Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Will it get easier?

I have been thinking..rather dreading... ever since summer started about Cole's birthday in a few weeks. Maybe some day it will feel like a celebration, but now it doesn't. I thought that when I got pregnant again, his birthday would be easier - but I actually had a SIGNIFICANTLY harder time dealing with his birthday than I did most of the days right after he actually passed away. It was hard. As in gut wretching, sitting on my kitchen floor bawling, could barely open my eyes to even find the kleenex, ugly, ugly, UGLY cry. It was bad. And I was trying to take care of our, at the time, two-year-old who thank goodness didn't totally get what was going on. It was a serious mental breakdown and I'm afraid that I won't be able to handle that again.

Picture Below: Cole's First Birthday

Ever since last September 17th, I have really thought about what I need to do differently for myself this year. (1) I am taking the day off of work. I'm calling it a personal/mental health day and I'm going to do something that doesn't involve having to peel me off of the kitchen floor this year. (2) My goal is to grieve, but maybe spend a little time celebrating his existence and maybe do something that will replace my overwhelming grief with something that will make me smile - make Cole smile in Heaven.

While I know I'm going to do things differently, it has still sent me into a tailspin of fret. Am I going to be okay this year? Am I going to be able to parent my three-year-old and one-year-olds? Will this get easier? And that question keeps resonating in my mind...will it get easier?

It seems, logically, that as time passes, it SHOULD get easier. But will it? Does it ever get easier to "celebrate" a birthday for a baby you never got to hear laugh, or never  got to watch blow out his candles, or never nursed while rocking him in your arms? All the "nevers" are the things that I get hung up on, especially on his birthday. Sometimes it's hard to focus on all the wonderful things we DID get to do, that so many others DON'T get to do. We were able to hold him, name him, get footprints and handprints of him, dress him, photograph him, sing to him and pray for him, send out birth announcements for him, cremate him, and take him home with us. And for that, I try really hard to be grateful.

I know we're blessed. Infinitely. So many husbands and wives pray for one healthy baby and we have three. But someone said it best when they said to me, "If you lost your mom, would you not grieve simply because your dad was still alive?" My other children do not, can not, ever replace Cole and that is why it's so hard.

So, this year I'm praying for peace. I'm praying for survival. I'm praying that my husband does not have to pick me up off the floor and tell me to be present in my other kids' lives. And mostly, I'm praying that Cole looks down on us and feels as honored that we are his parents, as we are that he is our son.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday re-cap. What we've been up to.


I have brought meals to two Mothers of Multiples in the last week and I'm bringing another meal to another twin mama on Monday. I always feel bad about what I CAN'T do to help out, but making a dish is something that's totally do-able and makes me feel like I'm giving a frazzled mama a nice break. The last two moms have had older kids about the same age as Connor and I know those moms need it even more!
 
I posted about what we did on Saturday HERE.

In the morning on Sunday, we took Connor for a much needed hair cut!!!!

I combed his hair down - so you could see the length before.
 Afterwards
In the afternoon, we took the kids to the park. It's impossible to capture my little wild three-year-old, but I did get cute photos of the twins.

The both hated, HATED the grass. Aiden went so far as to sit with his legs out in front of him not touching the grass. Talk about amazing stomach muscles.
 Izzy loves the swings - as in, full belly giggles you can hear from 20 feet away.
Father/Son
Remember that illusive three-year-old I said I couldn't capture on camera? Well, I did capture him in the last one. His finger, anyway. He wanted to "help" me take a picture of the babies.
 Hope you had just as relaxing and wonderful as a weekend.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Saturday

I teach a technology elective and right now my kids are making videos. In order to lower the demand and group sizes, I brought in my own personal camera to add to the ones I already had. So, of course, I left my camera at work this weekend. All these photos are from my iPhone.

We always try to make the most out of our weekends with Daddy home. Things have been so stressful with Mr. Howard's car. Thing after thing...after thing...keeps breaking on it. And man-oh-man are little things expensive! That's what you get for getting a used car and not buying the insurance (but, if you remember, we had a mini cooper when we found out we were having twins - so we had to get out of the car quickly and with no extra money since we were going to be trippling our daycare costs). So, needless to say, we needed an escape this weekend. Something to take our mind off of cars and money.

We have memberships to the zoo - so we headed there first.

On route
Walking to the zoo:
 At the Zoo:
Didn't you know that stroller straps are delicious?!? 
 We stopped for some cotton candy. Aiden loved it; Izzy hated it; and Connor was super confused by it!
 This was the first time Connor actually made some pretty advanced correlations between animals. He really understood what the zoo was about!
 Watching the monkeys:
 Connor could have sat there for 30 minutes just watching the monkeys:
 He always loves the giraffes:
 Aiden was a little less impressed with the zoo...and the stroller. He had to take a stroller break about half way through.
 Connor loved the snow leopard and lions!
After the zoo, we headed over to my parent's house (they've been gone for almost three weeks in Canada and New York). We took two of the cutest videos:
 Video #1:

Video #2:

 
After looking at that second video, it made me wonder why God doesn't give everyone twins. I mean, seriously. How amazing that they'll have each other!!!
 
Aiden has become quite the little walker. I need to still take a video of him walking without holding onto anything. He'll take about 6-7 steps before he falls.
 
After their naps, we took them to target to grocery shop!
 
People always give us one of two comments
(1) Wow. What a blessing. (or something to that effect)
 Or 2: I don't know how you do it with twins. I could never do it.
That second comment gets me everytime. Really? You couldn't do it? What would you do? Leave one on the curb? Yes you could. You'd do it the same way we did. Patience. Humility. More patience. Tears. Laughter. And some more patience.
 
Boy has our life changed. But no one can ever say it's boring.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

And the Winner Is...

First off, can I just say thank you again? Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for thinking of us. Thank you for laughing with us. Thank you for praying for us. We're so blessed to have such a fun community of bloggers and readers.

And now the only reason you're reading this particular post...

The winner of the beautiful necklace I'm wearing in the photo below...
 
You should follow Brandi at http://buehrers.blogspot.com/. She has Boy/Girl twins too who are seven-months-old!
I'm sure this won't be my last giveaway!!! Any companies interested in hosting a giveaway can email me by clicking on the email link on the top left.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Twins' Nursery

Multi Mommas
 
I am linking up with the Multi Mommas for a Twin Nursery Tour. =)
 
We had boy/girl twins and really thought long and hard about how we wanted to do the nursery. Connor was actually in this room before, so we had to completely repaint it and get a second and third crib.
 
We picked out light pink and pale turquoise color bedding first and then color matched the walls to the look that we wanted. It isn't perfect, but it was the perfect combination, for us, of both boy/girl infant!
 
The bedding came with the bears and canvases. My aunt and cousin crocheted beautiful blankets that we gave to each baby (they're still their favorites)!
 
We striped one of our walls. I love it on most days, but dislike it on other days. Sometimes I feel it looks like a circus (although it definitely looks a whole less circus-y in person!).
 
My mother-in-law helped so much with this room when I was GINORMOUSLY pregnant...and chasing around an almost two-year-old...and being highly emotional...and, just all around, busy.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"If you do not do laundry, I am buying the kids a whole new wardrobe!"

I am always so conscious of that balance between keeping it real, but being productive and positive about my life. But there are times when I just come undone. I mean really. There are only so many times I can have the same conversation with people and as a teacher, my fuse is already short. I say, "where is your pencil?" 9,872 times a day and I hate repeating myself; so when I get home and I have to ask and ask and ask for something to be done, it's like nails on a chalkboard (I'm sure it's nails on a chalkboard to the people who have to listen to it as well).


So, I took it to a whole new level yesterday. A level of complete and utter desperation. My kids were throwing a fit at 7am in the morning when I was trying to get everyone dressed, fed, and out the door by myself (Isabella was upset that I wouldn't carry her around; Aiden was upset that I wouldn't take him out of his crib; Connor was demanding that I get his "Mater underwear" rather than the plain blue underwear I had picked out). The laundry hamper was overflowing from the last time I did laundry (a week ago); there were diapers sitting on the changing table that hadn't been thrown away; and clothes in the middle of the nursery floor that had been thrown there instead of the hamper.

I. Was. Coming. Undone.

Thoughts of WHY AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO EVER DOES LAUNDRY??? WHY AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO DOES DISHES? WHY AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO PUTS DIAPERS IN THE TRASH?? came flooding to my brain. And in complete desperation, I did the only thing I could think of to do - you know, the thing where I transform from nice, kind, loving Mrs. Howard into the lady who has  tear-streaked marks all over her face, the lady whose voice is raised and is barely making any sense, the lady who has completely lost touch with reality and is instead shooting steam from her ears.

I called my husband and in desperation gave him an ultimatum. Either he needed to help me with the laundry (have I mentioned he has never done the kids laundry since Connor was born - 3 years ago?) OR I was going to go out and buy the kids all new clothes. Seriously. Did I mention I was desperate? Of course, looking back, it was a silly thing to threaten. And I'm kinda surprised he didn't laugh at me. But in that moment, I was serious. Had he told me that he wasn't going to do laundry, I was prepared to take the credit card to target and buy all three kids a new wardrobe. Have you ever met the Mrs. Howard who means what she says and says what she means? Yeah. That's the teacher in me. If I tell a kid I'm calling home. I call. Because the one time you don't...the one time that child sees that you don't do what you say you're going to do - that is the exact moment when you have lost all credibility with that student. Of course, the same goes if I tell that student I'm going to go to his basketball game on Saturday. If I say I'm going to do something, you better believe that I will move mountains to do it. So, with my credit card in hand - ready to go purchase new clothes - I prepared myself for battle.

But the truth is, I don't want to battle. I want peace. I want the fairytale where the housework gets done and everyone effortlessly works together to get it all done. I want to wiggle my nose and wave my hand and watch as clothes dance across my floor into the closet - perfectly pressed, and diapers magically walk themselves out to the trash. I want a husband who is never tired and who somehow manages to help me with the housework, spend time with the kids, and cuddle with me on the couch. And most importantly, I want to be super-wife, super-mom, super-teacher and I want to always remain calm and understanding in moments of stress.

But that's not the reality. The reality is that marriage is work. Being a parent is work. And there are never going to be enough hours in the day to get everything done that we want to get done.

So, while I hate the woman who temporarily takes over my body a few times a year when I come undone, what I love is the opportunity to remember that we're all human and that no one is perfect. My husband may not help with the housework like I'd like, but I also need to be better about communicating my wants before they turn into frustrations. My kids may not be perfect and are going to throw fits, but it just means they're here with us to throw them. My husband and I may fight, but it just means that our marriage is worth fighting for. And I may be the crazy woman who shoots steam out of her ears, but it just reminds me that I'm no better than anyone else. We all make mistakes.

We all come undone.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August Craziness

We  have had such a busy few weeks. Work is always crazy busy at the beginning of the year, in general! But this year was especially kooky. I had 37 on my roster in periods 1 and 5 on the first day of school (with only enough seats for 36). Thankfully, after a few weeks we have been weeded down to 32 in those periods and 30 in the other ones. But any teacher will tell you that transitioning kids is super difficult. I also had four students who weren't there on the first day and are now with us (1 was added onto the roster from another school, two were on vacation, and one was in Mexico). So you spend all this time going over procedures, routines, abbreviations for grading, time to get students registered on the online gradebook, etc. only to have new ones come a few days into school or students leave who you've just invested time in. Man-oh-man.


Then, on top of that, we had Casey's wedding, bbq's with friends, birthday parties, back-to-school nights, wacky schedules (Mr. Howard had inventory so he had to be at work from 8pm - 11am one night) AND my entire family was gone in Canada for my beautiful cousin's wedding (which meant my mom, who normally watches the kids one day a week - couldn't watch them). Crazy!!

Needless to say, I'm happy to have some consistency and some calmer moments. School has settled down a bit. I'm in a good routine. Mr. Howard won't have inventory for a whole 'nother year. And he has a long weekend coming up, which will give us time to spend some much needed family time. I am in love with his new schedule because it's so much more time that we get to spend together - but I would love it if he had every weekend off. It's our family goal for the next 5 years. =)

In the meantime, we've been practicing walking a lot. This is us going to the bath last night. I know it's not the best photo of Aiden, but can you see what a good walker he is?
This photo (below) is him standing completely by himself. He practiced stepping between Daddy and Mommy for about 15 minutes. He's still not able to take more than a step or two without falling...but we're getting closer!
Oh my gosh does this photo, below, make my heart happy!!!!!! It's from Sunday night. I mean, this is why you have more than one child. Haha! But you have to catch it REALLY quickly before they start crying or fighting again. I hold onto these moments for the other 99.9% of the time when they are not getting along.
Wait for it. (Below.) Wait for it. Yep. I normally edit these photos out. But this is what it looks like in our house right now. To be fair to my oldest child, he honestly wasn't trying to hurt Aiden. He just doesn't understand how he can stand, but not walk. So he'll try to "help" Aiden (AKA boss him around and tell him where he CAN and CANNOT stand - because apparently there ARE correct places to stand. Did you know that? Yeah. Neither did I. My three-year-old is constantly teaching us new things).
 Isabella Lynn is working on her standing. She'll at least put weight on her feet now and "walk" while holding our hands. Honestly, I think 90% of her problem is that she would rather just be carried everywhere. Why work for it when you just complain and cry and someone carries you? Yeah. We're working on that.

I'm so grateful August is almost over. I'm ready for the beginning of year madness to subside and COOLER weather!!!

If you haven't had a chance or you forgot, I have a giveaway going on on my blog for an adorable necklace. It closes this Friday. Check it out.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Twin Update

It's been a while since I've updated everyone on the twins.

Yes, Aiden is riding Isabella like a horse in the photo below. They both wanted to play with the doggie door.

Last week I had another, "oh my goodness...catch my breath...overwhelmed" sort of feeling. It's been a while since I felt that way. But I'm not sure it will ever get easier to hear your children are behind. Last Tuesday, on my way into work, I got a phone call from Kaiser informing me that they had received the twins' 12 month survey (that we completed at 13 months to adjust for their prematurity). The woman on the other end didn't know that we had already qualified them with ALTA Regional- so she tried to be delicate in how she delivered the news. "Your pediatrician referred you to us because your babies are behind. Very behind..." She continued softly, "some of their scores (based on your responses) indicate they are in the 6 month range..." Of course, nothing she told me was new news. But it still hurt my heart to hear it. It took everything in me not to sob on the phone with her. I know that this news is not the end of the world. Trust me. I've received that kind of news. But it still just overwhelms me to my core. Thoughts of, "Will they catch up? How will we manage all this while working full-time jobs? Are we doing the right thing by having me work full time? Am I a bad mom?" flood to the surface.

I tried to focus and be present. I tried to hear what she said and put the thoughts of self doubt on the background. "We will need to have a pediatric developmental specialist (I think that is what she said) evaluate them...This appointment should take 2-3 hours...From there, we will decide what we need to do." After explaining to her that they are both receiving services from ALTA regional, she explained that we still needed to pursue this...That we should probably pursue every opportunity for help. Something about those last words struck a chord with me and frightened me.

I went to work and carried on, because, well, I don't know how to do any different. We'll manage this just like we do everything else. With humility. And patience. And probably, knowing me, some tears.

And then, based on divine intervention, the babies performed miracles this weekend. Aiden took his first steps and said "up." Isabella signed her first word, "eat." Then later she said her first word, "eat"...and second word, "up!". Both Aiden and Isabella have it written into their IFSP (their goals that we are working on in therapy) that they will say, "up" when they want to be picked up. Of course, they met one of their goals and they haven't even worked with a therapist yet. It was all just because Mr. Howard and I had a shared vision of what we needed to focus on with them. We also had told daycare a few weeks ago two of their goals so that they could work on them with Aiden and Isabella too (saying "up" when they want up and waving "hi" on cue).

Although I'm sure that phone call won't be the last time I feel overwhelmed, stressed, or worried about my kids - one truth remains certain: Aiden and Isabella are going to develop at their own pace regardless of how much we want them to conform to our timelines. And we are just going to have to learn to be patient in the meantime.

All the photos taken in this post were taken this past weekend!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Our favorite stalker

Mr. Howard met him in a bike shop when they were in high school. They each worked at different bike shops run by the same shop owner and went on bike rides together. His name was Casey and he was the same age and had the same interests as Mr. Howard. After a few bike rides, they became friends.

A few years later, after I moved to Irvine to go to school, Casey and Mr. Howard both moved up to Orange County so Mr. Howard could be near me. While I officially lived in the sorority house, I spent lots of nights and days at their apartment with them (probably much to Casey's dismay).

A few years after that, Mr. Howard and I got engaged and moved up to Davis so that I could get my masters degree and a teaching credential. At that time, after years of living in Orange County, Casey moved around and settled in Wyoming for a while. Years later, after Mr. Howard and I bought a home and had our first baby, Casey once again followed us and moved about 20 minutes from our house.
We just can't get rid of him, hence the nickname ("our favorite stalker"). Ha!

In Northern California, he settled down, created a business plan, opened a mobile bike shop, and found the love of his life. Several months later, he proposed to her under the Golden Gate Bridge. After planning their wedding, he asked my husband to be his best man.

I was honored to attend her Bridal Shower Wednesday, August 8th. Unfortunately, because I had all three kids with me by myself, the only photo I got was of me on my way.

Then on August 10th at 6:00pm, Casey married her and officially became a husband and Daddy.

Mr. Howard was honored to stand beside his friend of over thirteen years while he said "I Do" to the only woman we have ever known to totally capture Casey's heart.

Here are some pictures from the evening:
(My camera was SUPER dark. I actually threw away the SD card after this because I found that the card was bad. Now I wonder if THAT's what affected the photos. Hopefully the photographer took better ones).

After meeting the sitter (it was the first time we ever left all three kids with a sitter), I hopped in my car and made the 1.5 hour drive out to the country:
Casey and Mr. Howard got everything set up and then got dressed:
 And then the wedding started
 The bridesmaids and groomsmen:



 Casey's new Family:


 Partying the night away
Having a sitter for nine hours, meant we had a date night of our own...
Congratulations, Casey and Jessica! We love you.

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