Thursday, March 31, 2011

Not Sure Where This Curve Will Lead Us

My history as a worry wart is firmly established. Need a reminder? Read here.

Obviously, I have been known to worry about problems that never materialized, so this week when I began getting apprehensive, it appeared I had just moved on to a new fear.

On Monday, I took Drew to the pediatrician for what I thought was the beginning of a new ear infection. I was right. Antibiotics, round two. Score one for mommy intuition.

Then, I asked the doctor (not our regular pediatrician, I might add) to look at my newest (old) worry--Drew’s back. While he’s been hitting all his milestones, he often sits with a terrible slouch. Most of the time he leans to one side, and most disturbing, there appears to be a bulging muscle on his left side. None of this, mind you, is so pronounced that you notice on first glance. Most of the time, the boy is moving so fast and pulling up on so many things, you can’t get a good look at him, period.

But, I am his mom. I examine every inch of him. I know him—every scratch, every dimple, every crook and cranny.

Quite honestly, I have always felt Drew, our “little” breech Baby B who lived with his head in my ribs, felt a little funny. Out of 16.5 pounds of baby, his 7.9 lbs was relegated to the cramped upper right parcel of uterine real estate. As a result, he came out a little bruised and bent.

But every time I brought up concerns about his neck or his back, I was told it would get better with time and increasing strength. So we endured more tummy time and engaged in more Drew-cise. Then he started sitting up, crawling, and pulling up. Stop worrying. What could really be wrong with such an active little boy?

Back to the appointment—the doctor stands him up, bends him over, runs her hand down his spine, and in the most un-reassuring way, says it’s hard to tell if his spine is straight or not. Only an x-ray would confirm a curvature, which she didn’t recommend, and if it were scoliosis, which would be rare, they wouldn’t do anything at this point. The bulge? Maybe a muscle. It feels like a muscle. But, “It’s definitely something we want to watch and check again at 12 months.”

Have a nice day.

So, I did what any concerned mother might do. I turned to Dr. Google, and by Tuesday, I was in a complete panic. Infantile scoliosis is rare, and often, very aggressive. Early treatment is crucial in progressive cases. Sometimes, more ominous causes, such as congenital abnormalities and tumors, can cause scoliosis. Scoliosis might mean years of bracing, casts, and painful, dangerous surgeries. Would he ever play sports? How would he play at the beach in a plaster cast? Would kids pick on him? Worse yet, was something malignant causing the lump? My mind (and internet browsing) took me to the darkest, most unimaginable places.

I had to know what was wrong with Drew, and three months was not acceptable.

I would fly to the moon and back. I would sell my body parts. As long as it would help my son, it was a viable option.

What were my options? Wait it out? Call the pediatrician back? Seek out alternative, holistic treatment? Fly him to a world-renowned specialist? Lock myself in a closet and ignore the problem? In times such as these, everyone either has an opinion, or more frustratingly, they don’t have one at all. What I learned is that ultimately, I am his mother, and I sometimes I just have to make the call.

So I called a spine specialist--the best I could find in the area.

He could see us the next day, but first he needed an x-ray of Drew’s spine.
Suddenly, a crooked spine wasn’t my only fear.

Now I worried about the dangers of unnecessary radiation if I was subjecting my son to an x-ray only to satisfy my possibly irrational fears. What if he had this x-ray, and it showed a perfectly straight spine and a perfectly insane mommy?

After prayerful consideration and counsel from wise friends, we decided to go ahead with the x-ray.

Curve confirmed.

Score another one for mother’s intuition. But, at this point, is it really about the score?

Upon a tearful meeting with the doctor, we learned a little more about the curves that may lie ahead for us.

First, the good news is “Drew appears to be neurologically intact.”

He does have early onset scoliosis, but no evidence of congenital changes to bone.

His curve, standing assisted, is 37 degrees, which makes it a “mild-moderate” case, but the doctor says, while there are no guarantees, Drew is quite flexible, and that with time, the curve may improve.

According to the doctor, in the absence of associated disease or pathology, only a very small percentage progress to the point of bracing. I quote, “This is good news as Drew does not appear to have any other pathology associated with the curve.”
Of the small percentage that do progress, bracing would be the next step, and of that even smaller percentage that continue to progress, surgery is an option. Given the advances in modern medicine, scoliosis treatment has come a long way from the days of Judy Bloom’s Deenie and the likes of Forrest Gump-style braces. (Yes, these images have plagued my dreams this week).

The doctor assured me that I had done the absolute best thing for Drew by making the appointment, having the x-ray, and establishing a baseline, objective assessment and diagnosis of the problem.

He wants to see us back in six months for another evaluation where we will hopefully see that the curve has not progressed.

I am sure we have all played the “Would You Rather” game. Like, “Would you rather be poor and good looking or rich and ugly?” or “Would you rather lose your sense of smell or sense of taste?” It’s sort of like that when people say, “Well, it could be worse. At least it’s not__.” In some ways, I know they are right. Scoliosis is not the worst possible thing in the world. Plenty of parents would take that “rather.” But when it comes to my babies, I don’t want to play the “Would You Rather” game at all. I want them to be as perfect as they can be. When you love someone so much that it physically hurts, how can you imagine anything less for them than perfect?

I am still processing all this news. I am continuing to pray and seek wise counsel. I ask all of you who may read this post or hear about our situation to keep us in your thoughts and prayers. I am praying for complete healing. I am praying for wisdom for the doctors. I am praying for discernment as we make decisions about second opinions and other treatment options. I pray for my emotional well-being as I need to be in a grounded place not only for Drew but for Emily, Marty, and even myself. I am praying for what I know and what I don’t know.

I realize “having a child is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” With all that I am, I pray for the piece of my heart named Andrew Elliott.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My first ME! Challenge

My ME! time started this morning with the sleep I "purchased" from my more-than-willing-to-deal husband. We opened the bidding at $20, and I think I finally offered him $50 if he’d take care of morning baby duty and let me sleep in. Yes, a full night’s is worth that much around here. He obliged (and still hasn’t asked me to pay up), and I slept in until 9 glorious o’clock.

A hot, strong pot of coffee later, we struck another deal. Marty would take the babies out with him for lunch and errands while I cleaned the house.

I know what you’re thinking…sounds like I didn’t do too well on this deal. Bear with me while I try to explain why cleaning time—alone—can make for some pretty sweet ME! time.

Before babies, even before I met Marty, Saturday mornings were for cleaning. I would crank the music up, and get busy cleaning, singing, and dancing my way to a spotless house. By lunch, I could sit back and revel in the smell of clean.

With twins, Saturday cleanings have become “Any day I can squeeze in the time” cleanings. Sometimes it is “I feel guilty because I am not playing with the babies” cleaning. Then there’s “Stop, don’t lick the mop” or “Oh, no. I just wiped that down” cleaning.

Today, it was just “ME” cleaning.

I punched in a random number that I knew would put me somewhere in the music channel range, and fortuitously, I landed on the classic country channel, with Don Williams’ crooning, “Living on Tulsa Time.”

Au contraire, Don. I am not living on Tulsa Time or Baby Time. Right now, I am living on Melissa Time.

With reckless abandon, I cleaned like a woman who knew she only had a couple of hours before the babies and husband returned.

I mopped the spit-up spotted hardwood floors. I dusted and picked up the baskets that some mischievous babies pushed behind the entertainment center. I erased fingerprint smudges, but not baby teeth marks, off end tables. I vacuumed without a baby hanging on the cord and stood back admiring the lines in the carpet. I put toys in baskets, clothes in drawers, and worries in perspective.

All by myself, except for the likes of Waylon, Willie, and Reba, I cleaned for two Strait, and I mean, straight hours.

I made a mental note to download a few new, old tunes I had forgotten how much I love: “Jose Cuervo, You Are a Friend of Mine,” “I Love a Rainy Night,” and “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On.”

I topped off the perfect Saturday morning clean-athon with the kind of shower you can only enjoy after working hard and staying in your pajamas too long. It was also the kind of shower where I had the time to shave my legs without rushing and ending up with nicked ankles and knees. But since this morning was about ME, I decided I didn’t want to shave after all.

So I didn’t.


Special thanks to Dolli-Mama at Life Not Finished for the much-needed, much-appreciated challenge!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Best job in the world

Birthday List #22

Today I had a bad day at work.
I was belittled, unappreciated, and minimized.

This afternoon I napped with Drew on the couch before dinner.
I was loved, appreciated, and essential.

Being a MaMe=best job in the world

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Random Slices of Tuesday

I knew it was going to be a good Tuesday when I heard Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" on the way to work this morning. Who doesn't love this line?

We've got to hold on ready or not
You live for the fight when it's all that you've got

or this one...

Take my hand and we'll make it, I swear (oh, oh)
Livin' on a prayer

I took hearing this song as a good omen even though I was headed to an ALL DAY meeting for work that I always *DREAD.*

Unfortunately, the parking gods downtown had no idea that I was destined to have a good day because when I arrived (already running slightly late, of course), the parking pay lot was full. After several trips around the block, I resigned myself to the fact I was going to have to hike **several** blocks.

It was a beautiful morning, not too hot yet. A nice breeze was blowing. I still had a little coffee left. I was already going to be late. Why not soak in the beauty and the moment and enjoy the walk rather than grumble about the distance?

I hummed to myself. Listened to the birds. Enjoyed the flowers. Waved to strangers who passed.

I stayed present in the moment for all of about 3 minutes.

Then, it happened.

For some reason, I decided I must hurry. I crossed against the light, almost got run over by a truck, and scuffed my heels on the pavement as I twisted my ankle. And, I was slightly perspiring.

And that's how easy it is to not live in the present.

How did I apply this random piece of deep wisdom about living deliberately and appreciating the beauty in the ordinary?

I'd like to say I did something profound, but I am not sure jay-walking across the next street I had to cross counts.

Babies trump Bon Jovi when it comes to making me smile, and I was thrilled to get these cute pics via text from Julie today while I was in my meeting. While Mommy was bringing home the bacon, Drew was chowing down on squash and zucchini.

I love this picture of Emily--so happy! Look at those teeth and all that hair. She's getting so big!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Project Simplify: Take 1

From my birthday list:
# 28 Cut clutter.

As a pregnant woman, I remember engaging in extreme nesting. I started preparing the nest early and often. At one point, towards the end, I remember sitting on the kitchen floor organizing the pots and pans and yelling for Marty to come hoist me off the floor. Then there was the day I cleaned the shower doors with a toothbrush from my orthopedic shower stool. I remember cleaning closets, junk drawers, mini blinds, base boards. I even supervised Marty and Kelly putting out new mulch in the flower beds in late May. Did I think the babies would notice?

Ahhh…those were the days.

Looking back, though, I am glad I cleaned that thoroughly when I had time, and the time I put into the cleaning and organizing then has paid off over the past nine months. Having things (somewhat) organized has really saved (some) of my sanity.
But clutter has a way of sneaking up on you, especially when you don’t stay on top of it. Especially when you don’t have crazy pregnancy hormones fueling a frenzied cleaning spree. Especially when you can’t remember the last time you had a full night’s sleep. Especially when you have two babies.

When we were getting the house ready to put on the market, I realized how *bad* our closet had become. Seriously, I should have taken a “before” picture. The rods were bowing in the middle. Shoes were everywhere. Luggage half-zipped, hanging out. Don’t get me started on the shoes with dust on them because they had not been worn in so long.


What happened to #28 on my birthday list—cut clutter? I guess it was conflicting with #1—be the best mommy I can be. Or was it the other way around?

To get things picture-ready, I moved things around, hung everything up on like hangers, put suitcases away--although it was tempting to pack one and run away for the mess.

Around this same time, I stumbled on a site called Simple Mom that was running a 5 week challenge called Project: Simplify. Each week they reveal a different “Hot Spot” to tackle. The first week was the master closet and wardrobe. I took this find as a sign. It was time to start tossing.

Like a classic episode of What Not to Wear minus Stacy and Clinton and the three way mirror, I started tossing. While Emily jammed out to “Take a Trip Around the Sea,” I explained to her why a sale is not always a reason to buy and how sometimes you can have too many shoes. I also explained how I was going to keep the flapper dress from many Halloweens ago because some things are just too cool to get rid of.

But we did get rid of quite a few other less cool things.

Among the things I tossed:

Overstretched yoga pants from pregnancy that were never worn to a yoga class

10+ t-shirts with various logos, random organizations, and schools

4 bikinis that don’t cover the parts of my body that should never be shown in public again

2 bathrobes (I had 4).

4 pairs of tennis shoes (and I don’t run)

A denim winter coat with faux wool around collar and sleeves. WTH?

Pants that are too big or too small or too short

Shirts that haven't been worn (or moved) since we moved in here 2.5 years ago

A "club" shirt that can't be recycled into something more appropriate without copious amounts of alcohol and a loud, thumping beat

Print dresses that are, well, just out-of-date

3 purses

Short shorts

Black shirts that look more like dark, dark grey

Sweaters that are over-stretched, over-washed, or under-worn

Pajamas that don’t make me feel like a hot mama (note to self- must buy new pajamas)

Clothes I wore in those days right after delivery when I looked as big as most women do at 5 months

I would love to report that the job is complete, but honestly, five bags later, I have only made it through my side of the closet and my chest of drawers. Marty still needs to tackle his side, and I have at least three huge totes that have clothes from my various sizes. My goal is to get rid of anything I don’t wear (or shouldn’t wear) and to only keep things that fit at my goal weight.

I am also trying really hard to live by #23 on my birthday list: Buy only items I love. Hopefully, controlling my shopping will control the clutter.

And, I believe in some small way, being more organized, more centered, more efficient, more confident, can only help me be a better MaMe.





Friday, March 18, 2011

Looking Out, Looking In...Week in Review

We made it. Last minute house showing, Ides of March, work meltdowns, doctor appointments, Kindermusik classes, Canes' games without baby slings, and an almost-call to poison control or baby falling downstairs. In spite of it all. We made it. We didn't drop the box. Bruised and slightly fussy, but alive, we're ready for the 70+ degree Saturday that is waiting for us tomorrow. Here's a look back at a week we're happy to have made it out of so we can look back in--with thankfulness and relief.

Sunday--Started with a last-minute house showing that sent us rushing back to the house to hide the evidence of our existence, including boxing 3 cats in a cardboard box until we could get to PetSmart to buy a crate. One of said cats gets loose on the way. Picture petrified cat peering up from the back seat of the Highlander. My thought--is he going to pee or pounce?

We all needed to decompress at the park later. For Marty, that meant taking the babies off-roading in the jogging stroller. Their first (st)roller coaster.

Monday we treated ourselves to dinner at our favorite local Mexican restaurant. Before we could chow on some fajitas, we had to do the perfunctory sock check. Yep, each managed to chew one off.

Emily decided to climb me, hang on to the top of the booth, and "talk" to the people on the other side. Really, this girl has some arm strength--doing pull ups on the booth?

Tuesday was our big 9 month well check. For posterity's sake, here are their stats:

Emily: 19lbs, 9.5 oz and 27.25 inches. Her head still tops the charts at 95%, while her height is in the 35% and weight has fallen way back to 65%.

Drew: 18lbs, 13.5oz, 27.5 inches. His head is still his biggest part, too, and is in the 60%. His length and weight are in the 25% and 20%.

Their ears are clear...YAY! And, we were reminded that now is a good time to start experimenting more with their food choices, their sippy cup...It's time for me to stop treating them like little bitty babies. BOO.

Wednesday was our first Kindermusik class. We are supposed to work on 5 signs this week before our next class. I decided to kept it positive, avoid STOP and NO for now, and work on EAT, PLEASE, MORE, THANK YOU, and BALL. Of course, we'll continue the battle of the MOMMY and DADDY signs. *I will win.*

We found our pot of gold on Thursday when we unexpectedly found ourselves the recipients of 8 hours of sleep. It's been so bad lately that we don't even set the alarm clock. We have two of them named Drew and Em. Well, Thursday I woke up to bright sunlight and a clock reading 7:45. Yes, I threw on the green sweater and headed to work--late. Thanks, baby leprauchans.Even Emily looked surprised.

We also hit gold on Thursday when we finally decided on the babies' 1st birthday party theme. Since their cousins all have birthdays around the same time (one the day before), we've decided to combine efforts to throw a "day at the beach" to celebrate the "wave of birthdays." We may not have the real beach, but picture water slide for bigger kids, kiddie pools for babies, bubble wands, sand buckets, ice cream truck...Oh, it's going to be big. Here are three of the amigos. Tanner's at school and a bit big for the crib shot.

Friday brought the end of the week, and with renewed confidence and energy, we decided to take both babies to the Canes' game. After several almost-failed attempts with the sling, I decided to go with just mommy arms. The guns were smoking, especially when I had to hike back up the stairs as soon as we made it to our seats, because, um, Emily decided to take care of business right as the puck dropped. While normally an overtime win would be a reason to cheer, it was just another reason to keep us there 15 minutes LONGER. So, YAY, Canes for the win, but bigger YAY to us for wrangling two babies in very small seats and eating popcorn and facebooking while there. That's talent.

It looked like we were set to end the week by doing a victory dance. We got home, put babies down, started winding down.

Then Drew starts crying. Let's give him 5 minutes.

Wait. "Marty, did you strap him in to his bassinet?" (Don't get me started about why they're not in cribs--again).

"Um, no. He was asleep."

I run upstairs. He's awake and I know he's proven he can get out. He's just a short crawl from a stumble down the stairs.

I walk in the room. No Drew. I start screaming. I follow his babbling to the BATHROOM where he is sitting by the TOILET and the CLEANING SUPPLIES!! Seconds later, and he'd either have been splashing toilet water or licking Tilex. Parenting FAIL.

Looking forward to a safer, happier, warmer, weekend...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

ExtraCRIBular Activities

Today Emily and Drew participated in their first real extraCRIBular activity—our first Kindermusik Baby Sign and Sing class.

Mix seven babies, a rug, toys, music, bubbles, songs, and signs all together and you get an hour of solid entertainment.

While Emily and Drew didn’t seem to be overly interested in signing, cousin Kaelyn was the class star. KK’s going to be a great tutor for them.

Most of the time, Emily and Drew just crawled around chewing on toys and getting love from other babies who wanted to play with them.

Drew decided to step out on me and love up on another mommy. He pulled right up on her shirt, drooled on her, and let her pick him up. He sat and played with her for a while before crawling on.

We sang a great song about a bear going over the mountain to see what he could see. Funny. I have a little (Drew) bear who climbs over everything to “see what he can see,” too. I bet we’ll use BEAR and SEE quite a bit.

We played with “silly” balls—balls that jumped around—kind of like the way all the babies were jumping around. BALL is another word we will use quite a bit since one of the babies’ favorite toys in a squishy, singing soccer ball.

It’s amazing to think my babies are big enough to be in a class with other kids. I couldn’t find my camera, but I did have the Flip and was able to capture a bit of the action. Pardon the “jumpy” footage. We all got a little caught up in the moment.

The only time I really had their attention was during “snack time.” We had lots of practice with EAT, PLEASE, MORE, and THANK YOU.

They loved the Jack in the Box and the Bubble Song. Here’s a short clip of bubble fun.I love how Emily looks confused when the bubbles go away.

And, so it begins…the first of hopefully many extraCRIBular experiences. Stayed tuned for Part II where I post their upcoming social calendar and explore the fine line between providing all those great, stimulating learning opportunities for my children and becoming the stereotypical over-scheduling, over-demanding mom who lives vicariously through her children. Okay, so maybe the line is not so fine, but we’ll delve a little deeper into the whole issue of kids who have more going on in their lives than their parents. Plus, Marty is taking on Sign and Sing without me next week, so I hope to talk him into the first ever daddy blog post.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Grace Under Fire

Four seemingly unrelated observations from this last week:

My almost two-year old niece is learning the sign for frustrated. When she’s frustrated, she can now show her emotion through an appropriate gesture rather than a temper tantrum. Wow. Do I even know an appropriate, civil gesture for expressing similar adult emotions?

In one of our new books, the mommy tells her child, “I cannot tell you what to do and then do something completely different, because then you will not trust me, and it would be difficult for you to follow my advice.” Have my actions, especially of late, been an example for my children?

Some bad things have happened in the world this week. The tragedy in Japan filled our minds, and some friends of mine dealt with some pretty tough life lessons. I wondered how I will one day explain to Emily and Drew that bad things happen because--well, they just do. Have I even learned how to place bad things into the proper perspective?

I was walking into a school today trying to balance a box full of supplies, chart paper, a laptop bag, and a cup of hot coffee. I probably should have made two trips but I wanted to save time. Once I made the decision to take it all at once, it was too late to turn back. There was no place to stop between my car and the front office. Huffing and puffing, my arms burned from the strain of the box. My feet ached in my heels. As I took the last few steps, a feeling of pride overtook the pain. Not only did I have all of my materials, none had coffee stains on them. Who says I can’t be graceful under pressure?

Recently, life, and my job in particular, has put me in situations that have frustrated me, challenged me, disappointed me, tested me, and burdened me.

In some cases, I did not express my frustration in an adult manner. (Thank goodness I spend lots of time in the car--by myself).

Other times, I did not react in the same way I would have wanted Drew or Emily to react. I was not the role model I know I should be.

There have been days when I lost perspective, forgetting that bad things happen, and sometimes, we don’t deserve it. I internalized the slights and let others determine my worth.

Finally, as I drove home today, I suddenly realized that the box struggle from earlier today was a metaphor for the recent turmoil I have experienced. Yes, the walk was hard. But my decisions, both positive and negative, influenced the situation and the outcome. I didn't choose how heavy the burden was to carry, but I did chose to walk it alone. I was strong and smiled through it all, graciously offering a sincere thank you to the nice man who held the door open. It hurt, but I made it—with a full cup of coffee in hand.

And, that’s where the four seemingly unrelated observations came together. Being a mom has given me a new standard for dealing with such struggles. I was reminded that my actions should always be in line with my beliefs because when they’re not, I feel most out of sorts, most conflicted. Instead of acting out of frustration, allowing the bad things to mold me or confound me, I will strive to rise above, remembering that ultimately, my children are watching, learning from me.

Look, Em and Drew, Mommy didn’t drop the box.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Way Back When-esday

Yesterday Emily and Andrew turned nine months old. Today I am linking up with Twinfatuation to bring you Way Back When-esday, and we're taking it all the way back to their BIRTH-day nine months and 1 day ago.

How's this for way back? It's Emily and Drew in mommy's seriously overstretched tummy. Here I am, at my biggest, waiting to be taken to the operating room. After months of worrying about pre-term labor, I made it all the way to a long-overdue c-section at 38 weeks and 2 days. Ever wonder what 16 pounds of babies would look like? Here you go.

Here are my little babies in their first picture ever. Emily Anne at 8lbs, 6 oz, 20.5 inches long and Andrew Elliott, 7 lbs, 9oz, 20.5 inches long.

After a lifetime of waiting and a scary stay in recovery, I held and kissed my babies for the first time. There are no words.

Hello world.

This picture was taken exactly nine months ago today-- EA and AE relaxing with their daddy.

Our first family picture

Finally, for the sake of comparison, let's take it back to about five minutes ago...My, how my babies have grown.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dear Drew

Dear Drew,
Today you are nine months old, and the most handsome man in the whole wide land is also the busiest. You crawl. You play. You talk. You pull up. You clap. You jump and down. You hold your hands up, asking in your own cute way to be picked up. You climb up and over the table. You even have your own baby cave in the bonus room—under Daddy’s poker table. Drew, you are so full of energy.

In the last few weeks, you finally decided to put some of that energy towards holding your own bottle. While Emily easily holds her bottle with one hand, you stubbornly refused to even attempt it until recently. Thank you, Drew, for making feeding time so much easier. You are still a finicky eater, though. You dislike anything green, and you hate textures. I was so proud of you tonight when you finally finished some chunky chicken mixed with very pureed sweet potatoes. Yum.

You started crawling a little less than a month ago. While you took a little longer to crawl than Emily, you were the first to really master pulling yourself up into a sitting position from your back or your tummy. Now that you are moving, there’s no stopping you. You are a fast one! Like a bug to one of those bug zappers, you and Emily both are drawn to the all the things you shouldn’t mess with: electrical cords, the basket of pine combs, the candle on the hall table, dirty shoes. Please don’t lick any more shoes. It’s gross, and it makes me feel like a bad mommy.

Speaking of feeling like a bad mommy, I have learned that mobility brings boo-boos. You’ve had a fork fall on your head, bruises on your knees from crawling on hardwood floors, and bumps on the head from pulling up and falling down. I cringe when I hear the thumps, waiting for the wail, before deciding if a mommy hug and kiss is needed.
But, when you need a mommy hug and kiss, you know just how to get it. One of the first signs you learned was the sign to be picked up. You lift your little arms in genuine anticipation, and once you are in my arms, you glue yourself to me, clinging. It’s the cutest thing and it melts my heart every time.

In addition to the boo-boos of a busy baby, you have also had a very sick eighth month. So far, being a twin has meant twin illness. Emily gets a cold. You get a cold. Emily runs a fever. You run a fever. Emily gets an ear infection. You get an ear infection. It’s double the doctor co-pays, double the boogie wipes, double the medicine, and double the sleepless nights. Just when we had made the transition to the crib, you both got sick and ended up back in our room where we could keep a closer check on you.

Just like the spring weather occasionally breaks through on a winter day, we had days where good health broke through the germs, days in February when everyone felt well and ready for a new adventure. First, you are now big enough to sit in the stroller without the car seat, and you love a front seat view. Then, we bought a jogging stroller so you and Emily can sit side-by-side, thereby avoiding the argument of who gets the front. You love being able to see the world. I remember your cousin Tanner hated a highchair. Not you and Emily. You love sitting up and chatting with the fellow restaurant patrons. You’re such a charmer.

Who wouldn’t be charmed by your big, wide toothy smile and those sparkling blue eyes? You have two big chompers on top and three smaller ones on the bottom. Unfortunately, you’ve been trying them out lately by randomly biting people. Really, Drew, biting is not nice. You still are working on getting hair; it seems to grow best and longest right over top of your ears-- adorable “old man” hair. You smile with your whole body, and you love to rock, clap, and dance, especially to music. You and your friend, Mr. Duck, have given us many hours of entertainment, and we regretted having to cut Mr. Duck’s hair after you decided to eat a chunk of it. Now, both of you are bald, but playtime is safer for us all.

We work on your signing daily, and Grandma says you either signed “mommy” or “daddy” this weekend. Since it can’t be verified, let’s say you signed “mommy.” You already say “dada.” At least sign mommy's name first.

You and Emily together make quite a team, and it is hilarious to watch the two of you go after what you want. You two are a “twin threat” when you take off at the same time for the same thing. Just last weekend, you chased poor cousin Kaelyn because she had a toy you both wanted. Who would have thought two nine month olds could strike fear in a 22- month old? After watching you chase her, I understand how. You two are a formidable team. Watch out, world, EA and AE are on the move!

Andrew Elliott, each day with you brings a new surprise. Watching you discover the world-- one touch, one taste, one fall, one experience—at a time, we learn to appreciate it all anew. Soon you will be one year old, and we look forward to having 365+ new experiences to document and celebrate.

We love you,
Mommy and Daddy

Dear Emily

Dear Emily,
Today you are nine months old, and the most beautiful girl in the whole wide world is also the most bright-eyed. You notice everything with those big, smiling blue eyes. You watch the world around you with such curiosity. You don’t miss much, especially anything on the floor that you shouldn’t eat. The tiniest speck always seems to find its way into your hands and then your mouth. You know your name, and you know the sound of “no.” You stop briefly before continuing on your busy little way.

You started crawling at the end of January, and it didn’t take you long to pick up speed. First, you didn’t venture far from the safe confines of the rug in the living room, but then you discovered the wide world waiting beyond the recliners. You found the diaper pail that you liked to tip over. Then, you discovered the glass candle holder on the hall table that you like to pull down on your head. Now, your daddy’s office is your new favorite destination where you never seem to grow tired of chewing on his internet cable. I imagine that next time I write, I will be telling you of how you are trying to climb the stairs, especially since last week I caught Drew trying to push you up the first step. Since you’re pulling up on everything, I know it won’t be long.

Right now, as I type, you are in your swing, fighting the inevitability of your afternoon nap. You fight sleep so hard, but of the two of you, you’re definitely the better sleeper. I know we spoiled you, especially your daddy, because we don’t let you cry it out at night. You can’t fall asleep without knowing someone is there. We’ll put you down, walk out, and you go crazy. We come back in, sit silently in the rocking chair or give you a pat on the head, and you settle right down.

We couldn’t ignore you, though, if we tried. You have a loud voice, and you’re not afraid to use it. Whether you are fighting sleep or squealing in delight, you make yourself known. It will be interesting to watch how this strong-willed personality develops as you grow older. I love listening to you talk. You are quite the chatterbox. Most recently you’ve been letting loose a string of consonants, most notably the strong “g.” It’s “GUUK, GAAK” cute, although it is pretty cute to hear you growl, too.

In addition to the early signs of independence and tenacity I see in you, I also see a soft, loving little girl who loves hugs and kisses. With a sweet smile on your face, you wake up happy and ready to be hugged. You love to have your neck kissed, and you will throw your head back and giggle in delight. The only time you giggle louder is when we toss you in the air. Just last night, I snapped a sweet picture of you cuddled up with your daddy, your head snuggled under his arm. Pure sweetness.

Physically, in the last two months, you have changed, too. You have the softest blonde hair with just a touch of red in the right light, and you finally have enough of it for small bows. You now have four teeth on the top and the same two loners on the bottom. Your weight gain seems to have slowed, probably from all of the exercise you get in a day. We’ll know on Tuesday where your weight is on the charts, but from the looks of things, you are longer, leaner, with a head that is in proportion to the rest of your body.

Next week’s well check will be a welcome relief from the rough February we endured. Finally, just a regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment! You had your first trip to the emergency room for a high fever and labored breathing in early February. Mommy cried right along with you as the doctors took good care of you. Just a couple of weeks after getting well from that cold, you and Drew both developed ear infections, and we are now finishing up your antibiotics. Your ear seems to be healing, your eczema clearing, and hopefully, we are moving on to a healthy spring.

Although I seem to have moved beyond frequently bursting into tears of happiness when I watch the two of you, I still catch myself getting misty-eyed at the strangest times—overcome by how blessed I am with such perfect babies. I found myself laughing and crying one day recently as I watched you and Drew wrestle—one pinning the other into a head lock. I laughed and cried as I watched one steal a toy from the other. Just this morning, we piled both of you in the bed with us and laughed as you two talked to each other and snuggled. It was all fun and games until Drew pulled your hair and you poked him in the eye. Something tells me it was just a small sign of the fun (and torment) that is yet to come.

Emily Anne, if the last nine months are any indication, the fun is only beginning. You grow more beautiful, more loving, more spirited, and more intelligent every day. It’s hard to believe, but soon, we will be celebrating your first birthday and regardless of the theme, you will be the belle of the party.

We love you,
Mommy and Daddy

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Mischief

Monday. It's our fun day.

*Thanks to Julie for capturing this bit of cuteness for me today while I was at work :-)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

How did you decide? (QOTW)

This week’s Multiples and More Question of the Week (QOTW) is “What is your question of the week?” With feelings of trepidation and yearnings of anonymity, I dare to post and ask, “How did you decide that your family was complete?”

I feel like I have to qualify this whole post and question by saying I am truly blessed by the gift of being a mother to Emily and Drew. My journey to motherhood was not an easy one, and I often said if I could ever have just one baby, I wouldn’t be greedy but forever grateful for the opportunity.

Then, blessed beyond all measure, we had twins. A boy and a girl.

One of the most frequent comments we hear is, “A boy and a girl. One of each. How perfect. You’re done.”

And maybe we are. My husband says maybe if we were younger. I say maybe if we didn’t have to pursue any more fertility treatments.

But some days I wonder.

I wonder if the doctor was right when he said there might have been a third, a vanishing triplet. Do I secretly feel like a baby is missing because two was supposed to have been three?

I wonder what it would be like to have another baby now that we have twins. Would Emily and Drew like a brother or sister? Could I handle it?

I wonder what if would be like to carry just one child. What would it be like to not be "high risk," or what would it be like to go into labor as opposed to checking in for a scheduled c-section?

I wonder what it would be like not to be a new mom who questions ever little decision. Would I be more confident, more at ease?

I wonder if I will look back in five years and wish we had just one more. Or will I look back in five years and say that two was just right?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Little Things That Make Me Stupid Excited

I knew Twinsomnia was a blog after my own heart when I saw the tagline--“Musings of a Mom Who Should Be Sleeping.” Truer words have never been spoken.

All of my blogs are written after the babies go down in the evening or in the morning, with a cup of coffee in hand, before they are up. Either way, I should be sleeping.

Yet, I skip sleep to blog, partly because it’s cheap therapy and partly because I want to create a lasting record of these days, especially since I am not doing so well keeping up the baby books. So many moms of multiples tell me they don’t even remember the first year. Others tell me to savor every minute because it goes too fast. Most days, I feel so torn. Survive it. Enjoy it. Some days these two pieces of advice seem to be competing. Blogging brings me to a place where I can reflect, record, and remember-- especially the little things.

When I saw the “Little Things That Make Me Stupid Excited” post on Twinsomnia, I knew I had to link up and make my own list. It’s like the saying goes, “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

Here’s my list for March. Much to your surprise, you will find not all of them are baby- related. For the purposes of this post, we’ll pretend I have a life outside of being a MaMe ☺

1. Clean windows

It’s a sad state of affairs when you have to sell your house to get clean windows. This week we had the house pressure-washed and the windows cleaned—inside and out—in preparation for the house going on the market. I can’t believe what a difference it makes. I have all the blinds open, reveling in the shine. Seriously, it’s crazy what a difference it makes.

2. Pedicures
Woman's Feet Holding Pink Rose Fresh Pedicure
(photo by D Sharon Pruitt)

Tomorrow. Me. Massage chair and 45 minutes of foot bliss. Oh, nice lady at the nail salon, it’s been too long.

3. (trenta)Starbucks Raspberry Lemonade

After learning I had a sinus infection and fluid in both ears this week, I treated myself to not a “venti” but a “trenta” size Raspberry lemonade. Even unsweetened, it was just what the doctor ordered. Well, that and a z-pack.

4. BJ's Wholesale Club

As a single female and then even as a married couple, I always found my BJ’s membership went relatively unused. This week we joined again, and believe me, we have plenty of things to buy in bulk now: diapers, wipes, formula…And, the part that makes me even more stupid excited? Coupons! You can use BJ’s coupons AND the manufacturer’s coupon. Take that, Enfamil.

5. Chick Fil A's new ketchup packet

This one is so big it was Facebook status message for today—the whole day! No more skipping ketchup because it’s too hard to tear open the pack and find somewhere to squirt it while I drive. Squeeze or dip?? Oh, the choices! Best. Invention. Ever.

6. Boon BPA Free Plum Baby Spoons

We are looking forward to getting out this weekend, and this item will definitely be in the diaper bag. These spoons screw on the end of pouches of Plum baby food. No worries about broken jars. Emily and Drew love the fruit/veggie combinations, and clean up is easy-peasy. Stupid excited about this find.

7. Nook

Book downloaded, check. Nook charged, check. Book on Nook is packed and ready for the trip to the salon for the aforementioned, much-needed pedicure.

8. i-phone

Sure, cell phones and driving don’t mix, but sleeping and driving don’t either. Thank you, i-phone friend, for keeping me awake during those long work trips this week.

9. Sleep

Tuesday was the first night in at least a month that both babies slept through the night. Oh, sleep, how I missed you. You make stupid excited.

10. Baby smiles

I was carrying Drew tonight in the Mexican restaurant. Now that they can sit in high chairs, we don’t have to carry the infant car seats in everywhere, which is another little thing I love! I am bouncing him around while we wait to pay, and he’s laughing and smiling. A man with a little boy walks in and says, “There’s nothing better than a child’s smile, is there?” I paused, looked at Drew, smiled, and said, “Nope. It’s the best thing in the world.” Makes me stupid excited every time.

11. Blog comments

Getting a blog comment is like going to the mailbox and getting a genuine, hand-written letter written just for you. I love to hear that people read the blog, connect with something, and enjoy our musings. Simply put, comments make me stupid excited.
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