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Here's a performance you might enjoy, it's Mallory pretending to be Hannah Montana and singing the theme song to the show:

(scroll all the way down and pause the music first)

And these are some of the beauties growing in my 'garden' right now. This is the first year that they've actually changed color, which is why I bought them in the first place. I thought they just turned from pink to blue to purple to white, I didn't know each indivdual flower would turn different pretty shades of pink, blue & purple....I love to just stand there and admire them, and I'm so proud that even under my care, they still manage to live! And yet I get a little sad every time I see them too, because I know that since it's basically September, it's only a matter of time until the weather changes and they turn into ugly brown dead-looking sticks until winter passes.

Yesterday was Arissa's first day of 3rd grade, and Mariah's first day of Kindergarten! They were both so SO excited, and a little scared too of course. Arissa had the same teacher, same room, and exact same class mates for both 1st and 2nd grade, so it was a little scary to be in a different place w/ new people. Most of her friends are in other classes, except a few, which I told her has the possibility of being a good thing....cause then there's a whole class of new friends to make. Her teacher is also a man, which is a first, which I also told her could be a good thing. Her classroom is directly behind Mariah's, so if they were both at the window they could see eachother and wave. :O) They both liked that idea.

Mariah had gone to orientation the day before, so she knew a little of what to expect. Her teacher came up to her and said "I remember you---you're Mariah Grace Howard!" because that was how Mariah had introduced herself at the orientation. :o) And as class started, she was actually quite brave....she didn't linger behind and hold onto me, she didn't cry or even frown. None of the kids did really, which was nice. Seeing the kids crying & reaching out for their mommies and daddies (even if it's other people's kids) makes my heart hurt. But Mariah, maybe because she's gotten practice at preschool, stood in line without being told and marched right into her classroom and took her seat and started coloring.

And when I picked them up, Mariah kept saying "i like kindergarten. i like my teacher. we have rules, we have to be nice.". And Arissa was so excited to have homework again! From Kindergarten through 2nd grade, her homework has been a weekly packet that you're supposed to do some of each day and turn in once a week. But as busy as we get, often times it all ended up getting done the night before it was due. Which is no good of course. But this year the kids all got planners to write their assignments in, and they have nightly homework, due the next day. Arissa liked that better and I do too. She came home and finished it all and then had a snack and played. They both had a good day and were excited to go back.

Today is Mallory's big day....same school (preschool) but a new teacher and new class. She has a backpack this year (which she insisted on even though it only has her lunchbox in it), and a stylin' new outfit that she's worn for 3 days straight (a Hannah Montana shirt & Princess pants). She was a little sad when I left to take Mariah & Arissa to my grandmas...she's used to snuggling with Mariah & watching tv till it's time to go to preschool. But I'm sure once she gets to preschool and is the only Howard girl there and able to get all the attention and be the big cheese, she'll not mind at all. :o)


This past weekend the 5 of us traveled up to Malibu for Gary & Courtney's wedding! Jesse left friday morning because he was in the wedding party and had to be there for the rehersal, but Arissa had a drill team practice she couldn't miss which meant me and the girls couldn't leave till saturday. But we actually decided to drive up friday night after the at 9:15 we hit the freeway and I drove (the girls all asleep in the backseat of course) till about 11:45. I was proud of myself for making it there w/o falling asleep or getting lost. Driving at night in an unfamiliar place is harder than I thought. But we made it.
The wedding was at 6pm Saturday, and once again Jesse had to be there first so we had to go without him. Which was fine except I had to drive 20 minutes to the wedding site up a winding road through mountains and tunnels but we once again made it there just fine. It was a lovely wedding. The site was on a "ranch", and it was really beautiful. Courtney looked so beautiful, and everything was so sweet. My favorite part was the reading of the vows, because Gary was so sweet and sincere, and Courtney cried the whole way through it all. So of course I cried too. :O) The reception was perfect....I was worried that the girls might get restless and cause trouble, but they did wonderfully. We ate, and they danced and danced and danced. :O) They LOVED it. I'm so happy for Gary & was a great day.

Me & Arissa after taking our seats:

Mallory who wanted to sit IN the aisle:

She couldn't resist playing with the flower petals:

The ceremony:

Mr. & Mrs. Gary Ware:

The groomsmen during their speaches at the reception:

Me & Mallory drinking it up after the toast:

So excited!

Friends & new Neighbors (notice I had to take my shoes off so that I wouldn't tower above everyone):

Jesse & I aren't big dancers, but the girls made friends w/ some others on the dancefloor who showed them how to shake it:

Time for a rest, and a hug:

The other happy couple!:

Parting Gift

This (which will be framed) is what Mariah is giving each of her 2 teachers & the "principal" and office assistant at her Preschool tomorrow, which is her last day there. :o( Her last day of 'private' school...her last day of praying before lunch....her last day of listening to Bible stories before taking a nap....her last day before she moves on to the bigtime: KINDERGARTEN!! It's bittersweet for all of us.

8 years ago last wednesday, my mom passed away. The date of her death affects me more than when her birthday comes around, I guess because I was personally there for one and not the other (obviously). I miss her so so so much! I don't want to bring down the day of anyone reading this, but just one thing about that sad day in 2000:

We were all w/ my mom when/as she, my dad, my grandma, and most of her very closest friends. So that's actually a happy many people get to pass that way? Anyways, I remember that she'd "shut down" a few weeks before, didn't talk, didn't move, didn't respond or open her eyes. So when we were all there and watching her, I hugged her and I remember I told her that she could go, it was ok, I was ok, I was going to be fine. I figured "if all this had happened when I was a little girl, that would just be tragic...but I'm basically a grown woman, I'll do fine in life w/ just her memory and her example". And that's what I really thought. But it's just funny because what I didn't know at the time was that although I'd certainly be ok, (I had my dad and my grandma to look after me, a new husband and healthy baby), I would need her just as much as an adult as I did as a kid. I didn't know that I would want to ask her to fill-in the childhood memories that I've semi-forgotten. I didn't know that although I would never be short on other people's opinions on questions I would have, that I would still want HER opinion before I could make a confident decision. I didn't know that I would wish she were around to mediate the tensions and differences between my dad and my grandma. I didn't know I would want her to show me how to knit. I thought I was armed with knowledge about being a mother because I had her example, but I didn't know that lots of stuff she did w/ me as an only child can't be applied to the 3 girls I'm raising now and that I'd want to ask her what she would have done. I didn't know that I would end up w/ 3 sweet girls and that later on I would often just sit for chunks of time and think about how sad and unfair it is that they won't ever know her. But I'm somewhat glad that I didn't know all that at the time, because my ignorance made it easier to bear.

Well that was kind of a bummer, sorry about that.

As a "happy ending" to this post, as I was digging through boxes at my grandmas searching for something, I found these that my mom made, and hung them up in my living room. They make me happy :O)


Nana: "Mariah, your skin is so soft! Did you have a shower last night?"

Mariah: "Yep. When Mama gives me a shower, it makes my skin soft. But Nana? How come when YOU take a shower, YOUR skin is still wrinkled???"

right now:

* I have so many projects going, I can't keep track! But I like to have several things going at once because that way, if my hands get tired of knitting, i switch to crochet. Then that eventually makes my wrists hurt, so I switch to cross stitch or embroidery. So right now I have a blanket 2/3 finished on my knitting needles, an identical blanket but in a different color 1/8 finished on smaller needles, a blanket 1/4 finished which i'm crocheting, a cross stitch, a sewn doll, a knitted bunny, a baby blanket which is just a yard of flannel that I'm crocheting an edging on, and another project I'm working on for a friend's wedding. I always start lots of different projects (except not all at once usually) but I rarely finish any. If it takes more than a week or so, I get bored and move onto something else. But this having-9-things-going-at-once deal seems to be the cure for that.

* I'm loving "point de croix", french cross stitch. Well it's just plain cross stitch but I've been browsing french websites and blogs that feature cross stitch and embroidery, and I just love it. Even though it's the same craft, you can still sense a different kind of style in most of the projects. And even on the ones that look just like the stuff I do, when there's a french phrase or word added to it, I just love it! And looking at all those blogs has totally helped my french vocab recently!

* Mallory & Mariah are going through their terrible twos. Yes, they're 4 and 5, but I refuse to believe that this new attitude is part of their actual personalities. I chose to believe (and hope to God) that it's just a phase. Mariah, who has always been the helper, the mediator, the middle-child eager to please and do well, I think has recently gotten sick of her "role" and is testing out her defiant side. It's no fun. And Mallory is pretty much the same as she's always been, only at a slightly louder volume and increasingly better vocabulary. Again, it's no fun. But when they're sweet, they're the sweetest, and it makes up (sort of!) for their little attitudes.

* Arissa is all about drill team. Last week, she was at drill team camp for 3 very long, tiring, but fun days. They worked really really hard. I honestly don't know how Arissa made it through. She's still only 8 years old! But she toughed it out, and she did great. I was really, REALLY proud of her. Not only does she make it through, but she does SO WELL! And some of the girls (older than Arissa) cried from time to time cause they were homesick, or frustrated, or tired (which is understandable and I felt for them), but not Arissa. She is so amazing. And for their in-door routine, they're dancing to a Hannah Montana you know she's loving that!

* We're still mourning Blossom. :o( Poor Jesse goes to sit on the couch and looks for Blossom to jump up and settle on his leg or right next to him. And when I'm cooking dinner my instinct is to not leave food on the stove un-covered because Blossom will jump up and eat it. Yesterday we drove down Blossom Lane (the street my church is on) and we all went "Awww....". It was kind of cute.

and that's what's going on RIGHT NOW :O)

Special Day!!

Today is my mother-in-law, Mariann's birthday!! It's kind of a milestone birthday (though I won't put the exact # in case she'd rather keep it secret!). She is a blessing to have as a mother-in-law. She loves the heck out of my girls, and is very supportive of them...showing up at every function/fundraiser/party/etc. She sends cards in the mail for special occasions or just because. She makes a lovely breakfast every Christmas morning, and caters to us when we come over to exchange gifts. She loves crafts, and is always willing to help me or teach me a craft I'm trying to learn. She is a really great lady, and in the absence of my own mother is a wonderful person to have in my life.

Happy birthday Mariann!!!

Once again, I'm posting this because Jesse rarely gets credit that he deserves, especially from

This weekend was Gary's bachelor party. Jesse is not only Gary's good friend, but he's IN the wedding party, so he's kind of obligated to go, right? Well and of course he really wanted to. The guys had planned to go golfing, to dinner at Hooter's, and then to a strip club. Jesse was thinking he wouldn't be able to go to any of it, since we're having major money issues. But at the last minute, we came into a little extra money so I gladly told Jesse to use it for the party. He really wanted to golf, he's wanted to go the last few times his friends wanted to. He wasn't outwardly very excited about the latter two activities (although if he was I know he's smart enough not to tell me). But he never goes out, he never does anything that's not with me and the girls, so I said go ahead and go w/ your friends and I won't get mad. He had my permission, he had money....

and yet when they got home from golfing and rested briefly before heading out for the rest of the "fun", Jesse chose to stay home. I said again, that I wouldn't bother him about it, he could go if he wanted and I would be perfectly fine. But still, he chose to stay home and watch tv on the couch with me. Now personally, those activites that his friends were going to partake in seem stupid and boring to me, but obviously it's different when A) you're a boy and B) all your friends are going and asking you to come with. I know Jesse pretty well, and I thought that I KNEW that given my 'Okay' on the subject (and I wasn't even reluctant about it, I was enthusiastic), he'd be there in a flash, drinking it up and being crazy with his friends. But we watched Nancy Grace on tv and went to bed early.

And so on Sunday morning, I tried to repay the gesture: with peek-a-boo eggs served in bed. :o) What a sweet guy he can be.

trip to the beach

First off, I did change my blog banner over the weekend.....what do ya'll think? The concept was one that I saw on, a little shop sells similar pictures of children silhouettes, and can make a custom one if you send a photo. I thought "there HAS to be a way that I can do that myself". And so after a little photoshop tutorial from Jesse, a little trial and error, and a good hour 1/2 later, I got my silhouette of my three girls. :O)

Last weekend we went to the beach on a whim early Saturday evening/late afternoon. It was totally a "whim", and so the girls were fully clothed (no swimsuits), and we used plastic cups as buckets for the girls to play in the sand with. We let them play but didn't want them to get too dirty or wet. No fun for 3 little tinies! So we promised we'd come back next week, better prepared to have fun.

So while Jesse was at Gary's bachelor party, I loaded the girls into the car (freshly cleaned out I'm happy to say!) and we headed to Coronado. This time we were ready for fun....the girls had bathing suits & sunglasses on, we had digging/sandcastle-building tools, blankets, and my personal necessities: magazines & knitting/crochet WIPs ("work-in-progress"). The girls had so much fun! Mallory, who although she was braver than Mariah, was still fairly timid in the pool, was completely FEARLESS in the waves! I had to keep telling her to come back, come back, don't go out so far. She would go out and sit down so the water was up to her neck, and she was just loving it. I was a little less than relaxed....trying to keep Mallory from going too far (because I can barely swim in a pool, I'd be a bad rescuer in the ocean), watching Arissa run back to our blankets with the shells she found, and trying to keep sure Mariah was even still with us. But they had fun, holding hands, jumping over waves, looking at shells and the little creatures still inside many of them. The girls built a little castle, but they didn't want to be out of the water for too long.

And then on our way home, the girls could hardly contain themselves when I said we'd stop at Jamba Juice. :o) They love that place. Kind of pricey, but I'd rather treat to that, then hamburgers all the time. We had a lovely day.

These pics were all taken on the "whim" day, because on our better-planned trip, I left the camera at home. I wanted to be part of the fun, instead of just taking pictures of it. And Lord knows I don't need to try and make sure some bum doesn't steal my camera off my towel on TOP of trying to keep the girls from drowning!

Am I an "artiste de photographe" or what with this one? Sure it's blurry (the camera apparently focused on the sand patch behind her) but I still think it's great. With Mallory, a blurry picture only captures her personality perfectly, so it's ok. :O)

Mariah (although the day after she got an ultra-chic, stlyin', big-girl kindergarten haircut, so she looks a little different now):

Arissa & Mariah with their high-tech sand-castle building tools:

Appeasing mom & posing for a shot that I would later try to use for the silhouette:

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