Monday, July 28, 2008


Some times I think that the boys are not getting anything out of music class, because some days they really don't participate. Then they go and do things like this that make me know for sure that the connections are all made and class participation isn't everything.

On Monday, my mother in law Carol and I took the boys to music class. It was a normal class, there was some participation, and there was some standing around watching us participate.

Some time later in the day. I heard Evan laughing and screaming at the top of his lungs. "pah, pah, pah, pah" I had NO, IDEA, what he was talking about. Around the corner I came, to see what the ruckus was about to find Evan.

Holding one end of the new play mat Grammie had brought the boys, loading cotton balls* on top, and shaking furiously, all while saying "Pah, Pah". I scratched my head, watched while he did it a couple more times, and then, the great big light bulb went on and I finally realized exactly what he was doing.

In music class that day, we loaded blow up balls on to a


and we shook the parachute and laughed as the balls bounced up and down, and all around.

Carol, Evan, Ryan and I then sat around for the next 45 minutes playing parachute. Which of course is our new favorite game.

*We had cotton ball out practicing picking them up and putting them in to containers earlier in the day. Great fine motor practice, and practice for using chopsticks, which is a 100% necessary skill in this house.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Everybody's Smilin', Sunshine Day...

Today was just one of those days. A day that made me feel like I was that Mom. No, not That Mom. THAT Mom-- Carol Brady. Shirley Partridge. June Cleaver. Caroline Ingalls. Olivia Walton. The one that handles things in stride, the one that has shiny faced little ones that do good, or at least try, and at the end of an hour, or half hour, they have learned a valuable life lesson, and everyone is smiling.

Too many times I feel harried, and hurried, and just plain worn out. Too many days I wonder, did I do enough to nurture, and stimulate the young minds I am molding? Too many days I wish I could be a perfect mom.

Now, I know I'll never be perfect. (no matter how hard I try. But gosh darn it, I have to try.) I know I will always beat myself up for something I feel like I got wrong. I know there will always be people who think I'm not being a good Mom, or that their way is better. It might be. But it may not be the right way for our family, and that is all I care about. What is right for Ryan and Evan. This was a day that I would feel none of that self doubt, or self criticism.


Today at breakfast I asked the boys what they wanted to do today. (for once we had no plans) They thought about it and Ryan, today's spokesman for the pair, said "park" "Well," I said, "we went to the park yesterday, and we are going tomorrow, is there anywhere else you would like to go?" They thought about it for awhile, and Evan, very clearly said "zoo" (not a word I've heard from him, ever). Oh, I should note, that they both slept in to a glorious 6:30 this morning, so we were dining a bit later than usual. I quickly calculated all of the things I would have to do to make it to the zoo today, and decided to attempt to shift our plans to the Wild Animal Park. (it's about 20 minutes closer)

Once I mentioned the water, and they remembered the crocodile, we were set. We scurried around and left the house by 8:15. Arrived, sun screened the boys and myself, and were at the gates at opening. We did our usual, but the boys kept saying they wanted to feed the ducks. (I thought, hmm, we could have just gone to the lake 5 minutes from the house to feed the ducks, but...Okay, let's go feed the ducks)

Near the duck pond are little boat that are controlled by these wheels that today, the boys found very entertaining. But even more interesting was the coin return and the little door where Ryan found a one dollar token, and a quarter, and Evan, not to be out done, also found a shiny quarter. You would think that they had just found a truck or bulldozer by the running and squealing. It was really cute, however, I quickly snatched their treasures from their hands (choking hazard much?) and sanitized their hands. (do you know how dirty money is? yuck)

Lunch was very uneventful (which in this house is great news) Evan ate two jars of Green Beans with very little fighting. Ryan ate all of his pasta and an entire container of yogurt.

During naps, I had the bright idea to try and cook with the boys. I've been hearing that they should start doing things like this but have been avoiding it like no one's business. I had to make some pasta for Ryan, so I decided to prep it, and when the boys woke up, we could "cook" it together.

Of course I have no pictures of this because um, you try to wrangle two toddlers in your non-childproofed kitchen, while trying to "cook" with them, AND then grab the camera too? No.

It went much better than I expected. They were so great. Evan loves the food processor, and Ryan does not, so he ground up the 4 chicken breasts. Ryan poured the chicken into a bowl, then Evan poured in the sauce. They let me stir, and package. And then we repeated the whole process again.* Each boy getting a turn at pouring sauce, chicken, noodles. They were so excited, they wanted to taste their creation!

After we finished, we drew pictures of what we had just done in the kitchen. Okay, I drew the pictures, they told me what to draw, and the colored over them. This gave us a chance to talk about what we had done, just a little reinforcement of concepts. Plus the boys were as always happy to color.

Okay, perfect mom award to this point. An outing, a cooking lesson, an art project, all. in. one. day. Feeling really smug and proud of myself for not taking the easy way anywhere in this day.

And then dinner. Evan threw up, argh. Ryan decided to moisturize in yogurt when I turned my back for a second.

Still, pretty good Mom, I grabbed my camera, snapped off a couple of pictures of yo-yo baby, and Evan ate 2 more jars of food, post vomit.

I'm not sure why today was so great. The boys were in a great mood all day. (provided that Row-Row-Row- Your Boat was on the ipod) It all just seemed EASY! I can't believe I just said that, but yeah, it felt easy. The boys behaved and listened perfectly on our outing. They were really great in the kitchen, and even when they didn't share, or when there were little meltdowns over the song playing, it was easy. Maybe someone spiked my Luna bar with a Valium. Or maybe the boys are growing up a little bit. =( What ever it is, I hope we have many, many more "Sunshine Day(s)"

*I make two pounds of pasta at a time and freeze it in portions for easy meals and while I have a huge bowl that could mix all of it at time, somehow it's just easier to divide the batch in half and use a handy smaller bowl.


A couple of asides.

I read in one of my Parenting Magazines that the average parent argues with their toddler 20 times an hour, some as many as 55 times an hour. Huh???? I think I need a definition of argue. Oh maybe I need to be very thankful.

Ryan said his first three word phrase yesterday "Big, Truck, Book"
and Evan today "More, Music, Please"
Words, and two word phases are coming rapid fire these days, they are parrots, they are sponges, they are chatty Cathy's.

Ryan woke up after about an hour of nap today, but instead of screaming for me to get him up, he sat and played with his babies. (he now sleeps with no less that 15 stuffed animals, who go almost everywhere with us, if I allow it) The conversation went like this

"baby, yup"
"pha, pha, yup" (Snoopy)
"ty-ty, yup" (tiger)
"mon, mon, yup"(monkey)
"Fwog, yup" (frog)
"Baaaaaa, yup" (sheep)
"ma, ma, yup"
"Da-di, yup"
"EV-an, yup"

and then he fell asleep. and I sat laughing so hard I cried.

Evan has been recognizing his letters, both in print and with signs. It's crazy! I usually do the signs when we are singing the alphabet song, but never really tried to teach them the signs. A couple of days ago, Evan started doing some of them and telling me what they were. He'd say E and I'd look up and he had his hand in the E shape, I think he knows about 15-20 of the letters. He's always loved looking at the letters on our T-shirts, and we'd tell him what they were, now he tells us.

The "fist bump" is our new favorite show of accomplishment. However the "high-five" is still a close second.

And finally a couple of other pictures from outings in the last few days.

I just missed the perfect shot of the two of them looking at me with a huge fish over their heads.

There's some PG-13 shots that are not for the web, of these two buck nekid boys, taking a sun shower on the street by the Marine Room after our Saturday morning in the surf. I honestly don't think there is anything cuter than baby butts. (that doesn't make me creepy does it?)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

On being two

It seems that being two does something to a child. I'm sure there are a million parenting books with theories, and solutions, but nothing can prepare you for having two, two year old children. (or heck, even one)

It's frustrating. For. Everyone. The poor child does not have adequate language and coping abilities, and the parent is shocked. Shocked that their normally docile, sweet, polite, bundle of love can turn in an instant into a shrieking, whirling ball of anger, frustration and tears. How does this happen, literally in an instant.

We had an "episode" this weekend. The boys love music and are very good at telling us what song they want to hear. However this evening, Ryan was insistent that we play the "choo, choo" song. He repeated "choo, choo" about 100 times while Scott and I scratched our heads trying to figure out what song he was talking about. We played the beginnings of 30-40 songs, and he became more and more frustrated at our inability to understand what he was so clearly talking about. In the span of about ten minutes Ryan went from happy, singing and dancing boy to screeching, crying, frustrated baby. All I could do was hold him and try to explain to him that I knew he was frustrated that we didn't understand him, we were doing the best we could, and that maybe if he calmed down and helped us, we could solve the problem. We did finally figure out that the song was "She'll be Coming Around the Mountain"(They have a Thomas the Train book that plays that song, which is why I think he associated it with a choo, choo. Of course we should have put this together, right? )

Today, Evan went to work with Scott. BACK STORY: Scott has taken Ryan to work several times because Evan has had doctor's appointments and it is much easier for me to keep Evan calm if I don't have to worry about entertaining Ryan too. Scott starts his new job on Monday, and he won't have an office anymore (open workstations---I hate this business model) so in order to be fair, Scott took Evan to work with him.

(I know, it's just too cute!!!)

So I Ryan and I had some together time too. We went out and had bagels, we went to the store and then went to pick up Evan. Scott said good bye to the boys, like usual, but apparently, this was not enough. Ryan started screaming, and screaming, and screaming. "DA, DA, DA, DA" all the way home. let me repeat. ALL. THE. WAY. HOME. I could not talk him down from his hysteria, so I just turned up the music.

Yet through all of it, moments like this, are far more common than the moments I've described.


So why does it feel like the moments of shrieking are the true reflection of parenting skills?

*I should mention that minutes after this shot, Ryan took off running and ran into the parking lot while I screamed "Freeze" in vain.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lil' grads and their Moms and Dads

On Saturday we attended our second Lil' Grad Picnic, sponsored by the NICU where the boys spent the first 5 months of their lives. This is really a wonderful event where the families of some of the sickest NICU babies come together to celebrate just how far we have come.

This year we were much more, um, interactive. Last year we were walking around, but very easily containable. This year, we were on the move. Ryan enjoyed the huge bouncy slide, Evan, preferred the hula hoops. Both boys loved the Am-ban, and the wooo-oooo-oooo. (Ambulance and Police Car)

Neither boy stood still for long, as we were leaving one of the nurses mentioned that she hadn't seen the boys in the same place all day, she wasn't kidding.

I think the only time we were together for more than, 30 seconds was when we settled down for lunch with our friends, (Lindsay, Jamie, Dylan and Tyler, Jen, Brian, Linus and Sadie) Yeah, look closely. That's three sets of ex-preemie twins and their parents, having a leisurely a peaceful lunch. Actually, it was really nice. The six kids allowed the six parents to have a conversation that lasted more than one minute at a time. (See how far we have come?) At this table alone we represent preemies born at 26, 27 and 29 weeks. Kids that have survived NEC, collapsed lungs, IVH's, infections, blood transfusions, eye surgeries and a list of many other things. Kids that were given slim chances of survival, and if they survived, well, there might be "other problems". If you met these kids on the street, you wouldn't know how sick they once far we have come.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Seriously, I wasn't planning on this yet...

...and if I wasn't planning on it yet, I'm not ready!!!!

But it looks like there are two boys that want me to be ready.

Drum roll please...

We have another pee-pee in the potty. (6PM on Thursday, July 10, 2008)

Congratulations Evan!!!!

Ryan has now gone twice, however the last couple of days he has shown zero interest.

I guess if they are serious about this, I'd better get my act together and figure out what to do next! I've read the books, but I'm still open to suggestions.

Idaho: Where the potatoes are big and the whitewater is bigger

So. a few weeks before Mother's Day, we were visiting friends, and the subject of going to Idaho this summer to hang out with my friend Amanda came up. We talked about how it would be a fun girls weekend, if Angie could come with us too. I casually mentioned that a trip to Idaho to go kayaking would be a great Mother's Day present. Scott said okay, and I promptly went home that evening and booked my flight.

The weekend before last, very early on Friday morning, Angie and I boarded a flight for Boise. Ah, I suppose I should explain the draw of Idaho. We've (Scott and I) have been kayaking for about 9 years, and we've attended a skills camp for the last 8. These camps are run by some really amazing paddlers: An Olympic Gold Medalist, an Olympic Silver Medalist, former Olympic Coaches, Course Designers, US National Team Members, it's really an all star cast. Some of these all stars run an amazing Raft and Kayak Outfititng company on the Payette River in Idaho. (If you are ever looking for some whitewater fun, look up Cascade Raft and Kayak, you won't be disappointed.)

Over the years we've become very close to these wonderful people. Scott and I vacationed in Colorado with one of our 'coaches', he taught me how to snowboard. Scott, several friends, and I spent a few days at Cascade on our way to do a seven day trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, in 2001. That Olympic Gold Medalist, just calls us to say "hi". Basically these people have become our dear friends.

My friend from here, has spent the last three summers (she's a teacher) working for Cascade. Oh, yeah, and paddling every freaking day. (insert derogatory name, said with love and jealousy here) She went to Chile last year (our Idaho friends run a school in Chile during the Idaho winters, tough job, eh?) and is going again this year to be their "teacher". (insert word here) When she suggested we come out and visit her, and do some paddling with our friends, can you say 'jump at the chance?'

Okay, now back to the trip. Amanda picked us up at the airport and we immediately headed for lunch. KFC. There is a whole story behind KFC and the three of us. Let's just leave it at mashed potatoes, 70 MPH, feeding the driver, while she drives a car load of female paddlers, a sight to be seen.

After lunch we made it to Cascade. Hugs all around, and on to the river. We started with the Main, A nice Class II-III run. (Rivers are rated from easy to hard Class I to Class V.) It's been a while since I've spent any time of the river. The last two years I had a total of 8 days on the river, essentially the 4 days each year of our camp. Prior to becoming a Mommy, I would have called myself a good paddler, a solid class III-IV boater. Before I got pregnant, I was on the water several times a week (flat water workouts), and I was slalom racing 6 or 8 races a season, in addition I was playing Kayak Polo, at least once a week. I was in my boat a LOT. Kayaking is all about muscle memory, I had a lot of boat time, so I had a lot of muscle memory. Post baby? Not so much.

I had a tough time with our first run. Water levels on the Payette were out of control. The wet spring and good snow pack has the river running at about 120% of normal. I just felt out of sorts. I didn't feel in control of my boat. For the past few years, with all the slalom paddling I've been doing, I'd forgotten what it is like to be in a small boat. Slalom boats are big, about 13 feet long, they ride along the tops of waves, turn more slowly. Whitewater boats are smaller, about 7 feet long, they turn on a dime. At one point on this run, I caught air. I got up on top of a big wave and soared. It was fun, if you like 8 feet waves. Really, the Main is super fun. Not much can hurt you. Lots of big wave trains, and at this water level, really big wave trains. I made it through, felt a bit shaky, and worried because I was hoping to do the more challenging section of the river known as the South Fork, or the Staircase Run.

Saturday we had planned on doing a raft trip on the Canyon, Class III-IV with a portage around a 40 ft. waterfall, (upper South Fork) because it would be something the three of us could do together. Angie is not a kayaker like Amanda and I are, so for her to do anything like the South Fork it would have to be in a raft. Sadly Angie woke up with a migraine on Saturday and didn't feel like she could make the trip. It's too bad because it was quite a trip.

We got on a boat with these four, um, very large people. One of the guys said he was 280. Turns out they were really fun and had done a fair amount of rafting. HOWEVER. One of the men in the group, let's just say, he was clueless. He'd stop paddling, just because, he was never paddling at the same rate as the person in front of him, therefore he was constantly hitting someone's paddle, because he was out of sync. Whatever, all these things, can be over looked. What cannot be forgiven is illustrated in the following sequence of photos.

See Janice and Amanda paddling with happy smiles on their faces as we go through the rapid called "surprise". (Janice in Red sparkly helmet, and Amanda in the Green helmet)

See Janice, being hit in the head with the paddle of the guy in front of her, as he leans into her, making it impossible for her to get her paddle in the water.

Notice who is missing from the raft???? Yep, Janice is missing, because the guy in front of her has pushed her out of the boat.

Notice the "not so happy" face? Yeah, not so happy about swimming in the snow melt water for a half a mile.

We laughed about it for a long time with our raft mates. I gave that guy such a hard time on the raft, on the bus, as we looked at the photographic evidence. Even though I got a bit more water than I had anticipated, we did have the fun boat, there was a lot of laughing and good natured ribbing.

After the raft trip Amanda and I did another run on the Main. It went much better. I was in a smaller boat, and felt like I had much more control. It was fun again.

But not for long...

Sunday, the Lower South Fork (Class III-IV) was on the agenda. A few years ago, no problem. I was so nervous. I haven't been this nervous in a long, long time. What was I getting into. However, if I was going to do this, these were the optimum conditions. Tom, the Cascade's patriarch was going to lead me down, and I'd have two safety boaters along. Three people to save me. It's a good thing too. I was unprepared for the huge, HUGE 12 foot waves. I had my slow and thoughtful slalom paddling style and I should have brought my big water game. (I've never really paddled any big water so, I have no game) I got through the technical part of Bronco Billy (major rapid #1) and rolled on just a big wave. I have to admit, I think I panicked a little. (okay, a lot) I swam, with Tom right there. oops. After a pep talk I prepared for Staircase, by going through a couple of big wave rapids that I don't even know the names of. I rolled, only this time I came back up on my own. Okay, relaxing a little. Grip not so tight on my paddle.We then got to Staircase, got out, looked at it, Tom showed me my line, and we were back in it.
I made the technical move at the top okay, hit the eddy I was aiming for now I just had to skirt around this one big hole and I'd be out of the tough stuff. I got most of the way around the hole. I think I might have gotten a bit too close. I didn't get to the right side of the river soon enough and so I had to go through some pretty meaty waves. I rolled. I rolled, I rolled. Tom pulled me up, Tom pulled me up, Tom screamed at me to relax (he started out telling me and by about the 100th time he was screaming) and pulled me up. I was upright, without my paddle and through the rapid. Fortunately, Amanda found my paddle up stream, (yeah, go figure) and I was able to catch my breath.

The last big rapid was Slalom. At this water level (HIGH!!!) It was just a technical move at the top, a couple of other less precise moves throughout and then I'd be done. Yeah, I made the technical moves, and got rolled on a big wave. This time I came up and stayed up, whew.

Seriously the ugliest paddling I've EVER done, it was not at all pretty, but I've done it. I paddled the South Fork of the Payette!!!! I got worked, but I did it. And now I can brag about it to make Scott jealous! However I have this sneaking suspicion that we will be taking a trip to Idaho next summer...stay tuned.

Angie, Amanda and I went out that night to do a Hydrospeed run down the Main. Basically floating down the river on a heavy boogie board. It was super fun and relaxing after my white knuckle afternoon!!!!

It was such a great trip. I was never so happy to be home to see my boys. I missed them terribly. (before I left I uploaded videos of them on to my ipod, and I watched them several times a day, sigh.) They had a really wonderful weekend with their Daddy all to themselves, and I had a fantastic time reminding myself that I need to keep up my skills so I can teach those boys how to kayak someday...or rather, take them to Idaho, so Tom can teach them! I just have to be able to keep up with them!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fourth of July

Oh My, I am not ready for THIS!

Attention, Attention...

at 9:45 AM on Sunday, July 6th, in the year Two Thousand and Eight. Ryan did this...

...for the very first time. (insert applause here)

Now, I am in no way so delusional to think that this is a trend or anything, nor am I ready to SERIOUSLY start to potty train, (We are on the "potty awareness" phase) but still, Mad Props to the Ry-ster.

Here's how it came to be.

I smelled poop and I thought it was Ryan. It was not. I changed his wet diaper since I was there and went to begin to hunt down the offender Evan. Ryan kept saying "paw-paw" and I kept saying "no honey, Evan has the poop" He just kept at me and he continued to try and get me to take him to the potty. He told me he had poop, I said no. He told me "paw-paw, poop" and I said "no honey". He tried to take off his diaper. Here's where a mom of a singleton would have just taken the kid to the potty, right? But I had a poop filled diaper to change. It was after the third request to go to the potty, (and my failure to catch Evan as he scooted by me) that my sense caught up with the situation at hand. Evan could stay in his poop for a few minutes, what if Ryan REALLY did have to go, I would be contributing to his potty frustration! Eeegads! Can't have that! I quickly spirited him off to the potty, and lo and behold, one fart later and a few cute expressions on his face, and we have now had our first successful elimination.

We did a post potty success dance, which he wanted a lot more of, and we waited until Daddy came home from playing hockey to show him!

This minor success begs the question, how does one potty train two toddlers at the same time? As soon as I had Ryan's diaper off, Evan had to join the party, at one point, (or four, who's counting) I had two naked (nay-nay) boys running loose in the house. Which is Okay but...(you see where I'm going with this?) what happens when I don't catch them before they make "deposits" in various locations around the house? Yuck. I think I'll hold off getting new carpeting for a year or two.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

And the Winner is...

...Laura from The Continuous Craft Show! Congratulations Laura! I can't wait to go out and shop for some fun, crafty things, picked out just for you.

Thanks to all of you that participated. I hope you had as much fun as I did!