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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Amanda's Birthday is Today!

Hello blog friends, Brian here – long time no see!

Today is a special day. It is Amanda’s birthday! Well it’s also Allison’s birthday, but since I’m not married to her and this isn’t her blog, I’m not planning on featuring her. BUT I will say she is a wonderful sister in law and I am thankful for her, so happy birthday Allison!

The real reason I’m here is to let you know that Amanda is wonderful and should be recognized for that on her birthday. Not convinced? Let me tell you why she is so great. She is…

Attractive – well maybe you don’t care about this as much as I do, but I think she is a beautiful woman. I remember thinking so the first time I met her. She isn’t just easy on the eyes either – no, she is the total package. Smart, funny, motivated… wait I should be careful not to use up all my well-thought-out adjectives here. Let’s continue.

Motivating – if you have spent time around Amanda, then you know she can bring out the best in others. Watching her on a day to day basis makes me want to be a better husband, father, and man. She is also good at giving reasons why I and the twins should be motivated for doing things – always in a nice manner of course.

Athletic – Did you know she was the captain of her soccer team in high school? And that she won an intramural championship in college? AND that she wakes up at the crack of dawn to work out EVERY DAY before anyone else wakes up? She is athletic, in shape, and I am proud of her for that!

Nurturing – she is a wonderful mother that lives to take care of her children. She is always there to scoop up Colby & Clara if they scrape their knee, and will doctor them up with the perfect band aid, ice pack, kisses, and treats to help them feel better. She is also helping them grow as little people nurturing their curiosity and teaching them.

Dedicated –  Amanda can and will do whatever she puts her mind to. If she decides something needs to be done or wants to do something, she will move mountains to achieve her goal. She is the embodiment of diligence and accomplishment. She is dedicated to her family. I would list all the things she does on a day to day basis, but suffice it to say that without her a lot wouldn’t get done, we wouldn’t do as many fun things, and life would be way more chaotic if she wasn’t who she is.

Admire – I look to my wife as an inspiration. I alluded to this earlier, but she is an example of how I can be better. She is a good friend that remembers EVERYONE’S birthday. She is conscientious and always putting the needs of her family before her own. She is tenacious and hard working. She is dedicated to her friends and family. She is the most amazing wife I could hope for, and I am thankful.

SO I think you can see she is pretty great. You know what else would be pretty great? If you let her know you are thinking about her TODAY because it is her birthday. See you later blog friends – maybe I won’t wait so long to pop in again!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend Recap

Ever since finding out one of the twins was a girl, I dreamed of seeing her on stage in a tutu, and that dream finally became a reality this past weekend! We kicked the weekend off with her dress rehearsal on Friday night. Allison and my mom graciously joined me both in getting her ready and sitting through the actual rehearsal while the boys held down the fort at home.

It was a long evening (we didn't get home until 9 pm!), but she was a trooper and waited patiently while they ran through everyone's dances, including her own, twice. One of her classmate's grandmothers snapped the top right picture of her backstage and I just love it!

We took a break from the recital festivities on Saturday morning to celebrate the twins' sweet friend, Berkeley's, birthday at Pump it Up with most of their daycare classmates. Inflatables, pizza, and cupcakes- need I say more?

After a few hours of downtime, it was time to get ready for the big show. The little ballerina was spunky as always for her photo shoot:

As usual, getting Colby to join for a picture was like pulling teeth. It was bad enough that we were making him wear a "button shirt" on a Saturday, but now expecting him to look at a camera and smile? Highly unacceptable. In the end, we ended up with these two gems, and I can't decide which is my favorite, ha!

We dropped Clara off backstage (with the two sweetest stage moms!) and made our way into the auditorium- Clara was fortunate to have 12 adoring fans in the audience! Her class performed to "Under the Sea" and as you would expect in a class full of 3 to 5-year-olds, it was full of all kinds of cuteness. We weren't allowed to video at the actual performance, but the below footage from the dress rehearsal gives you the right idea:

We were so proud of our little dancer!

On Sunday morning, we traded out our dance recital attire for swimsuits and headed to the beach with the Olivers. Despite a brief downpour, the weather was actually perfect because it started out cloudy and the sun came out for the last hour or so that we were there. We swam, played, ate lunch, and generally wore ourselves out.

Memorial Day itself was pretty low key. Clara and I kicked it off with pedicures (her first ever!) with a friend while Brian and Colby played at home and continued in their quest to watch every episode of RescueBots ever made. We ended the day playing and having dinner with some friends at Rudy's, because pretty much nothing is as American as eating BBQ and letting 9 children run wild on the patio. 

Bottom right would be Clara pouting about somebody "being rude to her" for the 1,000th time that day... the pout was too cute not to photograph

Thankful to live in the country we do and for those that make our wonderfully ordinary lives possible!

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?