Friday, December 27, 2013

Ice Storm 2013: a power killing, heat robber, slippery monster

With all of my extreme planning, I could have never anticipated the crazy ice storm that hit Lansing on Saturday/Sunday December 21st and 22nd. 

On Sunday, the boys and I were minding our own business.  Josh was at Meijer picking up groceries and other items needed for baking and cooking for Christmas.  My parent's had lost power the night before in Okemos and the fact that we hadn't lost it yet made me confident we wouldn't.  All of a sudden, at approximately 8:30am, out went the lights.  Josh was on his way home with all of our food.  Super. 

We tried to go about Sunday as normal as we could.  I figured maybe that power would be out for a few hours and then we'd be good.  This ice storm couldn't have been THAT bad, I thought, Josh was out driving around the morning after and the roads seemed fine. 

By the time the boys got done with their afternoon nap, around 3pm, we knew we needed a plan.  Our house had dropped almost ten degrees already and we knew it would be dark soon.   

For a BILLION reasons that I won't list now, I am SOOOO thankful to live close to family and friends and this situation just cemented that for me one more time.  Many people offered to take us in knowing that our little family of four would not survive well as the temperatures in our house continued to drop.

Also for a BILLION reasons that I won't list now, we are SOOOO thankful to live less than a mile from two of our best friends: Mike and Eileen.  They had room, heat, power, and a fridge in their garage that could store our just-purchased-groceries.  They also lived close enough that we could continue to get things and check on the status of our house and our cat, Primrose, as often as we liked.  They opened their house to us and we gratefully accepted.

We packed ourselves up.  It is insane the amount of things we need now with Nolan and Judah: highchairs, food, Pack N' Plays, clothes, changes of clothes, backups in case people pee/poop through clothes, sleep sacks, bathtime supplies, bibs, diapers, diapers, diapers diapers.  Our car was full.

Before going over there, we decided to pick up some dinner and pay a visit to Josh's parent's house where there was also power and heat.  Driving around the Lansing area proved to me that this storm was worse than I thought: branches, limbs, and full trees down everywhere, and darkness in places I wouldn'tve expected like busy intersections, stores, restaurants, and even Celebration Cinema.  Picking up food ended up being quite a chore.  We stopped at Hungry Howie's and Little Cesar's to find those tiny spaces filled with people and very very long waits.  The Arby's drive thru wasn't busy so we got that instead.  My heart was saddened watching whole families, with babies in strollers, walk down the dark sidewalks.  Even though this was inconvenient for us, we had places to stay, a plan B and C, and D.   

When we arrived at Josh's parent's house, we saw how lucky they were to have power; the houses across from them didn't! 

The night at Mike and Eileen's showed us a lot about our boys.  Judah slept better in his Pack N' Play than he does in his crib I think.  He was completely out all night long and slept in until after 7, which he NEVER does.  Nolan, however, was a disaster.  Every single time we laid him down in the Pack N' Play, he would be screaming scared within a 1/2 hour.  Sometimes it was almost instantaneous.  He would only sleep if it was on either Josh or I.  If not, he was a crying mess.  He definitely let us know that he knew we weren't at home. 

How do you handle something like this?  At home, we would've let him struggle a bit, cry for a little while, get used to where he was.  But with Mike and Eileen sleeping two doors from us, we continued to pick him up right away; we didn't want to wake them!  Eventually we gave up; he spent some time with both of us downstairs on a couch or in a chair. 

The next day, Monday, we had to take the boys to a pediatrician for shots (of course) and then Josh went off to work while I continued to hope and hope and hope the power might return.  It did not.  My parents were still without power too. 

We got a very generous offer from family friends that day; the Alexanders were in Florida until after the New Year, their house had power, and they told my family to go stay there.  We accepted!  My family was nice enough to give Josh and I the master suite on the main floor.  We packed thinking this would be where we would spend Christmas.  Monday night, Judah slept good again with only a small wake up around 3:30.  Nolan, again did not sleep unless it was on one of his parents.  He had a meltdown around 10pm that I had never even seen before.  He and I continue to be a lot alike.  We handle things great in the light of day, but put us into the middle of the night and maybe we aren't cool with things.  I too, I will admit, unraveled both Sunday and Monday nights in the middle of the night.

It was now Christmas Eve.  My parent's went back to their house to pack up gifts and a little tree surredering to the fact that this would be their CHristmas home.  Josh and I went to our house to do the same. As we pulled into our cul-da-sac, we saw generators still outside our neighbor's garages.  However, we got to our house and our outside lights were ON.  Could it be?!  Had power returned?!  The answer was Y!E!S! I stood in the living room, hung my head, and cried.  More important than anything else, my boys could nap and sleep again in their own rooms, which was something we all needed desperately.  We were also going to be able to celebrate their first Christmas at home, which was an added bonus. 

Now that the ice storm and all the craziness with it is over, I can appreciate the little things differently: heat, power, being able to adhear to the boys' predictable routine, being able to cook food, do laundry, etc, etc.  This storm also smacked me in the face with something I didn't think I needed, which was to be retaught the meaning of Christmas.  It's about family (no matter what house they're at), it's about compassion and kindness (thanks again to all the people who offered to keep us and to Eileen, Mike, and the Alexander Family who did), it's about being appreciative for what you have, and above all, it's about the birth of Christ.  He has always been the reason for this season in our house, but when you turn off the TV, shut down the computers, eleminate all the commercial-ness of this time, you can really let your heart take in the birth of this amazing Savior in a different way.

This Christmas, more than any other, I am grateful, thankful, appreciative, humbled, and in awe of the blessings and beauty around me.   

Enjoy CHRISTmas, it's HIS Birthday!
Enjoy life, it's HIS way!         


Before church, Christmas Eve
This storm created the most beautiful Chistmas I've ever seen


My boys, the troopers: in four days they slept at three houses and had only taken two regular naps.  They also celebrated Christmas Day at four different houses.  They handled it (mostly) with smiles. 

 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

9 Truths About my Pregnancies

So I was given this assignment from my teaching partner on facebook (Thanks Katie!). I posted it here since I'm not very good at keeping things short :)

1.) Being pregnant has been the most honorable thing I've ever done.  Having been on the other side of this --> longing, hoping, and trying everything to be pregnant, I think I have a special appreciation for it that not everyone can fully understand.

2.) Despite how honored, grateful, and joyful I felt about being pregnant, I'm not very "good" at it. If you've read anything I've ever wrote, I am a paranoid, anxious, worried, terrified, crazy pregnant lady.  That stems not only from what I have been through in my infertility journey, but also because I am a control freak and a worrier anyway.  There are so many things you have no control over when you're pregnant and that drove me to the brink of insanity... a lot :) Josh and I could pretty much count on me completely unraveling every couple of weeks... at least. 

3.) I am obsessed with ultrasounds.  I will beg, plead, and cry to try and get them if necessary.  A normal, positive ultrasound is one of the only things that provided my crazy worried head with any solace.  I never made it to an ultrasound appointment with my first pregnancy.  For my second pregnancy, we were able to see the baby on an ultrasound three times.  The first two ultrasounds we saw a little gray oval with a beating heart.  The third ultrasound we say a little gray oval with no beating heart. As hard as that was, I will forever be grateful to have been able to see the baby even though we never got to meet her. During my third pregnancy, we got to see our twins on ultrasound 17 times.

4.)  My first pregnancy ended very early; I only knew I was pregnant for 1.5 weeks and lost the baby 2 days after my brother died.  I had an ultrasound scheduled at my OBGYN's office that I was going to have to call an cancel.  You can imagine how devastating it was to look at my planner and see an appointment written down that you don't get to go to anymore and you can imagine how much I was dreading making that call to cancel.  One of my doctor's at U of M, Tall Fellow (if you read my blog you've heard of him many times), offered to take that burden off of me and call Lansing OBGYN himself and cancel the appointment for me.  That is the most unexpected act of kindness and compassion I've ever experienced.

5.)  My second pregnancy ended after 10 weeks.  My due date was October 29th.  After finding out in Ann Arbor that our baby wasn't going to make it,  there is nothing like having to call your parents through your own tears and tell them the grandchild they were hoping and praying for right along with us was not going to be.  I did not miscarry on my own and ended up having to have two surgeries.

6.)  During my third pregnancy, I started bleeding at 6 weeks and thought for sure, considering my past experiences, that I was going to loose my pregnancy.  Because of this bleed, I was able to have an ultrasound very early (which I loved), and I got to find out early that I was having twins (which I loved even more).  Looking back, after that scare, my pregnancy went off without a hitch and gave me my two amazing boys.  I find it also fun to note that my gut feeling was that these were two boys and I turned out to be right!  I would even joke to people not to even look at the girl clothes because I wasn't going to need them :) 

7.) While pregnant, one of my favorite things was eating a lot of cereal; it was my go-to snack when I was hungry.  I often had a bowl of cereal in the middle of the night when I was awake either worrying, being uncomfortable, or feeling my babies kick.  Josh and I called this my 'first breakfast.' 

8.)  Buying myself maternity clothes was one things I was most excited to do; I loved being big enough in the belly that I needed different clothes to wear.  Toward the end of my pregnancy, I was so big, I grew out of a lot of maternity clothes too.  2X moo moos were my outfit of choice.

9.) Another favorite moment from my pregnancies was watching Josh morph into a father.  There were small moments: feeling the babies kick, praying to the babies, being just as broken hearted as me when I miscarried, talking to the babies, making up nick-names for them, starting sentence with "I can't wait to...", and doing anything and everything in his power to make sure the babies and me were safe, that confirmed what I already knew: Josh was going to be the best dad and co-parent ever.  He has proven me right :) 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Seven Month: Reflections

The time between six and seven months has seemed to turn my infants into real people.  As I think about them one month ago, at six months, I have completely different boys! 

Things We Learned About Nolan Gerard:
First and foremost I have to mention that Nolan is a crawler!  I know many of you watched the video I posted on facebook, but I feel compelled to share the story nonetheless :)  It all started on Thanksgiving...my boys are notorious to making holidays and other special days about themselves (a post for another time).  As we were getting ready to take the boys to Josh's parents so we could run the Turkeyman Trot 5K, Nolan started his milestones for that weekend by going from being on his belly, to sitting.  That seemed like a big enough deal to us right there! 

On that Saturday, we were playing with the boys in the basement and Josh and I watched before our very eyes, as Nolan army crawled from one spot on the floor to one of our bookshelves to a stack of coffee table books.  I thought I could not have been prouder (as a teacher and avid reader) for my boy to crawl first to books when there could've been so many other choices, but then he made me beam even more when he knocked down a book about Italy and started to explore it.  Clearly he was trying to communicate with me that  He DOES know he's Italian, he DOES want to visit there, and he DOES want to be a reader; it couldn'tve been more obvious :) 

Since that moment, he's been a moving machine.  His form may not be pretty as he looks like he's dragging his lifeless body around with his left arm, but he can really get from place to place.  Although his favorite things to crawl to are Primrose our cat, our Christmas tree skirts (both with lots of glitter on them), books, and anything with wires or cords, he also has been crawling to get to me and oh my gosh does that make me feel like I've died and gone to heaven.  When I get home from work, he will start crawling over to greet me... when I'm cooking in the kitchen, he will leave his toys in the living room and come over to where I am. *Sigh*

Nolan has never been much into sitting...he will do just about anything to get his legs into a standing position instead.  However, he has made progress this month in the sitting area.  If we can get him into that position without too much struggle, he will stay there for a good bit of time before toppling over.

Finally, I swear Nolan can say the word hi.
 



Things We Learned About Judah Matthew:
Judah, like his brother, also decided to make some milestones over Thanksgiving.  On that morning, again, as we were getting ready for the 5K, Judah got up on his hands and knees, did his rocking back and forth that he loves to do, and was able to move forward!  Granted, his forward was a nosedive, but he made forward progress.  He's been backward crawling now for about a month, but had yet to go in the forward direction!  This was great (and also a little funny) to watch.

That same Saturday that Nolan started crawling, Judah got up on his hands and knees again, did his rocking back and forth, and was able to take a scoot forward without nose-diving! 

My little Judah Bean is not crawling yet, which is making him frustrated, but once he does, his form will be absolutely impeccable.

Judah also got diagnosed with baby eczema this month.   We thought he might be allergic to squash of all things since that's when a bad rash showed up on his back.  When we took him to our pediatrician to get it looked at, it was easy for her to tell it was eczema.  Judah is so calm and congenial that this hasn't changed his mood at all.  If my back looked like his, I'd be itching and crying and frustrated all day and all night.  Now that we have good lotion to treat it, it's looking much better. 

Judah has also cut his first tooth and he's got a second one just about to break through the skin.

He's been getting better about sitting up and although he's not choosing to do that himself much, if we put him in a sitting position, he will stay that way for a good bit of time on his own before falling over. 

Finally, just a quick adorable moment about him... On Thursday, I got home from work and walked into the door, my dad, mom and Josh were playing with the boys.  Judah stopped what he was doing, looked at me, and started smiling, kicking, and throwing his arms around in delight.  I love nothing more than being a person my boys are excited to see.  Oh I melted!


Some Firsts:
  • Lots of first foods!  In this month we've had: carrots, avocado, squash, green beans, sweet potatoes, and peas (in that order).  Judah has like all of them, especially avocado I think.  Nolan has LOVED green beans and sweet potatoes and has not cared for avocado or peas.  I still think, over everything, Nolan's favorite food is baby oatmeal.
  • 11-11-13~ First snow fall....I got pictures AND we video taped the boys going outside in it.
  • 11-22-13~ Watched Silver Bells in the City on TV... that will be a tradition for our family.
  • 11-27-13~ go to Bronner's!  Also a tradition... the boys did great there.
  • 11-28-13~ First Thanksgiving (went to Hundts).  Also, Nolan sat up on his own, and Judah did a nose-dive forward
  • 11-29-13~ Thanksgiving at Pavonas
  • 11-30-13~ Nolan crawled!  Judah scooted forward!

Twin Moments:
  • Nolan and Judah are continuing to notice each other more and more.  If Josh and I can hide ourselves behind the scene, they will look, smile, and laugh at each other.
  • This actually happened to my dad when he was watching the boys when I was at work, but I have to tell it ether way...  Judah was in his boppie drinking his bottle, minding his own business.  My dad went into the kitchen to warm up Nolan's bottle.  When he came back into the living room, Nolan had crawled over to Judah, taken the bottle out of his mouth, and started drinking it.  Judah had a look on his face like, what the heck just happened!?  Lord have mercy, am I in trouble! :)
  • Both boys are making that razz noise a lot

Reflections About Being a Mom:
We are getting more sleep*....hooray!  I function very well on little sleep for the most part, but I will say I like to be well rested. 

*past results do not necessarily indicate future success*

One of my proudest moments was running in the Turkeyman Trot on Thanksgiving.  I've not been good at exercising in over a year.  From the second I got a positive pregnancy test in September until probably two months after they were born, I did not exercise AT ALL.  When I was pregnant, I was too scared to.  If someone would've let me sit with my legs up for nine months, I totally would've done it.  Once the babies were born, I was so out of shape from not exercising and carrying around 65 extra pounds, that I couldn't even walk to the mailbox.   Plus, I've been a little busy ;)  Working out has taken a very back seat and I've maybe gone running once a week.  There I was, less than seven months from birthing twins, running a 5K.  That was a HUGE moment for me. 

On my mind this month has been first, having a mobile child.  This has been a game changer.  You think your house is baby proofed, you think it will take some time for a baby to be good at moving around, but those things are both false!  The same day Nolan started to crawl, he was able to crawl across a room.  Watching him try to reach for baskets, tip over trash cans, try to eat rugs, wires, and Prim's tail has shown me that a.) I'm in trouble b.) I'm in deeper trouble once Judah starts crawling too and c.) we are NOT baby proofed.  It was funny to go to work before Thanksgiving and have immobile children and then, a week later, feeling like I have to write my dad a novel of all the stuff Nolan will try to get into as I went to work this week. 

A second thing on my mind are the holidays.  I'm working on a blog about this topic so I won't say all that's been on my mind, but as Thanksgiving and especially Christmas is here, I can't stop thinking about where I was last year at this time....

Since I found out I was pregnant and especially since we had found out it was twins, plenty of people went out of their way to spoil me and our future children especially, for example, my mom and my sister-in-law, Jessica....God bless them ;)  One of my biggest fears last Christmas was that someone would buy me things for the babies.  Not that I wouldn'tve been grateful and appreciative, but I was too terrified, paranoid, and crazy in the head to be ready to be in that situation.  I talked to Josh about this worry all the time last year and I was so scared about what I would do if I was opening up a Christmas gift to find something for our babies.

Luckily, people knew about my crazy (I clearly wasn't keeping that a secret) and accepted and respected my crazy (whether they liked it or not) and didn't dare get any gifts for the babies last year.  

By the time December rolled around last year, though, my mom had been bugging me for WEEKS to look at some things she had bought for our upcoming babies and I kept telling her I would absolutely NOT look at these things; I wasn't ready; I was still too scared something was going to go wrong. 

I told her that if she would be patient with  me and wait until around Christmas that I would look at a FEW things.  As she lugged out bag after bag from the basement (I'm not sure she even left anything for me to buy, that's how much stuff she had accumulated), she picked out a few favorites to show to me.  In one bag, she pulled out two long-sleeved onesies.  They were Christmas onesies that said, "Mommy's best gift" on them in green and red.  You can guess that I started crying immediately; even now as I write this I am tearing up.  I remember sitting there, with my little baby bump, wishing that hope and positivity would cancel out my crazy, imagining the next Christmas having TWO babies wearing this outfit.  These babies were no doubt going to be my greatest gift, but it all seemed too good to be true. 

You can see, above, that these outfits are worn for their seven month pictures and I am still in awe.

These holidays have been and are going to be some of the most special ones we will ever have.  Thinking about what Christmas gifts we will buy Nolan and Judah, planning family traditions, and being surrounded by so much love has overwhelmed me with joy beyond what I could have ever dreamed of last year at this time. 

I am so glad we named one of our boys Judah because his name is a reminder every single day of the praise I need to give God.  I wish there were more words or more creative ways for me to express how truly, deeply, and completely grateful I am.     

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My Tree Complex

Sunday November 17th, the weather was crazy!  It was in the upper 60s with a lot of rain, thunder, lightning, chance of tornadoes, and very very high winds.  We had a normal Sunday, which included a visit to my parent's house for dinner.  When we returned home, after dodging (both successfully and unsuccessfully) fallen branches, limbs, and whole trees on our way home, we surveyed our house to make sure everything was fine.  All seemed well until I opened up the curtains to our deck.  There, hanging all over the place, were pieces of my favorite tree.  Josh went out with a flashlight to see if maybe some branches fell or if it was worse.  He found out it was indeed worse.  The tree trunk was split and the tree was completely destroyed. 

We were thankful it didn't hit the house, thankful we had power (because many around us didn't), and thankful there was no other damage.  However, tears still rolled down my cheek as I mourned the the loss.  It was special, this tree. 

I had taken every single one of my belly bump pictures by that tree...something that I waited for almost three years to be able to do.  Every single one of those pictures was important and memorable and had meant that we (the babies and me) had made it through another week. 

It turns beautiful in the fall and even more gorgeous in the spring with white small flowers.  So through the winter, my belly and I happily froze our butts off taking pictures in 0 degree weather because I loved that tree so much.  I couldn't wait to have a huge belly taking pictures out there in the spring before the twins were born. 
Fall beauty
One week before my boys were born!
In our basement, I have framed photos of that tree and its blooms in spring. 

That tree is also where we took some of our first family pictures with the boys as little as one week old. 
Family Photo: Nolan and Judah are 1 week old
It shielded our view from our next door neighbor's broken above ground pool that hasn't been fixed or removed in at least five years. 
 
Can you see a disgusting broken above-ground pool?! No!
Sigh.

As I mourned the tree, Josh put together something I had never thought of before.  This was not the first time a tree I loved was destroyed.  In fact, that has been going one since I was younger. 

It all started when my dad cut down my favorite tree in middle school to make room for an extra garage stall.  I used to read under that tree and again, it bloomed beautifully in spring with pink blossoms and a wonderful smell.  I cried then too.

Last fall, my beloved willow tree from my cottage was destroyed in the same crazy weather that brought the Northeast Hurricane Sandy.  That tree was home to many pictures and special moments and also is framed in our bedroom.  I took a picture of it in all four seasons. 


Summer 2010: Josh and me with the willow and Lake
The Willow adds beauty to an outdoor dining experience :)
I guess any tree I love is doomed :(  Good thing I'm a Camera Nazi so I can always see those trees at their most beautiful. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Before 10am on a Saturday

I continue to be in amazement of how little time I waste now-a-days.  Today is an example of what I could consider to be a typical, normal Saturday for our family.  Here's a window into all that was accomplished by just me (Josh could fill an entire other list) before 10am (in no particular order):

  • woke up
  • changed two diapers
  • put Nolan into his second, and then his third outfit of the day
  • fed babies
  • ate breakfast
  • played with babies
  • went to school to clean, work, catch up, email, make copies, etc for an hour
  • drove to school and back
  • made a phone call
  • wrapped birthday presents
  • changed twice (into running clothes, into clothes for the day)
  • ran a 5k
  • stretched
  • showered
  • painted my toe nails
  • watched a bit of TV
  • wrote this blog
AHHHH Saturdays...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Six Month: Reflections

My darling boys are a 1/2 year old!  Are you serious?!?!

What we Learned About Nolan Gerard:
Nolan had discovered a new friend in his life this month: Primrose the cat.  My boys and Prim have mostly avoided each other and stayed out of each other's way over the last six months, but Nolan is starting to notice and he likes what he's seeing.  Now, if he catches Prim walk into the room, he smiles real big and usually calls out to her in a loud yell and kicks his feet. He will follow her with his eyes and sometimes his body, and will reach for her to "pet" aka grab her.  Prim has also noticed him, they have stare downs, but Prim continues to keep her distance while at the same time being nearish to him.  This has been very cute for Josh and me to watch since we know there will come a day in the very near future where both my boys will be so into her. 

Nolan has two teeth coming in right now. One came through the surface about a week ago and the other is just cutting through. At first, he was a total disaster dealing with this. For almost a week he was up every couple of hours in pain and took a long time to console. 

This month Nolan has also mastered being on his belly and has begun to spin himself around.  No crawling yet, but he will follow people and objects and spin himself around to see them.  He is slowly becoming an independent sitter and makes gains on this every day it seems.  

He is also way into his high chair and likes being in it.  I think it's nice for him to be raised up a bit so he can see more and because he always want to be near his family, this gives him another avenue to do that. 

Because Nolan doesn't like change, we were a bit worried how he would do as we introduced food.  Rice cereal was not for him.  He LOVED putting the spoon in his mouth, but once he got the taste, the face he made was not a happy one.  As soon as we switched over to baby oatmeal, it was a whole other ball game.  He is obsessed with oatmeal so much so that he will cry when the spoon isn't in his mouth.  He likes to try and 'help' you feed him, will lean way forward, and also tries to suck on the spoon to get the food in his mouth.  He ends up very, very messy when we're done: food in his ears, clothes, up his nose, all over his mouth, etc.  We'll see how he does with other food. 

At our 6 month appointment, Nolan weighed 17lbs, 2oz (40th percentile) and was 27.25 inches long (70th percentile)

 
What we Learned About Judah Matthew:
Judah has always been a phenomenal sleeper, but this month, we saw a slight change in him.  For a few days recently, he's been getting up between 3:00-5:00am.  We are much more accustomed to this behavior from Nolan and have mastered how to handle it to get him back to sleep.  Judah is much more a wild card.  We have that he will either be fully awake and alert or inconsolable unless he gets a little food in his tummy.  I have had to figure out how to get him some food without screwing up the schedule necessary to breast feed two babies.  I give him a few minutes on both sides and this has seen to work to help him get drowsy again and fall asleep eventually.  As I've mentioned other times, Judah is TERRIBLE if he's tired so getting him back to sleep is priority number 1.  Thankfully him getting up like that is not consistent because I don't want him needing food in the middle of the night to be a habit if he's not actually hungry.  In addition to this, if he does sleep through the night, he has become an early riser, which is so fine unless your teething brother has been up most of the night.  Again, with my trying to keep them both on the same feeding schedule, it is all about entertaining from 5:00 or 5:30, when he's been waking up, until around 6:30 when their first meal usually is. 

Judah is getting mighty close to crawling these days.  He will scoot backwards and can also get up on his hands and knees, but hasn't quite mastered moving forward yet.  He is realizing that he can roll to a preferred destination instead of just rolling around randomly. 

Judah does not like cold weather.  With cold weather comes more bundling up, which he is very against.  He hates hats, hates jackets, hates blankets.  It's going to be a loooooong winter my dear. 

Judah, not surprisingly, does not care for his high chair.  As usual, he does not want to be confined in any position.  He'll tolerate it for a bit and then will need to be simultaneously entertained and fed.  He will try to throw himself out of just about anything and now we're adding the high chair to that list.

Although Judah gave more of the signs that he was ready for food, it's been more of a struggle to get him used to it and liking it.  He too much preferred baby oatmeal over the rice cereal.  Because he loves his tongue so much, he tries to get the food on his tongue and get it in his mouth like that.  He, unlike his brother, also hates getting dirty and messy while eating.  He much prefers a bib free, clean face while eating. 

At their six month appointment, Judah weighed 13lbs, 13 oz (1st percentile) and was 25.5 inches (7th percentile)



Some Firsts:
  • 10-15-13~ First Power Outage: see other blog ;)
  • 10-12-13~ First Tailgate...GO STATE!
  • 10-20-13~ First Trip to Uncle John's Cider Mill
  • 10-31-13~ First Halloween
  • 11-1-13~ First bite of food...rice cereal
  • 11-3-13~ First time change...NOT an extra hour of sleep for any of us. 
  • 11-6-13~ Baby Oatmeal!
  • 11-7-13~ Being in their first commercial..yes, that's right!
Twin Moments:
One thing I'm continuing to notice about my twins boys is how stinking different they are.  It shocks me sometimes truly.  They both have different strengths: Nolan being stronger and much more into getting himself ready to walk than anything else, Judah being super mobile and having to move and move and move all the time for example.  They are such different sleepers, they react so differently when frustrated for upset, and they have both taken to the journey of eating solid foods so differently too.  I think that's one of my favorite things about having twins is being able to see them as such individuals all the time.  I can't loop them together in any category except that they're the same age and they're both boys.  Oh, and they're both absolutely adorable :) 

Josh and I are also loving being able to have fool-proof ways to make them laugh....there is nothing like baby smiles and baby giggles.  In almost any instance, if you can make fart noises, tickle them, bounce them up and down, or play a 'get you' type of game, it's guaranteed laughter.

Also, the other day, we caught them making each other laugh.  If Josh or I are around, they are more inclined to focus on us rather than each other so we have to sometimes hide around the corner to really be able to watch them interact together. 

Reflections About Being a Mom:
I feel like this month was trying to figure out the whole solid food thing and that consumed a lot of my thinking and planning.  As a mom, of course, I want to do everything right, everything perfectly.  I found myself frustrated how many different theories are out there on how to do solid food.  My personality wanted a plan: you start food at this time, feed them this first and this second, and this third, etc.  Well that's now quite how it has worked. 

I knew I wanted to wait until they were showing me they were ready, but even that I second guessed all the time.  Are they really following my spoon or are they looking at it because it's shiny?  Do they seem like they want more food or is that my imagination? 

I got paranoid about how they would react: what if they hated eating?  What if I thought they were ready and they really weren't?  What if I picked the wrong time of day to feed them foods?  You people who read these blogs know how crazy my mind gets. 

So we decided to wait until they were just about six months and so far we are happy with that decision.  I knew I wanted to stick with cereal/oatmeal for a bit to get them used to eating before introducing other things.  Now we just have to figure out what foods should come next ;) 

Also this month, Nolan and Judah were asked to be in a commercial. Our neighbors across the street help fun a women's specialty store called Front Room and they needed babies that were young enough to still be nursing.  We jumped at this opportunity, how cool right?!  Of course they were filming on one of the TWO days that I work.  Josh got home early and took the boys with my dad to the place.  Next thing I knew, it was 4:00pm and I was getting a text that they were already done.  As I talked to Josh on my way home from work, he told me that the boys were in the commercial just like we thought, but he was also in the commercial too.  Then I found out they had to use A RANDOM LADY TO POSE AS MY CHILDREN'S MOTHER.  Seriously?!  So now, you might see cute little twins with Josh shopping for nursing bras with some other women.  I'm still trying to get over this, can you tell? :)  Do not be fooled...that lady is NOT their real mom! 

I continue to be in awe of these miracles.  When they see me walk into a room and smile, when they reach for me, when their crying stops because I am snuggling them, how can I not just want to fall to my knees in praise?  I have never for one second forgot how much we went through to get these boys and how much I wanted, hoped, and prayed to be a mom.  Motherhood far exceeds my expectations on a daily basis :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Two Infants + Paranoid Parents + Power Outage = Disaster!

The time was 12:30am.  We were all sleeping in the Hundt household after a lovely evening of some yummy food, a disgusting Tiger's loss, and some playtime followed by bath time and bedtime. 

Josh and I awoke to a strange beeping noise coming from one of the Angel Care Monitors.  It was a noise we'd never heard before.  We panic every time we hear a beep from there because it could be telling us that one of our children isn't moving/breathing so this noise got the very same reaction.  We were bolt upright in a matter of seconds. 

Josh went in to the twins' bedroom to check things out.  Both boys were fine!  However, Nolan's nursery monitor had a red light on it, a light we'd never seen.  Josh fiddled, faddled, screwed and unscrewed, turned on and turned off to no avail.  Something was wrong with that thing and we didn't know what. 

It was my turn to investigate.  How hard could this be? I thought to myself.  I had put these things together and read the manual a million times. Josh must've just been tired I assumed.  So I gazed at it, tapped it, turned it off, turned it on also to no avail.  After fifteen minutes between the both of us, I finally got what was happening.  Our power was out...DUH! 

In our tired stupor neither one of us realized that there were no night lights, no fans, no clocks, and that the house was completely and eerily still. 

Now that we had our answer, we knew the backup batteries must be dead on Nolan's monitor.  So while trying NOT to stir any babies, we fixed that and called Consumer's Energy to figure out an electric pole had lit on fire on Holt Road and that our power would most likely be out all night long.

You'd think that any self respecting sleep deprived parent would go directly back to bed and hit the pillow and be out, but not us..no no no :) 

Even though we didn't speak or move, both of us stayed awake. Both of us undoubtedly worrying about how this power outage might screw up our night somehow.  We were both visualizing Judah and Nolan waking up, both assuming the other monitor would run out of its batteries in no time, both fretting that when the power came back on, the noise of the fan restarting or the light from the night light would surely wake the boys, both knowing that we would might never sleep again.  Yes, dramatic, but also yes, true!

My point with this post is that Josh and I are phenomenal with the day to day.  We've got a schedule that we and the kids can predict.  We've got great routines in place.  If the day goes as normal, it's fabulous and dang near perfect.  But both of us waver on the edge.  If one thing messes up, if one thing sets our schedule into disarray, we can turn into disasters. 

And by we, I mean Josh and I (and let's be serious, especially me)...NOT Nolan and Judah. 

As usual, they handle changes, mishaps, tweeks in their schedule, and mistakes so much better than Josh and me do.

As the night wore on, Judah's monitor did run out of its back up battery life, Nolan did wake up and need to be attended to for about 1.5 hours off and on, and Josh and I, at around 3:30 or 4am, did eventually get back to sleep.  When will I ever take a page from my boys' book and roll with the punches?  On second thought, when have I ever rolled with any punches anyway?  *sigh* the life of a worrier. 

Thankfully, we all survived our first power outage!  VICTORY!   

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Five Month: Reflections

Things we Learned About Nolan Gerard:
My baby Nolan really struggled with sleep this month, but I think we learned that he may not need much sleep to function normally.  One the nights where he would be up half or most of the night I would worry about what his next day would be like.  Wouldn't he be exhausted?  Wouldn't he be cranky beyond repair?  Wouldn't he be desperate to be held?  We came to find out that all these answers were no. He would be his regular self whether he slept all night long or not at all. 

During these sleep struggles though, some things about Nolan were reconfirmed.  Nolan gets scared easily.  Nolan loves to snuggle.  Nolan does not like change.  Nolan likes to be a part of any action that's happening around him. 

In other Nolan news, he is much more mobile this month.  Tummy time has turned from being something my boys hate to do into something they elect to do themselves.  Nolan can lift himself up far with his arms while on his belly. He is also starting to figure out how to scoot just a little so he can reach things while on his tummy.  He can roll over whether on his back or on his tummy too, which has helped him start to get to wherever he wants to go. 

Nolan has an extreme need to grab people and be close to them.  It's very sweet, but can turn a little sour when he rips your earring out, scratches your neck or gouges out your eye ball.  The person who takes the brunt of this need, though, is poor Judah.  Nolan has to touch him all the time.  He holds Judah's hand, rests his palm on Judah's head, grabs Judah's ear, and loves to try to eat Judah's fingers, toes, and outfits. Judah is not a fan. 

His new favorite thing to do, though, is crazy Pilate's abb work outs.  He will be laying on his back, lift his head way up, then lift his legs up too and sometimes he even crosses them.  I could work my abs for years and probably never do that as well as he can. I'm not sure it will help him do things like sit up on his own, but it helps him see things better so whatever works.  I'm pretty sure  he has a six-pack already. 

Nolan is also talking like crazy!  He makes so much loud noises and yells and we love it.  He is also laughing out loud and squealing too, which we also love :)


Things We Learned About Judah Matthew:
For all of his brother's sleep struggles, Judah has been the complete opposite and shown us this month how much he LOVES and NEEDS sleep.  I'm fairly certain that Judah could sleep anywhere, anytime.  Each time we put him in his crib, he leans his head over to one side, puts his arm up by his eyes (he would probably love a sleeping mask just like his Daddy does), and his body relaxes in a zen calm and he. is. out. 

One of the things we were most nervous about as Nolan has been struggling to sleep, is how that would affect Judah.  Nolan isn't a quiet baby...at all.  Josh and I were paranoid about how many times Nolan would wake up Judah during the night with his crying.  However, Judah has shown that he can sleep through A LOT.  Nolan's noise usually makes Judah stir, but he consistently puts himself back to sleep.  I know that twins get very used to each others cries so they almost turn into white noise and I am thankful that has turned out to be true with our boys for the most part. 

Again this month, Judah's NEED for sleep has also been confirmed.  He has, on several occasions, had total breakdowns for even hours at a time just because he was tired and wasn't able to fall asleep right away.  An example of this was when we were driving home from my parents cottage and Judah cried for over TWO hours in the car.  He was exhausted and couldn't seem to figure out how to go t sleep.  When this happens he is inconsolable no matter how many tricks we've tried.  We've learned to ride out that storm until he finally sleeps (however long that might take)  Because of this, Josh and Judah pretty much missed the entire celebration after their baptism :)

Judah has also been obsessed this month with trying to scoot, squeeze, or stretch himself out of everything: Bumbos, bouncy seats, swings, arms, couches, car seats, changing tables, etc.  I think he'd be happiest in a huge room with nothing in it so he could have all the space he could ever want.  If there is anything in the way of him, he just hates it.  Nolan's incessant need to touch him ALWAYS doesn't help this either.

Judah is also talking and laughing.  His noises are quieter than Nolan's (which is not surprising), but are just as cute and just as lovable.  He is also turning out to be ticklish.  He will laugh while getting his toes tickled or around his neck tickled.

He is less interested in standing up than Nolan, but we think much more interested in crawling than Nolan is.  Also, I am predicting that he will be more "ready" to try food than Nolan will too.


  Some Firsts:
  • Judah and Nolan (in that order), made their first real laughs this month, one day apart from one another.  Since, they have both (especially Nolan) been babbling and laughing up a STORM! 
  • Nolan finally rolled over from his back to his stomach. Now both boys (especially Judah) are rolling machines.
  • 1st cold- Both boys and me got a cold in the middle of September while we were at the cottage.  Nolan and Judah both had plugged noses that got them up every single hour one night because they couldn't breathe good enough. 
  • Boys were baptized (9-22-13)
  • We had their first stroller ride with no sleeping (9-24-13).  This may not seem like a big deal, but we had been fearful to take stroller rides lately because the boys always fell asleep during them.  Because we were so focused on a consistent nap and sleep schedule, we'd been skipping buggie rides and it was bothering me since we very well might be missing this amazing fall weather we've been having.  So I packed up the boys after they ate when they are usually their most awake and alert and took them out.  They were smiling and looking and playing the whole ride and we've been riding around ever since. 
  • That same day (9-24-13), I got BOTH boys to smile for a picture.  Again, this may not seem like a big deal, but I've taken probably 2,000 pictures of them and I could not ever make that happen
  • 10-1-13~ Judah spits up IN my mouth.  Yes, that's right.
  • 10-2-13~ First visit to the apple orchard (Clearview Orchard)
  • 10-4-13~ First parade (Holt's homecoming parade)

Twin Moments:
  • Recently, we've heard the boys babble to one another in bed when they are waking up in the morning.
  • While I read to them, they usually hold hands.
  • Boys got their cold it seems like at the exact same moment!
  • My mom and sister Colleen had an incident where the boys were feeding off of each other: they were making each other cry

Reflections About Being a Mom:
This month was so focused on sleeping and napping.  The boys teased us by spending much of time between turning three months and four months sleeping through the night.  When we had about three weeks of this pure bliss, it was ripped out from under us in a whirlwind I affectionately like to call, Nolan.  For almost a week straight during this month, Nolan hardly slept at all during the night.  He woke up every hour of two.  This wouldn't be so bad if he would go right back to sleep, but because he is exactly like me, he didn't and he doesn't.  It takes him quite a long time to fall back asleep.  So this month, we made it my life's mission to solve this sleep problem.  Josh and I read and read and researched and researched.  We had conversations daily about what our next plan was going to be and what the steps were.  I realized something about myself as a mom through all of this....

I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing (go figure)!

I know being a parent is a lot of guess and check.  You try one thing, it works, you keep doing it until it doesn't.  You try something else, it doesn't work, you keep thinking and try other things. The first place we consulted in our sleep research was the book Josh had read called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins.  That didn't do us much good.  Then we researched all kinds of things online and would talk about it to see what we could pull from and use.  We also read the book The Baby Sleep Solution.  We also consulted friends and parents for tips and advice.  What I didn't realize about myself was how easily I could be persuaded. 

For example, the book The Baby Sleep Solutions is a regimented plan that claims to be able to get your baby to sleep for twelve hours a night.  It has a lot to do with when to feed babies and how to help them self-sooth through the night by trying a lot of tools before actually picking up an awake crying baby.  That plan seemed fairly strict.  I was all about it and so was Josh.  We got fired up on how we were going to help our boys (in this case, Nolan) help himself so he could stay in bed.  I was ready to be a drill Sergent...bring it on! 

Then, I talked with my mom (sigh).  She used to pick us up and rock us and snuggle us if we woke up in the night.  She talked about how babies are only little a short time.  She talked about how they need to know that you are trustworthy and will help them when they need it.  She also guessed that with twins, someone like Nolan may just want a little one-on-one parent time that he wasn't getting as much of during the day.  She also talked about how if the best way for everyone to get a little sleep is for Nolan to sleep on us for a few hours when he's having trouble, who really cares?  So after I was in tears thinking about what a precious time this baby time is, I was all about her plan.  Forget the schedule, forget the steps, I was going to love all over my baby no matter how many times or for how long they were awake for.

Because I am a first time mom, it's hard to figure out what really works for me.  Because my babies are only five months old, it also must be hard for them to figure out what works for them.  Sometimes I wish I wasn't the type of person that needed to seek out answers when I was struggling and could maneuver more on my own to see what's successful, but alas, my control freak, type A, worry wart personality will not let me be laid back about anything :)

So this month, Josh and I read a lot, researched a lot, discussed a lot, reflected a lot, and ended up coming up with something that is a combination of everything that felt comfortable to us.  I think I did pretty good:  I did my due diligence of knowing solutions that may be out there and I merged that with what I know about me, about Josh, and about Nolan and Judah and created something that both Josh and I can get behind and feel good about.

Did it work?  Only time will truly tell, but we are all sleeping much better :)

Monday, September 30, 2013

FAITH

- F A I T H -
Faith sees the invisible,
believes the incredible,
and receives the impossible.

About a year ago, I found out I was pregnant.  About a year ago, I was bleeding on picture day and feared another miscarriage was imminent. 

And almost exactly a year ago, I sat in the ultrasound room staring at TWO little gray ovals and listening to TWO distinct, strong heartbeats.  I was only pregnant 6.5 weeks.

As I walk out of Nolan and Judah's room as they lay sleeping soundly for their 1pm nap, a smile glows on my face knowing how truly amazing God is. 

Recently my boys got baptized into the Catholic Church.  I know a huge responsibility falls on parents to be the best and most prominent example of faith in their children's lives.  Josh and I accept this responsibility gladly and understand the weight and impact of it.

Their baptism was wonderful.  It was a beautiful day, the boys' behavior was amazing (no crying at all), and I was able to celebrate turning 30 in the best way I could imagine: acknowledging two new Christians into this world surrounded by our family. 

My faith helped me, even in my darkest, most hopeless moments, to see the invisible, most incredible, and sometimes seemingly impossible dream of becoming a mom.  There are countless examples every single day that affirm for me that God exists, that God answers prayers, and that God has plans for each and every one of us. 

I will continue to serve Him, praise Him, and raise my boys to know Him.   
 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sleepless Nights Because of... Myself?!

When you are a parent of newborns, there are a certain amount of sleepless nights you can count on: waking up every 2-4 hours for feedings, the occasional rolling onto the stomach and not happy about it situation, and the ever growing amount of wake ups just to get some one-on-one time with Mommy or Daddy.

Josh and I have anticipated these and have gotten fairly good at maneuvering around them.  Of course, we have worked out a system.  I wake up first on the even days, Josh wakes up first on the odd days.  If Nolan and/or Judah needs to be fed, then it's all hands on deck. 

When our twins turned three months, there was a blissful period for about 3 weeks when both boys slept through the night fairly consistently.  And when I say sleeping through the night, it was a 10pm to like 6:30 or 7:00am kind of sleeping through the night.  Josh and I could think, function, remember things, and got used to having our brains back.  When the school year started and I went back to work (a coincidence or not), my boys reverted back to their more infant ways and began to wake up during the night for any number of reasons.

This is all a part of parenthood and I get it, I really do.  Nolan and Judah are doing the best they can and so are Josh and I. 

This isn't the problem...

Shockingly (or not), I am the problem.

Josh is now having to take care of three babies during the middle of the night: Nolan, Judah, AND ME.

The past few nights, after I have gotten up with a baby or babies, I have been completely unable to fall back asleep.  Friday night, for example, my angel Nolan decided to wake up around 12:30am. I got up and got him back to sleep after about 30 minutes.  I was looking forward to laying my head down on my pillow to fall immediately asleep, but NO.  I tossed, turned, and my brain raced with random things including the fact that I don't have a fall center piece for our dining table and a small freak out if I threw away a Target bag that still had things in it.  At 2:00am, both boys decided to wake up needing a diaper change, outfit change, and a feeding and I was still awake.  Almost 1.5 hours later (at 3:30am) I finally fell asleep.  So now I was up for 3 hours during the night only partially because of either of my children. 

A very similar scenario happened last night.  Nolan woke up again on his own.  I was able to get him back to sleep quickly, within fifteen minutes.  I then proceeded to be up for over two hours on my own accord.  I graded papers, checked emails, watched TV, etc etc before finally getting back to sleep only to have Nolan wake up again at 3:30. 

What this means for poor Joshua, who is a MUCH better sleeper than I, is that on any given recent night, he has had to listen to Nolan cry, Judah cry, and me toss around, me sigh out of frustration, me get up and out of bed to get a drink of water, pace around, or turn on the TV. So now all four of us have been totally sleep deprived for days. 

You have got to be kidding me that I can have sleep issues even when I'm operating on hardly no sleep.  Curse my inability to fall back asleep once awoken.  Clearly I'm the one in need of sleep training.  

GRRRRRR.