Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cookies and snow.

My ever thoughtful friend, Petra, made some awesome sugar cookies for Caitlin and sent them to her with sprinkles and homemade frosting ready to decorate. What fun! and YUM! We had a great time decorating with Eliza...














mmmm...then on to snow play




...which didn't last long. They were in and ready for hot chocolate within about 12 minutes. I'm thinking we've had plenty of sugar for the day....

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Letter to Caitlin

My dear Caitlin,
OH MY--how you are just growing and learning and being hilarious and smart and loving. You have survived and thrived despite all that we, as a family, have gone through over the past 2 years. You have rolled with all these punches and I am amazed at the big girl that you are and the big sister that you are. Sometimes I look at you and think about how mature you are--and have to remind myself that you are only four (almost five, but not yet! I'm not quiiiiite ready for you to be five). You take showers by yourself, pick your clothes out and dress yourself every morning, will not accept help with zippers or shoe ties--tonight we went out to dinner and you asked to go to the bathroom by yourself (reader: do not worry, I still walked her in, no one was in there, no one else was in the restaurant either).


You have such a sweet heart. You are so quick to make me feel better if you sense I am sad--hugs, words of encouragement, snuggles, asking me if you can pray for me. You look out for the cats now. You look out for your brother and sister--sometimes too much--you are not quite big enough to pick them up, but that doesn't stop you.


You are such a girly girl. Where did you get that from???? You love sparkles and pink and glitter. You wonder how I can wear gray and black so often since they are "so boring." But at the same time, you do love to play hard! You especially love to rough house with your dad and your brother. Nearly every night after dinner you ask for either a pony ride from your dad...or you ask to wrestle.





You are smart! and fiesty! and hilarious! Tonight you tried to convince me that the music we were listening to (Florence + the Machine) was making you fart. Earlier today, you told Daddy where Russia was on a world map. You probably learned it at school? I love to pick you up from school on your school days--you run up to me and shout "mommy!!" and you are finally starting to tell me more about your day. Speaking of school....kindergarten is approaching. I have no doubt you will absolutely love it. I do dread the day that you are gone while I am home. I have had a profound realization recently that we have a finite number of days together--I am working harder on enjoying these moments with you. That mostly translates into your favorite activity: Art Projects together! You LOVE art of any type. You love to do art together or alone--you love to close yourself into your art room for hours--you make a new project for your dance teacher everyweek (I mostly forget to bring them to your dance class--sorry!). Your current favorite thing is cutting out characters from coloring book pages and then gluing them onto little wooden sticks and using them as puppets.

You are soaking up everything bible-related or Jesus-related--you tell us bible stories. You sing what you call "praise and worship" songs all the time--in the car, on the toilet, at bedtime. You are so excited about our Advent activities. You could not wait to get Christmas decorations and the tree up this year and have been so helpful with getting gifts wrapped and sent out.

We sing a song a church that goes "A thankful heart prepares the way for you, My God." This has really made me think. I've tried to really focus on a spirit of thanksgiving. Everynight when I tuck you into bed, I say 3 things that I'm thankful to God for (the mundane and the grand--the simple and the profound) and then I ask you to do the same. You usually express gratitude for your friends, your teachers, your family. But tonight I challenged you to thank God for 3 things that you've never thanked Him for before. Your response was "hmmmm....I have to think wisely....I'm thankful for my picture frames. I'm thankful for my stuffed animals. I'm thankful for the whole wide world."

Thank you for keeping me grateful and for bringing such a vibrancy to our lives.
Love you,
mom

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Who's the adult here?

Last night I was trying to herd the kids upward to bed when Caitlin asked me about having some candy. I told her she could have a piece tomorrow because she'd already brushed her teeth. Then we got everyone in to bed and tucked in and I snuck downstairs for a few mini peanut butter cups. I parked in my bedroom to indulge in my reward while going through the Sunday paper's ads. After ripping off the shiny metallic wrapper and popping one in my mouth, my bedroom door was opened. Caitlin was coming in to let me know she was just up to go potty again and began walking toward me to give me a big hug. I set the paper down on top of the evidence and turned toward the hug she was offering. We had a short little chat. After a hug, she was off for the potty. As she got to the door she turned around and said, " Mommy?" "yes?" "I know you are having candy right now." And she turned away and went about her business and then back to bed.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

We are still alive!

Apologies for the 3 month long lapse there. Life, and all.....
We have been VERY busy growing and learning and managing chaos, so no worries--all is well.

I have been asked to update the blog a lot lately, so here goes.

Caitlin is a busy bee this summer--soccer clinic and tap class on Tuesdays, swimming on Saturdays, pre-K three days per week (and don't you dare call it preschool! she already graduated from preschool). I swear I will not be an overscheduler! It's just so easy to try some things out in the summer when daddy's not at work all the time. My ever-patient husband has been working with her on sight words and she loves it--John's so awesome and has made up a game to help her learn and she is really taking it all in. She continues to make us laugh every day.
Yesterday I was scratching a mosquito bite and she said "you will make that bite worse if you scratch it," I said "really? I don't think so. who told you that?" She replied "mom? I know a lot about life."




Ryan is also super busy. His main focus is language right now. He signs "all done," and "milk," (even though he doesn't drink milk). waves hello/goodbye. He is saying new words each day and pointing at everything. On June 21 I wrote down all the words he had at that point: baby, diaper, dada, bye-bye, puppy, uh-OH, cracker, go, ball, peekaboo, all done, book, up. Since then he's added: deck, click, cup, bottle, hi, kitty. (you will notice this list does not contain the word mama). We are left with only a few minor feeding issues--like he still drinks a bottle--we have given up the battle realizing that he will likely not go to college on a bottle, so hopefully that will work itself out. We've tried a few bootcamp style cold-turkey no-bottle-only-sippy-cup challenges and he will just not drink anything for days, so we waved the white flag and gave up. bottles it is. I'm still not convinced he knows how to recognize hunger/thirst yet--I think he eats now because he finally likes it and drinks because we force the issue to a point. happily though, we have transitioned to a regular kids formula instead of the fancy, schmancy prescription formula and he is drinking a regular toddler formula that I can just get at the regular people store like a regular mom--amazing! The tough part is that he still needs MAJOR distractions in order to drink--like Go, Diego, Go!--nothing else will quite do the trick. You will notice that "go" and "click" are in his language repertoire--that is no accident, thanks to Diego. So, we plug in Diego 4 times a day for 5 minutes each while Ryan chugs a 6 ounce bottle each time. Small price to pay for not using the g-tube (since April!!! can you believe it???!!!)--and any parent that's battled feeding/oral issues with a kid can probably understand why we are letting this go on like this. In my self-righteous first-time-mom days of parenting, I would've never imagined. But here we sit. happily. watching Diego and his dumb camera. oh well. CLICK!

Nora is busy on language as well, but also really working on motor skills. She easily stacks the stacking rings and is working on the shape sorter--having an awesome attention span, she works on these things for like 10-20 minutes at a time. She is walking now too--not independently, but definitely taking 10+ steps and walking across the room on occasion. She is nodding as of a few days ago and nods "yes" to every question almost. She says: uh-oh, dada, cracker, ball, kitty, cheese. she signs: more, all done, milk.



The babies play really well together when they are physically separated--like they babble back and forth and mimic each other when they are in their cribs or highchairs. But put them on the floor together and it is one brawl after another. Ryan grabs whatever he wants, regardless of who is playing with it at the time--he only wants what someone else has. Nora only plays with things that no one else is touching, but completely falls apart if anyone takes her stuff from her. She gets really attached to random tiny things and crawls around with them and then her heart is broken if something (ryan) happens to it--or if she pulls the vent cover off and throws her precious item down the vent. can we please learn our lesson on that trick yet? anyway. Ryan hits with books, hand, toys, whatever--mostly onto Nora's head. She's pretty tough though--she doesn't cry as much as I would. But mostly they are at a very precious stage right now of learning to communicate and being sweet. It's really fun to watch this phase as there are new things each day.

video
(ignore the screaming Ryan--he wants the camera. always.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

And away they go....

video

the man whose voice you hear in Nora's video, is actually me + laryngitis. About 10 days ago, I took this video, she was just starting to crawl forward, needing a little incentive still. Now? forget it. she's everywhere. we've rebabyproofed as much as possible but she still finds things to get into. She's very happy chasing the kitties, now saying "diddy" as her first word even. eating finger foods...and when I say finger foods, I mean cheese (shredded, not cubed, don't even try it) and goldfish crackers. She sweetly eats the foods she's fond of and sneaks the rest of the food to the side of her tray, where it will stay until she's really done and then they start making it to the floor, piece by piece, because then all the cats will gather round and pick up the scraps. Nora is very happy and easily impresses herself--when she does something particularly noteworthy, she looks at me, raises her eyebrows, smiles and claps. stunned with her brilliance. She's not a huge fan of naps. She has 6 teeth--4 across the top and 2 on the bottom. She continues to be my early-riser, up around 6ish with me every morning, but I don't mind--we nap and nurse for about a half an hour before anyone else gets up and then she helps me get Ryan's formula made before we go wake him up.


video

Ryan has the cutest hop-crawl ever. It's part bunny, part seal. He's got the alternating hands down, but the legs only alternate sometimes--more often they move as one unit, hoping, to catch up with those fast arms. Learning to crawl has made a huge difference in his happiness quotient. Three days ago, he was happy in two places: crib and mommy's arms. Now, he's busy pulling CDs down from the shelf, getting into Caitlin's art supplies, pulling the blinds down, taking out the tupperware and pots and pans, chasing cats. Ryan went from being a difficult eater, needing OT, to just eating pretty much anything. He uses his hand like a rake and shovels in whatever food I put on his tray. And once he got the hang of self-feeding, he started projectile spitting his purees at us, so we totally gave up instantly. i was pretty much over spoon-feeding two babies simultaneously three times a day anyway. Ryan loves his naps and bedtime--he has a little lovely / transitional object blanket that he snuggles with. He LOVES, LOVES to laugh. If you laugh, he will laugh. If you put something on his head, he will laugh. If you play peek-a-boo, he will laugh. If you jump, he will laugh. And, he has the best laugh--strong, belly giggles--love it. I spend a lot of time each day doing dumb things to make him laugh. He has 8 teeth now. Doing better with dealing with new faces--still clingy though. Health-wise, he's doing great.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Triple threat...


Ryan and Nora were in various stages of learning to crawl....one of Ryan's stages was the backwards shuffle, he got stuck a few times, and frustrated. thankfully, he is persistent and kept on until he could do it the right way.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Meet Cousin Jacob


Nora and I took a 2ish day long trip to South Carolina to visit Rebecca, Don and finally meet Mr Jacob after four long months. We had a really nice time despite our trip nearly getting sabotaged by the weather--they got 5 inches of snow the night before my trip and, of course, in SC, that means all things come to a complete stop....including the power in Rebecca and Don's house. Fortunately, all was well, and the power was restored before we boarded the plane and we had lovely, warm days for our trip. We arrived Saturday, hung out, caught up, played. Sunday we spent the day at the aquarium in Charleston and then walked around Charleston, babies strapped in carriers. We all got a good workout--and I got to breathe fresh air and see the sun for the first time in a while, which was very nice. Nora was well behaved-except her usual naptime raging. She was a handful on the plane and I worked my butt off to keep her quiet during 4 separate flights, but she was great--only one total raging meltdown for the last 10-15 minutes on the first flight (God Bless that man who sat next to me and kept telling me it was OK!)

Cousins...








am I always this much taller than Rebecca? weird.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

One year ago....

(this was written Saturday 2-20-10...I didn't post it until Monday b/c of some issues getting the pictures up)

Feb 20, 2009 was the worst experience of my life up until that point (little did I know there would be worse things to come). The past year has been life changing to say the least--not just because we are now a family of 5, including twins, but because of the way these twins entered the world--the uncertainty, the prognoses, the NICU, the TPN, the ventilators, the surgeries, the emergencies, the NEC. John and I talked a lot over the past month or so about how this day would be---would it be Happy First Birthday, Nora and Ryan or would it be the one year anniversary of the beginning of a time of hell on earth for us? I think it ended up being somewhere in the middle.

I'm really not that sentimental of a person, but this time, this anniversary has been bringing me down. I look at my babies--growing, thriving, miraculous, and I should be celebrating how amazing these guys are--and, believe me, I am thankful and humbled and amazed and filled with gratitude--but, the memories are tough. Many of the worst times are fresh in my head as if they happened yesterday--yet they happened a lifetime ago. I am left wondering if their birthday will ever just be their birthday--a day to celebrate their time here--to celebrate how far they've come and how much they've enriched our lives as individuals. But, so far, on this first birthday, the flashbacks are casting a shadow on things unfortunately. Sure, we said Happy Birthday to them and were thrilled to talk to family and friends who called to say Happy Birthday. And we agree about the amazing strides they've made--I'm not faking the phone call happiness. I'm happy. I'm happy for them, for us. I'm thankful to God to our friends and family. But it doesn't feel quite like a birthday should for me. I feel like they are getting ripped off to some extent b/c of all the memories--they don't know it but I do. And please don't let my weirdness prevent any Happy Birthday wishes to them--I'm not falling apart about it or anything, I promise. and THANK YOU for all the birthday wishes and celebratory emails, phone calls and hugs--We all appreciate it.

So, today I planned a really fun day for John--a surprise poker night with a few buddies. Planning kept me busy and it also felt like a little bit of a redemption for John's lost birthday last year when we were praying for Ryan to turn a corner for the better after a series of bad reports from the neonatologist--we had nothing to celebrate last year. and I also blew it on Father's Day 2009 for the record. So, John is currently playing poker with some of his buddies--I hear laughter, I see friendship, I see John smiling. It is a good day. Next year we'll have a party for Nora and Ryan--hopefully there will be much healing of our spirits in between now and then.

In the meantime...here are my one-year olds. i guess. they sure don't look like one-year olds, but they are doing great things. They are both getting all over the place--Nora rolling and scooting, getting up on her knees and revving up to crawl soon, even taking a "step" with her arms here and there--Ryan moves by rotating in a circle on his belly and thrashing his legs around which sometimes throws him forward, sometimes backward--on the kitchen floor, he looks like an accomplished breakdancer.








Monday, February 1, 2010

my sunday

video
John took Caitlin to Sesame Street Live (thank you Grandma Joanie and Grandpa Buddy!) for her birthday....I complained about not getting to go. a lot. But, I did get to spend the day with these precious gifts. Nora's just learned to clap and is pretty impressed with herself. Ryan's a seasoned clapper but has become a bit of a jumping bean in the exersaucer. enjoy!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Caitlin's birthday








Thanks to so many friends and family members for making Caitlin's 4th birthday so special!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Food.

Nora's doing all kinds of busy big baby activities these days. She just figured out how to feed herself little bits of cereal...


She will not take a bottle herself, but loves to steal Ryan's bottle...which he basically refuses to drink anyway....

Speaking of Ryan's bottle...we are dealing with some trouble with him accepting food and formula by mouth. We are seeing an occupational therapist weekly and she has him doing some gum brushing before we feed him solids with this crazy brush, but he likes it.
She also had me try giving him these crunchy foods, which he accepted happily once. once. and from then on, even though he can feed himself, he hasn't taken anything. She thinks he has a sensitive gag reflex and a little bit of consistensy / texture / sensory issues with food that make him not like it (the gum brushing is supposed to de-sensitize this). I'd really hoped that once he learned how to feed himself, he'd go for it, but that's not turning out to be so. It's pretty exhausting trying to transition off the gtube feeds when he won't take much by mouth. And the colds and runny noses he's been getting one right after another haven't helped much either. So, I'm looking forward to spring.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Caitlin


PUTTING HER TO BED we always go back and forth about who loves who more. The other night went like this:
Me: I love you up to the moon
C: I love you up to the stars
Me: I love you past the stars
C:...(thinking)...I love you paster the stars

TWO NIGHTS AGO:
She has been imitating her Grandma Mary by singing and playing her piano at the same time. Here she was doing her own worship. I was bustling around the kitchen at the time, and didn't really hear all the words, but i did hear "JESUS IS OUR OWNER" at one point. John grabbed the camera and we got this little bit only...

video

She has been loving to write and draw lately and was very proud of this family drawing



Back in Business

We finally got our camera back and it's working--the babes have really gotten bigger and stronger in the past 3 months of being camera-less.
We assembled our new stroller and everyone wanted to try it out....as usual, Ryan is having a ball and Nora is skeptical.



Ryan is finally loving his bath, so we are having fun taking baths around here--we got all 3 kids in the bath together yesterday, of course Caitlin is at an age where she is intentionally left out of these...



After bath...sad attempt to get a picture with all three kids in their jammies--Nora uncooperative, Ryan distracted, Caitlin lollygagging until Ryan finally fell apart, then I got a decent one with my girlies only.



..and they're still bald.  and this picture totally cracks me up.


In other news, Ryan had a bunch of appts over the past week: 9 month well visit, intestinal rehab clinic, developmental clinic--all NORMAL AND IMPROVED!  He's doing awesome.   Nora's also doing well--got a big fat "normal" on her evaluation at the developmental clinic and we have her well child visit tomorrow, so hopefully that is uneventful as well.