Thursday, December 6, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday!

I have more to say about B&H turning 2, as well as their party coming up on Saturday, but I wanted to share a birthday slideshow. I'm proud to say I only cried during this slideshow 1 or 2 times. (Last year I cried at least 12 times putting together a 1 year slideshow!). We had a fun year - it was great to look back at all the great photos I took.

And! Seriously! I hadn't realized how much they changed in one year until I looked back at this slideshow. Crazy growing!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

QOTD - George Style

We've started a routine where we watch an episode or two of our favorite show - Curious George - before nap or bed. It is a nice cuddle, wind-down time.

The other day, I turned it on, and Ben sat down right in front of the TV and said:

"Oh, this one is my favorite!"

Maybe we watch *too* much George.....

Monday, November 12, 2012

Falling behind on Thanks

Of course. Didn't I sort of think this would happen? I mean, I've tried many daily (or weekly) posts before and they've all fizzled. So, again, I play catchup.

12: Today I am thankful for our YMCA! It is so nice to know I can get a workout in and the kids are safe in the Kids Stuff having a fun time. Even if they cry a bit when I drop them off (a new thing in the past month), the staff calms them down and gets them engaged in activities!
Eating snack in the lobby. Their favorite part of the Y!

11: I am thankful that we have food on our table! I especially like this time of year where I do more baking and soup-making. Mmmm. Even on days or weeks or months like I've had lately where I worry about my weight and inevitablly eat too many cookies, I can look back and be thankful that we had enough to eat in the first place!

10: I am thankful for our church, Nativity Lutheran Church. Though there are many times we grumble about how far we have to drive to get there (up to NE Mpls, about 10-12 miles/20 minutes away), it is worth it. We love our pastors, love the message, and love the staff. We're lucky to have found a place where we fit in and feel good about attending. Just wish it was a bit closer!

9: I'm thankful for my Moms of Multiples group (MVMOM). There is absolutely no way I would have survived these 2 years without this group of supportive, wonderful ladies! (PS: Check out the web site above and see if you recognize anyone!)

8: I'm thankful for ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education), a program through school districts here in Minnesota that teaches kids AND families! I took a class last year which I loved! (And miss my friends from it!) And I'm in a different class for 12-24 month old kids now. It's great! I'm especially thankful that the school is only 2 blocks away, so all 3 of us can just walk right over!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

30DOT catchup

I missed a few days - Election and Birthday will do that to you!

Day Seven: It's my birthday today, and I'm thankful for my Mom. I never understood that my birthday might be a special day for her, too, until my own kids were born. So today, we both celebrate and I am thankful for my mom!

Day Six: It was election day yesterday, and I'm thankful we live in a country where we can and do have a choice and voice in who are elected officials and laws are. Regardless of how you feel about the results, you, too, should be thankful we have this priveledge and right! (Also: can you imagine that only 92 years ago women weren't even given that right??)

Day Five: I am thankful for the opportunities are have at our fingertips here in the Twin Cities. Museums, the Zoo, libraries and bookstores, parks and trails. What a great place to raise a family!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday. I love my birthday, I always have. I sort of wish it were appropriate for adults to wear shirts that say "It's my Birthday!" so the people at storytime or Trader Joe's know and will say something nice to you. I guess that's the benefit of Facebook telling all your friends it's your birthday - it's like getting 60 birthday cards in the mail!

I initially found this photo of a b-day cake and thought "That's too many candles
for MY cake" - but then I counted them and discovered there are only
25 candles. I think I think I'm younger than I am...
Anyway, I got this idea from my friend Dara (who also has a birthday this week) and I knew I wanted to do it, too. (Though, admittedly, my New Year's Resolutions are not getting looking like they'll make it in the next 7 weeks...). She made a list of things she wants to do in the next year that equal the number of years in her age.

Since I'm 33 today, I am making a list of 33 things I want to do this year. Some are selfish, some are selfless, some are big, some are small. Some are meaningful like The Birthday Project. Some are all about me and no one else.

1. Volunteer at Feed My Starving Children - at least twice.
2. Host a Christmas Cookie exchange.
3. Run a 5K, a 7K, a 10K, and a "longer than 10K" race (maybe a 10 mile or 1/2 marathon?).
4. Read at least 6 books for fun.
5. Make a family cookbook.
6. Take the kids to Wisconsin.
7. Get a pedicure.
8. Swim in a lake (with the kids).
9. Take a family vacation - that doesn't involve going to or staying at a relative's home.
10. Crochet a blanket (you'll remember that was a New Year's Resolution from last year, whoops, didn't get there...).
11. Reconnect (ie: see in person) some old friends who I've not seen much since B&H were born
12. Paint my bedroom.
13. Take a sewing class.
14. Go to Lake Minnetonka.
15. Try Zumba at least once.
16. Pay off one of my student loans
17. Send real paper cards to my immediate family members for their birthdays.
18. Sleep in (past 8:00) just once.
19. Stay up late (past 11:00) just once.
20. Go to a movie in the theater.
21. Go to a concert.
22. Go to a play or musical.
23. Leave a treat and thank you note for the mailman.
24. Take the kids on an airplane (Yikes! This is crazy!)
25. Take the Jeopardy online quiz again.
26. Go sledding (with the kids).
27. Learn a bit of basic graphic design.
28. Shovel my neighbor's sidewalk for no reason.
29. Wear pajamas all day.
30. Spend an entire day sitting at a coffee shop reading (without kids).
31. Go on a Girl's Weekend with my friends.
32. Donate blood.
33. Pay for someone's coffee who is behind me in line.

Wow. I better get started!

What is on your list this year?

Monday, November 5, 2012

30 days to 2 years!

Today the kids (notice how I've stopped calling them "the babies"??) turn 23 months old. That means we have just 30 days left of them being one year old! Caaaaa-Razy!

So, to celebrate and look back at their year of being One, I made a list of 23 things I love about One-Year-Olds. What a great way to look back at the last year. And while this *is* similar to the 22 Things I love about being a mom from last month, it's more specific to what I love about them at this age and how we spent the last year. It was a fun one!

In no particular order....
1. Toddler art projects
2. Running through the sprinklers

3. They learned body parts, starting with the basics like head and foot and now moving on to specifics like cheek and elbow and armpit!
4. They're beginning to know their extended family either from talking on the phone or seeing them at birthday parties or looking at photos
5. They make new friends
6. They love (LOVE!) certain characters from books (like, Maisy, Curious George, Knuffle Bunny and Elmo)
7. They talk! Sometimes too much, especially Ben. :)

8. They can remember the plots of stories and retell them to themselves or each other, particularly stories about the characters from #6
9. The many, many trips to the Zoo or Museum
10. How they run. So funny!
11. They can self-identify, even with their nicknames
12. First haircuts
13. They can start to sing songs, though the words are mixed up and hilarious

15. They (mostly) survive a road trip

16. Oh my - the love between this Sissy and Brobbo!

17. Kisses, oh the many sloppy kisses!
18. Naptime. I love naptime, even in the many forms it's taken this past year
19. Going to the park
20. Silly things they say or know, like the Mendota Bridge is the "airplane" bridge because you can see airplanes there. Or that they know what the bracket is on the railing. Or when they put their loveys on their heads and say "Nummy hat!" Or the way Hannie draws "tiny circles."

21. Bath Time
22. Toddler laughing, especially when playing tickle monster
23. How just darn cute they are!
Sneak Peek of our Holiday Mini Session with Heather Hanson!

In general, I am much calmer, happier, excited about their 2nd birthday coming up than I was last year for their first birthday. Seriously. Last year I was a wreck and sad about all the things about B&H as babies that were gone and I'd never get to experience again. THIS year, though, I am excited about all the fun things to come. Not that it's ever EASY to be a mom, but it is easier now than it was when they were tiny babies. I'm eager to see the things that will come in the next year - more learning, more self-sufficiency, more challenges, more fun. Maybe we'll start thinking about preschool. Maybe they'll get potty-trained. Maybe we'll go on a family vacation. Maybe!

I love looking back at the last year, but this birthday, I'm not weepy and crying over what has past. I am so excited about what is to come!

PS: For fun, you should look back at all our One Month Older posts from the past year. You can see the babies grow and grow!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

30DOT: Grandparents

Here we are at day four of 30 Days of Thanks!

Day Four:

I'm thankful for my grandparents. I blogged about this before and I was reminded again last night at the All Saint's service at church how much I loved and miss my grandparents who have passed away and how thankful I am for my Grandma Dorothy! I feel like many of my morals and ethics in my adult life can be traced back to my grandparents. Thank you, Grandpa, Grandma Vernie & Grandma Dorothy, for being such great influences on my life!
Grandpa Cal

Flashback! Grandma Dorothy with
B&H (when they were 4 months old)

Grandma Vernie & Me! About 1982 or83
Day Three:
I am thankful for our home, as small and messy as it may be. I am often frustrated at it's teeny tiny space, but you know what? It's a warm place for us to live. It's a place for us to play and grow. It's a place to call our own. And even if we live here for just the next 5 years or as many as the next 30, this will always be the first home Aaron and I bought, the first one we furnished and decorated, the place I had to lie down for 2 months, the house we brought our children home from the hosptial to, where our children took their first steps, said their first words, had their first bloody noses. It's where we cuddle in the basement and watch Curious George at night. It's where I make soup and bread and cupcakes for Sunday dinner. It is our home.

Teeny tiny and messy, but home!

Day Two:
I am thankful for my husband Aaron, for without him none of the wonderful things that have happened to me in the past 7 years ever would have happened!

5-Year Anniversary photo, (c) Heather Hanson Photography
Day One:
I'm thankful for these two cuties who changed my life forever.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

30DOT Day 3

Hello day three of 30 Days of Thanks!
Day Three:
I am thankful for our home, as small and messy as it may be. I am often frustrated at it's teeny tiny space, but you know what? It's a warm place for us to live. It's a place for us to play and grow. It's a place to call our own. And even if we live here for just the next 5 years or as many as the next 30, this will always be the first home Aaron and I bought, the first one we furnished and decorated, the place I had to lie down for 2 months, the house we brought our children home from the hosptial to, where our children took their first steps, said their first words, had their first bloody noses. It's where we cuddle in the basement and watch Curious George at night. It's where I make soup and bread and cupcakes for Sunday dinner. It is our home.

Teeny tiny and messy, but home!

Day Two:
I am thankful for my husband Aaron, for without him none of the wonderful things that have happened to me in the past 7 years ever would have happened!

5-Year Anniversary photo, (c) Heather Hanson Photography
Day One:
I'm thankful for these two cuties who changed my life forever.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day 2 of 30DOT

Here it is Day 2 of my 30 Days of Thanks blogging challenge. I'm on a roll. Haha.

Day Two:
I am thankful for my husband Aaron, for without him none of the wonderful things that have happened to me in the past 7 years ever would have happened!
5-Year Anniversary photo, (c) Heather Hanson Photography
Day One:
I'm thankful for these two cuties who changed my life forever.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

30 Days of Thanks

Hello November!

Since this is Thanksgiving month, I am setting a pretty hefty goal for myself: post every day something that I'm thankful for. Now this isn't an original idea! There are several other blogs or websites about this concept, but here's my take at it!

Day One:
I'm thankful for these two cuties who changed my life forever.

If you're doing some version of 30 Days of Thanks - comment below. I'd love to read what you are thankful for, too!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sippy Cup Half Full Parenting

Do you know anyone who's constantly complaining about everything? I have a few of these people in my life, and honestly, I try to avoid them whenever I can. It just brings me down to be around such negativity. I like to think about what my grandma always said: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

I think as parents, it is easy for us to get into this Debbie-Downer, Negative-Nelly mindset. It's hard. We're tired. The kids are being a bit naughty. They won't nap. They won't eat. The house is a mess. Money is tight. We all know the struggles parents have.

But, here's my challenge: ditch the Debbie Downer and vow be a Sippy Cup Half Full parent!
Original image (c) Life is Good
When your child splashes tons of water all over the bathroom during tub time, think of it as an opportunity to clean the bathroom floor.

When your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, think of it as extra cuddle time.

When your toddler says "NO NO NO" to you, think of it as she's becoming an independent thinker.

When your infant or toddler refuses to nap, think of it as a training exercise in patience.

When you race around your house, trying so hard to get your child(ren) to put on shoes, socks, jackets, etc, think of it as a bit of extra cardio exercise.

When your child refuses to eat dinner and throws it on the floor, think of it as an excuse to try a new recipe tomorrow night.

When your child cries when you drop him off at daycare/preschool/church nursery, think of it as a blessing that he loves you so much that he wants you around.

When your house is messier than you'd like it to be, think of it as proof that a happy family lives and plays there.

When your child smears food, paint, mud across his new clothes, think of it as a break to sit and fold clothes while watching Netflix.

When you have to trade in our coupe for a minivan, think of it as providing your family with a safe ride (and helping out a local car salesman put food on his table!)

When your furniture gets scuff marks on it, think of it as adding charm and character.

When your beloved Saturday or Sunday sleep-in time is interrupted with an early riser, think of it as an opportunity to go to the museum or zoo and not have to wait in line.

When you're tired and crabby, think of it as a time to grab your child, embrace in a bear hug, bury your face in the nape of your child's neck and say good-bye the worries of the world!

What would you add to the Sippy Cup Half Full parenting mindset?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Playroom Remake - Phase One

We live in a tiny house. Really. If you count the basement (mostly finished), we top out at about 1200 square feet. I guess that works out to 400 square feet per person who lives here, and certainly people live and thrive in that amount of space or smaller. But those people probably didn't have a toy kitchen, babydoll strollers, a dozen or so puzzles, some Matchbox cars and trains, and about 300 books (give or take) cluttering up their space.

So, when I finally lost all control of my living room:

I decided to to take it back. That meant I had to let go of my computer room/guest room/storage room. That room has served many different purposes since we moved in the house, but this will be the most useful, I think!

Today I completed Phase One. Whew!

 I had to clear all the junk out (mind you, there was lots, and it was a lot of junk. I'm a bit of a packrat), then move some new stuff in. I didn't set a budget, but I feel like I've kept it under reins pretty good. First, let's look. Then let's add.
North wall with a few cuties I found!

Southeast corner.

That's pretty much the whole room. From where I'm standing to take the above photo, there is a dresser that works OK in the room, but I plan to move to the basement sometime. 

Now, to add.
New rug (on clearance) from Target: $20.98
Curtain panes for 2 windows (from Ikea): $14.99 each
New-to-us toy refrigerator - $8.00  (Craigslist Find)
We already had the toy kitchen.
New-to-us bookshelf - $13.00  (Craigslist find)
Bookshelf - $13.00
Refrigerator - $8.00
(2) curtain panels - $29.98
Rug - $20.98
(4) red pillows - $19.96
Ikea Latt Table - $19.99
Total so far - $81.93

This is only phase one. I have big plans for the rest of the room - including some Expedit shelves! I also want to do some painting, not necessarily the walls (they are a very tame tan color, if I were to paint, I had ideas of Robin's Egg Blue, but that might be a bit garish).

Stay tuned for Phase Two and a new running total!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

QOTD: Airplanes

Ben: "I love airplanes!!"

It's quite obvious, as seen here:

Friday, October 19, 2012

FPD, October 19th

Well, it's been about a month since my last Friday Phone Dump. Geez. Why can't I get it together?

Here's another smattering of photos. Enjoy!

Daddy & Hannah and Momma & Ben on a FIRE TRUCK!

Five cousins watching trains at Choo-Choo Bob's, Uncle Randy & Hannah,
3 Toddler cousins

Clockwise from top left: Ben practicing ABCs, Hannah cuddling in Daddy's chair,
Ben relishing a good meal, Ben flying his airplane (built himself!)

Clockwise from top left: Ben running at the park, a pretty sunset,
sibling love (after a meltdown), Hannie drawing "tiny circles"
I have lot blogposts 1/2 way started... hope to get them published soon. But you know me: one track mind. I'm busy working on transforming our playroom, so that's about all I can muster energy for lately. Check back (hopefully) within a week for a playroom reveal!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Twenty-Two Things I Love

In honor of B&H's 22-month birthday the other day (yes, I'm running behind like usual...), I made a list of 22 Thing I Love About Being a Mom.

1. Newborn finger grasps.
2. Sweet first baby smiles.
3. Chubby baby legs.
4. Tickle monster.
5. Baby eyelashes.
6. The way a new box of Pampers smells (really!)
7. Picking out cute clothes for them to wear.
8. Giggles, giggles, giggles.
9. Scoring a really good deal on any of the following: diapers, babyfood, toys, shoes, clothes, outdoor equipment, pretty much anything!
10. Having supportive, wonderful moms as my new peer group.
11. Storytime, art class, ECFE, open gym.
12. Little tiny clothes fresh out of the dryer.
13. Cooking healthy meals for my family.
14. Holding hands.
15. First time sitting, first time rolling over, first crawling, first steps.
16. Kisses & hugs.
17. Words like "Lub Oo Momma."
18. Kissing owies to make them all better.
19. How toddlers run - so funny!
20. Toddler animal noises.
21. Sitting on the couch reading books.
22. When they sleep on their tummies with their butts up in the air.

I could go on. And on. There are so many things I love about being a mom and being able to experience life on a whole new level. I am very blessed that B&H are my two babes. I love them to PIECES!

Newborn, 10 months, 22 months
They continue to grow and change by the day lately. The say more words than I can count and can say full (4-word) sentences that actually make sense. Today they both said "Granddad go bye-bye (in) truck." I am continually impressed!

And they both can count, sort of. Ben says "One, Three, Two" and can tell you the next number if you stop counting between 1 and 10. Hannah thinks every amount more than 1 is 2. Like, if there are 5 blocks on the floor, she says "Two blocks!" Very cute.

We're really working on having them help pick up their toys, wipe the table, throw garbage away - any sort of "chore" that near-2-year-olds can handle. The toys are the big one. I'm so sick of picking up toys!!

On that note, we are turning the guest bedroom into a playroom. I hope to have a place where I can let them play, but then shut the door when they're done so I don't have to look at the messy toys! And reclaim my living room!! Oh, a Momma can dream! I'll post photos if/when I ever get the room done!

What would be on your list of things you love about being a mom?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Social Studies Lesson

With Election Day quickly approaching, I thought it was appropriate to teach B&H a bit about civics. So far, we have gotten this far:

PS: This is our 100th post! Celebration all around!

Monday, October 1, 2012

We Are So Very Lucky

It is October 1 again. For the first 29 years of my life, Oct. 1 didn't have much meaning to me. Yeah, it was about a month after school started. And yeah, it was about a month to my birthday. But there was no real significance with that day.

All that changed forever two years ago. 

It was Oct. 1, 2010 that I was 24 weeks pregnant. I was looking forward to the weekend with my mom and stepdad visiting, a trip to the Twins game, and my first babyshower hosted by my BFF. I took a day off work to do a very long ultrasound - and the whole family tagged along with me. My mom had never really seen an ultrasound (she had had one with my brother in 1982, but even that was long before they were standard protocol) and was excited to see the babies!

The appointment went swimingly for a long time. The babies looked good. Mom was excited to see them on the screen. I felt good, wearing my maternity Minnesota Twins tee shirt and looking forward to the game. Until...

I was immediately admitted to the hospital from that appointment for preterm labor symptoms. My cervix was very short and my uterus was funneling. I received shots of betamethazone to develop the babies' lungs. I was put on an IV drip of magnesium sulfate to calm my uterus down. I stayed in the hospital for 4 days and was discharged with a prescription of "strict bedrest" for the next 12 weeks.

I had never, ever been so scared in my life. I pray I'm never that scared again.

That day I went from an excited expectant mother to a frightened expectant mother fearing for the life of her babies. Gone were the days of nesting, dreaming, planning, shopping, getting ready to welcome two new people into our life. Instead, my days were filled with despair, depression, worry, loneliness, anxiety, and many, many naps. I prayed a lot. I was on constant alert for contractions. I relished times when visitors came, putting on a happy face and making the best of our chats while I was lying down. I'm not going to lie: it was the hardest, most difficult time in my life.
Cuddling with Lucy while lying down, about 3 weeks in to my bedrest (27 weeks pregnant)
 Fall weather now and forever will take me back to those memories.

Of course, I can look back now and be so very thankful. The babies were not born micropreemies. They were fortunate enough to make it to 33w2d and had very little medical problems. Hannah really only needed to learn how to eat and keep her body temperature steady. She didn't need any breathing help and came out of the incubator almost immediately. She only spent 7 days in the NICU. Ben did have a bit of trouble breathing and was put on a CPAP machine for a few days, but he figured it out pretty quickly and came home after a NICU stay of only 12 days. We are so lucky!
Ben w/ his CPAP. One of the scariest times of my life to see my boy struggling to breathe!

My first time holding Hannah, about 2 hours after she was born.

The other day I watched Grey's Anatomy reruns and one of the storylines is a woman who has a premature baby born at 24 weeks. I found myself in tears, thanking God over and over at how lucky we are! Things could have turned out much differently than they did. I never, ever forget that.

We are so very lucky.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

QOTD: Park edition

It was 77 degrees yesterday! What a welcome relief to the chilly beginning to fall we've had. We headed to the park in the afternoon to run off some energy.

Ben showed me a new trick: climbing up the slide! My months of redirecting have finally worn off; now he won't listen when I say "down the slide, up the back." I blame the older kids we saw at the park last week!

Anyway, Ben's Quote of the Day:

After climbing to the top of the slide, proudly:
"I did it!"

Silly boy.

I didn't quite catch the climbing on video, but I got close:

And, I'd like to declare a 2nd QOTD from the video. You have to listen carefully, but you can hear Ben say "Climbing backward."

Silly boy!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Oh, the Lord is good to me

Did anyone else sing the "Johnny Appleseed" prayer when they were younger? We always sang it at Girl Scout camp. It was one of my favorites.

Oh, the Lord is good to me
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me
The things I need
The sun and the rain and the appleseed
The Lord is good to me. 
Amen, Amen, Amen.

Saturday I could NOT get that song out of my head after we visited Minnetonka Orchards. Even with the chilly morning and the LONG drive out there (45 minutes! We really were out in the country!), it was a most wonderful fall morning!

First stop: apple donuts! Ben is a lover of donuts. Kid ate like 3 all by himself!
After we filled up on donuts, we headed out to the orchard to pick apples. Mode of transportation was a fun hay ride! Both kids loved riding the tractor, of course. And, we learned a big lesson: don't pick your apples first, not if you plan to do other orchard activities later. A peck of Cortlands is HEAVY!

Our mode of transportation

You can't really even tell, but we ARE on the hayride!
 Kids enjoyed picking the apples, even though they kept filling the bag with rotten apples from the ground! Oh well, we pulled those out when they weren't looking and moved on.
The orchard had other fun things to do, like a play train, a sand box, a little choo-choo wagon, a petting zoo, a hay pile to climb, and facepainting. But, by the time we picked apples and made our way toward the extras, it was creeping up on naptime, so we didn't participate much. Though, we did take our "How tall this fall?" Photos! Unfortunately, B&H both thought the "apple happy" was so cute that they just wanted to stare at it and not turn around for the picture. :)
It was a wonderful day. Oh yes, the Lord IS good to me!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pure Joy

When you are 1-3/4 years old, Pure Joy is running down a hill at top speed.

When you're 30-some years old, Pure Joy is watching these faces come barreling at you, ready for a hug.