Friday, October 29, 2010

Cold season already?

Lots of sickness is going around in the area so I guess it was inevitable we would take a turn at some point. I was hoping we would put it off a little longer or miss out completely because we avoid a lot of high traffic germ areas. Adam woke up with a bit of a runny nose yesterday but he had a very low fever and kept putting his hands in his mouth so I thought he might have been cutting another tooth. But the more than usual white color of his face last night and droopiness of his eyes made me think otherwise. It was confirmed this morning with his runny nose and sneezing. Sara seems like she isn't far behind. Hopefully it won't last 5 weeks like last spring!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rockin' monkeys

It's fun to see how much they love playing together!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Updated family photo

Two kids holding still, looking toward the camera, mom and dad smiling...whew!


We tried out our new crayons and coloring pad recently. They really loved it. Sara loved it so well she tried to eat it. Adam loved it so well he colored his shirt and the carpet. We'll bring it back out when I have an area set up and some coloring smocks for them to wear.

She looks like such a little girl laying on her tummy to color!

Ackerman Farms

A few weeks ago we met other families from our twin group at Ackerman Farms in Morton. I never knew the place existed before. It is a small family farm that has been passed down through the generations for over 100 years.

Our day started with a fun time of the owner explaining all the different types of pumpkins and gourds and what they are best used for. Obviously our kids were a little young for this but it will be a neat experience for them when they are older. For now, they enjoyed wandering the grounds and smacking all the different sized pumpkins.

We then loaded up his double trailer and he took us on a hay rack ride through his apple orchard and pumpkin patch. A few years ago strong winds came through and within 10 minutes, 500 trees were damaged. They are still recovering. As far as pumpkins, they pick over 500,000 alot of which go to the local Libby pumpkin plant.

Last, we walked through the family grounds to see their animals. Chickens, roosters, peacocks, goats, bunnies, pigs, and a few others. This was fun because we had been working on animal noises. So every time we went to a new cage, they would practice making another sound. At the end, we got a nice grab bag that included a mini pumpkin they have been carrying around when we play outside and a nice coloring book. They enjoyed lunch in their stroller before heading home, at which point a very friendly kitty decided to join them!

That was all fine and dandy until the kitty tried to jump down! Look closely...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Trunk or Treat

Yesterday after the Small Wonders Walk, Shannon and I worked on decorating the trunk of our car for the annual Trunk or Treat festivities organized by the Peoria Mothers of Twins. We met in the parking lot of a local city park and trick or treated from vehicle to vehicle, trunk to trunk. It was a great idea for our first-time trick or treaters.

Since Sara was going to be a tiger and Adam was a lion, I had the idea about a month ago to decorate our trunk like a safari zoo. Here it was the afternoon of the event and we were putting it together at the last minute. But it couldn't have gone more perfect! I wanted to put down a tarp and have lawn clippings to look like grass. It rained most the morning so I was disappointed that my plan wouldn't work out. Instead, a better plan formed. I looked around the yard and saw some tree branches that needed trimmed and tall perennial grasses that could be cut down in time for winter. I put bundles of them together with zip ties to look like trees and clumps of grass. Then I laid the rest down like a field. Shannon was even nice enough to lug a heavy rock from the back yard so the lion could sit on it. Don't you always see a lion up on a rock when you go to the zoo? I enlisted the help of my friend's niece for more stuffed animals. Shannon made bars out of dowel rods to cover the front and spray painted them to look like a metal cage.

The group voted and awarded us 2nd place! The winning car had a pirate theme with a pirate sitting in a rocking chair and a treasure chest. Because their decorations were more Halloween focused, apparently it gave them the edge.

We were certainly a hit with all the kids, though. This little girl just had to have her picture taken with our car because it matched her safari costume so well! Sara wanted her monkey.

There were about 100 kids there, consisting of 25-30 families.

These 3 little bees were very cute. Other memorable costumes were a lamb and a duck, Mario and Luigi, superman and superwoman (including the mom who was also dressed as superwoman), a pair of monkeys, a couple pigs, some princesses, and a couple crayons who also had their stroller decorated like a crayon box. One of the girls was okay with her hood being up (purple) to show the point of the crayon and the other wasn't (yellow). It made me laugh when the dad said 'that's okay, there's a broken crayon in every box!'

Adam and Sara loved walking to each car, picking out a treat, and putting it in their pumpkin. Some cars they visited twice.

Even though we had practiced putting on their costumes 3 or 4 times, Adam was still totally annoyed by it. As much as Sara loved having her tiger costume on and like the hood up, Adam felt the opposite about his mane. He was okay with the outfit in general but not with the hood up. This is about the best shot I could get quickly before he got mad.

Here's Sara loving her tiger. She waves at just about everything lately!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Celebrating our small wonders

We enjoyed our Small Wonders Walk this morning supporting the Children's Hospital of Illinois Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. First on the agenda was donning our t-shirts/dresses.

Because of the rain, all festivities were inside. The local Christian radio station had great music playing that the kids danced to. Then we headed over to the tumbling area so they could play.

Sara loved the slide.

After playing for a bit, we met up with some old friends! Miss Madelon was Adam and Sara's NICU roommate for quite a while. I know they had some sleepless nights studying for the car seat test. The doctor's have also classified Madelon as a rock star with no lingering effects from her brain bleed, so she is near and dear to our hearts.

Then we were a little hungry and had to stop for a snack. Shannon found it challenging to find Sara's mouth with the snickerdoodle cookie. Simultaneously, Sara found it challenging to eat the cookie when Shannon kept moving it to find her mouth!

Then it was back to more playing. Adam enjoyed playing peek with Shannon from behind the play mat.

They also had the best face painting I have ever seen. Something to enjoy next year when the kids won't just wipe it off. And they had really great balloon animals but weren't allowing children under 3 to have any due to the choking hazard. We took a very large group photo and chatted with the doctor assigned to us for the first month we were in the NICU. Even with all the children that go through the doors, Dr. Makwon still remembered us. We got a free 8x10 family photo. Adam tried to go in the bounceroo but there were some older kids being a little crazy. So instead he decided to hijack their balloon animals and shoes! Shhhh...

The walk portion consisted of 550 people making a giant loop in the complex until we couldn't move any further and we called it a success! It was a shame we couldn't walk outside but I was thankful we didn't get wet. Early counts reveal that dollars from pledges and the silent auction total more than $27,000. All proceeds will support the NICU directly through equipment purchases and supporting families.

To those of you who donated to "Project Little Mo", we are thankful for your support of our small wonders!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sara's mood

Over the past week, Sara has been showing a little more of her...what do we want to call it? Spunk. Attitude. Crabiness. Defiance. Temper. Will. Drama queen skills. Any of those might be about right. She is forming a new ability to turn a mood on and off. Frustrated by something? Throw yourself on the floor, scream, and push out big tears from your eyes. Mom has a snack? Oh, mom, can I have a bite of that? And it all stops immediately. Wow, that's a neat trick! Something in front of her that she doesn't want to eat? Throw it on the floor. Most of the time I just wait for her to get over it or realize she is there by herself and Adam and I are waiting for her to get up and walk outside with us to play.

This particular morning she didn't want oatmeal. I think it was more that she was really hungry and would have liked the oatmeal but she couldn't get the spoon to work fast enough. She ate it with her fingers, then smeared it in her hair and threw the plate on the floor. I give her points for recovering nicely for the photo shot, though! Don't be fooled by the blue eyes - she can work it!

Animal noises

We have been practicing!

The funniest one is the piggy noise. Somehow both of my kids have learned how to make a piggy noise in their throat. Some of my family can do it and some can't. I'm not sure how you even teach that skill. Shannon has to revert to a common "oink" and the kids just look at him like "dad, that's not the sound a piggy makes!"

Fall twin sale purchases

Got some great finds at the fall twin sale a few months back. Clothes to get us by in the fall, some summer pajamas for next year, their halloween costumes for this year, Christmas picture outfits, and a little toy xylophone that they really like. My most exciting purchases? Great blow up sleds that of course we had to try out.

I did buy 2 but they can both fit in 1 right now. It was challenging getting a good photo. At first, Sara just wanted to sit in it and was all happy. Adam, of course, found the "string" on the front and kept walking back and forth, putting it over his head, try to pull Sara, etc. Then they both thought they should jump on it.

My second purchase(s) that I was very excited about? SHOES! The brown pair of high tennis shoes for Adam right now - he had nothing but a pair of sandals that fit. The blue and pink snow boots that may be slightly big but they should work for this year. The gray tennis shoes for Adam next year. The blue and pink sandals for next summer. The dark brown shoes for Sara should fit between now and Spring for a dressier pair. The light brown dressy pair probably starting early summer next year for Sara. That's 8 pair of shoes for $23...about the price of 1 pair new!

I almost forgot about the little bubble mower that I bought for Adam. It could be either child but Adam laid claim on it the next morning as soon as he saw it. Any time Sara tries to push it, he runs right over and puts himself in front of the handle to take it back. We haven't loaded any bubbles in it because I don't want the mess when playing with it in the house. Maybe next summer, though.

And I bought a bike trailer that both kids can sit in. They seem to have really enjoyed the short distances we have gone so far. Shannon won a mountain bike a few years back. I think it will be on my gift list to get one for myself for next year.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

America's Funniest Videos airing

Word is in...just when I thought Adam's pie video would be posted on ABC's internet site only, I just got a call from California!

Adam is going to be on TV this Sunday, October 24 on America's Funniest Videos on ABC. Check your local listings for the time in your area.

He is about 7 months old and my cousin, Emily, is holding him. He is mesmerized by a pie display carousel going round and round...and tops it off with a nice line of drool at the end!

So watch it live, set your VCR, set your TiVO, set your DVR, pick your pleasure...but don't miss Adam's TV debut!

Reminder:Small Wonders Miracle Walk

Just a reminder that we will be participating in the Children's Hospital of Illinois NICU Small Wonders Walk this coming Saturday, October 23. Shannon and I are looking forward to joining other NICU graduate parents in supporting the organization that made such a difference in the health of our twins.

If you feel passionate about it, we would love your financial partnership--no gift is too small! Last year they raised over $22,000 that went directly to support the NICU. Will you consider helping us surpass last year's amount?

Copy the website address below into your internet browser to see information about the event Scroll down the page about halfway to where it says Please click here for the registration form for the 2010 NICU Small Wonders Miracle Walk... and click there. This gets you to the printable registration form and you can mark the box that you are a "virtual walker". This means you will be walking in spirit and donating a monetary gift. Virtual walkers are welcome to mail the registration form and method of payment to the address listed on the form. Please note "Team Project Little Mo" on the form. A second option would be that you can mail or drop off your amount to myself or Shannon and we will take it with us the day of the event.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Why didn't you say you were hungry?

After 2 months of the kids going to bed at 7:30pm without a peep and waking at 8:30am, we had a blip last night. Well, even the past few mornings Sara has gotten up an hour early. But last night, 30 minutes after we put them to bed, Sara was crying.

I gave her some Tylenol thinking the new tooth about to pop through hurt and put her back to bed. She started flinging herself around the crib in a tantrum. Any time I would try to talk to her, she would throw her body down and hit her head on the crib. Obviously Adam is awake and upset by now.

So I got both of them out of bed and we went in the living room to read a couple more books. They had long nap time during the day so I thought maybe they weren't quite ready for bed yet. We talked about all the animals who were ready for ni-nite time and now it was Adam and Sara's turn. They just shuffled around in their sleep sacks, not quite convinced. I put them back in bed. Adam laid right down. Sara wouldn't have it.

I laid on the floor next to her trying to talk to her. What did she do? Threw her bunny stuffed animal out of the crib at me!

We tried rocking. Adam didn't like that at all--someone other than him was getting mama time but he calmed down. Sara finally relaxed and put her thumb in her mouth. When she seemed sleepy, I laid her back down, turned down the light, and walked out.

Another tantrum. By now it's 9:00.

As Shannon made the comment out loud, I thought it myself--maybe she's hungry. I picked her up and we went in the kitchen. She took a little sip of water but didn't have much interest. I opened the cupboard and her eyes lit up. I unwrapped an apple nutrigrain bar and she about bit my finger off trying to take a bite. She didn't even have that bite fully chewed and wanted another. Sara inhaled that snack and moved on to a bowl of yogurt. She was so crazy trying to take a bite it kept getting all over her lips and she would try to push it back in. I was using the spoon to clean up the extra and she would move her head trying to lick the spoon.

The past few days she has been eating more at mealtimes than Adam. Cleaning her entire plate and then picking up the remaining little crumbs on her tray.

Can you say growth spurt?

18 month pediatrician update

I was scrambling yesterday when my usual pediatrician appointment partner had to cancel. 2 requests had other commitments. Another didn't get the message. Just when I had convinced myself that I could manage the chaos of getting them both undressed, measured, and weighed while the nurses waited patiently, I made one last phone call this morning that worked out like a charm. After two nurses tag-teamed me, I was so grateful I wasn't by myself - thanks Dan!

We keep saying how big the kids are getting and Dr. Neese confirmed that - they are growing like weeds! It has been 15 weeks since their last appointment and here's the break down.

Sara - 22lb 11oz. 26th percentile on the regular growth chart / 80% on the preemie chart
32" tall 62% compared to toddlers her age / 95% compared to 15 mo corrected age

That's a 2lb 3oz gain since the last visit and 2 1/2" of growth. She has grown 4" since April. Holy cow!

Adam - 22lb 6oz. 9% on the regular chart / 75% on the preemie chart
32" tall 42% compared to other 18 mo boys / 85% compared to corrected age

That's a 1lb 14oz gain for Adam and 2" of growth. He has grown 3 1/2" since April. Sara finally pushed ahead in the weight category again. No wonder he looks tall and skinny!

We talked about his opinions about the dentist and the winter flu season coming up. We also discussed their shot schedule and flu/whooping cough immunizations for Shannon and I. No complaints at all about their sleep schedule--in fact, he wished he could sleep that well! The last thing he expressed was that this was a time kids start to kick, bite, and hit because they are frustrated and can't tell you yet. The only discipline to really enforce right now are those acts of aggression (and obviously any safety issues.) Everything else is a curious learning stage.

Amazing we get 6 months off before going back for their 2 year appointment. Much different than when we had to go every few days or every week! A nice aspect of "graduating".

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Physical therapy

Adam has had 2 physical therapy visits since I wrote about it last. Sheri came to the house about 2 months ago. It's so funny that when Shannon and I look at him, we say 'his walking has improved.' When a trained eye looks at him, she says his legs are rotating properly and he is rolling his ankles in a walking motion, he is slightly pigeon-toed but nothing to be concerned about, his toes are curling and grasping the floor as they should be, he has good balance, etc. Our goal after that visit was to get the kids outside more and walking in the grass and other uneven surfaces. That would help improve their balance and coordination. She also said take them to WalMart more often and let them navigate around clothing displays and other people but we have found other ways to practice that without wearing ourselves out at WalMart.

The kids love to be outside and I am thankful for the nicer weather we have had lately. It's probably about it for the year before winter hits, and then we'll have to dig out snow boots and they can really test their coordination!

Sheri gave us about a 5 week break and visited again almost 2 weeks ago. She chased Adam all over the living room to test his balance, speed, stopping, starting, changing directions, etc. They were laughing and giggling together--certainly different than when she first saw him and he would cry. We went up and down the stairs to see how they were doing with walking up the stairs instead of crawling. And she tested them on some more advanced skills--kicking a ball and jumping. Both the kids just moved their body in a jumping motion but their feet didn't leave the ground, which is perfect for their age because jumping is a 24 month skill. I think the funniest thing was when she was throwing a stuffed animal bunny at Adam to see if he would catch it. It would hit him in the tummy and fall to the ground. He would just look down at it and giggle. The second time the same thing happened. He just looked down and giggled. The third time the bunny fell to the ground but he put his hands out to catch it in a delayed response. That was what she was wanting to see. After more practice, he was actually able to catch it.

One of the best things about having Sheri still visit from time to time is that she gives us the next stage of things we can teach the kids. Her goal is that when the kids turn 2 and lose their 3 month prematurity correction in the eyes of doctors and developmental assessments, they will transition right in to their actual age and have no delay at all. I so appreciate her helping us with this. So our new list of things to work on is hand in hand assistance on the stairs, jumping, a small wooden puzzle with 2-3 pieces, stacking blocks, catching/throwing/kicking a ball, and scribbling with crayons.

At this point Sheri has no concerns with Adam at all. She is going to check with our Early Intervention Coordinator to see when they start assessing speech to make sure he isn't behind with that. At this age they usually don't count how many words a child can say, but instead like to hear a variety of consonant sounds being made. She plans to come back in early December to score him formally again and we'll go from there. The next Easter Seals visit is in February.

That's the news on my superstar!