Tag: mommy

18-Month Update: Better Late Than Never!

On January 19, the twins turned 19 months old! I can’t believe it, because I feel like their 18-month milestone passed by before I could even realize it. And now, they’re closer to age 2 than age 1. Yes, people: The Terrible Twos are quickly approaching!

The boys didn’t get their 18-month checkups until January 7 because we had been in New York for the holidays. It was their last well-baby visit, which means they are officially no longer babies. They’re toddlers. (Sniff, sniff. I’m having a my-boys-are-growing-up moment.) Here were their stats:

Matthew:
Height — 32 1/4 inches (40th percentile)
Weight — 23 lbs., 14.5 oz. (40th percentile)
Head Circumference — 49 inches (80th percentile)

Nathaniel:
Height — 32 3/4 inches (50th percentile)
Weight — 24 lbs., 10 oz. (50th percentile)
Head Circumference — 49 1/2 inches (90th percentile)

The major things you can take away from those stats are the following:

1. My boys have big heads.

2. Matthew has finally nearly caught up to Nate in height and weight and is no longer considered tiny for his age! Considering that he was only 3 lbs., 12 oz. at birth and was not even on the growth chart for a very long time, this is huge. Also, he was only in the 9th percentile for weight at his 15-month appointment, so he’s grown a lot in the past few months. (I guess a healthy appetite and a penchant for mac and cheese and penne all vodka will do that to a little boy!)

But the boys are growing by leaps and bounds mentally, too. It seems like every day, they say a new word or two. Just yesterday Nate called my dad “Pop Pop” for the first time, much to his grandpa’s delight. And last week, when I said “I love you” to Matt, he responded with “Ah lub yoo”, and I nearly died. Died. (Consequently, when I say “I love you” to Nate, he responds by blowing me a kiss. It’s pretty cool how he’s made the connection between kisses and love.) “Ball”, “car”, “Mama”, “Daddy”, “star” and “Uh oh!” (even when a situation does not warrant an “Uh oh!”) are also in frequent rotation in the boys’ vocabulary.

Matt and Nate know most of their animal sounds as well as the “Grandpa sound.” (I will ask them, “What does Grandpa say?” and they’ll make a snoring noise. I guess they’ve seen—and heard—Grandpa fall asleep on the couch one too many times!) They also know their shapes and are starting to learn colors, although so far they seem to only have mastered blue (A.K.A. “boo”).

The boys are still obsessed with cars and trucks. They basically flip their lids whenever they see one. During car rides, Nate will point out the window and yell, “Car!” when he sees a vehicle pass. So you can imagine what it sounds like: “Car! CAR! CAR CAR CARCARCARCARCAR!” The other day at the park, they spotted a garbage truck and waved to it. When the sanitation men waved back, they went nuts.

The boys also still love to read. Nate’s favorite book right now is I Can Be A Real Boy. Matt’s favorite is The Little Engine That Could. But Matt actually prefers magazines over books. (I guess he takes after his mommy!) He’ll become absorbed in any magazine he gets his hands on—Time, Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated, and even random catalogs. He will carefully turn each page and then point furiously at any photo he finds interesting. (Bonus points if he finds a photo of a car or a truck.)

Their favorite toys right now—besides their plethora of cars and trucks, of course—are their KidKraft Around Town Train Set and Table, their Fisher-Price Little People play sets, their ball pit, their Buzz Lightyear Power Wheels, and their flash cards. But they have so many more toys that they love, and it’s amazing to watch their imaginations at work as they play with them. They also still love technology and are thrilled when we let them play with their kiddie apps on our iPhones or iPads. We even got them their very own VTech InnoTab 2s.

And they love animals—especially dogs. If we go to someone’s house who owns a dog, they’ll follow the dog around and pet it and wave to it. If a dog barks, they’ll laugh hysterically rather than get frightened. (Keith says this means we need to get a puppy. I say Keith is crazy!)

The twins are still enjoying Gymboree and Toddler Time at the library each week. They’re becoming much more physically adept, climbing and navigating the play structures at Gymboree and the playground like little monkeys. Believe it or not, Matt is a bit more careful, while Nate is fearless. Nate will dive down a slide head first without even batting an eyelash.

But with all of these wonderful developments comes toddler behavior of the less happy kind: tantrums. The boys are definitely becoming more opinionated with each passing day, and when they don’t get their way, they get angry. That means crying, screaming, throwing themselves on the floor, and kicking their legs furiously. They’re also becoming more independent and wanting to do things on their own, and when they fail, they’ll get really frustrated and throw a tantrum. A good example is when we went to P.F. Chang’s for lunch last week with some friends from Gymboree. Nate insisted on eating his lo mein by himself with a fork, but when the noodles kept sliding off the fork, he started to get agitated. When I reached over and tried to help him, he lost his mind and flew into a tantrum, and Traci (our babysitter) had to take him outside for the rest of the meal. Oh, life with toddlers.

All challenges aside, though, I am absolutely loving this age and seeing the world through the eyes of toddlers. The best part is when the boys drop what they are doing and run over to give me hugs, or when they reach up to me longingly so I can pick them up and cuddle with them. I still can’t believe my good fortune in getting to be Matt and Nate’s mommy. Here are a few photos from their recent 18-month-old photo session. They were taken by Julie Pearson of Julie Pearson Photography. Enjoy!

Boys 18 months

Matt 18 months

Nate 18 months

Matt baseball

Nate baseball

Family 18 months

Christmas with Kids

I have always loved Christmas, and now that I have children, my holiday cheer has skyrocketed. Keith and I can’t wait to share all of the wonderful things about the holiday season with our boys.

In fact, Christmas is already in full swing in our house. We are already playing holiday tunes—the twins especially love “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman”—and I’m nearly finished with my Christmas shopping. Last weekend, Keith took advantage of his four-day weekend and hung the lights on our house. (Don’t worry, they’re not lit yet.) And we just can’t wait to pick out and decorate our Christmas tree, put up our indoor decorations, watch all of our favorite holiday cartoons with Matt and Nate, and have all sorts of other holiday fun.

As we are planning all of that, though, we’re realizing just how challenging the holidays can be when you have little ones. For one, we are worried about the fate of our soon-to-be-purchased Christmas tree. Keith and I always get a real tree (you can’t beat that smell) and load it up with ornaments we’ve amassed together through the years—several of them rather delicate. And we plop it right in the middle of our living room.

But, like all kids their age, Matt and Nate are quite curious little fellows. Even with their 9 million toys in every corner of the house, they want to touch what they’re not allowed to touch. They open every drawer and door they’re not supposed to. If I leave my purse within arm’s reach, they dig my wallet out and dump its contents on the floor.

So, what exactly will they do when there’s a big tree full of shiny, sparkling ornaments right in the middle of their house? (I am having flashbacks to when my brother and I were little and we’d manage to knock over our Christmas tree at least twice every holiday season.)

Telling them not to touch the tree will only make them want to touch it more. I suppose we can hang all the non-breakable ornaments on the lowest branches. But even then, the thought of constantly having to re-hang them is exhausting. We are considering putting the tree in a corner of the living room where it would be blocked by the sofa and love seat. But that would cover half the tree and make us unable to put presents under it, which would take away a good deal of the fun.

In an attempt to preempt some of the problems, I bought the boys this toy Christmas tree. It has 24 ornaments they can take on and off and reposition to their hearts’ content. It even has two different tree toppers and a tree skirt. I plan to leave this tree right on our coffee table ottoman in the hopes that it might deter them from touching the real tree.

Another challenge is the fact that we spend Christmas in New York. Traveling with two feisty toddlers in tow is quite a hassle, to say the least, and never a fun thing for us or our fellow passengers. But what we’re even more worried about is how we will handle the whole Santa Claus thing on future Christmases. Right now, the boys are still too young to really know what’s going on. So, we’re having Christmas morning at our house before we leave for New York, and then they’ll open Grandma and Grandpa’s presents on the real Christmas morning at my parents’ house.

But starting next year, when the boys understand the concept of Santa Claus, how will we handle Christmas morning? Christmas mornings are something they will remember forever, like I do. Growing up, nothing beat the excitement of waking up in my own bed on Christmas morning, rushing to wake up my parents, and running downstairs to find all of my presents under the tree. So I would like the boys to sometimes experience Christmas morning in their own home. That’s a challenge as a military family, though, when you typically live far from loved ones and the place you grew up in. Once we get to DC in the summer of 2014, we’re hoping some of our relatives will spend some Christmases at our house.

But what about the years we do travel to New York? Will we just tell the boys that Santa Claus knows they’ll be at Grandma and Grandpa’s and will bring their presents there? If so, how will we then get their presents home? (This year, for instance, Santa is bringing them a train table—not exactly something you can check on a plane or stash in the car.) Or, should we tell them that Santa Claus comes early to visit the kids he knows will be away on Christmas Day? That seems like it will really take away the anticipation and excitement leading up to Christmas morning.

I know these are somewhat frivolous things to worry about when there are so many far worse things happening in the world. However, some of my most cherished memories are the holiday traditions my family has created for me since I was little. They are so important to me. I want Matt and Nate to grow up with their own traditions to pass down to their kids. I want them to one day feel the same warmth I feel when they think about their own childhood Christmases.

I know that many of my military friends with older kids travel for the holidays, so I’d love to hear from you: How do you handle being away from home on Christmas morning? Where and when does Santa Claus leave presents for your children? And to all my mommy and daddy friends: How do you keep your little ones from destroying your Christmas tree?

To get you all in the holiday spirit, here are a couple of outtakes from the boys’ Christmas photo shoot. The photos were taken by Julie Pearson of Julie Pearson Photography. She is wonderful, and we highly recommend her. Enjoy!

Nate, didn’t I teach you any manners???
Matt’s ready to go sledding!
Finally, a decent family shot!

I’m Losing My Mind!

When I was growing up, my mom was always losing her keys. I’d constantly make fun of her, but she would just shoot me a look and say, “One day when you’re a mom, you’ll see!”

Well, I am now a mom. And I do see. I see quite well.

Here, in random order, are just a few of the scatterbrained and downright stupid things I’ve done in the past year while rushing around in my perpetual frenzied state:

  • Misplaced my keys, just like Mom. They’ve turned up in a variety of places, including beneath the floor mat in my car, underneath my bed, and in a pile of dirty clothes in the laundry basket. But usually, they’re buried somewhere at the bottom of my purse, where I find them days later after insisting to Keith over and over again that they are not in my purse. One time, I was about to go out and get new keys made when I found them just in the nick of time—in my purse.
  • Put things where they do not belong. “Jen, why are there Mickey Mouse Band-Aids in the pantry?” “Jen, what’s the bottle of Nyquil doing on the boys’ dresser?” “Jen, where the heck is the camera?” These are the types of questions I get asked by Keith on a near-daily basis. One time, I came home from the grocery store and put a carton of eggs in the freezer. We looked all over for it, and by the time we located it, all of the eggs were cracked. Another time, I tossed a poopy diaper into the twins’ hamper. (In my defense, the Diaper Genie is located next to the hamper.) The nasty diaper stayed buried in there for three days until I finally got a moment to wash the boys’ clothes. For those entire three days, Keith and I kept asking, “Why on Earth does it stink so badly in here?” every time we entered the boys’ room
  • Shredded a new credit card. Our credit cards were about to expire, and our new ones arrived in the mail. As I was sitting at my computer in my office, Keith handed me my card and said, “Here’s your new credit card. Make sure to sign it, and don’t forget to shred your old one!” “OK,” I replied, then promptly stuck the new card into the shredder. He looked at me blankly for a moment and asked, “What did you just do?” It took me a minute to register my error. Keith promptly got online and requested a new card for me. After  three weeks passed and it hadn’t arrived, I complained. So he called and ordered me a third card. A week later, he found an unopened envelope containing the second card in a stack of mail I’d piled in a corner on the kitchen counter. Yes—I’d put the mail where it didn’t belong. Surprise, surprise.
  • Forgotten to wear deodorant. OK, I’m not gonna lie: I did this once in a while even before I had kids.
  • Written checks incorrectly. The other day, I was writing my babysitter a check and I wrote the dollar amount next to “Pay to the order of” and her name where the dollar amount should go. I added it to my growing stack of voided checks.
  • Driven past my destination. And we’re not just talking about missing my exit or making a wrong turn, which I’ve done plenty of times. The other day, I actually drove past my house. I did a U-turn at the end of my dead-end street, then drove past my house again. Oy.
  • Nearly run out of gas. The boys had a play date a few weeks ago with their pal from Gymboree, who lives about half an hour away. On the way home, as I was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a busy road during rush hour, I just happened to look down and see that my gas tank was below empty. I was literally riding on fumes. I began to panic because I had no idea where the closest gas station was. Luckily, I came upon one a few blocks away, but apparently lots of other people were in my situation: I had to wait 15 minutes for an open pump. All of this while my hungry children cried in the backseat. Not my finest Mommy moment.

Luckily, I can see the humor in these crazy situations and I know how to laugh at myself. Moms and dads, what stupid things have you done? I’d love to hear your funny stories!

Leaving on a Jet Plane

On Friday, I’m skipping town for four days … sans twins. My cousin Kim and I are heading to Orlando to check out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. We’ll also get in some Disney time while we are there—and I’m sure some drinking time, too. We are super excited for this trip, which we had booked for last October but had to cancel because Keith ended up getting shot the weekend before.

Ironically, the only other time I’ve been away from the boys overnight is that same weekend last October when Kim and I were supposed to be in Florida. Instead, I spent two nights with Keith at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. I had taken the boys to see him the week earlier, so this was the first time we’d had any alone time since he’d deployed nearly four months earlier. We ordered in Italian food and ate it at his bedside with tubes coming out of his leg. And it actually felt like we were on a date! We missed the boys, of course, who were back in Brooklyn with my parents and Aunt Terry. But it was different then. Matt and Nate were only four months old, and I’m sure they barely noticed I was gone.

This time is going to be a bit tougher. The boys will definitely feel my absence, and I’m sure they will wonder where the heck Mommy is and when she is coming home. They will be in good hands, though. Their wonderful babysitter, Traci, is going to be with them all day on Friday and Monday while Keith is at work. And, our good friend Chi (Uncle Chi to the boys) is flying out for the weekend to help Keith on Saturday and Sunday. They have plans to take the boys to Gymboree and for a long hike. I told Keith that photos of these shenanigans are absolutely necessary.

So, I’m not worried about the boys’ safety or well-being. I just don’t want them to be freaked out about my absence and afraid that I am not coming home. And, let’s be honest—I am going to miss them something fierce. They are literally like appendages these days, following me around and climbing up my leg and giving me hugs. Being away from them will feel like a part of me is missing.

But this trip will allow me to bring back the other part of me that rarely makes an appearance these days—the carefree, laid-back Jen who can eat a meal without having to stop every two seconds to cut up food, shower without having two little faces plastered to the shower door, and have conversations about something other than the size of someone’s poop or the color of someone’s snot. It will be a much-needed break from all the chaos. And, I am so looking forward to the girl time with Kim. It’s been over a year since she and I have spent time together without the babies to chat about work and boys and life.

Heck, I am even excited for the solo plane ride. Traveling with one carry-on bag will be a breeze when I’m used to toting three large suitcases, two car seats, a double stroller, a diaper bag, and another bag stuffed with toys and board books. On the plane, I can actually listen to my iPod (John Legend and Lady Gaga, not Raffi), read magazines (rather than the boys’ favorite book, I Know My Grandma Loves Me, 8 million times), or SLEEP. (Now there’s a novel concept.) Maybe I’ll even order a glass of wine. The possibilities are endless!

This trip will be good for the Keith and the boys, too. Matt and Nate need to spend some time away from Mom, and the quality guys’ time they get with Daddy and Uncle Chi will be priceless. And when the boys are in bed, Keith and Chi can watch baseball and drink beer all night long guilt-free. It’s a win-win for everyone! I’ll be sure to check back in after my trip!

For comparison’s sake, here is a photo of us in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland on July 5. I will post a similar photo of me and Kim in front of Cinderella’s castle during this upcoming trip. I suspect I’ll look a bit less tired!

Baby, We’re Back!

When I was pregnant, many people warned me that I’d have no time to blog once the twins arrived. “Ha!” I’d think to myself. “I’ll show them! I’ll be that multitasking Supermom who will take care of my babies, freelance regularly, make home-cooked meals every night, keep up with the laundry, AND blog four times a week!”

Um … yeah. It turns out, all those people were right. Here I am, nearly seven months since my last post, and I have finally found a moment to update Double Duty Twins.

In my defense, it has been a crazy seven months. On July 4—two weeks after Matt and Nate were born—Keith deployed to Afghanistan. I spent the next month and a half in a new-mommy craze, trying to figure out how to care for these two tiny, demanding beings with the help of a steady stream of visiting relatives. (Thanks, Mom and Dad, Aunt Terry, Kim, and Pato!) I finally established a routine … and then I left Colorado.

On August 23, the babies and I boarded a plane to New York with Aunt Terry, a double stroller, two car seats, about 27 diapers, and mounds of luggage in tow. We planned to live with my parents in Brooklyn until Keith returned home about nine months later. I set to work unpacking, getting us settled in, and establishing a new routine for the boys. And things were finally getting easier. Matt and Nate started sleeping through the night shortly after we got to New York. Keith finally got Skype in his room in Afghanistan, so the boys and I began to “see” him regularly. And the babies settled into a pretty decent schedule.

Then, on October 8, my cell phone rang. It was Keith. “Don’t freak out,” he said. (Cue freak-out.) “I got shot.”

Keith got shot in his left calf. The bullet tore up his calf and hamstring and traveled all the way up to his butt, where it remains lodged. (Ouch.) Keith spent a week in the hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, then nearly a month at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. He was sent back home to Colorado on November 9 to rehab. The babies and I returned home to be with him, and here we are still. Keith is continuing to recover, but he still has quite a bit of nerve damage and a lot of pain, and there’s a part of his wound that still hasn’t closed. He will find out soon whether he’ll be cleared to return to Afghanistan with his unit for the remainder of the deployment.

What a scare we had. I am so incredibly thankful  that Keith is still here with us. I know how lucky we are, and I will never, ever take that for granted.

The babies are amazing. At seven months old, they have such unique personalities and make us laugh harder than we ever have. They seem to learn something new each day.

Matthew is our little spitfire. He may be tiny (still wearing 3-6-month clothing), but watch out—he is quite the strong little fella. Matthew will roll over and over and do an Army-style low crawl to get to a toy he wants (which is usually whichever toy Nate is playing with). He likes to bang whatever he is holding on the ground or the table so as to make the loudest noise possible. He loves to explore, touching and grabbing anything in sight. He can already stand while holding something without any assistance. And when he’s angry, he’ll let you know. Trust me, he will.

Nathaniel is our big, lovable baby who will cuddle with you all day if you let him. Already wearing 12-month clothing, he is round and dimply in all the right places. Nate is not as physical as Matt, but he is way more verbal. He loves to
“talk” — “Dadadadadada,” and “Boobooboobooboo,” and “Oooohhhhhhhh!” He laughs and squeals a lot, even at things that are decidedly not funny. He loves to splash Daddy while taking a bath and to stare at ceiling fans.

Some other things about the boys:

  • We take them to Gymboree class once a week, where they love to hear songs, work on movement, and interact with other babies.
  • They love to go on walks, which we try to do almost daily.

  • They are in full-on teething mode, drooling like crazy and chomping on anything they can get their hands on. Matt already has his two bottom center teeth. Nate should cut his first tooth very soon!

  • The boys are great eaters and enjoy all sorts of baby food—chicken, turkey, lots of fruits and vegetables, and oatmeal.

  • They are still great sleepers—10 to 11 hours a night!

And as for me, I am finally starting to get back to all of those things I wrote about in the first paragraph. I’ve started freelancing again, and even had a story based on this blog published in the December/January 2012 issue of Fit Pregnancy. I do cook most nights (although they aren’t usually gourmet meals), and I’d like to think I take pretty good care of my boys (all three of them). I can’t say I’m totally on top of the laundry—but hey, we all wear clean clothes! And, as for this blog—I’m back, baby! I plan to update it at least twice a week from here on out. Please hold me to that!

The four of us on January 12, Keith’s birthday!

The Home Stretch

Ever since our scare a few weeks ago, both of my doctors have been monitoring the twins closely. I now go for a weekly fetal non stress test (NST), which measures the babies’ movements and heart rates for about 20 minutes using three monitors strapped to my belly. The pressure on my abdomen seems to bug Matt and Nate, because they start moving like crazy as soon the monitors are strapped on, thus knocking them all over the place and making the test unnecessarily difficult. But it sure is fun to watch!

I also go for a weekly biophysical profile (BPP), which involves a lengthy ultrasound that measures the babies’ breathing, movement, muscle tone, and heart rate, as well as my amniotic fluid. My latest BPP was on Monday, May 23. I was 32 weeks and 1 day into the pregnancy.

Matt, our little guy, now weighs 3 pounds, 8 ounces! It seems he is more eager to enter the world than his brother. His head is so far down in my pelvis that the ultrasound technician could not get an accurate measurement. She had to call in the perinatologist, who proceeded to manhandle my belly and slowly guide the baby up higher so she could do her thing. (Pregnant women, don’t try this at home—you can rupture your amniotic sac if you don’t do it properly!) We also could not get a good picture of Matt’s face, since he is facing backward.

Nate, our big boy, is tipping the scales at 4 pounds, 3 ounces! He has settled in behind and above his brother, and not quite head down—which means he will definitely be born second. It also means I will almost certainly get a C-section, since Matt won’t be able to make enough room for him to make his entrance. But, we were able to get a 3D scan of his face. The only problem was, he decided to play Peek-A-Boo and hide behind his little hand. I guess he doesn’t want to reveal himself until he makes his grand entrance.

Peek-A-Boo!

The doctor said that both boys have been growing well and their biophysicals look good. He is not as concerned about Matt’s smaller stomach because it has grown substantially over the past few weeks.

However, Matt’s breathing rate is slightly fast. While the doctor is not too concerned yet, he does want to check it again in two weeks. The appointment will be on June 8. If the breathing rate is still high enough to cause alarm, I will be hospitalized and given steroid injections to stimulate growth of the boys’ lungs … and then the twins will be delivered! If the breathing is slower, they will likely wait another two weeks before delivering the babies.

So, in two weeks’ time, Keith and I may be a mommy and daddy! While that would mean he’ll deploy a bit sooner than we’d hoped, it is overshadowed by the sheer joy and excitement we feel about welcoming our little boys into the world. We are beyond excited to meet them and to become a family … so excited, in fact, that in the two days since the BPP we got the car seats inspected (and learned that Keith installed them like a champ), threw the last few necessities into our hospital bags, and put the final touches on the nursery. Stay tuned for photos!

A Visit From Auntie Christine!

Whoa! It’s been way too long since I’ve posted, but I’ve had a very busy—and very fun—few weeks. I’ll do my best to fill you in on everything in the next several blog posts.

From March 18-23, my best friend, Christine—Auntie Christine to the twins—came to Colorado for a visit. Despite my being unable to drink, hike, or do many of the other activities people like to engage in when they visit, we still managed to pack a lot of fun into her time here!

The weather was in the 70s and sunny throughout Christine’s stay. Garden of the Gods was, as always, a highlight of the trip. Keith and I were thrilled to see lots of parents pushing their babies in strollers or hiking with them in backpacks. It reassured us that we’ll be able to maintain our active lifestyle even with two little ones in tow!

Christine listening for the babies!
We can't wait to take the boys here when they are born!

We also enjoyed a DELICIOUS brunch at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, at which I think I ate more than Christine and Keith put together (but sadly had to skip the mimosa). Here I am on the resort’s patio at exactly 23 weeks pregnant:

23 weeks!

And with Daddy!

Only about 14 weeks to go!

Seven Falls was also loads of fun:

Even Flat Stanley had to show the baby bump some love!

Flat Stanley and the twins!

Auntie Christine and her nephews also enjoyed their first visits to the Olympic Training Center, the Broadmoor, and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

The night after Christine left, Keith and I took a red-eye to New York for my baby shower. It was my last plane ride until after the babies are born, which is strange for someone so used to being able to hop a flight on a moment’s notice. Guess that’s just another change I’ll have to get used to when I become a mommy. Stay tuned for photos from the baby shower weekend!