Thursday, March 31, 2011

Not Good

Well, today we received some not so good news. It turns out what the doctors originally thought was a dark spot that had nothing to do with the kidneys, does in fact have to do with the kidneys. It turns out Aiden has an entire kidney filled with cysts.

Wow. So many emotions. So many questions. So many "why's." Everything was so different with Cole. With Cole, while we felt like we had choices, in the end we knew God had made up his mind. We knew Cole would not survive. He was in renal failure. His kidneys were both filled with cysts and were not functioning. It was only a matter of hours or minutes.

This is different. There is hope, but with hope comes fear...comes uncertainty...comes a false sense of control. I am kind of holding it together and kind of a wreck and a whole lot of "all over the place." So bear with me as I try to give you a sense of what this all means.

What this means for Aiden: It could mean nothing. You can function with only one kidney. But it's still early and there is a possibility that Aiden could develop cysts in the other kidney and lose function. Of course, the other possibility is that he is born with absolutely no health problems whatsoever.

One of my first questions was if this means, now given this new information, that I most likely have polycystic kidney disease (a genetic disease they believed I did not have). The answer to that was basically that they could not answer the question. When I clarified, "Given the fact that I have now had two children with cysts in their kidneys and the fact that I have two small cysts in one of my kidneys, is it likely that I have polycystic kidney disease?" The doctor said, "That would be a logical assumption." Neither the geneticist, nor the perinatologist would give me any definitives, but let's be honest here, it isn't looking good.

This leads me to Aiden, Isabella, and Connor...if I have polycystic kidney disease and it is genetic, they have a chance of having it as well. Connor will need to be tested (I asked for Connor to have an ultrasound on his kidneys). Isabella will need to be monitored. Aiden may have to have surgery, dialysis, or worse.

I know I will go through a million and five emotions, but right now I am angry. Very. I was convinced that this was behind us. And having lost a baby before, it is virtually impossible for me to not go there with Aiden and that isn't fair to him.

What I'm about to write, I will write because it is what I am feeling. But I will definitely erase it when Aiden joins us and is beautiful and healthy. I actually asked Mr. Howard whether or not we should buy a second crib. I so do not want to go there, but how do you not?

Lots of prayers please!

Date Night


On Sunday Mr. Howard and I went to a movie (see THIS post about how we're so lucky to get babysitting). My wonderful, loving, gracious, fabulous mama watched Connor for us.

After our crazy Saturday, you might remember me saying I needed a vacation from my husband instead of with him. But anyone who's been married or together long enough, knows that you push through those emotions and make the best of the time you have together. For Mr. Howard and me, that time is quite limited due to his work schedule, so it's even more important to make the time. And, of course, how can anyone not enjoy a date?!?

I am so excited and overjoyed to have the twins join us, but I think about how it will affect us often. Of course, it will be even more important for us to have date nights, but how often will we really get them? Who's going to want to watch 3 little ones two and under?
We went to see Beastly. It wasn't the best movie I've ever seen, by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a cute little romance movie. I felt the way I do after I watch a Disney movie.

23 Weeks

Sleep
It's hit or miss. I'm still not a fan of sleeping on my side, but it's going by so quickly.

My Size/Development
I was just referred to the High Risk program offered by my hospital automatically because next week I will be 24 weeks pregnant. From here on out, I will receive weekly appointments on the phone with a nurse and extra stress tests with my normal OB office. I'm so glad they take this precaution in terms of the risk of preterm labor (see the random twin fact at the end).

The Babies' Size/Growth
The babies' pancreases are becoming functional and insulin production has already begun.

Excitement
Today I get to see my babies. We have the ultrasound to check on Aiden's dark spot. Please pray that everything is okay. Next Tuesday I have my first appointment with my regular OB (she went on maternity leave a few days after Cole was born) and I am excited to see her finally. I need to find out what her position is on inducing (my other doctor's policy was that he would order an induction after 37 weeks because of the risk of the something happening to the placenta...that and the fact that you're GINORMOUS).

Next week will be a huge milestone. The babies will have reached viability!!!!

Random Twin Fact
At least half of twins are born before 37 weeks and with low birth weights, making them at high risk of serious health problems and death.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hard

A friend recently posted on her facebook that being married is hard!!! It is definitely hard...rewarding, but hard. When I was a little girl I used to dream of a husband who would just intuitively know what to do...what I needed...what I wanted without me saying it. Of course, I learned real quickly that not saying what you want and then expecting ANYONE (let alone your partner) to know what it is that you're thinking, is just plain ridiculous. And certainly isn't going to create a healthy marriage.

So, how do you find the balance? How do you tell your partner what you want and need without complaining or "nagging?" This has been my struggle for 10 years.

A friend once said to me, "You're so lucky you have a husband who helps you!" and I was offended. I know she meant it as a compliment to Mr. Howard, but it hurt me. Why am I lucky that I chose a partner in my life who contributes? Isn't that something we should all have? Would a friend ever say to Mr. Howard, "You're so lucky you have a wife who helps take care of the house and kids?" Doubtful.

Do I feel blessed to have a man who wants to contribute? Yes. Do I thank God that he is the partner that was chosen for me. Yes! Do I think of ways I can be a better wife and mom? Yes. Do I feel I deserve the partner that I got? Sometimes, no. But, I hope he feels the same way about me! There is no luck.

I've heard this song on the radio a million times, but today I'm feeling it more than ever. Isn't that what marriage feels like some days?

So today, when I'm feeling like instead of a date night with my husband, I need a vacation from my husband...I ask you...how do you do it all? Keep the house clean? Feed your family nutritious food? Stay calm? Stay organized? Run errands? Pay bills? Keep your husband happy? Keep your children happy? And manage to keep yourself happy in the process?

I certainly don't have the answers, but I know that in the moments that are hard, I try to focus on the 10 years...focus on the love...focus on the good...and perhaps that is what separates couples like us from couples who get divorced after a few months or years of marriage. Despite the frustration and the work, I still feel this way...

And at the end of the day, there isn't anyone I'd rather dance with in the minefields!

New Phase

Connor is in this new phase lately where he loves to give kisses and I LOVE IT!!! Before he tells us "night night," he's already puckering up and making kissing noises for us to give him kisses. When Mr. Howard gets home from work and I greet him with a kiss, Connor will come running across the room to get one too.

Yesterday he actually wanted to cuddle with me and then asked me for a kiss out of nowhere. Cuddling and Connor don't normally go in the same sentence, so I am ecstatic!
 Can you see the little shelf the babies have formed for their big brother to sit on my belly?! What lucky little siblings - already getting smashed by their big brother!
We are currently battling this screaming "No!!" stage too. Anyone else go through this? We tried time-out for a few weeks, but it happens so many times a day - dare I say maybe 40...that I felt like time-out was sending the wrong message. I'm trying a new strategy of just staying really calm in my voice and saying, "Please don't yell at mama and daddy." He stops almost immediately and does something different. It doesn't always correlate to making him do something he doesn't want to do, either. Sometimes he'll just shout it out randomly. It's usually at full volume and usually has this particular face that goes along with it. Thankfully he hasn't done it in public. Any ideas? What's worked for you?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Uncle Colin

My brother, Colin, came to visit for almost a whole week. Connor was in heaven having an extra person to play with. Of course, Mr. Howard, was also in heaven having his friend visit.

We only had our iPhone, so these photos aren't the best quality, but I think they capture the moment!



Connor was a bit grumpy before bed, but we still had to snap a photo!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

22 Weeks

Sleep
It is still spotty. Some days are worse than others. I've also been getting leg cramps at night, so on nights when I can finally sleep, I'll get woken up by a cramp. Ha!

My Size
I have felt better lately. When I was pregnant with Connor (in the last few months) I felt HUGE, but proportionate to the stage and size of the babies. In this pregnancy, I've just felt huge. But I'm starting to feel it catching up to me. I guess I'm just a little more in my own skin. I love it when people tell me I'm not big...it's like, you have either COMPLETELY forgotten what I looked like before...or you're telling me I'm about to get a WHOLE LOT bigger...neither of which are exactly reasurring. Hehe! Can I just tell you, though, that I have embraced this with my whole heart. With Connor I was self conscious and embarassed a bit about my growing size - especially as my face started to catch up with the rest of me. But in this pregnancy, I am embracing it. This is more than likely the last time I will ever be pregnant and I am determined to find beauty in the new stretch marks, uncomfortable sleeping, and rib jabs. How lucky am I to be able to carry a baby? Thank you Cole for teaching me to be thankful for what I have and to appreciate EVERYTHING.

The Babies' Size/Growth
They are beginning to look more like newborns but only weigh about 1 pound each. They are about 11 inches each. Pretty soon here their growth will not keep up with that of a singleton baby, but for a few more weeks they're still on track.

Excitement
Next week is our scheduled ultrasound to follow up on Aiden's dark spot (remember the dark spot they found on the ultrasound at 18 weeks? They want to make sure it isn't anything of concern).

Random Twin Fact
"82% of multiples are delivered via c-section, while 5% are delivered vaginally. The rest are delivered both by c-section and vaginally." I am not a fan of this fact. Of course, I will absolutely do what is best for the babies' health, but after having two babies vaginally, I would really like to have these without a c-section. I know everyone has their own opinions and good experiences, but for me, I'd prefer not to have to heal from a surgery. And the thought of having to do both?!? ICK!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Be Careful What You Say

Connor's Crib Tent
Yesterday I was JUST posting that we were thankful for the crib and were going to keep Connor in there once the twins arrive and...what do you know? By naptime he was proving me to be a liar.

I was sitting on the couch, enjoying a quiet moment when all of a sudden, out walks Connor. I had a moment where I thought, "Oh, hello..." followed by a "WHAT? WAIT???? HOW DID YOU GET OUT????" Oh yes, Connor crawled out of his crib, opened his door, and just walked out as if nothing had happened. I thought it might have been a fluke so I tried putting him back. We spent an hour doing a test of wills...who would win? The mama desperately needing her big boy to take a nap? Or the toddler wanting his freedom. And so it went...I'd pick him up, put him back in his crib, and close the door. He'd hop out of the crib and walk out of the room. I then spent the next hour desperately researching contraptions designed to keep Connor in his crib. Walmart, online, said they had some in stock at a store 45 minutes away and so I hopped in the car, desperate for Connor to take a nap. At that point panic started to sink in too. What would happen if I couldn't find it? What if he woke up in the middle of the night and got our knives out? What if he walked out the front door?

Walmart, sadly, did not have what I needed. I walked around for over 30 minutes desperately searching the aisles for the contraption I knew I could not leave without...all with a VERY grumpy and IN DIRE NEED of a nap baby. The lady at Walmart was the most unhelpful human I've encountered (but isn't that how it always is? When you need something and your life depends on it...no one can help you). She basically told me that she had never heard of it and went back to stocking the shelf. When I pulled out my iPhone and SHOWED her the walmart website and the screen saying that it was in stock, she walked over and searched the aisle, "Yeah. I don't see it," she said coolly. "DON'T YOU HAVE A COMPUTER YOU CAN LOOK IT UP IN?" I said...extreme desperation seeping from my tone! "Nope, sorry...." and back she went to stocking the shelf.

By the time I got to my mom's house and started calling stores, I was in full-blown disaster mode. Now I was thinking I was never going to take a nap again (lest you judge, remember I'm pregnant...and hormonal...and had a son who didn't take a nap...) My first phone call was to Babies-r-Us where the woman asked me what I wanted the crib tent for. When I told her I wanted it to keep my son in his crib, she said "That was NOT what it was designed for. It was designed to keep cats out, not kids in." And then proceeded to tell me that they were recalled and I wouldn't find it anywhere. I had a sneaking suspicion that she was against crib tents and may not have been accurate - afterall, if they were recalled, why could I buy one on Babies-r-Us's website right away? Clearly she doesn't have a toddler trying to escape from his crib onto hardwood floor and potentially wreaking havoc on the house.

My next phone call was to Goores where the very helpful woman told me she'd see if they had any in the store. She came back on the phone and said there was ONE left. Thankfully, my husband went on his lunch break and picked it up minutes after she told me there was one left.

Last night we put it on the crib (at 11pm when we got home) and it worked!!! Hallelujah!!

P.S. I pulled up the website with the crib tent and would like to call the Babies-r-us employee back because here is a direct quote from the site, "Our deluxe Cozy Crib Tent not only prevents climbing and falling...it keeps little limbs from getting stuck between crib rails!" Ummm....not what it was designed for? Perhaps she needs to inform the manufacturers of the product itself!

Final Score - Mama: 1. Connor - 0. Walmart - 0. Babies-r-us - O.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Casey

Mr. Howard's friend of twelve years came to stay with us for a few days and Connor had fun being one of the boys!

Our Little Mountain Man!

A friend recently asked me if Connor is a wild child. Of course, I have nothing to compare it to. He is my one and only (here with me, anyway). BUT, having said that, all I can compare him to are the stories I hear from others. Connor is the type of child who, if you run to the trash to throw away the diaper you just changed, will pull the drawers out of the kitchen, use them as a step ladder, and be standing on the kitchen counter in mere seconds. Daycare says he just runs and runs in circles!

So here is video proof of what 2 minutes is like with our little, handsome monster. Notice I don't react when he falls; I assure you this is not because I don't worry or care. It is simply that he is so all over the place and is constantly taking dives off of everything and never gets hurt. He is definitely a boy's boy!
video
Can you see why we plan on keeping him in a crib once the twins arrive? Can you imagine what he would do to his Big Boy room if he woke up before we went to get him? Eeek!

Our Little Drummer

We love American Idol at our house and so does Connor! We got out his "Drum and Maraca" set from Uncle Colin and had some fun. You can also watch him test his boundaries with me at the end. Isn't being a mama a test of strength?!?
video
I know I've said this before, but Mr. Howard was a drummer in a marching band for 5 years, so Connor has some big shoes to fill if he chooses that route for himself!

Connor also discovered that the "drum" makes a really fun toy to push up against your face. =) Hillarious!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Our Little Irish Boy!!

He fits in with the Irish side of his heritage pretty well with his strawberry blonde hair. At least he has one tiny feature of mine! The rest is all Mr. Howard. =)

I made Corned Beef tonight for the first time and I'll write a post about how it came out!

Meet Our Little Ones

**Obviously they're not here yet, but we have finally decided on names!**

Isabella Lynn Howard
This is our beautiful baby girl's name! It is Hebrew for "God's promise," which was unintentional (Mr. Howard and I just fell in love with the name while we were in high school), but so fitting. When Cole passed away, I feel like God promised us that everything was going to be okay. I love that she will have the professional name of Isabella if she chooses, but then can have a bunch of nicknames to choose from - Ella, Bella, Izzy, Belle!

Aiden Patrick Howard
"Aiden" is of Gaelic origin and it means "little fire." If he is anything like his big brother, Connor, then we are all in for it! We thought it fits him perfectly as he is Baby A. If I deliver without a c-section, he will be the little bundle of joy we welcome first into the world. And, really, he'll have to have a little fire in him to have a twin sister his whole life. His middle name was the name we struggled with. We wanted something strong and something that fit with Aiden and when we heard Patrick, we thought it fit as I've always had a hard time giving up my maiden name: Kirkpatrick. It will be as if he has a little of the Kirkpatrick name in him.

We loved that Baby A will be Aiden and Baby B will be "Bella." Obviously this was not done on purpose, but it fits, doesn't it?

21 Weeks

Sleep
Holy Moly! My hips!! For a while my back was killing me at the end of the day. That has decreased a bit since I started sleeping with a pillow in between my legs. It must take the pressure off my back enough to let me relax at night before I start the day over again. But now my hips are KILLING me. It makes it very difficult to roll over at night and to sleep (since I'm supposed to be sleeping on my sides). Connor wasn't feeling great the last few nights and woke up close to 8-9 times. I was suddenly reminded of what having a newborn will be like (with the slight difference that of course, when I have a newborn I won't have to get up, shower, blow-dry my hair, dress up, and function all day...hehe).

My Size
Last Thursday my fundal height was close to 30cm (for moms of singletons...that equates to 30 weeks pregnant).

The Babies' Size/Growth
Their babies' arms and legs are becoming more proportionate to their body, and their skin is getting less and less transparent.

Excitement
I am feeling movement so much more. I still rarely feel Baby Girl. But last night for the first time, when I was laying on my right side, I felt her. It felt as if she was cradled in the side of my belly that was on the bed. I have a big ultrasound on the 31st to check the dark spot they found at my Level 2 Ultrasound last month and I'm going to ask them to look at my placenta to see if that's why I can't feel her.

Random Twin Fact
"Studies have shown that mothers who gain about 24 pounds by week 24 have reduced their chances of giving birth either prematurely or to low birth-weight babies." With my 11 pound weight gain by 20 weeks, I doubt I will gain 13 pounds in 2 more weeks. Let's kinda hope not... for my thighs' sake! For twins, a person is supposed to gain between 31-54 pounds (31 is on the low side of a pre-pregnancy overweight mother and 54 is on the high side of a pre-pregnancy healthy-normal weight mother).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

If my Daughter...

If my daughter is ANYTHING like the 13 year old girls that I encounter on a daily basis, I am seriously in for it!!

Daily I have to remind myself that this is a phase and that someday they will look back at how they spoke to me and be mortified (Mom, if you're reading this, I am seriously sorry! I know that you will probably hear a lot more apologies when Isabella is a teenager, but for now...seriously, I am so sorry!!!!)

Why is it that when girls become teenagers they think they need to test every single boundary? Roll their eyes? Sigh? Do they think that we haven't been there and done that? Do they think that it wouldn't be easier in life if we just did that to people in the real world? Don't like what your boss says, that's okay, just roll your eyes and sigh? Don't like that you have to pay your mortgage on time? That's okay, just roll your eyes and sigh and cross your arms over your chest like the person is the most boring person on the planet? That will work!! That will get you what you want!

Alright, sarcastic Mrs. Howard has taken over, but seriously! Today at work, my patience was tested times 10. The young lady told me that she speaks to her mom this way too and I wanted to die. "How's that working out for you?" I asked. "Is it getting you the results that you want?" To which, of course she replied that she does not have a great relationship with her mom. Hmmmmm?!

I love my job! I love my job! I love my job! Right? On a day like today, I'm just going to keep repeating that until I start to believe it. =)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What I am/not Loving!

What I'm not loving: Losing an hour of sleep!

What I am loving: It's 8:10am and Connor is still fast asleep!!! (He normally wakes up at 6am, so even with the time change, this is an extra hour of sleep!)

What I'm really loving: Going through all the photos my friend Diana took of Connor and Sophia a few weeks ago (see this post). There are SOOO many to post, so I'm having to narrow it down.

Look at them sweeping!
So cute!
Whenever Connor tries to feed you something, he opens his mouth. We must do that when we're trying to get HIM to eat something. =)
Sippy Cup Fun
Let's see what tiny spaces we can crawl in
So cute! Diana don't you want more babies? Hehe!
What a lucky friend I am to have someone watch my son AND take adorable photos!!

What I'm REALLY NOT loving: Mr. Howard got into a car accident this morning. He's fine, but it took several hours to get a rental car all set up, tow truck, claim with insurance, and it's Sunday so we're having to drive to the airport (like 35 minutes away) to get a rental because nowhere else is open! Ick!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Doctor Appointment Update

I thought I was going to have an appointment with my doctor who was supposed to be back from maternity leave, but they rescheduled me with a nurse practioner. I explained that I haven't been able to feel Baby Girl at all, but I HAVE been able to feel Baby Boy all the time. She said that was totally normal and it could be placenta placement or it could just be where she is in general. But to appease me, she asked if I'd like an ultrasound...to which I happily and eagerly replied "YES!!" You do realize this means that I have had an ultrasound at every single appointment so far? What a lucky mama I am!

I am measuring close to 30 cm (for a singleton baby this would be 30 weeks). So, I'm right on track for where I should be.

I have gained 11 pounds...which sounds like a lot, but the nurse said, "Oh perfect! That's a perfect amount!" I bet she says that to women who've gained 20 too. =)

Baby Boy:
Baby Girl
Baby A & B's Heads


20 Weeks


Sleep
Shall I say it again? I am NOT a fan of side sleeping. I am also having crazy dreams and as fun as it is sometimes, it is downright annoying other times. How many times can you dream about Wendy's? Why am I even dreaming about that anyway?

My Size
I'll know for sure at my appointment today at 4pm! Let's pray that whatever size I am, the babies are healthy.

The Babies' Size/Growth
At 20 weeks hair on the scalp is sprouting and sensory development evolves rapidly. The nerve cells serving each of the senses - taste, smell, hearing, seeing, and touch - are now developing in their specialised areas of the brain. Nerve cell production slows down as existing nerve cells grow larger and make more complex connections.

Excitement
I have a doctor's appointment today. I'm hoping to talk to them about how I'm having a hard time feeling the baby at the top (baby girl). I have always struggled to feel her since I first starting feeling them. I am thinking it might have something to do with the placenta placement, but I hate that I can feel him and not her.

Random Twin Fact
The average time between the delivery of the first and second twin is 17 minutes.
And because I think these photos are so cool:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

We Think We Have Two Names

We for sure have our girl name picked out...but we're struggling with another little boy. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be blessed with three little boys and a little girl - all to be blessed to name. And when you think about it, that's six boy names to come up with and agree on (first and middle). So...we're struggling a bit.

I debated about whether or not I was going to release the names before they were born, but I think I'm okay with it. Everything about this pregnancy is different - from finding out the babies genders - to the number of times we've seen them - to how fast they're growing and moving...so I think we're just going to go with the "different-ness" and commit all the way. I do not, however, want to tell you the names until we're sure...because as much as I love everyone who reads this blog, I do not want to hear how much you dislike the name we love. Hehe! When we were coming up with names for Connor, our family would say, "what ideas do you have?" I'd list a few names and I'd get, "Oh I LOVE ______" (thereby telling me they hated the other name). In fact, I heard that a lot with Connor's name. The conversation would go something like, "We're thinking Isabella Lynn and if it's a boy we're thinking Connor James," and they'd say, "Isabella is such a pretty name!"

So, instead of telling you what boy name we're thinking of...first, do you have any ideas? We're not going to give him the C.J. initials. We reserved that special privilege for our precious baby Cole. My dad has put in his two cents and would like us to name the boy Steve and the girl Stephanie (can anyone guess what his name is???).

And I'll make you a deal, I won't keep you hanging forever. I will post the names on Cole's Six Month birthday...March 17, 2011. It will be my little Happy Birthday gift for him. He is, afterall, becoming a big brother!! =)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Twenty Months Old

It's 2:14 in the morning and I can't sleep. As I was laying in bed trying to force myself back to sleep, I realized I didn't post Connor's 20 month update yesterday. Ooops! (Did you realize that Connor is 20 months old and I am 20 weeks pregnant?)

Firsts

  • Connor has been saying "Nana" a lot, but my mom never gets to hear it. Generally when I tell him Friday mornings that we're going to "Nana's" house, he'll repeat it. This past Friday, he repeated it several times in the car driving to her house. When we got to the door he even said "Nana!" But when we walked in and I asked him, "Who's that?" obviously referring to Nana, he shut down. I thought for sure he wasn't going to say it in front of her. I asked a second time and he was quiet for a second and then said, "Nana!" My mom FINALLY got to hear her name for the first time!!
New Words
  • Connor is talking a lot now. It's still hard to understand, but he repeats a lot of what you say. He also is understanding soo much now. I can give him simple commands, like "lift your foot," and he'll do it.
  • "Blanket" - he pronounces it "babbis." He trying to say, "blankie," but can't get the "k" sound.
  • "Baby" - he'll touch my tummy and say it. He's just copying me. I'm positive he has no idea that there really are babies in Mama's belly.
  • "Socks"...this word is only second to his FAVORITE word: "Shoe!"
New Signs
  • We're still working on thank you. When I sign "thank you," he signs "please," back to me.
Funny Stories
  • We've resorted to hillarious undertakings to get Connor's diapers and clothes to stay on. So far we've tried duct tape, double diapers (one facing forward, with one on top facing backwards), and double layering the onesies. I am pretty sure he is ready to be potty trained, but I am concerned about not being able to be home to do it. Additionally everyone I talk to with more than one kid, says that they revert back to "pre-potty training" days once a new baby comes. I'm thinking we can try in May/June. That will give us a few months before the babies arrive to get a headstart. If he reverts, we won't have invested too much time...and we'll still have the rest of summer.
Photos

Monday, March 7, 2011

Date "Night"

My mom, for Christmas, gave us a gift card to the movies with babysitting (you may remember me posting about this before) and so we've been planning one or two date nights a month before the twins arrive (and potentially before I have to go on bedrest). Yesterday was one of those date "nights."

We had lunch and saw Hall Pass, which was pretty darn funny. It seemed fitting for Mr. Howard and I to go see it, as it's about a married couple who've been together forever (not that either of us have ever asked for a hall pass...).

It was the PERFECT day to go see a movie too because it was rainy and stormy all day!

THANKS MOM!!! You're the best!!!! I know that it will be a lot harder once the twins arrive to do date nights and we sooo appreciate the time we get together!!!

**I really need to stop putting my face behind Mr. Howard's face when I take photos...I don't know what that's about!**

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Let's Get Clean

Rub-a-dub-dub
A Connor in a Tub


Connor's favorite time of the day: Bath Time!

Dear Duct Tape

Dear Duct/Masking Tape,

Thank you so much for providing me your sticky goodness to help keep my son's diapers on during the day. I don't know what I would do without you, as I would spend so much of my day cleaning up pee (and who knows what else) off my floors because of my naked baby. The ease with which you hold things up is awe inspiring. After a few practices, the ease with which I am able to strap you to my son's diaper makes for quick diaper changes, which makes for a happy mama and happy baby. I know that some day you will not be as effective because Connor will learn of your glorious application and removal; but for now, you are my new best friend.

Sincerely,
A Very Tired Mama!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Our Friday Fun Shirts

Have you ever looked at all the fun maternity shirts? Well, I have! And let me tell you, for every fun maternity shirt there is, there are10 fun maternity twin shirts. So I just couldn't resist. After our fabulous news and ultrasound, I just had to buy one for Mr. Howard and one for me. I'm thinking I'm going to order a few more. I would order EVERY single one if I had an unlimited budget...but...well...that would be a bit ridiculous!

Mr. Howard's 19 Week Photo:
 Mrs. Howard's Frontal 19 Week Photo:
My students LOVED my shirt and we even had a journal-write in the morning about what our superpowers are!!

Good News

For the first time in three years, I am FINALLY not being laid off. I am thankful my district saw the light and realized that they were going to have to hire me back again anyway, so what's the point?!? Unfortunately, of course, there are still a lot of teachers in my district (including my teaching partner) and the state of California who are going to be laid off, more than likely, just to turn around and be hired back again...at a different school and different grade level. It makes no sense and IT DEFINITELY IS NOT what is best for kids. I am thinking of those teachers tonight and really hoping that states will finally begin to stop balancing their budget by taking away funding from schools.

Remember the last few years? See this post and this one for posts about being laid off!

You've probably seen this a million times, but it's worth reposting:

Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year. It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit. We can get that for less than minimum wage.

That’s right. Let’s give them $3 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan– that equals 6 1/2 hours).

Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.

However, remember they only work 180 days a year. I am not going to pay them for any vacations.
LET’S SEE…That’s $585 X 180= $105,300 per year. (Hold on. My calculator needs new batteries.)
What about those special education teachers and the ones with master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.

Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here. There sure is.

The average teacher’s salary (nationwide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student– a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

19 Weeks

Sleep
Eek. I'm super sore...which makes sleeping difficult. Who knew your body could grow so darn quickly? Well, I'm sure other multiple moms knew, but I sure didn't. I'm glad I'm not octomom!

My Size
I have an appointment next week so I'll know exactly how big I'm measuring. But judging by the looks people give me when I tell them I'm due in July, I can tell I'm pretty big!! My teaching partner (a man...hehe) said I should be thankful I'm not measuring double my size. Gee thanks! I really feel ungrateful when I complain. I know how blessed I am, TRULY. And it is for that reason that I preface this with saying, I know what it is like to suffer from infertility and hear women complain or say things like, "Oh be glad you don't have a baby yet...I'm so exhausted and tired. Enjoy your single life!" And I know how hard it was to hear a single complaint from anyone because I took it as a direct insult. What I would have given to have a sore body or stretch marks. So, if you feel like you're in that place, I totally understand and advise you not to read this next part. I will also say that while I'm about to complain for one tiny second, I would NEVER take the alternative. I will gladly destroy my body for these little babies, because it is worth it in the end. There is nothing more magical then pregnancy and while it is hard at times, it is so rewarding. Whew! That was a mouthful. But it's been on my heart lately and I had to share.Okay, now the complaint:  My back is KILLING ME!!!!!!! I feel like my back is going to cave with all this new weight. I never experienced back pain in either previous pregnancy, so this is all new to me. But teaching and excruciating back pain don't really go hand in hand. Perhaps this is why teachers have to go out of work at 28 weeks. I joked with my students the other day (with 7th graders nothing really gets passed them, especially when you're hobbling across the room in sciatica pain and grimacing while you go) that I was going to stop at Home Depot and pick up one of those back braces the employees wear. Today when I arrived, a student, Shyann, said, "Mrs. Howard, I thought you were going to play the part of a Home Depot employee today! What happened?"
The Babies' Size/Growth
Each baby is about 5.2 - 6 inches long. That's 10.5-12 inches of baby! No wonder I'm so ginormous!!

Excitement
I love, love, love feeling the babies move! We bought bedding for the twins' room this past weekend: a pink crib set and a pale turquoise set. No doctor better tell me they're both boys! =)
Random Twin Fact
Eating yams may enhance your chance to conceive twins, as can living in the western part of the world compared to the east. Nigeria has the highest rate of multiple births and more identical twins. China has the lowest with the chance for multiple births averaging only one in 300. I can tell you that I DO NOT eat yams. Hehe!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Our Sorta BabyMoon

What is a babymoon, you may ask? A honeymoon is for right after you get married...and a babymoon is before you have a baby. Of course, ours wasn't very long, which probably disqualifies it somewhat AND we already have one baby, further disqualifying it from being a TRUE babymoon. We'll just call it a quasi babymoon.

My sister and Denny graciously agreed to take Connor Friday night and Saturday (my mom watched him on Friday and we left around 10am). We made a few stops in Vacaville for lunch at BJ's, the Motherhood Outlet store (where I got a sweater and two tank tops), and carters where we picked these up:



Aren't they adorable?

Then we headed down to Monterey for the evening! We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel (which is right downtown and on the water) and our room was heavenly!

After checking in and changing, we ate at a delicious restaurant that we've eaten at before (it used to have a different name though) called Cannery Row Brewing Company. Mr. Howard and I both loved our food, but what we loved even more was the dessert. We had FRIED DOUGH. Yep, you heard me!!! Only a girl who is pregnant could POSSIBLY order such a heinous dessert. Just the sound of it adds a few hundred calories to your thighs. It was basically gigantic krispy kream doughnuts that came out really hot and covered in sugar. MMMMMmmmm. It was pure heaven!!! And thank goodness my husband doesn't gain a single pound no matter what he eats and I am eating for three or else we would have been done for. =)
Our Room and The Adorable Sea Otters
 Almost Sunset
 Chilly Night
 Handsome Hubby
Afterwards, we walked around downtown Monterey and had an early evening in. We took a hot bath, sat by the fireplace and talked, and went to bed at some ridiculous hour (we MAY have made it to 8pm or somewhere around there). It was just perfect.

In the morning, we slept in until 8!!!! Wooo-hoo! After getting ready, we headed first to Starbucks for some decaf coffee for me and some caffeine for the hubby. Several people at Starbucks asked me when I was due and had the reaction of "WHAT? JULY?" until I said that there were two babies in there and they were relieved. Next we headed over to Carmel-by-the-Sea for breakfast at a tiny little restaurant called the Little Swiss Cafe. It was so adorable and seriously the size of maybe my kitchen. There was a line out the door with people waiting to get in, but we came at the perfect time. 

The incredibly vain side of me does not want to post the photo below because I have NO IDEA what on earth I'm doing with my face. I might have been laughing at the woman who told me her husband was still sleeping and she was out exploring on her own. 
 Can you tell why people were asking when I was due...
On our car ride home, we encountered two special names. The first was a street in Carmel-by-the-Sea that we found on our way out of town called Isabella Avenue. For more information about the significance of the name, click HERE.

Next we saw our beautiful angel's name: Cole Rd. but I couldn't get the camera out quickly enough. Mr. Howard sweetly asked if he wanted me to turn around, but I was eager to love on my Little Man Connor and didn't want to. So, we snapped a photo of his GPS.
I wish we had had more time in Carmel as it is seriously THE MOST adorable town, but alas, our quasi babymoon had to come to an end around noon.

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