Sunday, December 27, 2009

Adam's gift from Santa

A tooth!

We were at my Uncle Bob's on Christmas Day and Adam started chewing on my Aunt Robyn's finger. She said 'I think he's got a tooth in there!' I was surprised because I had been checking every few days and didn't feel anything yet. We walked into the kitchen and grabbed a metal spoon out of the drawer and when he bit down on it, sure enough, you could hear a little 'ting'.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

First Family Christmas

It's hard to imagine that one year ago, our family was half the size, excluding pets of course.

I would have to say that so far this holiday season has been one of the best for me that I can remember in quite some time. What you see before you is a family in front of a live Christmas tree. To go a little deeper, you would discover that we had decided to forego buying a tree this year. We felt like our money needed to go toward essential living expenses. I decorated some other things around the house to be festive. And then we received a monetary gift from long-time friends in order to have a family Christmas tree this year. Quite humbling.

You can't tell from the picture but we also haven't bought any presents this year.

Some would say these would be signs of feeling empty. But it is actually quite the opposite. Shannon lost his job almost a year ago. We still have food on the table, a roof over our heads, clothes to keep us warm. The NICU roller coaster ride from the twins being born 3 months earlier was nauseating at times. Look at them now. To say we are blessed is an understatement of how I feel.

For me, I celebrate the holiday season by enjoying the decorated houses, seeing the first snowfall, sampling wonderful food, and spending time with family and friends. So far Christmas has warmed my heart.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Corn Flakes saga Part III

This just keeps cracking me up. I ventured to the grocery store today. Usually Shannon does the shopping but since I needed to restock food for the kids, I wanted to see what the selections were. Shannon copied down a list for me that he had started out of his PDA. I gathered all my things together and got ready to walk out the door and what was at the bottom of the list? Corn Flakes. Now that he is throwing out the Frosted Mini Wheats (generic, of course) he needs to replenish his stock.

I made it to WalMart, which was crazy busy with the holiday shopping, and had 2/3 of my shopping done before hitting the cereal aisle. Can I say, by the way, that there are way too many cereals to choose from? I always have a hard time making up my mind. Maybe it would be easier if I just ate one kind of cereal to eat, too. It seemed quite stocked except for one gaping hole on the bottom shelf. You guessed it - they were out of Corn Flakes!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A different pants issue

This afternoon I heard Adam waking up and went to get him out of his crib. There he was, laying face down as usual. I pulled the blanket back and what did I see this time? A fly and pockets. Silly mommy, a fly goes on the front of the pants, not the butt! Apparently I was really paying attention at the last diaper change!

The weirdness is over

Comment from Shannon tonight...

"Ya know, I bought the Frosted Mini Wheats thinking these shouldn't be too bad. They're frosted...

They're crap!"

So much for trying something different!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Historical household cereal moment

I am shocked.

I opened the cereal cabinet this morning and what did I see? Right next to the standard box of Generic Corn Flakes?

It's the running joke I have with Shannon that he eats so much Corn Flakes. When he comes home from the store with another box, I often say 'Aren't you tired of eating Corn Flakes? Don't you want something different?' He always tells me 'If I wanted something different, I would have bought something different.' Good point. Sure he throws in an occasional Corn Chex or Rice Chex, maybe even Rice Krispies if he is really pushing it. And he may enjoy a bowl of Captain Crunch, Crunch Berries, or Lucky Charms if it's in the house. I think he even tried Maple Life one time. But his staple is the Corn Flakes. Generic Corn Flakes. 'Because generic is the same as name brand - it all comes down the same conveyor belt, they just change the box.' Except for the Kroger generic, which he doesn't like.

And then this morning? There, nestled in the cabinet was Frosted Mini Wheats. Generic brand of course. 11 1/2 years we've been married and I don't think I have ever seen Frosted Mini Wheats in our cabinet. Weird. Very weird.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The freezer's empty

This picture makes me a little sad and at the same time it makes my heart beat a little faster with nervousness. This freezer used to be full to the top of frozen milk for the kids and was actually overflowing into another freezer. When the kids were still in the NICU, we had to purchase another standing freezer because we were running out of room to store both food and milk. I knew at one point that we would use the surplus of milk I had created. And we were intentional about using it before it would expire. For months we added the frozen milk to the food and cereal the kids were eating. I started my journey not knowing whether I wanted to breastfeed twins during my pregnancy, uncertain of whether it was "right" for me or if I would be up for the challenge. My whole world changed on April 2. When the nurse came in at midnight wheeling a breast pump behind her and said "We are going to give this a try." I said "Okay." Maybe I wasn't thinking clearly due to all the Mag Sulfate I was on. It probably would have been an entirely different turnout if she hadn't been so adamant. I spent hours in the nursery by myself, pumping while the kids were in the hospital - it was the best gift I had to offer them. I was blessed with abundance. Almost 9 months old and I am still nursing them. Now it's my goal to just go as long as I can. I'd love to be able to provide for them until they can have cow's milk. But knowing the freezer is empty and it's up to me...that's what makes me a little nervous. I'll keep getting rest, drinking water, and taking in extra calories. We'll ride it as long as we can.

Just hanging out

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Production date night

We had the opportunity to get away Thursday night and attend our church's annual Christmas Production. Well, the sneak peek of the final dress rehearsal anyway. Since we have been avoiding large crowds to protect the kids from illness, we've been taking a break from church (attendance of a few thousand people)...and that meant the Production, too. But then my friend gave us the idea of coming to the dress rehearsal.

Our next door neighbor came over to watch the kids. Although they could watch themselves by the time they are in bed and down for the night. She was glad she came 45 minutes early to catch them awake because when I put them to bed and then left for a few hours, it was pretty uneventful. Surprisingly, the kids traded personality places while she was here. Adam was pretty somber and didn't want to give up a smile. He was just really tired. Sara warmed up quickly and started smiling and bouncing up and down on her lap.

Even though it was just a few hours, we enjoyed getting away and seeing the program. It was really quite fabulous. A full set built to look like the front of brownstone apartments, multiple levels to stand on, families decorating the building and inside the apartments for Christmas. A family with a child even rode a surrey up the aisle and onto the stage with a Christmas tree strapped to the top. It amazes me the ideas my friend comes up with every year.

Shannon and I don't have too many opportunities to get out without the kids these days. It usually feels just a little odd to be back to the two of us. But nice to enjoy having a moment together.

Where's your pants?

Shannon knows when I go to check on the kids and he hears me laughing through the baby monitor, it's bound to be something interesting.

Yesterday afternoon Adam was making a bit of a fuss and not wanting to take a very long afternoon nap. I finally decided to give in. Sara was laying face up with her blanket on, sucking her thumb, amused by Adam's irritation. Adam was laying right next to her, face down, with his butt tucked in the air. I pulled the blanket off and that is what started my laughter. "Adam - where's your pants?" He just smiled with his thumb in his mouth. There, in a ball, at the end of the bed by his feet was a ball of clothing that he had wiggled out of.

Maybe that's partly why Sara is more mellow and less active - she's so entertained by Adam's antics that she doesn't need to come up with stuff on her own. Although last night she was all Sara at full volume. Shannon was getting her pajamas on and she was laughing so loud it was making her cough! Plus she is developing great abs with all of her lifting of the butt and wiggling it back and forth.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mollenhauer family update

Our household seems to be running fairly well lately. Busy. Daily grind. Every day is like Groundhog's Day over and over again - no holidays, no days off, no weekends, no calling in sick. But it's awesome. The kids are such a joy. I think they love a schedule as much as I do. It does flex a little and morning naps go better than afternoon. But for the most part, you can just about set your watch to them. Well, they do know when I'm not home and seem to enjoy changing things around with dad or the twinsitter. They love more and more playing together. Sara is rolling over. Every now and then you catch an audible laugh from Adam. Very seldom do they cry. They are healthy and happy. What more could we ask for?

Shannon is dedicating his time to starting a new business - Trinity Technology Advisors. He is no longer working part-time at Menards in the mornings. And since he isn't looking for employment any more, he doesn't qualify for unemployment. He continues to teach single day computer classes for Illinois Central College's Professional Development Institute when they have a need. Oddly enough, he received a phone call from a company a few weeks back requesting an interview. They had somehow gotten hold of his resume, we're not sure how, and wanted to talk to him about how he might fit with their company. They are being proactive in these economic times and are looking to hire some top notch individuals that are currently available. We don't know where this will lead. It will either confirm that he should continue to follow his dream of running his own business. Or reveal that the business was a short-term endeavor and God will provide in another way. We both love the flexible schedule and having him at home. We'll keep you posted.

As far as me, I changed jobs about a month ago and am working for our friend who owns a landscape business - Designer Concepts Landscape Architecture - as their Office Manager. Tuesdays I go to his home office from 9-3:30 and the rest of the week I work 2-3 hours during morning nap time and another hour or so in the afternoon. I have really enjoyed my time so far. We have talked about this off and on for almost a year and things finally fell into place. I look forward to providing input as the business grows and using my strengths to help make them even more successful.

A lot to manage, for sure, but we are working as a team to keep our home filled with love and running as best we can.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sara's rolling!

Finally, my baby girl has decided to start rolling over. For months, she has just enjoyed watching big brother Adam strut his stuff. I'd love to show you a video as evidence but alas, she has decided to roll in secret! I have only seen her accomplish the feat twice. All the other times, I walked away to do something and when I came back into the room, there she is on her tummy. I ask her what's going on and she just looks up at me, grinning, and then she giggles.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Photo worthy nap time

Come on, I couldn't pose the kids this well if I tried. How can I not snap photos like this?

Christmas pictures sneak peek

Once again we ventured to Sears today for a portrait session. Our last oh so fun time was at 4 months of age so 8 months/Christmas seemed to be an appropriate revisit. First let me say that shopping for coordinating boy/girl clothes was one of the greatest challenges I have faced recently. Saturday night the kids were asleep at 7:15 so I quickly headed for the mall. 8 stores and 3 hours later I wandered home, exhausted, unsure if anything I bought matched. I figured if I bought multiple options, something would work out and I would return the rest!

I must say that once we got the kids dressed with what I had settled on, I thought they looked darn cute. All would be well with the world if we could keep the spit from constant raspberries to a minimum, both kids looked at the camera at the same time, AND both kids smiled (in the same photo). I don't think the kids remembered that we had the same photographer as last time. Adam didn't care - he is excited to see anyone and started smiling right away! Sara gave him her typical 'and who are you again?' look!

So after an hour we did the best we could. Some shots turned out great. A few so so. One of Sara horrible as she hit the end of the time she was allowing us to pose her. Adam kept trying to sneak in a thumb suck - so funny. Sara would smile, then the light of the camera would flash, and her expression would turn to one of disgust. By the end, I think she refused to smile any more just so the light wouldn't flash. And both kids learned that it is extremely difficult to sit up on a slippery photo canvas as they kept sliding down into a reclined position.

Here are a few sneak peek shots of their adorable outfits...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Adam's developmental results

If you remember, we had an occupational therapist return to the house one month ago for a follow up evaluation of Adam. I thought I would share the results with you. The next step is that he will begin with Easter Seals' Regional Development Follow-up Program (RDFP) in January, which is when he is 6 months corrected age. He will go again at 12 months corrected, 18 months, 24 months, and then 36 months. Each time they will assess him and determine if there are any items that need follow up attention.

For this appointment Adam was 7 months old, 4 months corrected.

Behavioral observations - Adam was accompanied by his mother. Adam was happy and playful. He interacted well with his examiner. Adam was very vocal throughout the evaluation.

Adaptive skills (the evaluator scored him at 6 months of age) - Skills in this area include the expectable behaviors in your child's long-term development in self-care and self-regulation of body functions, such as eating, dressing, and toileting. Adam is now taking Stage 1 baby foods twice a day. He is breast and bottle fed.

Personal/social (scored at 5.5 months) - This area reflects how your child interacts with adults and children, how they express their feelings, self-concept skills, and how they are beginning to play. Adam shows a desire for social attention. He expresses displeasure and enjoyment for certain activities or situations. Adam shows awareness of his hands. Adam smiles and vocalizes in response to adult attention.

Receptive communication (scored at 5 months) - The ability to attach meaning to the speech of others. Adam turns his head toward the source of a sound outside his field of vision. He attends to someone speaking to him. Adam is soothed by a familiar adult's voice.

Expressive communications (scored at 5 months) - The ability to express thought and ideas through verbal and non-verbal means. Adam produces one or more vowel sounds. He babbles. He vocalizes to express feelings.

Gross motor (scored at 6 months) - This area examines your child's gross motor abilities, such as use of the large muscles for changing body positions, kicking, throwing, walking, running, and jumping. Adam moves an object from his hand to his mouth. He turns from his back to his tummy unassisted. Adam intentionally secures a nearby object while in a prone position. Adam sits with support for short periods of time. Adam presents with somewhat increased muscle tone.

Fine motor (scored at 5 months) - Includes hand and finger skills, as well as hand-eye coordination skills used for grasping, manipulation, and the purposeful release and placement of objects in relation to other objects. Adam holds his hands together at midline. He holds an object for one minute. Adam holds his hands in an open position when not grasping an object.

Cognitive (scored at 5 months) - Assesses child's ability to discriminate the features of objects (i.e. size, shape, color), the development of object permanence (knowing that someone or something is still there even when hidden), and the growing ability to relate objects to one another in an insightful manner. Adam follows a visual and auditory stimulus. He shows anticipatory excitement. He visually explores the environment.

In every area the therapist scored Adam 1-2 months above his corrected age. We couldn't be more proud of our little man!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Happy 8 months, kids

Can you believe the twins are 8 months old today? Crazy. I would never have guessed when I saw my 2 1/2 lb babies lifted across the delivery room to a warming table that now they would be giggling and laughing and rolling over and trying to crawl and standing and sucking each other's thumbs and blowing raspberries and eating food and developing personalities and sleeping through the night and....I will never forget seeing them the first time and saying "They're so tiny." I was just reading on a blog tonight about another set of twins that were born at 28 weeks. Their boys were a full pound less than Adam and Sara, were in the NICU over 100 days, and have undergone 5 surgeries. Once of the boys has Spina Bifida. I feel for that family. But at the same time, I have to say it makes me realize just how truly, truly blessed we are. God is good.

Current weights today:
Adam -- 15lb 3oz
Sara -- 14lb 11oz

A couple pictures from our photo shoot today. We have an appointment at Sears for Monday - maybe we can grab some with both of them smiling at the same time AND both looking at the camera!

My sweet Sara...for those of you that know us, Sara is currently like a mini-me with her personality. She is pretty somber when meeting new people. But when you give her a chance to warm up, you can hear her giggle and get to see this adorable smile!

My boy. Definitely a little Shannon - he smiles at anyone who walks in the room and is very social. Lately I have been calling Adam my little monkey. When I pick him up, he giggles at me, folds his torso in half, and tries to climb me. I remember the day the doctor told me he had a grade 3 bleed on the left side of his brain. He sure doesn't show any signs of holding back!

It's getting harder to keep him still for a photo!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Raspberries, raspberries, and more raspberries

All day long. One after another. Spit spraying in the air like a fountain, as it glistens in the sunshine streaming through the window. Does she tire? No way! I'm not sure why Sara woke up this morning with blowing raspberries on her mind. But she decided it was going to be her main focus today.

Yesterday she introduced us to the Sara Sway...a cute little dance that cracks us up every time we see it. As she is laying on her back, she plants her feet on the ground and bends her knees in the air. Then she lifts her butt up and sways her hips back and forth. And then she laughs right along with us.

Two monkeys in a crib

Surely it's not nap time. This is what the kids do when I walk out of the room! Notice Sara, the instigator, until she sees the camera pointing at her. And Adam...anything close to his mouth...