Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Two Months Old

Ahhhh! How are they two months old? The outfits in these photos were supposed to be their coming home outfits. Too bad they weighed 4 pounds and would never-ever have fit in these (they're newborn size onesies).

First The Good News: I have successfully breastfed twins for TWO WHOLE MONTHS (not exclusively...I can't make enough milk). I am seriously impressed with myself.

Next The Bad News: I don't think I will be able to breastfeed them anymore. After going back to work, I am choosing not to pump. It's just so overwhelming and stressful; I don't have a place to do it that I feel I can let down; and I don't have a recess anymore now that I'm teaching 7th graders. So it would mean only pumping at lunch and I need my own break too. I am still pumping multiple times in the middle of the night, once before I go to bed, and once right when I wake up and then of course I nurse them whenever I can (I nursed Aiden today after work and then I'll try to nurse Isabella before I pump). It's a lot of work. A lot! There are days when I really get down on myself and feel guilty. But for the most part I'm just so impressed with myself. When they were in the NICU and I was pumping every 2 hours, I felt horrendous about the whole thing. I felt like I would hardly even make it a week, let alone 8 weeks!!
 Can you believe how much bigger Aiden is than Isabella? He's our little Macho Combo Burrito!
They're both still in newborn clothes and newborn diapers, but I can see Aiden moving ahead faster than Isabella (oh great...three different sizes clothes and diapers...do you sense my excitement?)!
Them side-by-side:

My Saturday

Some of my close friends received this text message Saturday (at least some of my friends who have iPhones and can receive loooong text messages)...

"Just when I start to think that I have this whole Mama thing down, Connor throws his poop all over the crib and while I'm cleaning him, Jake starts to eat the diaper, and not one but two babies start screaming for milk. So I'm nursing one baby while Connor's in the tub; the laundry is soaking in the washer; and I have the other baby all swaddled...and then someone rings the doorbell and both dogs start barking...causing all three babies to cry!"

Yep. True story.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Money

I'm going to do a taboo thing this morning and talk about something you're never supposed to talk about...money!

With three kids in daycare and two of them going through a total of 10-15 diapers a day (over 100 diapers a week with Connor included), money is tight. It was a huge jump going from a family of three to a family of five (with no job raise)! We're hoping that when Mr. Howard finishes his degree (in 4 months!!! wooo-hoooo!!!), he'll be able to get a job that will work better for our family.

In the meantime we've had to be creative in how we choose to spend our money. We still need to figure some stuff out, because honestly at this rate we're still going to be spending more than we make as a net total for the year. It is funny though because, I think, once we implemented some of the changes that we did, I'm not sure we'll go back.

One of the main things we did was to plan out our meals. I never was a conscious shopper. If I wanted grapes, we bought them. If I wanted a certain brand of chicken, we bought it. I never considered what was on sale or where I could get it cheaper. One HUGE change in our life has been a weekly trip to Costco. We avoided it before because (shhhh...don't tell), Mr. Howard works for a leading grocery store in the area and we felt like spending the extra money, helped support his company. And that was fine when we had the money.

This week's meals
We started small at Costco and have slowly gotten better. One thing that has been life changing in our budget is purchasing our meat in bulk at Costco. I was always super wary of this because it meant I had to freeze it. This made me super nervous. But now I have the hang of it. We buy all our chicken, pork, and ground beef there (as a tip for you Costco shoppers: steaks and salmon tend to be cheaper at the grocery stores), individually wrap them and package them and store them in the freezer. We also love smoothies at night for dessert and so we bought (Kathe helped with this when I was in the hospital with the twins) fresh strawberries and raspberries and froze them in mixed packs. Now when we want a smoothie, we just throw in one bag of fruit!

Planning out our meals means (a) we eat more healthy/balanced meals and (b) we avoid going out to "fast" food places for dinner and (c) we shop and plan based on what's on sale rather than what sounds good that night (for instance we're having corn on the cob Friday night because it goes on sale Friday - 7 ears of corn for $0.97) .

One thing I would love to figure out is how to include more vegetables in my diet. We do buy asparagus, artichokes, mushrooms, and bell peppers from Costco, but they go bad fast and there's so much. I'm not really sure about freezing vegetables...anyone have any advice on that? I refuse to be one of those savvy couponers/buy in bulkers who eats all processed foods (because those are the foods that tend to be on sale). So I still have some learning to do on the vegetable-side of things. I know we could grow vegetables, but let's just be honest - Mr. Howard and I both work full-time jobs and have three kiddos two years old and younger. I'd be kidding myself if I took on that project right now. I do, however, TOTALLY see taking that on when the kiddos are at an age where they can maybe help me.

I'm so inspired by the show Extreme Couponer and have recently become a follower of SouthernSavers.com and it has been life changing. We get things on sale or for free all the time (I don't think we've paid for a redbox or blockbuster express movie in four months!).

So that's what we're doing! Like I said, we still have some things we're going to need to figure out, but we're making baby steps (no pun intended).

What do you do to save money? If you have a blog feel free to link up to me today. If not feel free to leave a comment!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Eight Weeks Old

Aren't they seriously adorable? I don't feel so bad putting them in matching/coordinating clothes because they are boy/girl twins. There's a big debate in the moms of multiples world about whether or not you should put twins in matching clothes, but I know that they are going to feel special and soo like individuals, that I'm not that concerned about that. We rarely, rarely refer to them as the twins (although occasionally we will); more often than not we refer to them as Aiden and Isabella or The Babies. =)

We had a doctor's appointment today and Aiden weighed 8 lbs 1.3 oz and Isabella was 7 lbs 5.7 oz. We weren't too surprised that Aiden was so much bigger because we've felt it in our arms. Aiden is pretty anemic and has to get blood draws every month or so. He's also on drops and a high iron formula (plus breastmilk). It's not a big deal in the big scheme of things, but it is probably something he'll battle his whole life (it's something I have to be super conscious of too). A few have asked us about Aiden's kidneys. We have an appointment September 25th and we'll know more. Right now all we know is that Aiden has multicystic dysplastic kidney disease and that he may have to have one kidney removed.

Just Keeping it Real

Have I mentioned how much I SERIOUSLY, SERIOUSLY love this stage?! I have to say that this is my favorite age! I always thought I was more of a baby person than a toddler person, but maybe it was just because the toddlers weren't mine! =)

Of course, with the good, comes the challenging too. And I'm not going to sugarcoat it. Having a two-year-old is rough. And having two infants who need to be held causes grief for said two-year-old. Dinner is the roughest part of the day because the hungrier and more tired we all get, the more meltdowns we encounter.

Our latest battle has been the high-chair. Connor is a big boy. He eats what we eat; he goes where we go; he can answer you and talk to you; he is starting to learn his alphabet, etc. But we still require him to sit in a highchair. We've found that if we don't, he runs around with his food and really struggles to stay put. But each time that we require him to sit in the chair, he throws a tantrum. Can I just take a tiny tangent and tell you how ridiculously smart kids are, too? I mean, he's two and he's already mastered the "throw yourself down on the ground and act like someone is killing you" pout. How do they do that?!? It is sometimes difficult to stay calm in those moments, but sometimes they just make you want to laugh. I'm sure he could fool someone.

I mean, he sounds like he really is injured
but then...
you look...
closely...
for just a moment...
and...
 realize,
Wait! What? He doesn't have tears? This is all just an act! No! Impossible!!

Ha! Connor we're on to you!

Mr. Howard took this video of Little Man. And just because we love him soo much and don't ever want to forget these moments - because some day they'll be replaced with teenager pouts - much quieter, but WAY more deadly - we'll post it for all of you to see too. And in case it hurts your ears, I suggest you go to 1:28 seconds and watch him go from full-blown scream to dead silence (no tears) as he realizes he's still being filmed. I think that pretty much sums up a two-year-old tantrum in all its glory.


Don't want to give you an air of pretense...like we've got it all figured out over here...because God knows there are days when things aren't rosy and all smiles. We're just keeping it real...

A Loon Lake Video

I took this gorgeous video on the Loon Lake Dam! This was at about 9 in the morning and it's just breathtaking, isn't it? Connor had his friend, Jameson, in the car with us and you can see the two carseats. He kept telling me that Jameson was sitting next to him and laughing. He thought it was HILLARIOUS that he had a friend back there!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Didn't I hear?

What I see in front of me:
Didn't I hear somewhere that teachers were 8-3pm employees? Why on earth am I sitting here at 10pm still grading work?

As you can probably deduce from what I just wrote, maternity leave has come to a sad end. Thankfully I love, love, love the people I work with (including the kids)! My poor baby girl struggled, though, all day! I'm glad I didn't call during the day to get a check-up or it would hurt my heart and been difficult to not pick up and leave!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Three of our Four Babies

I wish we had one of Cole too, but I love, love, love these photos! Connor's is actually a little better, but I had trouble cropping it the right way. =) We bought three matching large frames (11 x 17) for our house and are going to hang all three proudly. 

Offroading


Mr. Howard's Facebook status: We survived camping and offroading on the Rubicon Trail...Who said you can't do the Rubicon in a stock land rover?!

So, for those who know what it is, we offroaded the Rubicon Trail. To say it was hairy, is the understatement of the year. Honestly, it was pretty crazy. I would definitely not recommend it without having a full-blown offroad vehicle. We did it; but we would not do it again and we only went to Wentworth Springs (which is a teeny-tiny portion of it). For those who don't know what the Rubicon is, it is a 22 mile offroading trail that is one of the most famous offroading trails in the US. They have an event every year call the Jeepers Jamboree (the oldest, toughest and largest organized offroading event of this type in the world). Some of you may have heard of the Rubicon Jeep (which is obviously named after the trail). =)








While the photos show what a fun time we had in the beginning, you won't see any photos after a few hours and that is because at a certain point it became un-fun. It became stressful. I think right around the time that our car got stuck and my husband, who is ALWAYS so relaxed and calm, said to me when I asked if he was worried, "I'm not worried YET, but we need help." I began to freak out. Then a few hours later when Casey's car slipped and crashed into a rock, I was at the point where I thought, "*&*!" I, honestly, just wanted to make sure we were all okay. The time it took us from when we got to Wentworth Springs to the time we walked in our door with all the babies at home was almost 7 hours. And from the time we got in the car in the morning until we got home was over 11 hours. The babies only got out of the car twice (and we had two two-year-olds and two seven-week-olds in the car with us). Once was to change their diapers and then I had to put them right back (yeah...that was fun! Try explaining to a 2-year-old that he can't get out of the car) and the other was when we got to Jessica's house to transfer all our stuff into our car and drop off Connor's friend. Before you judge us as parents, we HONESTLY thought it was going to be a two hour trip. And it probably would have been if we had been in a different car or if we had turned around at the end of the granite bowl.

To make matters worse, on the trail I got sick. I'm not sure if it was truly being car sick or if I was stressed or if it was just my stomach being upset. Regardless, I threw up. On the way home, Connor started throwing up from car sickness. Minutes later Isabella started throwing up. It was a horrible, horrible end to a looooong trip.


The positives were that we had a lot of fun in the beginning and Connor HAD SUCH A GOOD TIME having a buddy in the seat next to him. He kept saying, "Jameson!" and even when I went back to see how they were doing several hours into the trip, he said, "Mama, Jameson?" When I told him I knew Jameson was sitting right next to him and asked if he liked it, he said, "Mmmm-hmmmm!" really loudly while shaking his head up and down. Sooo cute!

Here's an example of what COULD happen. We were very careful and Mr. Howard and Casey are amazing offroading drivers and spotters, so I trusted them completely. And if we hadn't had babies with us, I would have felt differently. But whew! I should also mention that we got off the trail before we got to this part of the Rubicon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Nursery Complete

In my last nursery update (the day before the twins were born) I think I put photos up, but we hadn't done Aiden's bed yet (Connor's bedding was still in the room and we still had his crib tent up). We've since fixed that and completed Aiden and Isabella's closet. All of Connor's clothes now reside in his big boy room and the twins have all their clothes in the nursery closet. It's a very small room and it's hard to photograph, so I've done the best I can...

Their beds and names:
 We have Disneyland hats for Cole and Connor...now we need them for Aiden and Isabella!
 Some of the details:
Their sides of the room:
 Little Girl Clothes Hanging in the Closet...
 The Chair My Parents Got me for Christmas:
 The Back Wall

Camping

If you're following us on facebook, you noticed this status update on Sunday:

We did it! We camped! Five kids, four adults, one tent (with three rooms), one land rover, one truck, one stuck, one crash, one LOOOOOOONNNNGGGGG trip home...but we survived! Two two-year-olds, one six month old, and two seven-week-olds!!

Who said you can't still travel and have a life when you have kids? Of course, that life is vastly different...hehe.

Our view from the campsite:
 Our Three-room Tent
 We had two pack-n-plays in here (one for our twins and the other for our friend's kids) and a blue tiny tent (Connor slept in that so we knew he wouldn't get up and walk out of the tent in the middle of the night. It only zips from the outside so he needs an adult to help him out).
 I love this one of Connor looking at me!
 Our friends we went with:
 Hot Dog Sunset Dinner
 Me and the Hubby
 A Bottle by the Fire
 Connor took his job of gathering wood for the fire VERY seriously:
 Daddy and his boy. We tried to get him to put the flashlight under his chin and tell ghost stories. It was unsuccessful!
 Here's a better picture of Connor's little tent. The two pack-n-plays were on either side of him!
 Camping Kisses
 Bear Country:
 Mr. Howard took this first thing in the morning. Notice Connor's footie pajamas and stuffed monkey...oh and his hillarious facial expression:

 We brought Starbucks Carmel Frapuccino's with us and the boys heated them on the fire in the morning. Hot Coffee!
 Waking up by the fire in the morning:
 Daddy and Isabella in the morning:
 Apparently tantrums occur while camping too:
 Hot Bagels for breakfast:
 Pack-n-play in the woods for breakfast:
 The boys:
 Loon Lake:
 Loon Lake:
 When did our first get so darn big?
 Casey and Corbin

 I have this cool feature on my camera that allows us to take panoramic shots. Isn't it cool? You can click on the photo to see it enlarged! This was our campsite:
 Loon Lake:

I have lots to add about the offroading portion of our trip...stay tuned!

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