Sunday, September 30, 2012

15 Months Old

Aiden is walking up a storm. He recently learned how to stand up from the middle of the floor, too. Yesterday when we were at a barbecue, he figured out how to stand in the middle of some rocky terrain. He's definitely getting more stable and comfortable! Aiden got another tooth this month too! He is in 9 month and 12 month clothes; the 12 months clothes are just a little baggy on him. He is saying the following: "Dog!", "Mama", "Eat" and is signing "all done", "milk", "eat" and "more" if we give him choices. [When he's upset in his highchair, I'll sign two choices for him: do you want "more" or are you "all done?" and he'll sign the choice he wants. I haven't seen him using sign independently.] He goes to bed at 6:30 or 7:00 and sleeps through the night until 7am (when I have to wake him up for daycare). He is playing constantly and is always wanting to play with cars, throw balls, or sit and look at books (for 2 seconds and then he's off to the next new thing). He loves the dogs' water bowl, the pot lids in the warming shelf under the oven, and our curtains! We actually have to tuck the curtains up in our blinds because he hangs on them!
 
Isabella is standing up a storm. She hasn't taken any steps yet, but she's now pulling herself up on less stable objects. The other day I was sitting cross legged and she used the leg that was crossed (not stable at all) to pull herself up in the middle of the room! She also holds on to tables and chairs and walks around them - holding on at all times. Isabella got another tooth this month too! She is smaller than her brother by a tiny bit, but she is in 9 month and 12 month clothes. She can't wear any 12 month pants or jeans though - because they just fall off her little hips. I have to put her in 3-6 month leggings or 6-9 month shorts and pants. She is finally starting to babble. If you ask her a question, she'll babble back at you! She is capable of saying "mama" and "hi" and "dadda," but she's not a big talker. She prefers to smile real big and lay her head on your chest to give you love. She is signing "all done", "milk", "eat" and "more" if we give her choices. [When she's upset in her highchair, I'll sign two choices for her: do you want "more" or are you "all done?" and she'll sign the choice she wants. I haven't seen her using sign independently.] She goes to bed at 6:30 or 7:00 and sleeps through the night until 7am (when I have to wake her up for daycare). She is an explorer. She'll turn an object over and over in her hands to explore everything there is to explore. She loves handing toys to her brothers and she is content sitting in the same spot for 20-30 minutes playing independently. She has a bad habit of making her brother do the things she doesn't want to do (like fetch objects that have rolled away). She is becoming more assertive though and crying when someone takes a toy from her. She loves the pot lids in the warming shelf under the oven and she'll constantly crawl over to me when I'm cooking dinner! She wants to be under my feet, or standing and looking in the oven!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I Do

First, a few fun facts about me:

(1) I cry at weddings. Every single one. I honestly do not think there has ever been a wedding I have not cried at. Lest you get all comical and insinuate I'm crying because I'm sad for people..let me just cut you off right there, DAD. I just think it is the sweetest, most vulnerable time in a couple's relationship.

(2) I want to get remarried. To the same man, of course. If I could live my life planning weddings (but only the fun parts), I would do it in a heartbeat. Of course, if I could somehow figure out how to be the one getting married over and over again - it would be a dream come true (minus the everyone-looking-at-you part. I didn't love that).

(3) Weddings are about my only excuse I get to dance anymore and I forgot how much I love it!!!

On Saturday, one of my best friend's daughters got married. Mr. Howard and I got a sitter (thanks Nana! You're AMAZING!) and spent the evening talking with friends and dancing!! My former boss, the man responsible for hiring me, was the officiant (he was the bride's principal for kindergarten through 5th grade - how sweet is that?!?) at the wedding and he did such a fabulous job. I leaned over part way through the ceremony and told the hubby that I want Ed to do a vow renewal for us. He's just so sweet and so genuine. He is one of those people that you meet and just fall in love with because he has SUCH a sweet heart. My sister was also their photographer and she just did the most amazing job (as always). That sounds so funny...my boss was the officiant, my sister was the photographer, and my best friend was the mother of the bride! Ha!

Before we left:
(Connor & Isabella photobombed us!)
I wore some super fun chevron heels. Every girl needs a pair of chevron heels. Seriously.
 Gorgeous Cake:
 Gorgeous Hubby
The BREATHTAKING Bride and Groom:
Photo Credit for the next three photos Katie Taylor Photography
 The decorations were so beautiful!!
 I think we need to hire them to plan my sister's wedding! It was so beautifully put together!
A friend snapped this right after the vows.

 My sister snapped this of Mr. Howard and I dancing.
Do you see the ghost dancing with us?
 At the very end of the night. We went on a little walk when we got home.
I took a photo with all the teachers at my school who went to the wedding. Hopefully my sister posts it on facebook so I can steal it! ;-)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Last Sunday

Last Sunday we went out for lunch and then spent the day playing with the kids in the house. Aiden is walking every second of the day.
I feel like Isabella is close to walking - but it could be a couple months? She always wants to be standing - but she doesn't want to take any steps at all. This is the first thing she hasn't done first. She sat up first; rolled over first; clapped first; waved first...but Aiden walked first. So, I guess it all evens out in the end.
 
We gave the kids their first spaghetti bolognese for dinner (I made a homemade batch! Mmmm) and they LOVED it. I think they ate more than me! Of course, they all needed baths after this!
 
It was nice to have a weekend to just hang out because the following weekend we had errands, shopping, a wedding, couch pick-ups, and a Mothers of Multiples picnic. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

An Interview With Connor

This probably won't interest anyone but me and the grandparents, but Connor is starting to really speak - I mean, in sentences, with details, and hand gestures. It's amazing, isn't it? I mean, I grew him. In my belly. I held him in my arms when he was seconds old and nursed him when he was hours old. Okay, I know I'm going off on a tangent. But HOW is he three plus years old?!?

 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

How We Spent Cole's Birthday

My hubby and I took the day off from work. We debated and debated about keeping the kids home from school (with us), but eventually we decided that this day was for us. For our grieving and healing. And so we spent the whole day together. If you follow me on instagram, you know a little about what we did. But there are other parts that we're going to keep between us.
 
We did walk around UC Davis in the Redwood Trees. What other college campus has a redwood forest right smack dab in it?!?
I wore Cole's footprint around my neck all day and I'll probably wear it for the next month or so. It's nice to put it close to my heart.
 
In the evening, we picked the kids up from school and came home.
After dinner, we released balloons with messages to our precious boy on them.
And then afterwards we did cake.
 
I know not everyone will be able to understand or agree with our choice to do a birthday cake each year; but for us, it's healing.
It's a part of our grieving process. It's a part of celebrating our little man and remembering that while his little life was ridiculously short, he was still valued. He was still Connor's little brother and Aiden and Isabella's big brother and most importantly, he was still our son.
 
I don't know how long we'll do cakes for him. Maybe a couple years? Maybe until he'd be 40? I don't know. But we'll keep doing them for as long as it still feels right for our family. 
We are beyond grateful for our amazing friend (and her husband) who made this year's cake for us and last year's cake.
 
I'll tell you; while I mostly held it together this year, I pretty much lost it when I heard Connor sing happy birthday to him. I know he doesn't really understand what's going on and for now, that's okay. But, hearing him sing "Happy birthday dear Cole..." broke my little heart. I know Connor is infinitely blessed with Aiden and Isabella and he's not lacking in the sibling department; but he is such a good big brother and it would have been such a blessing to see him with one more little sibling.
 
Hunny? Do you hear that? One more little sibling??

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Saturday - A Stay in Your Jammies Day

Walking suddenly clicked with Aiden. He had been doing it for some time, but this weekend he pretty much stopped crawling. He realized that he could go a lot faster if he just walked over to where he needed to be. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this stage. It's a million times easier (in some ways) because he can just go play where he wants to play!
Isabella, on the other hand, is not quite there yet. She stands a lot and has started cruising while holding onto things (like the table, my legs, the stove, etc.) but she hasn't taken any steps yet on her own. She is SUPER content, however, just sitting and playing with toys and books. 
Connor has reached the imagination stage. Oh my heart soars when he is so inventive. The other day he put these plastic tubs on his head and put one on me and told me it was a cyclecycle (motorcycle) helmet. Don't ask me how he knows about motorcycle helmets. I have no idea. He then wanted to kiss Daddy and I in the helmets because he thought it was so funny. THEN, he wanted Aiden and Izzy to wear the cyclecycle helmets. They were a little confused; but they obliged. In the picture on the top right below, he wanted to take a picture with the babies wearing their helmets. So funny.
Saturday, all in all, was a pajama day filled with lots of play time - just the way we wanted it. We did go run a couple errands (target and lunch), but other than that it was a lazy day! I know there won't be many more years of these stay-in-your-jammies days. Soon they will be filled with soccer games, friends' houses, tournaments, etc. 
Thank you all for your sweet, sweet comments on Cole's birthday post. I think it was a good reminder for me at how blessed I am to have three beautiful, healthy babies here with me to snuggle. I don't take it for granted!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Whoa!

Last Wednesday I got the following email from BlogHer.


They featured me on Blogher's front page. I don't think I'm the best writer ever, but I hope that I write some of the things that you all are thinking and feeling. Whether or not you're a mom, I hope you can relate to the exasperation one might feel with trying to fit it all in. Whether or not you're married, I hope you can relate to the amount of work a relationship takes. And whether or not you've lost a child, I hope you can relate to the grief that a person feels when they've lost someone they love. At the end of the day, I write because it's cathartic and I love the community I've discovered in the process.
 
Here's the screenshot:

I'm sorta in awe that there were 31 facebook shares (I know three of those were my family)! I wish I could see what they had to say about it. CHECK IT OUT and I'd be forever grateful!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy Birthday my Dear, Sweet Boy

I've written this and rewritten it a million times. How do I say everything I want to say?

Dear Cole,

Two years ago, today, at exactly 5:43am I delivered my beautiful sweet second son - my precious baby boy - you, Cole. We held you in our arms and kissed your sweet head. We prayed over you and cried over you. Your Nana and Aunt Katie came to the hospital to see you and love on you and all our other friends and family sent warm wishes, texts, and prayers. We dressed you in a beautiful gown that some sweet person made especially for tiny babies like you. We took pictures with you and then had pictures done of you - for us to keep and cherish forever. We counted your perfect ten fingers and kissed your sweet, perfect ten toes. We held you and rocked you and sang to you. We even fell asleep with you in our arms. It seems like it was just yesterday.


Cole, I miss you every day, with every waking breath I take. I know that you are up in Heaven playing with all your friends and our family, but it doesn't make me miss you any less. You may have only been 9 ounces; we may have only held you for a few hours, but you made a huge impression on our hearts. To say you changed who I am, is probably one of the biggest understatements of my life. You made me the mom I am. 
 Because of you, I cherish every moment with your siblings. Because of you, I try not to complain when Connor, Aiden, and Isabella are throwing temper tantrums. Because of you, when people tell me I have my hands full, I smile from the deepest place in my heart and tell them that I am Blessed. Because of you, I am kinder. I am stronger. I am more empathetic. Because of you, I have met wonderful Mamas who have a hole in their heart. Because of you, I have planned a memorial service, written an obituary, picked out an urn, and known true pain and loss. And most importantly, because of you, I am a better Mama.
Some day, when I get to hold you in Heaven and laugh and giggle with you, I will feel complete. But until then, I will hold your siblings tighter. I will laugh more. And I promise I will make you as proud of me as I can. I love you my beautiful, sweet boy.
 
Happy Birthday, handsome!
Your Mama

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Therapy Week 1

The backstory. Several months ago, I noticed that the babies weren't meeting their milestones. They'd meet it a month or two late and I'd feel a sense of relief, but then the next milestone would come along and again they wouldn't meet it. It was enough to make me worry (the worrying is nothing new), but I worried ENOUGH that I emailed our pediatrician. He confirmed my fears and referred me to a pediatric development specialist, who sent us surveys. After answering questions like, "when giving your child a pen/crayon/pencil, does he/she try to scribble on a paper?" and "does your baby balance, while holding onto a wall or table and bend down to pick up a fallen object?", we heard back that the babies were behind - but didn't qualify. I had this Mama gut feeling that I needed to pursue other resources and so I contacted ALTA regional services (our early intervention services provided by our state). Not only did they confirm that the babies were delayed, but also that they qualified for 2-3 hour weekly therapy services and 2-3 hour monthly OT services. I can't tell you what a sense of relief it was. Up until then, I felt crazy. More specifically, I felt judged. I either got the "you're being a crazy, over-worrier Mama who won't let her kids just do things at their own pace," reaction or the "Oh, goodness. Your kids aren't walking yet?!? Mine have been speaking in complete sentences fluently in English and Mandarin Chinese for months" reaction.

So, finally after a month of trying to coordinate schedules, the babies had their first therapy session on Tuesday. The provider we're using is under-staffed and it's been difficult trying to find a day and time that will work. (I don't know how parents do it who both have inflexible jobs!). We're blessed in that Mr. Howard has some flexibility with his schedule and can work nights on the days when the babies receive therapy, but it's going to be a bit of a challenge to figure it out. We feel wonderfully lucky, however, that the services are there for kids who need a little extra boost!

Aiden did so well that the therapist thinks it might be good to not have him come next week. So, instead we're going to send Aiden and Connor into daycare & preschool - and then that'll give Isabella some undivided attention. What we're seeing now (which is common with twins) is that when you ask Isabella to do something, she turns and looks at her brother. Or, for instance, if a toy rolls away from her, she turns to look at Aiden because she knows he'll walk over and get it. We just want her to know that she is capable of doing it on her own - and, of course, we want her to be independent too!

We really like our therapist and so we're confident that this is going to be a good fit for us and our family.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Date Night

For my birthday, my sister gave Mr. Howard and I a gift card to see a movie AND babysitting. Does she know me or what?!? The best possible gift you can give me, at this stage of my life, is an hour or two to recharge with my hubby! =)

Whenever we have someone watch the kids, we try to pick one thing to do - usually dinner. But this time, we asked Katie if she'd mind watching the kids so we could go to dinner AND a movie!
 
Before we left the house
 My sister took one before we left. Connor photobombed it (Aiden is to the left in his high chair)!
 And Isabella got in one!
 We met a friend from Mr. Howard's work and his girlfriend for sushi. It was so nice to have dinner with other adult company...and some adult drinks!!
 After dinner, our double date had to leave and we had some time to kill before our movie. So we went to the frozen yogurt place and split a delicious yogurt (with dark chocolate covered coffee beans). Oh my goodness.
 And then we went to the movies. (Photo below was taken in the dark theatre). We saw Campaign. It wasn't the most brilliant movie ever, but Zach Galifianakis's character was ridiculously funny.
My husband came before our kids; and he'll be there long after our kids leave the house. For us, and our sanity, we need these hours (even if it's just sitting and watching a movie together after the kids go to sleep) to remember why we love each other. It's easy to forget when you're feeling like the house is a mess, and the laundry isn't done, and you both are working full time jobs. Marriage takes work and we can both feel the difference when we're not doing the work we need to do! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Handy Hubby

I've sung the praises of my husband in terms of his handiness a time or two on this blog. I am so lucky. When my break pads go out, he knows how to fix them. When our toilet is leaking, he can spend an hour or two investigating and rig up some sort of fix. When we want to build something (like a raised patio), he can custom design it and build it!

So, when my sister needed her break pads changed, it was a no brainier. He quickly asked her how long had it been since she had changed her oil and planned to do that at the same time. During naptime on Sunday, he went and bought her front break pads and oil so that he could do it when she met me for book club (she left her car at our house and I drove her to book club). I checked in with him at around 8pm and he said he had fixed them, but just needed to test drive the car (which he couldn't do until we got home because the babies were sleeping).

When we got home, he took the car for a test drive and realized her rear break pads were completely gone! Gone, gone, gone - so he hurried to AutoZone before they closed. The top is a picture of what her break pads looked like; below is what they should look like.

What's even more strange is that her left ones are fine. It's only the right ones that were bad. So, anyway, after the front ones were so simple to change, he thought he could do the rear ones in about 15 minutes. Forty minutes later, when my sister and I hadn't heard from him, we went out to the garage to see what was the matter and the piston had come out of the caliper. After about ANOTHER 30 minutes of frustration, he finally got it to go back in. At this point it was 10:30 and we were very worried that it wouldn't get fixed, nor would she be able to make it to work the next day - so he decided she should call my mom to come get her.


After my mom came and got her, Mr. Howard finally got it all fixed. He was just finalizing a couple things (it was 11:30pm at this point) and started to get tired and sloppy. He made a sharp move and sliced open his finger pretty badly. I was about 99% sure he would need to go to the emergency room - but I was mostly scared about him because he was so lightheaded. The thought of him passing out petrified me. How on earth would I get him to the car?!? Thankfully, after being on hold with an advice nurse for a while, we got the bleeding to stop. (After Mr. Howard's accident a few years ago*, we have to be very conscious of staph infections - so that's the concern now). I am actually kinda shocked he didn't need stitches to suture the cut - because it is pretty deep (as in, I-really-try-not-to-look-at-it-because-it-makes-me-queasy-because-you-can-see-things-you-shouldn't-see-inside-his-thumb deep). You'd think I'd be an expert after having to pack the wound in his foot with gauze for 7 weeks. But, I'm not.

My sister felt so bad, which was silly because she had nothing to do with it breaking or Mr. Howard getting hurt - but thankfully, it's done and her car's all taken care of for a little while. =)

*For those who don't know, Mr. Howard crushed his foot in between a pallet jack and a wall and couldn't get it out, five years ago. His foot swelled so big, it was the size of his thigh. The swelling caused his skin to actually rip open and he had a 1.5 inch diameter wound at his ankle and was out of work for several months. It was right before our wedding and he was actually using a cane the day we got married (he did not use the cane in our ceremony). On our honeymoon (after beaches and sand and all sorts of adventures), we finally went to urgent care and it was determined he had an infection. He took antibiotics for weeks and it didn't fix it. Initially they told him he did not have staph, but then after about 6 weeks of antibiotics, they finally did diagnose him with a staph infection.

Monday, September 10, 2012

How many things can we fit into one weekend?

What a crazy weekend! On Saturday after the zoo, we went grocery shopping at target (and met the hubby's coworkers), took the kids out to lunch, and then went home for naps. After naps, I ran around trying to find a dress for a wedding I'm going to in two weekends. I haven't bought a new dress since before having kids and it was time to get something new! When I finally found something, we hurried home for dinner, bath, and bedtime. After putting the babies to bed, we watched The Lorax with Connor. Such a cute movie!

Then, Sunday we had to go back out to get more groceries (they were losing it after a long day at the zoo on Saturday and we only got half the things on our list). We came home and played for a bit. I made P.F. Changs Lettuce Wraps using this recipe for lunch. I didn't think they tasted like the real thing, but it was a nice change from what we normally eat for lunch. Afterwards, I put the kids down for a nap while Mr. Howard ran to Auto Zone to get oil for my car and then came home and did my oil change. I sat on the ground in the garage with him while he did it and we talked and talked (without any three-year-old or one-year-old interruptions!). Once the kids woke up from their naps, we played a little while and then I got changed and ready for book club. I thought since I was dressed nicely, I would try to get a picture with the kids. Ha!

Here's the first one:
And then we tried one with Connor. Ooh so much better.
And then we tried one with Isabella. There was no way she was going to look at the camera.
 Then Connor stood in front of me and begged me to take a photo of him. I said, "Okay...ready...one...two...three" and this was the face he made. Ha!
 I finally gave up on the photo taking and captured this very sweet moment of play between Aiden and Isabella (who both decided to take a very strong "No Pants" stance!).
 And then because you can never have too many photos with your hubby...
 Oh my goodness. I had to include this one. The hubby said that since we weren't getting any good ones of me with the kids, he'd just take one of me. Look what little missy wanted in on the action. Oh goodness. She is adorable.
 And then, finally my sister arrived for book club! We got a quick picture with Aiden (Oh my goodness!! He's looking at the camera!!). Of course we won't talk about the fact that I have water all over my shirt because one of the children decided to put their oatmeal on me.
This month, for book club, we read Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant. I'm so glad I read it - because it definitely made the movie a lot more enjoyable. If you would have asked me before book club whether or not I liked period pieces or historical fiction, I probably would have shrugged my shoulders. "Ehhh?" I would have said. But let me tell you. I think, aside from love and romance, historical fiction is my thing. I wasn't a huge fan of the main character in Bel Ami, Georges Duroy; he was a corrupt and manipulative man and I hated the way that women had to rely on their husbands for wealth and power in the late 1800's; but I was fascinated with Paris, all the social climbing, and how adultery was a crime punishable under the law.
 
My absolute favorite part about book club is just reading all these books I would never think to read - well, that and the wine and good company with fun girls! I'm so thankful people wanted to join me in my Book Club adventure! If any of my local friends want to join our group, just let me know!! =)
 
While my sister and I were gone, Mr. Howard changed my sister's oil and changed her break pads - which will have to be a post for another day - because that was its own adventure.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Saturday

It's 5:30am in my house. It's pitch black and completely silent, aside from the occasional motorcycle I can hear go past my house. "Why are you awake before 6am on a weekend?!" I can only imagine you are thinking, rather shouting, to the screen. I had a horrible nightmare. One involving my kids. And no matter how much I stayed in bed willing myself to go back to sleep, convincing myself it was just a dream...it was just a dream...it is not working. I am up. And now, it's taking everything in me not to go scoop up Aiden (he was the prominent one in my nightmare) and cuddle him on the couch. I know, however, if I do that, he will wake up and be miserably off schedule all day.

So, while I'm up from unfortunate circumstances, I thought I might as well try to distract myself from nightmares, and scooping up children, and all the other stresses and worries I start to think about whenever I'm already upset.

Yesterday, we went to the zoo again. It's so funny; growing up, my parents rarely took us to zoos, aquariums, and kid museums. My dad hated the zoo...thought they were boring. He loved museums, but felt like taking us to the real thing was better than taking us to a kid one. I don't know if it's on purpose or if it's just what my husband and I like to do, but we go ALL.THE.TIME. We have annual memberships to the zoo and go maybe 20-30 times a year? I just think there is something so refreshing about getting out of the house, being active (walking, skipping, jumping, climbing...) and watching animals in all their beauty. It's especially fun right now for Connor because he's starting to figure out the names of animals, what they look like, and why one animal looks like another. The questions that come out at the zoo remind me of why we go: spending time being inquisitive is essential to growth. I just adore watching him make connections.

Before leaving the house. Daddy had to match Aiden.
Story. In our haste to leave our house, we completely forgot the stroller. It wasn't until we were pulling up by the zoo that it even occurred to me. We thought about carrying them the whole time, but that's super hard to do while corraling Connor - we rented one of those wagons. And now, we seriously NEED one. They loved it. 
 
Daddy pulling the kids in the wagon at the zoo.
 Isabella, Aiden, and Connor's foot.
 Daddy and Connor with the giraffes
 They are getting SO big.
 Izzy and the giraffes
 He's so big!
 Connor wanted to "help pull the babeeeezzzz!"
It's hard to get both kiddos looking at us. Sorry Aiden.
 While the kids were occupied, we snapped this one of us:
Alright, the hubby curled up on the couch with me and is making us coffee. So, off I must go to start my day!

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