Sunday, December 28, 2014

How Hundt Baby 3 Came to be

All readers of this post should get their mind out of the gutter....  What did you expect to read about here?!?!

Just kidding!

I'm sure you are reading this post expecting to hear about medicines and shots and appointments and the discovery that through all that, we got pregnant with baby number three, but this time, our story isn't like that...

Friday August 15th, 2014:
It was a fairly typical Friday night for Josh and I.  We had gotten the boys off to bed and were getting ready for bed ourselves trying to decide whether to watch an hour-long show on Netflix like Orange is the New Black or to stick with something quicker like How I Met Your Mother.  Exciting life we lead,  I know.

Josh and I were signed up to run in a 5k/10k the following day for the St. Casimir Corn Roast.  The boys went down to bed late and terribly so we were discussing if we would ever wake them up in order to get us both to the race on time.  The verdict was that if they slept in later, I would just not run in the race; I had done several 5ks so no biggie for me.  I insisted that Josh still run in his race, a 10k, because he had never done that before. 

On a whim, I felt like I should also take a pregnancy test to help me decide if I were going to run in this race.  If I were pregnant, I wouldn't run in the race, I knew, because I'm crazy.  I don't need you to tell me that exercise is completely safe during pregnancy, I know that, I really do.  However, going through all our infertility troubles makes me feel like I should basically sit with my legs in the air for nine months while pregnant.  Walking is about the only activity I allow myself to take part in.  That's my crazy talking people, it's there, it's not going anywhere, I accept it.

I had planned on taking one in a few days anyway, so why not now?

Watching TWO lines show up on the pregnancy test gave me a shock... a complete jolt.  I showed the POSITIVE pregnancy test to Josh, who was brushing his teeth at the time, and he spit all the toothpaste out of his mouth.     

As with my other three pregnancies, after the shock, comes the tears and this one was no different.  The tears were from my worry that sets in instantly, the tears were from happiness to be once again having the honor and privilege to be pregnant, and the tears were from the overwhelming feeling of shock and joy that we had just conceived a baby all by ourselves; no medicine, no doctor's appointments, no help of any kind. 

Could this really be?!?!?  There was a lot up in the air that now completely NOT normal Friday night, but two things were certain:
1. I would not be running in that 5k the following day
2. My first stop, after the race, would be to a Sparrow lab to get my blood drawn. 

There are no words here that could ever begin to describe how crazy it is to be sitting here, writing about being pregnant on my own.  This was a hope, a dream, a wish that has been gone for like five years now.  I have long since made peace with the fact that Josh and I would need support/assistance/help in creating out family.

Did we really just do this on our own?! 

Fingers crossed, many, many prayers sent...

Monday, December 22, 2014

Back to Ann Arbor: June 18th, 2014

It's summer now.  Mostly this brings the gift of extra time and relaxation for me and a ton of play time for me to have with the boys!  WOO!!   However, this season also brings a big decision for Josh and I, which is talking seriously about baby #3...

This feels early to both Josh and I because the boys just turned one about a month ago, but if we're going to need to go down the whole fertility route again, summer is the perfect time to get that started.  I know I'm part-time now and don't work as often, but in a way that makes all the appointments that are necessary with Ann Arbor even more difficult.  If/when I have to go there on a Thursday or a Friday, I will feel terrible thinking about having to take time off away from my sixth graders when I already get so little time with them already.  In the summer, I just plain have more time.  Often, Ann Arbor needed to see me every other day; it's a big time commitment this 'trying-to-get-pregnant-with-fertility-medicine thing.' 

So, Thursday June 18th, only a week after school had gotten out, I found myself making the all too familiar drive to the U of M Center for Reproductive Medicine. 

I hadn't been there since I first found out I was pregnant with Nolan and Judah (September of 2012), but this was really like riding a bike.  All the things I always stare at on the way: the Mason water tower, Leslie High School, getting on 94 in Jackson, the Weber's Inn exit in Ann Arbor, and finally, pulling into the parking lot came back to me so vividly. 

Walking into the office was truly surreal.  The secretary recognized me right away even though it had been over 1.5 years and the waiting room was busy with people and everything came flooding back to me: all the fear, hope, excitement, nervousness, etc.  But this time, I had two beautiful babies waiting for me at home and that made my experience very different too.  I was a survivor of infertility.  My emotions were overflowing waiting to be called back.  I could feel that lump in my throat telling me that I was close to tears.  What kind of tears though, I wasn't sure...  

Meeting with my doctor was great as always.  He was so excited to hear about the twins and how everything had turned out and was so proud to hear I had birthed such big babies at 38 weeks. 

His advice for us moving forward, though, was actually a bit surprising to me....

See, I have had two period cycles all on my own in May and June.  His suggestion was for Josh and I to try on our own for a while.  Not too long he said, there's no point waiting the year they tell everyone when they first start trying to have a baby, but maybe three months.  If nothing had happened then, I would go right back on the medicine I was taking before.  This made me pause a little; it was certainly not that answer I was expecting.  I thought for sure I'd go right back on medicine and get back on this train of shots, getting blood drawn, having a million ultrasounds, worrying, and generally having the Center for Reproductive Medicine run my life and my schedule... the stuff I was now used to.

I must've looked almost a little disappointed to him because he said, "Think of it... what if you don't need us?!  What if you don't have to come to appointments, have to take any medicine, have to make this long drive?!" 

The thought of getting pregnant on my own hadn't even entered my mind...

Could that really be an option for us?! 
 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Summer 2014

I sit here embarrassed writing this....

It's almost Halloween and I haven't blogged since July?!?!?

I'm not surprised to be in this predicament... once school started... forget about it. 

Looking at my lack of blogging in a positive way, I was too busy experiencing life rather than writing about it over these last few months.  That's what I'll say to make myself feel better :) 

Anyway, here are some highlights (and a couple of cute pictures) from our magnificent summer.

At the end of May, as Josh and I celebrated 10 years of dating, he got me a sweet new professional camera.  This started my summer too of experimenting with being a better photographer. 

JUNE:
June wrapped up my first year as a part-time teacher.  I know that my paycheck is smaller and I know my actual face time at school is less, but it sure does feel like I'm still doing the same amount of work. I was moving classrooms for the 88th time and Katie and I were also asked to teach language arts and social studies next year instead of math and social studies.  This meant a lot of work ahead for us in the summertime.  We enjoyed going up the cottage at the end of June for several days.  This summer was proving to be MUCH different for our family than last summer was. 

Last summer, I had two boys without a schedule really who couldn't do anything but roll over by the time summer was out.  This summer, I had one boy walking, another boy crawling, and two creatures who wanted to get into, see, touch, and eat everything.  We realized quickly that the cottage wasn't too baby proofed yet so we spent a lot of time trying to put up barricades, trying to quarantine them to small areas they couldn't destroy too much, and during this cottage trip, got to take them on the beach to experience the sand.... which they mostly ate.

One thing we discovered at this cottage trip was the public park in Port Franks and Grand Bend.  Our boys LOVED swinging, going down the slides, etc. 

We were supposed to stay up at the cottage for a big block of time (past the 4th of July), but went home early.  It was in the 90s, the lake was too cold to do any swimming in, and we and the boys were miserable.  When Nolan has a wet head just from sitting around because he sweat so bad, it's time to pack up and head out.  That and the fireworks going off every night sent us into panic mode thinking the boys would not sleep well.   

 

 
 
  JULY:
We started the month of July with a Staycation.  We were supposed to be at the cottage, but had went home early and Josh already had the time off so we took advantage of being at home all together as a family.  We went outside a lot, played a lot, and enjoyed each other a LOT! 

July also brought a first for me: spending the night away from my boys, which I had never done before.  In early July, I drove down to Chicago for a day/night to attend my friend Sara's bachelorette party.  Josh was home on the Sunday of course, and then my dad came over Monday morning so that Josh could go to work and he could watch the boys until I got home.  There were many MANY tears shed.  Once I got down there though, I had a great time. 

In Chicago, one of the first things we did was head out to the beach to enjoy a BEAUTIFUL day.  To be at the beach, alone, was something else.  I could read, I could shut my eyes, I could work on my tan.  WOW.  What a concept!  It's amazing how your world changes when you become a parent; I had forgotten that kind of beach time had ever existed for me.  Later, we enjoyed a lovely dinner, went out on the town for a while, and ended the night watching Call to Midwife on Netflix (Can you tell we're all in our 30s?)  I got home the next day to two happy and well taken care of babies! 

A couple of weekends later, I did the same thing except going up to visit Ashley in Petoskey.  I went on a Sunday and got home on a Monday.  Again, leaving was very difficult, but once I arrived, it was wonderful to spend time with just her and I.  We hadn't done that quite a while before the boys were born because I was too scared to travel anywhere when I was pregnant (surprise surprise). 

One of my favorite things we did up in Petoskey was sit on a veranda and sip cocktails while staring at Lake Michigan.  We also went out to a yummy restaurant on Walloon Lake and I sat on her porch swing and read, which is one of my most favorite things to do when I'm up there.  I really took in this time by myself and got a good night's sleep too :)  Again, I came home to two happy babies... whew!

Judah has been practicing walking quite a bit and finally took several steps in a row in the middle of July.  He is still much preferring to crawl though. 

We cottaged again at the end of the month.  This time, as the lake had a month to warm up, we experimented with taking the boys into the water.  Nolan L.O.V.E.D. it.  He loved loved the water so much and wasn't scared of any part of it.  He would just run right in.  If he got covered in water, oh well.  Judah was a little more cautious. I think the cold of the water was the worst part for him.  We let him continue to get used to the water by crawling around the shore.  He sure does like to play in the sand though.    
 
 AUGUST: 
August was absolutely insanely busy both professionally and personally. 

August started with a Pavona vacation to the cottage with all my sisters there!  It was so so amazing!  The weather was great and we soaked up every minute of being together.  This ended up being our last summer trip to the cottage.  We swam every single day with the boys and they continued to be more and more comfortable.  Nolan was an absolute fish: going under, falling over, splashing around.  It was really something.  Judah was incredibly impressive too and made huge gains in the water.  We went to the park together and went shopping in Grand Bend together, played volleyball, board games, etc, etc.  It was probably my 4 favorite days of the whole summer.  I can't get enough of my family. 

I came home to go to a three day training and then start the absolutely insane process of moving our classroom down to the wing where our early childhood center used to be.  This took up an incredible amount of my time and all of a sudden, it seemed like summer was completely over. 

Shortly after the boys turned 15 months, I quit breastfeeding.  I cannot believe, after the start we had, that I can proudly say I breastfeed TWINS for 15 months.  I never would've guessed.  It was amazing and I was both incredibly sad and incredibly happy to be done with that chapter.

August gave Josh and I yet another first: our first night away from the boys together.  Our friends Patrick and Julie got married in Grand Rapids on August 9th.  We went to the wedding and stayed downtown for the night while my parents watched the boys at our house.  They did great with my parents and slept through the night and Josh and I had a wonderful time out together spending time with friends and Josh's family.  Several peopled asked us if it felt weird to be alone there without the boys.  Of course it did; I don't even remember NOT having them in my life.  But truthfully, it felt much more normal to be at a wedding with JUST Josh.  That's what I was used to for many many years.  I think it might have felt weirder if the boys were with us at something like that.

In the mid/end of August, we celebrated Josh's grandma's 90th birthday with a big, awesome, Hundt family party.  We also went to Zeeland for one of our favorite weekends.  We get together with Josh's college roommates and their families.  Between the 8 of us now, we've got 4 boys all within six months of each other.  As they grow up, that will surely provide loads of entertainment for us.  Somehow, we were able to go to the beach, eat dinner, go for a lovely walk and have all kids sleeping by 9pm.  WOOO.

The rest of August flew by with meetings, continuing to move classrooms, and lots of things to get ready for the beginning of the school year and then, in a flash, summer was over. 
 
 
 In those three months, Judah became a walker, they both learned some more words, they became swimming guppies, and we spent a TON of time outside going on walks almost every day and playing outside almost every day.  It also brought some moments of independence for them and for Josh and I.  All in all, it was just wonderful, just wonderful.   


Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Teenage Months

My boys just turned 14 months...

As I was sitting and playing with them the other day, I had a revelation: my boys are baby teenagers!  They are in their teen months!  I started researching if there might be any parallels between babies in their teen months and teens in their teen years and I realized I was on to something...

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (Here's the link), below are some feelings and behaviors common to teenagers (especially early ones from 13-16 years).  I have put evidence as to how Nolan and Judah fit with many of these. 
  • Struggle with a sense of identity -->  I can see my boys trying to figure out who they are at this time in their life.  They are experimenting with how to get attention, how to get their needs heard and met, how to communicate what they want, and finding things that they like to play with, read, and eat.  Yes, Nolan and Judah were born on the same day at the same time making them twins, but there is not much else that's 'twin' about them.  You don't have to spend time with them long to realize how individual they are.  

  • Feeling awkward or strange about one’s self and one's body --> This one makes me laugh.  If you've seen Nola in a certain pajama outfit or a onesie with shorts as his gut sticks out, you know even this is a part of the teenage months for babies.  Nolan, as a walker, is trying to figure out how to begin to run and walk confidently without looking like he's had one too many milk bottles ;)  Judah, since he isn't walking yet, has been working hard to figure out how he can feel more confident about how strong and capable his legs really are.    Also, Nolan and Judah are exploring all the different parts of their body right now.  They like to touch eyes and put fingers up people's noses or in people's ears.  They love to touch belly buttons, play 'this little piggie' on their toes, and try to figure out how their bodies can bend and stretch.  And, I've got boys so there is one part of the body they continue to be obsessed with, but that's not anything new ;) 

  • Moodiness -->  My boys certainly have been on an emotional roller coaster lately.  One minute they will be happy and content, the next, as if in an instant, they can be in full out tantrum mode.  This may be more true for Nolan than for Judah (Nolan has been demonstrative since the moment he was born), but Judah can go from laughing to tantrum mode just by seeing the Nolan is upset.   It's difficult to keep up with their feelings and moods sometimes. 

  • Interests and clothing style dictated by peer group -->  This one I'm not sure I can find evidence for... Josh and me mostly dictate their style after all ;)

  • Improved ability to use speech to express self --> Yes!  Nolan and Judah are both more verbal these days.  Nolan can say: go, God bless you (kinda), mama, dada, quack quack.  Judah can say: mooo, meow, I did it (kinda), mama, dada.  You can tell, with their babbles, that they are trying to verbally communicate much much more.

  • Less overt attention shown to parents (occasional rudeness is common) --> haha, okay, I can't call my boys rude.  Plus, if anything, they want to spend MORE time with us, not less.  So this one doesn't quite fit :)

  • Complaints that parents interfere with independence -->  Josh and I could be seen as constant 'fun ruiners.'  No, you can't stand up on that chair.  No, you can't crawl to the basement door to fall down the stairs.  No, you can't hit Prim with a remote control.  No, you can't electrocute yourself.  No can't walk out into Lake Huron alone.  No, you can't climb up the deck stairs.  You get the idea ;)

  • Mostly interested in the present, with limited thoughts of the future --> I think this one needs no explanation.  Although I will say that Nolan and Judah aren't in the stage where they can learn their lessons.  Oh, I just put my thumb in a little crevice and got pinched?  I already forgot about that and would like NOTHING MORE than to do that again.  Oh, I fell off a chair head first?  Please watch, MOM, as I become OBSESSED with climbing up onto this chair again. 

  • Rule and limit testing --> Um YES.YES.YES.  You don't want me standing on the couch?  Let me do it anyway, wave, and laugh at you as you run to get me down.  You don't want me taking down every book on our book shelf?  Let me squish myself through all your baracades and take down books one by one by one knowing you can't stop me because you are changing my brother's poopy diapers. 

  • Increased capacity for abstract thought -->  Also so true!  My boys are geniuses!  DUH!  This teenage month stage has left me AMAZED so many times with what they are capable of learning: waving, shaking hands, folding hands to pray, repeated phrases, opening and closing things, tinkering with all toys, stacking blocks, doing a thumbs up, playing hide and seek, etc, etc, etc! 

  • This teenage month stage has been quite a roller coaster for me as well. 

    The highs are SO high, wonderful, and amazing; I can't get enough of all they want and are willing to learn and how many things they are constantly showing us.  I want those play time moments to last forever.  How can you not be on cloud nine when a baby runs into your open arms, stands on their tippy toes at the screen door to greet you when you get home, sits patiently with their hands folded together to wait to say prayers before eating, or learns in to give you a kiss?  How can you not want to cry tears of joy when you see your kids laugh at each other, play together, or hug each other?  

    The lows can also be very low: Nolan having a 20 minute tantrum because he couldn't reach a remote control or Judah just deciding every now and then to NOT take his afternoon nap and how we seem to be consistently one wrong step away from a trip to the emergency room has pushed and challenged me certainly. 

    What I do know is how proud I am to be patient and calm I've been so far during this new stage.  I also know how appreciative and thankful I am that it's summer and I can be there all day every day for Nolan and Judah as they go through these tumultuous teenage months.  I know how powerful and important it is to have consistent parental support through these uncertain and sometimes difficult times (haha) And what I do know, more than anything else, is how much I love my 'teenage' boys! 

    Wednesday, July 9, 2014

    Nolan and Judah's 1st Birthday Party

    It's been two months since Nolan and Judah's first birthday party and I am just now posting about it...

    I think about blogging often, knowing how good and proud it makes me feel to stay updated on what's happening, but experiencing life with Nolan and Judah gets in the way; I guess that's as good an excuse as any.

    Anyways...  A few days after the boys' first birthday, we had our family over for a little party.  Josh and I wanted to keep it simple and small, but I still found myself stressing over every little details trying to make it perfect.  I poured over theme ideas and what gifts we would buy them, what the invitation would look like, and where to get the cake from.  AH!  I can't even have our families over without stressing.

    When looking for theme ideas, I wanted it to be special to our family.  I thought about our favorite things we do together and that led me to think about books.  My boys love books and reading has been a part of our sleep/nap routine since they were born.  This led me to think about the books they like best and how I could turn one of those books into a 1st birthday theme.  Some finalists were Jolly Olly Octopus, Peek A Who?, Where's my Sweetie Pie, and Violet's House, but the book that I kept coming back to was Goodnight Moon: a timeless classic.  When I presented a few ideas to Josh, he kept going back to Goodnight Moon too and thus, a theme was born. 
    
    Invitation
    
    Cake from Tom's in Okemos (Used to be L&L) they did an AMAZING job!


    Food: bowl full of mush (guacamole), and the little rabbit reading Goodnight Moon
     

    "and there were three little bears, sitting on chairs" we had Teddy Grahams to fit with that part


    The cow jumping over the moon :)
     

    dessert table with cake and pictures of the boys from every month!


    "And a quiet old bunny rabbit who whispered 'hush'"

    On May 10th, a Saturday, our family came over around lunchtime to celebrate with us.  All my sisters were there and some of their nuncles (my sister's boyfriends who aren't quite officially uncles yet so we call them nuncles - credit to Rachel and Evan for thinking of that), Aunt Jessica, Uncle Lance, Aunt Megan, and both sets of grandparents plus my Grandma Ort, aka Nolan and Judah's Nonnie. 

    We ate, had cake, and opened up presents.  I specifically asked people NOT to bring gifts (after all, we surely have enough toys and clothes not to mention Nolan and Judah's favorite "toys" are remotes, pots, pans, shoes, water bottles, and kitchen utensils), but no one listened ;) 
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!
    Um yeah, my boys like cake...
    
    we needed a quick bath before presents
     
    They were very excited about their gifts
     Some highlights were getting a picnic table from Grandma and Grandpa Hundt, lots of awesome pool supplies from Grammy and Grandpa and Aunt Colleen, Laura, and Rachel, and needle point art from Aunt Megan.  Not to mention teeth brushes from Aunt Jessica (Nolan and Judah are obsessed with brushing their teeth). 

    We are SOOOOOOOOOO lucky to have the family we do and to have most of them live close by.  I've said this before, but I've always been appreciative for this, but after having kids, I am even more grateful.  Nolan and Judah are spoiled with love, that is for certain. 

    Tuesday, June 10, 2014

    12 Month: Reflections

    Okay, it's been a year... I. CAN'T. BELIEVE. IT. 

    Things We Learned About Nolan:
    Nolan's biggest accomplishment was that he learned to WALK!  The first time he took steps he took two to grab onto the couch chase lounger and he also took two to get to me.  There is nothing like a proud baby, with a smile on his face, walking towards you to come into your arms.  Love, love, LOVE! 
     
    Nolan continues to tinker... with everything.  He gets this concentration face thing and don't even THINK about taking him away from whatever he thinks he needs to accomplish. 
     
    I also lovingly refer to Nolan as my terrible two-year-old trapped in a one-year olds body.  He has started to have little temper tantrums; not a good luck for him :)  If something gets taken away from him, he will want to throw his body down on the ground and role around while screaming.  Thankfully, they don't last and it doesn't take much to stimulate him again, but I'm not digging these so early. 
     
    Nolan can say, "GO!" especially if you say 'ready and set' before it.  He can also say "AhhChoo", "Ouch", "Quack quack", and "Dada" and "Mama" although he only uses the Mama when he's in extreme distress ;) 
     

     
    Things We Learned About Judah:
     Judah isn't much into walking yet.  He will cruise around furniture, stand up on everything, and loves to walk if you hold his hands, but he is totally uninterested in standing on his own or taking any steps.  It is easy to see that he's observing Nolan walking (and also falling) and just like usual, Judah is taking that all in and will probably start running the first time he walks. 

    This month Judah's personality blossomed a lot.  He is speaking up, laughing so much, and holding his own against his bigger brother. 

    Judah LOVES Prim; I've said this before, but it just keeps being even cuter.  He chases Prim, tries to play with her, smiles and laughs when she's around.  Judah is also starting to copy Nolan a lot.  If Nolan is pounding his tray in his highchair, Judah will too.  If Nolan is having a tantrum, sometimes Judah will get upset too just because. 

    Judah can say "Mama", "Dada," meow like Prim, and shake is head no.. a LOT. 


     
    Some Firsts:
    - 4-9-14~ Both boys stood up/climbed up on the couch in the basement
    -4-9-14~ 1st plane ride!
    -4-29-14~ Nolan took his 1st steps!
     
    Twin Moments:
     Judah and Nolan play so great together lately.  Nolan wants every single toy Judah ever plays with and Judah laughs at SO much that Nolan does.  I'm trying to teach them to hug each other and tickle each other and that's been really cute and fun. 
     
     
    Reflections on Being a Mom: 
    Now that I've been the mother of two amazing boys for a year, I can say a few things.  First, this was the fastest year of my life.  Second, being Nolan and Judah's mom is better than I ever thought.  I love them more than I thought was possible, they make me smile and laugh way more often than I thought they could, I am more proud and in awe of them than I could have imagines, and I can honestly say that I have not taken a single moment for granted. 
     
    I promised myself a long time ago, when struggling with infertility, that if I ever became a mom, I would always remember what I went through so that I could be a grateful, humble, and praise-filled mom.  I am these things.  I don't complain, I don't let milestones pass by without reflecting on what a miracle they are, and not a single day goes by where I don't thank God for blessing me with these children.  Children, that at my lowest points, I didn't think I'd ever have. 

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

    Twelve Months of Take-A-Ways

    Now that Nolan and Judah's first birthday is here, I can't help but reflect a lot on how incredible and life-changing these last twelve months have been for me (and for Josh).  While I know there will be enough gushiness in other blogs I will write, I decided to give a nod to the not-so-glamorous take-a-ways I've had throughout this last year.  I have leaned A LOT A LOT A LOT

    Here are the twelve most practical things I learned during Nolan and Judah's first year (one for each month):

    MONTH ONE: Breast feeding is NO joke... it is difficult and time consuming and not without it's struggles and set backs.  We were not naturals at breastfeeding and had to work at it a LOT before we got it right.  With that being said, I am SO grateful I stuck with it!

    MONTH TWO: Smiles from babies can cure just about anything, including, but not limited to: sleep deprivation, witching hour, having awake babies in the middle of the night when they should be sleeping, etc. 

    MONTH THREE: My kids are more flexible than I am.

    MONTH FOUR: Being a part-time teacher was absolutely, without a doubt, the right decision at this time in my life.

    MONTH FIVE:  I never knew how much I would talk, think, and worry about the sleeping routines of my kids... it consumes my thoughts during the day, consumes my dreams at night, and consumes Josh and my daily conversations.  Nolan and Judah getting the right amount of sleep is EV.ER.Y.THING.

    MONTH SIX:  Teething is also NO joke.  Having your kids be in pain, for any reason, is difficult especially when you can't really do anything to take it away.  Teething can disrupt routines and sleep and can make for very unhappy children and mamas when they get bit while nursing. 

    MONTH SEVEN: Trying to child-proof the house is no laughing matter either. No matter how hard I try/tried, my house was/is not baby proof; crawling changes everything.  I also want to throw away every single thing I own so my boys can run wild and free in an empty house with nothing to break, run into, or eat.

    MONTH EIGHT:  Christmas is amazing to celebrate when you have kids.  And also, power outages, snow storms, and ice storms are TERRIBLE when you have kids.  No matter how much time goes on and how much of better sleepers Nolan and Judah are, I live in constant fear that I will not sleep.

    MONTH NINE:  Things you buy to baby proof may not work; you must be quick on your feet and think outside the box.  If you have to use extra strength rubber bands to keep drawers shut, you do it.  If you have to use Pack N' Plays to close off areas because the gate you bought sucks, you do it.  Tasks like cooking dinner now take FOREVER when you are constantly having to go chase after someone so you may as well order pizza! (just kidding....kinda).

    MONTH TEN: You can make time to take care of yourself and your body and your babies will love watching you fall over, cry out in pain, and sweat profusely while working out.  There is hope to be in shape even after carrying out 65 extra pounds!

    MONTH ELEVEN: Traveling with young children is SO much more difficult than traveling alone as a couple, but planning for a family vacation, looking forward to a family vacation, and even packing for a family vacation is SO very fun :)

    MONTH TWELVE: Wise parents aren't kidding when they say 'the days are long, but the years are short.'  This has been BY FAR the fastest year of my entire life.  Time really does fly when you're having fun.

    Are There More Twins in Florida?

    While on vacation, Josh and I were out in public a lot more than we typically are at home.  Part of our goals on this vacation was to try and take more risks and also be outside as MUCH as possible to take advantage of actually being somewhere with nice weather after the winder we had endured. 

    While out and about, we were constantly being approached by people.  We have become accustomed to this (see blog about us being freak shows from several months ago), but there was something a bit different in Florida.  At home, people always stare, sometimes whisper, and occasionally come up to us asking if the boys are twins.  In Florida, though, people were coming up to us wanting to talk all about the twins in their own life.  One example was an elderly couple who came up to us at a restaurant while we were eating dinner to tell us that their own twin boys were turning SIXTY-ONE this year. 

    In addition to being approached by more twin families, we saw twins all over the place.  Whether it was walking in the historic part of downtown St. Augustine, taking an evening stroll by the ocean, shopping for groceries, or getting ice cream, it seemed as though twins were everywhere.  I can't tell you how many twin strollers we saw! 

    Even weirder than this, there were more twins around us than we are used to.  At the complex where we rented our condo, there were 20 month girl/boy twins that we saw pretty much everywhere we went: on walks, at the pool, at the 5K race I ran in.  Although their twins had went down to only taking one nap, our schedules were awfully similar.  The time we saw them every time was our evening walk around the complex.  We'd put the boys in their PJs and just go stroll slowly around the pond to chill them out before bed.  Their family was always out doing the same.  We instantly connected with the parents (of course) and stopped to chat every time we saw them and had great conversations.  There was another family at the complex that had twin teenage boys.  I loved that mother instantly when she stopped to offer to take a family picture of us.  Finally, at the airport, there were five-year-old boy twins traveling with their parents on the flight we were on.  Those parents came right up to us talking about how brave we were to take our boys somewhere so young.  They shared they went absolutely nowhere until their twins were three.  After experiencing travel, I think that was probably a smart decision ;)

    I don't have a singleton so I'm not sure if mothers with one baby get stopped a lot or if they feel the kind of connection I feel with every parent of twins I have ever met.  Even if we don't speak to each other, there is a look and nod between us that is so heavy with meaning.  That nod and look say I get you, I truly get you...we have done something special, rare, difficult, and so amazing. 

    When talking with the twin parents, they understand Josh and I in a way that others never will.  They get how important it is to keep twins on the same feeding/napping schedule, they understand the strange looks and weird question we are always asked, they can joke around about how their friends 'don't get it' sometimes, and genuinely laugh about how much the dads of twins have to do, especially at first-be up with every feeding, be a part of every diaper change- that other dads don't (although, to Josh's credit, I'm fairly certain he would be a very hands on dad no matter how many kids we had at one time).  I wish I had more time with these twin families because I always wonder if they too if their twins were fertility twins like ours.  I wonder if they too had miscarriages or had to be on all kinds of medicines or had to endure lots of bad news before having their twins.  This would deepen our connection. 

    It really does feel like you're in some kind of a club and it's one that I am beyond grateful to be a part of.  It was fun to be surrounded by all these twin families, but seriously, are their more twins in Florida or what?   

    Spring Break 2014: St. Augustine, FL

    Since I have already blogged about how difficult the traveling aspect of our trip was, no on to the great stuff: the actual vacation part of our trip! 

    St. Augustine, Florida was a perfect spring break destination.  It had beauty, history, absolutely perfect weather, and plenty of ways for us to spend as much time outside as possible.  Here is a little play-by-play of our time there...

    Thursday April 10th:
    Our first real day in St. Augustine started with a morning walk to the ocean.  At 8am, as we walked down the fishing pier, we quickly noticed the that beach was basically deserted, which was awesome!  St. Augustine has beautiful white sand beaches. 

    After that, we unpacked and got our condo to be more baby friendly.  We moved a big chair into a bedroom so we could have our story time before naps and bed, hid fake trees and books, put glass items and safety hazards up high and completely out of reach, and put plug protectors on all the outlets (okay, it was tape... the grocery store didn't have any plug protectors).  While the boys took their naps, Josh and me laid out in the grass by the pond with monitors in tow.  That evening, we went out to dinner at the Sunset Grille, an airy two-story restaurant within walking distance from our condo.  We went to bed that night feeling amazing and a bit burned ;) 

    Friday April 11th:
    The first thing we did was go out to the ocean to see the sunrise, which was gorgeous and peaceful.  I've seen may sunrises, but seeing it through Nolan and Judah's eyes was special. 

    For our morning outing, we decided to pack up Nolan and Judah and drive to downtown St. Augustine to take our walk.  As soon as we started driving on the Bridge of Lions, I knew I would love LOVE this place.  Their downtown is absolutely gorgeous and the fact that some building date back to the 1500s ain't too shabby either.  One of the first places we visited was Flagler College.  All the research I did on St. Augustine kept saying to stop by there but I was skeptical. Why would I want to see a college?  But, as we got there, I quickly knew how wrong I was.  This small college was charming!  The main building had been renovated from a very old hotel, there were fountains and cobblestone streets, and student housing in dorms, apartments, and houses that looked like old plantation mansions.  After falling in love with that, we walked up and down St. George street, a pedestrian walkway with shops and restaurants.  This area was also amazing and historic, but in addition to that, it was clear how clean and well taken care of it all was.  I felt a little like we were in Disney World, that's how fake looking and spotless everything was.  We ended our walk by Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in North America.

    The boys fell asleep on our drive back to the condo, which wasn't the plan, but turned out to be a great opportunity for us.  We were able to drive around and see tons of stuff in St. Augustine. In fact, Josh dropped me off at places I wanted to see so I could walk around a bit and take pictures.  I saw the Mission of Nombre de Dios, St. Augustine Lighthouse, Fountain of Youth Archeological Park, and Magnolia Street. 

    In the afternoon, we got the boys dressed up in their swimming trunks and took them to the pool to swim. This was the first time they've been in a pool.  Nolan loved it immediately; Judah hated it immediately.  Actually, I'll take that back, Judah was scared of it immediately.

    Saturday April 12th
    After the boys woke up, we went down to the pier and I ran in a 5K.  I needed to exercise anyway so why not run in a beautiful city in beautiful weather?  It was great and it was great having my family there to cheer me on. 

    The rest of the day was fairly uneventful.  We got pizza from Pizza Time downtown, spent lots of time outside and took our evening walk, which had become something we did every night.  

    Sunday April 13th
    Sunday started with an interesting trip to church.  As you all know, Florida is known for having a lot of senior citizens.  I've noticed that they either LOVE or don't necessarily love kids too much.  The church was mostly senior citizens and it was huge and packed on Palm Sunday.  As mass started, the boys were great, but they weren't bad either; just making playing noises and I felt like there were a lot of dirty looks pointed in our direction.  Maybe I was being paranoid, but, this congregation didn't seem to accepting of two little boys.  We went to the back of church where they had a family room.  In that area, Judah was in heaven; there were other young children he could laugh at, which is exactly what he did: loudly and constantly.  It was extremely cute and all, which is why I could not keep from laughing myself, but it was inappropriate church behavior.  We decided that Judah couldn't handle being in there either so I took him out of that room and into the foyer area of the church.  This space had high ceilings and tile everywhere so it was echoey.  Judah discovered this and started yelling as loud as he could to hear his echo.  Again, not appropriate church behaviors.  Suffice it to say, we kicked ourselves out of church. 

    The rest of the day was pleasant; lots of outside time, walks, and good eats. 
     
    Monday April 14th
    Our last day in St. Augustine brought us back to downtown.  After walking around, we got breakfast.  Later in the afternoon, we went to the splash pad at the pier and spent some time by the ocean.  In the evening, we went back downtown to see the sights when people were actually awake :)  
     
    Tuesday April 15th
    Day to go home :(  You can read my travel blog to find out about how that went. 
     
    This trip was amazing, relaxing, and a great opportunity to try new things.  It was great to have Josh and I be around all the time for a whole week.  St. Augustine is certainly a city we would go back to! :) 

     
     
















    Traveling with Twins: the good, the bad, and the incredibly ugly

    Between Wednesday April 9th and Tuesday April 15th, Josh and I took Nolan and Judah on our first official big family vacation.  We have been up north, visited friends, and went to my parents' cottage, but this would encompass our first plane ride together as a family and we were gone for longer than we've ever been away from home.  In order to fully help my readers out there comprehend what the vacation was really like, it was imperative that I split up the actual vacation part from the traveling since they could have not been more different...

    ON THE WAY THERE
    Our traveling starting Tuesday when we would drive to the Detroit Airport and fly to Jacksonville, Florida and then drive a little less than an hour to St. Augustine. 

    We left relatively on time (it is completely different trying to get a family of four dressed, fed, packed, and buckled in to leave than it was when it was just Josh and I) and got to USA Park, the parking lot we always use when we fly out of Detroit. 

    Our "luggage" consisted of these things:
    -Three suitcases (one to check, two to carry on)
    -Two umbrella strollers
    -Two car seats and two bases
    -One Pack N' Play
    -One gym bag
    -One large bag
    -One diaper bag
    -Two children

    Before you judge and think me crazier than you already think I am, I can assure you, now that I've gone to St. Augustine and back, that we packed the most necessary of items; we used everything we brought. 

    Getting all of this on the shuttle bus wasn't too bad; it was parked right next to our car so we could go back and forth, back and forth loading things on it while the babies sat in their car seat until the very end.  Right before the bus pulled out, we realized we hadn't gotten their car seat bases; not a crisis, but it did freak us out and Josh did run back to the car and get those faster than I would've ever imagined. 

    The most difficult part was when the shuttled dropped us and all of our stuff outside the airport.  Josh and I looked at each other and both thought what in the WORLD do we do now?  I said aloud to him, "I want to go home.  N.O.W."  It is impossible for two people to carry all those things mentioned above.  Thankfully we were able to find a cart to use, which was truly a life saver. 

    After checking the car seats and our bag, we lightened our load a little, which helped a little.  We got to our gate just in time to board so we learned we needed to leave even more travel time than we had anticipated.  Our flight left at 4:22.

    The plane ride was pretty good actually; we listened to other parents' advice and had stuffed our carry ons full of toys and snacks to entertain the boys with.  Every few minutes we would get out something different to play, eat or read, and put the old toy, snack, or book away.  It was work and was very different from how I like to spend a plane ride (zonked out...I'm afraid of flying), but it was a success. 

    Our hiccup at the Jacksonville airport, was having to wait for our rental car for almost an hour and a half.  What do you do with a cart full of luggage and two 11 month olds in an airport for ninety minutes?  You pray... a lot!  Judah was cranky, Nolan was exhausted, and Josh and I were freaking out thinking about the hour drive to St. Augustine.  They would surely sleep the whole way and then what?  Would bedtime be a disaster? We still had to set up their Pack N' Plays, get them dressed in PJs and fed somehow also.  This was not going to be good and we were right. 

    Between the wait, the drive, and trying to get everything figured out for bedtime, the boys were beyond tired and beyond cranky.  Bedtime was late and difficult.  We made it and could finally start our vacation.  I told Josh I didn't care how much fun we had on this trip, I was never leaving my house again ever.

    ON THE WAY HOME
    We used everything we learned from our first experience with airport travel to set us up for better success on the way home.  We left earlier, got to the airport earlier, got a cart right away, and checked more baggage.  So far, so great!

    Or plane was set to leave Jacksonville at 10:30am.  Because the boys usually nap around 10:00, we were hoping to get on the plane, feed them, and try to tire them out so they would sleep at least a little.  Our plane did not, however, take off on time.  In fact, at 11:30am, we hadn't moved since pulling out of the gate.  Apparently there was a computer problem with the airplane; mechanics were good, but computer wasn't connecting or something.  They pulled the plane back in, shut it off, and tried to restart the system.  Josh and I again exchanged a very heavy look at one another.  The boys had been sitting now for almost a full flight time... how would they EVER be able to make it once this plane actually took off.  When a plane is shut down, it gets super super hot, which was an added "bonus" to our already terrible ride home.  Restarting the computer system did nothing; our plane was not leaving any time soon.  And here we go, I thought. 

    They deplaned us and Josh and I quickly tried to problem solve how we were going to make this work.  Our first idea was to feed them right away, again, in hopes that they would then tire out and fall asleep.  Trying to get two kids to sleep in a busy airport in the middle of the day turned out to be impossible.  You can imagine how tired and cranky they were while waiting for whatever was going to come next for us.  Also, they had now been sitting in a car seat or held since 7:30 that morning, it was 12:30pm by this point and it was easy to tell my boys wanted to play and crawl around.  All I could think of was how dirty the floors and chairs of an airport must be... Yuck. 

    A new plane came to our rescue and we were in the air around 1:45pm.  To remind you, our plane was supposed to leave at 10:30am.  My boys have still not napped and they were a disaster for the beginning of this flight.  No matter what we did to try and entertain them or sooth them, they were past the point.  Judah finally fell asleep on me and Nolan was bad enough that Josh ended up taking him into the bathroom for about 15 minutes to sooth him.  Eventually, both boys were asleep.  Whew.  They slept for about an hour of the flight. 

    When we finally pulled into Detroit safely, I couldn't be happier.  We had finally made it home!  We then came to find out that we could not pull into the gate because they didn't have enough ground workers to wave us in.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  DO YOU NOT SEE I'VE GOT TWIN BOYS AND WE ARE BARELY KEEPING IT TOGETHER HERE PEOPLE?!

    We sat in the gate for 30 extra minutes and FINALLY GOT OFF THE PLANE.  around 4pm.  We had been traveling since we left our condo in St. Augustine at 7:30am.

    We got all our things with a cart and were maneuvering around the airport going up and down elevators to get to where our shuttle would pick us up.  Then, we hear from the shuttle people that they are really backed up and it might be a long wait.  Super.  Also, there was a small planned power outage where we were in the airport and we couldn't use an elevator or escalator for about fifteen or twenty minutes.  This is getting comical, seriously.  When the power turned back on, Josh, Judah, and our cart full of luggage got stuck on an elevator while Nolan and I walked around looking for them not having any idea what had happened.  We FINALLY piled into a crowded shuttle with all of our stuff and finally got to the parking lot and our beloved Saturn Vue. 

    While driving home from Detroit, about halfway there, I realized that we had never picked up the Pack N' Play from baggage claim.  The hits just seemed to keep coming and coming and coming.  Upon calling the airport, because this was our fault and not theirs, they would not ship our Pack N' Play to us and would only keep it for a couple of days before getting rid of it. 

    When we arrived home around 6:30, we ate, put the boys to bed, and Josh drove back down the airport again to pick up our bag.  Finally, when he got home around midnight, our traveling was officially over.  In total, with all the crap that happened, our travel home took about 16.5 hours.   

    Yes, this story was long, yes, it seems like we could've made this stuff up for how crazy it was.  Yes, I have thought about never traveling again. 

    But on the Brightside, we learned A LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT about how to travel with little kids and also how Josh and I would react to crisis situations as parents.  Although we both had our moments of complete and total unraveling and break downs, they never happened at the same time.  One of us was always strong, positive and 'with it' when the other was not any of those things.  I, surprisingly, laughed off a lot of these crazy hits that kept coming.  What else can you do really except laugh?

    We also interacted with some amazingly nice people during these crazy travels.  People who offered to help carry things, people who opened up doors for us and found carts for us. People who had to sit next to us on these flights and were kind, understanding, and even complimentary to Josh and I.  Although this did make me second guess my love for travel, it also restored my faith in the human race and you can't put a price tag on that.