Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Haitian Art


Greg and I went to Haiti before we had children. We love our time there and bought these musicians. I love them because they remind me of our friends who live in Haiti. - Ann

Monday, September 24, 2012

One Year!

Jen,

I can't believe it's been a year since we first posted on this blog. All week I've been thinking about how much has happened to us. Writing to each other has been an outlet that has been very fulfilling for me. I love that we can go back and look at what we've learned.

I remember when we first started talking about blogging together and there were a few things that we hoped our sharing would bring about.
  • We hoped we would encounter Moms in Waiting so that we could partner with them and be there to pray for them when it was hard to pray for themselves.
  • We hoped by sharing our stories that other people would be able to relate and give their input into our struggles.
  • We hoped our friendship would inspire others to be vulnerable in their friendships.
In many ways these things have happened. I'm hoping that in this next year we can connect even more with those around us and dive deeper into these hopes.

Ann

________

Ann,

Unlike our Madonna play when we were 8 years old, this plan actually came to life! It has been fun recording our journey together and it's fun to actually "partner" together in a project. It has actually made me know you on another level which is really cool.

Too bad we never followed through with our play. No doubt we'd be famous by now.

Jen

Friday, September 21, 2012

Mom Knows Best

Ann,

Well, the day has finally come. My three beloved high chairs are gone.




As I've confessed before, I love the security they give (oops, gave) me. While the boys were nestled in their chairs I felt safe to run downstairs and change laundry or even go to the bathroom without fearing bloodshed in my absence.

But they are far too big to be lifted into high chairs, which also makes their recent habit of climbing into them a danger. I'm pretty sure those bars across the legs aren't built to hold 36 pounds of bouncing boy (that's Everett, for the record).

My mom was visiting this week and she suggested moving the table and chairs from their room into the kitchen rather than tackle my complicated idea of turning the high chairs into stools and buying an island built to a specific size...some people will do anything to avoid a little work.

And I'm happy to report they're all doing fine, much better than I expected. As usual, I'm realizing it's me who finds change difficult, not them!

As much as it pains me to admit, I'm glad I listened to my mother.

Jen
 
---------------------------

Jen,

I never thought about how the high chairs actually gave you a bit of freedom. I have an almost six-year-old who mans the fort when I run somewhere. We've been without a high chair for awhile and now that Ada is sitting up it's coming back out and I'm wanting to cry because of it. The darn thing always seems to be in the way! Funny, how no matter what the change it can be annoying at first.

You have some good little boys there. Cute, too! I'm glad you had your mom around to figure out a new way of eating. 

Ann

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Strollin'


And this is how you take three kids through a busy parking lot. - Ann

Monday, September 17, 2012

Blah, Blah, Blah, Even Though I Know You Want To Know

Jen,

A lot has happened these past two weeks so there is much to share about the girls.

Catina continues to LOVE kindergarten and is disappointed on Saturdays when she is not going. We miss her, though, and June asks for her often throughout the day.



Really the only kink in this whole kindergarten thing is that Catina doesn't like to go to the bathroom in public so she holds it the ENTIRE day. Many of us, including Catina's teacher, are trying to encourage her to give it a try. Her teacher has been so amazing in standing outside the door while she tries but she still hasn't gone. My fear is infection or an accident so hoping this is resolved soon.


A lot is going on with June that is exciting as well. It looks like she will be graduating to a new speech therapy regimine where she will attend a parent tot class with me once a week and then go to a speech therapist on our her own for a 25 minute session. I really think June will stretch and grow as we proceed this way. I'm also really hoping that all works out and her speech therapy can be right after the parent tot class so we can free up another morning. Right now we only have one morning a week free and this really limits our time seeing friends or running errands. For the next few weeks June will be tested for her receptive and verbal language as well as her articulation.

Catina's picture day outfit and June's first day of school get-up.
Today we switched ear molds on June's hearing aids. We used to go to the doctor's office to have those attached for us but our audiologist was nice enough to show me how to do it to save the extra trip. The girls always love playing with the old ear molds and pretending they are audiologists. I've kept all of them from the tiniest until now. It's amazing to see how much ears grow!

I'm waiting for June to want a different color but she doesn't really seem to care so I always pick pink glitter.
Ada had her eye appointment. They told me it would take up to 2 1/2 hours but we were out in 1! She doesn't need glasses right now and although she has an astigmatism, the doctor said that he wouldn't really put her in glasses until she was ready and willing to wear them. Her vision was good enough to not need them. Yay for not having to keep track of glasses!

Ada sleeping in the waiting room as she waits for her eyes to dilate.

I am so grateful for how healthy Ada is. Whenever we would pray for Ada in my womb I never prayed that she wouldn't have Down syndrome but always prayed she'd be healthy. I don't know why the Lord has granted my request but I thank Him and praise Him for doing it!

Ada is now sitting up for moments at a time on her own. She rolls every which way to get herself places and has begun to rock on all fours. Some nights we don't sleep as well because Ada likes to jibber jabber to herself. She's not upset, just talking! I think her and Catina will have a lot in common.

Children's hospital tunnel to the parking garage.
Last but not least I had to share that after seeing my hair look like Farah Fawcett I decided to get bangs and color my hair my red annual fall color. Some of the young guys Greg spends time with call me the hipster Mom now and I'll gladly accept the title minus the vegan food.

Of course when my hair dresser does my hair it looks much straighter but this is the reality of the day to day.
Well, blah, blah, blah with the update but I know you and others like to hear what is going on. In a couple of weeks we will be walking our first Buddy Walk. It's a walk for people with Down syndrome. If any local friends are interested in walking with us you can join our team here. Our team is called Ada's Amigos and we plan to dress up. You can also give money to our walk here. We really haven't told the world about the walk only because it's our first one and we don't want people to feel the pressure to come. On the other hand, I'd hate to have people find out after and wished they were invited.

I'll leave you with this fun giggling video of Ada.


video

Ann

__________

Ann,

Thanks for the updates! As often as we talk I didn't know most of this. Guess that proves we don't really get to share a whole lot in our 2-minute phone calls with kids screaming in the background!

Jen

Jen

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's a...

Ann,

Well, as you know we recently had our ultrasound.

I always get my ultrasounds at the perinatologist's office where they can conduct a Level 2 procedure. It's a little more detailed than the standard Level 1 and since it's done at the office and not an imaging center, the doctor is on-site to read the results and tell us about our baby's health. In our case, of course, they are looking carefully for signs of dwarfism.

We pulled up to the familiar office, anxious to sort of get it over with. I'd had the date in my head for a month, labeling it as the day when we'd get some answers. Since we've had healthy pregnancies since Elisabeth we don't have any reason to panic, but there's no doubt it's a day I look forward to, if for no other reason than to get relief.

As we approached the foyer I quickly realized the office was closed. Um, do offices close for dinner breaks? My stomach sank and I quickly called another imaging center, the one most women go to for their 20-week ultrasounds, wondering if my appointment was mistakenly made there. Sure enough, I was supposed to be on the other side of town in 10 minutes for my Level 1 appointment. My Level 1 appointment in an office where nobody would read my pictures and give me any sort of information on our baby. I cried the whole way there. And you know it takes a lot for me to really cry (and by really I mean in response to something other than a Lifetime movie or the site of someone else crying).

When we arrived I couldn't hold in my emotions. Our technician didn't even know our history since we hadn't been there since our first ultrasound with Elisabeth (the one where they did not notice her skeletal issues but because of unclear pictures sent us to the perinatologist's office who did spot her problems, where we've had every ultrasound since). We briefed her (well, Levi briefed her and I sobbed) and she ended up saying she could give me a Level 2 ultrasound, though the pictures would not be read until the next day. It wasn't ideal but we were thankful.

Our baby does not appear to have the issues Elisabeth had, though they would like to watch me carefully because I am considered high-risk. The experience ended up being very pleasant and Levi and I took advantage of having a babysitter and even went to dinner afterward!

Excited to meet our next little one.

Jen

P.S. Oh, it's a boy!

______________________

Jen,

I'm so glad she was able to do a Level 2 ultrasound. It is because of your ultrasound with Elisabeth and then the ultrasound I was able to witness with the twins that I realized how important it was and what some of it even means. I learned from Elisabeth's ultrasound what a nuchal fold was and from Levi and Everett's what a healthy heart looked like. Both came in handy when I was reviewing Ada's pictures. 

Yaaay for another boy! I was secretly hoping for a girl only because I have so many cute girl things to pass on but a boy seems so fitting. One more chance for a future son-in-law, baby!

Ann

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Grandmother's Coffee Pot

 
My Grandmother's coffee pot I keep on the ledge by my plants. - Ann

Monday, September 10, 2012

Are You Done?

Jen,

Last week we began the fall schedule that I believe the Lord had lead me to. It had been reviewed and prayed over for three months and blessed by some godly people in my life. Everyone who took part in this process felt that the schedule looked good but was very full so they asked me to be cautious to not add anything. All week I felt this freedom having this guide to where I should be spending my time. Freedom to say "no" to things that came my way that would interfere with what the Lord wanted me to focus on. And then Saturday came.

For the past seven years we have hosted a washers tournament. It started before we had children and was a great time of playing the game of washers that your husband, Levi, had introduced us to. Each year the tournament grew and our families grew until it was no longer wise to have it at our home. Eventually we started hosting it at a local park. Last year I was very pregnant, had two girls, and hosted a large party in 85 degree weather. I knew I couldn't do it again without feeling bitterness towards someone--mainly my husband. He loves this party and, although I love the idea of it, I am mainly just working the whole time for others to have fun. I believe there is a time and season for this, but after much conversation and prayer we decided this year the tournament would be for men only and Greg would host it at our home.

The guys determining which washer was closer at dusk.
This was a very hard decision for me but again those same people encouraged me and reminded me of my focus in this season of life. It's not to say we can't do this again in another season when I am more able. So like I said, I was doing good with this saying "no" stuff until Saturday came and I heard a negative comment about women not being invited. It took a lot of praying and I texted a few people such as yourself to pray against this battle that was going on in my mind. By evening I felt peace and when I came home to our backyard full of men playing, laughing and loving spending time together. I knew that for this season it was the best decision. Because I wasn't there the whole time, I enjoyed cleaning up while they were still talking and the event seemed worthwhile.

This morning while I was sitting in the pew listening to a good friend speak the word of God I was encouraged by his message. He had many great points but for the sake of being too long winded, he asked some great questions including this one: "Are you ready to do what God has given you to do?" I wanted to stand up and say "Yes!" I am ready to do what God has given me to do at this moment, in this season, for this time.

Our friend told this story of when his mother was in the hospital and the doctor came in and asked if his mother was ready to give up. This seemed like such an odd question to ask but then the doctor asked them when we should try to save someone who is drowning? Both the reaction in my head and my friend's reaction was that we should save this person right away. The doctor told them that this was not the right time, that we need to wait until the person stops fighting so that they don't fight you and drag you to the bottom. The Lord is asking me to stop fighting and to surrender, to surrender to this season, and let Him save me and be the one who fills me up, gives me energy and gives me wisdom.

I've taken notice of this song by Casting Crowns that I'd love to share with you. It speaks to this message I am learning.


Praying for you and for those who are trying to live out what God is encouraging them to do. I will ask this question that was asked of me this Sunday morning. It is for you and for those who share this space "Are you done striving in your own effort?" Let's surrender together to the God of Truth! (And here ends my sermonette.)

Ann
_________

Ann,

Two things really strike me here: 1) The fact that you would feel joy cleaning up after the guys' party really confirms the decision to do it differently this year. Usually you end up spending the next two days trying to get your house and yard back in order! And 2) I love hearing how the Holy Spirit gave you peace when that was my exact prayer for you on that day. Another confirmation. I don't think this road will be easy, but clearly you're listening closely to what He has for you and that's so amazing.

Love you, and I got your back!

Jen



Friday, September 7, 2012

Registering for Twins

Ann,

With another friend finding out she's having twins, I thought it was time to make these twin registry tips public. I've had a handful of moms ask about this, and I remember it being a major source of anxiety for me when I was having the twins. I wanted just enough stuff to keep everyone happy (ha!) but not so much that it looked like a Babies R Us showroom.

GOOD TO HAVE

Bouncy chairs (2): And if you spend lots of time in more than one room, consider another set.
Cribs (2): Some families keep kids in the same crib until they're rolling, but ours were such screamers I just couldn't.
Exersaucers (2): I had 2 and loved them even though it's a major sacrifice of space. If I were to do it again I'd make one of those a bouncer.
Baby gym (1): They loved being under it together!



Boppies (2) with lots of spare covers: This is how I fed them bottles for basically the whole year.
Pack'n Play or Moses basket (1): There will be a time, night or nap, when you have to separate temporarily. We swear by the Moses basket.
Strollers: First of all, a double snap'n go is a MUST! And we love our double BOB but if you aren't going on tons of walks then any old double stroller would probably do.
Pajamas (1,000 sets): I keep our babies in PJs for many months, so having lots of footie pajama sets was a great thing. BIGGEST WARNING: Don't buy any with snaps or buttons, and if you get some as gifts, I don't care how cute they are, put them in the return pile.
Sound machine: Not unique to twins, I love our machines and the myriad of sounds they block.

IF I COULD TAKE THESE BACK...

Swings: Only 1 was necessary. Space hog! What was I thinking?
Johnny Jumpers: These are fine but exersaucer served same purpose and they just became a tangled mess.
Pajamas with snaps and/or buttons. See above.
Front carrier: When I had Hayden I used my Bjorn all the time, but with the twins it sat and collected dust. Who are you going to choose to strap into the pack? You basically just let them scream while you get 5 minutes of things done and then go back and tend to the babies.

Can you think of others? Hoping my other moms of multiples friends will add a comment!

Jen

______________

Jen,

I remember you wondering what to register for and it's really hard to know when you've never had two at once before. I know you love your two high chairs. At some point you'll have to tell people how you went to the grocery store with twins and then three under 2! Here's my experience with twins.


Ann

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Kindergarten

Jen,

I'm officially the parent of a child in elementary school. Really? Somehow that makes me feel a bit older than turning 40 in a couple of years.

Catina asked if she should cross her leg like that. She's camera trained!

Catina had a fabulous first day! All summer long I was concerned about her going, only because she was experiencing a lot of fears. She was afraid of elevators and was always concerned some natural disaster would take place, like a flood or hurricane. She never seemed afraid of the idea of school, which I am grateful for, except she did have some concerns about getting up an hour earlier than usual!

This weekend we began talking about the morning routine. We hoped she would get dressed and brush her hair before watching a tv show. This summer it's been nice having Catina wake up on her own and watch a show before we stumble out of bed. After the show she eats breakfast and reads scripture with us. Then she brushes her teeth and she makes sure has everything ready for school before she can play.

Getting ready for school chart.
Last night Greg and I gave Catina this necklace to wear her first day. The school's mascot is the owl so this was a fun gift to have and wear. She was excited to have it and is enjoying collecting owl stuff.

Owl necklace
We walked to school and both Catina and June wore their backpacks. June seemed a bit disoriented and unsure about Catina leaving her white we waited in line for Catina and I to go in the classroom. Greg took the younger two home to wait for our return.


Walking to school!
I teared up walking her to school. I would've been bawling if I saw my hair looking like Farah Fawcett's!

Right away Catina met up with a friend from preschool in line and we were escorted in to the class where Catina found a fun hat with her name on it to wear. The parents did a scavenger hunt with their child in the classroom and made a fun face that represented themselves. Catina wanted to rush through the hunt so that I would leave and they could get on with their day!


Catina standing by her cubby.
The face Catina made that represents her. I'm not sure what the purple and hot pink circles are. I'm hoping it doesn't mean something horrible in psychology.

The parents were then asked to attend an assembly where we learned about the PTA, pick-up and drop off procedures and lunch time. It felt so strange being the parent and thinking about my mom and how involved she was in the PTA and in our school. It seemed like our parents knew what they were doing but I'm thinking they were just like us and had no idea.

Unfortunately it was pouring on the way home from school so we were soaked but that didn't suppress Catina's excitement or June's for seeing her sister return home! Tomorrow is a whole day where Catina will stay for lunch. She packed her lunch already and it's not even 2pm. She is very excited to use her new lunch box.

New lunch box!
A whole day away for five days a week seems like a lot but seeing the joy on her face and knowing what a great school we are attending I believe we made the right choice. 

Ann

__________

Ann,

I'm so prouf of Catina! We would have been cryng like babies when we were kids. (Wait, I'm pretty sure we did.)

Here's to getting old, PTA mama!

Jen