September 15, 2009

The Homecoming

And now, we are home. Our Sandy Island adventure is behind us. And, once again, I'm feeling a deeper connection to my mom.

I have a vague memory of what it was like to get home from vacation. I vaguely remember pulling in the driveway and suddenly there was a frenzied feeling. Unpack the van, bags to the laundry, take baths, get to bed. My parents were suddenly in go mode to get things back together. I remember all the next day my mom would do laundry and try to get everything back in order. I vaguely remember, at least once, her wondering out loud if it was worth it.

And 20 years later, we pulled into the driveway with our van and I went into go mode: bags in the basement (I had seen spiders in our bags, and nothing was coming into the apartment until it had been washed!), dirty baby dishes to the kitchen, babies bathed, bedtime, switch laundry, do the dishes. I was in a desperate frenzy to get things done. Except the lack of sleep from checking on my bundled babies and looking for spiders had me so exhausted that I crashed (literally) on the couch. Lucas woke me up around 11 to go to bed and informed me that I fell asleep around 8 (I don't even remember sitting on the couch...).

2 days later, and the laundry is done, but not folded. So we are surrounded by mounds of laundry that threaten to bury us in an avalanche of cotton. The dishes got done, but the babies provide a never ending supply, so you cannot tell. Piles of mail are overflowing on the coffee table (we only missed 2 days of mail, but it looks like a week!). Baby toys are strewn around the apartment making it look like a mini-tornado swept through. And the babies have been fussy (methinks they picked up a cold...and it is further aggravating the teething pain), which has made mama's days long. And I honestly cannot figure out how I will get everything done in time for us to turn around to go to MI next week!

At the same time, the twins have done some adorable things. They have suddenly started to turn over to grab toys that they drop. Something falls out of their hands and they turn their heads to locate it and the turn on their stomach to grab it, and then turn back on their backs! I love it! Allie has started giving "kisses" - which means she lunges at my cheek with an open mouth and then pulls back and smiles! Ryan has started consistently saying "mama." Granted, I don't think he is using it to address me, and he almost only says it when he is mad and then he cries "a-mamamama, a-mamamama-a-a-a-a!" But I love it anyways. And, finally, the twins have started to entertain each other. They were doing tummy time while their bottles were warming, and they scooted to face each other and talked and shared toys. I snapped a quick picture, it was the best moment!

Bring on the next adventure! Life is good!

Sandy Island Part 3: Day by Day

Our days started early (6 am - the usual). At home the mornings start in the comfort of the babies' room where we dress them, and feed them, & play until their first naptime. At Sandy Island, it was too cold to stay in the cabin, so we would gather all of our gear and walk to the dining hall to feed the babies by the fire. These mornings were the best. Talking with the staff (who were there earlier than us every morning except the first), greeting fellow Westgaters as they arrived for breakfast, and enjoying the warmth of the fire in the large room after a cold night in our little cabin. What a great way to start the day!

Carting the sheets to each cabin to make beds

The first day (Friday) we were actually there before the majority of people attending the retreat. Lucas is on the planning committee, and the members go early to prepare the cabins (make beds, clean up, and leave goodies like bottles of water and mints on the pillow). So the first day was basically free time. I hung out with the babies in the morning, and let me tell you, there is nothing more restful than sleeping babies and nothing to do! While the babies napped I sat on the porch and looked out over the lake enjoying being still & quiet - no dishes or laundry to do. I cherished this blessed time of relaxation & reflection.

Lucas relaxing & looking out at the lake on our front porch.

Later we borrowed a couple of the jogging strollers they have on the Island and took the babies for a walk. It turns out that Allie isn't super into bumpy rides...At the end of the day, people started to arrive, and we enjoyed greeting our friends as they came. The excitement was building. We had hoped to take turns hanging out at the social snack time in the evening, but we were so exhausted from the lack of sleep the night before (as mentioned in the previous post) that we crashed early.

Riding in style!

Saturday I was in the nursery during the first session & Lucas was with the youth. The nursery was a fun challenge. I learned that 2 are all I can handle! Even with help, 5 babies were overwhelming - especilly when 4 out of the 5 were crying! Unfortunately, this was the twins naptime, and they weren't able to sleep - which led to a rough rest of the day. In the afternoon, the twins attended their first Sandy Island canoe race. The canoe race is a cherished Sandy Island tradition - so much so that it was not cancelled despite the pouring rain!

The twins went to bed early, and Lucas and I went to the talent show (watching from the porch since our monitor wasn't working inside) - another time-honored SI tradition. Cuddling with Lucas on the porch (to stay warm) watching the talent show was another favorite memory from SI 2009.

Sunday was a bit of a blur. The day was basically spent feeding twins and packing up. Our things had to be packed up to be picked up and taken to the dock by 9:15, but we didn't leave until 1:30 - which meant mama had to do some organizing to make sure we had everything we needed, but only what we needed. We did somehow manage to get in a few good conversations and enjoy the warm, sunny weather (the first since we had arrived!).

Our family at Sandy Island 2009

Despite the difficult moments, we had a really wonderful time, and are so thankful for the time there. The first, cold night the weekend stretched out unendingly before us, and I wondered if we made it. Then, somehow, it was time for us to rush to the dock to meet our boat.

September 14, 2009

Sandy Island Part 2: Long, Cold, Scary Nights

I'm starting with the nights, since that was what we experienced first. Let me begin by saying that the babies slept very well every night they were there. All night every night, in fact. Lucas and I did not do the same.

We went to bed excited, enthusiastic, & exhausted the first night. I woke up about an hour later feeling much colder. I checked on the babies, grabbed a blanket, and curled up in bed. 1 1/2 hrs. later I was awake again significantly colder. I checked on the babies and was getting ready to curl back into bed when I heard Lucas whisper my name from across the room (there were only twin beds in the cabin). Lucas (who only brought shorts to wear to bed) was freezing. We debated about whether or not the babies were warm enough (wearing a onesie, socks, fleecy pjs, mittens, and a hat), decided they were, and then tried to figure out how we could be as warm without fleecy pjs.

In the end, we decided to try to snuggle up in the twin bed. It was about this point (roughly 2:30) that Lucas and I got slap happy. We could not stop laughing as we tried to squeeze both of us in the tiny bed. That uncontrolable, middle-of-the-night laughter is one of my favorite memories of Sandy Island 2009.
The l-o-n-g night finally ended at 6 a.m. when our bundled babies woke up happily babbling. Thankfully, they seemed un-fazed by the cold (it had gotten down to 42 that night - and we were in cabins that had no heat).

The first time we saw the view from our cabin as the sun was rising the first morning.

The next night went much more smoothly. The babies slept, and the night was significantly warmer. I actually woke up once and thought, "this isn't bad, I'm sure the babies are fine," and rolled over and went back to sleep! Lucas was having allergy problems (we think the very necessary blankets were the problem - especially since they were a problem for others) and took 2 Benadryl. He actually got 9 hours of much needed sleep that night!

The final night was filled with terror for me. I had gone to bed earlier than Lucas (who was staying up with the youth). I was lying in bed when I felt a funny tickle. Having felt this funny tickle in the daylight, and knowing what it was, I quickly turned on the flashlight and my deepest fears were confirmed. There was a spider on my arm! I flicked it onto Lucas' bed (we had pushed our twin beds together by this point), but knew I needed to kill it to have any chance of sleeping. Any of you who know me know that the thought of spiders makes my heart race and causes hyperventilation. Being face to face with a spider that was on my arm, and having to get close enough again to kill it is almost enough to cause real heart failure. Somehow, after much prayer, I was able to do it. However, the rest of the night I felt tickles. Whether they were real or not I don't know (although twice during the night I got the flashlight out to check again - which Lucas did not appreciate...).

I can say that I was never more happy to hear the babies talking at 5:30! The night was over! The next night would be spent in my bed where I had no fear of sleeping with spiders! Where I could control the temperature of my babies' room so I wouldn't have to check on them 20 times a night to make sure they were warm enough. Where I could sleep next to my husband in a bed that was big enough for both of us and had no danger of me falling through the middle. Although they contained one of my favorite memories, the nights were not my favorite part of Sandy Island.

Sandy Island Part 1: The Arrival

The first weekend after Labor Day Weekend is our church's annual retreat on an island in Lake Winnipesaki. Lucas and I have been 2 other years, and really cherished the time there with our church family. So, we decided this year to take the twins.

As I prepared for the trip, I felt a deeper connection with my mother. See, I always used to joke about how my mom would get ready for vacations aweek in advance. Suitcases would be laid out. Clothes to take would be picked & put in as they came through the laundry. There were lists galore. I thought my mom did it this way because she was so excited to travel that she couldn't wait to start packing. But as I started making lists and laying out clothes as they came through the laundry (a week in advance), I realized she did it out of necessity to try to be organized and make sure we had everything! I actually wish I had started earlier, and am already putting the lists together for our trip to MI for Loralee's wedding!

We stopped to feed the babies, but Allie couldn't wait to get there!

We got out the door with relatively few bumps, we made perfect time, the twins slept until we got to our first destination. We fed them their bottles and then looked for a pizza place where we could meet up with another family to eat before catching our boat. At Zacky's Pizzaria, we fed them their cereal, had our dinner with our friends (whose children the twins LOVE), and headed to meet the boat. We got the van unloaded without a problem, but the twins were starting to get grumpy (the time our boat was supposed to leave the dock was their normal bedtime. We tried to work in an extra nap to get them to the later bedtime, but that didn't go over well...).

Their first boat ride was...not as big of a deal as we thought it would be. We thought they would be so excited. They really didn't seem to care. Not at all. The biggest event of the boat ride was meeting Jo. Jo was one of the staff at the camp, and Ryan LOVED her. When she was around he couldn't stop looking at her, and she never failed to bring a smile to his face (even once when he was throwing a fit, he smiled through his screams at Jo!).

Jo & Ryan

We arrived on the island and moved into our cabin - #26 Pinewood. This cabin is generally reserved for those who have babies. However, there were 4 other families with lovies 1 or younger. But we had 2, so we got the cabin (a blessing and a curse, as you will find out in a post to come later)! We put the babies down for bed, tested to see how far our monitor reached (the Lodge - which was within seeing distance of the cabin), and ended up going to bed early because we were exhausted from the travel!
We settled into bed for our first night so excited about the weekend that was to come. Our babies' first Sandy Island!

September 09, 2009

6 months

Today the twins are officially 6 months, and I can't help but wonder where all the time has gone? How can it possibly be 6 months already?
I also (as you can tell) went a little camera crazy. But it seemed like an important day to document.
I literally spent the WHOLE morning trying to figure out what they were going to wear (I decided other things like dishes, laundry, packing for the trip we're leaving for tomorrow morning were of less importance!). I would find the PERFECT outfit for Allie - but Ryan didn't have anything that would go. Then I would find the PERFECT outfit for Ryan - but Allie had nothing that worked.

Then I was standing at the changing table, looking at all of the outfits I pulled out, and I turned around and looked at them in the diapers and bibs (because I was getting ready to feed them), and they looked SO CUTE that I decided they didn't need any clothes at all!

So the whole morning was wasted?

They are so active...and mischievious.
This morning, Ryan had a few of the links wrapped around his arm. Allie saw and rolled on her side so she could reach them, worked them off of his arm (I have difficulty doing that sometimes!), and tossed them away. She didn't want them - she just didn't want him to have them!
No worries. Ryan can take care of himself. This morning they were playing on the floor (and I was trying to find the right outfit for them...) and I suddenly heard Allie let out a shriek.
I turn, and there is Ryan, pinching his sister on the arm!
And so it begins...
Who knows what great capers they will pull while mommy isn't looking. All I know is that I am suddenly having to pay very close attention! They are also getting more mobile, reaching farther, wanting more - which makes my job a lot more difficult.
But it's also really fun!

September 06, 2009

My Little Football Fans

Yesterday marked the beginning of a large milestone in the lives of our babies...the first game day of their first college football season!

I have been planning this day for weeks - what they would wear, the pictures we would take, would I allow them to watch the game or follow the AAP's advice and refrain from giving them "screen time" (I decided to have the Michigan game on while we played with them in the afternoon...and Ryan watched intently! I might be a bad parent for this tv exposure, but college football isn't just mindless tv, it is a way of life!).

Originally, they were both wearing Huskers onesies (because I didn't have any Michigan ones that fit), but Allie wee wee'd all over hers. So - wanting to keep her dressed in the spirit of the day - I squeezed her into the Michigan onesie (which was a little short, but worked for a few hours). It was perfect because we had taken Huskers pictures, but we were able to take these pictures with both teams represented, and I like these a little better!

If you were wondering how they felt about football...Allie was super into the actual football. She kept wanting to hold it, hit it, chew on it. We had trouble getting pictures because we couldn't get her to look away from the ball! Ryan, while being super into watching football on tv, was not really into the actual football (although he kicked it out of Allie's hands a few times...). He seemed to enjoy the social aspect more. He got a kick of how goofy we acted when we gave them the football and tried to take pictures!

And finally, a few more favorites that I remembered I forgot:
Our Favorite:
Friendly Farm Peek a Boo
Perfect Pets Peek a Book (many thanks to the Lamps for these favorite books!)
Rockabye Baby Lullaby Renditions of Coldplay (mommy & daddy are super fans of the various Rockabye Baby cds)
Veggie Tunes ("We are the pirates who don't do anything!")