Monday, December 30, 2013

Myrrh, Frankincense, Gold, and Fishy Crackers. Wait. What?!?

Our preschool puts on a Musical and Nativity Production and oh-my-heart it made me smile!! It's chaos and only a few of the kids actually participate, while the rest hide behind their parents' legs, but it's just the most hilarious, sweet thing you've ever seen!!! (I should warn you that I used my DSLR camera but could not for the life of me figure out how to adjust the lighting...when I put it into automatic, it "grayed" everyone out...when I put it into some of the other settings, it blurred people out or whited them out with the flash. I've since discovered how to adjust the ISO. Oops)

 There was an adorable cow:
 And a sheep:
Aiden played a Wise Man
Isabella played The Angel:
And Connor (far left below) played Joseph:
This is where Aiden and Isabella stayed for the entire performance. Off Stage. Except when I finally put the bowl of crackers on the stage, and Aiden went and sat (with his back to the audience) on the stage.
Seriously. We needed an intervention with the fishy crackers for a certain Wise Man. The funny part was that when they needed the Wise Man to give his gift to Joseph and Mary for Baby Jesus, Aiden wouldn't go - until his teacher said, "And the wise man brought Baby Jesus fishy crackers..." and then he walked over to give them to him. That's the little known secret of the story of Christmas. Bet you didn't know they brought him myrrh, frankincense, gold, and fishy crackers?!?
Connor had a few lines and they were equally adorable!
Here he is with Mary and Baby Jesus:
My adorable husband had to take Isabella up for her part. Her teacher said, "And the angel came, carried by her Daddy, to warn Joseph about King Herod." She clung to Mr. Howard's arms and WOULD NOT let go.
Here's a photo showing Aiden's participation (the bowl of fishy crackers is at his feet and the audience is facing the other direction):
And because I think you'd be missing out if I didn't include just a tiny snippet of one of the songs they sang, I'm going to treat you to an adorable song - complete with Aiden sitting on the ground eating. Isabella was in my arms clinging for dear life lest I go near the stage.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Twas the Night Before December 1st...plus the rest of our Elf on the Shelf Journey

We had a crazy beginning to our holiday season, while Mr. Howard was in Canada for the first 10 days of December. There were a lot of things I had to let go because we just didn't have time to do them. I tried desperately to keep the Elf of the Shelf tradition going, but, honestly, most days I was just surviving... and feeding the kids/getting them ready for school took precedence over some of the more fun things we usually do in December. So I got very few photos of all the things Buddy was up to. It was so strange, too, because Buddy seemed to be a whole lot less fun while Mr. Howard was away. He must have missed having Daddy home as much as we all did!

We started by watching the Elf Movie (from Grandma) and reading the Elf book (from Great Granna) the night beforehand!

Here's a little video snippet of their excitement during the Elf on the Shelf movie:
  
Connor took this picture of Aiden and Isabella.
And Connor snapped this one of Aiden. Cracks. Me. Up. Holy moly.
Nova (below) and Harley (two photos below) joined us for our Elf on the Shelf Video tradition.
The kids were SO excited.
I snapped these during the excitement of the video:
On his first night, Buddy surprised us by creating a swing from our eat-in kitchen light fixture:
 
Connor was VERY excited! The babies were a little less excited early on, but as the days went on, they got more and more into it!
The kids thought Buddy was very cute on top of our clock:
  One morning Buddy made a huge mess in our little library and then read an adorable book of Elf Stories.
What a little sneaky buddy:
Grandma made Buddy his very own embroidered shirt with his name on it! What a LUCKY elf!!!! We left it out for him and then he put it on and crawled into Connor's stocking!
 One morning, Buddy left all the stuff for the kids to make snowman with special SNOW PAINT (equal parts glue and shaving cream!):
On the eve of Buddy's very last day with us, we left him a very special hat to keep him warm at the North Pole. We knew he'd have a long and cold journey and we wanted to make sure he'd be nice and cozy. On Christmas Eve, when we came down to see him, he not only was wearing his hat, but he had also created a zipline that went from the eat-in kitchen area to our family room! 
Aiden, Connor, and Isabella are so thankful that Great Granna introduced us to our elf last year and can't imagine Decembers without him now!! 

Are you following us on Instagram @thehowardbunch? Follow along!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Real or Fake?

Happy Monday and Day Before Christmas Eve! This time of year is always SUPER busy at work for my husband, so it's always a mad scramble to get our shopping and everything done. But we're so blessed because, as a teacher, I can spend a lot of time at home with the kids during their holidays from school. I'm bound and determined to get all caught up on this little space of mine during the holiday!

A few weeks ago, we went and got our Christmas tree. Do you all do a real tree or a fake one? We have a family tradition of going with my parents to a farm where you pick a real one out and they cut it down for you fresh. This year we decided to go to a new place called Davis Ranch and my brother and his fiance were able to come with my parents, Mr. Howard, the kids, and me! The fun part about Davis Ranch was that they actually handed you a saw when you came in and you get to cut it down yourself. Connor was so excited!

Last year we were selling our house and, I'm pretty sure, we just went and got a small simple tree from a store parking lot. So this is really the first time the twins were aware of the process of picking out and cutting down our Christmas tree.

My little handsome man!
Becca and Colin's tree:
My mom ad Isabella:
We were joking that this was the PERFECT tree for Miss Isabella Lynn.
I adore this picture of my babies below. How on earth are the twins two-and-a-half?
Here was our tree:
Becca and Colin:
Me and Hubby (we did attempt a photo with the kids...but, instead, strapped them into their carseats and got a picture in peace! Ha!)
I have no idea how I didn't get a single photo with my Dad in it. He was on-the-go to find the perfect tree for my parents and I forgot to go get one of their tree with them in it. Oops!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Card 2013

I am obsessed with holiday cards! I love sending them, receiving them, making them, and then saving them in the card rings I keep to look at later. I know not everyone shares my craziness for cards, but they just make my heart happy. Mr. Howard and I have been making Christmas Cards since before we were married in 2004, and they've now become a part of our December traditions. My sister at Katie Taylor Photography always takes our pictures and does a truly spectacular job! If you're in the Sacramento, California area - she'd love to do yours too!
We took all these photos in Tahoe the weekend my brother got engaged to Rebecca. ((Mr. Howard was not in the picture-taking mood, hence the lack of photos of him.))
 Me and my handsome boys:
The boys
 Hubby and Me:
 And this pretty much sums up Isabella's desire to take photos:
 Look at my littlest handsome guy:
The Kirkpatrick Christmas Card below. This year Rebecca's family joined us in the pictures!
 All the girls:
My parents always do two pictures to put on their cards. They always do a normal, nicely posed one, and then a crazy one! Usually the crazy one makes it on the cover and the normal one goes on the inside. I think that pretty much sums my family up!
I'm linking up with Faith for her Christmas Card Carousel

Saturday, December 21, 2013

An Overdue Update on Aiden's Kidneys and Health

I received a sweet email from someone recently saying that she is having a baby who has multi-cystic dysplastic kidney disease. I would say about 4-5 times a year, I get an email or facebook message from someone, saying they found me by googling MDKD. It always breaks my heart that other Mamas have to go through that, but I value the friendships and hope that others who are earlier in the process can get hope from Aiden's story.

Pictured Above: Mr. Howard and Cole September 17, 2010
For those of you who are new to my blog, I had a beautiful little boy named Cole who passed away, from two multicystic dysplastic kidneys in September of 2010. Then, a few months later when I was pregnant with twins, we discovered prenatally that one of my twins had one multicystic dysplastic kidney. It was a rollercoaster of emotions, lots of prayer, and eventually answered prayers. We weren't sure if his other kidney would fill with cysts and we spent the pregnancy petrified that we might lose him too. We've been riding this journey of MDKD for three years and I can't even believe how far we've come.

When I was replying to the email I received, I realized I haven't given an update on Aiden in a long time on the blog.
 Aiden is doing wonderfully. There is absolutely no sign whatsoever that he has any renal problems in his healthy kidney. I mentioned in a previous post, that in the last renal ultrasound we had on Aiden, his left kidney was completely gone (more than likely it's still there somewhere, shriveled up, and undetectable anymore). His functioning kidney has increased in size and has taken over the function of the left (isn't that amazing how that happens?). We're at the point now that we don't have to continue to see a nephrologist multiple times a year.
 Aiden will live his life with only one functioning kidney. Twenty years ago this may have meant he wouldn't be able to do any contact sports, but today, the recommendations have changed. He will be able to do almost anything his siblings can do (with the exception of riding a motorcycle and boxing - which, for the record, his siblings will ALSO NOT be allowed to do. Ha!). He may need to wear a kidney pad (for certain sports) or he may just be limited in the number of contact sports he can play, but when the time comes for that, we'll have to do an evaluation to determine what will work for him and his health.
He is just a VERY loved, adorable, two-year-old with such a sweet heart who loves his siblings, cuddling, his blanket, stuffed kitty, cars, tractors, trains, and cereal! We couldn't be more blessed with his health.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Snowflakes and a boy who refused to move in them!

I needed a little laugh and something to bring my spirits up and I thought this Snow recap would be the perfect post. We got the bills from our hospital stays (minus my hospital bill and ambulance ride visit) and let's just say I'm overwhelmed. Whew! I am so blessed that we are healthy 99% of the time. We are so blessed to have jobs that also provide us healthcare. I can only imagine the position we'd be in if any of those things were different.

A few weeks ago we had a snowstorm that was very local (we even got a few drops of snow near Sacramento, California) and so we decided to take the kids to the snow! We've taken them to see the snow before, but the twins have never been when it is actually snowing.

Isabella was NOT a fan. As in, wanted-to-be held every single second we were there!

The boys, however, LOVED it! Loved, loved, loved! But Aiden took some time warming up to the idea...
Aiden cracked me up. He just froze, arms frozen mid air, feet frozen, and wouldn't move. Hillarious. Watch the video below (it's only 20 seconds)
I can only imagine what he was thinking!!
Connor was SUCH a good big brother and wanted to "help the babies" the whole time we were there.
Connor was beyond thrilled! He kept cracking up when the snow would hit his face. He'd giggle and say, "Mama do you see the snow?!?"
Here's Aiden frozen in the same position!
Colin and Becca brought their baby, Nova, (a Siberian Husky) and she was tugging at the leash READY to go. She is definitely a snow dog!
Here's Isabella, my soon-to-be sister in law, and me:
Can you spot the husky in the back of my brother's truck? She was in Heaven!
It's amazing how when we put Nova in the snow, her instincts kicked in and she wanted to PULL something. My brother and his fiance got her a harness so that she could pull a sled and I want so desperately for them to try it. I think she would love it. I've never seen a dog more excited by snow.

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