Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Lunch Tripple Date

Amy, Joe, Katie, Denny, Mr. Howard, and I went out to BJ's for lunch yesterday and had such a great time! I am so blessed that Amy's home is up here, so I get to see her twice as often (when I go down to Southern California and when she comes up here to Northern California) as some of my other So Cal friends. I love her sooo much! And just like always, I forgot to get a photo of us, so I've included a recent one of Amy, Kylie, and Joe instead.

**Thanks Mom for babysitting!**

Sushi & Harry Potter

My sister, Mr. Howard, and I headed out for some sushi on Wednesday night and then headed off to the new theatre by our house to see Harry Potter. My wonderful Mom babysat for us so that we could go and enjoy the movie.

Our relationship with Harry Potter started in High School. We watched the first movie in college together, the second movie in 2002 together, the third movie in 2004 in Alabama with Mr. Howard's parents, the fourth movie in 2005, the fifth movie on the first day of our honeymoon in 2007, the sixth movie on our first date after Connor was born in 2009, and finally the seventh movie last Wednesday in 2010. We can't wait for the eighth movie!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Our Family Thanksgiving

We spent Thanksgiving at my parents' house this year with Katie and Denny, my mom and dad, Mr. Howard (yes, he had the day off...the first Thanksgiving we've spent together in 10 years), Connor, Colin, Rebecca, and me.

I actually left my camera at home, so I missed out on taking photos. These were the ones we took on our iPhone. **The hat was something Connor made in daycare. Isn't it the most adorable thing!!**

In addition to adding to all of our waistlines, we were also productive and got our family Christmas Card photos done (not the ones I send out...but the ones my parents send out)!

I hope you all had such a wonderful holiday!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

So Very Thankful

I was talking to my sister yesterday who wondered how I felt about everyone writing notes of condolences about Cole on my blog and facebook and wondered if it made me sad every time I went on. And I realized that I have never blogged about how unbelievably thankful I am. I can see how it might make someone sad or remind them of the loss, but the benefits for me FAR OUTWEIGH the negatives. I can genuinely say that there wasn't a single facebook message, email, or blog message that I didn't genuinely smile about. I was soooooo overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and prayers for us and continue to be in awe. Every single time I got a notification on my phone that someone had posted on my wall or sent me a message, I read every word, lingering on the overarching message: that we were being thought of, prayed for, and most of all, loved!!!! What a wonderful world we live in!

I am soooooo thankful for every single teeny tiny message, email, text, and phone call we got. There truly are no words.

What I'm Thankful For, 2010 Edition

My Husband

Our Beautiful One and A Half Year Old
Being able to hold Cole before we said goodbye

Our Family



Our Amazing Friends






Connor's Preschool AKA Connor's Second Mom & Dad

Our Puppies

Our Health & The Ability to Get Pregnant Again

Teaching 7th Grade/Having a Job



Our Beautiful Home/Having a place to sleep

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mmmm...I love to cook

I have been on a cooking kick lately. I mean I always cook, but I've been excited to try new things lately. (I've linked the recipes I found online...the others are recipes I found and modified. I can send them to you if you want, but I don't have the ability to include a word document on here).

Here are just a few of the new recipes I've made in the past few weeks:
Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
Mom's Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken Terryaki and Brown Rice
On My To-Make List

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mr. Howard's Car Accident

The Howards have had our fair share (plus some) of car accidents. Those of you who know us, know that we have had horrible luck when it comes to car accidents. I included the photo below of my head on collision with a suspected drunk driver who hit me and RAN AWAY (ditched their car and RAN...like on foot)! So it shouldn't be terribly shocking that Mr. Howard was in a car accident recently.

A few weeks ago he was driving from one store to another while working and was actually the third car in an accident. A woman hit a man and pushed his car into Mr. Howard's minicooper. The woman was a bit crazy. She was yelling at everyone: telling Mr. Howard and the other guy that they knew each other and they were trying to pull one over on her. She admitted to causing one accident, but she swore that the other guy randomly ran into Mr. Howard. They even had to call a police officer to respond because they were worried she would deny it. When the police officer arrived, she yelled at him and told him that Mr. Howard and the other man were in cahoots.

It has been such a pain because the insurance company took a long time to find the woman at fault (obviously they had to investigate since their client was denying fault)! Then, on Monday, Mr. Howard dropped his car off at 8am at the dealership to have a claims agent take photos, etc. When Mr. Howard was getting off work at 2pm, he called, only to hear that they STILL hadn't even shown up. They didn't show up until 4:30pm. So...why did he drop it off at 8am?

It still isn't fixed. Now the claims agent and the dealership have to agree on a bid, then order the parts, THEN have him bring his car back in, give him a rental car, and send him on his way. Ick! WHAT A PAIN!! This has been a three week process! (Good thing it isn't serious damage...what would we have done for three weeks?)

The aftermath of the Hit & Run, Head-on Collision

Can Someone PLEASE Explain This to Me

Moms, this one is for you!

Really. How does a 16 month old child have more strength than me?

I have really beefed up in the upper arm department. Yes, there is one plus of carrying around a car seat with a baby, then carrying a 26 pound one year old, then a 30 pound 16 month old...you get the point. Needless to say, my arms have really toned up since pregnancy (good thing...because everything else has done the opposite).

So, how is it then that when it comes time to put him in the carseat and he doesn't want to go, that it takes ALLLLL my strength to wrestle him in? Really? Someone PLEASE explain this to me.

Guilty Pleasure

I enjoy watching the Real Housewives of Atlanta (if I'm being honest...I enjoy them all). But I was SHOCKED to see the scene where one of the characters, Phaedra, gives birth. The cameras capture that beautiful moment when she sees her baby for the very first time and says, “Gross!”

Really? That's her reaction? Do you know how many people in the world pray and pray that they'll get that moment...where they get to see their beautiful child for the very first time? Do you know what I would give to have that moment with Cole? And then she says "Gross." Shocking! Then, once she sees him all cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket, she says to the cameras “he just looked Chinese to me. But it was my baby because nobody else was in the operating room!”

Wow. No words. Really none.

Shoe Fetish

Connor is an equal opportunity provider when it comes to shoes. If he finds a pair of shoes, they will go on his feet!

I should warn you that in the last second of the video the dogs go NUTS because someone knocks on the door. I tried to end the video quickly, but it got a snippet of their barking.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Do you like Sweet Potato Casserole?


  Mr. Howard LOVES it...I mean, love, love, LOVES it and I don't...BUT I love any excuse to cook and try new things. We found Ruth's Chris famous recipe (if you like marshmallows in yours, you probably won't like this one...it isn't that kind of sweet potato casserole) and recreated it tonight as a test run for Thanksgiving. I think we found the perfect dish!! Mom, if you're reading this...we'll be bringing this dish on Thursday (a fresh batch, don't worry). We found the recipe HERE. I HIGHLY recommend trying this. Mr. Howard said it tastes EXACTLY like the restaurant version.

Yield: 12 side-dish servings or 9 dessert servings
 
 3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted, divided

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (see note)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs, well beaten


  1. Make the topping. In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour, pecans and 1/4 cup melted butter. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, granulated sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and the remaining 1/4 cup melted butter. Use a hand mixer to combine thoroughly; continue beating until smooth and fluffy.
  3. Pour sweet potato mixture into a buttered 9-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with topping.
  4. Bake 30 minutes, until topping is lightly browned and crunchy. Let cool 15 to 30 minutes before serving. (Topping remains very hot.)

Per side-dish serving: 310 calories; 14g fat; 6g saturated fat; 55mg cholesterol; 3g protein; 44g carbohydrate; 31g sugar; 3g fiber; 85mg sodium; 45mg calcium.

Note: To make 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes, boil, bake or microwave about 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 potatoes) until tender. When cool enough to handle, peel and then mash with a pastry blender or potato masher.

Shutterfly

We have literally done our Christmas cards through Shutterfly since 2004. And we have honestly never even searched for another place, because we are always thrilled with their selection. I already have the card picked out that I'll be ordering in a week or so for this year and I can't wait.

Right now Shutterfly is having a promotion where if you share a project on your webpage, you get a $25 gift card. I had so many projects to share, but I chose the one below because I can't believe how much Connor has grown since February. Weren't these cute?


Heart Stripe Red Valentine's Day Card
Unique party invitations and greeting cards by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Check out Shutterfly!!

Brothers

Dear Peta,

We've come so far since THIS post. My mommy and daddy have finally taught me the difference between loving touches and frantic hitting and waving. I continue to work on being nice to my brothers, but hope you can see the video proof below of my transformed behavior.

Faithfully,
Connor

Haircut

Connor got a matching Daddy Haircut on Thursday and he looks so handsome! It's short on the sides and spiky on the top (I know it's wet...so you can't see it very well here).
And don't ask me how Connor got that bruise on his head. I didn't even know it was there until we cut his hair (it was soo long, it covered his forehead). Such a boy!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Proud Wife...Again

Look at this boy goy! Another round of A's. Might I also add that these grades reflect the time before and after Cole passed away? While they did give him an extra week to make up assignments and allowed him to miss one class in each course, he had no other modifications. He still had to do all the work that the rest of the class had to do.

I continue to be impressed!! Let's go, baby...Get school done!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Survived

I survived my very first baby shower. I even smiled the whole time. I have to remember that most of the time pregnancies result in happy, healthy babies. I'm incredibly bummed however that I did not win the clothespin game. The funny thing was that I got out by saying, "I've been to 10 baby showers and have never won I'm determined to win this one!!" Stupid me!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Our Christmas Photos

After I began seeing friends posting on facebook about their Christmas cards being done, I realized that I had yet to even take our photos!! Normally, I have the photos done by October and ordered by early November (I think I have a pretty good excuse for being a bit behind this year). Thankfully our family photographer is easily reachable and I was able to book her on short notice to take them at Apple Hill today. **In case you're wondering...yes, we recreated THIS (above) pose for our xmas photo this year...hehe.**

Back in October when we were at the pumpkin patch, I began thinking about how I could include Cole in our Christmas photo this year. Obviously I can't hold him in the photo, but he's still our family member and I wanted to think of a creative way to honor him in a happy way. I thought about including one of the photos of Mr. Howard or I holding him on the card or even putting his footprints in the card. I settled on my favorite few ideas, but I wasn't sure how it would all come together.

Today we took the photos and I have to say that I came up with something I love. It's the perfect way to include him in our Christmas card this year in a way that is happy and loving. I can't wait for you all to see it! Thank you Katie Taylor Photography!!

**Several months ago, I was dreading taking these photos because I thought I was going to be fat and ugly (I seriously puffed up when I was pregnant with Connor in my last couple months). Now, what I would give to be fat and ugly and still PREGNANT. I have seriously learned my lesson.**

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Such is Grief


If I could update my facebook status with how I'm really feeling, instead of the cute little snippets of life we all include, it'd be "Mrs. Howard is grieving, terribly."

Each day seems so different.

Such is grief.

There are days when I wake up and think about dishes and cleaning and how I'm going to explain essential and non-essential modifiers to my 7th graders. But today I woke up and felt empty. My belly is empty. How did that happen? My baby came too soon. How did that happen? My pregnant friends are feeling kicks, getting ultrasound photos, finding out the gender of their babies, and having their baby showers. And I held my dead baby in my arms and planned his funeral. How did that happen?

"I am lost inside a broken heart."

Such is grief.

Everyone has moved on. And I haven't. How did that happen?

I act strong. I talk about him constantly. I think about him 50 times a day. I cry in the shower. I pray and pray and pray and pray that I'll wake up. I pray even harder that I won't. I want him back. I don't want to be told that this was meant to be. I don't want to be told that he's in a better place.

Such is grief.

On Monday I would have been in my third trimester. Instead I'm empty and sad.

**I had a great cry and feel a lot better! I guess I just need you to know that while I act strong, I am human.**

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Some Good News with Some Bad

The Good News: Mr. Howard has no cysts in his kidneys! While I do have some cysts (two small ones), they are not consistent with Polycystic Kidney Disease. Generally by 30, if I had PKD, I would have at least two cysts filling both kidneys. Two tiny cysts in one kidney are not reflective of someone my age with PKD. This clears us from Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease.

The Bad News: While they were there doing ultrasounds, they found an angiomyolipoma (a benign tumor) in one of my kidneys. People with these generally have tuberous sclerosis (a disease that can affect a lot of areas), but they do not think I have that disease based on a lack of any other symptoms. So, they have scheduled me an MRI to check on it and then they will monitor me every year to see if the angiomyolipoma is growing or getting worse. There are some concerns because my paternal grandmother had kidney cancer, so of course they'd like to monitor me and make sure that this tumor is static and isn't affecting anything else. In the event that it is growing or it causes hemorrhaging, I will have to have it surgically removed.

The Indifferent News: The lack of cysts in the kidneys still does not clear us from being carriers of PKD. It is still possible that we have the Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease. HOWEVER, the doctor's feel comfortable calling what Cole had Multicystic Dysplastic Kidney Disease (and not PKD). We have a 25% chance of conceiving a baby with kidney disease.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sixteen Months Old

Firsts:

  • My mom asked him for a kiss and he made the kiss noise and leaned forward towards her. He then went around and "gave us all kisses!"
  • I asked Connor to "touch Mama's nose" and he did!!
New Words:
  • Nose
  • Rain
  • Kitty
  • He repeats EVERYTHING you say. But in terms of the words he uses on his own, without any prompting, he added three new words this month.
New Signs Introduced
  • We're still working on "Please"
New Teeth:
  • Molar on his upper right
Funny Stories
  • He loves shoes. He'll put on anybody's shoes he can find, including Mommy's high heels. He also loves purses. In Europe we'd give him a purse because he loves pulling everything out of it. He loves putting objects in the purse and then dumping it over and throwing the contents of everything on the ground. The funny thing is when he combines his love of putting on Mommy's heels and wearing Mommy's purse. =)
  • He was afraid of the pumpkin. Literally afraid. He was shaking when we started carving it. Who's afraid of a pumpkin?
Photos
"My Little Brother is In Heaven"
 Ridign the Tractor
 New Skill: Jumping From Couch to Couch
 Standing next to the Tree (from the Handl's) we Planted in honor of Cole Jayden

Saturday, November 6, 2010

10 Years

I think my facebook update says it all:

Mrs. Howard met the love of her life 10 years ago. A wedding, a cross-state move, lots of different schools, several jobs, loss, happiness, lots of kisses, a million "I Love You's," and two babies later we're still together. Here's to the next 10 years! Thank you Rafael for introducing us!

Photographic Proof that we've been together since we were babies (**and that I dye my hair blonde...shhhhh**)!

Our First Picture EVER
Our first beach trip
 Look how tiny I was:
 Our first Disneyland Trip
 Our first Alabama Trip
 Our first graduation (Mr. Howard's High School Grad)
 Prom:


Ultrasounds

On Monday, Mr. Howard and I are getting ultrasounds done on our kidneys. Please pray that we have no cysts.

**I had to include a little Harry Potter humor**

National Kidney Foundation

Every year my mom, sister, and I attend the Author's Luncheon (a fundraiser for the National Kidney Foundation). Here's our 2008 visit and our 2007 visit. Every year I leave the luncheon wanting to read every single author. Last Saturday, there were a few authors I really loved: Amy Krouse Rosenthal (the children's book author of Duck! Rabbit!) and Michael Tucker and Jill Eikenberry (see photo below).

This year the whole experience seemed a little more close to home, as Cole passed away from Multicystic Dysplastic Kidney Disease. Only one in 10,000 are affected with MCDK in both kidneys (like Cole), but 1 in 4300 are affected with MCDK in one kidney. Usually people with MCDK must have their infected kidney removed and sometimes need a kidney transplant (one of the National Kidney Foundation's missions is to help with transplantation).


We forgot to get a photo of my mom, sister, and me. =(

Pumpkin Carving

On November 3rd, while everyone else was taking down their Halloween decorations, our family was carving pumpkins (see this post). Here are a few videos:





Pumpkin Carving!
 We managed to get Connor in his costume and snapped a photo real quick!
 He started to like it!
 Pumpkin Seeds
 The result:
We only carved one because we were both so tired!

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