Happiness All Around!

Not only is today New Year's Eve for the rest of the world, it's our 13th wedding anniversary! What a milestone, and a very special day for us! We've had a magical year this year, and we have a good feeling that 2013 is going to be a wonderful one as well. How could it not be, now that our Marriage is officially a teenager? So, from the Howard family....Happy New Year to you and Happy Anniversary to us!



Still Celebrating!

We hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! Minus a couple of little scares, we had a magical day...more than we could have asked for! We have tons and tons to catch you up on, but right now we're busy celebrating with Boba & Grandpa Andy, who arrived yesterday. We'll be back soon with a major holiday recap, but for now we're busy enjoying time with family. So until we return.....


Happy Holidays from the Howards!

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”--Luke 2:9-12


Counting Down

Tanner has always loved Advent calendars & the fun it is counting down each day to Christmas. This year, we decided that in addition to the goodies we include, we'd put fun activities to do as a family. Some were silly, some were pre-planned, but they were all designed to let us spend time together as a family....and family time is one of the most important parts of the holiday season!


And We're Off!

We're on the long road to TN today, headed up for a holiday party with Tanner's extended family. We're excited to see everyone, especially since we haven't seen some of them since we moved to the beach.

We are NOT excited about a 10 hour car ride with a sick baby, though! Within 10 miles of the house, Harrison was asleep, so hopefully a long nap will help him feel better. Hampton is comfy in his new big boy car seat watching an early Christmas gift. Here's to a very uneventful & fast car ride!


Bellingrath Gardens

Since Hampton has fallen in love with Christmas lights, Grandi suggested that we all go over and see the Christmas lights at Bellingrath Gardens. So we met up with Paul and Jan, went to dinner together, and headed to see the lights.
We'd heard they were neat, but we didn't have a clue what to expect. Boy, were we impressed! It's a walking tour of tons and tons of lights. It was awesome! Hampton was in awe of the lights, but so were we. They were gorgeous! To see more of our photos, click HERE.


Christmas Tree Farm

After hearing such wonderful things about the Fish River Christmas Tree Farm, we couldn't resist going and seeing what all the fun was about. It was one of the cutest places ever! The farm was filled with beautiful trees of all kinds, along with swags, wreaths, and everything evergreen. They also had Santa, a train ride around the farm (which has over 20,000 trees), and nativity scene with live animals. And even though he wasn't there on the day we visited, they sometimes have a camel you can ride. So fun! There were people everywhere with taking photos holding the hand saws that you could cut the trees yourself, and lots of dogs on leashes enjoying the farm. It felt so classic Christmas and this is DEFINITELY a new must-do every year for our family!


Harrison's 1st Birthday

We celebrated Harrison's first birthday with a fun little party filled with our closest friends & family. We invited Harrison's little friends, and we all had a great time eating holiday goodies and watching the older children play in our bounce house. Harrison wasn't quite sure what to think of his cake...he played with the icing for quite awhile before just sticking his face in it. It was a great day for our sweet little boy!
For more birthday photos, click HERE.


Christmas Boat Parade

One of our favorite holiday events is the Christmas Boat Parade on the intracoastal. We headed out to watch with Grandi & Granddaddy, and enjoyed seeing lots of boats...from decked out yachts to small boats decorated in their tacky best. It's a blast yelling back and forth to the people on the boats, and seeing some interesting things. This year, the star of the show were people dressed in all black except for green Christmas lights. So all you could see was their outlines as they danced around the boat. Too fun! Of course, our boys were WAY too interested in playing with their iphones to get into the parade. Yes, you read that right. Iphones. Apparently, toddlers are the new teenagers!


Foley Christmas Parade & Party

On Saturday, we headed to the Foley Christmas Parade and Party, which we'd never been to before. Several friends were going, and we heard they had snow, so we wanted to check it out. The parade was packed full of people and floats, and afterward, we walked over to the party area. They had crafts, bounce houses, Mrs. Claus reading stories, a band, and most importantly....snow! There were kids everywhere waiting for them to get finished spraying it. Our friends decided to bail and begged us to come get ice cream with them instead, but Hampton couldn't be talked out of getting in the snow. We should've gone with them, though, because snow and 80 degree weather don't mix! The snow turned into an ice sheet, which lead to a child crashing into Bo, then Hampton, who ended up with a big bruise on his face. Oh, well...we learned why snow at the beach isn't the best idea!


Seeing Santa

It's just not Christmas without seeing Santa, so one night we headed out to see him. While we waited our turn, we took the opportunity to tell Hampton all about Santa. Hampton was enthralled. So, when we got our chance to meet him, Hampton made sure to tell Santa EXACTLY what he wanted...3 specific trains. Thank goodness Santa is a great planner-in-advance and already had those trains waiting for him! Harrison loved Santa, too...he especially wanted a piece of Santa's beard. Santa even commented that he'd found his new best friend in Harrison. That boy sure knows how to turn on the charm!

Hampton filling Santa in on the trains


Big Day for Harrison

Today Harrison had 2 big milestones...turning his car seat to face forward & his 1-year Doctor's appointment! He is in the 50th percentile in weight, but the 91st in height, so no wonder all the pants that are long enough for him fall off his skinny little waist! He did great even though he got 2 shots. Our Doctor even commented on his laid-back personality. He's getting to be such a fun big boy & we love it!


Happy Birthday, Harrison!

 I hear babies cry....

...I watch them grow....

...they'll learn much more...

..than I'll ever know...

...and I think to myself....

...what a wonderful world!

Happy First Birthday to our darling Harrison!
What a blessing he is to our family, and we couldn't imagine life without his adventuresome spirit, tolerant attitude, and big goofy smile. We couldn't have picked a better little brother for Hampton. What a true gift God has given us....we love you to pieces, Harrison!


Angel Breakfast

Our church does an Angel Breakfast for the church and MDO little ones each year. Only for little children, they sing Christmas songs, read a Christmas story, and have a yummy breakfast for the littles & their families. There are also Angels walking around, and you get to take your photo with them. Hampton had a great time and so did we, since we got to sit and catch up with lots of our friends! What a great kickoff to the season and a great reminder of what the season is truly all about!


Christmas Parade

 This weekend was the annual Gulf Shores Christmas Parade & Beach Party. It's always fun...filled with boats riding down the road and "throws" like in a Mardi Gras parade. This year, we went to a pre-parade party at our friends' house that live within walking distance from the parade route. The littles ran around and played while the grownups enjoyed hot cocoa, coffees & conversation. Afterward, we walked down to the parade, where we met up with P&J. We enjoyed the parade, then everyone trekked down to the beach to see the camels, goats, donkeys, and geese, as well as Frosty, Rudolph, the Grinch, and the main man...Santa! There were several bounce houses & lots of beautiful lights to see. What a great time!


Closed for Christmas

 As of last night at midnight, The Monogrammed Monkey is officially closed for the holidays. Thank goodness! We are so unbelievable grateful for the business we've been blessed for this year, but stressed doesn't quite describe the way we've been feeling lately! Of course, just because we're not taking any more orders doesn't mean we're finished. As of this morning, we have 128 customers (most with multiple items) that are waiting on their orders to be finished and shipped. We keep telling ourselves to just breathe and take it one at a time!

We are looking forward to finishing everything up so we can enjoy all of the other fun things we have planned this month. Several parties, advent fun, cookies to bake, gifts to wrap, a little more shopping, and oh, yeah........2 babies to wrangle! Especially since Master Harrison is quite the adventurer. He went "missing" the other day, but we found him playing with his tub toys. In the tub.


Pile It On

Grandpa & Granny have a huge yard with lots of trees, which this time of year means lots of leaves. And so Hampton & Harrison got to enjoy one of the joys of childhood....jumping in the leaf piles! They raked them, rolled in them, squished them, and put them in their mouths (that last one was mostly Harrison). Most importantly, they had a blast being outside in the fall air!



North Pole Breakfast

We welcomed Telly, our elf, back this year with our annual North Pole breakfast. With special goodies like chocoalte milk and snow-covered powdered sugar to eat, we gathered around and had a little early holiday party with Telly. He's so thoughtful that he even brought the boys a couple of gifts to get them in the holiday spirit!


Weekend Update

This weekend was craziness! Here are a few of the things we packed in:

Our first Thanksgiving night shopping spree. Lets just say we crossed it off our bucket list & now we never have to do that again!

Bo stood for hours in line to score cheap Hangout Festival tickets.

We went to a fun birthday party for Hamp's little friend Lucas

We decorated the house (mostly)

Tanner & Randi slaved on monogramming orders

We got Hampton ready for his first day back to school in like two weeks!


Thanksgiving Day 2012

 We had a very low-key & wonderful holiday this year, celebrating at Grandpa & Granny's house. Grandi joined us (Granddaddy was in TN helping his mom put on a spread), and we had a delicious meal of Bo's smoked turkey, as well as dressing & macaroni & cheese recreated from Tanner's Grandmother's recipe. Add in all the sides & desserts made by Randi & Jan, and we had one major meal! We were all too stuffed to even have seconds...that's pretty bad on our favorite meal of the year!

We had a great time watching the parade, a tradition Tanner's family has been doing since she was little, as well as playing outside, looking through the stacks of Black Friday ads, and catching a little bit of the dog show while playing trains. We got some great photos, especially since the weather was amazing and the trees were gorgeous! Here are a few of our favorite photos. Hope everyone had as wonderful of a day as we did!


Happy Turkey Day!

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever."--Psalm 118:29