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 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.