Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quite a project

Jackson spent 45 minutes on a project yesterday, probably the longest time he's ever spent doing any one thing straight. I watched with amazement as he collected all the toys, stuffed animals and books in the living room and put them in this big box.

Lola helped by putting in her shoes...

and then taking them back out again.

And after he had worked so hard to fill the box, he emptied it.

I was amazed when, looking sternly in his empty box, he began to fill it all over again.

He even put in his beloved blanket!

It was great to watch him work so hard for so long at something!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Our days are so often dictated by the weather. The other day it was soooooo cold, but we had been cooped up all day and the kids really wanted to get outside and play. So we spent about 20 minutes putting on jackets, gloves, and hats and out to the back yard we went.

And then Saturday the rain came and we were stuck inside all day. The kids got a little restless and mommy got a little nutty.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tire changing

No properly bred man can sit back and watch a lady change a tire without offering to help, and my son proved as good as his breeding! Here are some pics of Jackson and our dear friend Simone changing my tire while I catch it all on film. It struck me about halfway through the tire change that I was standing around snapping pictures while Simone did all the work, but look how cute the pics came out :) And to give her some due props, she was very patient with Jackson while he "helped." We're so lucky to have our Aunt Simone!

Also, as you can see, Lola didn't dive in to help with tire changing. This is the beginning of what I bet will become a fairly predictable pattern of letting her brother handle the heavy and dirty stuff.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Poem

Thanks for the everyday easy type things:
iced coffee, elmo movies, all the small blessings
Thanks for appliances that help with the work,
like washing and scrubbing and picking up dirt.
Thanks for the clothes and the roof and the food,
all of which help to maintain a good mood.
Thanks for the City so long in the makin',
Thanks to the Saints and the Dome they be shakin',
Thanks for our grumpy old man of a cat,
so fuzzy and lovely and well... used to be fat.
Thanks for the husband who brings home the dough,
who takes out the trash and sweeps the flo'.
Thanks for the kids who provide many laughs,
can't think of a better place to spend all our cash.
We're thankful for all of our family and friends,
And short of more rhymes our poem now ends.

Monday, November 16, 2009

November 17, National Prematurity Awareness Day

Our introduction to prematurity:

At 25 weeks pregnant I began experiencing regular contractions less than 15 minutes apart. I was told told by my doctor to go to the hospital and have things checked out. The nurses discovered I had dilated a couple centimeters but had not begun effacing. They were hopeful that while this was cause for what I had been told was the inevitable prescription for bed rest, it would not mean I was in imminent danger of delivering. The doctor ordered a fetal fibronectin test to be sure. This is a test that indicates whether you body has begun releasing a specific hormone that helps the body get ready for labor. It's presence indicates that the woman will deliver within 7 days.

The test was ordered and I was sitting tight hooked up to monitors that, over the next 8 weeks, would become both a source of great comfort and annoyance for me. There were 3 monitors, round disks strapped to my giant belly each picking up something different: one for each of the babies' heartbeat and one monitoring the strength and frequency of my contractions. The babies heart rates, the nurse assured me, were both good. My contractions, on the other hand, were not. Then the fetal fibronectin test came back positive. "How far along are you?" one of the nurses asked me for clarification. "25 weeks" I managed to squeak out. She nodded and tried to hide her panic. Moments later the OB on call was in my room explaining that while the fetal fibronectin test can be a false positive, the facts were not pointing her in that direction. I was having regular contractions, carrying twins, I had begun to dilate, and I was 8500 feet above sea level which my pregnant body might not be handling all that well. "We are going to do everything we can to keep you from having these babies this early" she said to me as I tried hard to will away my tears. I looked at Aaron and I could tell he was trying as hard as I was to be calm and brave for each other and our children. But we were both totally terrified.

The next couple of days were a blur. It's a cliche, I know, but it's really true. Magnesium Sulfate is a mean hateful drug that blurs the lines between real life and what I can best describe as a drug induced semi-reality. I was immediately started on a massive IV drip of the gross stuff and quickly I began to feel like my skin was radiating enough heat to warm the entire hospital. My eyes burned and my vision got blurry. I begged the nurses to lower the air conditioning (it was January in Colorado, keep in mind) and please please let me have just one glass of water. No water, just ice chips. You see, magnesium sulfate can do a serious number on the kidneys and I was on a whopping steady dose of the poison. And it was probably better that I drank no water cause I was so sick to my stomach that any quick movements would start my stomach wrenching. There were constant heartbeat and contraction monitors beeping and nurses monitoring my input and output (I refused to have a catheter but wasn't allowed to get up to pee, so you can imagine the ridiculousness that ensued. Picture a half crazed, burning up and extremely nausous pregnant woman hoisting herself onto her knees to use a bed pan every 3 hours. Not fun for anyone involved). It's hard to believe that a drug that could make me feel so completely miserable would benefit my babies, but benefit them it did. Eventually the contractions slowed, the dosage was lowered, and I began to re-enter the world of the living.

At the end of those initial two days the NICU doctor came in to speak with us. It's one of the conversations that will stick with me the rest of my life. He came to lay out for us what we could "reasonably expect" out of our current situation. If the babies are born now... keep in mind, at this point my contractions were barely under control with the help of a lot of "mag," as those in the prenatal wing call it... if they were born now they have a 50 % survival rate. Imagine that for a second, will you. Either you are a mother who is trying with all your might to get your body to obey your will and stop laboring, or you're a father who is stressed out and hasn't slept and is worried sick not only about your 2 babies but about your wife who has basically been lying in a bed moaning for 2 days. And the expert premature baby doctor looks you right in the face and tells you your babies have a 50 % chance of dying. And then before that can even really sink in he goes on... before they make it to 28 weeks gestation they are at great risk for multiple birth defects including but not limited to blindness, deafness, and cerebral palsy. If they are born between 28 and 32 weeks gestation they are at great risk for having 1 of these birth defects. The doctor talked for maybe 20 minutes and then the lactation nurse came in to talk to me about pumping breast milk and feeding preemies. They were getting us ready to be new parents to what would have been tiny (under 3 pounds) babies born 15 weeks too soon. Aaron and I sat there, stunned.

Thank God, thank the doctors, thank the nurses, and thank the drugs that this didn't end up to be the case. My labor eventually stopped and we all held on for another 8 weeks before Lola and Jackson were born. And I am so thankful.

For the friends and family who saw us through to Lola and Jackson's premature birth, thank you. Thank you for the phone calls and visits. For the food and magazines and coloring books and DVDs and the baby showers I couldn't attend and the baby cloths we eventually grew in to and the help with moving and most of all for the thoughts and prayers. Thank you.

For the doctors and nurses who helped me stay pregnant for 8 long weeks of Brethene Pumps, Procardia Pills, Magnesium Sulfate IV drips, home and hospital bed rest, endless demands for milk and mylanta, protests about lying flat, lying on my side, automatic leg compressors, catheters and bed pans and those awful high calorie "milk shakes." Thank you all for everything you did to help me give birth to 2 healthy babies.

Thank you to everyone in the NICU for taking care of my precious babies for 3 weeks while I sat at the side of their isolettes watching them breathe, listening to the alarms on the monitors and constantly looking for reassurance. Thank you for explaining yourselves over and over again while I struggled through fear and worry trying to understand the facts of our situation. Thank you for you compassion.

And thank you to the March of Dimes and everyone who donates their money and contributes their time to that organization. Thank you to the many other organizations who sponsor prematurity research that save lives. Because of them my children not only survived my premature labor and preeclampsia but they thrived despite it. Today they are happy healthy 20 month olds and I am so very thankful for everyone who helped us get here.

On this National Prematurity Awareness Day please remember those you may know whose lives have been affected by prematurity. Please remember that not everyone is as fortunate as we have been. Many families have spent months, not weeks, in the NICU. And other families have left the hospital with no baby at all. And if you're so inclined, please visit the March of Dimes website and learn a little more about what is being done to help women struggling to stay pregnant for as long as they possibly can.

Me and our 2 preemies a few days after they were born:

And Pops with our former preemies working in the garden:

Monday, November 2, 2009

It used to be so straightforward: feed baby, bounce baby, change diaper, change cloths, clean spit up, swaddle baby, put baby to bed, pray for sleep, feed baby... and so it went.

Easier these days? In many ways, absolutely. All 4 of us are sleeping a lot more than we did the first year of Lola and Jackson's life. The kids are on a fairly regular nap schedule which, obviously, I'm pretty happy about. And while Jackson does go through spells when he wakes up several times per night (nightmares I think), rarely does he fuss long enough for me to get out of bed. Having a working sleeping routine makes things so much easier.

Lola and Jack are also getting much better at communicating their needs. This new skill serves us all well. Jackson will walk in to the room, wait for me to look him right in the eye and then say "ball" and point back to their room. Easy enough to decipher; he wants my help to get the ball. Lola is great at letting me know when it's meal or snack time. And she's even getting good at telling me what she wants to eat. I can run down the list of options and trust that she understands her choices as she answers yes to grapes and no to ham. This makes meal time so much easier.

But there is one element of motherhood that isn't getting easier at all. Quite the opposite; it get more difficult every day. I guess that element for me is best encapsulated by what I think of as "parenting": exerting my influence and assistance when necessary, withholding it when it's important to do so. I spent the first year nurturing, loving and snuggling, hoping to build a strong bond between me and my kids. I felt like it was my responsibility to keep them in situations where they would be happy and safe and could explore their world without consequence. But that's changing as they grow into toddlers. They're learning to assert their independence and I'm learning, well trying to learn really, when to snuggle them tight and when to allow them to fall.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My little fashionista

Some instincts are just inherently female, I would say :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

My parents were recently here visiting from CO. Couldn't resist posting this little gem:

Where have we been?

The pressure I feel to try and catch up after a long hiatus ends up paralyzing me and only prolonging my silence. I wait for a large block of time to open up in my schedule so I can write a big post and then inevitably something comes up and my blog gets put on the back burner. So then a month goes by and still no post.

So rather than wait any longer I'm going to post whatever I can get done before the kids wake up from this nap. I'm just going to dive in with no particular inspiration so when I sit down to write my next post I will consider myself caught up and I can get on to more interesting, inspired writing.

So, Jackson:
A second dislocated elbow, a big open cut on his chin, and a broken glass French door. That pretty much sums up his recent exploits. And all that happened last week. Is this going to be what life is like with Jackson? Are Aaron and I going to have to start a separate "Jackson emergency medical bills and replacement of broken objects" fund? I tried to convince Aaron that we should use money from Jackson's college fund to replace the glass door ($400!) but he wasn't buying it. Ever the pragmatist.

I am happy to report that, true to form, Jackson is far less upset about his personal injuries and his destruction than I am, which is good. No use crying over a little blood or broken glass, right?Lola is again fighting a cold, her second this months. About a month ago both babies, err... toddlers, fought off colds and ear infections and now Lola's cold is back. She had her ears checked today and they were both clear of fluid, YEAH! Although these colds don't tend to slow her down much, they do keep us pretty much house-bound and so let's all hope that she'll be snot free soon!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

4 years later...

Everyone around here has a Katrina story, and we have told ours many many times. We tell it to our friends who weren't here for the storm and to our relatives from out of town. We told it to the people we met in Nebraska, explaining over and over that we were indeed planning on moving back to our home. We tell it to each other sometimes, partly for therapy and partly in attempt to archive it, I think. Funny, the people we don't tell it to are the friends who "lost everything" like us. With them it's more of a nod of recognition or a quick reference to something I "used to have."

One day Aaron and I will tell our kids about "the storm." We will say how we are still living in the very spot we were when our house was destroyed. We will show them where the old front door was and where their room would have been in "Milne 1," as we've taken to calling it. We'll show them how high the water was and where the mold reached up to the ceiling. And we will show them pictures.

We'll show them pictures of the hundreds of books covering our spare bedroom floor that came down when the bookshelves collapsed and floated out of the bins that held up our desk. We'll show them pictures of the bedroom and explain how it's possible that the top of the bed and everything on it is dry even though it sits 2 feet below the water line on the wall. We'll show them the contents of our cabinets strewn all over the kitechen floor, thousands of dollars worth of wedding presents covered in dirt and mold like an apocalyptic Williams Sonoma add.

What we won't be showing them are pictures of Aaron and I at our Junior and Senior Prom, pictures of Aaron carrying me across the threshold of the house on the Westbank we rented together after high school, or pictures of our Greenwood apartment we moved in to when we got married. Like so many other people around here, our pre-Katrina stories will be accompanied only by the pictures in our memory, pictures we can't show our children. I won't be handing Lola a box of old pictures like my mom handed me when I asked about her life before kids. Instead, I will show her a picture of a bin sitting amid the rubble in our spare bedroom closet. A box full to the brim with pictures of our life before "the storm." Pictures that once showed Aaron and I in Halloween costumes and in front of Mardi Gras floats, dancing in bars and studying in the living room made into indistinguishable swirls of color like a child's first fingerpainting project.

People around here still talk about what they "lost in the storm," especially around the end of August. Funny, it never occured to me to think about what Lola and Jackson lost. Until now.

A pic of the kids standing beneath our Katrina Water Line marker:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Preemie Diapers

I was cleaning out the kids' closet the other day and came across an old pack of preemie diapers. Couple this accident with all the babies happening amongst our friends and it's no surprise a little sentimentality ensued.

Preemie diaper v. current #3 diaper:
It's hard to believe that those tiny preemie diapers used to be so big on the kids.
Just for kicks, I put one of those preemie diapers on Lola. It doesn't look too funny from behind,
but look at it from the front!

What a difference 17 months makes!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


It doesn't take much to get Lola or Jackson to mimic you. Lola's go-to dance (and she really LOVES to dance) was taught to her by one of her BFF's a while ago and now she does it every time she hears music. One of Jackson's favorite buddies was over the other day and had Jackson saying "Dude!!!" within the hour. It seems like they are learning something new almost every day. Some things they don't retain. They may say/do it once or twice and then if it's not reinforced, they either forget it or file it in the back of their brain for later use. Let's hope Jackson's new word is one of the things that doesn't get reinforced and is immediately forgotten.

A couple of days ago Jackson tipped over my coffee cup. I was more startled than mad and guess what was the first word out of my mouth. "S**t!"And it wasn't quiet either. It came out full force. And guess what was the very next word out of his mouth. Yep, that's right. Baby's first curse word.

I knew this day would come. I knew one day I would have to sensor everything that came out of my mouth. It's not like I can't do it. All those years I taught gymnastics I never even once yelled "s**t" when a kids fell off the balance beam. It's just a matter of getting used to it again. And I guess I'm a little disappointed that it's happening. Sometimes there's really nothing more fitting than a good PG-13 rated curse word (ok, maybe occasionally even an R rated one). Oh well. Guess I'm gonna have to put the G rated filter back on.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I hope my house survives the exploration phase

Lola and Jackson watch and mimic EVERYTHING we do. We talk on the phone, they talk on the toy phone. We aim the remote at the tv, they aim (throw) the remote at the tv. We drink out of a water bottle, they "drink" out of a water bottle. I put the groceries away, they "help" put the groceries away.

Believing that Lola and Jack will benefit from learning through exploration and even a little trial and natural consequence, I have tried to keep forbidden activities to a minimum. Of course there are a few areas that just aren't safe: pantry, laundry room, bathroom...

But the little explorers are getting crafty. After finishing some quick house work the other day I settled down with my coffee and computer (I mean classic novel) and was deep in Balloon Tower Defense (I mean Treasure Island) when I realized they had penetrated my defenses in one of the forbidden areas...


Admiring the effort it must have taken to get in, I just removed the glass and knives and let them at it.
(No children were harmed in the making of this photo series)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer fun

We've been having a lot of fun with dirt lately. Is there really any better way to spend the summer?