Tuesday, January 29, 2013

We fit right in at the zoo!

On Sunday after our much needed Date Nights, we decided to take the kids to the zoo. We try to get out of the house and take the kids to go do something every single day. Some days it's harder than others, but either way it's a break from the squeals of "she's touching my toys" and "he won't give me that back!" 
 Seriously, be still, my heart.
 Off to the zoo we go!
Connor gets so excited and tells us all about the animals he's going to say hi to at the zoo. He makes all sorts of connections to movies likes Madagascar and Lion King. He calls animals by their character name. Pumbaa, Marty the zebra, Melman. So funny.
Okay, do you see Connor's face in this photo?!? I have NO idea why he was making this face. He wasn't unhappy about it. I thought it'd be such a cute photo. Hmm.
That face again...
We have year memberships and we've had them since Connor was a baby. We use them all the time.
 This was our attempt at a self pic. At least we got everyone in the picture.
Oh goodness. Connor's face. I swear I'm not pinching him or anything.
They block the flamingos for part of the year during mating season and it's been a while since we got to see them. Connor kept calling them "chickens" and Aiden kept calling them "doggies." Oh lordy. The people around us were getting quite the comedy show.
For me, the measure of a successful zoo day (or any outing, really) is how well they take naps afterwards and let me tell you, the kids took PHENOMENAL naps (over 3 hours!). If that isn't reason enough to get out of the house and walk around, I don't know what is!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Date Night x 2

Mr. Howard and I have made it a goal in our marriage to do regular date nights. Those are kinda hard to come by with three small children, but they aren't any less important. In fact, for me, they're even MORE important. So, we got creative and starting coming up with at-home dates. We still call them "date nights," put them on the calendar, and look forward to them all week.

This weekend, my parents went out of town, so we took the opportunity to have two date nights. On Friday after work, we rented Cosmopolis, got pizza and champagne, put the kids to bed, and had a date night cuddling on the couch. It was SOOOO needed. I really cannot say that enough. I am so in love with my husband and it is so easy to get caught up in everything else that I forget that.

We did let Connor eat pizza and milk with us though! Hubby said "cheers" to me and Connor wanted to "cheers" us too! (He has since said "cheers" every time we give him a glass of any liquid! Ha!)

  Mmm. Sooo delicious!
We didn't make it all the way through the movie. Neither of us could follow the plot at all. I never give up on movies, even if I hate them because I just feel guilty not seeing a movie through to the end...but I literally could not handle this one.
The date, on the other hand, was UHHHH-MAAAAZING. I really do not even have enough words to explain how much we needed that.
The second date night was Saturday night and we went and picked up sushi with the kids!
Have I ever mentioned my love for sushi? Ha. I could literally eat it five nights a week and still not get sick of it!
Then we put the kids to bed, cleaned up from dinner, and curled up on the couch.
Of course, a date night for us is not a date night without champagne!
Saturday night's movie of choice was Hope Springs. It was such a funny movie. I can't relate to a lot of the specifics with my marriage to Mr. Howard, but I certainly can relate to the idea that marriage becomes routine. I pray we always find creative ways to overcome the bad habits we all create, unknowingly.
I can't tell you what those two nights a week or a month do for our marriage. While I love my children, it's nice to have a night or two to talk and cuddle without tears, tantrums, and 'tudes.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Busy Thursday

On mornings after Mr. Howard has worked really late, I try to make his coffee for him and bring it to him. I just adore this coffee mug I got him last Christmas. I need to order him a new one with all his kids!! We started last Thursday with delicious coffee, since Mr. Howard got home at 12:30am the night before!
On Thursdays Mr. Howard looks for an excuse to get out of the house. Since we are staying with my parents, Mr. Howard and I are having a house keeper come each week to help keep my parents' house clean. Unfortunately, she comes on the day that Mr. Howard has off and is home with all three kids. So he's been coming and meeting me for lunch. I'm just loving it! As a teacher, I only get a 30 minute break, but it's just enough time if he brings lunch to have a little dance party and eat some food in the car.
Dance Party in the car:

 That afternoon, after work, I had to work at McDonald's for McTeacher's Night. It's so much fun...definitely one of my favorite nights! I never post pictures of my students, but these gals were instagramming it up in the lobby. I asked them if I could instagram a photo of them; to which, they replied, "YOU KNOW WHAT INSTAGRAM IS?!?" So funny. They think I'm 100.
Mr. Howard and my mom brought the kids and met me. Isabella is in my arms (in case you're wondering where she was at the table).
I'm so lucky Mr. Howard always supports my work's fundraisers. I know not everyone would drive 35 minutes to go to McDonald's for dinner, but he does it because he knows how important it is to me. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Parenting is Hard

Connor has turned into a different little boy in the past few weeks. My funny, smart, inquisitive, soft, tender child has turned into a little rascal. It isn't any more his fault than a teenager who suddenly becomes sullen, antagonistic, and ornery. I get it. It's a part of growing up. It's a stage. And some day I'll look back and miss this stage (right? Isn't that what every mom with an older child tells you when you say, "Ahhhhhhhhh I'm pulling out my hair!!"). But right now, in this moment, I can't think about how I'm going to miss my handsome tiny little three-year-old. All I can think about is how I'm going to survive the next week (let's be honest, I'm really mapping out the next hour, the next five minutes, and sometimes even the next few seconds!). And that's just Connor. Aiden and Isabella have been equally challenging and have upped their temper tantrum quotient ten-fold. It's been a struggle, to say the least. Add in there that all three kids have colds, runny noses, coughs, sore throats, etc. and you have a recipe for a Mommy Insane Asylum. Seriously.

Yes I'm mean. I took a picture of her having a tantrum. What else was I supposed to do?
I consider myself a patient person, but Lord, have I been impatient lately. I consider myself a person who doesn't like to yell, but goodness have I yelled in the last few weeks. I consider myself a mom who can talk myself down from most ledges, but boy have I teetered pretty darn close to that edge. On Saturday, Connor spent, what felt like, an hour in time out. That child would not admit he was wrong. He would not say he was sorry. And sometimes he wouldn't even utter a word at all. I'm pretty sure he would have given Supernanny a run for her money. In fact, maybe I should call her and ask for advice about that weird voice he's been doing whenever he gets in trouble, while simultaneously pretending that he has headphones on and cannot here me. I'm sure that's totally normal and she's encountered that with hundreds of kids. Right? Riiighht?

All this difficulty has got me thinking about what kind of mom I am. Is the mom I am consistent with the mom I want to be? It always sounds great in theory to be the mom who never loses her patience, the mom who never yells, the mom who has got it all together. Let me tell you...as much as I'd like to be, I'm not that mom. Which got me thinking all Carrie-esque (remember how she always starts each Sex and the City episode with a question?)...

Is the type of mom I am better than the type of mom I want to be?!?  

And the answer to that is: Probably. I'm pretty sure Connor is learning a whole lot more when he sees me lose my patience and then apologize to him. He learns that we all have bad days, but we just need to accept the things we've done, ask for forgiveness, and start fresh. When he sees me cry, he learns sympathy and empathy for others who are struggling. When he sees me try to juggle things and not get everything done, but continue to try to do everything I can for my family - he learns that it's okay to try really hard, stumble, and continue to work at our imperfections. He learns that not everything comes easy to us and sometimes the things that are more valuable are much harder to accomplish.

Somewhere I heard that multiple children (twins, triplets, etc.) learn much earlier than singletons important lessons about patience, realistic expectations, self sufficiency, and a quasi selflessness (I say quasi, because I don't think there is a child out there that isn't somewhat selfish) because, from the time they were born, they had no choice but to wait. Wait for bottles. Wait for diaper changes. Wait for answers. Wait to be held. I'm certain this rumor I've heard was started by other multiple moms to make us all feel better about the fact that our attention is divided between two babies. But it does make sense, right?
 So, instead of getting down on myself for yelling and losing my patience and maybe muttering some words that may or may not involve me running away and never coming back, tomorrow I'm going to try to remember that Connor isn't going to learn as much from a Mommy who is perfect and stop giving myself such a hard time. Or maybe tomorrow will be the day I cash-in that vacation to Mexico for massages, mai tais, and handsome men bringing me water and feeding me grapes by the pool. Shoot. Did I say that out loud? Hey, a girl can dream...

Friday, January 18, 2013

Loan Approval, Plot Plans, and Walking!

I added a page at the top for people wanting to follow our Building a House journey. At some point I will have to take down the Never-Ending House To-Do's link because we no longer live in that house. *Tear!*

Did I mention that the buyers of our old house have already done so much? They have already ripped out the entire landscaping in the front of the house (my hubby is so sad because that was ALWAYS on his to-do list and we never got around to it!); they have torn out of the arch that was in the front; they have torn down the dividing wall separating the 3rd car garage; and they have pulled up all the tile because they are replacing it with hardwood floor (so the entire house will be hardwood!). I haven't driven past it in a little while, but I think I'm going to head over there this afternoon when I pick up the kids from school. Isn't it weird to see the house you lived in for 5 years being remodeled by someone else?!?

In other house news, we received our Gold Cert Approval (the approval our builder needs to build our house)! Once they pull the permits for the house and floorplan and everything with the city, they should be all set to start building.

We also got our plot plan from the engineering firm! We were very excited because we were able to extend our driveway and add three extra feet (making it 20 feet instead of 17). With the hubby having a truck, it seemed to make sense to get the extra driveway space!

We are so very excited to have the home the way we want it and can't wait to see how all the features and details we picked out come together. Once they start building, we're going to get started on buying some fans and light fixtures (we need 5 fan/light features for each room and 1 for the family room)- so that we'll have it all purchased before we move (I know I'll get an email from a reader saying don't buy them now! So, don't worry, we'll keep receipts just in case something happens and we have to return them). We did not elect to have them paint the house, because the quote we got was pretty expensive and they would only paint the house one color! Ummm...no. So, we have to decide if we're going to wait and paint each room as we go. Or if we're going to have it all painted at once before we move in. I know what we WANT to do. Ha. But it's a matter of if we can afford to do it that way.

Holy Moly. Are you sick of hearing about the house, yet? I promise eventually I'll stop talking about it! 

It has been SO cold here. It has been in the 20's in the mornings and 30's in the afternoon. This is the coldest winter I remember here in a long time. I'll be honest, I've loved it! I am getting a little sick of having to wear a jacket in my classroom all day while I teach, though! This was my window one morning before leaving for work (and the angel that hangs in my window to represent Cole):
Yesterday, my husband and kids came and met me on my lunch break for lunch! It's such a nice change to get to visit with them for a little bit. The kids always make me laugh!
And the last, MOST EXCITING NEWS OF ALL, is that Isabella is walking. Not walking like, "Oh hey I can walk, but then I'm going to stop immediately and crawl because it's easier" type of walking. No. REAL walking. Like a good majority of the time! Yesterday, she started to crawl to me, stopped, stood, and walked because it was faster. Hallelujah, Sister!!!! Everyone kept saying to me, "Oh don't worry, she'll start walking once she sees her brother walking." Yeah. No. Girlfriend watched her twin brother walk for about 7 months before she decided to do it on her own. She just needed to be ready to do it. The therapist was quite excited when she saw it on Tuesday.
I've had a few people ask about their speech therapy. We have been referred to a speech therapist, but haven't begun services or even spoken yet with him/her to work out the details. Hopefully, we can get all that settled soon.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"The more we do, the more we can do."

It has been such a crazy week! We moved out of our house, moved in with my parents, worked, interviewed preschools, and tried to settle into new routines. This post is sort of a mish-mash of what we've been up to.
The house in the background that has the framing up was only a couple days ahead of the lot we originally had. So that is where our house SHOULD be in the process. But it is what it is, right?

We hadn't yet taken a picture of Mr. Howard and me on the lot and so we finally got over there on Sunday, January 13th with my parents. We have already completely finished designing our house, completed financing, and signed our purchase agreement and all addendums - so we're just waiting for them to pull permits on our lot and then they'll get started.
A Closeup!

We've been living with my parents now for several days and after a few small hiccups we've finally got the babies and Connor all settled. We had to move Aiden and Isabella into a different room because it was too echo-y and now it's much better. We also had to do something so that Connor would stop wandering around the house in the middle of the night. It's been an adventure, to say the least. The absolutely wonderful part about living with them is having someone to help with grocery shopping and cooking. My mom and dad have actually cooked every night we've been there - which has been such a blessing. I joked with my mom that this is about as close as I'll ever get to having a sister wife. My mom, one day, even did the kids laundry for me and laid it all out to be put away. So sweet!
Poor Aiden got a cold yesterday and has been feeling under the weather all weekend with a runny nose and cough. Poor guy. He seems to be on the mend, so hopefully it's a fast one. He was up about 15 times on Sunday night and I was really very little help because I had the worst stomach ache. I actually started crying because it hurt so bad. I'm wondering if maybe Aiden didn't have a tummy ache too. But by the next morning we were both okay, so hopefully it was just something we ate. And then this morning Isabella got the runny nose too. They've been super, super grumpy and clingy - poor babies.

At my mom's house, everytime I go out to check on the dogs, the babies instantly run to the window and look for me. So funny. 
We found a new preschool!! We had already conducted two in-person interviews with two different ones and had bad experiences (we had conducted countless phone interviews before that). Man-oh-man it has been crazy. Trusting someone to care for your kids is serious business. I didn't have ridiculously high or unrealistic expectations - just basics: nice, likes kids, does a preschool program, not a million dollars for 3 kids, a normal/professional contract, ability to do 3 days a week, and relatively close to us. I found several I liked that you had to go on a waitlist to attend (not an option for us) and a few parent participation ones that I thought looked amazing, but I couldn't commit to do the hours. The new one we found is just absolutely wonderful. She is sweet, a constant learner, does the CA Healthy Kids Program, a full Preschool Program, a Winter Production, a graduation ceremony every June, exercise, field trips, art and music every day, and extras (baby sign, French, Spanish...and more!). And it's clear she actually ENJOYS what she does. She exceeded every expectation we had, so I'm hoping it'll be an amazing fit. We register Thursday and start the following Tuesday. Whew!

We also moved the babies out of their baby seats into toddler ones, after they FINALLY met the weight requirements. They are so excited! Aiden, this morning, was smiling every time I turned around to check him out.
That's about it. We are creating our new normal and figuring out where we're going to keep diapers...and how to work the remote control for the TV (seriously, they have the most confusing remote EVER - it's called a Crestron System - you need like an all-day training to figure it out)...and how we're going to hang all our clothes...and what time we have to leave in order to make it back to our old daycare and then over to my work....and...and...
Connor, Aiden, and Izzy are just LOVING having all the extra attention from their grandparents. Connor asks me in the morning when my parents are still sleeping, "Is GRANDFATHER sleeeeeeping?? Where's NANA?" So cute. He also makes a big production out of going to bed, "No, I have to say ni-ni to Nana...no, I have to say love you to Grandfather."

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Chapter Officially Closes

Well, we officially sold our house. Wow. That is such a weird sentence to type.

Those 30 days FLEW by! Everyone kept telling me that escrow would NEVER close on time and so, while we were planning on closing in 30 days, we all kinda thought it would take longer than that. But, not only did it close on time, it actually ended up closing a few hours early. Yikes! It was a mad dash to get it all done. Remind me next time we move to take a day off of work (that was the stupidest thing I did - both Mr. Howard and I worked the whole time!). I'll be honest, it was probably the most stressful thing I've done in a long, long, LONG time. Add in there that daycare was closed for the holiday break and so I was trying to pack a house with three little kids at my feet. Things I have learned: (1) I need to be better about asking for help. (2) Take a day or two off of work to move. (3) Be moved out the day before escrow closes rather than cutting it to the last hours. (4) Get a babysitter for moving day!!!!!!!!!!!! (I really cannot say that enough. Mr. Howard moved the entire garage by himself the majority of the time with three kids.)

One thing we did do well was get a Coolbox Portable Storage Device (it's a pod). They deliver it to you on your driveway, you fill it up, they pick it up for you and store it for several months, and then they deliver it to your new address when you're ready for it. So worth it. The only problem was that we got a 20 x 8 x 8 and it was not big enough. They always say "it can fit four bedrooms!" but what they mean is, "it can fit four bedrooms if you have absolutely no furniture in two of the bedrooms. Eeek. Our neighbors (who are sooooo wonderful!!!!) are holding onto so much stuff for us until we move. Tell me that is not amazing?!? We are so thankful.

I have been writing on this blog since the day we bought the house and I have documented everything house related - from complex remodels to simple paint changes. I even had a to-do list that was always evolving on the blog. I wanted to do a final post and show you all what the house looked like in the minutes before we handed over the keys and locked the door for the very last time.

Our eat-in kitchen area and kitchen:
What we did to eat-in-kitchen area: Painted; hung pendant lights; installed curtain rods; cut out doggie door.

Our kitchen:
What we did in kitchen: Painted and installed pendant lights; installed black granite sink;
Our family room:
What we did in family room: painted, fixed trim, installed curtain rods; installed candle lights on either side of the fireplace; installed ceiling fan and light fixture.
Our Master Bathroom:
What we did in master bathroom: painted; and repaired/finished trim.

Master Bedroom:

What we did in master bedroom: Fixed one wall (there was a built-in fireplace box - no actual fireplace - that we had to rip out), drywalled, textured wall, installed new carpet in master closet; repaired hard wood floor.

The hallway standing in the master bedroom:

What we did in hallway: painted; repaired/finished all trim

Guest Bathroom
What we did in guest bathroom: Painted; ripped out laminate flooring and replaced it with tile.

Connor's Room
What we did in Connor's Room: installed matching wainscoting on perpendicular wall to existing wall with wainscoting; installed curtain rods; bought and installed new carpet; re-built closets; repaired holes in wall; installed light fixture kit to existing fan; hung curtain rods for closet door.

Baby's Nursery:

What we did in nursery: ripped out wooden structure loft; wainscoting on all walls; repaired hard wood floors; built closets; re-textured dry wall; bought and installed closet organizer; hung curtain doors for closet; installed curtain rod for window; installed trim; and painted.

What we did in office: installed hardwood flooring on entire floor (it was concrete when we moved in); installed trim; and touched up paint.

Front living room:
What we did to living room: installed-chair rail, painted, repaired/finished trim.

I've mentioned this before, but this is the seventh move Mr. Howard and I have done together. We are certainly not new to packing up and moving, but this was a different experience for us.

We have felt so wonderfully blessed in that home. It is the house we brought our babies home to; the home we celebrated birthdays in; the rooms we laughed and cried in...fought in, and danced in; the walls that heard our celebrations as we became a family of three, four, and then finally six; the floors our dogs ran and played on, the same floor our babies first crawled on, later took their first steps on; and finally ran on; the windows we peeked out of while dreaming, praying, and desperately wishing for a baby; the carpet that soaked my tears as I cried and cried and cried over Cole; the bath that held us on our "bath dates" in the winter; the sinks that held all three of our newborns for their first baths; and so many more memories. We were so lucky to have such a beautiful shell as our first home.

As sad as we were to hand over the keys, we know that we will create new memories and new stories in our new home and are excited for all those adventures to come.

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