Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Club

*Picture on my way to Book Club*
 
We had book club over the weekend for the first time in a few months. It's been crazy and we haven't had time to meet. We read The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling and The Taken by Vicki Patterson. My pick was the J.K. Rowling Book. I really liked it but I know I have a lot of mamas who read this blog - so I just want to warn you that it may be a difficult read. At least, it was for me. JK Rowling is SOOO stinkin' good at introducing characters and making their lives intertwine in such dramatic and intricate ways and this book was no different. I'm just so impressed with her character development. I will, however, say that she writes in a way that lends itself to books in a series and it felt sort of like she tried to cram a few different books into one. 
 
The next book we're reading is a children's book of short stories, Leaping Beauty, which twists fairy tales and puts a new spin on them. I'm so excited!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Hike, A Lake, and a Park

On Sunday, we decided to take the kids to the lake in the morning and then on a hike. We can't wait until we can take them camping and this weekend would have been the PERFECT weekend for it, but it's still a little hard (disclaimer: we have already taken all three kids camping before, when the babies were a couple months old and couldn't walk or crawl!). Since we couldn't do what we wanted to, we did the next best thing:
We went on a hike at Folsom Lake (the Granite Bay side). It was actually a little longer than 1 mile, but we couldn't find any trails that were longer. We were looking for something in the 2-5 mile range, but there was a bike race going on and some of the trails were closed. This was the first time I've used the iPhone ap "Map my Walk." I loved that you could just click "start" and walk. When we were finished, we just had to click "finish" and it completely mapped our hike with all our stats. If I had put my height and weight in, it would have also calculated my calories burned. Pretty fun.
 Wasn't it pretty, though?
 Aiden was so thrilled about the water. He ran and ran and kept trying to go touch it. He loved just about everything and was far more excited than anyone else. Isabella was pretty pissed about having to walk in the sand, although when we sorta forced her to - she ended up doing just fine. Connor kept telling us he wasn't going to go in the water because there were alligators. Ha! I have no idea where he got that idea!
 
After a couple hours, we headed home for naps. When the kids woke up, we took them to the park:


 
Both the babies have started counting in the last few days. Aiden also says, "Ready, set, go!" WHOA! I mean we had them qualified for speech and then BAM their language took off! Here's video proof of their talking:

Such fun little adventures

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Whole Week Off

Last week I had the whole week off for "President's Week." It is always such a welcome break every year!! My own littles were off on Monday, so I stayed home with them that day, but sent them into preschool Tuesday and Friday (P.S. Connor cried Saturday, Sunday, and Monday because he couldn't go to "school to his teacher." He LOVE, LOVE, LOVES school!).

I was able to get a whole bunch of stuff done during my much needed week off.

I went to the DMV to get the bank taken off the title of my car - because we paid it off!! Yay! I changed my address with our escrow company. I went to book club! We met with our realtor and superintendent of our new house. I did ALL the kids' laundry and all of my laundry and Mr. Howard's. We bought six ceiling fans and light fixtures for all five bedrooms in our new house, plus the family room. We looked at beds for Connor's room. Mr. Howard and I went out to breakfast one morning and a sushi lunch another afternoon. I went out to lunch with friends one afternoon. We also had the babies' well baby visits (stats coming soon!), got all three kids' hair cut, went on a family hike, had their IFSP (individualized family service plan) meeting, and met with their developmental therapist. And I even had a little bit of time to catch up on the Jodi Arias trial (I'm fascinated with trials). Whew!

Busy, but productive week! I'll do separate posts with some of our fun adventures, but this post is going to be all about the adventures I had with my husband.

Our Breakfast Date on Tuesday:

Then we went off to look at fans. Four stores later and we went home empty handed. But who can complain about getting to leisurely walk around, without having to carry a child or two, or say "please don't touch" 4,598 times? It was heaven.
Mr. Howard woke up early on Thursday morning and went to get us bagels from Einstein's. Mmm. Bagels, coffee, and my family, also known as "my version of heaven!"
On Friday, we finally found ceiling fans and light fixtures! Six to be exact. We chose the same three for all the kids' rooms, a different one for our bedroom, one for the family room, and one for the guest bedroom. We really wanted to buy them all at once, all from Lowes, because we had a 10% off coupon there. So, we had to sort of settle on two of the fans that we liked, but weren't in love with. I'm sure we won't even notice in six months, but when you're trying to pick out a fan - it seems like a big deal, right?
The ceiling fan we had the hardest time finding was our family room fan. We are less picky about what goes upstairs, because it's really only us who will see it. But downstairs, everyone will see the fan. We decided on this one. It has hanging pendant lights, but it also has an uplight, which I think will be nice. The only hesitation we had was the gold. So, depending on how it looks, we may need to paint over that (a sort of sponge paint to make it more antique dark instead of gold).
While we were at Lowes, we made a donation and wrote Cole's name. It always makes me smile to see his name written down! It's my little way of getting to write my son's name sort of often.  =)
After Lowes we went out to sushi. Mmmm. I know I say this every stinkin' day, but I could literally eat sushi 6 meals a week. It is just heaven.
 
All in all, it was just a wonderful couple of hours over the week alone with my hubby. He really is my best friend.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

I believe in therapy

I haven't done a post about how the babies' therapies are going in a while. I got a question about it on instagram (follow me @thehowardbunch) the other day and it reminded me that some of you who have been following the babies' journey, might be wondering. For those of you who are new to my blog, you can follow THIS LINK to go back and read about their journey. Just scroll to the bottom to see the first post.

At twenty months old, they are doing so well!! I am so thankful I sought out resources for them and went with my gut to get them tested. I do not believe that therapy is the end-all be-all solution and I certainly don't believe that more is always better. Therapy is only a teeny tiny part of the solution; the biggest portion of services is learning what WE can do better. But therapy cannot be dismissed.

TEACHER SIDENOTE: It's been so interesting to be on the other side of an IFSP, because as a teacher I have attended IEP's for seven years. I'm thankful I have been able to experience the parent side of the table, because I certainly think it makes me a more compassionate teacher. It also gives me more credibility and honesty when I'm trying to talk to a parent about realistic expectations about special education. =) Now, having said that, I am just like every other parent in that I pray my children no longer qualify for services because they are 100% caught up. And if that day never happens, I know that they will still be such wonderful, special, unique little people with their own talents. I also pray that these experiences teach them to be more compassionate and understanding of those who don't learn and develop typically!

Aiden and Isabella receive occupational therapy each for one hour once a month. Mr. Howard stays home in the morning with both babies so that they can work with Kay. She often gives us things to work on and do. It's always so helpful to get new ideas for productive play.


Additionally, they are getting therapy with a child development specialist for one hour each once a week. This is the therapist we see the most often. Mr. Howard stays home for one hour every week with one child (the other two go to preschool) and we alternate who that is. They work on all sorts of skills - like stacking blocks and finding hidden objects. She is very generalized, so we work on speech, occupational therapy skills, and then generalized development. Just like the OT, we often get activities and strategies that we are then supposed to implement and work on when she is not there.

And finally, they JUST qualified for speech therapy for one hour each, twice a month. When we start services, I will come home early each week for one hour to work with her and one child. I think their speech is coming along and we're constantly excited about what new words they are learning and repeating, but they are a little delayed still. Aiden is a little further along in his development than sissy, but she is never very far behind. I am excited to see where this goes. We've added in a couple signs that we never did with Connor to help give them some choices for when they are feeling frustrated. We've taught them "help" and "yes" to reduce their frustrations, and I've noticed a difference recently.

Aiden's words: "what's that?" "bottle," "mama," "daddy," "nana," "shoe," "all done," "doggie," "uh-oh," "no," "yummy," "ball," "Bella," and "night night."

Izzy's words: "yummy," "bottle," "mama," "daddy," "doggie," "uh-oh," "ball," "night night," "catch," and "no"

Friday, February 22, 2013

Show us Your Life - Family Picture Ideas

I'm linking up with Kelly's Korner Blog to show you some of my favorite family pictures!

We have three beautiful children here on earth, two of whom are twins (plus our angel in Heaven). So I thought I'd focus on our big family photos and the ones of the twins to give you picture ideas!!

Our family photographer is here in Sacramento, California and her name is Katie Taylor Photography. She took almost every single photo below:


 Newborn






 


Pumpkin Patch Ideas


 This is our photographer with Isabella:
More twin and family ideas:


Disneyland Idea:
 Christmas Ideas with Twins

Footers, Foundation, and Framing - Building Our Home

I have been working on a photobook of our Building a House Journey, and I thought it was about time I updated you all.

First, the photos of what our construction crew has been up to.

February 6, 2013 - They poured the footers: 
February 10, 2013 - Gravel, vapor barrier, and rebar:
February 11, 2013 - Foundation Poured
February 11, 2013 - Our Shadows on the tarp
February 16, 2013 - Power Meter Box Installed (far left of our foundation):
February 16, 2013 - Close up of Foundation (the recessed area is our garage)
February 19, 2013 - First Floor Framed
February 20, 2013 - Close up of framing (the pushed out area is our garage)
February 20, 2013 - Standing in front of our house!
 February 20, 2013 - Close up!
February 20, 2013 - This is taken from our neighbor's window, looking down. The framers were building the floor supports for the second story.
 
We met with our superintendent on Wednesday and we were so excited. Even though we know it is our house, the process has felt a bit impersonal. We had never met any of the crew or been invited to walk the property. When we have shown up in the past, we have felt like we were intruding. So it was nice to feel personal. Our superintendent gave us his cell number, his email, and continuously reassured us. It felt wonderful.

We learned some important features that our builder uses. They use "water wise landscaping" which means they use California native plants. Plus they use irrigation systems with programmable "smart timers" that deliver water in gallons per hour instead of gallons per minute and even turn off automatically if it rains. Did you hear that?!? Thank goodness. Because I am always the jerk whose sprinklers are going off while it's raining. Yikes! They also have a pump system for hot water that has remote switches in every bathroom and kitchen, so that you don't have to turn on your bath for 10 minutes and waste all that water while it's heating up. Amazing!!

The moment we were most excited about was when we got our 100% completion date!! The house should be completed on April 29th and then we'll be able to close escrow a few days after that!

In the meantime, we spent about two hours looking at fans at all sorts of places. We've picked out all five bedroom's fans, but we're stuck on the living room. We know what we want in our head, but can't find it anywhere. What we really want is to pick up the one from the living room of our old house. You don't think they'll care, right? Ha!
Today our plan is to explore some options for Connor's big boy bed (since we gave away his crib when we moved). We are debating between getting him a themed bed (he really wants a Cars one) or just getting him one he'll be able to use until he's old (and moving out) and then doing Cars sheets on it. My vote is for a bunk bed or trundle (it won't be long before we're doing friend sleepovers), but I'm not sure it'll be in our price range.

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