Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jingle All the Way

This is the first year that the twins really got into the whole spirit of Christmas. And when I say spirit of Christmas, I mean it in the watch-commercials-and-ask-for-everything-how-many-days-until-Santa-gets-here sort of way, not the the-best-gift-is-the-gift-of-giving sort of way. But then I suppose this is more than partly my fault. Back in early September when I start Christmas shopping Eleanor saw a green garbage truck at Costco.

She wanted that silly thing more than anything in the world, but I told her Santa would be coming in just a couple months and she would have to ask him for it. Then Adam started combing through every toy catalog we received in the mail (and those of you with little kids know how crazy an accomplishment that is) and pinpointed the Imaginext castle as the most fabulous thing in the world.

I once again told him that Santa would be coming soon and that if continued to be such a good boy, perhaps he would bring it. Well, that's all I needed to say and it was Christmas carols with jingle bell accompaniment, Christmas cookies, Christmas TV specials, and Christmas lists for the next several weeks.
They sat on Santa's lap, wore Santa hats around the house, the whole nine yards. Adam had a Christmas party at his school in the evening complete with a man playing accordion in the gym, face painting, and Santa giving away books to every kid. Well, Santa must have been watching Adam closely because he gave his the Icky Bug Counting Book. That poor book looks like it's seen 6 or 7 Christmases he loves it so much.

And Eleanor and I took a mommy/daughter trip to Bronner's where she picked out a beautiful disco ball ornament for herself. And of course, we had to dress Ethan up in silly Santa outfits and take pictures he will not be happy with in about 10 years.

Doesn't it sound like I just had a blast this Christmas? I really did--there's nothing like little ones running around the house screaming Jingle Bells busting at the seams in anticipation for Santa to get you in the Christmas spirit. I can't wait to do it all again next year.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Big Personality, Little Body

Anyone who has met Eleanor knows that she has enough personality for a classroom of little girls. Yesterday Eleanor and I went to visit my dad. It was just a short visit since he was having work done in the basement. He took us down there to show us the progress and the 2 painters were sitting taking their lunch break. Eleanor walks right up to them and says, "Hi Guys!! Whacha doin'?" Self-confidence oozes from her.

Last week I took Eleanor to her first movie--The Princess and the Frog. For a week beforehand, she'd say 10 times a day, "Will you take me to Princess and the Frog on Saturday (she's into the days of the weeks right now) oh please, oh please, oh please?" Of course I take her but Eleanor gets a bit impatient waiting for it to start, looks up and calls out, "Lights Please!!!" Being an elementary school teacher, I know to prepare her for this new experience. I told her how the picture would be really big, that it would be dark, and that we'd be watching the movie with a bunch of other people. I was remiss in preparing her for previews. As they begin she leans over, "But I want Princess and the Frog!!" I tell her it's coming. Another preview. "But I want Princess and the FROG!" It's coming next. So it starts, but not immediately with the title--it goes right into the story. "But I want Princess and the FROOOG!" This IS Princess and the Frog. "Well where's the FROG?"
Also this week--a big week for Eleanor-- we discovered she can read. I don't mean she knows a few sight words. I don't mean she's memorized the books we've had around the house for months if not years. I mean I can pick up a brand new Level 1 I Can Read Book and Eleanor can read it to me. Holy moly. I haven't really taught her to read per se. We have loads of books, we read to the kids all the time, we've been going over sounds that letters make for 2 years, but I never intentionally taught her to read. Eleanor did that all on her own. She 4 years 2 months. She's not even 4 until January if you're her dad who still adjusts her age for prematurity. I know I'm a little biased, but that girl is going places. Born at 23 weeks, no problem. Surgery at 10 days, a breeze. You think she might be delayed because of it all? Ha, she'll show you. Ask her how she is and she'll always respond, "Great!!" If she messes up at something she'll tell you, "I'm going to try again." I think that little girl has a whole lot to teach the world. Isn't she fabulous?

Friday, November 27, 2009


Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of just how premature Adam and Eleanor truly were and just how thankful our family is to have the two of them with us to make us smile and appreciate life. I remember very vividly Thanksgiving Day 2005 when the twins were in the NICU.

They were still in the back--in the extremely intensive-intensive care section. And there was a little boy who had been born earlier that day--he was not premature, in fact he seemed absolutely huge to me. But he was so so sick, though I never knew with what. The entire NICU was hushed and there were signs everywhere around him pleading, "Quiet!" as the slightest noise caused him troubles. I remembered that because Adam had the same thing happen to him for awhile when he was at his very sickest. I sat in the corner all dressed up, holding Eleanor's tiny hand --it was the first day I was actually going somewhere (my mom's for Thanksgiving dinner) other than the NICU since September 29. And as I held her hand I asked her to help me pray for that little boy because it seemed that he needed it much more at that we did at that very moment. It was the very first time that had been true in two months of prayers. The twins were very stable on finally both on nasal canulas and soon would be eating from bottles which was why I was actually able to elave their side for a few hours and spend the afternoon with the rest fo the family. I saw the baby boy's mom walking in and out to visit him in a trance--and I realized that I had looked just like that at the beginning of our journey. That little boy somehow turned in around in the next week or so and went home with his mom long before Adam and Eleanor we able to come home with us, but I remember thinking then that Thanksgiving would never really be the same again, and I don't think it ever is for any parent who had a very sick child in the NICU. I'm just so thankful that our little ones are here with us to celebrate and really all the rest--the things I used to be thankful for before our experiecnce in the NICU--will never be as important as they once were.

Happy Thanksgiving Eleanor and Adam. Mommy is so very thankful for you.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy 5th Halloween!

It's hard for me to believe that this is Adam and Eleanor's 5th Halloween. I very clearly remember their first one--in the NICU with pumpkin hats knitted by some women who donate them to the hospital. The hats were tiny, but we still had to make them smaller by taping them with hospital tape at the back before they could wear them. We've come quite a way since then. This year Adam chose to be a dinosaur. He goes around roaring and even got to wear his costume to school today. He's become such a boy when it comes to toys. Since they were boy/girl twins, they've both always been around toys that are sterotypical for both genders, but nevermind that. Adam is all about dinosaurs, castles, race cars, and making things crash. He still very much loves his numbers, but he's been doing a lot of imaginative play lately, usually making guys fall off ledges (back of the couch).

Eleanor chose to be a witch. And I'm not talking a pretty little sparkly witch with a shiny purple cape. I mean the Wicked Witch of the West. She saw the costume in one of the 500 catalogs we got and made her decision as soon as she saw it--you would think she might have changed her mind and gone with something more cutesy, but nope. At the last minute she did decide against the green makeup for her face, but I still think her choice is a bit refreshing when so many little girls are running around as princesses. I'm not a big fan of making my daughter think she's a princess (even though I think she is--I just don't let her in on that fact) so I really admire her for having her own mind and not being concerned with what all the other girls are doing.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Big Brother and Big Sister

Adam and Eleanor now have a baby brother named Ethan, making them a big brother/sister. The twins are quite excited to have Ethan here, but have taken a decidedly different opinion of the whole situation. During my pregnancy, Adam was the one who would always look at me, say, "baby brother" and then follow it up with a "whop, whop" to the belly. When he first saw Ethan in the hospital, he must have given him ten kisses in a row. Now Adam is the one to remind us (as if we need reminding) that, "Ethan's crying", or "Ethan too loud". Eleanor, I think, was under the impression that Ethan was going to arrive a lot more fun than he is. To Eleanor, he just sits there and takes my attention away from her. The other day when my brother-in-law and sister-in-law cam eover to meet Ethan, Eleanor brought out a stool and kept saying, "Let me show you what I can do," jumping off of it over and over. Then she thought she would outshine Ethan by spelling her name and various other words with the letter magnets on the fridge. She may as well have screamed, "HEY!! Will you look at me already?!? That kid just cries and eats--totally BORING!" She still likes to give him kisses at night and pick out his next outfit (and those of you who know me understand that's no mean feat). Alex, of course, has been thrilled with the little guy and a big help. He's gone to camp for three nights this week and I truly don't know what I'll do without him. What a great kid.

And now to show you our new (not so) little arrival, Ethan. He was 8 pounds 4 ounces at birth and already weighs just about 10 pounds at 3 weeks. I am a much more relaxed, calm mommy this time around. I suppose the lack of oxygen tanks and apnea monitors will do that. Every couple days I stare at him and get tears in my eyes, though--for the newborn days that Adam and Eleanor never really had and for all the needle pokes, medications, IVs, and pain they had instead. I know they don't remember it now, but I do and no matter how fabulously things have turned out, I'm still sad to think of the way it should have been for them and wasn't. That's when I have to remember how blessed we are move on from the tears. I'm so proud of the big kids my little twins have become and I know they are going to be an amzing big brother and big sister, too.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First Day of School

Here are the twins on their first day of preschool. Adam went all of last year, so it wasn't quite as exciting for him--although he gets to take the bus home from school now! Jim brought him in, but they dropped him off right at the end of our driveway. He absolutely loved it, even though I was sad to see my little guy looking so grown up. Eleanor goes to preschool right across the street from us where Alex used to go to elementary school. She comments that, "That's my school!" every time we drive by. Adam has a new teacher, but it's the classroom right next to his old one. At open house he went right to his favorite counting toys. Have I mentioned that he's taught himself to count to 20 in Spanish and add and subtract single digit numbers? I know his dad is a big math guy, but Adam has taken things to a new level!! His speech has come soooo far this summer, but his math skills are definitely beyond the level of any 3 year old I've met. Particularly his sister, who told me 6+6=5 yesterday. Adam quickly corrected her. In Spanish. I had to attend the first day of preschool with Eleanor. There were 8 kids with parents there for the hour (another 8 kids came later for a total of 16 kids in her class). Being that Eleanor has never really been in a play group, I was curious how she'd do. It was hilarious to watch her. Of the 8 kids, 5 were boys --3 named Jack!--and she would much rather have played with them than the little girls wanting to wear princess costumes. Not her thing. She squished the clay, microwaved a strawberry (as you do...), and showed off her "mad puzzle skizzles" (as Alex refers to them). Poor little boy next to her was trying to just put numbers 1-10 in the right holes and she'd already finished a 24 piece Curious George puzzle. Then it was time to sing a song and hear a story. All the kids are sitting on the rug and Elenaor tells the teacher, "I want to sit right by you!" which of course was fine, but she did have her sit on the letter "w". The teacher, Mrs. B, turned on a CD to sing along with and Eleanor had to stand up and "take a look-see" (from Special Agent Oso on Disney) as to where the music was coming from. And as the teacher read the story, she knelt up there as if the story was only being read to her. A tad embarrassing, but nothing I didn't expect.

They made a little art project coloring in their traced hand. When I explained to Eleanor that she needed to color the hand, she took the yellow crayon to her own hand. Hmmm....perhaps we should have done some more crafty stuff at home... We found out they can't bring in birthday treats to preschool (although it's fine at Adam's school and everywhere Alex has gone, so I don't know what the deal is there) because of allergies and who knows what else. Kind of sad when you can't bring cupcakes in anymore. Anyway, if it hadn't been for the fact that I'm 9 months pregnant and due any time now, it would have been a really fun morning. But when we all got home and it was only noon I almost cried...I was sure it had to be at least 8:00pm. Fortunately, the twins still need naps when it's a school day, so after lunch we all collapsed into our beds for a good 2 hours. This is going to take some getting used to.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Baby It's Hot Outside

I thought I would add a few more summer photos before preschool photos ended up being the next entry! All of the kids love swimming at my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's house--can you tell by the giant grins?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Sweetest Thing

If Eleanor took the lion's share of spirit, our little Adam grabbed sincerity with both hands. I guess I shouldn't really say "little" since Adam is about an inch and a half taller than Eleanor...only thing is he weighs about two pounds less at 32 pounds. He has the skinniest rear end that I love to pinch--to which he responds, "cute little bubby". I guess that comes from me telling him he's got a cute little bottom for so long! Adam has recently taken to patting my belly and saying, "baby brother," at the table--usually because I'm trying to convince him to eat something or other and he can't help but have my tummy right in his face.
Adam spent the last year at a special education preschool to get extra help with his speech. I was veeeerrrry apprehensive about sending my little guy to school so young, but I can't say enough about the school and his wonderful teacher. Adam started school saying very little--animal sounds, mom, dad, a few other things. Now he says almost anything (though whether you can understand him often depends on how much time you spend with him), is constantly interacting with the family, and has become much more independent. His voice is quiet because of his paralyzed vocal cord, but if you listen, you'll hear that he can say his ABC's, count to 100, count by 10's, count by 1000's, and can even do some basic adding and subtracting. He also can look at a clock and tell you what time it is. If there are numbers involved, Adam is all over it. He also loves to spell--mom, dad, Adam, Alex, Eleanor, hat, dog, cat, bus, yes, no, nose, up, down...the list goes on. He also surprised the daylights out of me the other day and counted to 10 in Spanish. I'm blaming Handy Manny. :) I wish I could get Adam to enjoy coloring and drawing more, but his attention span needs some work. Needless to say, I'm very glad we can send Adam back to the same school this year and even the following year before starting kindergarten.

When something strikes Adam's funny bone he laughs with the sweetest, most contagious little laugh that shakes his whole body. He loves to be tickled and will even grab you hand and say, "more tickles!" just to be able to laugh and laugh. He just adores his big brother and is not always fond of having to take turns doing things with him. For example, Alex will pick up the kids and spin them in circles while they look to the ceiling and squeal. When it's Eleanor's turn his gets quite impatient and can throw a temper tantrum with the best of them. Even though it's not supposed to be a good thing, I like that he's not just letting Eleanor get away with whatever she can anymore--he's starting to stand up for himself. Only problem is that her speech skills far surpass his, so she can be quite eloquent at explaining why it was all Adam's fault.

Now that summer is here, Adam just loves to go outside. He will grab his Disney hat and wear it all day if he thinks that it will get you to take him out on the trampoline or climb the rock wall on the playscape. His dad takes the little slide and puts it into the little pool so they slide down into it--as you can see from the photos, he loves it. I'm hoping that by the end of summer he'll be riding his tricycle--but he's a little afraid of the whole bike riding concept.

One of the best parts of the day, though, is when I go upstairs to put Adam to bed and he yells out, "Mommy!!!". Not much can beat the sound of that with the huge grin on his face.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

That's My Girl

Eleanor finally got to move into her big girl bed this weekend. She is more excited than I can possibly put into words! It all started by moving Alex into a new (more "mature") room. Then we found out I'm expecting--surprise! So we have a new baby boy due in September. Actually on the twins' birthday--so I'm hoping he's a day or two early or late. I'm only a week and a half from the day the twins were born--with not a single emergency room visit. Yay! Anyway, so we have made Alex's old room into Adam and the new baby's room. Which left Eleanor as the only girl with her very own bedroom, which she definitely wanted painted pink. So last weekend Jim painted and when she first walked into the room she exclaimed, "It's beauuuuuutiful! Daddy, how did you DO it?" Don't tell Eleanor but with a response like that, Jim will repaint her room anytime she would like.

This weekend, we moved my old queen sized bed from my single days into her room. She cannot get enough of sleeping in her big girl bed. She needs a stool to get up into it, but she doesn't mind one bit. I've tried to keep her from having a princess complex because I'm not really into that, but it seems that it is in her blood anyway. There has not been one issue about changing beds, changing anything. She still sleeps with her pink blanket (gosh I wish I remembered who gave that to her at the shower) her puppy, and like any normal 3 year old, her shark, fox, squid, and bat. Yes, those are actually her favorite stuffed animals. Eleanor is always up for an adventure or a challenge whether it's a new bed or a new playground. When she walks into a room, even if there are 15 adults sitting there, she'll call out to everyone, "Hi!!!" When we went to Mackinac Island this weekend (we did a lot over Memorial Day) she loved the boat, the horse ride, and even asked to go into the haunted house. Silly girl--doesn't she know her mom is afraid of haunted houses?
Eleanor will be starting preschool this fall and every time she sees the building she says, "There's my school!" I hope the teacher is ready for Eleanor when she gets there, because she's sure ready to take the school by storm. I hope this all means that she's getting the confidence that I hope to be instilling in her each day--the same confidence I wished I had had as a little girl. She sure seems to be wrapping her little arms around life with everything she's got...and wow, she deserves every exicting minute!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Time for an Update

It's been quite awhile since my last post, but lots has happened. Eleanor is just such a big girl now. She plays hard, loves her big brother Alex, and talks like crazy. She is such a strong-willed little stinker, but I remember that that is why she did so well at the very beginning. As I remember one of her NICU nurses saying, she has "moxey". Well, she still does! Eleanor has been known to have as many time-outs in a day as Alex had in his entire early childhood. After being asked not to spin her fork on the table (and say, "Look at it go!!!!!") at least 5 times, she will look directly at me with a glimmer in her eye and do it again. Part of me wants to scream, but most of me has to stifle a giggle--she just makes me laugh all day long. She gives tons of kisses, asks for "zerberts", and tells me she needs lotion on her arms for her dry skin. She has matered the computer mouse and plays on her Fisher-Price computer and goes onto the Playhouse Disney site. The only thing she can't do is type in the URL. Maybe next week. :)

Adam always has been and is still our sweetie. He loves to be tossed into the air, or spun around, or wrestle on the floor with Alex. His favorite show is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse because they count a lot and one of his favorite things to do is count. Next to that is to spell. He drags the Doodle board to one of us and wants us to spell words over and over. He can recognize about 20 words now and is adding more each day. He spells Mom most. :) When he gets tired, he says, "Cuddle, cuddle Mommy" or "Cuddle, cuddle Daddy," and curls up with us. Adam goes to school three times a week primarily to help him with speech. We can't go on enough about the school and the staff. Adam talks all the time now though not always clearly, can ask for what he wants, and can answer all of our yes/no questions. They have been singing a song about emotions, so he does happy, sad, sleepy, and scared. But my favorite is mad--he makes this hilarious noise where he sounds constipated. Alex gets quite a kick out of it.

Alex also helps make a fort out of their play kitchen and they go in their with all their toys and make a bunch of noise. We're so lucky that Alex is such a great big brother. Both kids have learned so much about playing from him. As far as their size goes, Eleanor has pretty much stayed at the 50th percentile for both height and weight (33.5 pounds right now), though I think she's looks almost 4 rather than not yet 3.5. Adam is always a bit taller than Eleanor, but he's a skinny bean--it's no wonder from the way that kid goes and goes all day. He weighs just about 31 pounds and is solid muscle. If it were up to him, he'd go to bed at midnight and sleep until 11am. School mornings are rough when I have to drag him out of bed at the crack of 8am.
I have a Flip camera now and I can put videos up here now (shows you how often I log on--it's probably been that way for ages) so I guess I will try to do that next time!