July 31, 2011

Visiting Their First Home

I know that, for the sake of brevity, I cannot do a full post for everything we did or every person we saw on our trip. But, there are some things that I feel warrant a full post (even if I don't necessarily have the pictures to back that up). This is one of them.

In March I started planning our trip to Boston (excited much?). It only took a few seconds of looking at my list of people I HAD to see and places we HAD to visit before I realized that, even if we didn't sleep, there wasn't enough time to see everyone and everything I wanted! As the trip got closer I kept making cuts. Finally, the week before, I narrowed it down to a painfully short list of the people and places I would be devastated if we didn't see. This place and these people were at the top of the list.

Those who have been with us long (since before the twins were born), know that there is a big hole in the story. I stopped blogging the day the twins were born, and didn't start again until almost 2 months after they were home. Why? Mostly because I was too sad, and then too selfish. Too sad while they were in the NICU to write anything that wouldn't (or so I thought) make everyone who read it sad. Too selfish when they came home to share even a moment online with anyone. I was hoarding my babies.
Our first look at the twins. Allie had endured a really rough labor & it showed...
Ryan popped out fresh as a daisy after his sister paved the way!
Unfortunately, now I look back and that hole makes me sad. I've chronicled so much of the mundane details of their everyday life, but there is this giant, gaping hole that covers those monumental first weeks. Now that I look back, I want that time recorded. I've included tid bits here and there, but thought - since it fits - that I would put some more pictures and memories here. Because the place at the top of my priority list was their first home - The NICU at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital.
Allie under the Bili-lights.
Ry-guy eating - his favorite thing!
I will start with a confession: I still feel envious when I visit a mom in the hospital & she has her baby in the room with her. I feel a pang of jealousy when I hear moms tell stories of those first precious hours together - of holding their babies after they were born - when mine were whisked away to the NICU and I only got to visit. I remember my cousin calling me after they were born and mentioning that she always felt a little hollow after her babies were born. It so perfectly described how I felt, especially in the days & weeks after I went home and they stayed there. Every moment I got to spend with them was a treasure. Every time I left my heart broke a little. Every minute away seemed like a painful eternity until I would see them again. I often think this is why I'm not keen on leaving my kids now. It's not that I don't trust the people I'm leaving them with, it's because I'm still hoarding my time with my children after those early weeks apart.
Faces so beautiful you barely notice the feeding tubes protruding from their noses!
That said, our time there was actually a very positive experience! And it was truly all because of the fabulous people who took care of our children. Especially the nurses. Especially 2 of the nurses. When I was sick and couldn't go in to visit them, it was these women who gave me thorough & cheerful updates over the phone (never making me feel ridiculous for crying because I couldn't be there)), and sent goodies home with Lucas - like footprints & their little hats. When I woke up in the middle of the night convinced that something was wrong with Allie, it was Nurse Stacy who calmly took my call, reassured me that everything was fine, and never made me feel stupid about my irrational panic. When we were still a little unsure and nervous about handling these tiny babies, it was Nurse Ginny who taught us how to give a bath and wash their hair. These nurses took the absolute best care of my children I could ever imagine, while at the same time offering encouragement & support to me (whether they realized it or not). They are angels.
Nurse Stacy taking care of Allie
Pausing for a picture :)
We have kept in touch with Stacy (I didn't remember to get any contact info for Ginny at the time), visited a few times when we still lived there, and let her know we were coming to the area and wanted to visit. She took such great care of the twins (I'm pretty confident she was with them more than any other nurse during their stay), that I really wanted her to get to see them older, healthy, active, and ridiculously cute. They are doing so great, and I really feel it started with the great care they received in the NICU. A bonus surprise was that Ginny happened to be there too! I didn't get great pictures (my camera has too much zoom so I focused on taking pictures with Stacy's camera), but I truly treasured the few minutes we had with these 2 wonderful women who were played a key role in the twins' life. Totally worth the drive in & out of Boston, in rush hour traffic, during which Garmin took me to the wrong location and I got lost!
Giving Ginny high fives!
Contemplating giving Stacy a hug :)
Sure, the twins ended up being shy and more interested in the fake fish than anything else, but I enjoyed seeing these 2 incredible nurses and showing off my kids to them. The simple words "Thank you" will never be enough to truly convey my gratitude to them for caring for my babies when they were their most vulnerable while also comforting & supporting Lucas as we impatiently waited to take them home!
p.s. if Stacy posts the pics from her camera on facebook I will add them to this post. So maybe check back in a couple weeks for better pictures :)

July 30, 2011

I Think I'll Go to Boston!

That song has been playing in my head for weeks. I've even sang it out loud (not well...which you will quickly realize if you happen to hear the twins imitate me!). Back in January, the denomination's only recommendation, when presenting Lucas for ordination, was that he take a seminar to learn more about the history of the Congregational Church. The seminar happened to be in Boston. They and the church would chip in. I cried (tears of joy) when I found out. I was in the midst of an intense bout of homesickness for this place and the people there I loved. Now that I think about it, this song might have been playing in my head since then...
Our first night there, we had a bbq with all of the youth, youth helpers, and their families (thanks to John & the Hopes!). Words cannot express the joy of being with this group again! It was not only a great chance to see a LOT of the people we wanted to see all at once, but an opportunity to actually have quality time with a few (there wasn't enough time with anyone...).
At Lucas' request we took a group picture. Thankfully, the person with my camera snapped a few pictures of us all getting together.

The whole gang!
It was the perfect beginning to an incredible week of seeing people we love and miss. Much more on that to come!

July 29, 2011

Long Island

We have these friends. They were our neighbors at seminary. Hours after we moved in they stopped by (with a tiny, 2 month old in tow) and introduced themselves. Years later they are some of our most treasured friends. EVERY summer since that very first, we have arranged a get-together. Last year, it was only an afternoon...shared with other people. But we got the group picture that proved we were together, and it counts! Since Lucas was getting sent to Boston for a seminar, and we knew we were so closed to our dear friends, we used the opportunity to make another summer happen!
There is not enough space to recount all of the memories, stories, jokes that I want to record to remember forever, but here are the bullet points (because I had to edit or it would have been too tedious for you all to read!)
One of the big events was a trip on their boat to go fishing in the Sound!
Bonus points for JJ who stuck with the fishing longer than anyone (except maybe his dad)!
Allie liked to stay close to the bucket to watch all the fish we had caught.
Ry-guy and LJ preferred the cabin.
For the record, we caught a lot of fish (16 maybe? My memory is already foggy). Porgies (sp?). Part of the tradition has been catching one of our meals. These fish became delicious fish tacos that evening!
Our incredible friends agreed to stay home with all of the kids so Lucas and I could have a night out! We went into the city, had a fabulous dinner, walked around the city, and then saw Wicked (if I had a bucket list, seeing this show would have been on it). There was some poignancy to the evening as the train ride in took us by the hospital that was my home for almost 2 weeks. It was in that hospital bed that I read the book Wicked. 2 1/2 years later I got to see the show (and have a bit of the "babymoon" that I never got)!!
I tried about 10 times and only got our foreheads. Lucas tries once and gets it perfect. And yes, it was humid. Thus the hair...
The most recent addition to our group is sweet KJ. No picture I had did justice to her adorable face. Such a sweet disposition! We LOVE her!
They have a great playground area outside their house. Ryan was in love with the playhouse. Allie preferred the car.
Baby KJ wanting so desperately to play with the "big kid" toys (a Potato Head)
A magical moment. All 5 kids together and still!!
Minus 1, but I still love the 4 of them all reading together while they waited for dinner to be ready.
We also made a few trips to the local pool (with the most fabulous baby pool - or "baby lake" as Ryan called it), the guys did their own fishing trip, the girls spent a morning out (running and swimming), played a truly enjoyable game of Quelf, went out to dinner (just the grown ups), and thoroughly treasured every moment with these dear friends!

And the group shot! Look back Here, here, here, and here to see us through the years!
This is an outtake, but I love it. My cheesy smile, Kim not looking, Ry-guy looks somber, Allie looks mad, and the other 2 being silly.
The best of the bunch!
Thanks to our friends for a fabulous week! Looking forward to next year - let's keep the streak alive!!

July 28, 2011

Water Fight!!!S

So much to tell. So many pictures. As I look through the (hundreds of) pictures, so many stories and memories come to mind and I think, "I have to put THAT on the blog because I want to remember it! Oh, and that! And that!" and so on...I'm going to have to edit. The thing I couldn't edit? This fabulous water fight.
It started innocently. The kids playing in the pool. Lucas joining them for an afternoon of innocent water play. And JJ wants a chance to show him his cool squirt gun...
turned into this:
which turned into this:
Pretty soon LJ joined the battle, and Lucas, outnumbered, was led to the sprinkler to receive justice.
He overpowered them and turned the tables.
And then they all went running.
Pretty soon buckets were added to the mix. And an epic standoff.
Which Lucas lost.
And the kids somehow got all the "weapons."
But Lucas is crafty and figured out a secret "weapon" of his own!
Which sent them running!
I sat in the shade, perfectly dry, and watched it all happen. An epic water fight with kids we have loved (and Lucas has played with in similar fashion) since they were born, is just a taste of the fabulous time we had on Long Island.

July 27, 2011

Way on back, back. Way on back!

Bonus points for anyone who has any inkling of where the title is from. I fully expect only my family (and probably only my brothers) to even come close. But when I discovered these long lost, blog-intended pictures on my camera this phrase popped into my head! And then I considered forgoing the intended blog post (because I get a twitch from having posts out of order & we've already started the vacation blogs!), but I felt that my brother & soon to be sister-friend deserved their featured moment!

Since Ariel (currently living in Texas) and Nic (currently living in Nebraska) were both in Michigan (just an hour away!) for some pre-wedding events (the previously mentioned shower) and planning, we took advantage of their close proximity and her parents' hospitality and joined them for an evening and a bbq. The twins had a blast.
The highlight of the evening - picking (and EATING) black raspberries!

...and messy!
Then a walk in the garden.
Her parents have one of the most beautiful yards/gardens that I have ever seen. You almost forget that you are actually in a city! They also make fabulous food...and the reasons there are no pictures of it was because I was too busy enjoying said food to snap any pictures

We are only 2 1/2 weeks away from the wedding! Yay!!!

July 25, 2011

Wouldn't You Know It...

Wouldn't you know it. Wifi where we are staying. Free time to blog. But my USB chord was somehow left at home and I can't get my pictures off my camera! Since this could be a problem soon (you know how many pictures I take...my camera is going to run out of memory to hold them all!), I am going to try to borrow from someone. In the meantime, a few pictures from my phone.

The twins an I took a trip down Memory Lane last night. Remember this day? And this picture:
More pics and story to come, but I did snap this picture to recreate a fond memory :)
Notice the vice-like grip I have on them? That is because Ryan kept asking me if he could "go down da waterfall?" No way! The grandparents would never forgive me!

Then we went to our favorite park. The place where they had their first ride in the swings! Remember the pictures?

Once again, I couldn't help recreating a memory:

And the twins cooperated so well! Ryan looked serious and off to the side (just like before!), and Allie smiling and dressed in all pink! Do I know how to re-create or what?! We also drove by our old home (the first home they ever knew *sob*). I wanted to take a walk through the cemetery where I used to take them, and walk to our grocery store, and hit the Dunkin' Donuts, and pretend that I lived there again. But there wasn't the time, and I knew I didn't need to try harder to make myself feel sad & nostalgic!

WAYYYYYYYY more pictures & stories to come as soon as I can get them off my camera!