Thursday, May 29, 2008

Snapshots of our days.

I'm in a funk, feeling a severe lack of words, so today, some pictures.

For George: The Garden. The Boys in their Birthday presents.

For Lindsay: Evan flirting with you. Excuse the g-force shot of you, Dylan and Tyler. Lunch I can only dream about.

And for Maric: Ryan is doing some research, thanks for providing the material. (I swear, I did not set this up, he's been dragging this magazine around all day, even in the car.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Uncle Jaw, Jaw comes to visit.

Uncle Jonny went to school here, the school where Scott and I are alumni. It was really a treat to have him living near us for five years. Especially after the boys were born, he was able to come over and just hang out with us. He's now in the MD/PhD program at UCSF, doing really well, but we miss having him around.

When Jonny arrived, we had lots of plans to keep him out of trouble. Friday we went to the New Children's Museum. This is the second time we've been since it opened, and I have to say I LOVE it! The Boys LOVE it! (and yes, Tobin will love it!)

We started in the pillow room. It's a re-interpretation of artist Allan Kaprow's "No Rules, Except" and "Yard", (Yes, Maya, That Allan Kaprow) by an artist named Brian Dick. It is wonderful fun. The room is covered in mattresses. The walls are covered in mattresses. It's a jumping on the bed heaven. In addition to the mattresses. There are huge stuffed fabric "tires" The boys loved jumping, and rolling around in the tires. They especially loved climbing up a mattress on the wall and sliding down.

Once again, the capes were a big hit. I have to dig out my sewing machine and make some dress up clothes for these boys!

Ryan really loved pushing Evan around on the wooden Segways.
The big hit? Both boys got to build their own car, and race it down the ramp. Both boys preferred holding it and trying to push it up the ramp, but they'll get the idea soon enough!

When we left the museum. Jon's comment was that a half day at the New Children's Museum was much more exhausting than his Friday class!

I'd like to say that this picture is of the ride home from the museum and that all three little boys were so tired that they fell asleep in the car, but, I cannot tell a lie. This is Saturday, on our way home from Pizza Port. Jonny claims that it was the Actifed, but, I think it was two very active toddlers.

We also got a chance to ride the Train in the park near our house. BIG. HIT. We now have passes so that two adults, and up to five kids can ride unlimited times, all year.

Sunday, we had a birthday party to attend for our twin friends that live up the street. Amazingly, Jonny had to "study" Sunday morning. Hmmmm. Maybe he did, but awful convenient that instead of going to a party with a jumper, and a bunch of two year olds, he chose the quiet library.
The boys had a blast, and how cute are they in the party hats? Evan loved them, Ryan, seconds after this shot ripped it from his head, and refused to wear it the rest of the party.

Monday being a holiday we all were able to take the boys to the Wild Animal Park, AND ride the Journey Into Africa tram. With three of us it went pretty well. We got a great look at the baby giraffe. And the very pregnant rhinoceros, 16 months, can you imagine?

Scott's taking Jon to the airport now, and I have to say, I miss him already. I'm sure the boys will too, when they wake up tomorrow and their playmate is gone.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Momma's Gut Feelings, always trust them.

Yikes almost a week since my last post.

Ryan's been a bit cranky this week. Wednesday morning I noticed his morning diaper had a strong smell. It was a heavy diaper, I chalked it up to just a lot of urine overnight, but kept my nose alert all day. Scott mentioned that Ryan felt a bit hot at bedtime, but his temperature was barely elevated above normal. The next morning, the smell was back, however throughout the day the rest of his diapers smelled fine. Until he woke up from his nap. Hmmm. Hear that sound? Beep, Beep, Beep? That's my Mommy Radar going off.

Cranky. Not eating like Ryan. Low grade temp. Smelly pee. Sounds like a UTI to me.

I called the doctors office, they could get me in at 4:15 on Thursday, or 10 AM on Friday. It was 3:00, our EI teacher was due any second, okay, I'll take the 10 AM on Friday. Melinda arrived. We discussed the week, we started playing, we discussed Ryan's possible infection. It didn't take her saying, "I always err on the side of caution" to push me over the edge. I was already teetering . It was 3:30, I jumped up called the doctor's office, took the 4:15, changed clothes while on hold, threw a snack together for Ryan, got both boys into the car and made it the 20 miles to the doctor's office and arrived for our appointment on time.

As soon as we entered the office, Evan started balling. Full. On. Hysterics. I could not console him. Holding didn't work, nor did reading, or even letting him watch the TV in the waiting room. He kept crying, "go, go-o-o-o, go" and for added emphasis, he'd sign it too. I kept trying to tell him that this was not his appointment, and it wasn't he who should be crying. Trust me baby. But no luck. Some 45 minutes later when we were finally ushered into a room. We sat in the tiny exam room while he wailed. after about 15 minutes, I was finally able to get him to calm down by drawing things on the chalk board. I drew my best bus, and we put things on the bus. The boys decided that appropriate passengers should be two ducks, a dog, a ball, a star, and a bird. Along side the bus, we had a boat, a car, and a helicopter. Whew. Then the nurse came in. Then the doctor. Lots of crying from Evan. No one could believe that it was Ryan that was feeling poorly. Why was the other baby crying???? My question exactly. It wasn't until the nurse started catheterizing Ryan that Evan realized, oh, this sitting in the stroller? Not so bad. I think maybe I should shut up now, they might forget I am here and I won't have to go through THAT!

Another 20 minutes or so, and sure enough. Ryan definitely has a Urinary Tract Infection. We didn't get out of there until 6PM. My nerves frazzled to the very ends. I could feel my eye twitching. To top it off I had to scrounge all of the spare changed out of the car just to get out of the parking structure!

We got home, got the boys into bed, and I collapsed into a heap on the couch.

The moral of this really long and pointless story? Always trust those Mommy Instincts. You know when something isn't right about your kids. You feel it like it is your own. It's down there in the pit of your stomach. It's screaming at you. You just have to listen.

(We are a few days into our antibiotics, and Ryan's appetite is back, no fever, still cranky, but certainly on the mend.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Why are some people such jerks?

Today I took Evan to see his Acupuncturist/Kinesiologist. After, Ryan and Evan and I sat down to eat lunch at the deli in the office complex. We were right outside the door on the patio and everything was going well until...wait for it...yep, you guessed it, Evan threw up. shock right?

It was pretty bad. Most of it got in the tray, but I still had to strip him down and pull out the change of clothes I ALWAYS have in my purse. I grabbed Evan, the tray and walked into the deli. I asked the man standing at the counter if he could rinse the tray off for me. His response?

"No, I can't. There is a bathroom around the corner."
I tried to explain, "but I have another child, I cannot just leave him sitting there."
"No, you can either use the bathroom, or take it home like that."

Wow, such compassion, such caring for your fellow man, such kindness.

I walked out, flustered, shaking a little with anger, muttering "What am I supposed to do now?"

Then it happened, Evan kicked the tray right out of my hands, and all of his technicolor vomit flew across the patio.

It was at that moment I knew I just had to give up trying to clean up (for now), so I sat Evan down, straddled the vomit, and finished feeding what was left of his food.

It was while I was scraping the last few drops of food out desperately trying to get a couple more calories into Evan, that I heard it.

That MAN, talking smack about me to a customer. I heard "Oh, that lady, her baby made a mess and she got mad and threw the tray on the floor just like that."

OH. NO. You did NOT just say that? I could not take that sitting with feet on either side of a puddle of puke down. I got up. Stood in the doorway and said...

"EXCUSE ME??? Oh no, how dare you. For your information, my child accidentally kicked the tray out of my hand, and NONE of this mess would have been here had YOU simply rinsed off the tray like I asked you. What is it that you wanted me to do? Go to the bathroom and leave my other baby just sitting here alone?"

I turned on my heel and proceeded to finish feeding my babies, as slowly as possible. Letting the vomit sit there, and sit there, hoping the smell was wafting into his eating establishment, wishing Evan had kicked that tray out of my hand while inside the deli, so instead of calling building maintenance, that man, would have had to clean up the mess himself.

I was still shaking with anger most of the way home. I'm better now. However, If any of you have occasion to be in the office buildings on La Jolla Village Drive, behind the Rock Bottom Brewery, don't frequent the deli on the second floor, and if you do, vomit on the floor please.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New Dogs, New Tricks

It's never to early to teach the boys how to wash the car, is it?
Ryan has really become quite the Monkey. He's just learned to climb into his highchair, and his car seat.

Since our new favorite word, taking over for "No", is "Mine", meaning, I want to do it. It is taking us quite a bit longer to do everything.
Some of our other new tricks?
Evan is testing EVERYTHING I say, like a thousand times a day. So much that I actually thought "I'm sounding like a broken record". (Something my Mom would say)
Evan hums Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to himself CONSTANTLY.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Maybe we should have left it to the professionals.

The last time the boys got their hair cut, my mom was here, and being a former beautician, she knew what she was doing. Executing it was not your average day in the chair, but, both boys came out looking okay.

Hair hanging in their eyes again, it was time to once again, get our hair cut. In an effort to save around $40 and a lot of stress, we thought, "Hey, let's just do it ourselves!" (and then we can build a stage, make some costumes and put on a show in the barn)

Before: Evan's hair is pushed back out of his face, and I forgot to get a picture before I started to cut, but trust me it was long. Notice Ryan's shaggy look?

I started with Evan, he really didn't want to sit in the chair, so he sat on Daddy's lap. I cut and trimmed and combed, at my pace. Not, overly quick, I KNOW what happens if you cut off TOO MUCH! He squirmed, and wormed, and didn't cooperate. All the while I had Scott, giving suggestions, and trying to help. (Help would have been holding SOMEONE STILL and keeping SOME ONE'S mouth shut so I could concentrate)

I think Evan's hair cut came out nice. It looks even better today.

Yes, I could have gone shorter, but it looks good now, and yeah, I may have to do it again in 6 weeks or so, instead of 6 months, but, at least it looks good NOW.

After all of Scott's "helpful" advice, I decided that he should take a shot at Ryan's hair. I think it was 2 maybe 3 cuts in, and he said..."This isn't as easy as it looks!" Yep. It's not the best cut in the world, and yes, I would say it is VERY uneven. Look closely. UN-E-VEN. and you can't see the back. Take a good look at Ryan's expression, I don't think he likes the cut either.

Granted, Ryan was possibly even more squirmy and wiggly than Evan, Scott keeps saying, "Oh, Ryan, that hair!" (I've had to ask him to stop saying that because I don't want Ryan to become self conscious, since he really understands everything we say, I worry that he'll start to feel badly.)

I've had to hide all of the scissors in the house, because Scott keeps begging for me to let him "just even it out a little" We all KNOW how that would end! Can anyone say buzz cut?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Let us Entertain You. Embrace the Mess.

Today we were supposed to meet some twin mom's at the botanical gardens. It opens at 9. That means we have to leave the house by 8:15 to arrive, unload, sunscreen, shoe, etc. two boys.

These days it's like trying to dress a giant octopus, (times two) getting the boys into clothes. For some reason, being "nay, nay" is only the way to be. We wrestle, kick, cry and scream "nay, nay". And generally speaking, there is another child running around in a state of undress, chiming in with their own chorus of "nay, nay". I actually find this kind of funny, I don't know why, maybe because it is so cute.

Oh, yes, back on topic. So. I told the boys that we were going to the gardens today, and we must wear clothes to the garden. Ryan slowed down enough for me to tackle him to the ground. While I was changing his diaper, he looks up at me and does the sign for train, and says "choo, choo". It's been at least a month or six weeks since our last visit to the gardens, can you believe that he still remembers there is a train at the gardens????

When we arrived Evan looked around from the parking lot and said "bubbles" Yes, we usually blow bubbles at the gardens.

I am constantly amazed, AMAZED, by what these kids know, understand and remember. They make me laugh, gasp, and shake my head EVERY DAY. Who knew kids would be so entertaining?


While we were at the gardens I couldn't help notice differences in parenting styles. Because I'm like that.

This one mom, with two boys of her own, arrived and asked if anyone knew where the bug day was being held. She said, "I don't usually come on Bug Day, I come on Art day, because I don't like all that art stuff in my house, it's too messy" Then, later she made her son's don plastic aprons to play in the water, so they wouldn't get wet. She then wouldn't let them play in the dirt because they were already wet, and wet and dirt was too dirty. I had a really hard time biting my tongue.

I embrace the mess my little boys make. I relish the fact that they are experiencing their environment to the fullest. After listening to her for a few minutes. I looked down at my pair of ragamuffins, and had to laugh out loud. They were wet from head to toe. Dirt/mud rimmed their shorts' bottoms and bottoms. Their hair was stringy and wet, could have been mud there too. There was most definitely dirt on their faces, along with grins ear to ear.

Motherhood, or maybe toddlerhood has just found me a less fussy (stop laughing, really I am less fussy. somethings like their health, well, I'm still Fussy McFusserson, but other stuff, dirt, paint, water, mud, trust me, I'm a new person) I just come prepared for these situations, knowing kids get dirty. If you want to take home clean (or I'll settle for dry) kids, bring a change of clothing! (I also keep a stash of bags in the car for transporting the mud caked clothes home.) I also find it really funny that I embrace the mess so easily with the boys. Considering my own hang ups about being clean, (I'll save the details for another post) the fact that I'll let the boys get as dirty as dirty can be is a real step for me!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Can't stop laughing

I got out the easel today so we could draw. Today's medium of choice, crayons.

After a little while, I started drawing shapes and labeling them. You know, Circle, Square, Triangle. (and of course star) I then moved on to the boys' names. Showing them the letters. Not that I'm drilling them, trying to teach them all of these things at two, but I think it is easy to incorporate this learning into their play, the more times they see and hear something, the easier it is going to be when they go and try to really learn it. I then moved on to numbers. An area where both boys have started to pick up the patterns of the order of numbers. We do a lot of counting to three when we jump off of things, we count bites of food for Evan, again incorporating learning into everyday activities.

So, I start off with One, I show them the number, I spell it out. I ask what comes next? Ryan and Evan reply in unison, Tuuuw. Great, good job boys. What comes next?

In all his comic timing, Evan shouts. "MOMMA"

When we are jumping on the sofa, or doing something else we aren't supposed to do. As many parents do, we count to three and if by three, there is still non-compliance, our behavior is modified, by being removed from the sofa, or whatever we were banging on the table is taken from us, etc.

So I guess in the mind of a two year old. After one comes two, and after two, watch out cause here comes Momma!

BTW: The speech therapist came out yesterday, and she was VERY pleased with where the boys are. I guess all that time we spent worrying about our lack of words was for naught. Whew.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sixty Years

My Mom met her best friend when she was 18. They worked together at Bullock's Department Store. It was 1948. A tough time for Japanese Americans in the U.S. Only a few short years before, Japanese Americans were being held in Internment Camps around the country. In 1948 Japanese Americans were trying to put their lives back together.

In many ways it was a natural for my Mom to become friends with Jeannie. My Mom was as she puts it, "an orphan", Jeannie's father died in camp when she was only 13. They both suffered the loss of a parent. They were both strong enough to pick them selves up, and help their families survive some very tough times. My Mom took care of her four brothers, Jeannie helped her Mom run a boarding house and cared for her younger brother. They were strong, independent young women, in the 1940's. It was a no-brainer that they'd be friends.

Yesterday, I went with my Mother to bury her best friend.

They'd been friends for Sixty years.

I cried for my "Auntie" Jeannie like she was my own mother. Well, because she could be. My Mom is lucky, she has her health. Auntie Jeannie suffered from Lupus, Arthritis, and in the last few years, multiple failings of major organs. In the last year, she lost her ability to walk, and care for herself, but she never lost her strength.

I will always remember her bustling around the kitchen in her Muʻumuʻu's. Making some glorious feast. I remember spending hours in her house with her kids, playing games, eating, listening to my Mom and her talk. If any of you have had My Chinese Chicken Salad, well, you can thank Auntie Jeannie, it's her recipe. It's a recipe my Mom made for me 10,000 times, and I now make it and I hope my boys will equate fond memories of childhood to the smell of vinegar and pepper, two of the more prominent ingredients in the dressing, just like I do.

I will always remember her laugh. It was loud and full of joy. I will always remember her kindness, she always asked about me, and the about the boys. Even near the end, during my Mom's last visit, after looking at pictures and hearing stories, she asked my Mom to tell me how cute they were, and how happy she was for me. Even as her body was failing her, she was reaching out to others.

Almost 300 people came to pay their last respects to this woman. My Mom and I were just two of many. The loss of Auntie Jeannie, has me thinking, has me pondering. How long do I have left with my own Mother? Will my sons remember her? She was an old Mom, like I am now. Will my son's loose a parent before they are 40? Before they have a family of their own? Will I live to see my grandchildren graduate? marry? will I see great grandchildren?


So you, those people I've known for more than twenty or twenty-five years, remember this, we've got a long way to go to sixty, I'm looking forward to the next forty years.

Happy Mother's Day

We've had a tough week. Evan isn't eating, in fact he is fighting harder than ever before. I had to go out to dinner, by myself on Thursday, because I just needed some quiet time. I needed to get some perspective and I couldn't do it with Evan screaming and crying about not wanting to eat. I wish we could find a magical cure to make him better, his issues are really the one lingering thing that reminds me daily that my boys did not have a normal start. In every other way they behave just like two year old boys. In every other way, I don't think, ex-26 weekers. In many ways I believe that if we can resolve Evan's eating issue, the whole NICU experience will fade faster, and I'll find closure. (Maybe I'm fooling myself, but a girl can dream can't she)

As I struggled through my tough week, I had moments where these boys, these irrepressible boys, made all the tough times, worth every second. Their cuteness, it just kills me.
The boys have found a new love of "stih, stehs" (stickers) We like to put them everywhere, especially on our "Beh-beh" (belly), and our "nohs" (nose). We left Trader Joe's and I had to stop and get a "cah-cah" (coffee). I ordered, and turned around to find that face. OH, that face!

Today we went to a craft fair at the winery up the street. Scott and I were each holding a boy's hand while we strolled amongst the booths. At one point Ryan shouted "Eh-Ban" (Evan) "Han" (hand). And there we were walking four across, holding hands. I snapped this as we were walking, just to try and document this wonderful Mother's Day Moment. Can they be any sweeter?

I swear I'm going to have to wear my camera around my neck, because I missed an equally adorable moment this afternoon. The boys were playing in their playhouse, leaning out of the door, saying "hi" to me. Ryan threw his arm around Evan's neck, and the two of them grinned ear to ear at me, the ultimate in BFF's.

I feel lucky that today, instead of doing the dishes and the cooking, and the cleaning, I spent quality time with my boys. I left all the stuff that just has to get done to Scott, and the boys and I cuddled on the couch reading, we wrestled, we played peek-a-boo, and we just spent time loving each other, Just the way Mother's Day should be.

Thirty Four Days

It took Evan thirty four days to be stable enough for us to hold him. Two years ago, I had the ultimate, early Mother's Day gift, I held my little boy for the first time.

Peggy got me ready in the morning, "Today's the day, as long as he continues to do okay, you can hold him" I waited patiently for Scott to get to the hospital from work, with the camera, and I finally got to hold Evan.

It had been a rough few days, both boys were self extubating on a regular basis, on and off the breathing tube. My journal entries for the previous week all started with, phrases like:

"Evan we had to go back up on your vent today..."
"Holding your breath is not acceptable behavior..."
"Evan you are having a tough day...that shade of purple is not all that pretty on you."
"Ryan you are back to being puffy"
"Evan! you self extubated again!...You had no events from 4AM to 10:30 AM! That is a really long time" (it's funny how six and a half hours was an eternity, we were so happy that he went six and a half hours without setting off his alarms. Or six and a half hours breathing like a normal baby)

With all the ups and downs of the previous week, getting the chance to hold Evan was nothing short of a miracle. I even got a few minutes with him off his NSMIV (Nasal Synchronous Intermittent Mandatory Ventilation: when a ventilator delivers preset breaths in coordination with the sponteaneous breaths a patient is taking.) where I could see his whole face.

"Evan, it was so wonderful to hold you. Your heart rate had been high all day, but once you were in my arms it came down from the 190's to the 160's. Is there any better place for you than in Mommy's arms?"

It was so amazing to finally hold Evan. I honestly doubted it would ever happen. Can you imagine not holding your newborn, for more than a month? I worried that he wouldn't bond with me. I worried that when I held his brother, he was sad. That he felt I loved him less because I never held him. I felt that I was neglecting him, not providing the nurturing he needed to get well. It was such a terrible position to be in. Every time he was touched, he held his breath, but was the lack of my touch causing him to be slow to recover? Do I listen to the doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and just wait, or do I push to hold my baby and possibly do more harm than good. All I could do was be there. After a cuddle with Ryan, I'd spend as much, if not more time with Evan to "make up" for it. I think that is one of the things all twin mommies go through. Equality.

Finally, I could make up some ground on the equality issue. After that first cuddle, it became easier and easier to hold Evan. It's almost as if everyone was waiting for the first time, not wanting to be the one, just in case it went badly. After the first time went so well, we all stopped holding our collective breath, and holding the boys became a daily event. Evan always was calmer and breathed easier when he was on my chest. He slept deeply and contentedly. Ryan too. When the boys were having a bad day, nothing made it turn around like a nice long cuddle with Mommy or Daddy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Happy Anniversary Philip and Meredith

Two years ago our friends Philip and Meredith were married, in a beautiful seaside ceremony.

So a little background. Philip and Meredith had been dating for eons, and finally decided to get hitched in 2006. Why is this blog significant to me? Our friends anniversary? I don't even know some of our families anniversaries off the top of my head, so why them?

Scott and I have known Philip and Meredith for a while. I would have called us casual friends. We'd kayak together, but our friendship was really based on like hobbies, Kayaking.

When I went to Japan for a month back in 2004, Philip and Meredith really took care of Scott. They had him over for dinner, (made sure he was eating, even made him meat, those vegetarians did) provided him with companionship. It was so nice of them to make sure he wasn't too lonely. I guess they remembered what it was like being apart from their significant other. After I returned, they continued to invite us over for barbecues, and we always intended to reciprocate. (The big thing stopping us back then was the lack of a dining room table.) But again, I'd still call us casual friends.

When I was admitted to the hospital, with pre-term labor, Meredith came to visit me almost every day. She worked on campus and would take time out of her day to make sure there wasn't anything I needed. She'd bring me little treats from her office to break up the horribly bland and disgusting hospital food. She'd brighten my day by breaking up the endless hours of beeping and blood pressure readings. I was shocked by her thoughtfulness. Not because she's not a thoughtful person, but because I didn't expect her to be the friend to step up. You know the people in your life that you EXPECT to step up, and then when you are in crisis, there are some that surprise you.

When I was sitting vigil bedside (for five months) Meredith came to visit me (and the boys) every week. She asked me to call her anytime to go to lunch. (I would have, but every time I thought of it, it was two or three in the afternoon, when all normal people had undoubtedly had their lunch.) She got me a parking pass to use in the employee lot for those days that I couldn't find parking in the patient lot. Knowing she was a phone call away made a difference, even if I never did call. Having her come visit every week was very special to me, it was a small connection to the outside world.

And then, one month into our NICU stay, Philip and Meredith's wedding day arrived. There was never any pressure to attend. Let me say that again, never any pressure, total understanding that we might be there, or we might not be there. But barring a crisis, we were planning on being there. Their wedding marked the first "social" event Scott and I would attend after the birth of the boys. The first time we didn't sit bedside all day Saturday and Sunday. The first time we would venture away from the boys for more than a quick bite to eat, or to get some sleep (or to go to work). The first (and one of the only times) time we actively chose not to be bedside. We were both glad we went. We got some fresh air, saw the sun, saw some friends, and saw our friends be married.

Their anniversary is special to us because for the first time in a month, we pulled ourselves out of the darkness and into the light. Their anniversary is special to us because when we needed it most, this pair pleasantly surprised and shocked us by stepping up so far beyond expectations.

It's true, when life throws you for a loop, you'll find people you never expected, move to the front and get you through it.

Thanks guys, you'll never know how much your friendship has meant to us.

(And I hope on your anniversary, you are not asleep on the couch.)

**I can't believe I forgot to add this!!!
When our house was threatened by wildfires, it was Philip and Meredith that called and called until we relented and stayed in their home for days. We sat together watching reports, trying to figure out just how close the fire was to our home. They provided a safe shelter, friendship, support, and a playmate for our boys during a very nerve wrecking time.

By the way, I wouldn't describe them as "casual friends" anymore.

Monday, May 5, 2008

What do you get when you combine two toddlers and fire trucks?

Mayhem. Chaos. One tired Mommy.

So my intention for today was to work out after the boys went down for their naps. But first we had a wonderful outing planned at the Fire Station.

It's like baby crack, or like I shot a bolus of pure sugar into their little veins. We walked in and they took one look at the giant RED FIRE ENGINES and my normally very well behaved children, who listen, hold my hands and act like civilized toddlers (oxymoron I know) turned into CRAZED MONSTERS! I could. not. control. them.

I should have made them obey, calm down, and listen. I should have left when they didn't. But I'm a bad mommy. I could not end their pure unabashed joy. I could not ask them to calm down when they were so clearly overwhelmed with excitement of the purest of pure. The were grinning ear to ear. Running around the fire trucks and ambulances (am-bans) arms flailing, I have NEVER seen Evan run that fast. I'm a bad Mommy.

Ultimately, they were in a relatively safe environment, just being kids. Wild kids. But they weren't doing any harm. Okay, that's just me justifying my lack of discipline. Now every time we go to a fire station they are going to think they can run around like crazy animals.

We got to "drive" the Fire Truck! So much fun we didn't want to give anyone else a turn. Had to be PULLED out of the truck, lucky us the steering wheel is still intact.

This shot is a little blurry, because Ryan is RUNNING as fast as he can from the fire truck to the Ambulance, for the thousandth time.

Evan running around the Federal Fire Truck, it's "gree". (green)

Needless to say, I'm sitting writing blogs instead of working out, because chasing two toddlers around a fire station is workout enough.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The New Children's Museum

We have a New Children's Museum in town. It's been a while since the old museum was open so we were pretty excited about the grand opening. We were able to go on Saturday before the general public, because we joined as "founding members" There were so many people there, they had to regulate the door, just like a VIP club. I can't wait to take the boys on a "regular" day, since they had so much fun in spite of the crowds and limited activities.
Ryan, playing dress-up. He really liked the purple cape. Future super hero? Wizard? (Maybe it's all the Harry Potter we've been reading)

At first Evan did not want to enter the "Toddler Forest" (super cool soft rocks, textured floor, fabric trees) but once he got in, it was almost impossible to get him out.

After almost two hours, we were able to pull them away from all the excitement. They are already looking forward to our next visit.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Team Takade

The first few weeks we were in the NICU, we had a variety of nurses, day and night. A couple of those nurses we had multiple times. The nursing staff works 4 of 7 days (12 hour shifts) and typically they have the same assignment for the days they are on. Our NICU supports Primary Care Nursing, which provides continuity of care. These babies are so sick, and the signs that they are getting sicker are so subtle, it is imperative that the people caring for your baby (ies), really know them. Until now, (two years ago) we were subject to the luck of the draw, until we asked and finalized our "Team". Little did I know that two years later this "Team" would still be a huge part of our lives.

We chose 3 primary care day nurses and 2 night nurses. Looking back making those choices made all the difference in the world. These five women saved the lives of our babies more times than they could have counted. Our boys turned shades of purple and black more vibrant than any of these women could have imagined. Our boys responded to them in ways I only realized when they were all on vacation and we had 'other' nurses.

Our team consisted of very experienced NICU nurses. Very active nurses in the NICU. Very strong nurses. (They'd have to be to endure 5 months with us!)

I think we were drawn to each of them instinctively. Each one very different, very opinionated, very smart, very open to having parents present, very willing to teach those involved parents to do as much care as possible. Each one brave and fierce in their care of babies.

I look back and think of how each of our nurses touched (and continue to touch) our lives.

Cindy: Encouraged holding Ryan for the first time, even though many thought he wouldn't tolerate it. Always encouraged us to hold the boys, even when we weren't sure either. Our first bath was with Cindy. Cindy was never afraid to do anything. "let's see how long he'll last on just blow by" (Where the oxygen mask sits near the baby's face with out pressure or a direct tube in to the nostrils or lungs) We'd talk sports and reality TV to pass the endless hours.

Julie: Always made me laugh with a funny card from the boys, or a sign reminding me to take a break. Julie called the boys her boyfriends, and had affectionate nicknames for them like booger and trouble. She always diffused a tense situation with humor, kept me laughing even when my baby was blue. Coined my favorite phrase, I still use today "When Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy". We'd talk TV, celebrity hook-ups and break-ups.

Peggy: The most motherly of the bunch. She would always make sure I took care of myself, she'd bring me fresh veggies from her garden, zucchini bread, and even the occasional lunch. She really tried to make breastfeeding work for us. She was the first one to be brave enough to let us hold Evan for the first time, and she pushed for Co-bedding before even though no one thought they were ready. She switched shifts and came in extra early, just to be there with Evan for his first Eye surgery. She got him extubated very soon after that surgery. We'd talk parenting philosophy, Emma and Luke and our go home plan. (even when it seemed like we'd never make it home)

Virginia: Took such good care of our boys at night. She made sure we were informed on the nights events. Kept Scott company during his evening visits. I think Virginia was around for a few of the self-extubating episodes. The boys liked to keep her on her toes.

Kerri: Traveler, whom I did not get to know well. She too took great care of the boys at night. They always seemed to have good nights with Kerri. But sadly Kerri was gone before we were.

All of these women were advocates for our boys, they went tooth to tooth with the Doctors over care. They were the ones with them from day one, (give or take) until we left five months later. They pushed to try things when it could do no harm. They saved their lives EVERY DAY. (so did a lot of other nurses, I joked that everyone in the place had saved the boys lives at least once, and I really wasn't that far off) They explained what was going on when we felt in the dark. They educated us, comforted us, they pushed us to rest, take time away from the NICU. (not that we listened) They were the ones that I trusted above all others with my precious babies. It was always easier for me to leave when one of our primaries was on duty. I always rested a little easier (and so did the boys) with them. They never let us down. They put up with our constant presence. Our need to be bedside all day and half the night. At the end, they put up with my crazies. My insane need to get those boys home, control which nurses took care of them day and night, my need to never come back to the NICU again.

I love all of these women. Today I still think about them ALL. THE. TIME. I think about how fortunate that they are in our lives. I love that they all still know the boys. If I have anything to say about it, they will always know what is happening with Ryan and Evan. After all, they are some of the most important people ever to cross paths with our boys. When they have triumphs, they are the triumphs of Team Takade.

I know I've said "Thank You", and those words still seem so feeble. How do you thank the people that kept your children ALIVE? I doubt there will be a time that I look at my boys and not think about all of the people that touched them, kept them safe, kept them in this world with us. I know I will never forget these five very special women of "Team Takade".

With out these women...none of us would have come out the other side of our NICU nightmare.

Grammie's Visit

Scott's Mom came to visit last weekend, we had a blast. We were lucky to have Grammie Carol here until Wednesday. I had lots of things on the agenda, however, the 100 degree weather put a little damper in our outings, but not much. Coming from Minnesota, where they still were getting snow, Grammie didn't seem to mind the sweltering heat.
Sunday we went to the beach and the boys went looking for sharks. We didn't see any, but we found pleanty of rocks and waves. The boys are really starting to enjoy going to the beach and wave hopping. They giggle and scream as they get soaked, pull to get in deeper, and cry when it is time to leave.

My plan for Monday included the Wild Animal Park. I knew it was going to be HOT, so I devised a new plan of action. I dressed the boys in swim clothes, and we spent the better part of the day by the Lion Camp playing in the water. It's a great little area with an Alligator, a Lion and a Turtle that shoot water out of their heads. The boys love to splash around, and spray themselves and each other with the water. We had to pull them kicking and screaming away from here to have lunch.

Grammie getting hugs before we leave for the park.

Evan showing Grammie the way to Condor Ridge.

Ryan tries on Grammie's hat for size.

That's a shout of glee coming from Ryan's mouth!
"How do you think this works?"

This drowned rat, and his brother, is why we were dressed in swim clothes.

Grammie and the boys had such a fun visit. Ryan and Evan thrive on all of the extra attention, they love having a new audience for their antics. It's so great to have loved ones spend time with the boys, they always come away from visits with new skills, new energy (like they need any more of that), and a new sense of themselves. Oh yeah, and Mommy even got a much needed nap!

Now we just have to get Poppa George out again soon!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The many faces of bravery

My mother in law was here for a few days catching up with the boys, (post on that coming up) we were talking, and she called Scott and Me brave. That got me thinking, a lot. In some ways I guess we have been brave. The last few years have been difficult to say the least, but I never would have used the word brave to describe us.

Brave--As defined by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary is: having or showing courage.

Hmm, okay, I guess we have shown a bit of courage, we have endured a lot. Five months in the NICU, five months of pure torture wondering everyday if the boys would ever be well enough to come home. But through of all of that, we came home with the prize. We have two healthy toddlers providing us with endless hours of joy.

I'm reminded that there are so many others that are not as lucky. There are the grieving Mom's I know only through their blogs. I'm not sure why I am drawn to their sorrow, but I am. Maybe it helps to remind me, on those tough days that I have to be thankful for two healthy boys, that life could be so different. Endure the whining, or the emerging tantrums, endure the battles at mealtimes, because we could have been forced to endure the worst tragedy a parent could experience. A simple twist of fate and one or both boys could have slipped through our fingers, never to take up residence in our home, always lingering in our hearts.

During our recent trip to the River, we spent some time with our friends Katherine and Paul and their two children, Naomi and Ian. Katherine and Paul had three children, another boy Richard born between Naomi and Ian. Born, brought home, and then suddenly taken ill. He lived for five weeks. His parents sat vigil at his bedside, and cared for their daughter too young to really understand all the commotion in their otherwise idyllic home. After losing their infant son to a virus that attacked his heart and kidneys, watching him get weaker and weaker, and ultimately leave this world, they had to go home without their son. They had to mourn and parent. I cannot imagine. I cannot fathom.

They got out of bed each day, loved their daughter, with a giant hole in their hearts. Over time the hole is getting smaller, the wound not quite as raw. They were able to talk about Richard without losing it. They talked about how it is still hard. How when all the families are together, there's someone missing. The talked about how the emptiness is still present. What I marvel at is while experiencing the ultimate in grief, Katherine and Paul still managed to raise a vibrant, happy little girl. And they went on to have another child. I think I would have been paralyzed by fear. Fear that it could happen again. Knowing that, I wouldn't have it in me to go through it again. (Sometimes I think of another child, but the NICU looms over me like a cartoon anvil, ready to fall on my head.)

Yes, surviving the NICU, did require bravery.

Surviving the loss of your child, requires bravery I cannot even begin to touch.