January 31, 2010

Bedtime Battles: The Sleeping Warrior Awakes

It's been so long since we've had a bedtime battles post, and I figured that our sleep woes were over. I am so naive.
We enjoyed, for roughly 4 1/2 months long, full nights of silent slumber, and days with regular peaceful breaks as babies slept like perfect angels. We joked about how the time when they didn't sleep almost seemed like it didn't happen because they slept so perfectly and routinely now. When we laid them down there was the occasionaly crying, but, for the most part, naps and bedtime were easy.

During this time I would talk to other parents or read books about sleep habits and found consistently that there were problems connected with teething and mobility. Typically, babies start waking during the night & having trouble falling asleep during this time. Some parents reported to me that their children (anywhere between 10-15 months) were still waking during the night. Others told me how difficult it was re-training their children. "Not mine," I thought. Surely these other babies were not sleep-trained like mine. Surely my superior sleepers would never have a problem, and if they did, surely I had laid the foundation for a smooth and easy transition back. Ah, how big the fall that comes after pride!
I would occassionally have a pinging of knowledge that there was the possibility that we could have trouble...and I would pray for Ryan. Ryan was ALWAYS the one we had trouble with when it came to sleeping. Allie was always my angel sleeper - barely even needing sleep training...just needing her brother to be quiet. And so I would pray that Ryan would continue to be a deep sleeper so we wouldn't have to deal with these problems. My prayers were answered...just not in the way I wanted.

As you may remember, Allie was the first to gain mobility. It started simple, she would wake around 5 am and practice moving and playing in her crib. We didn't mind so much. She rarely woke Ryan, and she was usually quiet enough that Lucas and I were able to get a little more sleep before our usual 6 am start. Then she started moving and playing in her crib instead of taking a nap. Then teething started (and they got sick), and she started waking up during the night. No problem as it was only temporary (we assumed). Then she started being able to stand, and suddenly our sleeping routines changed to her quietly lying down and going to sleep to her standing and crying forever. Then we had a string of company and we traveled. Less willing to let her scream until she fell asleep (and not wanting her to wake anyone up during the night), we got very lenient about going in and rocking her...in a very short time we have had disastrous consequences.

Once again she is sick (and so I hesitate to let her cry for any amount of time as that triggers the coughing), and Lucas and I are in a hard place as she expects to be rocked to sleep EVERY time we put her down. Not only that, but she is impossible to transition to her bed once she is asleep, and so we spend an extra 5-20 minutes singing her to sleep and then trying to quietly sneak out of the room (she has ears like a cat!). If she awakens and discovers we are not there she starts screaming (and I mean SCREAMING), and does not stop until the whole process has been repeated again. This usually happens several times a night...It's even worse if Ryan happens to wake up (a rare occurrence, but it happens) at the same time that she wakes up (and if it happens, it ALWAYS coincides)...imagine going back and forth between rooms/babies rocking and soothing one, laying them down to go to the other, and then going back...

Now here's the thing. I KNOW this can't last forever. I KNOW that there are few (if any) teenagers who still require their parents rocking them to fall asleep. I KNOW this time is fleeting. But in the midst of a housefull of sickness (where there is another baby who is wanting some additional cuddling as well), when I am not feeling well, and when all of the preparation for a large move looms before me, I must confess I am not handling it well. In fact, my husband has bore the brunt of multiple melt-downs when Allie refused to sleep.

After the last one, he volunteered to go in and rock her (and hold her during the remainder of the nap-time), and let me have some time to myself. During this time I turned to the bloggy world and stumbled across this blog and this post. The post talks about her first fight with her husband in front of her children...while they are taking a long trip all cooped up in a van. In it she says, "I could feel the stress of the day rising up inside me, but I chose not to give it to God." I was so convicted. I allowed the stress of relatively minor situations not only affect me, but I exploded that stress all over my poor husband - who was trying to be helpful - in front of my poor, over-tired daughter. I was ungrateful and mean. And I didn't even think about the possibility of giving the stress to God. Not once. How awful that I should read that phrase on the blog and think, "what a novel idea!"

Then, as I was putting the twins to bed, I read a story out of the Jesus Storybook Bible (which we LOVE. If you don't have it buy it. Even if you don't have children...buy it for your nieces and nephews, or grandkids, or neighbor kids, or future kids, or yourself because it is fabulous!). It was the story of Jesus calming the storm, and after everything is quiet Jesus turns to his disciples and asks "Why were you scared? Did you forget who I am? Did you listen to your fears instead of me?" Again, I was convicted because when the babies are sick, I let my fears spin out of control and take me with them. I worry about everything. EVERYTHING. I worry that their sickness will turn into something really terrible. I worry that I'm not making the right decisions. I worry that something will happen in the middle of the night and I'll sleep through it. Whatever sleep I might get in between their middle-of-the-night bouts of illness is usually stolen from me as I lay in the dark plagued by my fears. I found myself almost in tears as I prayed for forgiveness for getting caught up in the storm around and me forgetting that I (and my babies) are in the hands of the God who created all things, who controls all things, who is stronger than all my fears.


I am partly writing this for documentation (yes, Allie, someday you will know that you caused many sleepless nights and long days), and partly to share my sleep struggles with other moms (because I know I'm not the only one), and to share how God has used unsuspecting sources to convict me of His power over all situations. We've been able to have some better days. Not because Allie is sleeping (she's most definitely NOT), but because I am trying to continually pray to God to give me the love and patience to deal with the circumstances. And I am reminding myself that these days are short. There will come a day, all too quickly, when my little girl will have no interest in snuggling up with me for a nap. And then I know I will look back longlingy on this time...well...parts of this time!
Note: Since I didn't have ANY pictures of Allie sleeping (although, not surprisingly, several of Ryan...) I decided to use pictures from tonight when BOTH babies woke up an hour after going to bed (and were not both asleep until 1 1/2 hrs. after that). Why? Because when life hands you lemons (a.k.a. 2 screaming, unhappy, unwilling-to-sleep babies) you make lemonade (a.k.a. use the opportunity as a photo shoot to have the perfect "in-theme" photos for an already written blog post). I'm probably a bad mommy for stopping to take pictures before trying to soothe them to sleep...but right now I'm too exhausted to care!

January 30, 2010

Pancakes & Bubbles

Ah, glorious Saturday. The day I waited for all week. Every difficult day that I was home alone with the twins I told myself to hold out for Saturday because on Saturday I wouldn't be alone. Every other day of the week I spend the majority of the day alone with the babies (which is normally fine, but when we're all sick it gets a little more difficult), but Saturdays Lucas is home and it makes everything so much easier!

Friday night was a rough night (Allie's cough woke her up frequently through the night - about every 2 hours - and Ryan woke up once and had trouble getting back to sleep), and I really wanted to somehow make Saturday memorable for something other than sickness and sleepless nights. The problem was that none of us felt up to going anywhere, and I wasn't sure what I could come up with that wouldn't require too much energy (because Lucas and I were pretty wiped). Then it hit me - Saturday morning pancakes!

Pretty much every Saturday morning Lucas makes pancakes for the two of us. This has been a fairly long-standing tradition - one that I adore. We usually eat breakfast after the twins are down for their morning nap, but this morning I thought that we could all have pancakes together. So, Lucas made blueberry pancakes and we all gathered around the table (around 1 corner because I'm still trying to put away my Christmas decorations - I know, I know...a little late - and they are currently taking over most of the table), and ate breakfast together! It was the twins' first time ever having pancakes, and they seemed to really like them (it was the most Allie has eaten in days!). It was the beginning of our new tradition - Saturday pancakes as a family!

Later in the day we pulled out our bubble gun. Not for the first time, but we haven't used it in a while, so it seemed pretty novel. The babies had fun trying to "catch" the bubbles, and loved seeing the air full of bubbles. Unfortunately, Ryan got tired of them popping on his head, and was finished with the whole bubble thing after not much time. But, it's good to have another distractionary trick to pull out when needed!

I have hope that we're on the upswing. While no one is necessarily sounding better, the babies seem to have more energy and I'd like to believe the coughs are getting more sporadic. Regardless of whether or not it's founded in reality, I have hope that the end is near. And this hope is enough to help me push through!

January 28, 2010

A Not So Fun First

Yesterday the babies were prescribed their first antibiotic. I apparently took them into the doctor about a day too early...the next morning Ryan's cough had settled into his chest and turned croupy. I still held off calling back (because our actual pediatrician is on vacation and we were using the on-call pediatrician), but by Wednesday morning not only was his cough worse, but I could hear every breath he took as it rasped in and out. By this time, Allie had also developed a cough. I called the pedi, and he immediately put them on an antibiotic. Both of them (since he figured that if he waited for Allie I would just be calling him in a couple of days to get one for her).
Even though I know better, I was sort of hoping they would wake up this morning miraculously better. They didn't. Ryan woke up the same (at least it wasn't worse!), and Allie woke up worse - with a consistent, deep, rattling cough. This afternoon they will have been on it for 24 hours...and I'm hoping that tomorrow I will maybe see some signs of improvement... In the meantime, Lucas and I are also battling an upper-respitory something. I'm not sure if it is the same thing the babies have (although the symptoms are the same), or if it is the result of little sleep. Time will tell I guess. Thankfully, it isn't so debilitating (like the stomach bug) that I have difficulty taking care of the babies.
I have also started letting the babies have a little floor play time after each nap. I wasn't doing this because they would speed crawl in laps and get all excited, and then cough, and then cry, and then cough some more... But, after a day where they clearly let me know they were tired of their exersaucers and the same 4 Baby Einstein movies all day, I decided to work in some play time. They still (Ryan especially) end up hacking and wheezing after just a few minutes of play, but we are all much happier in general. We also got some more movies from the library (thanks to my wonderful husband), and it has helped having more variety. I think that, once they are better, we are going to have several days where we don't use the exersaucers or videos at all to detox...and I think we will all be happy with that!

The babies are still surprisingly joyful in the midst of feeling crummy, which has been an amazing lesson for me. And I am working on enjoying every minute with them...even the stressful, sleep-less, sick ones.
Note: Because I couldn't find my usb chord for the camera, I'm publishing this a day later than I intended, but that means I can give an update on today! Ryan woke up sounding a little better (I think...), but Allie woke up sounding worse. I think it was because we let her sleep in the guest room with us - the dryest room in the house. Bummer.

January 26, 2010

Big Announcement!

It's official. The church voted (unanimously!) to call Lucas to be their pastor! We have prayed all throughout the process that God would VERY CLEARLY show us where He wanted us. Previously, He very clearly closed doors, and we wondered what it would look like when we found the right place...would doors simply remain open, or would He give us clear signs? We think the vote is a very clear sign :)

The church

Another clear sign? At the end of our house hunt we narrowed it down to 2 houses. Neither was perfect. Neither had all of the space or the layout that we wanted. But the locations were perfect, and with some work on our part we could make them the ideal homes. So we scheduled one last walk through. Just before we left, our realtor asked us if we wanted to look at another house, listed by another realtor in their office (and near the other 2). Why hadn't we looked at it before? Because it was roughly $40,000 out of our budget. But, apparently, the listing realtor had thought this was the perfect house for us since she had first heard about us, and thought it was always worth it to at least put in an offer even way below asking price. The worst they can do is say no, right?

We agreed to see the house, and really loved it from the moment we walked in (although neither of us got too attached because we knew there was no way it could be ours...). The bedrooms were huge (Ryan & Allie can share a room and still have so much space), it was the only house with a specific dining room (if you've seen our honking table, you'd know why this is a bonus), lots of entertaining space, and a finished basement (the one thing the other houses were lacking) - with a spare bedroom, a hobby room, and a room that can serve as the kids' play room (finally, a place for toys so they don't completely overtake every other space in the house!). The yard is a little small, but there is the potential to purchase part or all of the empty lots on either side in the future! We decided that it was too perfect not to put in an offer, offered what we could afford (actually, we left a little wiggle room for a counter), and then talked about what we were going to do in our "real" house (the house we were going to put an offer on when this one was rejected...the one in our budget!). We both said the only way our offer would be accepted would be if God really wanted us to have the house.

48 hours later I got the call that our offer was accepted. There wasn't even a counter! Lucas and I are still in shock.

Our house.
The babies' room
The Master Bedroom (yes...it has 3 closets!!!)

The living room

The kitchen & dining room

And so, with confidence, Lucas and I are preparing to follow God's calling to Michigan (I'm not going to specify the exact location, for some privacy sake, but if you know us, don't know where it is, and want to know, feel free to ask). We are excited, and sad. Moving is always bittersweet. It's like finishing a really good book...you enjoyed every minute of it, but it had to end...and there is another great book just waiting to be read next!


And a baby update. Sickness still reigns in our household. I wish I could say it's getting better, but actually, each day they wake up a little worse. I'm looking forward, with eager expectation, to the day when we wake up and I can say definitively that they are getting better and the end is near. I went to the doctor and found out...nothing. Basically, this kind of thing (cold-like in nature) frequently goes into bronchiolitis or a similar illness, but they aren't at that point yet, so there really isn't anything medically that can be done. So we're continuing with humidifiers and simmering pots of VapoRub water, baby tylenol (since you can no longer give any sort of cough syrup to children under 4), mesh teethers filled with ice (to soothe sore throats), and LOTS of tv (which kills me, but it's the only way to keep them confined. When I let them down to play they get worked up and start coughing, which makes them cry, which makes them cough more...).

Our mini-miracles? Last night Lucas had the brilliant idea to go and buy a second monitor (we had been separating them to keep one baby's coughing fits from waking up another, but since they are so hoarse I can't hear them at night I had been sleeping on the floor of one baby's room...which we found was generally just causing them to wake up more...). This meant that I got to sleep in a bed (for the first time in a couple weeks) with my husband. Granted we both were up with babies at some point during the night (Lucas more than I because I'm getting sick and he wanted to try to help keep me healthy. Bless him), but the sleep was heavenly for me!

January 24, 2010

I Knew it was Too Easy

You may have noticed that every time we have come home from a trip to MI the twins have gotten sick. Every time. In fact the only times they have been sick in their short lives have been after our three MI trips. We have traveled with them to other places (like NY and Sandy Island...where we stayed in a cabin that didn't have heat!), and they didn't get sick, but the MI trip gets them every time.


This time I really thought I got lucky though. While it was a miserable ride home, by the end of the next day the babies were back to normal. Lucas and I had a miserable night and day, but by Friday we were all healthy and going strong. "That was the easiest illness yet," I thought gleefully, "Perhaps it gets better each time!"

And then, Friday evening at bedtime, it happened. Ryan coughed. There was nothing particularly special about this cough. The twins cough all the time - they get dry throats, they get giggling and forget to swallow, they breath in dust because mommy has forgotten to clean, etc. But, for some reason, this cough sent a chill running through me. I just felt it was the beginning of something. And then, Allie wouldn't sleep. She kept waking up, screaming. Lucas got home around 9:30 that night and I had just finished eating my dinner after putting Allie back down for the 3rd time that night. "What is up with her?" Lucas asked. "I don't know, but I don't think she's feeling well. AND Ryan coughed," I replied. "So what? They cough all the time," was his casual response. "I know, but I think something is going on," I said quietly.

Friday night I woke up several times to hear Ryan cough. Nothing major. No hacking, or wheezing. They weren't even coughing attacks. Just a few isolated coughs. But, somehow, they sounded ominous.

By Saturday afternoon Ryan had a full fledged cough that would sometimes turn into small attacks, and Allie's sweet little voice had turned raspy. Mommy predicted correctly that something was up. And so, Lucas and I didn't get much sleep last night. Each of us was responsible for a baby. Lucas ended up "sleeping" sitting up on the couch with a fitful Allie resting on his chest while I slept on the floor in the babies' room armed with a sippy cup to tame Ryan's middle-of-the-night coughing fits. Today I have a pot of water with some Vicks VapoRub simmering on the stove (as well as a crock pot of the same potion simmering in the living room in a safe, out-of-reach spot), every humidifier we own running, and sippy cups constantly within reach to offer parched babies fluids. I am trying to decide whether or not they warrent a phone call to the pediatrician today (Ryan's cough keeps getting worse...) or if it can wait until tomorrow morning...Not only is this definitely not the easiest yet, Ryan's cough and Allie's raspy - and I assume sore - throat (neither of which we have experienced before) have me more on edge than I have been with any previous illness.

On the up side, the babies are surprisingly cheerful in the midst of their sicknesses (which is an amazing blessing), and they have gotten into a few adorable antics (as you can see from the pictures). AND, we are completely caught up on ALL of the laundry! While that may sound like a small thing, it is daunting to return home from a trip and face the mountains of laundry that come out of the suitcases. Top that off with plenty of vomit-covered extras (like car seat covers, coats, and unexpected multiple changes of clothes) and a whole day lost due to sick parents, and being caught up on the laundry is nothing short of a miracle! And in these sleep-deprived, worry ridden days to come, I'm holding on to every miracle that come my way!!

January 22, 2010

Michigan, Categorically Speaking

Our trip is a bit of a jumbled mush in my mind because we packed so much into our days. So, to help organize the mish mash, I'm going to divide our trip into categories...We'll see if that helps!

Baby Time:

The oddest/most difficult part of the trip, for me, was that I spent very little time with the babies. I knew this going in, and I was VERY thankful that my mom and Aunt Phyllis volunteered to come and watch the babies while Lucas and I were out and about. I think it's safe to say they enjoyed their time (although I was never there, so my pictures are few). Some of the things they mentioned they enjoyed: Ryan warming up to and going through the crawl tunnel, Allie's adventurous antics, babies biting (not funny...but also a little funny), moving, giggling, playing. Both babies, especially Allie, loved Logan and Mindy's dog Jack. Allie would just follow him around and giggle at whatever he did. Both babies, especially Ryan, loved Aunt Phyllis and playing fun new games (like "Buckety, Buckety"). I was sad to be away so much (and consequently am really enjoying my time with them now that we're home), but they had a great time!

The babies chasing Jack - he was probably thrilled when we left!
We discovered that reading on the potty is a habit that apparently starts very early...(she is so going to hate me for this picture someday, but I thought she looked so cute!)
House Hunting:
Lucas and I spent a LOT of our time looking at houses. We got in Wednesday night, and Thursday morning we left for a full day. Between Thursday and Friday we saw 17 houses! There were several that we really liked, but were ruled out for one reason or another (too far away, floor plan not practical, etc). We saw some that were a little odd (like the master bedroom with a sink and toilet in it...no separation, just a sink and toilet hanging out in the bedroom! Or the one where one of the bedrooms only had a half-wide doorway to the hall - we had to turn sideways to go through! Or the one with the tiny kitchen, dining room, and living room, but a GIANT hot tub in the middle of the family room...). Ultimately we found a few that we felt were real options, so we looked at them (and another one that was added last minute) on Monday. By the end of Monday we were ready to put in an offer (contingent on Lucas getting the job, of course...but we wanted to get the ball rolling). Updates on housing will be forthcoming...


Which of these 3 could be our
future home? (Family with inside
info do not get to guess!)
Family Time:

I already mentioned that we were super blessed to have my mom and aunt drive out to help with babies, but we also stayed with Logan, Mindy & Harper, and Lucas' parents came out for the weekend. So we got to see a lot of family during our trip. We had lots of fun times like playing "What's Yours Like" with everyone (At one point we all were laughing so hard we were in tears...which has happened every time I play that game!), our girls afternoon out to get pedicures, dinner the last night with my mom and aunt, and just hanging out and talking and laughing. My friend Michelle also came over again...and again we forgot to take a picture! It was so great to spend time with so many people we love, and it made us more excited to move closer to everyone!


Cousin Cuppy-cake

Ryan shows cousin Harper how to work the music table.

The babies with my Aunt Phyllis - a veteran mommy of twins who has teenage twin girls (as well as an older daughter who is a senior in high school, and her youngest who is on the brink of teen-dom)!
The Church:

The main event was Lucas candidating at the church. Partially because this is a big step in our church search, and one that we have been hoping for and waiting for forever. And partially because this church is full of people we love and we were so excited to see and talk to people we haven't seen in years! Lucas preached on the Good Samaritan (a sermon I have heard before, but managed to get something out of the second time around!). The service was great, and it was wonderful to catch up with people (and scary to see how much the kids have grown up!). Regardless of what happens, we very much enjoyed our time on Sunday.

The church meets on Sunday (the 24th) to vote on whether or not they would like to call Lucas as their pastor. We are prayerfully awaiting to hear! I think the suspense might have been difficult to bear...but getting sick certainly helped take our minds off the passing time! Perhaps the stomach bug was actually a blessing in disguise?

January 21, 2010

Update

Last night Lucas and I were overtaken by the nasty bug. The good news is that this viscious illness seems to be short-lived (based on the twins - who seem to be perfectly back to normal - and Lucas - who is about 5-6 hours ahead of me and definitely feeling 5-6 hours stronger). We are, however, in survival mode today as 2 under-the-weather parents try to care for 2 healthy babies.
Small (but huge) blessing: The babies slept through the night last night - which was good because Lucas and I spent the entire night vying for the bathroom, and I was constantly afraid that the babies would need us and neither of us would be strong enough.
Bummer: Now that I've felt this sickness, it kills me to know how miserable the babies must have felt on the way home. They handled it much more cheerfully than Lucas or I have.
I know we would appreciate your prayers!

January 20, 2010

Our return

We are back in MA, and while I will most definitely chronicle our adventures in MI, I have to start with the trip home. Because it was a doozy...(Note: there will be no pictures as I believe my descriptions will suffice)

I have to confess that successfully making the trip from MA to MI not once, not twice, but three times has made me feel a little bit like a pro. Not only that, but this time Lucas and I streamlined our routine to cut an entire hour from the trip - doing it in 14 hours both ways! So, as we stopped in NY roughly 7 hours into our trip home, I was feeling a bit smug about how well we were doing (at the time we were on target to cut even MORE time out of the return trip). I ran in to use the restroom while Lucas filled up, and then we were going to all go in and have lunch together.

I returned to the car and was greeted by an odd, sour milk smell. I immediately started looking for the culprit (dirty bottles? No. Pumping supplies? No.) when I heard Ryan cough. "Are you ok, sweet man?" I asked as I turned toward him, and then I screamed. You know in the movie Ghostbusters when they get slimed by the ghost (I believe he is appropriately named Slimer)? Ryan looked like that. He was covered chin to toe in vomit. Not only that, but he got the seat he was facing, his car seat, the sides of the seat he was on, and a few toys. I've never seen anything like it.

I get him inside, change his clothes (Thank God for Aunt Phyllis packing pajamas in the diaper bag so we didn't have to completely unload the van to get fresh clothing!), change his diaper (poor guy had it coming from both ends...), check his temperature (no fever!), give him tylenol (because he's acting like he feels crummy and that's all I've got), and head out to have lunch (chunks of toasted bagel & sips of water for him).

We get back on the road and I am a woman with a mission to get my sick baby home as quickly as possible. We stop again (I hoped the last), and took off. Pretty soon I hear a familiar cough. I turn to check Ry-guy, but he is fine - happily playing with his feet. Then I hear the cough again...from Allie. I turn just in time to see the entire contents of her stomach (forcefully) make a return to the outside world. I now know how Ryan's made such a mess as I now have a visual. I start screaming for Lucas to pull over (thankfully, he knew I meant at the next rest area and not by the side of the road!). I take her in to change her (without a changing table as this particular Wendy's is apparently not child-friendly), and notice she is shivering. I check her temperature and, sure enough, she has a fever. Out comes the tylenol. We quickly reload our babies, pray for no more vomit, and head back on the road. At this point the lingering odor in the van is enough to make us hurry.

We are now 15 minutes from home, and Lucas stops to refuel (we figured that having sick kids and an empty gas tank could spell disaster). I turn to check on babies just in time to see Ryan's encore of Intestinal Pyrotechnics. Because it would take some unloading and reloading to get clean clothes, and we were so close to home, we decide to make a run for it and change him at home. It was a good call because he spewed another time before we got to our driveway...and again after I got him changed at home (4 total outfits for the day).

We put the babies to bed and I made myself a nest on the floor of their room (afraid I wouldn't hear if they threw up during the night), and we all settled in. Allie woke up during the night with the return of her fever, and Lucas and I ended up taking turns rocking her the rest of the night. Ryan (thankfully) slept the whole night!

This morning we have already had a few more messes to clean up (sadly from both ends), and both babies have a fever. I am armed with pedialite to help hydrate (although Allie keeps refusing the stuff...I may have to go with good old water for her, and Ryan has thrown all of his up...). It is obvious that a bug has hit our household, and we would appreciate your prayers that it goes through quickly!

January 13, 2010

We're Off!

If this post dates correctly, we will be on the road as you are reading this. We're on our way to Michigan (again, you say?), but this time it is not for a family celebration (although if everything works out I have a feeling our families will celebrate...). We are on our way for Lucas to candidate at a church! And not just any church!

The church that is considering Lucas for their full-time lead pastor just happens to be our old church. The church we attended before moving to MA. The church where Lucas was the youth pastor when we first started dating. The church where I first witnessed (and fell in love with) Lucas' passion for ministry. The church where I heard Lucas preach for the first time and thought, "Yeah, I could listen to him for the rest of my life." The church where, in the sanctuary one evening, Lucas asked the life changing question, "Will you marry me?" and I responded "Are you serious?" (and then YES!). The church that threw us a surprise wedding shower, whose pastor (our professor and Lucas' mentor) flew to NE to marry us, and from which several members traveled to attend our wedding. The church we first attended as a married couple. The church where we began our partnership in ministry with the youth. The church that we were broken-hearted to leave behind (ask Lucas, we're not sure that we have ever cried more than we did the night we said goodbye to the youth). This church was our HOME.

We would appreciate your prayers for us and the church as we test if this is God's will. We are so excited about the possibility to be able to return to a home for the newest phase of Lucas' ministry.

That being said, my heart is a little heavy as we embark on this trip. If everything works out this will be the last time we return HOME to MA. That makes me sad. Because as much as we want to move back to the midwest to be closer to family, so much of our lives has been here (actually, more of our life together has been here than in MI).

MA was the place where we began our "adventure" - living in a new place, away from family, starting out together. MA was the place where I got my first job out of college. Where we made our first "couple" friends. Where we celebrated various accomplishments - my Activity Director Certification, Lucas getting his Masters, Lucas' first job as a pastor out of seminary. Where we overcame challenges - the struggles at our church, the my stressful wrok environment, infertility. This is where our babies were born. We brought them home to this house. I held them, fed them, rocked them, and watched them sleep in their little nursery. They learned to crawl here (and very likely may learn to walk here). MA is embedded in our heart.

When we left MI we always knew we would come back to visit that home - probably often - because we had family there. But I don't know how often we might visit, or what or whom might bring us back to MA. While I know it is time, and I am excited about the possibilities the future holds, I know I will be sad when we cross the border and see the "Welcome to Massachussets" sign because I know it might very well be the last time that sign means "Welcome Home."

January 10, 2010

Double Digits

The twins are 10 months...while it hardly seems like they could already be so old, they are most certainly transitioning from being little babies to active toddlers. Here is some of what they're up to these days.
The Good:

They're off! The big news these days is mobility. Both babies have crawling down (as Ryan proved to us in church on Sunday while crawling laps in the giant cry room), and are now moving to other forms of mobility. For instance, Allie, who has also mastered pulling herself up, is beginning to cruise. She loves going from one piece of furniture to another, and has begun experimenting with letting go! She also, for the first time, took steps while holding onto my hands! Could it be that walking is in our near future? Ryan is mastering standing up. However, unlike his sister (who practiced by pulling on on easy to hold onto items like the crib), he uses things like half-filled laundry baskets or our humidifier (which is half his size and rounded on top) to try to stand. He refuses to do anything the easy way. Finally, Allie, my little escape artist, learned how to open doors. See, very few doors in our apartment actually latch shut - which wasn't a problem because a "closed" door was enough to stop them in their tracks. But Allie worked with the door until she figured out how to pull it open...and quickly escaped into the hallway. There's no rest from here on out!

The Bad:

Allie has taken to stealing toys from her brother. Whatever he has, she wants. I can already tell it's going to be a struggle teaching her not to take toys. And, now that they have teeth, we had our first problem with biting. Granted, I don't think it was malicious. Ryan just seemed to see her hand close by and think it was worth checking out...Allie was not thrilled. Neither was mommy.
The Funny:

The babies were playing in the play yard while I was packing (right next to the play yard...less than 3 feet from the babies). It gets silent and I look over to see Ryan on his hands & knees and Allie with one knee up on her brother's back trying to get her other knee up. Has my little escape artist recruited an accomplice?

At the very end of bath time the other night I was testing the temperature of the rinse water, Lucas was keeping an eye on the babies, and the babies were splashing and playing. Suddenly, I felt an odd, consistent splash of warm water on my face. I turned and discovered it wasn't bathwater...it was a well-aimed stream from Ry-guy's little firehose! I screamed, Lucas laughed, and the babies kept splashing!

The Aww-dorable:

With Lucas home for recent holidays, and the steady stream of familiy that visited, I hadn't fed the twins by myself for a while. Sunday morning I had them both in my lap drinking their bottles for the first time in about 2 weeks. They were holding hands (it is adorable, but I think it is more a defensive manuever to keep the other from wacking them in the faces or knocking the bottle out of their mouth than a genuine desire for closeness...). Suddenly Ryan starts arching his back...he tilts his head all the way back to look at me (keep in mind he could have just turned sideways and I would have been right there). When he sees it's me holding him he flashes me a BIG smile, lets out a happy grunt, and then snuggles under my chin for the rest of his bottle. Awwwww.

Lucas had to read the scripture in church yesterday. I'm holding Allie, a friend is holding Ryan, and both babies are contentedly playing with toys. Lucas starts talking and Allie looks up and yells, "Dada!" Lucas didn't hear, but everyone near us did a collective "Awwwwwww."

January 08, 2010

Jordans

On Thursday Nic, Matt, and I loaded up Allie & Ryan and took them to Jordan's Furniture Store. If you have been to visit us, you have most likely seen Jordan's (as it is one of our favorite places to take people). If you have not seen Jordan's (either because you never visited us - shame on you - or because we failed to take you - shame on us), it is truly the most amazing furniture store you have ever been to or will ever visit. It appeals to all ages. For example - it became on of my residents' favorite places to go in the winter for a trip, we often see college/career aged couples on dates, and families with children can always be found in abundance.


What do they have that is so appealing? First, an incredible theme that never fails to delight - especially children. Beantown. But not baked beans - jelly beans. They have giant flowers made out of jelly beans, a "Make Way for Ducklings" sculpture made out of jelly beans, jelly bean floors, jelly bean table tops, a jelly bean state house, and the big whopper - a giant "Big Dig" Sundae (that houses the Richardson's Ice Cream stand...yes, ice cream in the furniture store). Words cannot describe. It must be seen (seriously, go here, and take the virtual tour of the Reading store. It's almost like being there!). They also have a trapeze school where you can pay for lessons, or enjoy watching someone else's lesson (for free). They have an Imax theatre and a Fuddruckers restaurant. They also have Liquid Fireworks - a.k.a. lighted fountains choreographed with music. And , of course, they have furniture!

The big draw for us were the cool cars they have for children to ride in. Lucas and I have been dozens of times and I always looked at the taxis and fire trucks and thought it would be such a blast to be a kid in one of those. I knew this time that Allie & Ryan were probably old enough to ride in them and enjoy them, and I was right! We put them in the fire engine and the second we started moving Allie (who loves ANYTHING with a steering wheel) broke into grins, which turned into giggles, which turned into peals of laughter that caused everyone we passed to turn and watch (and smile). Ryan played it a little more cool, but you could still tell that he was thrilled. They could not get enough of the steering wheels!


We walked all around the store. We started with the youth rooms (they are all themed and SO much fun!). They have giant stuffed dogs in some of the rooms, and Ryan thought those were pretty cool. Nic, Matt, and I all found the bedroom furniture we would have loved as kids (had we known that such cool furniture even existed). We then roamed and let the babies enjoy "driving." Allie kept trying to pull on Ryan's seat. I think she wanted to pass and was frustrated that she couldn't! We ended the trip in front of the liquid fireworks. The twins had a yummy snack of mum mums and water while the boys and I had ice cream :) Then we watched the liquid fireworks (which the twins liked...but they really enjoyed watching the two little girls playing in front of the fountains the most), and headed home. It was a really fun adventure, and I'm so excited the boys were here to give me the motivation to try taking the twins there!



And the pictures...as I mentioned before, our camera battery is dead and our charger was en route from Michigan. But I couldn't make a trip to Jordan's, and have the twins ride in their first non-stroller vehicle, and not document it in some way! So, I dug out our old digital camera, and used it. It gave me some fits (every now and then it would decide not to turn on), and the quality is not as good as our other, but it did the trick. It also takes video, and I got a few short clips of the twins driving. The only problem is that I turned the camera sideways (totally NOT thinking), and no matter what I tried (even using my photo shop video editing program) I could not rotate the view. However, I thought the videos were really cute (you get to see the beginning of Allie's extreme giggle fit over driving, and Ryan trying to play it cool while he's really excited). So....tilt your head and enjoy!

video

video

January 06, 2010

Way Back When-esday

Cheryl, at Twinfatuation, always hosts Way back When-esday - where you share a picture (and correlating story if you'd like) of days gone by. I normally don't participate (because I wasn't sure if there really is a "way back when" if it's been less than a year!), but due to a dead camera battery and a charger mixup (our charger is in Michigan and Lucas' parents have a similar dead camera battery and a charger that is here...), I cannot take any new pictures or get any of the existing pictures out of my camera. BUT I do have pictures of Uncle Nic's last visit to see the twins (which I thought would be fitting since we've been featuring adventures from his and Matt's current visit). So I figured I would jump in and participate this week :)
A lot has changed, don't you think?...


Uncle Nic with Allie

Uncle Nic, Allie, Lucas, Ryan

note: Since Allie was Baby A, she was scheduled to be the first to eat at the NICU, which meant that visitors got to hold Allie while we fed Ryan. It was a rare & brief occassion when visitors got to hold him (and if both Lucas and I were there, visitors often only got to watch because our time with them was so precious).

That being said...Uncle Nic gets a rare photo of himself with both babies (I was the only other person to have a photo with both while they were in the NICU). But he did use his last college spring break to come and visit them, so I guess he earned this privilege!

And if you want to see some more adorable duos, check out Way Back When-esday at Twinfatuation!

January 04, 2010

Lessons in Domesticity

I have been pleasantly surprised to find that my brothers have been some of the most helpful guests we've ever had! For the record, we've never had guests (especially since the babies arrived) who haven't been helpful and willing to chip in wherever needed. The thing is, the boys are so fabulously teachable! I must confess I'm a little OCD when it comes to certain things (for example...I always do the dishes in a certain order...always...and I separate certain dishes from other dishes - like some are less dirty than others?). None of these things are crucial to chores being done well, and they are by no means the only right way for them to be done, but I really love being able to show the guys my way and having them do it!
Ryan...still jumping!

The babies crawling through their tunnel to see Uncle Nic
Note: This was Ryan's first time through the tunnel! He actually crawled in, and then kept turning around and peeking through...it wasn't until his sister crawled in after him and forced him to pick a direction that he finally crawled out!
Matt helping with bath time. Yes, we are wearing bathrobes. It's the only way to stay semi-dry...

They've been good about pitching in - doing dishes, helping with dinner, picking up toys. The big help has been the way they help with the babies. Not only do they play with them (pretty constantly when the babies are awake), but they've helped feed, give baths, do bedtime, and even change diapers! Yes, Uncle Matt changed his first diaper today. He did exceptionally well - especially considering that most people get to start with a tiny newborns who are fairly limited as far as mobility while he started with a 20 lb. (VERY) wiggly 9 mo. old! Although, Ryan did seem to be less wiggly with a new face above the changing table. If that continues to be the case, we'll have the uncles change all the diapers!



All clean!

Uncle Nic came with some experience on his resume (including experience changing the diapers of twins!), so we gave him the tough stuff. That's right, he got the stinky ones! He of course did a wonderful job, and both babies are enjoying squeaky clean bottoms (not that they aren't normally, but with all the extra hands to diaper nothing gets missed for a moment!).


Another diaper successfully changed!

And while we didn't make it to church on Sunday (neither I, nor the babies, got sufficient sleep on Saturday night, so instead of waking them up from morning nap to get ready to go, I let them sleep...Last night - Sunday - they slept like a dream though!), the extra hands made it possible to make a trip to the library today! The babies have a tendency to cry when we walk into the library (too quiet in there?), so I only go when I have help to distract them. We scored a couple of great Rockabye Baby cd's to listen to, and I picked up some books on tape for our upcoming trip. A truly productive day!

January 02, 2010

Uncles

My brothers are here! Not only am I really excited to see them, but Matt has never seen the babies, and Nic...well the last time Nic saw the babies (the week after they were born while they were still in the NICU) they looked a little different!
Allie explains to Uncle Matt why he can't have the keys to her car.


Ryan is so excited for someone new to climb on!

They got here late this afternoon, just in time to enjoy a meal with the babies and then have some play time before bed. The babies definitely enjoyed some fresh faces...and Ryan enjoyed fresh arms for some jumping (or a lot of jumping).

Allie loves spending time with her Uncle Matt


Ryan doing his favorite thing - jumping...

We have them here for a whole week, so stay tuned to see some of our adventures (which should include Uncle Matt changing his first diaper!!!)


Ryan & Allie watch a short movie with their uncles to wind down before bed.

Post Note: As I am putting in the pictures before publishing this post I am huddling over my laptop in a dark living room. Why? Because our house is too small. Because the movie DID NOT help the babies wind down and they won't sleep even though they are exhausted. Because all of the rocking in the world doesn't help because even if we get them to sleep tonight is NOT a night where any transfer is successful. Because they are 3 minutes of fussing away from sleep, but those 3 minutes wake up a newly sleeping sibling. Because my brothers are in our room (where the usual spare pack n play is setup for nights like these), so I had to set up an ADDITIONAL pack n play in the office where the Ry guy is currently sleeping (although VERY lightly). Because Lucas is in the babies' room trying to soothe Allie while the boys are huddled in their room trying not to make noise because the only rooms we can put sleeping babies are connected to...every other room we could possibly occupy! Every night is most definitely NOT like this (most are prefectly quiet and we all get as much sleep as we want), but tonight is not one of those nights! Hopefully, Lucas and I will be able to tip-toe into the office and collapse in the spare bed for a few hours of sleep!