Category Archives: Life of Holls

Preparing for Baby Brady

My husband has been asking me, if I am ever going to blog again. I didn’t realize, 15 months had passed since my last post. Eek! So here we go, blog revival.

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You may remember my blog post, Catastrophe Before and After Ragnar, which talked about our (scary) ectopic pregnancy in February 2015.

It’s been a long, emotional road, trying to get pregnant again, but in April 2016, we were blessed with another pregnancy, and this one stuck in the right place!

This pregnancy has carried a multitude of emotions as well, through genetic testing, finding a bright spot on baby’s heart, spending a night in the hospital for bleeding at 28 weeks, and having placenta previa, but with faith in God, I know He’s got this, and it’s really kept my stress and worry at bay.

Placenta previa is a pregnancy complication in which the placenta, that typically is attached to the upper part of the uterus, instead, lies low, partially or completely blocking the cervix. As the uterus grows, the placenta usually will move up on it’s own, but in 10% of cases, the previa will persist later into pregnancy.

If the placenta remains close to the cervix as our due date grows closer, which happens in 1 in 200 pregnancies, we are at high risk for hemorrhaging and an early C-section will be required. 14519780_10109354660122941_2499042083290088073_n

We have an ultrasound on Thursday, to check my placenta again. I will be 34 weeks 5 days. If the placenta is still close to, or covering the cervix, Brady’s birthday will be November 23 (36 weeks 4 days), which is the day before Thanksgiving!

Whenever Brady makes his debut, we will be ready. The girls are so in love with him already and he is going to have the best big sisters.

My husband and mother-in-law finished the final touches on the nursery last week, and it is perfect! I love the nautical theme!

It’s been a long journey getting to this point, but I feel incredibly blessed for this little boy to join our family. God is good.

Time For Our 4-Year Check Up

littlesIt seems like just yesterday that we brought these little five and a half pound cuties, home, from the hospital. Overwhelmed, with so much emotion, love, joy, and fear, and miraculously, we all survived. We pretended we knew what we were doing and those precious little babies have turned into funny little people.

Four years have flown by in the blink of an eye, and today, the girls had their annual well visit check-up. My mind was blown when I realized their next check-up will be their kindergarten physical. How is this even possible? Please stop growing, now.

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When our names were called, the girls lined up (thank you, preschool), and followed their nurse through the door and to the nurse’s station. According to our physical, Katelyn measured 41″ and Chelsea measured 40.5″, but I’m pretty sure Katelyn may have snuck up on some tippy toes for that measurement. She was probably practicing for future Knott’s Berry Farm visits (sierra sidewinder, here we come)!

Blood Pressure….Check
Hearing Test….Check

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Vision Test….Check

eye testThe appointment ended with the girls’ final immunizations (aside from the flu shot) needed until they enter 7th grade (woohoo)! They were so big and brave, they didn’t even cry. Instead, they looked at the nurse with puppy dog eyes and calmly said “Ouch. That hurt.”

The nurse gave them each a new book and a high five and all was right again! Chelsea even asked me if we could go to the dentist next. Who are these kids?

One great check-up. Two healthy kids…. who must have two amazing parents. Cheers!

Four Month Hiatus

My last post, written four months ago, was a little intense, Catastrophe Before and After Ragnar Relay, and I took a break from blogging for a while. The good news, well at least for me, is that I’m back, and making a commitment to update regularly. It’s been a busy four months, and all of these updates, probably deserve their own post, but for now, let’s do a quick re-cap:

Racing continues. As soon as I got the clearance to run, once my ectopic pregnancy had finally terminated, I hit the ground running…

Coaster Run 5K at Knott’s Berry Farm on March 8th

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Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation 10K on March 29 (Go Team Brody – Reaching For A Cure 2014)

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Ragnar So Cal – April 10-11 – Team Name: Great Bowels of Fire (1st Place in our Division)

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Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland on May 10. (Finish in 1:58:42)

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On May 3, my friend, Stacy, and I were baptized at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, and our amazing group of friends were there to support us. We were also photo bombed by Pastor Rick Warren himself!

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I celebrated a wonderful Mother’s Day with my beautiful family.

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We went on a 4-day Carnival Cruise with our good friends and our girls’ bff’s! Together, our two families had 5 girls within 14 months of each other! We had a blast!

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At the end of May, my brother and I were able to pull off the surprise of the century, and surprise my dad for his 60th birthday! He had no idea we were coming (I live in California, brother in North Carolina and dad (and sister) are in Maine).

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I also got to visit my mom and some of her family in Maine. It was an amazing trip!

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I surprised Trent with a “day date” on June 12, our 6 year wedding anniversary, and we played Foot Golf! Possibly, a new favorite sport!  

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Katelyn and Chelsea turned 4 in June and we celebrated their birthday, with good friends, at Pump It Up!

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PIU
The family celebrated Father’s Day one week early, and headed to Angels Stadium for our first family game of the season! Katelyn says “Mike Trout is the best baseball player ever.” I have to agree!

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The girls completed their last day of preschool and officially start pre-k this fall! They are growing up way too fast!

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At the end of June, we traveled to Pismo Beach to visit Trent’s family. It was great to see everyone in one place!

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This summer, we’ve spent a lot of time in the pool and the girls have come so far with their swim lessons! I am so proud of them!

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It’s been a busy 4 months, so this update seems action packed! I still can’t believe the girls are four. They make us laugh every day and our family is truly blessed. I promise our next update will not be 4 months away, so stay tuned!

Return to Paradise – 5 Year Anniversary

10479750_10106338630620241_696757564914121563_nHere we are, deep into January, and I have nothing written down about the amazing trip I took with my incredible husband this past December!

In June 2014, we celebrated our five year wedding anniversary. Since we had just moved into our new home, the month prior, we decided we would delay the celebration until the end of the year!

Ava & Grampy were incredibly gracious and kind and offered to watch the girls while we were gone. Trent and I spent eight beautiful days on Big Island, Hawaii, staying at Hilton Waikoloa Village, the same place we went for our honeymoon in June 2009.

Chevy Camaro UpgradeThere were so many incredible moments, so I’ll leave you with the top highlights!

When we arrived in Kona, on Sunday, December 14th, we picked up our luggage and headed to the car rental counter. The line was literally out the door and not everyone looked overly enthusiastic, but we were ecstatic. No worries. We are in Hawaii to celebrate! Our energetic personalities must’ve shined through, because we were upgraded from a Volkswagon Jetta to a Chevy Camaro. That’s not a bad way to start to the vay-cay!

On Tuesday, we hiked down Pololu Valley which was just gorgeous.

Pololu Valley

And on the way back home, we stopped by Kapa’a Beach on the northwestern shore to see the rocky coast.

Kapa'a Beach

Last time we were in Hawaii, we went to a luau, and had a lot of fun, so on this trip, we wanted to switch it up and visit the cowboys at Kahua Ranch! So on Wednesday, we enjoyed a sunset BBQ dinner, Trent learned how to lasso, we branded our own shingle, did a little line dancing (ok, it was more like the electric slide), hung out with a ridiculously giant pig, roasted some s’mores, and met some really cool cowboys!

Ranch

The next day, will go in the books as one of the most incredible days of my life. It started off with a visit to Rainbow Falls, where we found ourselves literally standing underneath a rainbow. I’ve never seen anything like it. So beautiful. It was the first time I had ever seen both ends of the rainbow.

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Next, we headed to Hilo Airport so we could take a doors-off, (feel the heat) helicopter tour over the active Volcano! One of the “hottest” experiences I’ve ever had!

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Today, was going to be the same day that we drove around the entire island. Next stop, visiting the Volcano National Park! When we first arrived, we had lunch at the Volcano House, overlooking the crater. I had no idea, we would be so close! The view was incredible! Then we explored the national park, checked out the vents, and later learned that one side of the national park was a dessert and active volcano, and after walking through the lava tube, we ended up in a lush, tropical rainforest. Who knew?

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As we continued our journey around the Big Island, we had to stop at Punalu”u Black Sand Beach!. The beach has black sand made of basalt which was created by lava flowing into the ocean. We also found a large group of sea turtles basking in the sun!

Black Sand Beach

Timing could not have been more perfect in our trip around the island, because we happened to be driving by South Point, the southernmost part of the United States, right before sunset. We could not pass up that opportunity to stop and enjoy the view. It is extremely windy on this part of the island, as you can tell from the picture of the tree! I’m thankful I was not blown into the ocean, but the photo op was worth the risk!

South Point

The perfect day wasn’t quite over, just yet. We went to Rainbow Falls, flew in a helicopter over the volcano, had lunch at the Volcano House with an amazing view of the crater, explored Volcano National Park, the lava tubes, the rainforest, drove to Black Sand Beach, caught an amazing sunset at South Point, but we still had one more stop before the night was over, Kona Brewery!

Kona Brew

The next day, was definitely a relax at the hotel, bask in the sun, play some glow golf, kind of day!

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Relaxation. Check. Time to get back on the adventure saddle. What better way then to saddle up on a horse and explore the Waipi’o Valley!

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Eight days was a long time to be away from the girls, and I admit, by day 7, I was looking into flights to come back early, but in the end, I would not have changed a thing. Trent and I had the most amazing vacation and I feel so fortunate to have spent a week in paradise with my best friend! We have been married for 5.5 years and everyday I love him more and more!

It was great to have the time alone, and I think it’s so important for moms and dads to get their together time, even if it’s just one date night a month. We are stronger today then we have ever been and for that, I am so grateful!

Crafty Holiday Traditions

The holidays always make me feel a little craftier, and now that the girls are three, I’m having a lot of fun starting family traditions!

On November 1st, I created our third annual family thankful tree. Everyone was assigned a colored leaf and each day, we all put one leaf on the tree, to share what we were thankful for. On Thanksgiving, we had a beautiful tree, full of thanks.

Thanksgiving Thankful Tree

As usual in our household, our Christmas tree went up the weekend before Thanksgiving. Typically, we put it up early, so we can enjoy it longer, since we usually travel up to two weeks over the holidays.

Christmas Tree

I found a wonderful advent calendar from Target, that would keep my creativity flowing throughout the holidays. Each day, the girls flip over an ornament on the advent tree, and we do whatever is on the back.

Advent Tree

Just one week into December and we have already created a paper garland, decorated a Christmas tree, put up our felt Christmas tree, made ornaments for the tree, looked at Christmas lights, taken a picture with Santa, and created gingerbread houses and Christmas cookies!

We also have had fun with Elfie, our Elf on the Shelf. Every morning, Elfie flies to a new spot and the girls have a lot of fun trying to find her!

Over the past two years, the Christmas felt tree has been a hit in our household. The girls love to decorate and re-decorate the tree, again and again.Felt Tree

This year, I was excited to find a felt nativity scene, to put on the wall, and even more thrilled to watch the girls take turns, telling each other the true meaning of Christmas.

Felt Nativity Scene

Every day, offers a little something exciting in the countdown for Christmas. Each day, we find Elfie, take a paper ring off of the Christmas garland, and flip over an ornament on our advent calendar, to see what special event we get to do that day!

We love the holidays and look forward to these new traditions and finding even more, for years to come!

Happy Holidays! Get crafty!

Growing Too Fast and Into Bunk Beds

309878_10101484435615941_1700505688_nEver since the girls were born, I frequently found myself excited for the next big step. When they were babies, I couldn’t wait for them to sit up and crawl. Then, I couldn’t wait for them to walk, and at 11 months, they took their first steps. I was so excited for them to talk and interact, that I couldn’t wait for them to get bigger, so we could play a game of Candyland or toss a ball.

You always hear the phrase, “Cherish every moment,” or “They grow up too fast,” but living hundreds or thousands of miles away from family, I rarely had any help, so I always thought, if they get older, it must get easier, or at least I hoped.

552314_10102538224848871_1083126962_nNow that they are almost 3.5, I finally look back at the days where they were babies, and I miss the sweet stages of those cute little diapered butts. The times when you could set them on the couch and know, they were not moving anywhere. The times that naps were still present and no one screamed back or tried to be defiant. No one fought or pulled any hair. There were no tantrums on aisle 3 and crying was typically silenced with a bottle, binky, or diaper change.

Raising twins is hard, especially with no family close by. My hat goes off to all of the amazing women who do it every day. I have never had more struggles or challenges, or been pushed to my limits, more than I have since becoming a mom. On the flip side, I have also never experienced more joy, more love, or more fulfillment, then I have as a mother to those girls.

Today, my “next big thing” was bunk beds. Was it too early? Probably. But, the toddler beds seemed to be getting smaller and bunk beds seemed to be a logical solution for two girls who shared a small bedroom. So, today, while the girls were at preschool, the magic happened.

We said goodbye to the toddler beds.

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Daddy built the bunk beds while the girls were at preschool.

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They were pretty excited to find the beds when they came home!

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Daddy gave them the safety talk.

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….And the new beds were awesome!

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Story-time before bed was extra special.

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IMG_3922Night one is almost in the books for our transition to bunk beds. Once they finally settled down from the excitement, they were fast asleep. As of right now, Chelsea took the top bunk and Katelyn was content with the bottom. I’m sure this will change down the road, but I’m happy that there was no fighting about who was going to sleep on the top bunk.

It’s bitter-sweet to see the girls in bunk beds, because they still look so little, and of course in my eyes, they are always going to be my babies, but they love it!

For now, I need to remember to stop rushing them to grow up and enjoy the moment. As hard as some moments may be, I know, I will miss these days, just as much I miss them being little babies.

Cherish every moment. They grow up too fast. It’s finally starting to hit home.

One-Year RUNiversary

983580_1435109673398181_300747634_n (1)Today is a special day for me. It is my one-year RUNiversary!

Twelve months ago, I was not a runner, not even close! In fact, I hated thinking about running. I loved to sprint, fast, but for 100, 200 yards, maybe. I loved to run around the bases in a softball game or do sprints for a warm-up. Anything beyond that, was just not for me.

One year ago, today, I completed my first “official” run, by joining an 8-week run club. That night, I ran 1 mile around the track. Little did I know, that mile, would be the start to an amazing, positive, change in my life.

I never thought I would ever complete a half marathon. I had no endurance and honestly, no desire to even try. I had myself convinced, that I was a sprinter, therefore, I could not run long distance, but last October, my mentality changed.

I set a New Year’s resolution, for 2013, that I was going to be Fit for 30. It was the year, I turned the big 3-0, and I worked hard, to get in the best shape of my life. I felt that I completed my goal when my 30th birthday arrived last October, but something was still missing. I got in shape, but I still couldn’t run. I was finally ready to stop saying, “I can’t,” and start believing in myself.

It was never easy. I made mistakes. I learned from them. I sustained injuries. I set my alarm for 5 a.m. runs. I had runs that were good and runs that brought me to tears. Most importantly, no matter what, I never quit.

I’ve learned a lot of things about myself since I started running (13.1 Milestone: Lessons Learned), but I think one of the most important ones is to have a positive attitude, not just in running, but in life. I had convinced myself that I was not good enough to run long distance and that I would never have the endurance to run a half marathon. The reality was, I just never had the desire or the patience to prove myself wrong.

I learned how powerful your mind really is and how much control your mind and your attitude have over your body. If I hit the road with a negative attitude, my run is horrible, every time.

I learned that 90% of your race, is your mental state that day. Of course, training is important, and your body needs to be properly trained, fueled, and hydrated to go the distance, but it’s just as important to train your mind, along with your body. When your body runs out of steam, your mind needs to tell your legs to keep moving.

If you told me one year ago, I would run a half marathon, I would have laughed out loud and told you, you were crazy, because I can’t run.

In the past 12 months, I have completed 2 5K’s, 4 10K’s, 1 sprint triathlon, and 2 half marathons, and I will be running my 3rd half marathon on October 26th.

5K
11/9/13 – Big A 5K 24:56 / 8:02
2/9/14 – iTRTathlon 5K 24:57 / 8:03

10K
11/28/13 – Plymouth Rock N Run 10K – 54:49 / 8:50
12/14/13 – Troutman Sanders Santa Run 10K – 53:54 / 8:42
3/2/14 – Coaster Run 10K – 49:23 / 7:58
3/30/14 – PCRF Reaching For the Cure 10K 49:20 / 7:58

Sprint Triathlon
2/22/14 – Race on the Base – 5K 24:40 / 7:57, Bike 13.1 mi 48:17, Swim 5:41

Half Marathon
5/26/14 – Laguna Hills Memorial Day Half Marathon – 2:03:23 / 9:25
8/31/14 – Disneyland Half Marathon – 1:56:37 / 8:54

It is almost overwhelming to look back at the last year and see, not just the accomplishments, but to see how much running has changed me as a person. I really believe it has given me a new outlook on life.

Running was something that once scared me, because I was so intimidated by it, but now running is a part of who I am.

I started my own Facebook page, Mission TwinPossible: The Twin Mama’s Journey, and I have learned that anything is possible with the right attitude, hard work, and dedication.

My First Disneyland Half Marathon

2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon-LogoI’m kind of embarrassed to admit that six weeks have passed and I have not written anything about the Disneyland Half Marathon!

flat hIt was kind of a big deal, because, one, it was on my bucket list, two it was a New Year’s resolution, and three, I PR’d, taking 7 minutes off my first half marathon time. alarm

I woke up bright and early on the morning of the big race. Flat Hollie was laid out, and ready to go!

I got to the parking garage around 4:15 a.m. and was in my corral (super early), anxiously awaiting the 5:30 a.m. start! My adrenaline was pumping and I could feel the Disney magic all around me! So many runners were dressed in their Disney best and it was fun to see everyone’s race costumes.

The gun went off and my corral was headed out! There truly is something magical about running through the Happiest Place on Earth! It would’ve been even better if you could run through the park for the entire 13 miles, but unfortunately, the park is not that big. I loved running through Disney’s California Adventure and Disneyland Park, even if it was only for a couple miles. There were multiple photo opportunities, inside the park, for those who wanted to snap some selfies, or get a picture with their favorite Disney character. I just kept on running.

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Even though there were 11 miles outside of the parks, the entertainment never failed. There were live bands, cheerleaders, spectators, singers, and even a classic car show along the route. We ran around the Honda Center, and, perhaps my favorite part of the race, was running around the field, at Angels Stadium, with cheering spectators inside!

I started to hit a wall at mile 12, which is where my pace really took a hit. I started to feel dizzy and light-headed, and started running with my head down, possibly even with my eyes closed, for a few feet here and there.  The spectators, and even the runners, offered amazing words of encouragement during that final mile, to keep my body moving forward to finish the race.medal

The overwhelming feeling of joy I felt after crossing the finish line, is almost indescribable. It is the runner’s high. The reason, runners will sign up for another race (also for the bling).

One year ago, 13.1 miles seemed impossible and unreachable, but on August 31, I completed my second half marathon in three months. It didn’t even seem real at that point.

Another amazing feeling after the race, is finding the person you love, who’s been cheering you on, waiting for you with open arms, and even accepts your sweaty hug when you re-unite!

I was so happy to see my husband after my run. I have been so incredibly blessed to have such an amazing support person by my side, not just for this race, but also for every early morning training run, (and recovery-on-the-couch days) that got me to that day!

Side note: Unfortunately, unless your spectators pay extra money to be part of the ChEAR Squad, your family will not be able to see you cross the finish line, so make sure you have an agreed-upon meeting place, after the race.

Disney Half
If you want to participate the 2015 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend (Sept 4-6), there are a couple things you should know. Registration sells out fast! You can sign up at Run Disney, to receive an email reminder of the day, registration opens. Registration for the 2015 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, opens on February 10, 2015.

It’s not the cheapest race out there. The half marathon, alone, was $195. A lot of people ask me, if it was worth the cost? I can’t say I would spend that much money on a race again (insert husband’s happy dance here), but it was an amazing experience, a very organized race, and of course big bling is always a plus! The biggest downside for me (aside from the expense) was that my husband was not able to see me cross the finish line, but I guess when you have that many runners, it would be hard for everyone to flock to one spot. Overall, the race was a lot of fun! Thank you Run Disney!

Lil’ Strikers Bumper Bowling League

A big part of me has wanted to take the girls bowling. The other part of me thought I was crazy, and so did my husband. However, I found the perfect opportunity to give the sport a chance, in an environment that welcomed my two, high-energy, preschoolers.

My husband is on vacation this week, and so are the girls, so I figured with man-to-man coverage, we would head to an alley. I started searching for bowling alleys nearby, and I stumbled across Saddleback Lanes in Mission Viejo. As I clicked on their website, one banner quickly caught my eye:

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bowlingWait. A bowling league, that welcomes three-year olds, and is twin friendly?  This is phenomenal.  I immediately called Saddleback Lanes  to find out more information!

The Lil’ Strikers Bumper League is a 10 week league, but you can join anytime. The league meets on Mondays at 4 p.m. and the cost is $8 per person, which includes shoe rentals and two games of bowling! Since you are technically in a league, you also receive discounts when you return to the alley throughout the week. At the end of the league, the kids enjoy a pizza party and receive a trophy! We went on Monday, Aug 25, which was week 9 of the current league. The next league is expected to start in mid-September.

Every team in the league has 3 bowlers. Your team consists of 1 parent and 1 child or 1 parent and 2 children.  If you are only bowling with one child, then you will have a ghost bowler on your team. When the child bowls, the bumpers automatically come out. When the parent bowls, the bumpers go away. Bowling ramps are provided for the little ones, who can’t throw the ball down the alley yet and the kids bowl with six pound bowling balls.

bowling2We chose to make a 3-person team. My husband bowled with the girls and I was the safety monitor to make sure they were sitting down when everyone else was bowling, not getting over excited and running into the wrong lane after they knocked their pins down, and not pressing all of the buttons on the computers.

StrikeThe only problem we encountered was when Chelsea bowled a strike. She was on the verge of tears because she did not understand why she did not get to throw her second ball. Catastrophe.

By the end of our second game, Katelyn wanted to hurl her balls down the alley like daddy, so it was probably a great time to go.

For their first time bowling, the girls did great! Kate bowled a 74 and 82 and Chelsea bowled a 71 and 88. (Oh, and Daddy bowled a 225 in his second game. There. Now, it’s on record.)

Everyone had a blast and I am so glad we found this opportunity to introduce bowling to the girls. I have a feeling we will be laying some more pins down in the near future!

For more information on the Lil Strikers Bumper Bowling League, contact:

Saddleback Lanes
25402 Marguerite Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92692
949-586-5300

Twin Toddlers and a Puppy

I’ve heard a lot of people say that age 2 is hard, but age 3 is harder. Since my girls were about to turn 3, the only sensible thing to do, to make life easier, would be to get a puppy!

Meet (Mama) Mia! She was born in mid-March and is an Australian Shepherd and Terrier Mix.

Okay, now to justify my crazy thinking, for all of you who are laughing right now. I grew up with two dogs, and having those dogs, was a huge part of my childhood, that I will cherish forever. They were part of my family, and I loved them so much!

I wanted the girls to have the same experience, and grow up with a furry best friend. There isn’t a day that goes by (sometimes an hour) that I don’t hear one of them say, “I love Mia so much!” or “She is the best dog ever!”

I’ve been asked, why would you get a dog, when you are still in the potty training phase with twins? Here’s my answer, after the initial phase of potty training, I am so de-sensitized from anything that comes out of a human or animal, I felt like now was a perfect time to potty train a puppy!

When tantrums are thrown or the witching hour is approaching, nothing is like a bigger breath of fresh air, then that adorable ball of fur, always by my side.

We adopted Mia through I.C.A.R.E. Dog Rescue. The entire litter of puppies was dumped off at a dog groomers, and a good friend of mine, was actually the foster Mom for Mama Mia and one of her brothers.

I.C.A.R.E. Dog Rescue is a non-profit, all-breed, no kill dog rescue. They rescue dogs at risk of being euthanized from shelters, as well as abandoned, abused, and stray dogs. They also rescue many dogs that have been surrendered by their owners, for various reasons. They are a 100% volunteer-run and supported organization, that cannot survive without the help of loving fosters, volunteers, and benefactors.

We finally had the chance to meet Mia at anI.C.A.R.E. adoption event, at a PetSmart in Lake Forest. My husband knew, the moment I held Mia in my arms, she was going to be joining our family that night. She is absolutely, the sweetest dog, I have ever met, and we are thrilled to add her as the newest member of our family!

If you wait for the perfect timing, you’ll wait forever. We have talked about getting a dog for quite a while but we never knew when that day would actually come. When we met Mia, at PetSmart, we just knew in our hearts, it was meant to be.

“Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you!”
(Mamma Mia by ABBA Lyrics)