Saturday, February 27, 2010

Monkeyin' Around

My mom bought the Wonder Twins a great playmat with a rain forest theme for Christmas. They play in it every single day. They love looking at the lights and the toys that hang down.

In the past, they'd often kicked some of those toys by accident while "dancing" on their backs, but they'd never grabbed at the toucan or the giraffe. Until Friday, Feb. 19.

I'd just been asked by the pediatrition earlier that week if the girls were grabbing toys. I'd said "no" and mentioned that they were, however, firmly gripping our hands and their bottles. The doctor said toys would probably be the next step.

Apparently, Avery took that as a challenge. Two Fridays ago, she reached up and grabbed the orange monkey from the top of the rain forest. Geof was home at the time and captured this "first" feat on video. As you can see, she is clearly excited about her new move but is left a little confused as to where the monkey went! Geof's play-by-play offers more insight to this special moment. Check it out!

Alexa has not yet tried to emulate her sister's achievement. However, it's only a matter of time.

At least they're not pulling each other's hair. That's probably also only a matter of time. :)

Road Trip!

I've known Nancy Randall since fifth grade. She invited me over to her house for dinner after a Girl Scout troop meeting one Monday evening, and we've been friends ever since. Rockin' out to Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians will do that to you. :)

Nancy lives in Winston-Salem, N.C., which is only about two hours from Raleigh. She shares a birthday with my Mom - Feb. 21. A quick consultation of the calendar showed the big day fell on a weekend this year. I considered that a sign that I needed to pack up the Wonder Twins and take a little road trip to the Triad to celebrate #32 with "Nancy Pants."

As with any trip involving the babies, it started with good intentions of getting out the door on time. Yeah, those good intentions went the way of dirty diapers pretty quickly. Instead of leaving at 9 a.m., we hit the highway at about 10:15 a.m. Sweet.

Despite the girls' hatred for their car seats, they slept the entire way to Nancy's house. It was awesome. Mommy got to listen to some of her favorite tunes on her iPod without any additional "singing" from the backseat.

After a brief detour due to poor directions from Expedia, we arrived around 12:30 p.m. Hugs were exchanged quickly before the twins demanded mommy's milk as payment for their good behavior during the car ride. Nancy and her mom, Adele, helped me feed the girls their bottles. (We always appreciate extra helping hands!)

Following a few diaper changes and the presentation of b-day presents, the Randall/Levine party loaded up into two cars and drove to lunch at a cute little cafe next to Nancy's Dad's office. We enjoyed a great nosh while the twins took a nice nap.

Interestingly, when they did wake up, it happened at exactly the same time. They weren't sitting next to each other, either. I chalk that up to twin intuition.

Adele offered to feed Avery as I finished up my fabulous spinach salad.

Nancy had Alexa who we both noticed was emitting a foul odor. A quick check of the women's bathroom revealed a changing station was available, so I collected Lex and the diaper bag and set up shop in the handicapped stall where the changer was located.

I was not anticipating the diaper disaster that awaited me. Lexie thought this was very funny and beamed up at me as if to say, "Hee, hee! Mommy, I pooped!" Great job, baby. Perhaps, if you could explode at home versus a public place next time, I'd be most grateful.

Stunned, I just sat there for a minute thinking, "How am I going to do this?" First, I took off everything she was wearing and balled it up, so the non-soiled portions were facing the outside, and stuffed it in a compartment of the diaper bag. Then, I used an entire container of wipes cleaning off her rear... legs... back... You get the picture. Lacking a Diaper Genie, I just tossed the dirty wipes into the trash can.

This was about the time Nancy came into the bathroom and said, "Is everything okay? Do you need help?" I had to laugh. A line was forming outside the women's bathroom. I didn't realize that I was taking up one of only two stalls for the greater part of 15 minutes. Nice.

I asked Nancy to find a new trash bag to replace the one that I had contaminated with all the explosion debris. Once I redressed Lexie, I passed her off to Nancy who returned to the dining area. I picked up the yucky trash bag and found a sweet waitress who offered to toss it for me.


While I was busy with Lexie's bottom, Nancy took this cute picture of her boyfriend, Tom, playing with Avery. High fives all around!

We returned to the Randall's house to continue playtime. I spread out a big blanket and let the girls go to town. They love flailing around on their backs. The arm flapping and leg kicking is hilarious. It makes them so excited, especially when they're surrounded by people making funny faces at them. Such hams. I wonder where they get that from? You can watch them "dancing" on the video I shot with our new Flip video camera.

Avery seemed to be having an especially good time. I heard her laugh for the first time that afternoon! It sounded like a high-pitched, rapid-fire "hee hee hee hee!" I tried to capture it on video, but of course, she always did it when I wasn't rolling. Oh well.

Around 5 p.m., we rolled out of Winston-Salem and headed back to Raleigh. The twins once again slept the entire way! They'd had so much fun they were worn out! Thanks, Nancy, Tom, Adele and Larry, for showing us such a good time!

This road trip was great practice for our upcoming journey to Florida. Geof's Dad is getting married outside Fort Lauderdale in May. We know the babies won't sleep straight through the 12-hour trip. We're just hoping for frequent naps and no diaper disasters!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Trip to the Doctor

The Wonder Twins hit the road on Tuesday to travel to the doctor for their four-month check up. I label this as a "trip," because unless they're going to nursery school, we really don't take them out much. First, it's way too cold outside. Second, there are lots of germy people out there who have no qualms about arbitrarily sharing their colds and viruses with others. The girls have already had colds this winter. We don't want them to catch another one. So, they stay home a lot in the warm, relatively germ-free house with us.

Their regular doctor, Emili Mack, is on maternity leave until late March, so they saw Dr. Angelica Swiersz. She poked and proded each baby as part of their examinations and found no problems. She said they looked great, but she would like their weights to be a little higher. Avery weighed almost 11 pounds 4 ounces, and Alexa weighed 11 pounds 1 ounce. Dr. Swiersz said she'd like to see them tip the scales at closer to 13 pounds at this point. She emphasized that there was nothing wrong with their current weights; they were average. She just thought with a slight change in diet we could get them to gain a little more a little faster.

On her recommendation, we're now adding a half teaspoon of baby formula to every two ounces of breastmilk in their bottles. Up until now, the twins have been fed breastmilk by bottle exclusively. Adding the extra formula, according to Dr. Swiersz, will add extra calories to the milk and help the girls grow bigger sooner.

I'll admit that I wasn't thrilled about this idea at first for a couple of reasons. I had really wanted to feed the girls 100% breastmilk for their first year and avoid the high cost of formula. But, of course, I'm no M.D. Plus, adding such small portions of formula to their milk wasn't taking away any part of my role as family food source. It was only adding to it. So, I caved. The babies are now gulping down Enfamil with their milk at every feeding with no problems. We'll see how long it takes for their tiny fat rolls to multiply!

The rest of the visit was routine. They got a shot in each leg, which made them scream and cry. I hate watching them get shots. It breaks my heart to see them in pain. Luckily, this time, part of their vaccine regiment included a sweet-tasting oral medication. Once the nurse put it in their mouths and got them to swish it over their taste buds, the tears stopped and smiles returned! Baby candy! I love it, and so do they!

The girls don't have to return to the pediatrition until they turn 6 months old. I can't imagine what they'll weight then! Perhaps at that visit, they'll be just as good as they were at this one. When both kids are crying, it's very hard for mommy to feed one, console the other and listen to the doctor explain important health information. That's why Geof and I try to tag team our visits. Like Tuesday's visit, however, crazy job schedules sometimes prevent us from doubling up. Thankfully, the nurses at the doctor's office don't mind helping us! They exemplify the most important lesson in raising infant twins - never turn down an offer for help. Especially when the babies outnumber you two to one!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

We Heart Daddy

Dear Daddy,

We asked Mommy to sit down with us at the computer tonight, so we could write you a very special Valentine. As you know, we don't have quite enough control of our little fingers yet to cut and paste our own cards for you, so we figured getting Mommy to type it on the blog was just as good.

First, we want you to know that we're smiling right now. Not because we have gas, either, although Lexie is being rather musical. We're smiling, because we love you so much! You are the best Daddy in the whole world!

We don't care if you are in desperate need of a haircut or haven't showered or shaved in a few days. It doesn't matter to us. We don't really have scent recognition yet. What matters is that you love us and take very good care of us.

We know you do lots of things for us every day to help us grow big and strong. You get up in the middle of the night and feed us of nice, full bottles of Mommy's milk. We love Mommy's milk! It tastes gooood! Even though you despise the scent of our vitamins, you still put them in our bottles and don't complain (much) when we burp them back up again. Sorry about that, by the way.

You also change our bottoms when we dirty our diapers, so we won't be stinky babies. When our Diaper Genie gets full, you take out the big blue bags and dump them in the garbage. We know that isn't very fun, so we want to say thank you! (We also want to warn you now that our poo poo is probably only going to get grosser. Did we mention we love you?)

We think it's funny when the other "big people" out in the world comment about how impressed they are that you do these things for us. You don't help us because Mommy told you to. You do these things because you want to. For you, it's second nature.

We're so glad you're a "hands on" kind of Daddy! We can't imagine not having tummy time with you; singing silly, made-up songs with you about smelly diapers; or sharing stories with you in our new, secret "coo" language.

You're a perfect Daddy, and we want you to know you'll always be our special Valentine! We love you so much! As soon as we figure out how to pucker up, we will give you lots of milky kisses!

Love always,

Avery and Lexie AKA your lovebugs

PS: We made you special presents. They're in our diapers. :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Smile for the Birdie

My little lovebugs recently posed for their 3-month pictures with photographer extraordinaire and friend Leah Charbonneau. I can't believe how much they've grown since their newborn photo session! Such big girls!
During that first session, they cried and fussed most of the time. Turns out, they don't like being naked. Mommy and Daddy are okay with that. :)

This time, though, they didn't shed a tear when we dressed them down to their diapers. By avoiding frowny faces, Leah was able to capture some really great (and cheerful) expressions.

The other thing that really stands out in these photos is their eye color. It's such a vibrant blue! We're told the exact hue won't settle out until about six months of age, but we think these baby blues are going to stick around!

You'll notice in some of the shots the girls are wearing beautiful pink dresses. These gorgeous handmade outfits were created by a long-time friend of my grandmother. I'm sure she'd be thrilled to know the twins wore them for such a special ocassion. These dresses are definitely the most girlie duds they've worn yet! So cute!

I've Got to Tell You Something...

I'm really glad people don't buy cell phones for their babies, because if Alexa and Avery had one, our bill would be astronomical.

The Wonder Twins are BIG talkers! (That's surprising, right? I don't know anyone in their immediate family who likes to talk a lot. Nope. No one.) They're not exactly saying sentences yet or even real words for that matter. But, they coo and jabber all the time!

Alexa is definitely the Chatty Cathy of the two. She enjoys interacting with everyone and has no problem answering questions with a loud "Goo!" She often adds different inflections to her baby speak to show she's trying to prove her point. Clearly an early multi-tasker, she does all this while sticking out her tongue.

Some people think her aggressive attempts to talk indicate she will follow her parents' footsteps into television news. Although "Alexa Levine reporting live" sounds pretty sweet, we're hoping to point her towards a more lucrative career. Seriously, we'll probably spend more on diapers in the next six months than I made in TV my first year out of college!

You can listen to her conversations with daddy by clicking on the video below.

Avery is also talkative, but she doesn't babble as often as her sister. I like to think it's because Avery only opens her mouth when she has something really important to say. That means you better listen up.

She also tends to speak softly, which seems to go along with her more laid back, introverted personality. I have a feeling Lexie is going to be the outgoing one. "OMG! Look at ME!" :)

The funny thing about Avery is she, like Lexie, smiles a lot. But, Avery has recently started opening her mouth really wide when she's excited. I think it's a precursor to laughter, but I'm not sure. It's like she knows to open her mouth wide for a big belly laugh, but she doesn't know yet how to make the sound come out. In short, it's adorable.

Check out the video below of Avery doing her "almost laugh" while Geof entertains her with the caterpillar rattle.

Yeah, they're pretty darn cute.

We can't wait until they start saying actual words. Since they are Wonder Twins, I'm thinking they'll just bypass the whole "first word" thing and go straight for a "first sentence."

I vote for "Mommy is awesome." "More milk, please" is probably more likely.

Snow Days and Stuffy Noses

I don't know what the east coast did to Old Man Winter, whatever it was, he's ticked. And, he's punishing us by regularly pummeling us with snow, sleet and bone-chilling temperatures.

Somewhere between Geof's marathon winter weather TV coverage last weekend and my long days in what is very likely an asbestos-filled building at work, we caught colds. So did the Wonder Twins.

We're not talkin' a sniffle here and a cough there. These were I-Should-Invest-in-Kleenex colds. At one point, it really seemed like my brain was leaky out my nose.

While it was bad for "the big people," at least Geof and I could blow our noses and open up our airways a little. The girls, however, aren't quite old enough yet to learn the "Superman Blow" technique. So, unless we used the bulb aspirator to literally suck the snot out of their noses, they really struggled to breathe.

For those of you who have never used the force of suction on a child's nose, let me give you some insight. Babies don't like it. At all. But, it's a necessary evil to ensure they can inhale.

That means you have to use the dart skills you honed in bars in college to actually stick the aspirator in their tiny nostrils successfully, while they cry and wiggle their heads back and forth. Despite my advanced training in darts at Harpos, I still managed to poke them in the cheeks a couple of times before finally hitting my mark.

After a while, though, it became almost like a game. Who can suck out the biggest booger? Geof may have trumpted me earlier this week, but I'd have to have visual proof be sure the mass he pulled out from Avery's nose was bigger than the one I dislodged from Alexa last night. As you can see, we really don't get out much. :)

In addition to the runny noses, the girls were both sneezing and coughing. Avery also had a slight temperature (100.2) last Sunday, but it returned to normal the next morning. To help relieve the twins' congestion, we let them sleep in their bouncy seats, so they wouldn't be flat on their backs. It seemed to work well.

The nurse at the pediatrition's office told me colds generally go away within six to 10 days, and unless the twins' temps rise to 101 or they develop a "chesty cough," I shouldn't worry. Yeah, right.

The good news is that the babies seem to be feeling better. Their noses are still running a little, but they don't seem to be coughing and sneezing nearly as much. Plus, they haven't had any signs of fever since last weekend.

We think with just a little more rest and some TLC the babies and "the big people" will soon be able to stop carrying around the Vicks-infused tissues with them wherever they go.