioned).

TWO is the number of...

- bedding sets I ordered for the twins over the weekend after Friday's post brought my obsession to a peak- we ended up getting this one in aqua for Colby and pink for Clara.

- family members that overdosed on sugar at a birthday party on Saturday morning and spent the rest of the day acting like rabid monkeys. Behold, the precious blessings eating what ended up being their lunch that day:



- times I lost my cool about cleaning up the twins' potty accidents* over the weekend resulting in...

- margaritas I consumed - I bookended the weekend with one on Friday night and one on Sunday night. 

- consecutive church services the twins made it through with no accidents*!


- miles I ran in 37-degree weather on Sunday morning. And I even took a picture to capture that magical experience:


- little people that I'll be sad to drop off at daycare this morning!


Friday, January 22, 2016

Advice wanted!

I'm here to find out if you, my readers, have any valuable advice to offer me in any or all of the following categories:

1. Upcoming weekend trip to Fredericksburg
Brian thoughtfully surprised me by suggesting a (childless) trip to Fredericksburg over Valentine's Day weekend. I've been once before for a day trip, but am mostly clueless about the town, so I'm calling on my (Texas) friends that have been to share your favorite places to shop, things to do, and most importantly, places to eat.

Disclaimer: I am not a wine fan (blasphemous, I know), so although I know there are plenty of good ones in the area, wineries are really not an ideal option!


2. Master bathroom remodel
1.5 years after moving into our house, we are finally ready to tackle the project of remodeling our master bathroom (or rather, of having someone else remodel our master bathroom). I am really terrible with interior decorating and don't have an eye for this kind of thing, so any and all suggestions about shower tile, floor tile, counter tops, and paint colors are welcome!



Hard to tell, but those beauties are, indeed, sea shell-shaped sinks.


The biggest issue for me is that we want a door between the bedroom and the bathroom (Dear 1980s Builder, WHY did you think it was ok to not include a door?!). But because of the cabinets, we won't be able to install a normal door, so the contractor has suggested a wall mounted sliding barn door. I'm having trouble conceptualizing it, though, and so far this is the only picture that offers a look I'm even remotely ok with:


And actually, I don't like the hardware on this one- just the door itself. Help!

3. Twins' "Big Kid" Bedroom Ideas
As long as I'm obsessing about one room in the house, I might as well throw in another, right? The twins are still sleeping in their cages cribs, and although I'd like to keep it that way until they're 18, we'll probably move them into twin beds (still sharing a room) some time in the coming months.

I'm not planning to go crazy with a theme or anything, so basically I just want to find bedding and go from there. I'd like to stick with the current color scheme (green as the main color with brown accents for him and pink accents for her), and it would be nice if it's something Clara could keep when the room eventually becomes just hers. Thoughts?

TIA (that's short for "thanks in advance," but apparently it's also short for "Transient Ischemic Attack," which is another term for a mini-stroke. So that's neat.)!

Monday, January 18, 2016

My 2015 non-resolution update/follow-up for 2016

After I listed out my non-resolutions for 2015 around this same time last year, I'm certain that all of you spent the remainder of the year wondering which ones I stuck with and which ones I didn't. Well wonder no longer, my internet friends, because I'm hear to share the outcome of each with you:

Non-resolution #1: Lift weights at least 1x/week.
Outcome: Failure. Major failure.
Follow-up for 2016: While I do feel guilty about not making more of an effort on this one, I don't feel convicted enough to do any better in 2016, so I'm just going to settle for a future of osteoporosis... and flabby arms.

Non-resolution #2: Stop cussing.
Outcome: Mostly a failure. I started off the year strong, but then I continued to parent two strong-willed toddlers and my resolve disappeared. They won. For the record, I did not have this problem prior to having children.
Follow-up for 2016: My aim for 2016 is to improve my language in general, and this includes not cussing (particularly out of anger). I'm also trying to stop using the word "hate" (even when it's in a seemingly harmless context). Here's my new theme song:


Non-resolution #3: Go to a Girls' Night Out movie.
Outcome: Success! Allison, Brittnie, and I saw You've Got Mail a few months ago.
Follow-up for 2016: This is a fun idea and we enjoyed ourselves, but it's a bit of a hassle for a weeknight activity, so I probably won't be trying again unless it's a can't-miss movie.

Non-resolution #4: Eat a meal alone with Brian at least 2x/month.
Outcome: Semi-success! I didn't necessarily keep tabs on this each month, but we definitely got out without the kids at least twice a month, and even though many of our dates were with other people, it was still beneficial to escape.
Follow-up for 2016: More of the same. I'm also hoping we can plan one weekend getaway for the Spring and one again in the Fall.

Pic from a quadruple date we had this year- fact: dates are always more fun when you're matching

Non-resolution #5: Find a regular doctor and get a basic physical.
Outcome: Success! I did this back in August and was thankful to get a clean bill of health.
Follow-up for 2016: Get another physical and maybe find a doctor I connect with a little better.

Non-resolution #6: Get involved in some form or fashion at church.
Outcome: Success! This is the non-resolution that I'm most grateful to have actually accomplished. We started attending a church last January, joined a small group almost immediately, and officially became members in August. We also started volunteering at the childcare registration desk and have since both joined two separate committees, so I'd say this one is done and done.
Follow-up for 2016: Continue to get to know our small group better and stay involved.

Small group Christmas party


For all other goals I hope to accomplish in 2016, check out my 25 before 32 list - I still have 16 left, eek!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Photo an hour/daily routine (Week 30)

The time has arrived, my friends: today marks my last post in the 30-week writing challenge that I started last June. Thanks to Emily for inspiring me to join the challenge and thanks to all of you for reading along!

This week's prompt was to write about my daily routine, so similarly to the week 3 prompt of writing about my day in detail, I decided to turn this into a photo an hour post (same concept as this one posted last February). These pictures are from yesterday, and considering I spend 10 of my waking hours at work (which I make a habit of not discussing in detail on this blog), you can imagine what kind of excitement is in store:

5-something AM : walking in place while watching the news because 37 degrees means going outside is not happening

6-something AM : watching Daniel Tiger with the munchkins before we leave for the day 

7-something AM : dropping off said munchkins at daycare

8-something AM : first dip of the day into the candy jar

9-something AM : checking my progress in a "daily showdown" FitBit step challenge I was invited to join

10-something AM : water break

11-something AM: my office (already running out of picture ideas to document the fact that I am chugging along at work...)

12-something PM : "lunch bunch" in the break room = best part of the work day!

1-something PM : chocolate break (I could probably fill up an entire "photo an hour" post solely with pictures of chocolate that I eat throughout the day...)

2-something PM : sorting through the exciting mail I received

3-something PM : meeting in this windowless huddle room that was, at one time, my office! In those days, I had to ask people that walked by what the weather was like outside because I was pregnant and too lazy to get up and look myself.

4-something PM : one-on-one meeting with our awesome Corporate Recruiter

5-something PM : loaded up and heading home!

6-something PM : bedtime for Colby & Clara, complete with lots and lots of stalling, as is customary these days

7-something PM : flannel jammies, cozy socks, and Broadchurch, our latest Netflix obsession

8-something PM : Enjoying the fire and finishing up Broadchurch (Brian clearly missed the cozy sock memo) 

9-something PM : Filling out the day's Q&A journal before bed (thanks to my friend, Heather, for the suggestion)!

And that, my friends, is a pretty typical day in my life.

Monday, January 11, 2016

StitchFixed

Last week, all of the elements were in place for the perfect storm: (1) potty training, (2) PMS, and (3) my first full week back at work in many moons. It is safe to say that grumpiness was abounding (for me, anyway) and I felt like while the rest of the world was starting the year off right tackling their new year's resolutions, I was failing miserably at coping with everything that came my way.

The good news is that we all survived the week relatively unscathed and I'm just going to thank God for do-overs and pretend today is actually the first day of the new year. The other good news is that potty training is going relatively well, though I think we've only made it one or two full days with no accidents. The hardest part of last week was passing the baton off to the daycare and having very minimal control over the whole process. I'm channeling my inner Elsa and attempting to let it go.

Some other good news: Brian gifted me a subscription to StitchFix for Christmas and I got my first shipment this past weekend! Let's pretend I'm a fashion blogger for a moment:

(1) blue top + (2) black skinny pants + (3) shoes
Verdict: I actually really liked all 3 items, but I was too frugal to keep them all, so I only kept the top. I already have a similar pair of pants that I've never thought to wear to work because in my brain, work pants should all be boot cut for some reason? Regardless, this has changed my mind.

(4) striped top + same pants
Verdict: This top actually came from my Pinterest board, but I didn't love the way it looked on, so I decided to pass.

(5) cardigan + same pants
Verdict: I specifically requested a tribal print cardigan so I was really excited to see this one when I opened the box. The first time I tried it on, I actually wasn't a fan because it was so drapey that I felt like it kind of swallowed me. But after some encouragement from my mom, sis, and Brian, I tried it on again and decided to keep it!

These were my favorite items from the shipment: sorority t-shirt from 2004 + yoga pants from 2005
JK, obviously, but I felt like sharing my fashionable post-church attire from yesterday with you all. You're welcome.

Overall, I was pretty pleased with my shipment, but I don't imagine I will schedule them to come very often because like I said, I'm too frugal for that. It was definitely fun to have someone else pick out items for me, and I especially liked the style guide that was included with it:


Colby and Clara heard about my new gig as a fashionista and decided to get in on the action...

Don't you love how the orange beak on the owl hat matches her leggings so perfectly?

Star Wars jacket: check
Captain America shoes: check
Fibbing about our child's articles of clothing in order to convince him to wear them: check

Friday, January 8, 2016

Family (Week 29)

First of all, this is the closest I've come to not meeting my deadline on the 30-week writing challenge. I have a lot of really great whiney excuses that I'll share with you next week, but the important thing is that I still made it in time.

Second, I already wrote a lengthy post about my siblings, so it seems redundant to write about each of my family members again.

Third, I e-mailed my dad asking him to do a guest post since he is super into the family tree/ancestry thing, but he completely ignored me and didn't even respond, so I took that to mean he wasn't interested.

So instead, I'm going to stick with a basic overview of how my "family" came to be:

My original fam at my wedding in 2007

My dad, Steve, was born and raised in Houston (minus a brief stint in San Antonio). He grew up as the oldest of 3, with one younger brother and one younger sister. He moved to Dallas to attend college and later law school at SMU, where he met my mom. His parents ("Jean Mom and Roy" to us) live here in Sugar Land, as does his sister and her family. His brother sadly passed away in 2012.

My mom, Betsy, was born and raised in Dallas (minus a brief stint in New Jersey... random). She also grew up as the oldest of 3, with one younger brother and one younger sister. Her parents and siblings all stayed in Dallas, so we grew up alongside our 6 cousins on that side, which is part of why I'm so thankful to have the opportunity for Colby & Clara to grow up near at least some of their cousins toady!

My grandfather on that side ("Dee") unfortunately passed away in 2008, but my grandmother ("Mom Brown") is still alive and well and lives just down the street from my parents. My mom's siblings still live close by as well, and then the cousins are scattered throughout the U.S.

My parents got married in Dallas in 1972. My dad finished up law school and started practicing as an attorney while my mom was a 1st grade teacher. They had my older sister, Elizabeth, in 1977, then my older brother, Andrew, in 1980, and saved the best for last when Allison and I made our surprise double debut in 1983.

We lived in Dallas until my dad changed jobs in 1996, moving us all to Austin. Sixteen years later, my parents got a random offer from someone to buy their house in Austin  when it wasn't on the market, so they decided to replant their roots back in Dallas in 2012, much to my mom's delight (she had no interest in keeping Austin weird). They now have their primary residence there and a small apartment in Austin where my dad stays during the week for work.

As you're all aware, Brian and I met at A&M and got married back in 2007. At that point, I inherited a whole new family! Brian's parents met at McNeese State in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and eventually relocated to the Houston area and had Brian in 1983. In 1988, his little sis, Shannon, joined the scene and completed their family.

I've never spent much time around Brian's dad's side of the family, but I know his mom's side very well and we're fortunate to get to see them so often.

Brian's original fam at someone else's wedding in 2010

And of course, in 2013, our own family was forever changed when Colby and Clara were born.

Our current fam (not at anyone's wedding)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The good times are over

In non-potty training news, I would be remiss not to share all of the exciting moments that made up my "Christmas break" (basically the time between celebrating Christmas and commencing potty training).

Here are a few things I did not do with any amount of frequency during the break:
- shower
- put on makeup
- work out
- wear "real" clothes
- maintain a healthy diet

Here are a few things I did do during the break:
- color in my new coloring books


- get my haircut (much shorter than I planned, but probably a wise move since it hadn't been cut since last MARCH)


- binge watch "Making a Murderer"


- lounge around with these sweet little muffins:



- sleep... so much GLORIOUS sleep!


- take a quick day trip on NYE to visit and play with our friends from college that live at a summer camp (for real)

Top (blurry) pic: Brian, Drew, and Wade were roomies in college
Bottom pic: Them with their sons today!

Triplets?


So yeah, it was pretty great, and I was definitely sad to see it come to an end. But if I must find the silver lining, it's that I do indeed love getting back into a routine, so with that, I will only somewhat lamentably get back into my groove of waking up at 5:14 am, working out, showering, putting on pants with a button, and spending my days at work. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Adventures in potty training twins

A few disclaimers: 
1. If you are not interested in reading about potty training, do not read this post.
2. I am not including a lot of specifics about actual bodily functions because (a) no one wants to read about that and (b) although I'm prone to over-sharing on the internet, I don't want to completely embarrass my children by sharing those details.

We decided to give the 3-day method a try with the twins (except we're still going to use pull-ups for naps and bedtime), meaning we put ourselves on lockdown for 3 intensive days of training to kick off the process so that they got plenty of practice in a controlled environment. Enough people had warned us that training method, though effective, was far from "done" after just 3 days, so we weren't expecting the twins to be completely self-sufficient by Monday morning.

(If you want to know any of the specifics of our strategy (which rewards we used, etc.), let me know and I would be happy to pass that info along!)

A chronicle of the experience follows:

Day 1:
The day started off with plenty of enthusiasm. They put on their new underwear, bid farewell to their diapers, and gulped down the freely flowing (diluted) apple juice. We told them a minimum of 7,500 times to tell Mommy or Daddy if they needed to go potty and reminded them to keep the princesses/cars/super heroes/etc. on their underwear dry, lest their favorite characters be sad.


We ate breakfast, set about playing, and then the accidents started. They did let us know when they were happening (or had just happened if we missed it), so that was encouraging. Throughout the morning, Colby's attitude was all over the place. He was either very on board with the whole thing or insisting he didn't want to wear underwear and clinging (unclothed) to us crying. Clara took it mostly in stride and was even OK with switching between the little potty and the big potty whereas Colby quickly became attached to using the big potty exclusively.

Lunch time was chaotic (both booster seats got a good soaking) and I think we were all ready for a break at nap time. We put them in pull-ups and took a breather for the next couple of hours.

After naps, we were back at it again! It got off to a slow start, but eventually they both got into a groove and it felt like we spent the better part of the afternoon/evening camped out in the bathroom with one or both child(ren). There were a couple of heated arguments about who got to sit on the big potty or stand on the stool to wash their hands at any given time- the joys of training two at once, I guess!

After dinner and baths, we put them to bed (again, in pull-ups) with minimal protests. Miraculously, Colby even yelled for us to come take him to the potty about 1.5 hours after we put them down (he was still awake). We think it was really a stall tactic, but we obviously weren't going to rain on his potty parade. ;)

All in all, I'd say the first day was a success. There was much rejoicing, treat-giving, and FaceTiming when they were victorious and I do think the peer pressure of having two worked to our advantage ("I wanna go potty, too!" "I wanna treat, too!"). When accidents occurred, we practiced the mantra of, "You'll get it next time!" and did our best to maintain positivity.

We ended the day tired, but relieved to have the first (and rumored to be the hardest) day behind us.

Day 2:
More of the same from day 1, but fewer accidents. Some "significant" successes for both twins in the morning set a good tone for the day and I think that helped, as did the continuing free flow of juice and treats. Being locked up in the house all day with two toddlers learning to control their bathroom habits and that are hyped up on sugar is really... neat. But I must say that the treats worked, and so did the juice for that matter!

Colby seemed to have jumped on board by day 2 and didn't have any more meltdowns like he had on day 1. Clara was mostly cooperative, but did not hide her annoyance with us for continuing to pester her and didn't dare take any trips to the bathroom that weren't her idea. Again I'm left wondering from whom she inherited her stubbornness...

We also still dealt with a lot of false alarms and therefore spent a great deal of time in the the bathroom without anyone actually successfully using the potty, but better that than the opposite, I suppose. We even bravely ventured out for a 45-minute outing to get dinner and only one twin ended up peeing on the floor of the restaurant, so it could have gone much worse!

Personally, I was really ready to be done at the end of day 2 and feeling a little burnt out on all the potty talk and togetherness, but again, I was thankful that we seemed to be making progress.

Day 3
The third day got off to a bit of a rocky start because we had to leave the house for church pretty shortly after they woke up. This meant very little time to load them up with liquids and therefore neither one was ready or willing to go before we left. They had also gotten used to lounging around without pants/shoes/jackets on, so there was extra protesting about getting dressed.

Nonetheless, we loaded up, and headed to church (telling them 1,000 times to tell their teacher if they needed to go potty). They refused to go once we got there but we told them that if they stayed dry and didn't have any accidents during church, they could (a) have donut holes, and (b) open a new toy once we got home. Not sure if it was the bribes or lack of liquids, but when we picked them up, they were dry and hadn't had any accidents! Success!

After some more practice that morning, we put them down for naps in pull-ups and were back at it again in the afternoon. Not sure why, but Clara decided that afternoon that the potty was "scary" and kept saying she didn't want to go potty. She had a couple of accidents throughout the day, but redeemed herself by asking to go (and actually going) twice at bedtime.

I have to brag on Colby because he was the underdog in my book (everyone says boys pick up on potty training more slowly), but he did not have any accidents on day 3 and he told us every time he needed to go! I was definitely impressed!

Upon the conclusion of day 3, I'd say that the whole ordeal went about as well as it could have. I'm really proud of all 4 of us for sticking it out, but especially of the twins for how well they adapted to the changes. As hard as it was on us, I know it was even harder on them!

They're off to daycare today and we're hopeful that the peer pressure and routine classroom potty breaks will work in their favor. Fingers crossed! (And if you're lucky, I won't write any more blog posts on this topic :)