Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Traditions

I love Christmas time! I love to decorate and enjoy the yearly holiday traditions. I remember several of the traditions we had when I was a child so I want to pass on some to my boys.

On Christmas Eve they will get new Christmas pajamas and before bedtime we will get in the car to drive around and look at the decorated houses.

I want to have a nativity set each year. We had the same one every year when I was little so that is my goal at some point. This year we have the Little People Nativity Set which the boys are loving!
The advent calendar is another yearly tradition that I always looked forward to. I have the advent calendar that I used as a child and look forward to the boys using it as well. There is a little mouse that gets moved each day; I remember Chelley and I fighting over who got to move it and I am sure there will be the same problem with the boys. We would always get something in the pocket each day whether it was money or candy.

This year my mom found a really neat PlayMobil advent calendar for the boys. Each day you open up a door and get some pieces to a whole set. By the end you will have a whole play set which is a neat idea. I just recently found out that they make several different versions of this so I think we might make this a yearly tradition as well. I will try to find a new play set each year for the boys so they will have a new toy by the end of the advent calendar. This year it is a snowy setting in the woods with animals. I didn't realize you had to actually put the advent calendar together though! When I opened it I discovered you have to put together the calendar by putting in the dividers and separating out the toys into each compartment.

A few more pictures of the beginnings of decorating the house....

We get a personalized ornament for each of the boys and our family every year. We have already gotten them for this year.
I could go on and on, but won't. Hopefully Ben and I will create some of our own traditions and continue to pass on the ones we both remember from our childhood.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Little People Nativity Set

After searching long and hard I finally found the Little People Nativity Set! I have had a rain check for it at Target at a great price, but they have yet to get it back in stock. I was even at the store about 10 minutes after they opened and it was sold out the very first day they had it! Today WalMart had it in their ad, but for a much higher price. I went soon after they opened and they only had 3 left! Apparently, this is the first year you can buy it in the store and it seems to be a big hit. I went ahead and bought 2 of them (1 for Madelyn, 1 for the boys) even though it cost over double the amount that Target had it for. After some research my mom discovered that the price I paid was actually a good deal because it had more pieces than the one you can buy online from Fisher Price. Tonight we gave it to the boys and they love it! Zak is having issues sharing so Ryder wants his own...we are working on the sharing!

I also plan to get our advent calendar out and hung up to start on Tuesday. Ours has a pocket for each day and a mouse that you move from day to day. It is the one I grew up using so it has sentimental value to me. We usually got money or candy put in it each day...not sure what we will do for the boys this year.


I have been playing with my new camera this weekend. I have messed with a ton of settings trying to learn everything it can do so the pictures have not been 100% great since I am still learning. Hoping to have it all figured out soon! Enjoy!

Today Ryder and I spent a few hours in Annapolis. I needed to pick up the jackets from Chelley and then we went to Colleen's for lunch. I took a few pictures of the kids and Ryder enjoying the dancing snowman.

Here are a few pictures from yesterday around the house.
Here is the Little People Nativity Set I have been searching for! I did find it at WalMart today. After some research my mom has found that it was more expensive at WalMart because it is a bigger set. There are more people in this set than in the one found at Target or even online at Fisher Price. This set includes the 3 Wise Men which are sold separately through Fisher Price online. So now we don't feel as bad about paying more!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Shopping

Yes, Ben and I braved the stores and went out shopping! Our first stop was Toys R Us which opened at midnight. We arrived there at about 11:25pm and found a line already wrapped around the entire building. I couldn't believe it! We stood in line (cold, windy, rainy), but were surprised to actually make it into the doors by 12:10am. Once we were inside the chaos began. You could hardly walk anywhere and needed to really know exactly what you were looking for (which of course I really didn't). Finally we found the line for getting into the electronics section and Ben stood there while I wandered looking for a few things. Our big success was that we got the very last DVD player which was one of the main reasons for going there! We also picked up a few others things. We were out by about 2:30am which is not too bad.

We decided to come back home for a bit before going to stand in line at Best Buy because it was just way too wet/windy/cold to stand outside for a few hours. Well, my luck was good for the second time today! We got to Best Buy around 4am and the line was wrapped around to the back of the building, but as we stood it started to get shorter and shorter. This is because Best Buy hands out tickets for their big doorbuster items and once people get those tickets they can leave the line and just go in once the store opens. As soon as we made it in the door I rushed to the camera area which was all roped off to create a single line (great idea). We were third in line and very quickly got to buy my camera. We were out of the store by 5:30am which was awesome.

Once we left Best Buy we drove to WalMart & Target (in the same parking lot). It was a mess, but we were able to find a parking spot close to Target. We decided to go into WalMart first, but were unable to find jackets for the boys. (Side note: WalMart was a mess because they allowed shoppers to go in at midnight, but not touch the Black Friday sale items until 5am which made for massive chaos!). So we walked over the Target which also didn't have jackets for the boys. We walked around a picked up a few things. My mom had called to say she didn't get her camera from Target before it sold out, but Ben found it at ours so we picked it up for her (will mail it with Piper's Christmas present). Then Chelley called to say she found jackets for the boys at Old Navy! In the end we walked away with everything except 1 Christmas gift...then we will be done shopping.

The goodies we walked away with today....

Electronic Drum Pad (for the boys)
Military Play Set (for the boys)
Chixos (for Isabelle)
DVD Player (for the boys)
DS Game (for Taylor)
DS Game (for me)

Nikon Coolpix P90 camera (for me)
Camera Bag (for me)
Extra Camera Battery (for me)

Stacking & Ball Toy (for Haleigh)
Nikon Coolpix S203 (for my mom)
10 Piece Picture Frame (for me/us/house)
Angels & Demons (for Ben & I)
HellBoy II (for Ben & I)
Tales of Desperaux (for the boys)
Stocking Stuffers for the boys
Socks (joke gift for Taylor)

Jackets for the boys that Chelley got!

Overall, we had a good night/morning. I will more than likely try to take a catnap before we have to go pick up the boys from Rich & Laura, but knowing me that might not happen. We don't have any plans for tomorrow, but Ben will be out of town Monday-Wednesday this coming week.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Haircut Pictures & Cooking

It is hard to get good pictures to show off their new haircuts, but here is what I got today. You can see that it is shorter on the sides and in the back.

This morning the boys helped me make the rice krispie treats. Ben helped make the stuffing while I was making the broccoli casserole. We plan to head over to Shannon's house around 2pm and eat at 3om. The boys are then going to spend the night at Rich & Laura's house so Ben and I can go shopping bright and early. On our list is Toys R Us (midnight), Best Buy (5am), Target, and WalMart.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hair Cuts

I have been wanting to cut the boys' hair for a few weeks, but have not because I wanted to leave it longer on the top and I have not become good at doing that on my own. Tonight I called around to find out how much it would cost to take them some place for a "real" haircut. After lots of talking (& whining on my part) I convinced Ben to let us go and get them haircuts. We went to Hair Cuttery and all 3 boys got their hair cut! Here are pictures of Zak & Ryder after their haircut (can't really see much, but will try to get better ones tomorrow!)....

On Monday the boys and I spent the day in Annapolis with Josephine and Jamison because Chris & Colleen had to work. Also, I had an ulterior motive for doing this...I wanted to pick up my Best Buy gift card from my mom so I can buy my camera on Friday! Well, Colleen & the kids found a stray dog on Thursday night which spent the night and was there when I got to the house on Friday morning. Luckily, Kay kept the dog so we could run out and do a few errands. Then we played at Kay's house with Nathan (3 weeks younger than the boys) which everybody enjoyed. To make a long story short, the dog is about 10-12 months old and was rescued by a woman in the neighborhood from the pound just before he was going to be put the sleep. This woman rescues lots of dogs and has about 15 right now. The dog they found got out of her house and she did not respond to the lost dog fliers in the hopes that whoever found him would keep him. Right now the dog is living with Natalie! He is a cutie and pretty well-behaved...

When we got home on Monday evening there was a box for the boys on the front porch. We opened it up and found 2 Barney sleeping bags, 2 Barney books, and a Barney VHS. The boys were so excited! They have slept with the sleeping bags since that night.

Tomorrow we will be watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It has been tradition since I can remember to watch the parade and I have enjoyed watching it even more since I was in the parade while in high school. I will be making stuffing, broccoli casserole, and rice krispie treats to take to Shannon's house. We plan to eat at 3pm, but will probably go over before that.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Trip to the Mall

Today we left the house around 10am to head towards Arundel Mills mall. First, we stopped to see Rich & Laura, but they were not home. Then we went to the mall and had some lunch at "Fil A" as Zak calls it (Chick Fil A). After we finished eating I got a text from Chelley saying she and Maddie were at the mall also. So we met up with them and went into Children's Place to look at jackets. Then we headed to see Santa at Bass Pro Shop, but discovered Santa had gone to lunch. So we walked around a little more waiting to see Santa. At that point Chelley had left, but Rich & Laura (with Isabelle & Taylor) arrived to the mall. Finally, we were able to see Santa! The boys were not too excited about sitting on Santa's lap, but they didn't actually cry either which is good. Here are a few pictures from our day....

Ready for School

The whole reason for our trip to the mall

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Options...Thinking Ahead

This evening Laura, Rich, Isabelle, and Taylor came to the house to play with the boys while Ben and I went to a meeting. This meeting is the beginning of a big transition for Ryder in the near future. At the moment he is receiving therapy sessions through the Infants & Toddlers program which is a state program. He has been in this program since he was 9 months old and has made a great deal of progress in that time period! At 3 years old he will have to transition and there are two options available for him. The meeting tonight was to discuss these two options in-depth and to help us start making a decision. Between 27-32 months there will be a meeting involving all of Ryder's current therapists, Ben & I, and a member of the special education program from Harford County. This meeting we will discuss where Ryder is developmentally, what his needs are for therapy, and then we will have to make our decision. At 3 yrs old (36 months) he will begin which ever option we have chosen and continue that until he goes into kindergarten.

The two options we have for Ryder....

Option 1: Extended IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) which means he would continue receiving the therapy sessions in our home just as he is now. The therapy sessions will be very family-oriented as they always have been. He would continue with the same therapy schedule and nothing would really change.

Option 2: IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) which would be a whole different thing from what we are doing right now. This option would be sending Ryder to a special education pre-school at a local elementary school. It would put him into a classroom with children aged 3-5 and with varying levels of delays and needs. He would receive all of the therapies he needs in the classroom along with working on socialization and school readiness. This program is a half-day program (2.5 hours) that takes place 2-4 days a week depending on the child's needs. Ryder is not extremely delayed so he would probably only go 2 days a week, but we would not find out this until his IEP meeting. The big little boy would ride a school bus!! I would rather drive him to and from the school, but Ben (and all of the therapists) highly suggest letting the kid's ride the bus so they can interact and learn the whole school bus thing.

After tonight's meeting Ben and I are really leaning towards Option 2. We think the social interaction would be great for Ryder. We still have a few months to make the decision so I plan to talk with his therapists during their next sessions to see what they think. This transition is something new that is just starting for kids who turn 3 years old after February 1, 2010 so there are a few kinks that are still being worked out. This new program does have the same eligibility requirements as the Infants & Toddlers program which means Ryder's genetic disorder will automatically qualify him so he will definitely be accepted.

We are also going to start looking around at our options for Zak next year. Just as much as Ryder needs the interaction, Zak does as well. We will be looking into the Early Head Start program as well as private pre-school programs for 3 year olds. We are learning that you really do have to think ahead, look at your options, plan, and then make a decision.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nap Time Please Come Back

I really miss nap time! Nap time was the time during the day for me to eat lunch in peace, get some chores done, and just relax for a bit. Now the boys have decided they are just too old for naps. They have boycotted them in the past and gone back to napping, but this time I am not holding my breath for that. Many days they seem to be OK without a nap, but there are days that by dinner time they are ready for bed.

The other day I discovered if I put them in their room for a nap later in the day (2-3pm) they would actually fall asleep for a while. So that has been my newest strategy. Today this strategy did NOT work....

This is what I found when I went to check on them after being in their room for about 30 minutes. No, I did not put their mattresses like was all them. I put the mattress back down and within 15 minutes they had done it again! So no nap today....

On to another topic....
Ryder's speech therapist came to the house today for the first time in about a month. We had to cancel the last few sessions because of the illnesses that our household has been dealing with. She was amazed with the progress that Ryder has made since the last time she worked with him. She finally finished his re-evaluation and will have the full report for me December 1 which is our next session with her. While his therapist was here we talked about the big 3 year old transition that will be happening. She explained it to me a bit more so now I understand the whole process.
Basically, at 3 years old we have 2 choices for Ryder....
1) Continue with the in-home 1-on-1 sessions (IFSP plan). This is exactly what we are doing now so nothing would change. They focus on his individual goals.
2) Go to the local elementary school for small group sessions with 2-4 kids (IEP plan). This would mean taking him to the school and having him socialize and interact with other children. They would focus on his individual goals along with working on school readiness.

Ben and I are going to a meeting on Thursday evening which is all about this process. They will go over it in-depth and explain the options more clearly. They start this process at 27 months since it takes a while to complete all of the re-evaluations, answering questions, learning options, and making the decision.

Fight For Preemies

November is Prematurity Awareness Month! The March of Dimes has organized the Fight for Preemies and has encouraged parents of preemies to use November 17 as a day to share our stories and help spread the word about the March of Dimes and how important their mission is.

Most people who are reading my blog already knows our story, but I wanted to share it quickly for those who are new to my blog.

I found out at 11 weeks that I was pregnant with twins and it was definitely a surprise! At that moment I knew the pregnancy was going to be high risk (not to mention I was already considered high risk because of my Diabetes). I knew all of the bad things that could happen, but I tried to not think too much about it and enjoy the pregnancy. Things were going very well in the beginning...I didn't even have morning sickness. Unfortunately, my good luck did not last much past 18 weeks along. I started to efface at about 19 weeks or so, but was told not to worry too much about it yet. Then at about 22 weeks I was measuring 1cm dilated so I was put on modified bed rest at home. I continued to work until about 24 weeks, but then had to quit because I needed more time laying down. At 27 weeks I woke up and just didn't feel right, I was having some cramping so I called the doctor. They told me to go to Labor & Delivery to be put on a monitor to see if I was having contractions. Apparently, I was having some decent contractions pretty regularly (I guess not having kids before means you don't really know what a contraction feels like!). They decided to admit me so that they could keep a close eye on me and the boys. They tried multiple medications to stop my contractions (including Magnesium which is the WORST!) and nothing seemed to help. The doctors and nurses were all getting me mentally prepared to deliver the boys anytime and it was just so scary. I was given two doses of steroids to help the boys' lungs develop quicker just in case I did deliver them early. Finally, they tried one last medication which worked. After having no contractions for 2 days they allowed me to go home on strict bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. I spent a total of 7 days in the hospital and was so glad to be home. I had weekly OB appointments and was allowed to go to the bathroom (take 1 shower/bath a day) and that was it. At my 30 week appointment I was measuring 2cm dilated so the doctor told me I would probably be delivering sooner than later. Only 3 days later I woke up at 2am and realized my water had broken! I was so scared. We rushed to Labor & Delivery where they found my water had definitely broken and I was having some serious contractions on a regular basis. The decision was made to admit me and try to keep the boys inside of my as long as possible, but only a few hours later I was being wheeled to the operating room to deliver my boys.

They were born by c-section (both breech) at 30 weeks 3days on August 5, 2007. Zak was born first weighing 4lb 2oz and was 17 inches long. He came out breathing on his own and I was able to see him and kiss him before he was taken to the NICU. Ryder was born second weighing 3lb 1oz and was 15 inches long. He cried very faintly (I didn't hear it, but Ben said he did since he was in the other room with Zak) and then was not breathing on his own. The NICU team intubated him, put IVs in and rushed him to the NICU. I was able to see the isolette wheel by me, but he was buried under blankets and hooked up to the breathing support so I wasn't actually able to see him. Ben went to the NICU and took pictures of my boys for me. I was finally able to get wheeled to the NICU in a wheelchair to see my babies in the later afternoon. I didn't know what to think when I saw Ryder hooked up to the ventilator and all of the Ivs and wires, it was so scary. Then I went to the next room to see Zak. I was surprised, but so excited when the nurse asked if I wanted to hold him! I got to hold Zak that afternoon and loved every moment of it. I was able to hold Ryder about 2 days after their birth once he was off the vent. Both of the boys had pretty easy NICU stays, but there were issues with infection (possible NEC for Zak) and learning to eat. The both stayed in the NICU for 5.5 weeks and came home with apnea monitors and weighing 4lb & 4.5lbs!

Today they both have asthma, but it is controlled with inhalers. Ryder was diagnosed with a genetic disorder (Klinefelter's Syndrome) and has some developmental delays, but we are working with the county Infant & Toddlers program to help him with therapy sessions. Overall, they are both happy and healthy toddlers!

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Home For the Holidays (Week 3)

This week I did not keep up with all of the assignments, but I did still work on lots of things or try to at least attempt something from each assignment.

Assignment 13: On Sunday Ben helped me clean out the car. I am known to let the car become a collect-all area and never clean it out! Finally, after 2 large trash bags, 1 smaller trash bag, and a small suitcase the car was cleaned out. I hope to keep it that way for a while, but it never seems to last very long.

Assignment 14: Monday I went through the boys' art project drawers and tried to organize it a bit. They have learned how to get into it so things are everywhere now.

Assignment 15: Sunday Ben is going to help me pull out the Christmas decorations so I can look through all of it and see what we actually have. I can't wait to start decorating.

Assignment 16: Wednesday is our normal trash day so this morning Ben took out all of our trash (I can never believe how much trash we have in 1 week!). I also went around the house and re-filled baby wipe containers which always seem to be empty now that the boys enjoy playing with them.

Assignment 17: Wednesday and Thursday I did a few loads of laundry. Saturday morning I finally folded the clean clothes and hope to put them away today (Sunday).

Assignment 18: Friday I worked on finishing up the laundry which seems to never end! I still have about 2-3 more loads of laundry to get to....

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lots of Videos

Tonight I decided to try and get a few videos of Ryder talking. He has made a huge improvement with his speech, but I am never able to get it on video. Tonight was no different from any other time in our household...Zak always jumps in and talks for Ryder or just interrupts him. We tried for about 30 minutes to get a few videos of Ryder talking or naming things, but were unsuccessful in doing so. Here is what we did get....

Bouncing like Tigger

Hiking the football

Sometime this week I plan to take Ryder into the playroom without Zak and try to get a better video of him talking.

Pictures of Daily Assignments

I wanted to post some pictures of some of the assignments I have been doing around the house.

Pile of things to donate/take to dump/give away
de-cluttering assignment
Some of the recycling that is going out tomorrow
de-cluttering assignment

Playroom Before
Playroom After
The playroom has become a major source of stress for me recently! The boys have no interest in putting things away. I know many kids at this lovely age of 2 don't willingly clean everything up, but I have seen plenty of kids that will put away things once and a while. Unfortunately, my boys enjoy running into the room and dumping out all of the containers/drawers/etc and then playing with it all. The above before pictures are actually semi-clean compared to what the room looks like on a daily basis. They don't seem to just play with 1 thing and then move on; they like to mix everything up and play with it all! Ben and I had tried to make clean-up time right before bedtime, but it turned into major meltdowns for the boys and myself. We are going to go back to trying to have clean-up time sometime in the evening, but maybe not right before bedtime. Hopefully we will find something that works for all of us or else I am packing up ALL of the toys and they will be allowed 1 thing at a time!!