February 27, 2013

The Day of 2 Adventures

I've mentioned before that we have a weekly playgroup that I coordinate.  This week, our playgroup time happened to coincide with a story time at our favorite toy store for National Tell A Fairy Tale Day.  Can life get any better?  Turns out it can!  Uncle Logan was home with the girls and was able to join us!

They invited kids to dress up.  Being a former Activity Director (and used to dressing up for EVERYTHING), I couldn't pass up the opportunity.  Plus, my kids love dressing up.  It was like Halloween all over again.  Shockingly, Ryan was the easy one to dress.  We had a dragon costume.  Ryan loves dragons.  Easy peasy!
Allie wanted to be a fairy princess.  It turns out that we don't have a princess dress (we have one, but it was ripped and I didn't have enough time to fix it), a tiara, or wings.  So we put her in a favorite dress with a tutu, lots of costume jewelry, and a puppet tiara that I rigged to stay on her head.  Not awesome, but it worked!
Just before we left.
Note: My camera battery died just after the pictures above, so the rest of the pictures are from phones...or borrowed from facebook...my apologies for the lack of quality!
We got to the store early, and I took the twins to the bathroom (in the VERY back of the store) before we started.  In the bathroom Ryan says, "I'm not going back out there."  I asked why and he responded, "It's different out there."  I asked what he meant by different and he said, "It's scary."  I was so confused.  There was absolutely nothing different about the store since the last time we were there except a few of the staff (all women) were dressed up as princesses or fairies.  So I asked him what was scary and he responded, "They are all talking to me."  We were the first to show up for story time, and they were in costume (only 2 other kids wore costumes) AND Ryan was the only boy (and the only non-princess), so every staff member we met stopped to talk about the costumes (and went crazy over the dragon costume).  It was a little much for my introverted little man.  We had a little pep talk, and I promised to stay close so he wouldn't feel as shy.  Thankfully, he was fine and comfortable once story time started.
There were about 12 kids there - the majority from our playgroup.  Cousin H, Allie and Ryan were front and center (and were clearly the most interested).
Allie and H were so excited they would jump up to answer any question that was asked - which is why you can see Allie in the middle of sitting down here.  D is playing with blocks in the way back (upper, right corner).
D was excited about story time, but was so excited that she had trouble sitting...and wouldn't stop talking...so her daddy diverted her to play with toys in the back.  H was similarly excited and kept giving away part of the story before they were quite there, but the staff there are wonderful and her enthusiasm was fully appreciated.  They even posted one of her quotes as their status:

From the mouth of babes... "A fairy tale is when something magical happens like
someone gets turned into a frog."

They read Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk.  Unfortunately, they lost all of the younger kids by the end of the first story, and all of the kids besides Ryan and Allie before the end of the next story. Somehow, my children were the only kids that stayed until the very end.
Uncle Logan suggested we head over to the Bouncy Castle after story time, so we made our way over to the mall.
Cousin Caterpillar!
The highlight was D finally being brave enough to go down the giant blue slide!  After she made it all the way up and all the way down, she realized it was a lot of fun...and then we had to drag her away!  We literally bounced the kids into exhaustion.  We knew it was time to go when they were laying down in the bounce castles (or on the floor between them).  So we loaded up and headed home.  My kids, who no longer take naps, slept on the way home and a little more after we were home!

We love adventures.  2 Adventures in one day is even better.  Sharing those adventures with our cousins is the absolute best!

February 26, 2013

Sick Days

Sorry there haven't been many posts in Feb.  We were plagued by the strangest stomach bug I have ever seen.  It started while we were on our way to visit Nana and Poppy (Did I forget to mention we visited them?  Sorry.  It was probably because we didn't get any pictures because Lucas had the camera at the youth retreat...).  Allie threw up in the car.  At the time, I thought it was because of a cough that had been hanging around for a while - that she coughed so hard she threw up.  We got to their house, played the day away, went swimming the next morning, and had a really great day.  We were just talking about how it had been a strange fluke since she hadn't been sick since, when she started to erupt again...I'm pretty sure there wasn't anything left in her stomach after.  It went on like that for 4 days.  She would seem completely fine and have no other symptoms and then all of the sudden she would be dramatically ill, and then she would be fine again.  I've always heard with a stomach bug that if you have been symptom free for 24 hours, you're good to go, but there were more than 24 hours between every time she got sick.  It was maddening.  And then it was gone.

And then 4 days later, Ryan got sick.  And the cycle started all over.  Granted, the first day Ryan acted sick, but after that the sickness stuck around as long, but presented as few symptoms as Allie's.  I would get surprised by the onset each time.  

Not sure what exactly they had - or how to tell when we were no longer contagious - and not wanting to spread it, we stayed home from church.  Sick days call for big, comfy sweats, so I pulled their most cozy clothing out of the closet.
I know, I know, they don't LOOK sick...
 A few days earlier they informed us that Allie cheers for Go Big Red because mommy cheers for them so it is the GIRLS' team, and Ryan cheers for Go Big Blue because Blue is his favorite color.  I was a little heartbroken (he had been a faithful Huskers fan), but he insisted that he couldn't cheer for a team that wasn't his favorite color...and I want to support his conviction.
So they were thrilled when I picked out the clothing that reflected their current favorites.  And I enjoyed the kind of back and forth banter about teams that we usually don't have outside of football season!

February 21, 2013

February Snapshot

I love the little snapshots so much, and every year I find myself saying I wish I had done more.  So this year my goal is to do one each month.  We'll see if it happens, but at least I have the second one done.  It's officially a streak!

Developmental milestones:
The Good:
Stick people:  We do a lot of art projects around here, so I always assumed my kids would be all set as far as their painting, drawing, collage-ing skills.  But then I started to notice that all of the pictures they drew looked the same.  They would draw big, beautiful scribbles and then tell me what they were - but they didn't actually look like anything.  I knew they were getting to an age where what they drew should start to resemble what they intended to draw - specifically people.  Then I was sitting on the floor in their room, playing with them at the train table, and I looked over to see a perfect face on the wall.  Someone (Allie) had procured a pencil and created a mini-mural.  I knew I should be angry, but I was so excited to see all of the parts of the face!  Since then, thanks to the help of Nana, they have mastered stick figures - complete with fingers and ears and noses.  I love, Love, LOVE seeing what they are creating!  Of course, now I'm constantly trying to see what I can learn about their inner world from their drawings...
Our Family: 
(left to right) Allie, Ryan, Mommy Daddy.  The blue is the sky, the green is the grass, and the thing that looks like a balloon is actually the sun.
The Bad:
Fear and Nightmares: It felt like it hit suddenly.  We never put a nightlight in the twins' room, and they were always fine sleeping in pure dark with the door shut.  And then one day they weren't.  Suddenly they were afraid of the dark.  Soon after fear of noises, shadows, and imaginary creatures followed.  My fearless children became afraid of everything.  We pray with them, and talk about the fear, and talk about why not to be afraid, but all to no avail.  Then the nightmares started.  When Allie was a baby we had some trouble with night terrors.  She would wake up screaming in the night - which was scary for me - but not anything she would ever remember.  Additionally, we discovered that it was completely connected to her sleep.  If we made sure she didn't get overtired, then no night terrors.  This has been completely different.  Not only do I hear them crying out in their sleep, they are terrified when they wake up and they remember their dreams.  The other night Ryan woke up terrified. The next day he told me he had a dream about cookies.  "That sounds like a nice dream!" I said.  "No.  It wasn't.  It was a really scary dream.  I was so scared I had to come sleep with you.  I don't want to dream that again."  Wanting to find a way to combat the ever-spreading fear and fear-filled dreams, I did some research.  Turns out, this is all part of the age and development.  Somewhere between 3 and 4, children begin to realize that there could be things in places they can't see (like in the dark).  It is also the age of imagination (good and bad), but is before they are really capable of distinguishing between what is real and what is imaginary (which comes around 5).  So it is easy for their imagination to run away with them.  And apparently, nightmares go hand-in-hand with this imagining age.  It certainly is not the most fun of developmental milestones, but it was so helpful to discover that it is common for their age!
Opening presents on Valentine's Day
Favorite Events:
Valentine's: I'm not sure why, but the kids (Allie especially) were crazy excited about Valentine's Day this year.  They were constantly speculating about the presents they might get - despite my numerous explanations about how Valentine's is more of a car and letter holiday than a present holiday (in the end, I wrapped up EVERYTHING so that it would live up to their expectations).  They made dozens of Valentine's.  So many, that I lost track of which was for whom (most were for each other).  Allie - in typical girl fashion - became obsessed with drawing hearts.  It is currently her favorite shape to draw.  Ask her to draw a square and she balks, but she'll draw a dozen hearts!  I tend not to do a ton for Valentine's, but recognizing that we all seem to enjoy having a theme for the month, I created a "Valentine's Tree."

Each night, they get to write the name of someone they love on a heart and hang it on the tree.  We like being able to see just how many people we love (and who love us back)!  This activity may have helped fuel the Valentine's excitement :)

We also hosted the playgroup Valentine's party.  Again, it isn't a big to-do, but hang colored streamers from the ceiling and it's a big affair!  The big deal (for all of the kids) was passing out the Valentine's.  Each child got a chance to pass them out.  It was easy to see that everyone felt very important when passing theirs out and very special when receiving Valentine's from others.
Passing out their Valentine's

Ultimate Favorite:
Our world has become dinosaur everything.  Dinosaur Train, dinosaur toys, dinosaur books, dinosaur food.  We pretend we're dinosaurs, draw dinosaurs, and learn everything we can to keep up with the numerous questions about dinosaurs.  It is all dinosaurs, all the time.  We've even been learning dinosaur names for every letter A to Z!  Things I love about this craze?  Dinosaur Train is an amazing show.  It is incredibly educational. We joined their Nature Trackers club where we get a challenge each month!  The twins are having so much fun learning so many things (I am as well!).  Additionally, the theme of adoption is part of each episode.  The whole show features the Pteranodon family  - which includes the adopted son/brother Buddy (who is a T-Rex).  I thought for a while that it was a very subtle undercurrent, but there are several episodes that address the topic - from taking Buddy to find out more about his ancestors to meeting other dinosaurs who have been adopted and talking about what it is like to be different than the rest of your family.  So much great exposure to something that will be a big part of their lives, and it's all because they have a new favorite show that we started watching because of their new dino craze!
A kiss for the camera.
Other Random Tidbits:

  • They passed the first level of swim lessons and are moving on to the second level (there are 4).  They are excited to (potentially) have a new teacher, and mommy is nervous because this level takes trip down to the deep end.
  • They got cd players for Christmas, and they LOVE listening to (and reading along with) books on cd.  We got a few new ones for Valentine's and have been checking some out from the library.  They can't get enough!
  • They are growing like weeds!  Allie was barely in her 4T clothes before we have to bump her up to 5T because her pants were all too short.  Although, they are all too wide, so we are looking forward to summer when they can where 4T (or even 3T), and  length won't matter so much!
  • We had to go to the doctor and discovered that, for the first time since they were in the NICU, Allie weighs more than Ryan!  Only by 1/2 lb, but it was further evidence of her crazy growth spurt.

February 09, 2013

Creating Constellations

It all started with a Burger King Kids Meal.  They opened the box, and inside was a little space capsule with a floating astronaut.  They were in love.  

On the way home, I overheard one say to the other, "I wish we had some planets where our spaceship could land."  A light bulb went off in my head and I chimed in, "Do you really want planets?  We could make some planets."  They cheered.  

The next day I tore strips of newspaper, mixed up some paper mache paste, and helped my children fashion some planets.  Once dry, they painted them.
 I asked if they wanted to make them exactly like the planets in our solar system or if they wanted to create their own planets.  They chose creating their own planets.  Who wouldn't want to design a mini-universe of their own?
They were sad that we had no stars, and I remembered that we had some model magic left over from a Christmas project and a star-shaped cookie cutter.  So, we rolled and cut stars that we later decorated with glitter.  We got 5 different craft sessions out of this project!

Today was the first day everything was dry.  After some thinking and looking, I put together a structure on which they could hang their solar system.

They carefully placed planets and stars - creating the constellations of their imaginations.

Then, their spaceships began to fly.
And, occasionally, land.
My little astronauts flew all over their galaxy - exploring each planet and star.  That is, until they fought over who could land their spaceship where.  Apparently, this solar system is only big enough for 1 twinner at a time...

One little toy sparked so much creativity.  Who knew I would ever be so thankful for a Burger King Kids Meal toy?

February 07, 2013

Back to Bouncing

We were supposed to go grocery shopping.  I've been putting it off, and I finally decided it was time to just go already.  Shortly after, a friend sent me a text to let me know her daughter didn't have preschool and would we like to have a playdate....exactly during the time I was supposed to go grocery shopping.    I was so relieved for the excuse to do something fun instead!  We decided to meet at the Bouncy Castle place that the Moms' Group went to last week.  

I didn't take any pictures, but I did take a few videos with my phone.  Know what I discovered?  Even if the picture it shows me is upright, the actual video might be sideways...good to know that I have to have my camera properly oriented before I take a video.  This isn't the first time something like this has happened, and I probably shouldn't share them, but I couldn't resist (the second one at least).  My phone has minuscule memory, so the videos are short (like 10 seconds each).  So tilt your head sideways and enjoy!
Note: Their friend E is the child you see first in both of the videos.
My apologies for the moronic "Weeeee!" you will here from the videographer....
Going down the giant slide.  It is seriously so big and they fly down so fast and they have absolutely no fear.
After the second trip, I can definitely say we LOVE this place.  So much that we bought a punch card that discounts future trips - because I'm expecting many more.  They had me the moment I saw them cleaning and sanitizing the bounce castles that weren't in use!

Oh, and if you are wondering why I am putting off grocery shopping, I just don't enjoy going alone with the kids.  I kept hoping that, if I put it off, Lucas might be able to 1) go along to help or 2) watch the kids so I could go alone.   But the longer I wait the busier he gets, so I will just bite the bullet and go.  I promise I won't let my family starve!

February 02, 2013

Beating January

Can I tell you a secret that I discovered?  January is my least favorite month.  My apologies to all of those with January birthdays - I'm sure you feel different.  I don't know what it is about January.  Maybe the post holiday slump?  Maybe the fact that it is cold and cloudy and completely unbroken by any holidays (ones that you decorate for, at least)?  I'm not sure, but I have discovered that it is the month that I am the least motivated (to do anything).  Knowing this ahead of time, I made sure to schedule some really fun things for the Moms' Group I coordinate.  I needed something to provide some fun and energy to an otherwise dreary month.

One of our special trips was to the Children's Museum!
This is the same place we had the twins birthday party last year.  They have free days about once a month, so I coordinated a group to go on one of those days.  It felt almost too good to be true.  We signed in at the front desk, and I kept expecting them to ask us to pay.  But they didn't!  The museum had some new things since our last visit and the twin had a blast!  We are definitely going to have to make free day a regular trip.
Their grocery store is AMAZING.  It is as fully stocked as many small grocery stores I've seen, it has a working scanner and cash register, and it is next door to the "bank" in case you need some money (play money, but it looks very realistic)!  I didn't think I would get our kids to leave.
The airplane.  Allie couldn't wait to fly "Siddeley."
 Ryan was so excited about this exercise bike.  He asked us if we would get one for home.  He would probably use it...
They have a giant Operation game.  Allie loved it.
  I was trying to get a picture of them holding the heart from the game - for Valentine's.  Instead, I got pictures of them looking funny at the hearts...

Some of their favorite things were larger versions on things we have at home, like the water table (not pictured), the train table, 
and the light table.
They have a whole farm corner now.  The twins loved "driving" the combine.

Their grain elevator (with giant, foam kernels of corn and soybean) was a huge hit.  Although it would get stuck, so they needed Daddy's help.
Another hit was this tube wall.  You placed a ball (or yarn pom-pom) into one of the doorways and it sucked through the tubes.
 And after watching it go through the maze of tubes it pops out the top (see Allie's ball?  Hint: look for the arrow).
Another trip was to a bounce castle place that opened up not too long ago near us.  I had heard great things, but thought it might be a little expensive.  With the Moms' Group we had enough kids to get the group discount - almost half price!  I didn't get many pictures (because I was catching up with a friend from college who joined us for the day), but I did get a picture of their favorite thing.  A GIANT bouncy slide.  Easily 2 stories tall.
Allie.  No matter how many times I told her no, she was determined to go down head first.
 Ryan - liking the idea of sliding on his tummy, but not quite as adventurous as his sister.
 Ryan's curls were out of control adorable that day.  I had to get a picture!
And that is how we beat the January slump (for 2 days, at least).
Happy February!