Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Zoo-tastic 50th Post!

This is the 50th post I've made to the blog! WOW! Not too shabby for just about 6 months of operation. I hope B&H enjoy this blog someday in lieu of a baby book. Those just didn't get done.

Anyway, as you'll recall, we spent Memorial Day weekend in SoDak. After a first rough night with Hannie, we got up and out the door and hit the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls. No strangers to the zoo, B&H seemed excited to run in and see the animals. However, this was no Minnesota Zoo, for good and bad. It was CHEAP (all 5 of us, B, H, Aaron, my mom, and myself) got in for just $11! Can't beat it! It was small, so we got to see a lot of the zoo, but there weren't a ton of animals to see. The ones we did see though, were awesome! The Great Plains Zoo is certainly a spot to go when in Sioux Falls.

We saw (and later got chased by) some very beautiful and tame peacocks,

visited a cute little petting zoo,

said Hi to the monkeys and penguins before we had to stop for a snack.

And that's where it all fell to pot.

Ben - new to running, and wearing new (slightly too big) shoes - chased Daddy to the garbage can and SPLAT! fell flat on his face. Literally. Kid has a nice scrape on his nose now. (For some reason, I didn't follow my Mom of the Year protocol and take a photo of it though...). After about a 20 minute crying session, we did eventually hit the road again and saw some Rhinos (very cool) and tigers and other animals before taking a much needed rest on our very own train ride! (We were the only ones aboard the 10:30 a.m. departure). B&H LOVED the train and it calmed the still-upset Ben down quite nicely.
In true Riekenberg fashion, we left the zoo just as the massive crowds were coming in. But we were ALL ready to go home and take a nice long afternoon nap (which we all got!)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Little Sweeping, Fred Smoot, Some Duct Tape and the Girl Who Wouldn't Sleep

It's become an annual rite of summer. We pack up the car to the gills & head to SoDak to see relatives. (Though, I might say, I'm either getting better at packing or we are requiring less stuff to go. We could actually see out the back window this time around!) In some ways, traveling with toddlers is easier than with babies. They don't need formula, bottles, Bumpo seats, strollers, etc. They don't wake up at night. They take only 1 nap a day. BUT - they don't sleep the entire way on the car. They are wiggly. They are getting too big for Pack and Plays. So, I guess it's not easier. Perhaps it's just different.

And so we spent Memorial Day 2012 in SoDak. We traveled that weekend to attend my cousin Katie's high school graduation (more on that in a different post), but it worked out well to visit all the SoDak family! We started with a trip to Papa & Gaga's house.

When we arrived on Thursday, B&H hadn't slept much in the car on the way and were antsy. They snacked, then ran around Papa & Gaga's house. We went outside for a bit to play. Who knew brooms would be such a hit with these two?
Sweeping Gaga off her feet.

The beginning of a meltdown...

No nap = cranky Hannie.

This kid could sweep all day long.
It was chilly (and, of course, WINDY) in SoDak, so we didn't stay outside too long (Um, someone's Momma didn't pack warm enough clothes for them to be outside.... guess she thought it was summertime or something!)

The biggest hit inside was a small plumber statue my parents have by the front door. They call him Fred Smoot and Ben LOVED him. I think he thought Fred was another toddler to play with. Wherever the fascination was coming from, Ben wouldn't leave Fred alone! He loved pointing out Fred's facial features.

And of course, Ben is a lover so he had to give Fred some kisses.

Hannah wasn't too impressed with Fred, but she did love to climb in and out of the little rocking chair in the living room. So proud of herself!

Now, recall from my intro to this post that A) they didn't sleep in the car and B) they are a bit too big for pack and plays now. Those two things combined with a strange bedroom that wasn't quite dark enough resulted in this:
Trying to be comforted by Gaga
(after crying/screaming for 30 minutes)

Not havin' it.

Not even Daddy has the magic touch.

She did eventually go to sleep, but not without a fight. Sigh.

And Ben, silly Ben. He went right to sleep even though this happened to him:
Broken zipper on the only sleep sack =
duct tape solution!
We woke up the next day and went to the zoo and had a lovely day, complete with good naps and babies who fell right to sleep. Hooray!!

Monday, May 14, 2012


Mother's Day yesterday blessed us with the PERFECT spring weather! I swear, it was that one day a year when it's not hot, not windy, not humid, just perfect. I loved it. Thanks for the gift, Mother Nature!

Since it was so nice, Aaron & I decided to fill up the splash table for the first time and let the kids go crazy. They loved it, even though we didn't put the water in until just a few hours before using it, so the water was a little cold! Our neighbors were outside at the same time and thought B&H were hilarious splashing and squealing.

I have a feeling we'll be doing this a lot this summer!

I'm not sure.... You always say not to splash, Momma!

Oh wait, this is fun!

Uh oh! This is cold!

I don't care! I love to splash!

Yay! Daddy brought the bath toys!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

If You Think My Hands Are Full...

I found this necklace on Etsy and I love it. I'm going to treat myself to a Mother's Day present and order it. I can't resist. 

(On a side note, Aaron did get me a Mother's Day present - something I've been wanting for a while. My very thoughtful husband got me a TiVo! Now I can record the shows I love - like Parenthood and Smash - and watch them later and he won't bug me about how dumb the shows are. Wait..... maybe the TiVo is a present for himself....?) :)

With this necklace, I now have the perfect response to people when they see me lugging B&H around here and there and make that inevitable comment. BUT -  it couldn't be more true. It may be cliche, but my heart is bursting with love! This Mother's Day, I can't believe I am so blessed and thankful for them. For, if it weren't for them, I wouldn't even be a mother! How lucky am I to claim to be the Momma of these two?? Life doesn't get much better than this.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Moment I First Became Momma

I wrote this article for my Moms of Multiples newsletter, but I think it makes a great blog post, too. Enjoy!

Next week is Mother’s Day, my second to celebrate with my own children. The emotional Momma that I am, I will probably wake up, hug my kids, and shed a tear or two while I reflect on ups and downs of the past 17 months.

One of the things I think often about is the moment I first became Momma. Part of me feels like I became a Mother the day I went on bedrest (10/1/10). I was 24 weeks pregnant to the day and having preterm labor symptoms. My motherly instincts crept in and I knew I had to do what I needed to do to protect the babies. But, that wasn’t when I became Momma. That happened after they were born.

Hannah. Now that girl I fell in love with the first time I saw her. I didn't get to hold her (and I don't really remember seeing her) right when she was born. She was whisked away to the NICU and I was faced with another birth... But after I was done delivering Ben and all recovered, I got to go to the NICU. That was when I first saw Hannah and my heart filled up with love. There was this little tiny creature in an incubator with the wildest, darkest hair I'd ever seen. And soft, furry, pink skin. They let me hold her and I loved loved loved loved her. She felt so small and so warm and so much mine.We checked each other out or a while - I have a picture of her "waving" from her swaddle. She didn't have a name at that point, but when I saw her beautiful face the name Hannah popped in my head. It fit perfectly.
Say Hello to the world, Hannah!
Instantly bonded, mother and daughter

Ben. He’s a different story. He was harder to deliver (face down - ouch!) and I was so exhausted. He finally came out and he wasn't crying and was a little blue. His first Agpar score was like 1 or 2. It was scary. They whisked him away to the NICU and got him set up on CPAP. After I held and fell in love with Hannah, I went to his room to see him. He was equally small, but I couldn't see him. He had the CPAP contraption on his face. Honestly, it was a little scary. I had a hard time thinking of him as my boy and I felt very detached from him. The instant "I LOVE HIM" feeling wasn't there and I am ashamed to say I didn't feel like his Momma right away. To make matters worse, he was having a hard time with O2 saturation for his first 2 days, so he wasn't even allowed to leave the incubator. I didn't get to hold him until his 3rd day of living. So, at first, I hate to admit it, my focus was on Hannah and Ben was a bit of an after-thought. Like, "Oh, I guess I better say hi to Ben while I'm here in the NICU."
First time holding Ben
I can't say I bonded with him right away. I didn't have a "aha" moment of falling in love with him. I can't even remember when it happened, but sometime during his first month, I noticed I felt intensely bonded to my boy. He loved being cuddled, so Ben and I would snuggle up together after a feeding or during the day and just stay that way! It was one of those moments I sighed and said "this is my boy and I'm his Momma." And I still love to cuddle him and we do it a lot. I think it's because I didn't get to hold him for 3 days. We have more than made up for those first lost days.
Once a snuggler (age 2 months)
Always a snuggler! (age 4 months)

Even toddler snuggles! (age 16 months)

Now that my babies have become busy, busy toddlers, my love is there, and still as strong. Hannah has become my independent lady. She likes to do what I do and gets mad if I don’t let her. Oh heavens, the pretend grown-up things we are getting in this house – toy keys, cars, babydoll strollers, kitchen, phones. She’s a mini-mogul. Sometimes she likes to cuddle and kiss and sometimes she doesn’t. So, when she does want to give me kisses – I take them!
Miss Independent "helps" me with the laundry.
About as close to snuggling as this girl gets...

Ben continues to be my snuggler. He hugs me for minutes at a time several times a day. There’s no doubt about it: this boy loves his Momma! He is cautious and thoughtful and usually quite content to sit and read books. His language is taking off and like most boys, his favorite words are car, truck, and bubbles!
Thoughtful Ben, reading Where the Wild Things Are
(his new favorite and my ALL-TIME favorite!)
They are my loves, my world, my reason for being. And I am their Momma.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

When I was Seventeen (months)...

It was a very good month!

Today is Cinco de Mayo! It's also the babies' 17-month birthday! Ole!

This has been a busy month.  So busy in fact that I can't remember what happened and had to look back at my Facebook at status to remember. Thus, to make it easy on myself, I have decided to write this post in Facebook statuses. Enjoy!

4/5 - New words in this house this week: car, truck, moo & "ech ech ech" (barking) for Ben; hi (finally!), meh (either more or milk, I can't tell) & "ech ech ech." And, yes, this post is serving as my official documentation of these words.

4/9 -  Signed B&H up for swimming lessons at the Y. They will be Sea Turtles as of April 28!

4/11 - Perhaps the 4:00-4:30 timeframe was not the optimal one to try the two-cart-push-pull for the first time at Trader Joe's. Never have I received so many dirty looks from other shoppers. Jerks!

4/12 - Seriously. Toddler playgrounds need to be fenced in w/ a gate. I almost lost someone today!

4/15 - Did not turn on the baby monitor last night for the first time ever. Babies were fine all night. And guess what? I slept more soundly than I have in more than a year!

4/17 - We saw ducks, geese, a woodpecker, a heron, and an eagle on a walk w/ friends this afternoon. Awesome! 

4/19 - Somehow I once again managed to turn on the clock radio alarm in the babies' room. Hope they didn't mind being awoken to Pink at 7:05 a.m.

4/19 - Rainy Day + Playdate with the Meyer gals = VERY MESSY HOUSE. But in a good, played-themselves-silly sort of way.  

4/20 - Preparing the house for my weekend departure. Sloppy Joes cookin', sheets washin', babies cuddlin'. How can Momma feel so excited to go away, yet so sad and nervous at the same time??

4/21 - Both of my kids just said "hiiiiiii" to me on the phone. Love them!

4/22 - I have fun & supportive friends, a wonderful & helpful husband, and the best & cutest 16-month-olds in the world!

4/23 - Thank goodness. Hannie eats puree pouches again! Life (er, snacktime) just got just a *tad* easier.

4/25 - Few things are certain w/ toddlers. But I'm learning that Spaghetti Night always becomes Bath Night.

4/28 - B&H love love love their swimming class! And - they already got promoted to the next level. Prodigies.

4/30 - Taking a walk with B&H is like herding cats.

5/2 - Momma's intuition at work tonight. Took Ben to Urgent Care. Came home with diagnoses for pink eye and double ear infections. UGH.

5/3 - Since it's stormy outside and we're quarantined inside, I'm giving the toddlers an AWESOME day at home. First we opened up the bubble machine, which proved to be a great hit (until we ran out of bubbles...). Now we're enjoying an episode of Sesame Street. Later they'll get a mega-bubble bath and maybe we'll make some cookies together. Pretty perfect day!

5/5 - Thanks to the high fever the little lady is running, we've all been up since 5:45. So the non-feverish of the family are going to enjoy some pancakes!

So, to explain in a nutshell - we spent a lot of time outside this month, they started speaking more and more, it was Easter, we slept great, I went out of town alone for the first time (to my Moms of Multiples convention), they like to swim, they like to walk, it rained a lot, and now at their 17-month birthday, they both are sick. Boo!

 And what would a post be without photos. First, let's do a comparison between May 2011 and May 2012. 

May 2011 (5 months)

May 2012 (17 months)
You'll notice that Ben's still sportin' about the same 'do... just longer in the back. Poor kid. 

A few more looks at this past month. It was good one! 
We had our first bloody nose.

Hannah LOVED Chipotle!

We went to Storytime with some friends

It's fun to smoosh your face up on the glass!

VERY nearly running! (Yikes!)


Hannah loves playing in the sand, even
if her serious face doesn't show it.

And I'm sad I don't have a photo of the most highlight of the month! I taught them how to hold each others' hand and give each other kisses - real ones, on the lips. It is the CUTEST.THING.EVER. I must catch it on the camera soon. Makes my heart melt. And, I've said it once and I'll say it again: I love these two more and more every day!!



Thursday, May 3, 2012


The babies' language is exploding lately! I can understand most of it; Aaron understands some of it; others understand very little of it. I think that's normal. I know what they are saying, even if it doesn't come out quite right.

Like "ah-ooooh" is Ben's backward way of saying "uh oh." It's very funny. And "keddee" can mean a wide variety of things: kitty, puppy, Teddy (as in bear), Callie (our neighbor friend). It's all about context with these two!

Hope you enjoy these two brief conversations I got on video the other day!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A (not normal) Day in the Life

My friend Shana recently posted a "Day in the Life" of her toddler, Marla, who is just a few weeks younger than B&H. I imediately wanted to steal her idea and do the same for Ben and Hannah. I brainstormed Monday and Tuesday this week and thought about doing it about today - Wednesday. But then Wednesday happened and it was not at all a normal day for us. But, that just makes it all the more interesting, right??

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

6:30 a.m. - Momma's alarm goes off. She snoozes twice. Daddy gets up sometime in that timeframe and starts to ready himself for work. This 20 minutes is some of the best sleep Momma gets all night.

6:50 a.m. - Momma gets up and thanks heavens she showered at night last night. Stumbles downstairs and washes face, brushes teeth, all while hearing chirps, giggles, and apparent jumping up and down in the cribs coming from the babies' room.

7:15 a.m. - Daddy gets B&H up and changes diapers. Momma starts scrambling 4 eggs for them to eat. She chooses to have Muesli for breakfast today, rededicating herself - once again - to Weight Watchers.

7:30 a.m. - Babies are up, changed, and wandering the main floor. Hannah is buckling her highchair and Ben is pushing a grocery cart around. The words "eat" and "milk" finally corral them back to their spots in the kitchen and they begin to clamor for food. Daddy leaves for work.

7:40 a.m. - Eggs are gone and Momma tries to feed babies some strawberries, blackberries, bananas and Cheerios. Everything except Ben's portion of the blackberries ends up on the floor.

7:45 a.m. - Sippy cups of milk are thrown on the floor. Momma pours another cup of coffee.

7:50 a.m. - Ben demands a banana once he sees Momma eating one. So she peels another one and gives him half. He inhales it.

7:52 a.m. - Sippy cups of milk are thrown on the floor.

8:00 a.m. - Babies are banished to play in living room. Momma cleans up kitchen while drinking another cup of coffee.

8:15 a.m. - Momma frantically gets to work on her Moms of Multiples newsletter that was supposed to be done the day before but isn't yet. Editing like crazy, she loses track of time.

8:50 a.m. - LATE! We should be in the car on the way to ECFE by now, yet babies are still in jammies. Corral them in their room and shut the door so they don't escape. Pick out clothes and find something "interesting" (in this case: a tube of diaper rash cream) that will distract them enough to do a superfast change of diapers (both poopy) and clothes.

8:55 a.m. - Strap B&H into high chairs, shove a puree food pouch in their hands and turn on PBS. Cat in the Hat is on - the only distraction good enough to allow me to put on shoes. Stuff purse full of snacks for later. Run one, then the other out to the car. Come back in for cell phone and one last chug of coffee.

9:20 a.m. - Arrive at ECFE just a tad late, but get a GREAT parking spot. Thank the cute 2nd grader who's holding the door open for me and chuckle when he replies "I got in trouble and have to do this every day this week."

9:25 a.m. - Finally arrive in ECFE classroom and greet friends and start to play.

9:40 a.m. - Ahhhh. Separating time. B&H play in the classroom with Teacher Lynn, Teacher Collette and Teacher Tammy. Momma heads off to the parent room for discussion (and more coffee and cinnamon rolls) with Teacher Debbie. Whoops. Off the Weight Watchers bandwagon again.

10:40 a.m. - Drat. Time is over. Back to the classroom to get the kids.

10:45 a.m. - Walk kids to their stroller. Hannah immediately begins putting the buckles in "her" seat together. Ben runs off down the hall and around the corner. Momma trusts that Hannah will not leave until her buckles are done and takes off after Ben. He makes a complete loop around the small wing of the school and we end up back at the stroller.

10:55 a.m. - Shove a puree food pouch in their hands and strap them in the stroller. Head for the elevator, then door, then home while chatting with another twin mom. Head home.

11:15 a.m. - Make lunch while B&H scream at the gate demanding to be let in. Open the gate. Hannah - of course - heads strait for the buckles in her highchair. Ben heads for the cat food. Momma sighs and makes some toast.

11:30 a.m. - Lunch commences. The menu today is cottage cheese (inhaled), strawberries & blackberries (but not the same exact ones from breakfast that ended up on the floor), and veggie burgers. Every.Last.Piece. of veggie burger ends up on the floor - never mind that when we had them last week the burgers were inhaled. Go figure. Milk cups end up on the floor no fewer than 5 times during lunch.

11:50 a.m. - Momma's tired of food getting thrown on floor, so she declares lunch is over and banishes B&H to the living room to play while she cleans the kitchen again.

12:10 p.m. - Whiny babies head to bed for nap. Momma sits down to finally finish that newsletter while (guiltily) watching Days of Our Lives. As soon as the newsletter is sent out, she finds 5 more errors. Ugh. Proofreading and editing is never done.

1:00 p.m. - Head to the basement to start a new load of laundry, fold the existing load of laundry, organize toys and vacuum. Find babies' friend Samantha's missing sock under the couch!

2:00 p.m. - Head back upstairs and put on workout clothes. Intend to go on a long walk with the babies in the nice weather this afternoon. Get sucked into Bejeweled Blitz and play no fewer than 20 rounds while eating more Teddy Grahams than is healthy. Whoops.

3:00 p.m. - Babies begin to stir. Momma goes to get them up, change diapers (both poopy) and put clothes back on.

3:30 p.m. - (not lying. Afternoon diapers take that long!) - Babies get a snack of Pirate's Booty and Fruit snacks, the junk food of toddlers. Momma wolfs down a bowl of Cinnamon Cheerios. Get invites to friend's house to play with their water table. That sounds way more fun than a workout walk so agree and head over there (in stroller, they live nearby).

3:35 p.m. - Get 2 houses away and see a neighbor we never have met before. She comes up and says, "Oh are these the twins?" and gets sucked into a discussion about how old they are, do they walk and talk, how full my hands are, how they sleep and eat, were they born early and did I nurse them (MYOB, lady!). Finally start walking again.

3:45 p.m. - Arrive at friends' house and let B&H run around with Z&K. The two Mommas sit down and gossip. The other Momma notices Ben's eye is red. This Momma chalks it up to getting bomped in the eye with a water toy. All 4 toddlers continue to play.

5:20 p.m. - Bid farewell and head home for supper. Babies melt down and the other Momma gives them puree food pouches to eat on the way home. Whew!

5:35 p.m. - Arrive home and sit in living room reading books.

5:55 p.m. - Reheat Chicken Lo Mein leftovers for supper. Get babies set up for supper and give some cheese to tide them over while Momma dishes up. Ben cries and cries and cries and Momma notices his eye is getting red and poofy.

6:00 p.m. - Lo Mein thrown across the floor. Sippy cups dropped.

6:05 p.m. - Ben continues to melt down and reaches for Momma. She takes him out of highchair and tries to console him while eating Lo Mein. This is a major failure and Ben & Momma both get frustrated.

6:10 p.m. - Daddy comes home. Looks at Ben and says "He's sick!" Momma and Daddy decide Ben needs to go to Urgent Care. Daddy will stay with Hannah and Momma will take Ben. Momma rushes to change his diaper and make a peanut butter sandwich for herself (remember, Lo Mein all fell on the floor). Momma remembers the beds are stripped and throws new sheets on the mattresses quick and lays out jammies for Hannah. Grabs him and heads for the door. Hannah immediately melts down.

6:50 p.m. - Arrive at Urgent Care and check in. We are informed that the wait is up to 2 hours to see a doctor. Sit down with some picture books and call Gaga. She says to go home and take Ben to his regular doctor in the morning.

7:20 p.m. - Go to the check-in place and say we are going to leave. The receptionist looks at Ben and says "Whoa, is his whole face swollen?" I said maybe, he's been crying and she pages the RN that it's an emergency. They get us right in.

7:50 p.m. - Finally see the doctor and in 2 minutes he determines Ben has double ear infections and pink eye and sends us on the way with prescriptions. No chit-chatting here (which the people still in the waiting room waiting for 2 hours probably appreciate).

8:10 p.m. - Arrive at Target for prescriptions. Wander around for 20 minutes while they get the medicine ready. Random things jump in the cart like strawberries, Mr. Bubble, night time diapers, cat food, and monster cookies.

8:25 p.m. - Check out and head home. SO very surprised that Ben isn't konked out asleep by now, an hour after his bedtime.

8:40 p.m. - Arrive home. Change diaper & put Ben in sleep sack (in the dark - praying Hannah doesn't wake up). Administer first dose of antibiotics (easy, he loves medicine) and eye drop (not easy, Daddy has to hold him down). Put Ben to bed.

9:15 p.m. - Ben is still chit-chatting to himself in his crib, but thankfully Hannah is sleeping. Momma heads to the basement to watch TV and eats a piece of cold pizza and a monster cookie. Whoops. Really, really off Weight Watchers plan today. Better rededicate to the plan tomorrow!

10:00 p.m. - Bedtime. Ben finally fell asleep. Whew!

So, a different day for us. Our evenings don't usually have that much action! We usually eat, go for a walk, take a bath, and head to bed. Poor Ben had to trek all across St Paul to get the bad news of pink eye and ear infections.

These mark his 6th or 7th in 12 months and his 4th since January. I am certain tubes are in his future. I feel sad that he'll have to have surgery for that, but I am also relieved that maybe he won't be so sick all the time if we do it!!

I'm tired. Today wore me out. Night Night all!