March 31, 2010


Life with kids is totally unpredictable. Case in point:

Yesterday (Tuesday) we had the most beautiful morning. Both babies slept thru the entire night until we woke them up at 7 am (something that, between teething & the upset of the move, hadn't happened in about a month!). We had a wonderful, fun morning. They slept on our morning walk. We played some more, had a wonderful lunch, and they went down for their naps like angels. It was a wonderful day, and I couldn't think of anything that could happen to make it otherwise.

Then they both woke up from their naps with stuffy noses. Strange. But I had been battling allergies, and I figured there might have been something bothering them from our walk. The afternoon kept going, and they were playing funny...Allie would stop and rub her head on the floor, and Ryan kept coming over and leaning on me. The allergies? Then, at dinner, I gave them one of their favorite meals and neither would eat a bite. I checked their temperatures and, sure enough, they both had fevers.

The rest of the evening I watched them go downhill - getting more lethargic and cranky. We put them to bed early (I checked and their fevers had gone down some by bedtime), and I prepared myself for a night of interrupted sleep.

I should have prepared myself for no sleep! By 9, Allie was awake with a soaring fever. More medicine, some rocking, she couldn't fall back asleep. I took her pjs off (our house felt surprisingly warm) and we cuddled on the couch and watched America's Funniest Videos (I mention this because she started laughing at the videos, at the appropriate moment, without the audience laughing first! My baby girl has a sense of humor! One that prevails over sickness!). At 10:45 I passed Allie to Lucas and went in to check on Ryan. He was laying in the middle of his crib, staring, and looking miserable. His fever was also back. Medicine, bottles (to help replenish fluids), bedtime routine...we laid them down and both stayed quiet (so I assumed they slept).

The rest of the night, at least one of them would wake up every hour or so. The night was filled with thermometers (Our highest fever was 103.2, our lowest 100.7), medicine, bottles (I was so worried about dehydration), and exploding diapers (I officially hate Pampers' new Baby Dry system - that didn't even last 8 hours before exploding in Allie's pjs and requiring a desperate attempt at cleaning up the millions of nasty crystals that covered her body at 2 am. I might hate Pampers too. Is it too late to use cloth diapers? At least they don't have exploding crystals!), and Baby Einstein (the only way I could keep them still while taking their temperature).

I was so happy to see morning (although my cumulative sleep was somewhere under 5 coffee is my friend today), but the fevers are persisting. The biggest bummer: Our health insurance doesn't start until tomorrow (April 1st), and we have a Pediatrician, but have not yet been to see her (because our insurance didn't start yet), so I feel a little like I don't have a doctor for them.

The cute things? Sick kiddos are cuddly kiddos, and I have enjoyed every cuddle (even in the middle of the night). Allie always feels better when she has her hand on your arm, and if you have to move it (say to scratch your nose), she holds her hand up and waits for you to put it down so she can hold you again. And Ryan kept saying "Buh-bul" (for Bumble, the bee from his book) whenever I would start the Baby Einstein movie. I was so confused until I realized he said it whenever he saw the caterpillar! Which does look like Bumble! He got so excited when I understood what he meant that he repeated "Buh-bul, buh-bul" for about 15 minutes while clapping his hands :) My sweet babies.

March 25, 2010

Under the Sea

Ah, the big 1st birthday par-tay. Initially (like when they were first born) I wanted a BIG party (because we would have survived and needed to celebrate!). Then, when I found out how close to their birthday we would be moving I decided it should be small, a few people, minimal decorations, little fuss...but I am an activities director and couldn't help myself! It soon grew to have almost thirty people, a theme, decorations, games, the whole shebang.

The party started with the babies playing in their playroom (adjacent to the party room) with cousins and second cousins (cousin cuppycake crawled...and then fell down...but her mom said it was the longest she had ever stayed up!)

while everyone else played the party games ("Allie & Ryan's 20 Questions" and "Pin the Fin").
Pin the Fin started out for the younger generation, but then someone said it was an "if you are shorter than..." kind of game, which drew in Grandma & Marcia...and then others tried it out as well!

Near the end we had to make it more difficult...

Papa & Gigi won "Allie & Ryan's 20 Questions" while Marcia won "Pin the Fin" for the adults & Charley won for the youth...and gave his prize to his sister...who picked the squirt gun...which gave her the right to shoot Lucas! Sadly, we somehow missed that Kodak moment...
Then we moved onto the big moment - the cake (or in this case, cupcakes thanks to the advice of a friend!).

Allie was really into it, but Ryan was NOT a fan.

Next was presents, and the babies got a lot. I was going to put on the invites no gifts necessary, but I knew (having been to several first birthdays where that was specified) that no one shows up empty handed was almost overwhelming. In fact, more than once I almost was overcome as I thought about how the gifts were a MINOR representation of how loved these babies are. They are so lucky.

Finally the babies played a little more while everyone else chatted and we finished the dinner upstairs.

Playing with cousin Morgan (the ONE decent picture we were able to get of three VERY mobile toddlers!)

The babies went to bed and we all had dinner (roast, baked potatoes, green beans, rolls, corn, yum!), and then a champagne toast for me & Lucas (to surviving the first year and to enjoying the ones to come!).

Ultimately, it was a wonderful time spent with family and friends. It made us even more thankful to be back in the midwest because if we hadn't been so close, we wouldn't have been able to have so many of our family members there to celebrate with us (although we did think of our friends in MA who we would have loved to had there with us too...). The one person we were REALLY sad couldn't make it: Papi! Unfortunately, Lucas' dad had to go back to the boat (earliest he's ever been called back). We missed you, and we love you!!
In the end, a great time was had by all (or at least by the most important 2!).

Allie & Ryan Turn 1!

When the babies were first born I would think longingly about their first birthday. When I brought those tiny babies home from the hospital I thought about all of the illnesses or calamities I had read about - RSV, fevers, SIDS, seizures, reactions to vaccinations - they all raced through my mind. But one thing stood out: whatever dangers there were, they got significantly less after the first year. Keep them alive a year, and the odds would be much more in my favor. I wondered if it would be possible.

In those first months of sleep deprivation (and with Ryan having his days and nights confused there were weeks where the sleep deprivation was severe), I kept thinking "this can't last forever. Surely, they'll be sleeping more by the time they are a year." And so I held on (note: they were sleeping more by the time they were 3 months! But those first months felt really long!).

By a year they would be more interactive, they would be more mobile, they would be more communicative. By a year they could eat more, and play more, and do more. By a year I might have this mom thing figured out (note: I always thought I would be a fantastic mom, that I knew things other new moms didn't know, that I knew all the tricks, that I knew exactly what I should and shouldn't do - and that I would always do, or not do, those things. Motherhood has been the most humbling experience of my life. Thank God for giving me children to show me how much I don't know). In those early days I longed for their first birthday.

And then somehow everything turned around and I dreaded it. The first birthday meant a farewell to babyhood and a hello to toddlerdom. It meant that the days of sitting in a rocking chair, cuddling a contentedly motionless baby would give way to chasing two toddlers and temper tantrums. It somehow seemed the defining moment that would force me to admit that my babies are going to grow up. Toddlers will turn into children, who will turn into teenagers, who will turn into young adults, who will turn into adults...and if this year went so fast, those will too. As their first birthday approached I wanted so much to hold onto the baby days, but felt I was already catching a glimpse of them waving goodbye as we dropped them off at college. The day was both exciting (we made it!!), and sad at the same time. Although, I worked really hard to just focus on the exciting.

We scheduled their party for a later date (to give us a little more time to settle in), but I wanted to do something special as a family. If we would have been in MA, I knew exactly what we would have done. We would have either gone to the aquarium (since they had an "Under the Sea" themed birthday this seemed appropriate. Plus, they really liked looking at the fish tank at the doctor's office...) or to Jordan's. It took a while but I found the perfect location here!

Cabela's! We decided that it was the Midwest's equivalent of Jordan's in that it was "shoppertainment." It had both shopping and things to entertain. PLUS, it has an aquarium! We started the trip at the aquarium.

(the white blobs at the bottom of the picture are albino catfish - Allie loved them!)

The babies enjoyed peeking through at the fish, but also tired of it quickly (thank goodness we hadn't spent all that money going to the aquarium in MA!). Then we traveled around to look at some of the exhibits.

We stopped and ate lunch at the cafe,

finished our trip around the store to see all the animals,

and then spent some time playing at the gift shop.

It was a gorgeous day, and later that afternoon we decided to make our first trip to the nearby playground. One of the most exciting things about our location is that there are 3 playgrounds around the lake, but one of them is about a half mile away. Even better, it is about a quarter mile from the church (imagine picnic lunches with Lucas, or walking there to meet him and then walking home together - idyllic, right?). We put the babies in the swings (for the first time since December), and they had a blast!

We topped the birthday festivities off with their first taste of Lucas' homemade pizza. Unfortunately, it has to be without cheese because of the dairy allergy - which makes it much less appealing. Fortunately, I recently found a health food store that stocks soy cheese, so next time they can have cheese on their pizza!

Our family celebration of their birthday was perfect. Lucas and I made sure to take some time to congratulate ourselves on a first year well done. And then we began preparations for the Party!

March 24, 2010

Since We Moved In...

The days & weeks since we moved in have blurred together in a mush of frenzied activities...I will try to remember the highlights...for my benefit at least!

We were lucky enough to have family here for almost the entire first week. This was amazingly helpful, and we are so blessed to have such supportive and helpful family!

The babies playing on the deck for the first time. They loved it, but they got VERY dirty...

The first guests I welcomed at our doorstep the first day? The census volunteers and a Kirby salesgirl...a tiny girl whose boss dropped her and left her with the giant vacuum ("this is much lighter than the old model" she chirped) and told her to carry it to another house or wait at mine...she chose to wait at mine...for 1 1/2 hours (she actually cleaned the vacuum while she waited...with MY cleaner) took 2 calls to her boss (on MY cell phone because hers wasn't working) before he finally picked her up. At least I got free hand soap and paper towels (plus a HUGE discount - the vacuum would only cost me $1,500) out of the deal.

The babies LOVE their new space. At our last apartment, we were so crammed in that every room seemed like a danger zone - stuff could avalanche at any moment! Here, we have so much room and so many places to put things that it feels safe and I've pretty much given the babies free reign. They are loving it. I also would like to think it helps tire them out by night-time...

St. Patrick's Day. Playing in the foyer (between the full length glass door and full length mirrored doors on the closet, they are in heaven!). I ignored my cardinal rule of taking pictures the second I have them dressed (when I have them dressed for a special occassion), and you can see the results!

Numerous trips to WalMart, Lowes, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Target, etc. to get the things we needed to settle in. I had forgotten the errands it takes to get everything up and running when you move. And since nothing (not even a grocery store) is within 15 minutes of us (more like 20-30...or 40...), EVERY errand is an event.
We discovered we live in a black hole. We live in a smaller lake community of a township, but the local post office had to close a couple years back and was turned into a branch of a nearby town thus changing the mailing address. Long story short - we have 4 different town names and 4 different zip codes, and NONE of them can be found on google maps, gps, mapquest, etc. We had trouble setting up things like cable, internet, and garbage pickup because we don't show up on their grid, and we had a company call us because they needed to ship a package to us but couldn't find us. They finally said they would send to the address and hope it got to us (it arrived today! woohoo!)

And the babies...

They both got their first injuries that drew blood...both on the mouth...mommy was ready to take them both to the hospital (and daddy was the voice of reason). They were fine and the boo boos quickly disappeared.

Ryan started clapping and now it is incredibly easy to tell whether or not he likes something. If he likes the food he is eating, the song you are singing, the face you are making, the toy he is playing with, he claps! Unfortunately, if he is being naughty and gets caught, if he throws the food he doesn't like off his tray, and when he throws his sippy cup on mommy's sore toe...he also claps (because he wants you to think it was a good thing?).
Allie is suddenly into mimicking. Mostly something that she thinks is funny. It is so cool to see her do the same thing I just did (so far...I'm sure there will be moments when I wish she didn't copy me...). She also thinks it's really cool when you do something she just did (like blow a raspberry).

Yes, Allie has her tongue out for EVERY picture. It's her new thing...

They both have started mimicking words (like today when I caught Ry-guy taking giant sips of milk and spitting them out like a fountain and I exclaimed, "Ryan! No! That's messy!" and he gleefully shouted "mssss-eeee!" or when Allie cried out a happy "Ta-da!" after hearing one of their favorite toys say it). I love hearing their attempts at new words.

They are both getting better at communicating. Ryan is loving the B words (baw for ball, bur bur for brown bear, and I kept thinking he was saying bubble (buh-bul) until I discovered that he only did it when holding a certain book...a book about a bee...a bee nambed Bumble...). Allie is much more into gesturing. She will say words, but mostly when she wants the shock value! It is nice that each day it gets a little easier for me to understand what they want.

St. Patrick's Day at one of the local playgrounds (there is only 1 baby swing so they had to share...)

They are getting better and better at balancing. They both frequently stand on their own, and they both have taken a couple steps (usually accidentally). While I am excited for them to reach this huge milestone, I am also not in ANY rush for them to become more mobile. It's hard enough to keep up with them as it is!

They both turned 1!!! More on this later...

We have had an eventful couple of weeks as we have been settling in. And I know I haven't even, in the slightest, captured half of it here, but hopefully it helps fill in the gaps :)

March 15, 2010

Moving In

We arrived mid-day on Monday, and were met by Papi, Nana, & Lucas' Uncle Dale. Before unloading the truck we went inside (to change diapers), and found this:
Actually, both Lucas and I passed it without noticing at first...I was so focused on getting babies' diapers changed that it didn't register, and Lucas noticed the wagon first! The amazing tv (and surround sound) was a collective gift from our families! What a cool blessing! Another blessing, Lucas' parents had completely prepared the house for us. Not just cleaning - they baby-proofed, shoveled (even clearing the snow off the deck), purchased groceries, and even built a snowman!! We cannot say how much we appreciated this labor of love.

The Crew: Papi, Great Grandma Dunsmore, Nana, Uncle Dale

The guys unloaded the truck (Uncle Logan showing up just in time to help!), while we took care of babies. The cousins enjoyed the first of (hopefully) many playdates with cousin cuppycake.

Playing together!
The Girls pose for the camera...

...while Ryan looks a little unsure about being outnumbered by the girls! Perhaps Cuppcake's new sibling will help even out the numbers...

That night the babies enjoyed their first bath in a big tub! They LOVE having the extra space to play and splash! Also, my Dad and brother (Uncle Nic) arrived (with more furniture), and thus began the end of unloading and the beginning of unpacking...

One other thing that is key to mention: Our new church family, wanting to make us feel welcome, supplied us with meals and goodies - enough to literally feed an army. We enjoyed tasty meals, salads, desserts...and even froze some so that we can enjoy it later. We were so blessed by their thoughtfulness and generosity. It was a great way to be welcomed!

March 14, 2010

Moving Day

I had visions of what our moving day would look like. Everything would be packed (and most of the cleaning would be done). I would drop the babies off with the Kims and get back in time to welcome our helpers. In no time the truck would be loaded and the cleaning done. We could take our time saying goodbye and then hit the road - making it to our first stop with plenty of time to spare.

The Chaos (after a lot had been cleaned and packed!)
It wasn't like that at all. I WAY overestimeate how much I could get done with 2 babies around (even with help!), and we weren't completely fact, I discovered after they started taking things out of the house that I actually had a lot more left than I thought. Thankfully, our helpers were not shy about loading up what was left, and they dove right in. Bless them. I also was late getting the babies over to stay with the Kims (so they wouldn't be in the middle of all of the moving), and Lucas had some problems getting the truck, so Lucas was gone and I was actually running out the door as everyone was arriving. Thankfully, our helpers were all experienced movers and knew what to do without us being there to direct them! With the errands I still had to run it was 1 1/2 hrs before I managed to get back, and everything was taken care of and in good hands. We were so blessed to have so many great friends there to help us.
Chris takes apart the crib while his lovely assistant looks on!
The girls workin' the runway :)
Dillon was there (at least, that's what it said on our boxes)

We were so thankful to not only have help finishing the packing and loading the truck, but also cleaning! While, at the beginning it felt like we would never finish, the many hands helped things really move along, and as the afternoon was coming to a close we all stood in an empty and (fairly) clean apartment. Although, somehow, even though the apartment was completely empty, it didn't feel like we were actually leaving. It didn't feel like that was the last time I was going to be there...

The guys loading the big stuff in the truck

Jen & Elizabeth, 2 of my biggest cleaning helpers

John takes a break to talk to the photographer while Rob tries to figure out how to fit in the boxes.

Rob - Master Packer
Then it was time to say goodbyes. We had to get on the road because we had to make it to Albany that night. This rushed the goodbyes somewhat, but (as someone who HATES goodbyes), it helped me not to linger. And, again, it didn't feel like I was saying felt like I would see them next week at church...

The babies having fun with Gigi & the Kims...

Ryan was without pants for a little while because he was so quick and squirmy that they couldn't get them back on after changing his diaper!

No matter what she was doing, Allie would pause to pose for the camera!

As you can see, they did eventually catch him and get his pants on!

We hit the road and had an uneventful trip to fact, the entire trip (split up over 3 days) was uneventful. The babies traveled exceptionally well, we made great time (especially considering that we had the truck slowing us down), and there were no major catastrophes...all the prayers for a safe & uneventful move were answered!

Monday morning we loaded up and set out on the last leg of the trip to our new home!!