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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

"Imperfectly Perfect" Shirt Review

Guess what, everyone... today is the day that you get to take a break from "Amanda, the Mommy Blogger" and spend a little time with "Mandy, the Fashion Blogger." JK, don't ever call me Mandy unless you want us to stop being friends.

And ok fine, I do not have a future as a fashion blogger, BUT I do have a friend that recently opened up a new clothing shop online that asked me to do a product review, so I get to sort of pretend for the day. (And for full disclosure purposes, lest you think I'm being a sneaky blogger, you should know that I was given the product for free, but the opinions below are my own :)

SO my friend, Katie, and her friend, Elise, opened up Charm & Grace Designs a few months back and every couple of weeks, they release a new "not so basic basic" top for pre-order (and they usually host a giveaway!). You can follow them on a variety of social media outlets, but where I usually see their designs announced first is via their video updates on facebook. 

Katie hand-delivered my shirt to me on Mother's Day and as you can see below, even the packaging was cute! The polka dotted tissue paper inside was also cute, but I ripped it open too fast to take a picture.

The package contained this white v-neck "perfectly imperfect" tee with these super cute coordinating stackable bracelets as a bonus (currently being offered whenever you order an item during the pre-sale)! Katie acted like the design she picked for me was simply based on timing, but I think she secretly knew a perfectionist like myself needed a shirt with this phrase emblazoned across it to serve as a little reminder every time I looked in the mirror, ha! ;) 

And now let the fashion blogging begin!

I know, I'm such a natural, right? Hand on the hip and everything.

This is me, modeling the entire outfit effortlessly while pondering life and staring up at the sky. Please note that I coincidentally own mint green shorts that match the vinyl on this tee perfectly. I was also excited to find that my new shoes that came in last week matched as well. Clearly this was meant to be.

And of course, I had to throw in this ironic picture of my life being less than perfect. I mean, look at that semi-messy hair and those mischievous kids wreaking havoc on my otherwise perfect existence?!

And now for me to share my actual review:

1. The fit of this shirt is perfect! I LOVE that it's long because short shirts are not my thing. It's loose but still form-fitting. I opted for a medium because I don't like my t-shirts to be too tight.

2. The material is also great- lightweight and very soft. Because it's so lightweight, I would definitely recommend either wearing a camisole under it (I wore a nude one and it worked great), or get one of the shirt extenders they model with it (if you're trendy enough to do so, which I sadly am not, ha!).

3. The design is unique and has a lot of thought put into it. When the girls introduce the shirts, it's always clear that they're intentional about the wording they choose, and this shirt was no exception. (As a side note, I'm still very much hoping they'll create a "mom of the year" shirt at some point, but I'm going to have to get more of my sarcastic friends to vote in order for that to happen!).
Edited to add: The "mother of the year" shirt is now available!! 

So there you have it, my friends. A big thanks to Charm & Grace Designs for giving me this opportunity to pretend I'm a fashion blogger. Make sure to follow them on social media so you can see all of their fun designs, and of course, go buy your own "perfectly imperfect" tee here so we can be twinsies!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother's Day Weekend

What a calm and relaxing weekend we had! JK, but you know I wouldn't want it any other way (... because then what else would I complain blog about?)

On Friday afternoon, the twins' daycare hosted its annual Mother's Day tea and I am so happy to report that this was the first one that didn't result in me (a) crying or (b) questioning all of my life choices. One of my children did keep with tradition and broke one of the school's ceramic tea cups (why? why do they think this is a good idea for small children?), but other than that, the event went smoothly and we all 3 had a good time. Also, I'm fairly certain the primary ingredient in the tea served was sugar because I'm not exaggerating when I say the twins drank an entire teapot full of it between the two of them. 

Once it was finished, we headed home to pick up Brian and semi-spontaneously meet the Olivers at Constellation Field to watch the Skeeters (local minor league team) play. There was minimal baseball-watching going on, but that didn't stop any of us from having a good time. The kids ran around to their hearts' content, stopping only to stuff their faces with popcorn or take a quick trip to the playground (including a visit to the splash pad for Clara). 

We made it until about the 4th inning, at which point the wind had picked up and the youngest 3 kids were pretending to put themselves to sleep. We packed up and headed out with promises to the twins that we could come watch another game soon. As Allison mentioned, I'm so glad we did this in mid-May when the weather was still pleasant!

The pleasant weather continued on Saturday, so we spent plenty of time playing outside in the morning, complete with a picnic lunch in the front yard. After the twins "rested" (seriously, this term has no meaning in our house anymore), we headed over to Mimi and Granddaddy's to spend the afternoon there for an early Mother's Day celebration. 

We fished, we ate, we played, and Aunt Shannon indulged us in yet another photo shoot- God bless her!

L: Proving to myself that I can still (barely) hold them both at the same time ; R: Clearly, she got it from her mama

The best of the bunch (the picture AND the kids, in my biased opinion!)

Brian's parents only live about 15 minutes away, but sometimes that's all it takes to put this girl into snooze mode

Brian woke up bright and early on Sunday morning (proof that he loves me, because he is not naturally an early riser!) to make me breakfast in bed before we got the crazies up and ready for church. It was a brief moment of peace, but a wonderful one! Once they were up, they gave me my presents and showed off their "all about my mom surveys" - once again, a big thank you to Brian for making the effort to coordinate this!

Spoiler alert: apparently the most famous "dish" I prepare for the kids is "mac & cheese." The best part about that is that Daddy is the one that makes the mac & cheese about 90% of the time, ha!

Brian bribed the kids to participate in the requisite Mother's Day photo session in the backyard and I'm proud to report that I only cursed twice... and only one time was in the twins' earshot. (Ok but seriously, why is having their picture taken the most painful experience in the world for children? What is so hard about looking at something and smiling for 2 seconds? End rant.) 

After church, we went out for a (casual) brunch with the Olivers and one of our other favorite family friends from church - 7 children + 6 adults at one table and other than making a mess, I think it went quite well! The kids played nicely together and we got to have some adult conversation, so it's a win.

From there, Allison and I ditched the husbands and kids for the afternoon while we did some shopping. When we found ourselves in the same exact spot that we had taken a picture while shopping on Mother's Day last year, of course I insisted we recreate the moment:

But since I'm dumb, I got mixed up about which side we were each supposed to be on... oops. (The funny thing is several of you probably didn't even notice that, ha!)

After purchasing more items for the kids than for myself (standard), I reunited with Brian and the kids to play for a bit before dinner. While my hope was to have a light, healthy dinner out, convenience and my lack of willpower won out and we ended up, once again, at Lupita's for Mexican food. It's a bad habit, but if queso is wrong, I don't want to be right... and neither does double-fisting Clara, apparently:

We put the twins to bed and Brian and I spent the remainder of the evening enjoying the nice weather on the back porch. By my calculations, the weather will turn semi-permanently disgusting in the next 1-2 weeks, so we have to enjoy it while we can.

So yeah it was a pretty good Mother's Day weekend. There was once a time when I didn't know if getting to be a mom at all was even a reality for me, so the fact that not only do I get to be a mom to two amazing little people, but also have a day where I get to feel so celebrated is nothing short of incredible. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Currently I am...

Listening... to the twins playing in their room over the monitor. They have always stayed up and played after bedtime, but lately they've been staying up a solid 1.5-2 hours after we've said goodnight, so that's neat. Thankfully as I type this, Colby is playing quietly with his Transformers and Clara is "reading" a book to herself, so at least I'm not listening to the standard WWF/bowling alley sounds that I normally hear.

Eating... dark chocolate Reese's peanut butter cups. Dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants and peanut butter has protein, so basically it's health food.

Drinking... water. I'm afraid this answer will never get any more exciting.

Wearing... well I'm not wearing them yet, but I just ordered these shoes from DSW and I can't wait to wear them in the Dominican Republic next month!!

(Because let's be honest, do you really want to read about how I'm wearing a t-shirt from our church's women's retreat and some cotton gaucho pants from Target that are older than my marriage, which Brian affectionately refers to as my "AWPs" (After Work Pants)?)

Feeling... challenged, but fortunately not in an overwhelmed way. I started a new position at work last week and although I don't enjoy the fact that I don't know how to answer at least half the questions I'm being asked (yet!), it has been nice to take on some new responsibilities and broaden my skillset a bit.

Wanting... someone to go pick out all new makeup for me, and then buy it, and then apply it for me each day. Is that so much to ask?

Needing... to stop eating so much Mexican food (refer to above-mentioned upcoming trip to the beach).

Thinking... about Clara's upcoming dance recital. We have pictures tonight (in costume), studio run-throughs in a couple of weeks, then the dress rehearsal, and then the recital itself. There are a lot of details for this first time (type A) dance mom to remember!!

Enjoying... having a housekeeper!! We finally hired one a few weeks ago for the first time in our marriage and even though she has only come once (she comes again today), it has been a game-changer. I still try to clean some each week, but it's comforting to know that even if I'm swamped and/or unmotivated to keep up with it all, the longest our toilets will go without being cleaned is 2 weeks. Hooray!

Monday, May 8, 2017

The latest happenings

I always feel like January and February start off at such a slow and manageable place. And then March starts to get a little busier, and by the time April and May roll around, I feel like we're stuck on a roller coaster of commitments and activities and we can't get off.

So yeah, I feel like we're there right now. Thankfully most of what is filling up our time is good, but that doesn't make it all any less exhausting!

Here's a bit of what we've been up to lately:

The twins had their Spring show at school the week before last. We talked it up for several days and told them we would really love it if they actually participated rather than hiding and/or crying behind their friends. In the end, this mostly paid off because Clara performed with a smile and Colby, well, at least he didn't hide or cry... just kept his fingers in his mouth and stared blankly at the audience. 

We celebrated a friend's birthday! Kennedy (in the purple) is 15 days younger than the twins and the three of them have been in the same class together at daycare since they were all 3 months old. Most of their friends from school were there and they had fun wearing themselves out together.

That same evening, we had dinner at Chuy's with the Olivers to celebrate Davis turning 6 (how?!) and Brian turning 34! We enjoy doing a lot of things with the Olivers, but I'd say stuffing our faces with Mexican food is at the top of the list.

We took advantage of the beautiful weather and busted out our swimsuits (well, Colby and Clara did) for the first time this year to wash the cars. The twins' car washing skills were severely lacking, but at least they looked cute doing it. 

We celebrated Brian's birthday a third and final time (second time was on Sunday night with his family!) last Wednesday on his actual birthday, and as usual, we dined at our favorite local Mexican food joint.

This girl was feeling extra silly, as you can tell!

What better way to end your birthday than a personal pie and two hyper 4-year-olds singing to you?

Clara was dressed appropriately for Cinco de Mayo, which also happened to be the day of the twins' St. Jude Trike-a-Thon at school:

We weren't sure if Colby would actually participate given his unpredictable disinterest in riding his bike, but he surprised and did so with enthusiasm! Clara, on the other hand, acted very coy about the whole thing and was clearly making every effort to look like the whole thing was no big deal. (Thank you to those of you that donated on their behalf, by the way- they raised $80!)

We wrapped up Cinco de Mayo by dropping the kids off with Mimi and Granddaddy while Brian and I had a night out to ourselves! We started off with dinner at Escalante's (because clearly we hadn't already eaten enough Mexican food in the preceding week), followed by dessert at Black Walnut Cafe, and then ended the evening watching Jay Leno perform at the new Smart Financial Center. I gave Brian the tickets for his birthday and although we had a great time, we were definitely 20-30 years younger than the majority of the people there. Not to worry, we still understood all the jokes ;) My favorite joke was when he said "aftershock" was a dumb term for what happens after an earthquake because it's basically another earthquake, much like moms of twins don't refer to the first child born as a baby and the second as an "after-baby"- ha!

So yes, we've had a few things going on as of late! What's the most fun thing YOU'VE been up to lately?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Solo parenting

I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but up until this past weekend, I had only stayed overnight alone with the twins once in the 4+ years that they have been alive. Brian doesn't really travel for work and although I have had a handful of short girls' trips that have kept me away for a night or two, he had never gone away on more than a day trip (I know, I know- I'm very fortunate!). 

Luckily for him, he finally got his turn to experience freedom this past weekend when he and some of the guys from our small group at church took a trip to the coast. (Side note: I'm thankful this happened when the twins were at the more manageable age of 4 rather than, say, 18 months.) 

Brian left them these coloring books as a treat for all 3 of us - entertainment for them and silence for me!

We spent Saturday morning walking (well, I walked while Clara rode her bike and Colby-I-don't-want-to-ride-my-bike-because-I-might-fall-Joiner opted to ride in the stroller), playing, and partaking in my personal favorite activity: perusing Target. The twins had one dollar bills from Pop Pop burning holes in their pockets, so after we tackled the items on my shopping list, we hit up the One Spot, where they picked out these gems:

Do y'all remember these from our childhood? We opened them as soon as we got home and it occupied the twins for a solid 45 minutes!!

Saturday afternoon, we packed up our stuff and headed over to the Olivers' house to have a sleepover, which the twins have been begging to do since they understood that sleepovers existed. After a brisk bike ride to check the mail, we headed to the park to play. I'm not kidding when I say that we encountered the ice cream man 3 different times while we were en route, so we took the hint the third time and decided to get something for the kids. Pretty sure I haven't hit up an ice cream truck in at least 20 years (... and I must say that the ice cream man's prices have drastically increased in the meantime... $3.50 for a popsicle, really?!?!). 

We met up with some other moms/kids for dinner and this was probably the point during the weekend when Brian's absence was most noticeable- apparently I don't have enough hands or patience to sanely handle dining out with two children, ha! Once we made it home, we cleaned the kids up, made one more "grow capsule", and tucked the little minions into bed. Aaaaaaand about 1.5 hours later, they finally all fell asleep. 

Meanwhile, Allison and I had fun staying up and watching the Bobby Brown special on tv, doing laundry, and complaining about heartburn... just two wild and crazy kids, aren't we?

We all went to church together on Sunday and then parted ways to head home and wait for the dads to return home. The weather was beautiful that afternoon, so once Brian was back, we spent the rest of the day playing outside- the twins got to play with some new outside toys and I didn't have to parent alone anymore, so I think it's safe to say the weekend ended on a high note!

Since I haven't done so publicly lately, now is a good time for me to tell Brian how much we appreciate him and how thankful we are to call him ours- he is indeed a keeper!

Monday, April 17, 2017

This post brought to you by an Easter candy-induced hangover

Seriously, I'm pretty sure the blood currently flowing through my veins is made up entirely of chocolate and sugar. And of course, the same could be said for the twins, but since they are 4 and their bodies bounce back a little more quickly, I don't think they are taking it quite as hard. 

Let's recap the weekend and associated festivities, shall we?

Last Thursday, the twins had their Easter party and egg hunt at daycare. As luck would have it, I got off work right when they were getting everything started, so I was able to join for some of it. As a full-time working mom, it's rare that this happens, so I was thankful!

Forced smiles for the obligatory morning photo shoot // lined up and waiting for the egg hunt to start // egg hunting

All 4 of us had the day off for Good Friday, most of which we spent playing with our cousins (at their new house, sniff sniff) and waiting for Franny and Pop Pop to arrive. I realize it's cliche to say this, but if every weekend lasted 3 days, I would totally be ok with it.

Checking out the presents Franny bought // sporting various bunny masks // being silly at dinner (great aunt Nancie getting in on the fun in the bottom left)

After the dads and kids hit up Rudy's for breakfast tacos on Saturday morning, we all got ourselves ready for our church's Easter Eggstravaganza. We took a few pictures before heading out, and the twins were so excited about the upcoming festivities (and promises of candy) that they almost didn't mind participating in yet another photo shoot for Mom:

We made it to the event and all of us were a little overwhelmed by the (a) heat, (b) crowds, and (c) bugs. And of course, all the twins wanted to do was jump in the bounce houses... I hate bounce houses. Nonetheless, we powered through (and spent as much time in the shade as possible) and ended up having a good time. 

Hanging with our pals // egg hunting // face-painting

After a stop for air conditioning lunch, the moms headed out for pedicures while the dads entertained the kids. We eventually all reunited and finished the evening with bike riding in the cul-de-sac and dining all fresco on our driveway. It was actually a pretty perfect, low-key evening in my book!

Documentation of Franny and Pop Pop's presence

We were all up bright and early on Sunday morning to see what the Easter bunny brought and get ready for church! The twins enjoyed eating candy at 7:15 am their loot and of course, another chance to hunt for eggs!

After brunch with Franny and Pop Pop, we bid them adieu and headed over to Brian's grandparents' house to spend the afternoon with his side of the family. The twins were excited to get more Easter goodies from Mimi and Granddaddy and (surprise!) hunt for eggs again. They loved it so much, in fact, that they convinced their adoring relatives to re-hide the eggs for them no less than half a dozen times :)

Shannon took yet another family pic for us, we snacked and caught up with the family, Brian taught Colby about basketball, and the twins roped all of us into a few rounds of hide-and seek. We headed home to get ready for the week and crash from all of the weekend fun!

We were thankful to spend so much time time with the people we love most, but even more so, we're thankful for the hope that Easter brings. Hope you all had a great time celebrating as well!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Colby & Clara's 4th Birthday Party

I know you are all probably tired of reading about the twins' birthday celebrations, but I couldn't not document their actual birthday party. We had it on Friday afternoon at the new Urban Air Trampoline Park, which is conveniently right around the corner from their daycare. We kept it small with their school friends (+ 2 cousins and 1 lifelong BFF), and so for a change, they actually got to play with all of their guests! Also for a change, I basically had to do nothing to prepare for this party because they supplied the food, balloons, paper goods, etc. Hooray!

We lucked out and it was not at all crowded, which is great because I don't handle crowds well in a normal setting, let alone when I'm trying to host an event. The kids jumped and played for an hour, took a break for pizza and dessert, and then played some more. There were lots of tears when it was time to leave, so I'll take that as a sign that the party was a success!

Yep, they chose donuts as their dessert of choice at a 4 pm birthday party - I fought it at first but then realized it's cheap, it's easy, and it's their favorite, so why not??

Thankful for another fun birthday party in the books and sweet friends to help celebrate! And now to wrap up all this fun, we have their 4-year check-up tomorrow. Looking forward to finding out what their stats are, but not so much looking forward to all the shots, so wish us luck!