Sunday, September 29, 2013

He Would Have Been Three-years-old

For, what would have been, Cole's third birthday, Mr. Howard and I decided to escape for a couple hours to Tahoe (we live about 2 hours away). We left after dropping the kids off at preschool and came back before they had to be picked up. There may come a day when we don't need to take the day off, but for right now - it's just too hard to go to work. It was an emotional day (it's been an emotional month) and, in a lot of ways, the more that time passes, the more I feel like people have forgotten (not everybody - we got lots of sweet calls, texts, cards, and messages). It makes the days and month even more emotional for us. I don't judge people ONE BIT for moving on; honestly, I totally get it. At a certain point, we all have to move on. It's just hard on me because I don't want him to be forgotten.

We went to Starbucks and sat at the beach for a good, long time. We just talked about Cole and just spent time connecting. It was a very peaceful relaxing time.

 Afterwards, we went to Bear Beach Café (we googled "lake view" and found this place) and while it didn't really have a lake view, we LOVED the burgers. Hubby got a Chicago Firehouse: burger with a fried egg, bacon, cheese, and onion. I got a Golden Bear Burger with BBQ sauce, grilled onion, and cheddar cheese. So delicious.
 When we got back, we went and bought balloons and wrote messages to our sweet boy. Hubby and I wrote on both sides of one balloon, Connor wrote his own balloon (bottom left), and then the twins did their own balloon (top right). Connor understands that Cole is his baby brother and is in heaven (as much as one can understand that) and talks about him. He knew it was his birthday and even told preschool that it was. The babies are still too little; they just knew we drew on balloons, sang happy birthday, and ate cupcakes!
Afterwards, we went out front to sit for a little while and play.
And then gave each child a balloon to release.
They sent their balloon messages into the sky to Cole one at a time.
Isabella, since September 17th, has pointed to the sky and asked me "where balloons go?" about 10 times.
They watched them until they were no longer visible:
Then we celebrated with delicious cupcakes!
Since Cole would have been three-years-old, we gave each baby a cupcake with a candle. Boy do I wish he was here celebrating his birthday with us.
The babies blew out the candles, except Isabella - who didn't quite understand the concept. I thought the series of photos below were pretty funny.
And then they devoured them.
I do not take Connor, Aiden, and Isabella for granted one bit. I know how blessed we are to be given the joy and privilege of being parents to children here on earth. My grief for Cole does not take away from the joy I have for my other kids. But I still mourn for Cole. I pray that my aunt Karen and Rebecca's Mom are holding him in heaven and keeping him company until I can hold my sweet boy in my arms. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Midweek Randoms

I have been running like a crazy woman. My half marathon is in 11 days. YIKES! How did that happen so quickly?

The most I had ever run/walked was maybe 4-5 miles before this on September 1st, I started setting personal distance records. Here was seven miles:
 On Wednesdays we do speed runs. When I started training, I could only do 2 miles. This night I did a 3.59 speed run:
A few Sundays ago I set a new record and did a 9 mile run/walk:
And when I finished, I felt so proud of myself. 9 miles was a big deal in my world!!!!
And, finally, this past Sunday I did 12 miles around Lake Natoma. Wasn't my view beautiful?!?
 I can't even believe I ran/walked around an entire lake for 12 miles!! 4 weeks ago I wouldn't have believed I could do it! And this seemed totally do-able to me. I could have run/walked for another mile easily! I felt so ready for my half marathon!

I have two more Wednesday speed runs and one more long run (a 9 miler) and then my half is on October 6th. Yay!! I may or may not be obsessed with them now and may or may not be researching another training program I can do!

We had to take Isabella to the doctor last Saturday because her eye was super swollen. After a phone appointment, a clinic appointment, and a follow-up Sunday appointment, we determined that it was a skin infection. She went on amoxicillin and it immediately went down and looked normal. Poor baby. The picture on the left was taken Friday evening and the one on the right was Saturday morning. You can see how bad it got quickly.
Aunt Rebecca and Uncle Colin got Aiden an adorable Pirate ship for his room and he loves it. He points it out to me every night before bed: "Mama see ship?" It's actually a kite that we permanently mounted to his ceiling. We have made 0% progress on decorating any of the kids' rooms (minus this pirate ship). It's ridiculous, really. Maybe this winter? We need to paint and still buy the kids' bedding (Aiden has his pirate bedding, but we don't have bedding for Connor or Isabella).
It rained a few weeks ago and then again on Saturday. My absolute favorite thing to do when it rains is let the kids run around in the rain! My mom used to let us play in the rain as kids and I loved it. Aiden and Isabella like to twirl and dance in the puddles. Oh to be two again!
Here's the video I posted on Instagram:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Everyday I love him more

A few weeks ago Hubby and I got a date night, while Uncle Colin and Aunt Becca watched the kids! We are so blessed right now to get these nights together and are so thankful that our kids have such special family who want to watch them!
First we went out for sushi at our favorite sushi place!! We toyed with the idea of going to a new place, but we just adore our local sushi restaurant and don't like the risk of getting food we don't love.
Afterwards we had planned on bowling, but the bowling alley we were going to had their leagues playing until 10pm. I don't know about you, but I'm old; there's no way I can wait that long to START playing. I'd be asleep after one frame.  I was bummed because I had spent my lunch break creating an adorable printable for a fun "date night bowling game" and everything. But we decided to do miniature golfing instead. I think Hubby had just as much fun!
 The miniature golf place is quite fun:
 In case there was any doubt, I am an AWFUL miniature golfer. I just cannot get the ball to go the direction I want it to go. It's a good thing I'm a teacher and I don't have to schmooze people - because I'd be awful trying to woo clients on the golf course.
After golfing, we headed to Pinkberry for some frozen yogurt. We're pretty predicable. Most date nights include sushi and pinkberry.
Marriage is a choice we make everyday. And, for us, that means taking time together. Date nights like this just remind me how much fun we have together.
Everyday I love my husband more.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Show Us Your Life - Mom of Multiples

I am linking up with Kelly's Korner Blog

If you're just joining me, welcome! I am Mrs. Howard at the Howard Bunch and here is my story.

After struggling with infertility with our first son, Connor, in 2009 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 went straight to Heaven.

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.

Here was our ultrasound the first time:
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 surprised 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.

I was pregnant for 36 weeks. This photo below was taken a full week before I gave birth.
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 four-years-old and younger, 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 Yearbook Adviser and my husband is a full-time manager in a retail company. We lead VERY busy lives managing it all, but we are so unbelievably blessed.
February 2011
October 2012
 June 2013
 June 2013 - Second Birthdays
 July 2013
 August 2013

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.

As summer gives way and graciously fades

Summer is coming to a close and I am so sad about it. As the kids' last pool hoorah, we took them swimming a few weeks ago. The kids were SO excited about having Aunt Becca there with us!

When you have twins and only one tricycle, you have to be creative. We were playing in the pool with Connor and I turned and saw Aiden and Isabella making it work.
Aiden rode around with Isabella on the back of his tricycle for about 25 minutes. He is SUCH a sweet big brother.
Cheesy smiles:
This is about where Izzy stands the entire time we're in the water:
 We are officially heading into Fall weather and I could not be more excited!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My heart is broken

alternate textToday is the third birthday of our sweet, sweet Cole. I am barely holding it together. I keep thinking every year that it will get easier - easier to talk about, easier to celebrate, easier to remember - but I haven't reached that stage yet. Maybe I won't ever get there. 

I know it is selfish, but I just want to hold him in my arms one more time - study his sweet features, kiss him some more, sing to him. I just want more time with him. 

I don't have a lot of words today, except to say that I am heartbroken. I miss my beautiful, handsome boy and my heart aches for the memories we would have been creating today - happy birthday songs sung as a family, gifts opened with excitement, lots and lots of laughter, maybe even some dancing before breakfast, and definitely - definitely lots of hugs, kisses, and a million "I love you's."

I keep praying for healing, amidst my sadness. But the reality is that my heart is just still so broken.

Cole, my little boy - my middle son - my sweet angel,

I miss you, sweetheart. I can't wait for the day that I get to hold you in my arms for eternity.

Your Mama

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Pirate Party for a bunch of Pirates

Hubby and I took Connor to a birthday party a couple weeks ago (sans babies...what a treat!) and it had the cutest theme! I forgot my camera and only had my phone, so the quality of photos is not great. But it was the cutest Pirate Party. Arggggh. Jessica did such an awesome job.

Look at these adorable handmade cake pops:

 And jello "Ocean and Ship" cups:
 Even the napkins were adorable!
 The birthday boy and Mr. Howard getting ready to swing the stick for the piñata:
 And here's Connor hitting the piñata:
 Can I tell you something funny about this piñata experience? No one told the kids what to do when they hit it. So, when it broke and all the candy fell out, the kids just stood around. When they were told to run and go get candy, they all ran over, picked up one piece of candy, stopped, and started eating it. It was pretty funny! It was definitely a lot more polite.
We had such a great time. Thanks Jessica for hosting such a fun party!

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