Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Full Circle Moment

When you're younger, the difference in age of two years can seem like a lifetime. I remember distinctly thinking that the juniors and seniors when I was a freshman were the coolest people alive. They had all this world experience: they could drive; they had cell phones; they dated boys; they owned cars; they had freedom...I could go on forever. So, it's funny when you get older and realize the difference between a year or two is nothing in the grand scheme of life. A thirty-year-old and thirty-two-year-old are only different by way of their experiences and the lives they have lived...not the extra years. At twenty-nine, I am probably more mature than some forty-year-olds and at twenty-nine, I am also a lot less experienced than some twenty-five-year olds. It's our experiences, maturity, and accomplishments that define the differences in age, not the years on a calendar. 

So when do you realize that? When do you start to change the way you look at people? For me*, two defining moments shaped the realization that my age on a piece of paper did not solely reflect who I was. The first was when Mr. Howard and I bought our first home. It was really the first time I felt like an adult. Sure a piece of paper told me I was an adult. I could vote. I could buy alcohol. I had a job. But it wasn't until I signed (in blood) ninety-four documents and signed over my first and second unborn children to the mortgage company in the event I couldn't pay, that I FELT like one. The second defining moment was when I had my first son. Having a baby, now meant that I lived for someone else. It meant that if I had to choose between my life and that of his, I would gladly choose to save his. For me*, it was the moment I not only felt like an adult, I actually felt "old"...not old as in old person who is in bed by 6pm, but old as in "Wow. She's a senior and I'm a freshman and she's so much older and cooler." 

It's been so fun getting to re-learn and re-meet people that I automatically put on pedestals because of their age, or wrote off because they were "so much younger" than me. And the older I get, the more I realize how important it is to surround yourself with people who are at different stages in life. 

In the middle of October Mr. Howard and I had an opportunity to spend some time with a friend from high school that I haven't seen probably since high school (she was a senior when I was a sophomore and she was oh-so-much cooler than me!). We had such a fun time - even if only for a little bit - and her daughter was so precious. I am so happy she has a best friend in Sacramento so we can hopefully sneak in a few more visits soon! 
This one cracks me up below. Apparently we were deep in conversation!
Of course, now that Mr. Howard knows where she lives, he is obsessed with going to visit her next Halloween so we can schedule in a trip to Roloff Farms. 

* To be clear, I am not saying that you have to own a home or have a baby to be an adult. It was just that for me, those were MY defining moments. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween Costumes

I had a vision of what I wanted a few months ago and so in September I asked my Mother-in-law if she would make them for me. She did SUCH a cute job!! My mom made Connor's hat. She helped me make a hair bow with ginger and wasabi on it for Isabella, but I never got around to finishing it. Maybe I'll have it done by Halloween.
The twins were sushi
 And they were such a big hit at our Mothers of Multiples event.
 And big brother was Soy Sauce.
 For those of you wanting to know how to make these, let me know and I can put together a how-to post (with my mother-in-law and mom's help).
I'm linking up with Kellys Korner Blog for Show us Your Life: Halloween Costumes

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Country

Our friends Jessica and Casey just recently moved out to the country and they wanted to have us over for dinner to see their new place, which was so sweet. The property has a horse ranch with lots of horses on it and the owners let Casey and I ride them for a while. Jessica watched the twins and Jackson, so that we could all spend some time with the horses (she's one brave woman!). One of the horses is gaited; I have trotted and galloped, but never gaited. So, one of the owners gave me a little mini lesson on how to get the horse to gait (soo much easier than a trot!). When I was younger, I took English riding lessons and learned how to post during a trot, but with a gait you don't have to post. It was such a smoother ride! I don't think I've ridden a horse since I was in high school (I've gone horse riding on a trail-rides where we walk in a straight line...but this was actual riding) and I can't tell you how much fun I had. My bottom was QUITE sore, however, afterwards. Now I want a horse. =)

The owner also very sweetly asked if we wanted to let Connor and Jameson ride. They each got to go around the entire arena by themselves and then they went around once together. Casey walked them, while Mr. Howard stood by their side (I was still riding my own horse). They LOVED it! Unfortunately, I left my camera in my purse in the house. Thankfully I had my iPhone so we could at least snap SOME pictures (albeit horrible quality ones).
 Okay, so my Miss Picky (do you know who I'm talking about?), my little one who cries whenever anyone even looks at her, is obsessed with Casey...as in "reached out and wanted him to hold her" obsessed. To say it shocked me is the understatement of the year. She won't even let my sister hold her (honestly, I think it's because she's confused that Katie sounds so much like me). But Casey she loved. Obviously the girl doesn't have good taste. Hehe! (I love you Casey).
 While the boys were barbecuing and Jessica was making dessert, I was watching the kids. Just in case you're wondering, a 5 to 1 ratio is not a sufficient child to adult ratio. Holy moly. All I was doing was putting out fires. How on earth does my daycare facility do it?!? Although, I guess part of the problem is that all five kids are 3-years-old and younger (2 three-year-olds, 1 two-year-old, and 2 sixteen-month-olds). Jessica has another little one on the way and I can't imagine how crazy get-togethers are going to be! Eeeek.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Aiden's First Haircut

We desperately needed to take Aiden to get his first haircut. I actually think I've subconsciously been avoiding it because of what it means: my baby is growing up! So on Saturday we headed out to do it. As soon as I got there, I realized I left my camera at home. How on earth did I do that?!? Thankfully, I had my iPhone and was able to snap some photos. I took two before pictures.  
His hair was so long!!! Eek!
 I went to a kid's place that had these amazing toys and they do a "First Haircut" Certificate with a lock of his hair attached. She took his front lock. We won't mention the fact that I seriously almost stood there and cried. It's ridiculous, really.
 Daddy and Isabella. She literally turned her head away just as I clicked the button to take the photo. 
We debated about evening out Isabella's hair too, but I couldn't justify doing her very first haircut for them only to cut a few spots. I know, I'm sappy. And lame. But I am not ready for my last child to get their first haircut. It seems so, I don't know, final. 
 Aiden did so well. She gave him a couple toys, plus he could hold onto the steering wheel and steer his "car" and he was thrilled to pieces!
 This was his after. He looked so handsome! They even spiked his hair so he could look like big brother!
 Look at my big boy!
P.S. Remind me next time to have an exit strategy for Connor. He had a full blown melt down when we had to leave. He was having so much fun playing!! Oops!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October 15th

October 15th was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. 

This picture only shows one candle, but we actually lit several for specific friends and families who are going through rough seas right now. I emailed out two private messages to two friends who suffered big losses last year and are going through the unthinkable right now. One of my friends was 37 weeks pregnant. My heart just aches.

I already mentioned that Monday's candle lighting sparked a rough week for me. While I miss Cole tremendously, it's about more than that for me right now. My heart just aches for people going through the loss of their children. I don't understand it. Just when I start to figure it all out and come to peace with how God fits into all of it, I start to doubt that. Wow. I've never shared something so personal. I'll get through this with my faith; I'm certain of it. I just need some time. I don't know if it's possible to go back into the stages of grief. But I kinda feel like I'm back in the angry stage.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Denny's 30th Birthday Dinner

Anyone who has been reading for a while knows that in my family we do birthdays proud. We always, always, always do a birthday dinner for everyone and we always give each person their own dinner (my mom lets the birthday boy/girl pick out what they want for dinner too!). Denny's birthday was a while ago, but my sister took him to Vegas for a big celebration, so we didn't get a chance to celebrate until a few weekends ago. 

I always get excited for his night too because he always picks the same thing I pick - prime rib! Mmm. 

I adore the picture below on the right. My mom and sister were picking out wine in the wine fridge and Aiden walked up and wanted to be a part of it. He was talking and pointing too! Who knows? Maybe he'll be a wine sommelier some day. 
 My mom made this delicious cake for Denny and it was SOO good. Connor LOVED it. I mean, seriously, it's a good thing we didn't take that thing home or he surely would have gotten up in the middle of the night to hunt it down. Click on the picture below to see his chocolate cake smile.
 And apparently, Denny has now reached the age when we stop counting out candles to go on cakes. Oh goodness. I guess that officially makes us all old!
Such a fun night!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Best Mom EVER

I was the BEST mom before I had kids.

Have you heard that saying before? Let me tell you. I was SERIOUSLY the best mom you've ever met before Connor came along. My kids were NEVER going to eat fast food. Ever. Because fast food is for lazy moms. They were never going to act up in restaurants, because obviously, kids who act up haven't had enough structure. I was going to have dinners at home sitting around the dining room table six nights a week, because good moms sit down with their kids every single night and have meaningful life-changing discussions with their three-year-olds. I was going to have kids who slept through the night because, you know, GOOD moms keep a very consistent routine and eventually kids will just realize that waking up in the middle of the night is not going to fly. My kids would NEVER scream or shout at me and IF THEY DID they were going to go in time out the second it happened. I was going to be the most consistent discipliner ever, because as any AMAZING parent knows, consistency is the key to any sort of discipline.  I was never ever going to bribe my children with chocolate or cookies because they were going to listen to me every single time I asked them to do something. And if they didn't listen, I was going to calmly explain to them why they needed to do what I asked. Bribery, any good mom knows, is ONLY for those OTHER Moms who don't have their children in control. 

Ha. It's just too bad I actually had kids and wrecked my perfect parenting record, because surely parenting magazines were going to feature me with the headline: MOTHER OF THE YEAR. 

Slowly, over the past three years, four kids later, I've realized almost every "I will never ever" statement I uttered before having kids has gone straight out the window. Considering last week I had committed more Good Mom Crimes than I care to admit (I wonder...do they have a place where us Good Mom Offenders go?!?), I decided one night after a particularly trying day at work to throw in the towel, and wave my white surrender flag. I packed up the kids and headed over to the place where lazy parents who don't want to cook their children healthy, nutritious meals gather together. It felt strangely liberating that I wasn't the only mom there - we formed a sort of tribe of lazy parents who've learned not to judge others. I wonder, if they too were Mothers of the Year before they had children? Had they uttered those "When I have kids..." holier than thou statements too? 

So, officially, this week I'm passing along my "I'm the best Mom in the whole world" tiara on to some other wonderful well-intentioned women out there uttering those "When I have kids..." statements loud and clear. Maybe some day when all my kids are geniuses in Harvard solving some huge "World Hunger" problems, I'll ask for my tiara back. In the meantime, you'll find me occasionally at McDonald's feeding my kids poison (see picture proof below).  

Don't they look so big sitting in high chairs at the table with us?!? I remember not too long ago when we'd put them in their infant carriers at our tables. It's going too quickly, I swear.
 Aiden wanted to be like the big kids. See him standing there looking at the big kids?
 Isabella got pretty brave in the little kid area. She wanted to turn all the knobs. Goodness, I wish girlfriend would just walk already. She is so stinkin' close.
This adorable little boy on the left played with Aiden and Izzy for about 10 minutes. He kept calling them, "Baby" and touching their heads and talking to them in the sweetest, softest voices. I was amazed that he didn't want to run around and go on the slides; he was having such a fun time entertaining the babies. 
Please, someone, anyone tell me I will be forgiven for my mom crimes. It'll make me feel better. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Oh Canada

My whole family went to my cousin's wedding in Canada at the end of summer. Mr. Howard and I couldn't go because it was my first day of the school year and we were SOO bummed to miss it. (We may get an opportunity to go to Canada in the Spring of this year if he is chosen as one of the executives who get to go  to help open the Target Canada division...feel free to say a prayer or two for him about that). But my sister didn't want our kids to be left out, so she brought back these adorable onesies for the twins. We took these photos and then sent them to my cousin and my principal growing up (who also lives in Canada).
I think they could be poster children for Canada, eh?
That bottom right photo above isn't the best one, but I was trying to quickly capture the fact that he reached out for her hand. He tried to hold her hand as he climbed off the couch. So sweet. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Sweet Things in Life

I've had a bit of a rough week. Monday was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Rememberance Day and we lit a candle for our baby boy. My grief goes through these huge dramatic waves and as they're rocking and rolling and crashing in my heart, I try to act normal. My friends are wonderful, but I feel guilty talking about him - taking them for a ride on my waves. So, instead, I walk around seasick, pretending that everything is normal. And at the same time, everything IS normal. When I'm feeling like this, I've learned that there are only two ways to feel better - (1) to cry and acknowledge that it's okay that I miss Cole and (2) to dance and celebrate in the moments that I take for granted.
So, enjoy my list of 10 things I'm celebrating today...this week...this month...this year
1. Being in love
2. Marrying my best friend
3. Watching my kids sleep
4. Carrying on traditions I started when I was a kid
5. Seeing Disneyland through my three-year-old's eyes
6. Getting texts and facebook messages from friends who lit a candle for my sweet son
7. Snuggling my kids on the couch
8. The first hot chocolate of the Fall/Winter Season
9. Weekends spent as a family
10. Enjoying dessert on a Thursday night for no other reason than because we can!
Thursday night, last week, we decided to take the kids to get frozen yogurt. We brought it home and gave the babies their very first taste of chocolate frozen yogurt. Oh my goodness; they were like baby birds. They all gathered around me (notice the dogs also joined us) and opened their mouths waiting desperately for their turn to get a bite. If you look at the top left photo, you'll see Aiden eating a bite and Jake waiting for his bite in the background. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Aiden Hospital

Remember when I wrote THIS post and these words: "In our house, the luxury of learning to walk slowly is not an option. Not because we're drill sergeants or because we have walking boot camps set up in our house. No. Worse. We have tile. In our house, it's a sink or swim type of walking approach. If you don't learn quickly, you will be scarred for life with bumps and bruises and images of tile coming straight at you flashing in your head for weeks. As a mama who is pretty laid back, the tile still scares me. Everyone has heard stories of head traumas that seem relatively low key and end in trips to the hospital...or worse. "

Well, did I foreshadow our lives or what? On Wednesday, October 10th Aiden fell down and this is what he immediately looked like:

I sent these photos minutes afterwards to Mr. Howard (who wasn't home) and my mom with a text that said, "Should I go to emergency?" I got mixed responses. Mr. Howard thought I shouldn't go and my mom thought I should go. I felt pretty strongly that I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I didn't just make sure, so I went ahead and took him.

For the record, Mr. Howard was right. They looked at him for only a few minutes and sent us on our way. But let me tell you, I slept a WHOLE lot better knowing that he didn't have any serious damage. Poor little guy. In the meantime, we've decided that Isabella isn't delayed in walking; she's just really SMART. She sees what has happened to her brother and deduced that walking isn't a very smart thing to do and she's decided to pass on the whole experience. 

Can you blame her...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Apparently I don't learn lessons easily

Last week, I fed the kids dinner and started the process of bringing the kids to the bath. I had Connor and Aiden in the bathtub (disclaimer: I undress the kids and put them in the tub with their toys and NO water. Once I have all the kids in the tub, I turn on the water) and came back to grab Izzy. Well, guess what? Little Miss had decided to help herself to Connor's left over spaghetti with butter and Parmesan cheese (he dumps about a cup of Parmesan cheese anytime we give him pasta). It was a DISASTER! Luckily we have two dogs who were more than happy to help cleanup the floor. 
 I guess now we know what we need to start feeding her in order to get her to gain weight...Girlfriend thought Parmesan Cheese was the most AMAZING food she had ever tasted. When I took the plate from her she was SO upset!
The following week when I gave Connor pasta again, he brought it over to the coffee table unbeknownst to me. I was cleaning up Aiden and Isabella's highchairs, when I turned around to see this. I posted it on instagram with the title, "I guess I should be happy that (a) he's sharing and (b) she's eating. We'll ignore the part where there's pasta all over my coffee table!!!"
He was literally handing her handfuls of pasta at a time and saying, "Here Izzy. Eat some paaasta!" and she was stuffing it into her mouth as quickly as she could. I'm now wondering if I can use this same Parmesan strategy with other foods. High calorie foods. Hmmm. Avocado doused in Parmesan Cheese? Sounds good to me.

While I'm talking about getting Isabella to eat...
We did another weight check. On October 11th she weighed 18 pounds 3.6 ounces. On August 23rd she weighed 17 lb 2.7 oz. So it was a net weight gain of about a pound in 7 weeks. It's not horrible; but it means that we'll be back again for another weight check in another month AND it means that she still can't sit forward facing yet in the car. I don't think it's fair to move Aiden and not her, so we're delaying switching out their carseats for another month. 

We also had her tested for anemia (the developmental specialist ordered the test because he was worried that her health and weight might be affecting her development). It came back fine. Her result was 33.4 and the normal range is 33 - 39. She's still on iron supplemented formula though...so we may have to reevaluate it once she's off formula. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pumpkin Patch 2012

Do you ever have those moments when you feel so infinitely blessed that it's hard to contain your excitement? I usually have those moments right before we do something big - continue a tradition that was started when I was a kid, hit a milestone with one of my kids that I had imagined ever since they were in my tummy, see compassion or kindness in my child's eyes, take our Christmas photos, celebrate a birthday, get a card from a friend...and a million other moments that only last a few minutes, but warm my heart so thoroughly and completely.

The pumpkin patch is usually one of those momentous occasions for me. Long before I had kids, I imagined packing my kids up and heading out to celebrate the day as a family. Then when Mr. Howard and I tried for a year to get pregnant, I clung to the image of us with kids some day picking out a pumpkin. When Connor was born, I couldn't have been more excited to take him (even though he was only a couple months old) and was determined to experience the tradition I had imagined for years. The next year in 2010, we had just lost Cole and it was a bittersweet time for me. I should have been pregnant with him. I should have been taking pictures in the pumpkin patch with him kicking and moving in my belly. Regardless, I was determined to smile and laugh and show Connor that life is still full of happiness and memories. In 2011, last year, we had just welcomed the twins and I was overjoyed (albeit majorly hormonal from nursing twins) to include them. Person after person made comments to the hubby and me as we walked holding hands, chasing after Connor, with two infants strapped to our chests.

This year was no different. As I sat with Isabella outside the petting zoo (guarding the stroller) and watched as my mom, Mr. Howard, Connor, and Aiden pet all the animals, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. My family. My beautiful family. How blessed are we.
Last Saturday, we packed up the car, the kids, and my mom (well, I guess we didn't really "pack" my mom) and headed out to a huge pumpkin patch about 30 minutes away from our house. Connor has been asking if we were going ever since his preschool started talking about pumpkins. We've gone every year since he was born. Here's our past visits: 2009, 2010 Part 1, 2010 Part 2, 2011 Part 1, and 2011 Part 2

The twins don't really get it, but I know next year they are going to be so very excited! Aiden wanted to run, run, run and it was a little difficult to try to contain him. While we always invite my family to come with us, this year I was especially thankful my mom was with us - because we're now outnumbered in our adult to child ratio without help (last year the twins were in our carriers the whole time). 
Daddy and his babies:
I was a little bummed because they didn't open until 10am and Aiden had already been up for about 4 hours (Isabella had taken a morning nap) and so he wasn't in the best of moods.  
Connor loves trains! He thinks they are just fascinating!
 Isabella LOVED the icecream. Surprisingly Aiden wasn't that huge of a fan. WHAT??
Connor went on his very first pony ride. We didn't do it when he was only a couple months old for obvious reasons and then last year, he didn't really want to do it. This year, I wasn't sure what he'd think since he's been afraid of random things. But he loved it! 
 Parents could go in the inside and walk with the kids if they needed to and we asked him if he wanted Daddy to go with him and he said, "no!" What a big boy!
Of course we had to take the obligatory pumpkin patch photo. Again, we have a photo of our family from every year that we've been. It's so fun to see how we've all changed  
 Here's the one with my mom, Mr. Howard, and the kids. Isabella apparently heard a very funny joke before I took this picture.
The petting zoo. Oh how the kids loved it. Connor this year wasn't too thrilled, but Aiden and Izzy were pretty surprised.
Our little big family! 
Connor is so his Daddy's son. He said to me, "MAMA THERE'S A TRUCK!!! I take a picture with the truck!" 
When we got home, I snapped this photo to put on instagram (@thehowardbunch) and Mr. Howard said they looked like they were in jail!
 These kinds of big momentous occasions - while I always leave feeling so infinitely blessed, it is hard not to think about Cole. He would have been two-years-old. Such a fun age. I can't wait to wrap him in my arms some day in Heaven.

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