Saturday, March 31, 2012

Alopecia Areata

Just as I self diagnosed (I bet doctors HATE when I self-diagnose), I have alopecia areata. There is a genetic component to it - sorry Connor, Aiden, and Isabella. It is technically an auto-immune disease - which means that basically my body thought that the hair was a pathogen (germ) and attacked it, causing it to fall out. Once you get it once (which we believe I had it sometime in my pre-teens/teens too) you're more susceptible to have it happen again. Shockingly, your body can actually dispel all your hair (eeek), but it isn't super common and my dermatologist doesn't think I will lose all my hair). Most doctors agree that there is some sort of connection to stress (which I will certainly NOT deny that I have a LOT of stress in my life), but it is hard to prove.

I got about four cortisone injections in my head and I have an appointment in a month to see if I'll need more injections. Super easy!

The best part was when the dermatologist told me I need to find a way to eliminate the stress in my life. Ha! Ha!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Show Us Your Life

*I am linking up with Kelly's Korner for Show Us Your Life: Moms of Multiples*
(Photo: 35 weeks pregnant with twins)
After struggling with infertility with our first son, Connor, we were convinced that it would be an obstacle we would face in subsequent pregnancies.  So when we got pregnant with our second son Cole "by accident," it was such a happy surprise. Sadly, I delivered Cole, our second son, on September 17, 2010 and he was born sleeping. After a few months of grieving and heartache and such sadness in our lives, we found out we were pregnant again without really trying on Monday, November 15, 2010. Our first ultrasound was scheduled for November 29th and we saw our precious baby. Due to the earliness of the ultrasound we were unable to see a heartbeat and so they asked us to come back in two weeks.
On my husband's birthday, December 15th, the doctor (who was with us for our first scheduled visit after we lost Cole) said to us, "Are you ready for this?!?" and turned the screen to us, showing us TWO babies.

We could not have been more suprised as we did not have a history of twins in our family and we had not done anything that would have increased our chances of having multiples (like infertility treatments or medications). But we also could not have been more excited and overjoyed.
On February 24th, 2011 we made the following video announcing our babies genders.

And then, on June 30, 2011 Connor, my husband, and I welcomed our beautiful, precious babies Aiden Patrick Howard and Isabella Lynn Howard. You can read THIS post about their births.

It has certainly been an adventure having three kids under 3, but it has been a journey filled with humility, patience, and utter joy. I am a full-time 7th grade English and History teacher and my husband is a full-time manager in the grocery industry. We lead VERY busy lives managing it all, but as John and Kate say in their opening credits, "It may be a crazy life. But it is OUR life." Our kids are now 3 and 9-months-old x2.

You can read about our babies' conditions HERE. Aiden has multicystic dysplastic kidney disease, affecting one of his kidneys (his left kidney is completely non-functional) and Isabella has a duplicated ureter that seems to have no negative impact on her life.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm linking up with Jamie for WHAT I'M LOVING WEDNESDAY

I am loving that my hubby and I made a bet about something that involves the loser buying an iPad for the winner (which basically means that either way I get an iPad). It's just really our fun splurge for Mr. Howard getting a new job!
I'm really loving that since I am going to CLEARLY win the bet, I am going to get a fun case for it. I'm thinking about a pink one or maybe this swirly one!!
I'm loving that I have Spring Break starting Thursday and all next week!!!
I am loving these superhero capes and masks that I really want to make this summer for all three kids!
I am loving all the felt crafts I've found on pinterest. It's amazing what you can do with felt! Too bad I don't have an unlimited amount of hours in my day - because seriously, we would have so many felt toys (have you seen all the felt food? So cute!) in this house it'd be unbelievable! I love these black and yellow felt pillows!
I am loving that today my students will be bringing their costumes and display boards for tonight's Wax Museum Project!
I am loving that I am going on three dates with my hubby next week! Three! I love him so much!
And what post would be complete without professing my love for my little loves?!?
The babies are going to be 9 months old in 2 days! Connor will be 33 months in a week or so (ahhh a three-year-old!)!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I am obsessed with pinterest and all the wonderful, crafty things that now fill my project lists. It's astounding to me what I COULD be doing if I had the time (making my own laundry detergent, creating headboards out of old wood, creating dresses out of old t-shirts, and the list goes on and on). But one thing I am obsessed with that I feel I could spend thousands of dollars on are hair-bows. After seeing a million and one (that last one was the one that set me over the edge...ha!) tutorials on how to create hair-bows, I set off to learn how to make a felt flower hair-bow and headband. I've made Isabella hair-bows before, but the ones I made were always pre-made flowers that I just hand-sewed to elastic.

First I made a purple one.

Then I made the yellow one that Izzy wore for her 38 Week Picture.

I also made a tiny purple one (with a different type of flower) that I'm going to add to a barrette, but I don't have a barrette yet.
I got the headband elastic's from the dollar store (8 for $1).
While this is certainly less dangerous than spending $10 on a headband everytime I want one for an outfit, I'm thinking this is going to become a dangerous obsession in terms of time (I see a matching hairbow for every single outfit of hers...). 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Thirty-Eight Weeks Old

 What a big week! Aiden learned how to sit up! Izzy learned how to clap! We're continuing to work with Izzy on sitting up, but she's just so tiny, I honestly just think it's a lack of muscle.
Aiden is SERIOUSLY teething. I can see the white teeth beneath his gums (there are two teeth that are going to pop up - but neither have broken the surface yet). He looks like he's in so much pain. Today I saw him hitting his cheeks - poor guy! 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mama Melt Down

On Wednesday morning, I woke up and was so worried. I don't know how to explain it, other than to say that I haven't had that feeling more than a handful of times. I am not usually a mama who reads the books and obsesses about stages. Heck, my twins are 9 months old and have basically defied every single "what is normal" stage I could possibly imagine (including the fact that they are 38 weeks old and still fit in 3-6 month clothes). I only say this because it seemed all the more scary that I was concerned. You see, Aiden and Isabella hadn't sat up on their own or crawled. Now, I am all for them going at their own pace and certainly wasn't as ready for Connor to walk as early as he did. But they will be 9 months in a week or so it and it had me worried.

The first thing I did was ask other moms when their babies starting crawling and sitting up on their own. Well, that was a stupid idea. Every single one of them responded that their babies were talking in complete sentences by the time they were six months and had already learned how to tie their own shoes by nine months. Clearly, we were behind. Okay, I'm being slightly dramatic. But still.

So by the time I received the doctor's email back saying that it was concerning, I was about ready to pack up my belongings and stay home full-time with my kids and start a full-time Baby Sit Up Boot Camp. Thankfully my husband talked me down from the ledge. Have I ever mentioned how much we balance each other out? We'd have no food on our table, and all my kids would run around like banshees with no sense of a schedule if I weren't here; but if he weren't here - I would be orchestrating Crawling and Sit-Up Boot Camps, complete with adorable baby onesies (because when is their ever an occasion NOT to have a fun themed onesie?!) from my house - all the while steam-mopping the floor 52 times a day.

I am the type of person who loves change. Heck, I do change for a living. But I'm also the type of person who likes to have a plan. And stress doesn't fit into my plan. There's no time for it. So, when I get stressed (which is often), I don't really have a great way to deal with it...just ask my hair dresser who noticed my bald spot (I'm waiting for a doctor to confirm on March 30th what I already know I have: Alopecia Areata caused by extreme stress).
For me, sometimes, the best way to deal with stress is to just cry. Occasionally, it's good to show the people around you that despite your "I've got everything. I can handle it all" appearance, that you are vulnerable and weak at the same time. And those qualities aren't necessarily bad. So, that's what I did. I cried. I sobbed. I freaked out. And then the next morning I put it all into perspective. And now I can laugh at my silliness and how unbelievably emotional it is to be a mom. To me, Elizabeth Stone said it best, "To have a child is to decide forever to have your heart walking around outside your body." And perhaps that's why the tiniest concern can spark the greatest melt-down in a Mama.

And then, just because God wanted to teach me a lesson about timing and patience, this happened.

And this
**She didn't pull herself up on her own. We helped stand her. But she stood there for a while on her own!**

Thank you, Diana, for always being there for me! I love you!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thirty Eight Weeks Old Part 1

Weight: 17 lb 5.3 oz,
Height 2' 2.58"
At the Nephrologist's Office

Weight 15 lb 8.3 oz,
Height 2' 2.48"
Do you see Isabella's adorable little blood pressure cuff? So tiny!

There were two other sets of twins at the nephrologist's office with us. Must have been a Multiples Day!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Connor's First Year Book

I finally ordered Connor's first year book after finding the most amazing purchase from Pinterest. It cost me $50 for the photoshop template, but I was able to make templates for Connor, Aiden, Isabella, and I'm planning on doing one for Cole filled with letters I've written to him. Shutterfly was having a sale that allowed me to get the book printed for pretty cheap.

The Cover:
 The Back:

Mr. Howard said it's actually his favorite book I've ever made! What a compliment! And I adore the way it came out!!

I'm only including a few of the pages and Connor's book is the only one I've finished so far!

I am just so in love with the chalk board template. She's making one to document a pregnancy too and I'm soo tempted to get it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Nephrology Appointment

Wow! This week has been rough. And it's only the end of Wednesday. There are times when being a working mom is harder than I ever could have imagined and this week is one of those times. At this point in my life, right in this moment, I wish I could pack up my teacher stuff and stay home with my precious babies. Sometimes the guilt is so overwhelming. Sometimes the managing of appointments is overwhelming. Sometimes when I'm working I'm thinking about everything I need to be doing at home and at home I'm thinking about everything I need to be doing at work. I guess just being a mom is overwhelming! How many days until Spring Break, again? Whew!
Please tell me I'm not the only one who feels like that.

The babies had a nephrology appointment today and all went well. I got a lot of answers to some questions I've had on my "to ask" list too.
He has one functioning kidney (his right). It is the perfect size. His left kidney is smaller than it should be and completely non-functioning. He'll need another ultrasound at 1 years old to ensure all is well. But then he will not need any more appointments forever unless something is wrong. He will be able to play football if he wants (he'll have to wear special padding and there are greater risks depending on the position that he plays). He will not be able to ride a motorcycle or race motorcross. I'm completely okay with that, by the way.

Her duplicated ureter did not show up on her ultrasound, but we knew that was a possibility (given the teeny-tiny size of her kidneys). It still doesn't mean that it isn't there or that it isn't something we need to watch. She'll have another appointment at one-years-old and then one at two-years-old. If both ultrasounds don't show hydronephrosis (see picture below for what it looks like), then everything should be good and she won't need another appointment forever.

General Info
One of the questions I had was how they know it isn't polycystic kidney disease (PKD), instead of multicystic dysplastic kidney disease (MCDK). Dr. Orloff explained that PKD is in both kidneys (neither Aiden, nor I fit that profile); PKD cysts also come from different parts of the kidneys. You won't see that in an ultrasound, but in Cole's autopsy they should have been able to tell that. More than likely the MCDK is hereditary and so more than likely Aiden will pass the condition on to his kids. But it is so rare that it occurs in two kidneys (1 in 10,000) that it shouldn't really majorly affect his life.

Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

Because you can't really have a St. Patrick's Day celebration without some fun headbands!
 Izzy and her twin brother, Aiden:
 I just died over this little corkscrew headband (plus it was only $1):
 Connor and his baby sister:
The boys in their four leaf clover shirts (after bathtime!)
Aiden was a little mad in this photo:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Thirty-Seven Weeks Old

These outfits you're going to see over again in my St. Patrick's Day Post. =) But they were too cute to take just two photos.

Aiden and Isabella are finally getting to that "hard to be contained" stage. You set them down and they roll and roll and roll. They squirm and move and kick. Mommy HORRIBLE confession of the week: Aiden fell off the couch yesterday. I put him on the couch to take a picture of the babies in their St. Patrick's Day outfit, turned to get the camera and *bam* he fell. Poor, sweet baby. I guess he better get used to having an idiot for a mom. Although, to be fair, Mr. Howard was also home. We'll blame it partly on him, since he isn't here to defend himself.

 I remember this stage with Connor. It happened a lot sooner (in fact, he was crawling at 26 weeks and walking at 39 weeks), but it was fun none-the-less. It's the realization that your little baby is an actual child (they do more than just lay like rag-dalls). It's the realization that before you know it they're going to be walking and talking and...driving cars (deep and and out...). It's such an exciting time, but it's also a little scary - it means baby-proofing the house and not setting your baby down on couches without a ridiculously close eye glued to said baby. I love this time!

We went to the dollar tree today to look for party favors for the babies' first birthday. I know it seems super early, but I heard they had favors that matched our theme. We're about 15 weeks away from their first birthday. Wow!

My Parents Put their House up For Sale

I think I've mentioned this before, but I print these blogs in book form! I love it because I've always said I'd love to be a published author. But I also love it because it means I have all of our most important events printed for me to look back through. Sometimes I post things purely so they'll be printed in the book and this is one of those posts.

My parents put their house up for sale last week. Because they had already moved into their new house, they had it staged. I really loved that house and it had so many memories in it. It's where we planned my wedding; it's where my mom brought my wedding dress while Mr. Howard and I went on our honeymoon, it's where I cried when I was struggling with infertility, it's where I told my parents I was pregnant with Connor, Cole, and the Twins; it's where Connor's baby shower was held; it's where I came home after we lost Cole (I didn't know if I could come home to my own house); it's where my parents fell in love with their first grandson; it's where I told them I was pregnant with twins; it's where we had Connor's second birthday party; it's where they fell in love with Aiden and Isabella. We had Christmas's, Fourth of July BBQ's, countless birthday celebrations, dinners, lunches, and breakfasts. So many memories.

The Front
 The Formal Living Room:
 The Front - Different Angle
 The Formal Dining Room
 The Family/TV Room
 The View of the Kitchen from the Family Room
 The Kitchen and Eat-in Kitchen
 The View from the Kitchen towards the Family Room
 My Dad's Office
 My Parents' Master
 My Parents' Master
 The Master Bathroom
 The Master Bath
 My Mom and Dad's Closet
 The Game Room/Sitting Room Upstairs
(My sister's room was the green room to the left)
 The Backyard Patio, BBQ, and Fireplace
 The Backyard
I stole these pictures from the listing, but I wish I had pictures of all the bedrooms too. 

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