Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hi-tech Christmas Card 2009

Since life has gotten the best of me and time has run out for the real thing to be sent out before Christmas, I have decided to send our card out the hi-tech way.

So without further ado, here it is:

2009 Summary:
This year found things crazy, busy as usual. We are planning for yet another move in the midst of this busy season and are really excited to be getting into a 4 bedroom house. It will be nice for the kids to each have their own space. I know Andrew is really looking forward to having his legos in one piece instead of worrying about Aiden's destructive hands on them all the time. Dale and I are looking forward to unpacking and staying put for a while in this newly remodeled, beautiful home.

Aiden has grown like crazy over the past year and it is hard to believe that he will soon be two years old. He has just recently started talking a lot more and really cracks us up all the time with the funny things he says and does. He just learned to say pretty when he sees Christmas lights, except it sounds more like "pity." He is also THE best hugger. There is nothing better then a huge bear hug from my little dude first thing in the morning. He has had a pretty uneventful medical year, but it looks like there will be a surgery of some sort in his future for 2010. More details to come when more is known.

Alexis started Kindergarten this fall and LOVES it. She is excelling at school and really has great enthusiasm for reading everything she gets her hands on. She also started gymnastics at the beginning of the school year and loves going to her weekly lesson. We were hoping that this would give her an outlet for her energy but so far her energy seems to be endless.

Andrew is now in 5th grade. It is so hard for me to accept that he will be going into Middle School next year. He is still a good student, super reader, and now adds to that list the title of awesome trumpet player. This year alone he has played in four different performances, in one of those concerts he had the trumpet solo for being the top trumpet player in all of elementary band for our district. He did a great job and "owned it" as his director says. He continues to be our little comedian and often keeps Dale and I in stitches with his witty sense of humor. I hope he never looses that light hearted attitude about life.

Dale is still working in Palm Springs for Stater Bros. He and I both are hoping he will get moved closer to home in the coming year so he won't have such a long commute. I have been subbing quite a bit this year at the kids' school. There are times I wonder why I am working so many days at sub rate instead of getting a full time teaching position, but then I am reminded how much I am needed at home as a mom. I truly enjoy being a stay at home mom who is also able to work on my own schedule.

We all hope and pray that you and your entire family will have a wonderful Christmas and an extremly blessed year in 2010!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

He "Owned It!"

This year in Elementary School Band, Andrew is playing in the Advanced Band. He was chosen out of all of the district trumpet players to have the only trumpet solo at the Christmas performance. And as his director says, "He owned it!" When I asked him before the performance if he was nervous he said he was a little, but more excited. The whole group played a medley of Christmas songs with solos being played inbetween each song by Andrew on trumpet, a trombone, clarinet, saxophone, and flute (another kiddo from Andrew's school).
I was thankful that Andrew's solo was first because I was so nervous for him. I knew he would do a great job but I just wanted it to be over with so I could sit back, breath and enjoy the rest of the program.

The kids gave a great performance and brought the crowd to their feet. You could really tell the kids enjoyed what they were doing.

We were glad that Andrew's grandma and grandpa were able to come and enjoy watching the concert with us. I am sure this will not be the last great concert we will enjoy of Andrew's and hopefully not the last solo that he will "own!"

Walk a Mile In My Shoes

Aiden has this recent fetish with wearing everyone's shoes. If you leave your shoes out long enough Aiden will have stolen them and be clomping down the hallway.It is the funniest thing to watch him try and walk around in shoes that are a million times too big for him. He just loves his daddy and mama's shoes!
Future shoe salesman? Future runner? Time will tell. In the mean time, Aiden is trying to figure out what it is like walking a mile in my shoes.

Craniofacial Team Appt. 2009

On Monday Aiden had his annual craniofacial team appointment. This appointment was like all the others in the fact that I didn't find out about it being scheduled till the week before. It was then time to scramble to find a sitter and someone to go with me. My niece, Candace, came over to watch the older two kiddos so they wouldn't have to be bored to death at the LONG appointment. Dale was not able to take the day off so my mom offered to go with me. I told Dale after I got home that he has been replaced and that I would be taking my mom with my on all future team appointments. She did an awesome job playing the part of secretary, writing down everything; baby soother by putting him to sleep between doctors leaving and entering the room; question reminder, I always forget what I want to ask once I get there even if I have written it down; and lastly, my sanity saver by giving me some adult conversation while we waited and waited.

First up was Dr. E. He is the general pediatric doctor who oversees the team. He did a complete exam on Aiden and seemed overall impressed. He did say that his tube in his right ear is in the canal so it is no longer serving it's function and will continue to work itself out. The left ear was slightly clogged but still in place. He suggested we make an appointment with the ENT (who of course was not there since he comes every other week). He would like his hearing and pressure checked just to make sure he is still on track. We will consider a tube replacement if those tests do not come back clear, otherwise it is a wait and see, hoping to avoid repeat ear infections.

Next up was speech. Of course Aiden doesn't like to perform when asked to, so that left it up to mama to relay what he is capable of doing. He did inadvertently show his ability and she gave him clearance in that area. She does want to see him again in 6-9 months instead of waiting for next year's team meeting since this is such a pivital time for speech. She gave me a few handouts of things to work on at home, which seem to be all the things we already do in every day life. I do need to get better at reading to him. I read ALL the time with Andrew, little less with Alexis and now even less with Aiden due to time. That is something I want to get better at so I can help build that love of reading in him that his big brother and sister have.

The dentist followed right behind the speech pathologist. I was especially interested in our conversation with the dentist since we have been concerned about Aiden's "hidden" teeth. I showed her the x-ray and letter that we had gotten from our regular pediatric dentist and then she did her own exam on him, confirming what our dentist had recommended. She then made sure that the oral surgeon was added to our list of people to see that day. She feels that the wait and see approach is probably not the best solution, but rather that something needs to be done to "expose" the teeth. The problem is trying to avoid creating more scar tissue that could get in the way of successful future surgeries, like a bone graph to the gumline.

The oral surgeon entered the room moments after the dentist left (so far this looked like it was going to be a quick team appointment, boy did I jinx it!) The surgeon did his exam, read the letter, and looked over the x-ray and seemed to echo what we had already heard. He recommended we make an appointment with his office for a more complete evaluation so a plan for surgery could be made.

The only doctor left on the list was Dr. M, plastic surgeon, and a social visit with Dr. Garcia, his orthodontist when he was doing the NAM as an infant. We waited a super long time, Aiden took a nap, mom and I talked about anything and everything, and then waited some more. I finally popped my head out of the room to see what was going on, only to be told that Dr. M. had just shown up at 3:30 and had to get to all the rooms that had been waiting, just like us, since 1:00. That man does great work, but WOW!?!, his sense of time is way off. In the meantime we had a great time catching up with Dr. Garcia, seeing pictures of her 6 month old little guy, loving on Aiden (who was groggy from his nana nap), and chatting about all that has happened in the past year. She will forever hold a special place in my heart for all she has done from Aiden and my family. I have never met a more caring, sincere doctor in my life, and feel blessed that she has been a part of Aiden's team.

After she left we waited some more for Dr. M. At this point Aiden was done and just wanted to GO, GO, GO! He was done waiting, done being looked at, done opening his mouth for anyone, and just wanted out. Thankfully, right when all was about to break loose, Dr. M. entered the room. He did a quick look and then seemed to be heading for the door. I stopped him in his tracks and told him I wanted to discuss Aiden's "hidden" teeth, what the others had suggested, show him the x-ray and try to get a clearer answer to our options for Aiden. (My hope was to accomplish all of this so we could cancel next weeks appointment in his office, where no doubt we would have waited a LONG time again! Mission accomplished!) He closed the door, washed his hands, and got down to business. He did agree that something should be done, but wasn't sure which approach would be best without causing problems for the future. He said he would discuss it with the team and should have an answer for us when I call on Monday.

So, after waiting a total of 3 1/2 hours to see 6 doctors, we now wait a few more days to find out Aiden's fate. Will he have a simple exposure procedure done in the dental chair with just numbing? Will he have a slightly more complicated surgery, where they will put him under? Will he have a graphing done to the gumline, which would be even more complicated? I guess (and hope!) we will find out on Monday so we will know which direction 2010 will take us. I know that no matter what decision is made, he will be a super trooper through it all!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Teeth, Teeth Everywhere!!

We seem to be in a season of hurting teeth, loose teeth, and crazy teeth these days. Alexis's front teeth have been bugging her for a while and I think it is just because her big teeth are beginning to push on the roots of her baby teeth. They are not wiggly yet, but I am sure it won't be much longer before she has a toothless grin.

Andrew on the other hand is still loosing teeth at a steady pace. The most recent loss was a bottom canine tooth. It was SUPER wiggly that he could actually push it sideways with his tongue. It got to the point that he couldn't bite down on anything on that side so I decided it better come out sooner then later to prevent swallowing it. He loved pushing that tooth straight out and freaking his sister out (and mommy for that matter). After lots of coaching, coaxing, and a few tears from anxiety, the tooth was pulled. Then came the tooth fairy negotiations. "Do you think she would be willing to give me a lego set since it was so painful?" Uh, no! "Well, then don't you think it is at least worth $5?" Uh, no!! The tooth fairy gave a fair price for that clean, shiny tooth - $1.
Aiden on the other hand doesn't have hurting teeth or loose tooth, but rather crazy teeth. I knew to expect craziness when he was born with a cleft, but seeing the x-ray put crazy into a whole new perspective. Aiden is such a trooper and did a great job at the dentist. He sat so patiently in the chair and allowed the assistant to clean his teeth, even asking her to do it again. He sat great for his x-ray, even sitting a second time since the tech didn't get the film in the right location for the spot the dentist wanted to see. And then, he patiently let the dentist poke and probe in his mouth without too much resistance.
And this is the x-ray! This is of the front top teeth. You can see how crooked they are, how crazy they are coming in, and even some tooth fragments that will never be 'real' teeth but will have to be dealt with somehow. The cleft is still pretty significant the dentist said, so he highly doubts we avoided the bone graft surgery by using the NAM. Time will have to wait and tell us if that is the case or not.

Dale and I have had some concerns about two of his teeth (his left front teeth and one tooth on the left side in the back of his mouth) that have cut through the gum line but are still hidden by soft tissue. Our plastic surgereon wants to take a more laid back, wait and see approach, but after talking to our dentist I am not so sure that is the best route to take. He explained that the soft tissue covering his front tooth is lip tissue. When connected to the gum line it was attached lower then what ours is so the tooth came out the path of least resistance. The only reason to leave it the way it currently is, is to prevent a cavity, but the reasons to expose it are numerous. Though Dale and I were concerned about the front tooth he was more concerned about the long term effects of leaving the back tooth alone. The soft tissue that is covering that tooth is actually cheek tissue. Because that tooth is covered, Aiden prefers to chew everything on the other side so he can break it down. After all, who would want to bite down on your cheek all the time? In the long run that one sided chewing could cause jaw problems. He STRONGLY suggested we have both teeth exposed, which from what he explained to us will not be a simple slit the tissue procedure, but yet a rather extensive reconstructive surgery similar to the initial palate surgery and recovery.

I have asked for the dentist to write up his findings so I can take that synopsis and a copy of the x-ray to Aiden's craniofacial appointment next Monday and to his plastic surgeon the following Monday if he isn't at the team meeting (which he rarely seems to be when we go... whole other story). The dentist feels so strongly about him having use of those teeth that he has suggested we find an oral surgeon who is willing to do the surgery if our plastic surgeon refuses. Dale and I feel so strongly about doing what is right for Aiden and all along have not felt in our gut that leaving it alone was the right thing to do but did not have the expertise to back those feelings up. I am really praying that the surgeon will be open to hearing what someone else thinks and consider helping him out. I am also praying that Dale and I will know exactly what to do when the time comes. I am not looking forward to another surgery, but guess that I have always known that this was a possibility.

We should know more in a week or two and then it will be decision time. In the meantime, it is teeth, teeth everywhere in this house.

Crazy Excitement on Maderia

One Saturday morning not too long ago the kids were quietly enjoying their Saturday morning cartoons when all of the sudden we heard this big pop and then the power went down. I heard some commotion coming from the back of our condo so I peeped my head out and saw that a power line had come down in the yard across the street from us. What I didn't find out 'til a little while later was that a tree trimmer had knocked the line down with his bucket and was dangling from his safety harness behind this palm tree.
Safety crews worked quickly to get the area secured and then began to run a ladder up to the man who had been dangling upside down for about 20 mins at this point.

They were able to get him down safely and he didn't seem to have any major injuries, besides a huge bruised ego from everyone in the neighborhood watching him dangle from the work bucket.
The kids on the other hand just wanted to know when their electricity would be turned back on since this is the only morning of the week they get to watch cartoons. It was two hours later, 5 packed boxes, two cleaned rooms, and one consummed lunch later till the electricity resumed and cartoons could commense.

That was enough excitement on Maderia to last me a very long time.

Howse Family Thanksgiving 2009

For Thanksgiving this year we went out to Palm Springs to spend the day at Dale's Mom and Dad's house. The kids' Auntie Deana, Uncle Anthony, Auntie Dawn and Uncle Ralph joined us there as well. The kids were so excited they made sure they were up bright and early that morning and must have asked me a million times if it was time to go yet.

After a crazy drive on the 10 freeway, we arrived and the kids were ready to hit the ground running. Aiden just wanted to go, go, go, which is now his favorite word.

A favorite thing to go at Grandma and Grandpa's house is to play on their exercise equipment. Even Aiden wanted to get in on the action this time.
Andrew can burn some serious calories in no time. Not that he has any calories to spare.
The kids and I made place cards for the dinner table. Alexis had the most fun coloring them and then placing them on the table.
The kids' Uncle Ralph has enough energy to keep up with all three kids. Aiden loved being attacked by his kisses,
learning how to wrestle,
and having Uncle Ralph do repeated push-ups over top of him. He giggled the entire time.
Of course after all that exercising and giggling he had to get some snuggle time with Auntie Deana.
And then it was back up for some airplane time with Auntie Dawn.
Most times when we go to Grandma and Grandpa's house, Aiden is a little stand-offish with Grandpa since he doesn't see him often enough. This time that was not the case. He went right to Grandpa and snuggled with him. He even cried when he would leave the room to do something else.
The kids were pretty bummed when the day came to a close and they had to say goodbye to everyone. We sure wish we could be around family more often.
Uncle Anthony, Auntie Deana and kiddos.
Uncle Ralph, Auntie Dawn and kiddos.
Grandma, Grandpa, and kiddos
We have so much to be thankful, family being one of the most important. HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2009!!

My Amazing Trumpet Player

Andrew's trumpet playing has flourished, and he has had a few opportunities to perform in the past months, enjoying every moment of it.

In November he played in the church Talent Show. He did an awesome job!!!
Every time we go out to Grandma and Grandpa's house we seem to forget to bring the trumpet. They have been wanting to hear him play for some time now, so we made it a point to pack the trumpet first thing for our trip to their house for Thanksgiving dinner. After we dined on turkey and all the fixings, we were entertained by this absolutely wonderful trumpet player. Dale's family really seemed to enjoy hearing him play in person.
Andrew had yet another chance to perform this past Saturday for our town Christmas parade. He performed with all the local elementary band students, which has over 400 students. Here are a few of his fellow trumpet buddies from his school, all warmed up and ready to go.
Andrew said that when they passed by the judging station the judges gave them a standing ovation. They sounded great and all seemed to enjoy their first collective performance, even if their legs were tired from marching a mile and a half.
Andrew's band instructor, Mr. A., has such patience to deal with so many kids at one time. He really has a heart for music and has passed that passion on to Andrew.
Once they hit the end of the parade route, the students gave the parents a short concert. Since I can never find him amongst all the orange shirts while they are marching I made sure to get a few pictures while he was standing still.
We are so very proud of our awesome trumpet player. He has another Advanced Band Christmas concert on the 15th, where he will have a solo, and we are waiting to hear this week if he made Honor Band. He has such natural talent and loves to perform whenever he can.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

This picture is perfect for Wordless Wednesday because there are no words to explain this get up Aiden put together with the help of his sister. Enjoy a good laugh compliments of Aiden. :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween 2009: Invasion of Star Wars

This year we decided to go with a theme for all three kiddos. Daddy and the kiddos are major Star Wars fans, so we stuck with that theme. Introducing Andrew as Darth Vader, Alexis as Princess Leia, and Aiden as Yoda.
The kids had been asking since noon if it was time to go. Alexis couldn 't grasp the concept that it had to be dark before we could head out. She sat in front of the clock and watched every minute tick by. When it was time to go they were the first at the door. Aiden couldn't understand why his bucket was empty. That would all change before the night was over.
We met up at Mrs. T's house (Aiden's sitter on the days I sub) so we could walk the neighborhood with her family and a few other friends. In all we had 20 people walking together. That was too many if you ask me because it was pretty hard to stay together and not be tripping over each other at the same time.
Daddy and I took turns walking him up to the doors and reminding him to say "Thank you!" My friend's daughter, Katee, helped him walk up to the door as well, which gave Dale and I a nice break to sit back and watch the action instead of having to be all up in it.
Little Yoda's legs were tired. Thankfully Daddy came to the rescue and carried him from house to house. He even said 'Trick or Treat' at a few houses. When we reminded him to say thank you at the last few house he just said, "NO!" He was definitely done and wanted to go home.
Once we got home we dumped all the candy on the living room floor for mommy and daddy to inspect and for the kids to pick out their 10 pieces of candy to keep. Aiden couldn't get his hands on enough candy and kept dropping them and starting over to see if he could get more with a different approach.
Before we knew it he had decided he wanted a sucker and had helped himself.

Before the night was over we had to see who was the cutest Princess Leia.
First up: Daddy Leia
Andrew Leia
Aiden Leia

And the winner: Princess Alexis Leia
(Somehow the picture of Mommy Leia never made it to the blog. Wonder how that happened?)

Around our house we have a new tradition: The Switch Witch. The SW, after being invited by the kids, exchanges their candy, minus the 10 pieces she lets them keep, for something non-candy. If they have not been good then the Gobbling Goblin gobbles up all their candy and leaves them nothing. After the kids were snuggling in their beds, the Switch Witch made her appearance. She left them this little note and flew away in the midnight sky with their candy in exchange.
I am thankful that I will not have to hear the begging for candy for days on end, and I am looking forward to taking them to Toys 'R Us to spend their gift card this week.

We are now looking foward to a very thank filled November.