Monday, September 29, 2008

Our breast feeding Story:

I have planned on breast feeding my children for as long as I can remember. My mom breast fed us and always talked about how much she loved it and how good it was for babes, and as I got older it just was further cemented into my mind as what would naturally happen. Kind of like natural childbirth, it became a passion of mine, but even more so than childbirth because there really was no question in my mind about breast feeding. No research needing to be done, etc. Well, you all know how my natural birth plan turned out (for those who don't know, you can read about it here)! My breast feeding plans could have easily gone the same route, and so it is with tremendous thankfulness and grace that I am able to write about the 16 month breast-feeding journey we were blessed to have.

The first night the babes lay in the NICU, a little over 2lbs each, a nurse brought me a form to sign saying that the babes could receive donated breast milk until mine came in. It brings tears to my eyes even now as I think about how thankful we were for this gift. If you ever have a chance to donate milk to a milk bank, please do! I was also brought a breast pump and after some brief instructions, I started my first of many, many pumping sessions. I know lots of women talk about how horrible pumping is and how you feel like a cow and so on. Obviously I understand these sentiments, but pumping truly was the only thing I felt I could do for Sam and Amelia in those early weeks. I felt awkward and in the way in the NICU, but when I came into their pod carrying container after container of milk from pumping I felt a sense of productiveness that nothing else brought. Still, as I write this, I see the faces of many of those mamas who were unable to produce enough milk because of stress or couldn't keep up with the pumping demands or just didn't have the energy to try. Oh how I wanted to just start handing out my extra milk to them. Anyway, thankfulness ruled the day in my heart for that milk, and I would never again take it for granted.

The actual breast feeding was such an enormous challenge in the beginning. We were supposed to start with non-nutritive feedings until they had practiced sucking enough to move onto sucking and swallowing and breathing (they were still only 33 weeks gestational age)! Well, even if I came straight from pumping, my milk would let down as soon as they latched on and they would choke, stop breathing, turn blue...all in a matter of seconds! It was so scary and frustrating and sad. Not surprisingly, Amelia had a very strong suck and would forget to breath whereas Sam didn't suck hard enough and would fall asleep or just stop sucking b/c he would tire out. I am telling you though, that boy's love language is words of encouragement and it was evident even in those early days! This may sound crazy, but he would stop sucking and I would whisper, "Sam, you are the best breast-feeder in the west! You can do this." and he would start again! I'll never forget that. Every feeding was supposed to be timed to the minute and that was also very stressful for me--I am just not a to the minute type of girl and was constantly forgetting to time them. All this while sitting in a rocking chair that we weren't supposed to rock in b/c it would be too much movement for the babes! Between watching the monitors to be aware of their heart rates, watching the clock hoping that they would feed for the required amount of time to be considered a full feeding, while trying not to rock in the rocking chairs I almost went coo-coo! Needless to say, it was not a picture perfect environment to start our journey.

Still, as the days and weeks went on both the babies and I grew more comfortable and determined. I learned to tune out the monitors, give my best educated guess on the time, and demand a non-rocking chair to sit in:)
By the end of their second month home, we stopped giving them bottles every other feeding with the teaspoon of formula to add calories and just breast fed them on demand. I had grown weary of pumping and it was just easier for me to nurse them instead of worrying about all of the bottle stuff. Though there were times of feeling like I was constantly nursing them (especially since I preferred nursing them one at a time) there were many, many treasured moments as well.

They became champion breast-feeders and the NICU days seemed like the distant past. The next challenge was mastitis, which was like a horrendous case of the flu, and my milk production went way down. Still, I really didn't even consider giving up as long as I felt they were getting enough to eat. What that meant was that for months afterwards they ate every two hours around the clock. It was exhausting but I don't even think I realized how tiring it was until it was over!

So, though I will always regard breast feeding as a beautiful thing, I definitely experienced the challenging sides of it as well. I don't want to ever come across as naive to the hardships that women encounter with nursing, because I'm not! This said, for our family, it was worth the struggle.

Things I never want to forget:
Staring into their eyes and wishing time could stop so that I could memorize every little part of their face. That super satisfied look after they would eat in those early months. Being able to comfort them, put them to sleep, fill their tummies and bond with them all through my body. Sam's huge smile after he would nurse during the later months. The way their little bodies felt snuggled up against mine as they nursed in the deep of the night when we co-slept and then in the rocking chair in the nursery. Tandem breast feeding and watching them play with each others hands., hair, feet, tummies, etc.
Hungry at the park? In the mountains? In the car? At a restaurant or friends house? Have breasts, will travel.
Most of all I think I'll remember the enormous healing that it brought from a rough, rough start. The deep attachment that it fostered is something I will be forever thankful for.

Our breast feeding journey has come to an end for now. The babies are drinking whole milk at naps and bed time to get some extra calories and that seemed to speed up the weaning process ( I seriously thought Amelia would breast feed for at least 2 years). In many ways, it makes life a bit more simple. Yet, the benefits that we all received will live on.

I have so much more in my heart to say. I guess I'll end, though, by posting a few of my favorite breast feeding pictures. After all, pictures are worth a thousand words right?

By a mountain lake nursing Sammy:

See, it wasn't always fun:)

And then other times were oh , so precious. (Sorry babes for blurring out your sweet faces.)

This is how I found time to blog in the early days:) Also, see how I have cheekbones in this picture? That's because I was I was pumping out a TON of calories nursing two babies every two hours around the clock. It was like dieting, but eating all of the food I wanted. It was my breast feeding diet. Have I mentioned that I've gained about 10lbs since the babes weaned themselves? Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.

I have many more pictures, but don't feel like taking the time to blur out the rest of them. Thanks for reminicing with me about a part of our story that is very, very dear to me. Jen

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The joy of (even little bitty) puddles...

I have to say, though it takes a bit of effort to clean them up before coming inside, it is one of my favorite things to see the babes play in the dirt and leaves and grass and mud. My parents never discouraged us from romping around outside, getting covered in mud from head to toe. In fact, some of my favorite memories are of my dad and brother sliding around in the biggest puddles ever after a big rain would come. It's what we did. We were country kids.

So, though Sam and Amelia are starting their childhood smack dab in the middle of a city neighborhood, we make sure that chances to play in the dirt and leaves and garden and mud are plentiful. It just seems healthy and right, you know?

Here's to letting our little ones explore this great big (messy) world,

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Looks like his dream is coming true...

So, a few weeks ago we were taking a Sunday drive through a beautiful canyon. I was full of caffine and talking on and on about my hopes and dreams for our family, things I want to improve on in regards to managing our house and making it a lovely place to be. Etc. etc. etc. Anyway, in the midst of my soliliquey we heard a series of very loud toots erupt from the back seat and we both started cracking up laughing (because we are so mature:). As we quieted down Joel said, "Well, I'll tell you something I dream about for our family." He sounded so sincere. I was so curious and excited to hear what he was going to say. I should have seen it coming. He said,

" I really want our home to be fart-friendly." WHAT?!?! He went on to explain, very sincerely, that he wanted our children to be able to let loose whenever they needed to with out fear of feeling ashamed or belittled. He said that when in public or when company is over they will know that they need to always excuse themselves to another room if possible, but with family they should feel A-OK about their need to pass gass.

Oh my. Actually, my home growing up was a very "fart-friendly" house (hi brothers and dad) and so all of this made sense in some very weird sort of way to me. Mother-in-love Shari, can I just apologize ahead of time for all that is written in this post. ) (Just kidding. I've already told her this story and she thought it was a hoot.)

Anyway, Joel's dream is already coming true. When Amelia toots I always say, "Oops(that may not be a fart-friendly term--I'll have to ask Joel), Amelia tooted. Excuse you Melia." And then.....well then........let's just say that Sam tries his hardest to toot as well. I'm not kidding!
So, Joel, there you go. Your children are only 17 months old and are already creating the kind of atmosphere you dream of having in your home:)

And here, dear readers, are some sweet pictures to try and erase these words from your mind...

The most handsome boys you'll ever meet:) :

This is how the babes walk around with their blankets when they wake up. Yes, Sam's blanket is pink. It just is. I don't even really remember how that came to be. Anyway, they used to drag their blankets around but they were always stepping on them and so, I started putting them around their necks and they love it:)

Amelia and Vera walking into one of the little vine houses at the Children's Garden that we love oh,so much.

Inside the vine house sits the cutest little boy on the cutest little chair.


Amelia outside after it rained:)

That's all for now. And Joel, I know you have many more , wonderfully depthy dreams for our little family. I just shared this one because it makes me laugh every time I think about it. There are many precious moments daily that I could post about your relationship with S and A. Like last night when I came home from an important errand (to Blockbuster). and you were rocking both of them in the nursery because Sam was having a hard time going to sleep. So. Sweet.

Much love this night,

Monday, September 22, 2008

What a difference a day makes!

So, it was time for a "me" day, and when Joel offered (he could probably see me starting to crumble) to take the babes for a full day I readily agreed . On a side note, just incase any of you readers are wondering whatever happened with my search for someone to help me out a couple of days a week, I have realized that only when Joel watches them do I really, fully relax and enjoy my time out alone and so I've stopped trying to find someone. They are at a much easier stage and we are all getting plenty of rest these days, and so the days of desperate exhaustion are few and far between . Thank the Lord. The few times I tried having a babysitter I would just miss them and be ready to get back anyway! Now and then, though, a break is called for and today was one of those times..
I have literally felt myself recharging during this wonderful day.

I started out at Paradise (of course!) with a warm bowl of tomato soup and a big diet coke....mmmm mmmm. The sweet workers that love to see the babes looked at me with a puzzled look and asked if I didn't bring them because it was raining. "No," I answered. "I have the day off!" They smiled and looked at me knowingly and gave me an extra scoop of sour cream on my soup. Thanks sweet ladies!

Then I went over to Anne's to visit and meet the new, squishy 6 month old baby girl that she is baby sitting these days. She was such a cute rolly polly and I thoroughly enjoyed my time holding her, visiting with Anne, and playing and reading with Vera.

Next it was on to the SLC library. Walking through the doors alone felt so ......strange. I haven't done it in a very long time. As I walked around, slowly and deliberately taking my time, it took me back to times before the babes. Times when I came here to do data entry when we first moved here. When I would start out with an enormous pile of forms on my left side and moving them to the right as I would satisfactorily widdle the giant pile into an empty space. Times when I came to tutor my ESL students in our own little study room--chatting and laughing and learning. Times when I came to lesson plan--forcing myself to stop people watching and focus on the grammar lesson at hand .
Times when I would see the Children's library and dream of the day when I would have babies to read to and to bring to this wonderful place. Times when I was, at long last, pregnant and browsing the shelves for books about pregnancy, and then multiples (!). I have now come full circle as I relish the time to move slowly, alone. The freedom of not rushing about to get our books before someone melts down or gets hungry or hurts themselves. And though it's nice to have this time alone, I wouldn't go back to those days of productive data entry, fun chats with my international students, late night lesson planning and longing for children days for anything.

And so with a thankful heart, I continue this day. Thankful for this "me" time, and yet even more thankful for the three treasures I have waiting for me at home.

Here's to days of recharging our bodies and souls,

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's hard to hug a bug.

But she tries her hardest:)

It's an overcast rainy day here today. I'm still in my pajamas. The only productive thing I have done(besides playing with the babes) is to clean the kitchen that was left in a disastrous state last night after making this cake to take to our pastor's house for dessert. It was so worth the mess. Mmmm mmmmm. Hope you had a wonderful Saturday too, Jen

P.S. Yes, she really is trying with all of her little might to love those teeny ants that march past them on the driveway. They are so into "UGS!!!" right now:)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Attention photo lovers....

The August album is now updated. Just a warning....there are A LOT of pictures. 308 to be exact. Click HERE to go to the album.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Togetherness Series--Part 8

Side by Side Edition:

So, you two, lately your togetherness has been almost edible it is so yummy. Of course there are the moments when you don't want to share or what have you--but mostly you are together by choice. Following each other around the yard. Walking in circles around the house dragging your blankets behind you and squealing in delight at your grand game, dining at your little table together and feeding each other food, screaming and laughing across your room to each other before naps/bedtime, chasing each other through your tunnel, giving kisses to each other, copying each other's new words...just living life side by side. One thing you do that I love is while playing in the back yard one of you will plop down in the grass. Then the other comes along and plops down beside you, facing the opposite direction. There you will sit and play with the dirt, look at the sky, pick the grass. It is so appropriate that you always sit and face the opposite direction.

You are each other's yin and yang. So entirely different, and yet experiencing life together and having so much fun with it. It makes me thankful these days. Thankful that you have each other to sit next to and learn about the world.


Today Joel was doing some wood work in the garage while the babes played in the yard. I was in our bedroom doing something really important on the computer (hi blogging friends:). The window was open and I suddenly noticed that it had been a while since I had heard any baby sounds. I looked out the window and saw no babes and so I ran outside to ask Joel where they were. He said, "they were just right here!" as we dashed around looking for them. Here is where we found them. Oblivious to us, we stood and watched them for a while until I tore myself away to grab the camera. This is not an exciting video. But I wanted to document it because it made me appreciate the fact that they have each other. That sitting in the backyard feeling the breeze and playing with a stick isn't lonely if you have someone there with you. I love that they choose to sit together. I hope it's a choice that continues for a long time to come.

P.S. As I've been waiting for this video to upload the babes have been in our room playing while I am sitting on our bed. So far they have tickled each other until they fell on the floor laughing, chased each other around the room, climbed inside our closet and played peek a boo w/ each other...Now they are both laying on the floor next to each other looking at pamplets about the store Ten Thousand Villages. Yes, I would say that their togetherness is hitting a whole new level.

Now they are crying together, though, and ready to move on to a new activity so I must go! Jen

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Such a lovely way to spend the afternoon...

We went to the garden again today and let the babes roam. It is absolutely one of our favorite places to be. Then we came home and took off all of their wet clothes and let them run free as birds in the backyard for the longest time. Until Amelia pooped on the ground. Then it was time for a good laugh, a bath, and bedtime.
Here's to nature and fun in our days,

Monday, September 15, 2008

Summers end...

My dad is here for a visit...what a wonderful way to end our summer! Other than having TV withdrawls I think he's having a wonderful time and, of course,the babes are soaking him up. Amelia especially. She gets so excited every time she sees him and says, "Papa!" and signs "grandpa" :).

Isn't it lovely to have family come and see you when you live "afar"? Merging one world with another. We have been so thankful to have so many visitors this summer, as well as our visit to Texas. We are looking forward to October when Tara and Echo are coming for a nice, long stay! Hurray! Here's to the warmth of family comfort, Jen

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Our little book lover...

In his Grandpa Jim's glasses...

We caught Sam reading our Guidpost magazine the other day. We watched him FOREVER as he carefully flipped through each page. We finally grabbed the video he is finishing up his serious read.

In all seriousness, though, he does LOVE to be read to. As soon as he wakes up in the morning, books are the first thing on his mind. So, here's to our little book lover and to nurturing that love as best we can (even if that means reading his truck book over and over and over again:), Jenny

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Montessori Moment--Child friendly spaces.

One of the Montessori ideas that I'm currently trying to incorporate into our home is the idea of bringing things, literally, down to a child's level. Child sized furniture, art hanging where they can clearly see and enjoy it, dishes kept on lower shelves so that they can assist in emptying the dishwasher (this one is still a few months away for us), etc. There are many simple things that can be done to show children that they are valued and capable members of the household. So, one of my first attempts was to make some "art pieces" to hang above their little table. I bought these frames for a dollar a piece at Michael's and found these beautiful post cards at one of my favorite online stores, A Child's Dream Come True. Last night I hung them, making sure to put the cat on Sammy's side and the birds on Amelia's. I loved the finished product, but had no idea what they would think. Well, Joel had "baby duty" this morning (oh how I will miss this when he goes to work!) and said that as soon as he opened the nursery door they noticed the pictures and hightailed it over to try and take them off the wall! He said that Sam was shouting "AT! AT! " and Amelia was furiously signing "bird":) After showing them how to gently touch the pictures, we haven't had any more problems with them trying to take them off--hurray! The verdict is in....they love them. While they were eating I kept noticing them glancing over at the art, like Amelia is doing in this picture.

Barbara Curtis, in her book The Mommy Manual, suggests hanging pictures of people reading in the children's book corner, pictures of the outdoors next to your child's coat rack, etc.

I know these are simple ideas, and sometimes I feel silly for getting so excited about them, but I do! I'll keep you updated as I try to incorporate the things that I'm reading into practical life.

Here's to making our home all we desire for it to be one baby step at a time,

Monday, September 08, 2008

We went to visit Hayden and Kelly today in the country. It was wonderful! We didn't get to stay nearly long enough but so enjoyed the company, the quiet, the cows and hay and farm truck(Sam especially appreciated the "TUCK,TUCK!"), the yummy lunch....sigh....we love you guys!

Here's Kelly and the babes. She has always had a special connection with them...they just love her! You can't tell here (or in real life) but she is going to have a baby boy any day now. What a wonderful mother you'll be Kell!

Joel broke out his ol' boots from his cowboyin' days for our day at the ranch:)

Hope your day was wonderful as well,

P.S. Thank you Joel and all of you commenters for the last post. I was embarressed and teary and thankful for all of the sweet words. There were too,too many days and nights that I wasn't gracious or understanding during the PA school journey--but thank the Lord that we made it through and are on the other side...he with a bright future ahead in his career and passion, and me with cats and babies round my feet. Gratefulness is our hearts cry.

P.S.S. Is he a hunk or what?! Joel Hunk, I love you. I loved seeing you holding our children, staring out at the cows, wearing your cowboy boots.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

An Ode To My Jenny!

Stories of great sacrifice and achievement often can make me a little emotional; when the said sacrifice is done on my behalf I crumble, falling completely apart. My years in school, which I have been in since we’ve been married, have meant A LOT, I mean A TON, of sacrifices from Jenny. Late nights studying, not being able to be with Jenny for this event or that evening because of studying, being not in the present because of thinking of some upcoming test or paper, and as of late just working, working, working crazy hours and studying for boards. That’s not even half. She’s managed to put up with my whining and complaining one minute and my caveman behavior the next; I swear school can make someone bipolar. So there’s that, which is bad enough in itself in terms of sacrifice, but then there’s this: BABIES.

Now, add this in the mix of things, we live away from any family or long time friends and then Jenny gets pregnant….with TWINS….and delivers….THREE MONTHS EARLY….AND THEN SPENT 2 MONTHS IN THE NICU!!!! They came home and a whole new world of sleeplessness and constant nursing and an absent and moody husband crashed down upon her. There were many nights that I slept through where she was up all night with the babies and had to be up with them the whole next day while I was at school. Then came winter and the threat of RSV infection so up went the barriers to keep possible transmitters of the dreaded virus at bay. What that meant for Jenny was protection for her fragile babies but complete, stressful, lonely isolation. It was cold outside, tight quarters inside, and all this without adult interaction…for months on end. The amount of work and perseverance that went into that is unreal. It was so much work; only those who have visited and tried to help WITH Jenny can appreciate the amount of work that goes into having premature twins. I, of course, did not fully appreciate it myself until I was in a place where I could look back and clearly see the effort and sacrifice.

The achievement of Jenny, which is huge, is what an amazing mother she is. She did not waver on her deep-seated convictions about mothering through the hard and trying times, which are supported through her voracious and prolific reading and researching. Jenny is a phenomenal mother and that is no small accomplishment. When people say things like “we’re here on the backs and shoulder of others” and “behind every good man stands a better woman”, well in my case that person is my Jenny. There should be a separate ceremony for the family who “went” to school as well, because they did, they paid a hefty price.

Thank you Jenny, Sam, and Amelia. Thank you for loving me in spite of my moodiness and irritability and absence. Thank you for your love, your patience, and perseverance to help complete this dream of mine, may I never forget the price you paid and may that remind me always of how thankful I should be for where I am and what I have! Thank you and I love you always.

Happy Grandparents Day!

My grandparents have always been such an enormous part of my life and of who I am.
Happy, Happy Grandparents day to my Granny and Papa, Joel's Grandma, and to the babes Grammy and Papa and Grandpa and Grandma. We love you with all of our hearts and are more thankful for you than you will ever know!

Friday, September 05, 2008

My little lunch companions...

Today the babes were eating lunch at their little table and I sat down on the floor next to them. Sam has been breaking out in spontaneous laughter lately and he kept doing that while they were eating. Well, when he does it it makes me laugh of course, which makes him laugh more, which makes Amelia feel like she should be laughing and so she goes on and on. As we were giggling away I just thanked the Lord for these amazing little companions of mine. Of course there are moments in each day that are frustrating and meltdowns that make me want to meltdown too, but overall the joy outweighs the rest by far. I love you with all of my heart little ones. Mothering you each day is a gift and a joy. One I hope never to take for granted and to always strive to improve upon.

Here's to good company, Jen

Thursday, September 04, 2008

It's official!

This morning Joel woke me up and was holding a hand written sign he had made. It had three letters on it.


Anyone know what that means?

Physician Assistant- Certified! That's right. He PASSED his boards (taken on Tuesday) and found out bright and early this morning. What a wonderful day! So, onward we go. We'll keep you updated on the job status. Several interviews coming up. Exciting times, Jen

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Oh little ones, how you make us laugh...

Today we read "Baby's First Book" at least 15 times. Sam loves it. He kept handing it to me over and over again. I love it too because it's simple and because there are lots of things that they are able to recognize and point out. Amelia was turned around doing a puzzle while we were reading, but when she would hear me say the word "plane" she would turn around with wide eyes and do the sign for airplane:) Finally, she plopped down next to us. Sam had finally moved on to his "Trucks" book, but Amelia wasn't interested. She is all about airplanes right now Sam, she can't be bothered by trucks!

It just cracks me up how she whips the book up to her face every time! Of course, the cowgirl action is just fun. Her little legs just a goin! Thanks Anne for providing the soundtrack:)
It was a good day today. Hoping yours was too, Jen

Monday, September 01, 2008

Can it be....more toddling?

I know, I know...toddles get major coverage around here. But seriously, is there much cuter in the world than seeing little humans start to walk? I think not. I never grow tired of seeing them toddle around. Well, I guess I do cringe about 50 times a day as Sam falls and gets frustrated and fusses. But most of the time he'll get back up and start again like a little champ.

Anyway, here is some video of the babes walking on this beautiful, rainy, feels like fall day.

And here are some pictures of Amelia in her rain boots. Jennifer, do you remember these? I was searching for sweaters in our winter clothes box this morning and came across these hand me downs from Mia! I tried them on Amelia and they're perfect. And perfectly cute.

Chasing Willow.....Poor Willow. As much as we adore seeing the babes walking around, she must curse the day they became mobile!

Pointing at the birds eating out of the feeder. She really does adore birds.

This is her bird spotting stance. I think she got it from me because I often crouch down to be on their level when pointing out birds or airplanes. She also does this when she hears an airplane--even when she's in the house!

Oops, she sat on a plum and the dress had to come off! Nothing like a diaper, BabyLegs and rain boots to make a fashion statement:)

Hope you had a wonderfully long weekend, Jen