Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Birthday To You...

Well folks, it's hard to believe but today Eli and Jude turn two.  That's right, they've been on this planet for two years.  I know it must be shocking to you because I can barely comprehend it myself.  These last two years have been both very short and very long.  When I think back to the day they were born it seems like only yesterday.  I still remember the times before the babies (no matter what other mothers say about forgetting) and it really doesn't seem like that long ago.  But then I think back to those sleepless nights and marathon feedings and passing out on the couch while nursing at 4 AM and it all seems like another lifetime.  I suppose that this is just the nature of parenthood.

Two years ago on December 30, 2008 at 7:28 and 7:30 AM, Elijah Lee and Judah Maxwell entered this world at 34 weeks gestation.  They weighed 4 lbs 14 oz and 4 lbs 12 oz and were 19 1/2 inches and 19 inches long.  Today, Eli and Jude weigh around 26 lbs each, give or take a couple of ounces (Eli is still a little bit bigger) and are approximately 35 inches tall (Eli is also still a little taller).  They run, hop, climb, slide, and swing like pros.  They can count to five successfully every time by themselves and to ten with help.  They can recognize all of their letters and sometimes sing along to the ABCs.  They love music of all kinds but especially pop and dance music.  Much to Travis's dismay, they very much enjoy Ke$ia.  Their favorite television shows are Blues Clues, Yo Gabba Gabba, and the Fresh Beat Band.  They love dogs, cats, and ocean animals of all kinds.  They like to eat pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, clementine oranges, Eggo waffles, cheesy scrambled eggs, and pretty much anything sweet.  They are pretty good at eating with spoons and forks but still struggle a little with cups with no lids.  Their favorite playmates are still each other.

In the last two years, my babies have become little boys.  They play hard and love life.  Even though another birthday means another year farther from those precious baby snuggles and coos, it means so much more to learn about the people we are raising.  I look forward to all of the joys and surprises to come in this next year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

School-Loving Boys

Eli and Jude are absolutely loving school.  I have to actually drag them out every day.  My boss thinks it's the funniest thing ever but I'm totally exasperated.  Seriously, who wants to WRESTLE two squirmy toddlers after a long day of work just to go home?  I know I don't.  But I'm still really happy and excited that they love being at school so much.  They love their teacher, Miss Brooke, and they both play so well with all of the kids in their class.  I'm sure it helps that all of the teachers coo over them because they're so adorable.  : )

I'm a little torn about what's going to happen in January for them.  Because they're 6 months younger than everyone in their class now, they may not move up to the next class next semester.  The kids who are actually their age will move up into their classroom and the older kids will go to the next room.  I haven't talked to my boss about the plans yet but I don't even know what I want them to do.  On the one hand, I want them to stay with the kids they know and move up with the rest of their class.  But on the other hand, I think that they would be more successful in a class with kids their own age and they really love their teacher.  I suppose I'll have to think about it a little more.

Hope everyone's having a great December!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Chanukkah!

This year, Chanukkah has completely snuck up on me.  Normally I'm very prepared, ready with more latkes and dreidels than anyone could ever need.  I really love fried foods so it's no surprise that I'm a fan of this holiday.  This year though, I've been a complete slacker.  Tonight is the third night (which is so early ANYWAY) but I have only bought Eli and Jude one thing each and bought two things for Travis.  I was just not prepared for it this year.  And I'm so exhausted that I cannot even peel a potato for my precious latkes.  Of course, now that I'm thinking about them, I really want to make a batch.  Ugh, don't you hate that?

Anyway, I hope everyone is having a great week and a happy holiday - even if most of you do not celebrate the joyous festival of lights.  : )

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Spinning Chair

Eli and Jude LOVE Alex's old office chair; they're naturally intrigued by spinning!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Autumn in the Park

I'm trying to get more posts out, but this time of year (holidays, end of classes) is always a difficult one for me, so I apologize in advance for the spaced out posts. Here's a video we took though yesterday of the boys; they're getting so smart!





Monday, November 1, 2010

A mid-autumn night's roll

So, despite the fact we've been a bit MIA recently, I've got a nice little video as a cure for the Mondays! Enjoy!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Best. Joke. Ever.

Jude: Knock knock!
Mommy: Who's there?
Jude: MOO!!!!  HAHAHAHAHA!!!

I think someone has been watching too many of Yo Gabba Gabba's Knock-Knock joke of the day... : )

Monday, October 25, 2010

omg, blogger is working!

Really, I think I just tricked my computer into letting me log on.  Sorry for the complete and total lack of posts this month.  First of all, things have been super crazy busy what with me going back to work full time and trying to get into the new swing of things.  Then, once I was actually ready and able to write posts my computer decided it no longer wanted to log in to blogger.  I have some kind of virus or adware or something, and I'm working on correcting the problem.  I switched browsers (woohoo google chrome!) and some of the websites that I couldn't access before magically work again.  Hopefully my computer will be feeling better soon though and I can make up for lost time with lots and lots of posts.  : )

The month of October has been incredibly packed full of events and awesomeness.  First of course, we started preschool/work and things are going great.  Eli and Jude are pretty well adjusted but still have some trouble here and there.  The worst part though is trying to go home because they never want to leave!  Second thing we did was first haircuts!  Both boys were real troopers and were pretty good at sitting still.  Eli stared at Dora the Explorer and didn't move at all.  Jude was a little squirmier and did not like them spraying his hair with water at all.  He also thought the buzzer tickled and kept scooting away from it.  Third, we went to Washington D.C. for my cousin Laura's wedding.  The flights were pretty uneventful - except for on the way up, the flight attendant was totally crazy and had me put both car seats next to each other which I'm pretty sure is against FAA rules - and the trip was a lot of fun.  It was great for Travis and the boys to get to meet the bulk of my Freeman family.  And the fourth (and fifth, carrying into November) event will be this weekend.  We are super excited for Halloween/Kristin and Brian's Wedding/The Election!  I'm sure there will be plenty to talk about as the week goes on.

I am exhausted right now, otherwise I would post a bazillion photos from this month.  I will try to add some in here and there as the week progresses.  Once again, I'm sorry for the lack of posts and I will do my best to make up for it now!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

First Day of Preschool

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As I mentioned yesterday, Eli and Jude had their first day of preschool this morning.  It was actually super duper easy to drop them off.  I was expecting some tears or clinging to my legs as has been their new favorite "dont leave me" tactic but I got none.  Jude ran right into the room with an "OMG-TOYS!" look on his face and that was it for him.  Eli was a little more nervous and shy.  He didn't quite know how he felt about the room, there being so many kids, a new teacher, etc.  He slowly warmed up and gave me a little hug goodbye.  I guess disappointed isn't the right word to describe how I felt about our drop-off this morning because I'm glad that Eli and Jude were so excited to play and be with new people but I couldn't help but feel like it should have been more difficult.  I thought that they might miss me a little bit!  Obviously they did not.

Their teacher - Miss Brooke - told me that she was shocked to learn that they had never been to preschool or daycare before.  She said they were fantastically well behaved, played with other kids, and are only slightly behind the other children in the class (who are all more than 6 months older).  She asked us to work on drinking from a cup without a lid and using spoons at meal times.  She said that Jude loved the little shaker toys and wouldn't put them down.  Both boys were the envy of the other teachers and everyone loves them.  The older kids all wanted to play with them and show them all of the coolest things to play with.  They also had music class today and Miss Brooke said that both boys had a ball.  I'm so pleased to hear that they're adjusting so well.

I even peeked in on them via security camera in the school's office and they actually slept on the nap mats during nap time!  Miss Brooke was able to keep them in normal chairs around a table at snack time.  They listened and played like pros.  I'm actually kind of jealous because they are not even close to that well behaved at home!

Training for me was good and I have my first "real" day on the job in the morning.  I'll be in the kitchen all day learning the ropes and making food.  I'm really excited to get my hands dirty but I'm finding that I'm having a hard time adjusting to being a working mom.  Even though being a stay-at-home mom was frustrating and I often found myself questioning if it was the right choice for me, I'm finding now that I wish I had enjoyed it a little more.  I already miss getting hugs and kisses all day.  I'm sure it will get easier as I get into a routine and actually spend more time at the school where I'll be working - most of my day was spent at the off-site administrative offices.  Even if I am having a hard time transitioning, it is comforting to know that Eli and Jude seem to love the new situation.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

Things have changed quite a bit in the last couple of days here.  To make a long story sort of short, Travis and I decided that in order to make our budget a little less tight and leave some money to save towards a house that it was time for me to start looking for work.  I started out casually looking for a part time situation in the evenings so I could still stay home with the boys and Travis could be with them while I worked.  But then I stumbled across a want-ad that seemed to be written just for me.  I applied for the job and less than three days later, I have been offered the position.  And I start tomorrow.  I had no idea that it would happen so fast.  I'm still kind of reeling from how quickly things have changed.

The new job is a Nutritional Chef position with a local preschool.  I'll be responsible for making all snacks and meals for all of the students and be in charge of purchasing for the kitchen.  Because I'll be working at a preschool, part of my benefits is discounted childcare.  Eli and Jude start school tomorrow too.  They'll be in the two year old class and they'll be the second set of twins at the school.  We stopped by the school earlier today to pick up the enrollment forms and Eli and Jude did not want to leave.  I'm hoping this is a good omen for tomorrow and our first drop-off will not be too heart-wrenching for me.

I'm a little nervous about tomorrow - partly because it will be Eli and Jude's first day of preschool, partly for my first day of training - but I'm trying to think of the bigger picture.  The extra money I will bring in will make the very very distant dream of owning a house slightly closer.  It's just suddenly hitting me that they're starting preschool and I didn't expect to get so emotional.  I feel silly because it's just preschool!  But still, I guess it feels like the baby days are really gone and now it's time for toddlerhood and childhood.

Wish us luck!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

First E.R. Visit

Today has been a little bit crazy.  It started just like any other day.  I woke up to the sounds of Eli and Jude playing quietly, like usual.  I slowly got up and made sure that everything that shouldn't be played with was put away.  I went to get the boys and this is where it deviated from the norm.

Eli and Jude were both playing happily and Jude was nude from the waist down.  This is not that weird.  He's been taking off his diaper in the morning/during nap time for a few weeks now and I've grown to accept that fact.  This morning, however, seemed to be slightly different.  Jude had pooped sometime in the night (before taking off the diaper) but luckily there was no mess.  He was just really stinky and gross.  So I bring both boys to the bathroom to do our normal potty routine and clean up Mr. Jude.  It was at this point that he started to scream.  I thought that maybe he just didn't want to sit on the potty so I just started wiping up the mess on his bottom.  He was squirming and screaming and I started to think that something was wrong.  I won't go into detail because I'll leave the boy some privacy, but upon further investigation I realized that all of his little boy parts were swollen and red.  It looked very painful.  So, I woke up Travis and to the E.R. we went!

It was our first trip to the Dell Children's Medical Center and I have to say, it was very smooth.  There was a very short wait and the doctors and nurses were all very sweet and understanding.  We got stickers and medical supplies to play with and watched Blue's Clues on Travis's cell phone.  It turns out that Jude has a kind of yeast infection.  It is pretty common - mostly for uncircumcised boys though - and nothing serious to worry about.  We were prescribed a cream and some steroids for the swelling and sent on our way.  Pretty painless for a hospital trip, if you ask me!

My poor little Jude is pretty cranky today though (understandably!) and didn't really take much of a nap.  The doctor also said that it might get worse before it gets better but I'm hoping she's wrong!

Friday, October 1, 2010

sucked into social media...

Alright, so I broke down and got a twitter account.  Don't laugh.  I thought it might be handy for letting people know when there are new posts and for short anecdotes that I deem too small for an entire post.  Follow me if that's what you do... : )

@twolittlehornes

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Potty Training Update

So, since we've backed off the intensive naked-all-day training, things have been going pretty well.  We hit the potty every day when we wake up, go down for naps, wake up from naps, and before bed.  Most of the time, we have success with these trips.  Sometimes the boys (mostly Jude lately) will come up to me and yell "Potty!  Potty!  Potty!" and we'll run to the bathroom and have a successful trip.  Each boy has pooped in the potty once.  Lately however, Eli does not like to sit on the potty and will fight me to go into the bathroom.  I'm just letting him be.  If he doesn't want to come to the potty with us, he doesn't have to.  But he DOES have to wear his diaper.

Keeping diapers on my sweet little babies has become an all day ordeal.  The only time they can't get them off is if they are wearing jeans with snaps and zippers.  Sweat pants?  Diaper's gone.  Onesie?  Diaper is gone without even unsnapping it, don't ask me how!  If I wasn't so over cleaning up puddles all over my house (which I still do, by the way, since Jude has taken his diaper off every day during nap time for the last week) I would probably just have them naked again.  But I just can't handle that much cleaning.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Play Date!

On Tuesday we had a play date with our new friends, Parker and Jackson, at Inflatable Wonderland.  For those of you not in the know, it is a store-front in the mall where they have inflated a variety of bouncy houses and kids can run around and play for a small fee.  There is also a small toddler area with foam cut-outs and a little slide.  The boys all had a great time even though the other boys were a little rougher than Eli and Jude are used to.  I didn't get very many pictures with my camera because I was too busy chasing children!  But here are a few of what I did get.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Menu Monday - Another Busy Week

Seriously though, when do we have any weeks that AREN'T busy?  Maybe it's a parent thing...

Monday - Indonesian chicken and fried rice

Tuesday - West Wing Night, dinner TBD

Wednesday - Eat Out!

Thursday - Alex at Book Club, leftovers for Travis and the boys

Friday - Beef and Shrimp Fajitas

Saturday - Chicken Potpie

Sunday - Travis at game, leftovers or dinner with the Melnicks for Alex and the boys

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Guest Post from Emily and Kathleen of Primrose Schools

As some of you may know, today is Yom Kippur and we are spending the day repenting and fasting.  I am happy to share with you this guest post about Bilingual Education and its importance for this generation.  Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the network of Texas educational child care facilities belonging to the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose educational child care schools.  Primrose Schools are located in 16 states throughout the U.S. and are dedicated to delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum throughout their preschools.


Early Childhood Education – The Best Time For Bilingual Learning

Of course, nobody knows what the future will hold – but if current trends continue, your child will grow up to enter a workforce in which the competition for decent-paying jobs will be nothing short of cut-throat. Despite the calls for greater co-operation and "interdependence," human nature being what it is, it's a good bet that the economy of the the future will operate according to the Law of the Jungle. It goes without saying that a good education is one of the best ways to prepare that child for survival in that economic jungle of the future.

The Bilingual Future

One of the future trends that has become certain is the existence of a diverse, global society. Nowhere is this more true than in the United States. Almost from the beginning, the U.S. has been a land of immigrants, and while the "melting pot" has been an interesting theory, it has not happened in practice. On the contrary, most major U.S. population centers have become more of an ethnic and linguistic checkerboard; Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese and Chinese speakers represent some of the fastest-growing segments of the immigrant U.S. population.

In addition, with the rise of China, English may very well lose its preeminence as the  international language of business; at best, it will have to share that top status with Mandarin in decades to come.

Getting Ready

Traditional wisdom has been to start teaching a second language in middle school, or even high school. Yet numerous research studies clearly demonstrate that the optimal period in a child's life for multilingual education is during the preschool years – at exactly the same time they are learning their first language. Yes, it is possible to learn a second and third language later in life, but it is more difficult, because that neurological "window of opportunity" – when the brain is most malleable – has passed.

According to Dr. Fred Genessee, Professor of Psychology at McGill University in Montreal, it's as easy for young children to learn two or three languages as it is for them to learn one. He's not alone; educators throughout the world (in countries that often have two or even three official languages) have understood this for decades.

The way a child learns a second language is by actually speaking it in a total immersion environment. You may recall an episode of the animated series The Simpsons in which young Bart gets trapped on a farm in France – and by the end of the episode, finds he's actually speaking the language. While this was a fictional scenario, the phenomenon is real; anyone who has taken young children abroad to stay with relatives in a foreign country for any length of time has observed this happening.

Enrollment in a preschool program that offers immersion in other languages is the best way to get your child started.  This investment will make him/her much more competitive in the job market later on.


Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas

Friday, September 17, 2010

Potty Training - Start of Day 3

I'm thinking we're going to back off of the potty training a bit.  We've been doing some pretty intensive no-diaper time for the last couple of days and it seemed to be working until this morning.  Nothing has changed, I did nothing differently today than yesterday or the day before and suddenly the boys are not cooperating.

We woke up and went potty, things went fine.  But that was the only time.  They have refused to even SIT on the potty - even when I know they have to go - but prefer to pee on the floor.  They scream if I go anywhere NEAR the bathroom.  And then they pee on the floor.  I've even started having them clean up the puddles with me but it is completely meaningless to them.  In the span of 15 minutes, we had 5 accidents and 3 trips to the potty.  So I whipped out the last of our diapers and put them on the boys.  We're going to go to the store and get some more.  We'll keep going to the potty first thing in the morning, before and after naps, and before bed, but they'll wear a diaper during the day (the introduction stage of Diaper Free Before 3) and we'll try to get rid of diapers again in a week or two.

I am frustrated and disappointed.  I had really thought that this would be a couple of really crappy days and then things would fall into place.  Instead it's been a couple of really crappy days that have gotten us nowhere.  Maybe I'm expecting too much.  They aren't even two years old yet.  Maybe I was trying to move too quickly.  I don't know.  I feel like I've failed which I know is ridiculous but that's not making me feel any better.  I can only hope that when we try again it will all fall into place.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Potty Training - Day 2

Today was pretty much more of the same from yesterday.  Maybe a little better.  Eli has taken us TO the potty a couple of times when he has to go, but still lots of puddles on the floor from both boys.  And puddles elsewhere... more on that later.  We thought we might try underwear today to see how they would handle it.  Not well.  We went through all 18 pairs of underwear before 5 pm.  After that point, I just kept them naked.  That seemed to be better.  I think that maybe the underwear confuses them because it's too much like a diaper.  Needless to say, I am doing laundry.

I will leave you with an anecdote from potty training that will maybe make you laugh.  This evening before dinner, I took both Eli and Jude to the potty before putting them in their high chairs.  Jude peed but Eli did nothing.  He didn't even want to sit on the potty.  I figured it wouldn't be a big deal and I'd just take him in the middle of dinner if he had to go.  Well, about halfway through his dinner, Eli stood up suddenly.  I asked him if he needed to go potty and he told me no.  Then he peed all over his plate.  He thought this was very funny.  I did not.

Boys are so gross.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Potty Training - Day 1

I'm going crazy.  I knew that this would be hard and frustrating but I seriously want to beat my head against a wall.  Yesterday was pretty successful - Eli peed in the potty once and Jude pooped in the potty once (even though I put him on the potty after he'd already started pooping) and they're super interested in the potties.  We went to the store and bought the second potty and a stash of underwear.  We decided that we'd just go whole hog today and have the boys spend most of the day naked.

Today started off really well.  Eli peed in the potty right away and Jude was willing to sit on the potty but did not do anything.  We were playing and hanging out when Eli began to pee on the floor.  We ran to the potty and he held it all the way to the bathroom and then finished up in the potty!  I started getting really excited thinking that Eli would have it by the end of the day and we'd be set!  That's when things started to fall apart.  Eli threw a tantrum because I wouldn't let him play in the bathroom and peed on the floor.  We ran back to the potty but he'd already emptied his bladder so nothing happened.  We went back to the living room.  He threw another tantrum and peed on the floor.  We ran to the potty but, once again, nothing happened.  This continued for a couple of hours before I couldn't handle it anymore and put a diaper on him.  We all calmed down and tried again right before nap time.  Travis took both boys to the potty at that time and said that they both peed in the potty.

During all of Eli's meltdowns, Jude was having some trouble also.  He still isn't very good at recognizing when he's going to pee so he had a couple of accidents.  No peeing in the potty except for right when he woke up and then again right before nap time.  The fact that he did do it before nap time though is encouraging and I'm hoping that he'll get it soon.

I just keep telling myself that this will pass and that if we make it through this stressful, crazy time I won't have to change diapers any more.  And I'm taking lots of calming breaths.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An Epic New Journey

If you'd asked me a week ago, "potty training" was akin to a dirty word around here.  I didn't want to hear it or think about it.  It terrifies me.  When I hear that phrase I have visions of poopsplosions and pee on everything, constant laundry, living my life in the bathroom, and daily bedding changes.  Needless to say, I was putting off starting such an endeavor until absolutely necessary.

Eli and Jude have been showing signs of "readiness" according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' standards for a couple of months now.  I kept telling myself that they were not ready and that they can't communicate enough to tell me that they need to go.  I would come up with excuse after excuse but after the recent nudist episodes I have had to confront the issue head-on.  I bought a book called Diaper Free Before 3 which has helped me change my mind and shatter all preconceived notions about potty training.  She does not agree with the AAP about "readiness" and recommends starting as early as 6 months old.  I'll probably write a detailed review of the book once I've really started to engage in her method but for now I'll just say that I am ready to commit to doing this messy, inconvenient, but necessary task.

She recommends to start by continuing to wear diapers (except for those older than 2) but place your child on the potty at scheduled times throughout the day - upon waking, before or after meals and naps, before bed - and also if you notice him or her performing potty cues to help introduce them to the concept of the potty.  Any kind of action during this time is good, but not necessarily expected.  Since we are older than the recommended start age, this phase should move quickly then we'll spend most of our time in underwear or training pants.  The final phase is about developing good potty habits for life.

I missed the boat this morning because I didn't wake up right when the boys did so our first potty trip was before nap time.  I am happy to report that it was a pretty successful trip!  Jude started making his "I'm pooping" face so I took him to the bathroom and plopped him on the potty.  He was not very pleased with this change in his "routine" but did poop successfully in the potty!  He was pretty mad though that I took his diaper off... we'll see how that goes for the next couple of days.  Eli though watched the whole thing and patiently waited his turn (at the moment, we only have one potty) and when I sat him down, he smiled at me and peed!  No drama, just did his business.  He didn't end up emptying his bladder completely though since he stood up and then peed on the floor, but it was a good start.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Menu Monday - More Holidays

I'm realizing that this week's menu will be pretty sparse.  It looks like it's shaping up to be a pretty busy week - in a good way - and we won't be doing much eating at home.

Monday - Alex at AMOM meeting, leftovers/frozen pizza for Travis and the boys

Tuesday - West Wing Night!

Wednesday - Grilled Chicken with pesto pasta and veggies

Thursday - Ratatouille with Papardelle (I've been trying to make this for WEEKS but for some reason it keeps getting pushed off the menu...)

Friday - Beef Wellington with potatoes au gratin and veggies

Saturday - Break the Fast (eat out!)

Sunday - Travis at game, leftovers for Alex and boys

Friday, September 10, 2010

Two Little Butts

I put Eli and Jude down for an earlier nap again today - they just can't seem to decide if they want to nap early or late - and after lots of yelling and laughing and banging, they finally quieted down and fell asleep.  I wanted to go and check to make sure they were in bed or at least not on top of each other and this is what I found...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Guest Post from Misty at Baby Sign Language

I hope everyone is having a great Thursday, and Happy New Year to all of my Jewish readers!  We are observing the holiday today so please enjoy this guest post from Misty, chief editor of Baby Sign Language!  We only use a couple of signs here but I'm always looking for more ways to communicate with Eli and Jude and minimize tantrums.



Taming Tantrums with Baby Sign Language

Childcare experts all agree that toddler tantrums are usually caused by extreme frustration. At the heart of this frustration is the inability to communicate, as language skills are often a long way behind other skills such as mobility. Anything parents can do to improve toddler communication has to be a good thing for tantrum taming. And Baby Sign Language offers an ideal solution.

How Can Baby Sign Language Help With Toddler Tantrums?
Psychologists studying child development have for many years appreciated the link between symbols and learning. Famous child psychologist, Vygotsky, said that the social interaction between the learner and a knowledgeable adult is essential to cognitive development. In other words, your child needs to understand what it is he wants then he needs to be able to communicate this to you. Symbols and gestures give the child a means of doing this that is less sophisticated than language – it is easier, for example, for a toddler to picture milk in his head and then make a gesture to represent this than it is for him to search a growing vocabulary for the right word.

Communication And Confidence
Studies have shown that learning symbols and gestures has a significant effect on the early communicating abilities of even young children. Communication is a two-way process, and when a toddler’s attempts at communicating are successful – the parent understands what it is toddler wants – he grows in confidence. This confidence encourages him to communicate more often, and more creatively. It is a ‘win win’ situation for both parent and toddler.

Confidence And Tantrums
A confident toddler who has learned simple sign language is less likely to become frustrated when he can’t get what he wants. He has the means to tell you what he needs – by using Baby Sign Language – and the confidence to know that Mommy will understand him. Signing also gives Mom and Dad a way to cut through the confusion that words often cause to a stressed out toddler. He is more likely to respond to visual cues for behavior than worn-out words from a worn-out mom!

Start Young – If You Can
Teaching your baby to sign may well have the longer-term result that when he reaches toddlerhood he has the tools he needs to communicate successfully with you, avoiding many frustration-based tantrums. But if you haven’t already started to sign, and have a tantruming toddler, don’t despair. It’s never too late to begin. The signs to focus on now are those linked to emotions and basic needs, as the inability to communicate these are at the heart of frustration-based tantrums. Begin with the signs for Tired, Hungry and Sad. Repeat these signs often when talking to your toddler, using flash cards if necessary, to help him learn what each sign means. When he is tired, for example, reinforce this by saying ‘Frankie is tired’ and making the sign for tired.

Encouragement And Patience
Encourage his efforts at signing by giving lots of praise whenever he makes a sign – even if you’re not quite sure what he’s trying to say! Be patient – it can take a couple of months of exposure to a sign for a toddler to begin to use it himself. Don’t expect too much too soon.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Menu Monday - Happy Labor Day!

Also, L'Shanah Tova to all of our Jewish readers!  We were doing really well with sticking to the menu but we kind of fell off of the bandwagon last week.  Things were just kind of crazy and we ended up moving around our eating out night (and adding one) so you may see a repeat of ingredients or recipes this week.  I'm going to try to post some more recipes over at Chef Momma and the Hungry Hornes this week because the veggie lasagna was a big hit and it's still a little bare over there.  : )

Monday - Go out with the Melnicks

Tuesday - "West Wing Night" featuring Ratatouille papardelle or Caldo Verde... TBD

Wednesday - Grilled Salmon with quinoa and veggies

Thurday - Go out to eat!

Friday - Burgers with sweet potato fries

Saturday - Curry chicken with rice and veggies

Sunday - Travis at game, leftovers for Alex and the boys

Friday, September 3, 2010

Poop-tastrophe

I have to say, until I became a mom I was very grossed out by all kinds of bodily fluids.  Vomit, urine, excrement, what have you.  I have had to get over this since the boys have arrived but days like today really test my resolve.  A little back story - Eli has been getting very good at controlling his bowel muscles.  This is exciting because it means we're getting that much closer to potty training but not exciting because he's decided he never wants to poop again.  I have tried everything to get this boy to poop but it won't work.  Suppositories, prunes, lots and lots of juice... you name it, I've tried it.  He is very stubborn about it and refuses.  I know it must be very painful for him by this point and he won't let me anywhere near his behind so I've stopped pushing the issue.  He will poop when he's good and ready.  Okay, on with the story.

Things were all running smoothly, generally speaking.  Travis was at work and the boys and I were at home, hanging out.  We're experiencing a bit of nap rescheduling (it seems to be shifting from a morning nap to an afternoon nap) so I didn't put Eli and Jude down for their naps until about 1:30 pm today.  They seemed unfazed by staying up a little longer and actually went to sleep at about 1:50.  I went about my afternoon not knowing what I would discover a couple of short hours later.

Eli and Jude awoke from their naps at about 3:45 and started to play.  It started to get a little loud and rowdy so I went in their room with the intention of changing diapers and then feeding them a snack.  Oh man, was I shocked.  I'm still not sure what exactly happened.  When I entered the room, I found Jude completely naked, Eli with his diaper half off, and the room and my children covered in poop.  It was such a mess and so completely disgusting that I wasn't even sure where to begin.  So I started with Eli and Jude and figured I'd clean the room when Travis got home.

I put Eli and Jude into our shower with the sprayer-like shower head and literally hosed them down (thank you Savannah for that amazing wedding present!).  Eli thought it was super cool but Jude kept trying to hide in the corner of the shower and yelled at me any time I went near him with the water.  And he was the most dirty too.  He had rubbed the poop into his eczema so he had little rough nasty patches all over his shoulders, arms, and back.  It was gross.  Also during the scrubbing, Eli peed for the first time without a diaper on (that I can remember, at least) and looked at me with a horrified "Oh my god Mom, what is happening to me???" face.  It was so adorable that I almost forgot why I was so cranky and grossed out.  Almost.  We had a quick chat about what pee-pee is and he was soon back to stomping around the shower.

Travis arrived home shortly after drying and re-diapering the boys and he volunteered to clean the boys' room - much to my excitement - before looking at the daunting task.  Apparently, the boys had gotten poop on the bottoms of their feet and walked around, so there were little brown splotches all over their carpet.  All of the sheets and blankets had to be washed because someone peed on them.  And it was quite smelly.  Travis did a fantastic job and you can barely tell what grossness had been there earlier today.  We will need to steam clean the carpet now though, there's no way around that.  But we'd known that for a while since Eli and Jude have a great talent for spilling things EVERYWHERE.

In short, it was a very draining afternoon.  If you have children, I hope this never happens to you.  If you don't have children, I hope I haven't terrified you into never having any.

Monday, August 30, 2010

20 things for 20 months

Twenty months ago today, my beautiful boys were born.  It's hard for me to digest that it's been so long.  Sometimes it seems like the days just drag and drag but before I know it, a month has passed.  Then six.  Then twelve.  Then eighteen.  Now we're at twenty, with the two year mark just lurking around the corner.  It seems so far but December always sneaks up on me.  So, to commemorate these short twenty months, here are twenty things I love about my babies.

1 - the way they take a bite of their food and then put the "yucky stuff" on their brother's plate.

2 - the little curls on the back of their necks.

3 - their "hippo teeth" when they smile.

4 - when Eli tells me that he pooped when I'm tucking him in (when he didn't) so I'll stay a little longer.

5 - when Jude sticks his fingers under the bedroom door because he knows I can see them.

6 - the way they knock on doors and ask for "Dadda?" or "Momma?"

7 - how after we visit people with dogs they think it's appropriate to lick the people they love.

8 - how they hold any flat object up to their ears and say, "Hewwo?" like it's a phone.

9 - the way they climb into the toy box because they can't just choose one toy to play with.

10 - when Eli wants to help and puts away his toys before nap-time without me asking.

11 - when Jude hands toys/food/sippy cups to Eli when he's still in his high chair.

12 - the way they cuddle with each other and go out of their way to hug each other.

13 - the way they try to brush my hair when my hair is in a bun.

14 - the sweet kisses they give (even when they slip a little tongue!)

15 - the way they bat their eyes and pretend to be shy around girls.

16 - how adventurous and fearless they are when climbing and playing.

17 - the way they think all four legged animals say "Moo!" and all birds say "Quack!"

18 - when Jude dances to music and laughs.

19 - when Eli tries to sing along to songs on TV or the radio.

20 - the way they put their heads on my shoulders and relax, even when they're trying to act like big, tough boys.

Menu Monday - End of August

I cannot believe that August is coming to an end.  Normally my favorite month, this one seems to have dragged on and on!  I'm getting excited to fall to come and make the weather a little cooler and more pleasant.  Then maybe we can go to the park again without worrying about heat stroke.  : )

Monday - Alex at AMOM meeting, leftovers for Travis and the boys

Tuesday - "West Wing" Night, Beef Roulade with Gnocchi

Wednesday - White Veggie Lasagna

Thursday - Go out to eat!

Friday - Grilled Salmon with quinoa and veggies

Saturday - Ratatouille Pappardelle with Sausage

Sunday - Travis at game, leftovers or dinner with the Melnicks for Alex and the boys

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Splish Splash, I Was Taking a Bath

So, I won't lie.  I love to take embarrassing photos of Eli and Jude.  I don't mind being "that mom" that whips out the giant photo album full of naked baby pictures, or babies making silly faces pictures, or even sleeping baby pictures (if you haven't noticed that those are the bulk of my photos...) and I'm kind of looking forward to it.  I love to look back on photos and reminisce about the past.  I can only imagine how precious the pictures I take now will be to me in 10, 15, or 20 years.  I know I'll always remember how cute Eli and Jude were when they were small but it's nice to have photographic evidence to prove it, right?  And, when they're being total angst-filled teenagers it will be nice to think back to the days when they could not talk.

I just couldn't resist when Jude looked up and smiled at me with two toys in his hand and Eli grinned at me while brushing his teeth.  I made sure to pick the photo that did not show any little-boy-parts so when Eli and Jude apply for their first serious jobs their bosses won't find any pictures of their naked baby selves.  If they screw it up for themselves later, that's their own fault.  :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Menu Monday - Post Road Trip

I'm a little uninspired by food for dinners this week.  Maybe it's because I'm so currently obsessed with food for lunches (I'm even dreaming about bento boxes!) but dinners just aren't doing it for me right now.  I'm really struggling with coming up with this week's menu so I'm sure we won't stick to it.  But I'll try.  : )

Monday - Chicken Roulade with mashed potatoes and veggies

Tuesday - "West Wing" Night!

Wednesday  - Alex at Mom's Night Out, leftovers or frozen pizza for Travis and the boys

Thursday - Pesto Chicken with quinoa and veggies

Friday - Go out to eat!

Saturday - Caldo Verde with crusty bread for dipping

Sunday - Travis at game, leftovers for Alex and the boys

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sleepwalking Hubby

Some of you may know that Travis is a somnambulist (sleep walker) but doesn't have very many episodes.  The last time he did it was when I was pregnant and I found him sleeping on the couch at 3 in the morning during one of my many mid-sleep bathroom runs.  I thought I'd been snoring or something so he camped out on the couch.  In the morning he asked me how he got there.

I've never actually seen him sleep walk until just now.  He tends to talk to me while he's sleeping though so we have a "code word" that he has to tell me before I believe he's awake.  He typically doesn't even remember the word when he IS awake but the way he responds to the question always lets me know whether or not he is actually sleeping.  Our conversation from just a moment ago was just so cute I want to share it with all of you.

*      *      *

The bedroom door creaks open slowly.  I get up off of the couch to see what's going on.

Me: Travis?

No response.  Travis peeks around the door and starts to walk towards me.  I notice his eyes are closed.

Me: Are you sleeping?

Travis: (indignant) No!

Travis shakes his head vehemently and then gives me a hug.

Me: Okay, what's the password?

Travis: (whining) Aww, I don't know the password.

Travis hangs his head, turns around and walks back to bed and lies down.   

*      *      *

Is he not the cutest husband ever?  : )

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Home Again

Oh my goodness, I can't believe it's been a week since my last post!  We got back from Chicago very late on Tuesday night and yesterday I was trying to run around and get us all settled again.  Today I have a lot to do because I'm hosting this month's Book Club meeting for my Moms of Multiples group.  I'm really excited but I have a lot of cleaning and food making to do before I'm ready.  : )

Our trip to Chicago was a lot of fun.  We went to the Museum of Science and Industry and Eli and Jude were upset that they didn't get to spend the whole time looking at the baby chicks or playing with the interactive water exhibits.  We ate some DELICIOUS food (as always) including Lou Malnati's pizza, Portolli's hot dogs, Rockit's hamburgers (supposedly the best burger in the country, according to Good Morning America), Emilio's Tapas, and some tasty Chinese food in Chinatown.  Beyond the food, we did a lot of walking and some shopping in downtown Chicago and spent an afternoon at Millenium Park.  And, above all we had a great time hanging out with the whole family!  We were sad to head home but I really missed my bed.

Sadly though, Eli and I are now sick.  I have almost no voice, and what voice I do have sounds like a man.  Not sure where we caught this gross bug, but it's no fun.  Jude seems to be coming down with it too and I'm hoping that we all get over it quickly.  I feel like we JUST got over the last sickness!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One Hell of a Birthday

So, I was expecting this post to be very excited and happy-go-lucky about the very fun birthday I had.  Things were going great - went out to lunch with my mom and then went to Plucker's Wing Bar for dinner for a free meal (they give club members free meals on their birthdays) and then came home to watch West Wing with some of our friends.  All was going well and we were getting ready for bed when I received a terrifying phone call.

Apparently, my brother (you know, the one who just turned 21) decided to disappear without a trace this afternoon.  He closed his bank accounts and took his computer, gps, and the car and left.  People close to our family already know that this is especially terrifying because Danny has Asperger's Syndrome.  Asperger's is a high functioning form of Autism that prevents him from fully understanding social interactions, emotions, and "bigger picture" implications of his actions.  Even though he is nearly a genius - just shy by a few IQ points - he doesn't have very many skills necessary for living alone, though this is something that he's been working on with my parents for years.  He is finally succeeding in college, recently got his driver's license, and is learning what is necessary to take care of himself.  The hope was that he'd earn his degree soon and then would start trying to find a job and possibly get an apartment.  I'm unsure what suddenly spurred him to abandon this plan.

He was found in Fort Stockton, TX, on his way to El Paso where he was planning to live.  My mom managed to track his cell phone and the police picked him up.  He was confused as to why he'd be on the missing person's list and thought that his actions were completely rational.  The Fort Stockton Police Department says that he was articulate and seemingly without disability so they were unable to detain him (which is complete and utter bullshit, if you ask me.  If you have been declared an adult child by the government then OBVIOUSLY there is some obligation by the police to return you to your guardian/parent!) and he has promised to drive back to Austin.  Whether or not he returns has yet to be seen but I'm pretty sure he won't try to pull anything else now that the police are involved.

Needless to say, the end of my birthday has been stressful, emotional, and draining.  I'm still so full of adrenaline that it is unlikely I'll fall asleep any time soon.  I am frustrated that he didn't talk to me - which he normally does before going through with any crazy schemes - and I am hoping he gets home safely.  Fort Stockton is about a six hour drive from here, so hopefully he'll be back in the morning.

**UPDATE 2:00 PM - Danny was driving home from Fort Stockton after getting some sleep and things seemed to be going pretty well.  I spoke to him briefly on the phone and he said he was sorry for making us worry.  Then, just when I thought things were alright, he totaled his car.  He apparently lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a light pole, then rolled into a barbed wire fence.  He is unharmed and there were no other cars involved.  The sheriff in Llano is now holding him since there was still the missing person's report out and my mom is picking him up there.  I can't wait for this whole ordeal to be over.**

Monday, August 9, 2010

Menu Monday - Momma's Birthday/Road Trip

This week's edition of Menu Monday is brought to you by my birthday!  What can I say, birthdays make me excited.  Also, the boys and I are going on a road trip on Thursday for my Aunt's birthday bash in Chicago.  Sadly, Travis won't be joining us because of work so he'll have to fend for himself as far as food goes.  We'll miss him very much but I'm sure he'll have fun partying with his friends and reliving his single pre-baby days.  :)

Monday - Spinach and Artichoke Mac 'n' Cheese

Tuesday - "West Wing Night" and Alex's Birthday!  Food TBD

Wednesday - Chili-Mac (for chili recipe, look here!)

Road Trip Food (Prepare Wednesday) - PB & J sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches, slice fruit, etc.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Introducing a New Blog!

Sorry the posts have been kind of sparse this week, I've been working on a side project in all of my spare time.  As many of you know, I love to cook.  And I'm pretty good at it, if I do say so myself.  So, I decided that I wanted to start sharing recipes and talk about food more.  As this idea grew, I realized that it was simply too big and would quickly take over this blog which I want to keep family-related.  Besides, there are separate audiences for recipes and baby posts and I thought it would be best not to mix the two.  So now I present to you... *cue drumroll*

Chef Momma and the Hungry Hornes!





Hop on over and follow it if you're interested. Pass it on to your friends!  Grab a button!  Comment! I'll be posting both here and there and I'll probably cross link to recipes in my weekly meal plans. I'm super excited and I hope you are too! :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ode to Children's Television

Oh DJ Lance,
how do I love thee
with your bright orange jumpsuit
and hat oh-so-fuzzy?
You say dancing is awesome
and sometimes sound Jamaican,
I am not sure why,
but my heart is achin'!

I am confused yet intrigued
by these strangely shaped beings
Tootie's a cat-dragon?
What are these things?
And though Foofa is pink
and Muno is red,
I can't ever get those
crazy songs out of my head!

More songs that are catchy
and dance moves so grand
can always be found
with the Fresh Beat Band.
Making me crave smoothies
and full of instruments galore,
surely guarantees
this show's not a bore.

The actors can pretend
better than most
that they can actually play
the instruments they boast!
Not bad singers
and dancers to boot.
And it certainly doesn't hurt
that Twist is kind of cute.

This morning I thought
to put my feelings in verse,
as I tried to lose
the songs stuck like a curse.
So, a shout out to Moms
who watch TV with their spawn.
I know I'm not the only one
who secretly loves Nickelodeon.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Menu Monday... Let's Try This Again!

So, Travis suggested we go out to dinner tonight since I'd been taking care of my little sisters all day and was exhausted come dinner time.  I thought I'd just let the menu be and adjust as necessary but I realized that I scheduled chili for tonight and that is a critical ingredient in Wednesday's chili-mac.  Needless to say, some maneuvering has to be done.  I figured since it's still Monday, it's not such a big deal.  Hopefully THIS menu will stick though!

Monday - Out to eat

Tuesday - "West Wing Night" with roast whole chicken (no change)

Wednesday - Chili

Thursday - Southern Fried Chicken

Friday - Chili-Mac

Saturday - Papardelle with roasted tomato sauce (no change)

Sunday - Travis at game, leftovers or dinner with Melnicks (no change)

Alright, now that everything is set again, it is bedtime for Mommy!

Menu Monday - Third Week's The Charm!

Last week we didn't quite stick to the menu 100% again so I'm hoping that this week we will get all of our ducks in a row and things will fall into place.  Travis being sick really threw off my groove but he's feeling much better now and there's NO MORE EXCUSES!  At least, that's what I keep telling myself.  :)

Monday - Chili (save leftovers for Wednesday)

Tuesday - "West Wing Night" featuring roasted whole chicken with rosemary potatoes and veggies

Wednesday - Chili-Mac (with leftover chili from Monday)

Thursday - Go out to eat!  (kids eat free at Texican!)

Friday - Southern Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes and veggies

Saturday -Papardelle pasta with roasted tomato sauce and grilled chicken

Sunday - Travis at game, leftovers or dinner with Melnicks for Alex and boys

Bonus food options: save chicken bones for home made stock, dehydrate strawberries for macarons

Sunday, August 1, 2010

First feverless night in 5 days

As far as pneumonias go, I think I must have caught it early, because I'm feeling a whole lot better here on Saturday night. Alex is off with her old high school buddies drinking somewhere downtown (nothing too alcoho I hope, since she's driving) while I hung out here with the boys. My sickness has slowly faded today from really crappy this morning to now where I am feeling alright. Oral temp. of 97.9F isn't too bad, either. Thanks for the well wishes to everyone who have been calling me, messaging me, and posting here on the blog about it. I give it up to the expensive (but seriously worth it) antibiotic: levaquin. Thank god pharmaceuticals don't just make "little blue pills" but also invest in some innovative antibiotics to combat a horde of diseases that are becoming immune faster and faster to our resistances.

The boys had a pretty uneventful night; they didn't enjoy dinner too much so I had to supplement with additional citrus. I think crab isn't quite up to snuff for their palates yet; honestly I don't blame. I don't like much seafood myself, with the exception of crabcakes. These ones were made with the Costco fresh crab meat, which we bought last week and was still super fresh and delicious. Yum, yum. I've saved the fried up patties for Alex when she gets back to feast on at her leisure. They truly were tasty, despite our other fresh celery and carrots biting the dust well before the crab did. Ah well. After dinner, Eli and Jude wanted to play around so we watched some Rugrats before trying out each of the toys in the toy box that could be pulled out. Then, delightfully for me, they cooperated with the "pick-up" game and we put away nearly all the toys. Joy! I'm so glad that we worked on that one. They went to sleep pretty well, too, although I went into their bedroom later on in the evening to discover that Jude had passed out in the middle of their room on top of one of his stuffed bears. I gently picked him straight up and placed him delicately onto his mattress. Along for the ride came his big stuffed bear too. That boy has a kung-fu grip if I've ever seen one!

Well, that's really all I've got right now. It's late, I'm still a bit tired. I hope everyone's enjoying the weekend; summer is fast ending and I am starting to feel it. I've only got 2 more weeks of time with the boys before I'll be back at school. I'm glad to have an academic schedule though; it'll give me a lot more time with the boys in the long run.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Let Sleeping Babies Lie

The last few days have been very trying for ALL of us, it seems!  I thought I was the only exhausted one (other than Travis that is, who does have pneumonia and is resting more often than not) but it seems that Jude is just as sleep deprived.  All of his night time shenanigans seem to have made the poor boy beyond tired.  I snapped this picture at the end of breakfast time.


My poor baby fell asleep with a piece of waffle in his hand!  I put him straight down for his nap and he didn't stir at all.  Eli was not so keen to take a nap, but he is quiet now too.  I'm sure he's just as tired since Jude goes and wakes him up whenever he wants to play.  I just hope they take a good nap and are happy little boys when they get up!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Get Down With the Sickness

Travis is sick!  The reason I haven't updated since Monday is because I've been super busy taking care of two cranky toddlers while my poor sickie husband tries to recover.  He went to the doctor this morning because his fever has been absurdly high for the last couple of days (and he didn't want to go either but I made him, thank goodness!) and the diagnosis is either bronchitis or walking pneumonia.  Luckily, neither of those are contagious but the virus or infection that started the ball rolling likely is/was.  I'm just praying that Eli and Jude don't get sick because that would make for a REALLY cranky Mommy.

Naptimes are still a battle and I'm really not sure what we're going to do.  They get so angry when I put them down and they won't stay in their beds.  More often than not, they pass out on the floor in the middle of the room after yelling, banging on the door, and sticking their fingers under the door for half an hour.  But of course, just as I'm about to lose my resolve and hug them they calm down and go to sleep!  Seriously, toddler beds are so much more stressful than I ever imagined they would be.  Nobody sleeps and if they sleep, it's not in their beds!  I'm just trying to go with the flow and let them be kids but I am finding it very challenging.  I do not give up control easily.  But this is the plight of all Moms, I guess.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Enter Sandman

Since we switched Eli and Jude to toddler beds a few weeks ago, things have been relatively smooth.  They usually run around the room for 15 minutes to a half hour and then settle down into their respective beds and go to sleep.  The last couple of times though, Jude has been sneaking out of his bed and falling asleep in odd places.

Today when I went to wake up the boys from their nap, I carefully opened the door (like I've been doing lately for fear of squishing someone hiding behind the door) and it suddenly stopped opening.  I looked down to see a passed out Jude in the middle of the floor, blocking the door.  That in itself was cute, but then Travis showed me this picture when I returned home from my Moms of Multiples meeting.


He went into the boys' room to check on them after they'd quieted down since apparently bedtime was very difficult tonight.  He found Jude and Eli sleeping next to each other in Eli's bed.  He's unsure if Jude was in Eli's bed before they both went to sleep or if he snuck into bed after Eli had fallen asleep.  Hard to say, but cute nonetheless.  He certainly is sneaky though!

Menu Monday - Week 2

Okay, so last week with the menu we did pretty well.  The only hiccup was that we ended up going out to dinner on Friday so I made the chicken parm on Saturday and didn't make the Indonesian satay.  That's fine, we'll work it into this week's menu.  Pretty good for our first week, I think!  Hopefully we'll do even better this week.  :)

Monday - Alex at AMOM meeting, leftovers/potpie for Travis and the boys

Tuesday - "Lost Night" (seriously, I need a new name for this event!)

Wednesday - Indonesian satay with fried rice

Thursday - Crab cakes with veggies

Friday - Spinach and artichoke macaroni and cheese with grilled chicken

Saturday - Ranch burgers with sweet potato fries

Sunday - Travis at game, leftovers for Alex and the boys

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pull My Finger Gets a New Meaning

Eli and Jude have been practicing hand-holding so that we can get them to walk more rather than lug the huge stroller everywhere or have to carry increasingly heavy boys.  Both are getting the hang of it but Eli has decided to use his skills to drag me everywhere he goes.

He walks up to me wherever I am - sitting, standing, cooking, doesn't matter - and grabs my index finger with his whole hand and pulls me until I follow him.  Usually it's just around the room or over to a door he wants me to open, but it's one of the funniest things he does.  This morning, he walked me over to Travis and my bedroom door and knocked on it calling "Dada!" then looked at me expectantly, like I would open the door.  I told him, "I'm sorry, but Daddy's sleeping.  Let's go read a book instead." and he pouted for a few minutes.

Later, I asked him to come give me a hug and he shook his head vigorously and yelled "No, No, No!" at me, then gave me the stink-eye like I give him when he does something wrong.  I thought it was hilarious but was also taken aback at his new attitude.  I hope this is not a sign of angsty teenage years to come...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Menu Monday - First of Many

Before I get into the menu spiel, I want to take a moment to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my sweet baby brother.  Okay, so he's not so much a baby anymore since he's turning 21 today!  : )

Anyway, in an effort to make myself more accountable about cooking at home I've decided to add a Menu Planning Monday post to our repertoire.  This should not only make my shopping easier, because I'll know what I'll need for every day for the whole week, but will also help us stay on budget.  I'm only going to put dinners though (unless there is something special about breakfast or lunch) because those are the ones that require the most groceries and will vary the most during the week.  We tend to eat pretty much the same thing for breakfast and lunch with some changes, so it's not very interesting.

Monday - Dinner with the family for Dan's 21st birthday!

Tuesday - "Lost Night" (I think I need a new name for this weekly event...)

Wednesday - 5 cheese ravioli with pesto and tomatoes

Thursday - Mom's Night Out for Alex, frozen pizza for Travis and the boys

Friday - Chicken Parmesan over rotini with mixed veggies

Saturday - Indonesian chicken satay with peanut sauce and fried rice

Sunday - Travis at game night, leftovers or dinner with Melnicks for Alex and the boys

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Mommy Bag

Maybe it's just me, but does anyone else have the problem where every purse they buy is bigger than the last?  I have been very reluctant to succumb to this slippery slope down to what I fondly call "Mom Purses" but it seems that the transformation is now complete.

First, a short history.  My first purse that I can remember carrying was the epic symbol of the '90's, the mini backpack.  It was denim.  It was tiny.  It was awesome.  Over time the purses got a little larger and became the little bags you see stuffed into people's armpits because the straps are so short it's really the only place they can conceivably fit.  I had one with rhinestones and a Coca-Cola logo on it and a cream faux-alligator one.  There was a short phase in high school when I liked longer strapped, over the shoulder purses (but still small bags, don't forget) because they were easy to carry while also lugging a monster backpack everywhere.  I had a black Emily the Strange bag that I LOVED and a blue and white tie-dyed jersey bag that went with me everywhere.  I would carry these purses until they practically fell apart.  All of the rhinestones came off of the Coke purse and the jersey bag had become a nasty grey color before they were retired.  I loved my little purses.  I remember each one fondly and still have most of them.

But something changed when I got pregnant.  I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and suddenly had to carry so much more with me.  I had to carry my blood sugar meter and all of its accessories and snacks for every two hours while I was away from the house.  Also, I had to keep a small blood sugar journal to keep track of my levels.  Suddenly, the little purses would not cut it.  I made use of "The Burma Bag" that I'd gotten as a gift from a cousin when I was 13 and thought was seriously cool but too big to carry day-to-day.  I became accustomed to the larger bag and things were good.

Then, Eli and Jude were born.  Again, I was finding that the amount of stuff I needed to carry around with me just didn't fit in the Burma Bag.  I made it work for a few months because I was VERY reluctant to get an even bigger purse but was persuaded when Travis bought me my first designer purse for my birthday last year.  The blue Vera Bradley purse has been amazing - durable, spacious, and beautiful - but now that we're reaching a point when the diaper bag is being phased out and more child items are being put in my purse, it is time once again for an upgrade.
As an early birthday present, Travis bought me a new Vera Bradley bag (this is not the exact color, but you get the idea) that I was at first very skeptical of.  It was a hard enough transition to the LAST purse, how could I possibly handle getting a bag that even classified itself as a "tote?"  I had a minor crisis about my self image then sucked it up.  I need more space and that is that.  What's worse?  After using it on the airplane, I ALREADY think that I could get a bigger bag!  What is wrong with me?

New Layout!

Unless it's your first time visiting the blog, you'll probably notice that we have a new layout!  I've been pondering a new design for a few weeks and decided to finally change it now that we're back from our vacation.  Though I thought the other layout was cute, it was very bright and wasn't very personal.  Also, the body of the blog was not wide enough to fit the smallest embedded HD YouTube player.  Basically, the old layout wasn't fulfilling our needs anymore.

Please bear with us if things are not working or look wonky.  There may be a few more changes in the next few days/weeks, but I'm pretty pleased with the new look.  Also, for anyone who cannot tell who is who in the banner due to lack of color - Eli is on the left, Jude on the right.  : )

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Home, Sweet Home

We've been back from our trip for a couple of days now and we're settling back into our routine.  While we absolutely love visiting with family and changing up the scenery a little bit, vacations are certainly exhausting with 18 month old twins.  I was surprised at how much I craved the comfort of my own bed and the familiarity of my stove, couch, and the toys strewn throughout the house.

Florida was gorgeous.  We spent every afternoon at either the pool or the beach and Eli and Jude have made leaps and bounds in their swimming skills.  Eli loves to put his face in the water, blows bubbles, and enjoys spending his time climbing up and down the pool stairs.  Jude is not as fond of putting his face in the water but is great at kicking his legs and can climb out of the pool from the side.  They both love to splash and play and can hold their breath like champs.  I look forward to seeing their skills increase over the next few weeks/months/years.  If genetics have anything to do with it, we'll surely have superior swimmers.  : )

I would also like to point out that the food in Sarasota is delicious.  We met up with family at our favorite seafood restaurant - The Crab and Fin - on the first day and the food was amazing the entire trip!  We discovered a new pizza place on the circle called Venezia that is better than any pizza outside of New York or Chicago (Travis and I disagree on the best pizza... but that could fill up a post on its own) and we ate tasty macarons from Le Macaron a couple of times.  And of course, we ate at Kilwin's a few times and brought home three slices of fudge for our continued enjoyment.

We also spent a good part of our time at the Mote Aquarium and the G. Wiz Science Museum.  On our first visit to G. Wiz, the woman selling us our tickets told us about the membership program.  They are affiliated with the Association of Science Technology Centers and the membership carries over to science and children's museums all over the country.  Here in Austin, we'll get into the Austin Children's Museum for free and there are several other museums within day-trip range.  Needless to say, we bought the membership and it has already paid for itself.  Probably the best purchase of the entire trip, if not year!  Eli and Jude were fascinated by the sharks at the aquarium, the hands-on exhibits at G. Wiz, and there was a science demonstration one day with fire that had them awestruck.  This is probably my favorite age yet (aside from baby snuggles, which I miss and crave!) because they're so engaged and it's obvious that they learn new things with every day.

I will close out this post with some more photos of the trip!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Eli+Jude+Sliding Glass= Sillyness

Life doesn't get much better than a vacation at the beach. So far, the boys have enjoyed everything about Sarasota; it's just so calm, peaceful, sunny, warm and muggy but also breezy and dry, all at the same time. The salt water is wonderful, and one can taste it in the air. Intoxicating. Eli and Jude are having a great time too; they've been to the beach, played in the sand, splashed in the waves, dived in the pool (which they are learning to hold their breath too!) and eaten at all the local spots.

The boys are having so much fun, and so are we watching them! Here's a video of one of their favorite new things about the condo, a tinted sliding glass door that they move back and forth in and out of. We have a hard time keeping this door closed without one or both of them crying how much they want the freedom to go in and outside! Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Sarasota

**Okay, so I know this is supposed to be wordless (hence the title) but since it's the first time I'm doing it on the blog, I thought I'd offer a short explanation.  A popular weekly segment to do on "Mommy Blogs" is to have a post on Wednesday comprised only of photos with no captions or other words.  Because we're at the beach right now, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to show off some of the pictures I took with our new camera this afternoon!  Hopefully we'll do this sometimes - probably not every week - and I hope you enjoy the photos!**





Thursday, July 1, 2010

Big Boy Beds

I normally try to keep the blog pretty light - which is silly because I think that more people should see the nitty gritty part of raising twins, but all of that is fodder for a post on another day - but know that today was not a light day for me.  Maybe it was the lack of sleep, maybe it was something else, but I had a very hard day today.  Looking back at the day, it doesn't seem like very much but I guess it was the culmination of a lot of things and I went totally off the deep end.  It was also a hard day for Travis, but I'm writing this post.  : )

Travis woke me up as he was getting ready to leave for his Dr. appointment (I've been sleeping late because of the pills for my back) and had been up with the babies for two hours already.  This in itself is unusual.  On top of them waking up ridiculously early, Travis found them both standing on top of the changing table pulling on the blinds.  I knew they had been climbing out of their cribs for a few days in Eli's case and a few weeks in Jude's, but up until now it has been pretty sporadic.  I played with them this morning even though I was completely exhausted and was excited to take a nap or even just relax during their nap times.  Too bad naps were non-existent today.

I put Eli and Jude down for their naps just after 11 am, as per usual, and they chatted for a little bit, also normal.  Then, I heard a lot of laughing and banging so I thought I'd check on them.  Sure enough, both boys were standing on the changing table playing with the blinds again!  I put them back in their cribs, told them that we do not climb out as calmly as I could (let's be honest, not very calmly) and went back to the other room.  We did this dance about five times in the next half hour before I completely lost my cool.  And Eli and Jude could not get enough of it!  They thought I was absolutely hilarious!  Which of course, became more aggravating and I was becoming more and more angry.  I finally decided that the three of us were going to sit in the living room and NOT nap until we could figure out a sleeping solution.

When Travis returned home, he very sweetly picked me up a delicious burrito from Chipotle but I was still furious, exhausted, and drained so I wasn't very pleasant.  We decided to convert the cribs into toddler beds - the kits arrived a week or two ago and we've been putting it off - and just deal with wandering babies.  I was skeptical of this plan because I was envisioning our little boys passed out on the floor, surrounded by ripped up books and toys in the middle of the night.  But, we really didn't have any other option (except crib tents, but we decided against those already).

I left for an impromptu Mom's Night Out dinner with a couple of the Moms of Multiples and prayed that bedtime went smoothly.  I just got home a little while ago and peeked into Eli and Jude's room and was pleasantly surprised (okay, SHOCKED!) to see that both boys had passed out IN THEIR BEDS!  Travis said that there was lots of crying and banging on the door for the first half hour, but then they realized it was still bedtime and went to sleep.  I'm so proud of my big boys, sleeping in their big beds!  Even if they do drive me absolutely bonkers.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Eighteen Months

It's hard for me to believe that almost exactly two years ago, Travis and I were just finding out that we were pregnant. A couple of days later we found out it was twins. These last two years have been a whirlwind, to say the least. I look at the calendar today and it shocks me to see that Eli and Jude are 18 months old. It seems like they were just entering this world... but they've been here for a year and a half! I noticed earlier this week when they were both wearing "big boy jeans" with a snap and a zipper that they suddenly look like children. Where did my babies go?

It seems like their lives have been measured in numbers. 34 weeks pregnant. 14 days in the NICU. 24 teeth between two mouths. Hundreds of Bruises. Thousands of steps. Millions of smiles. Countless tears. Someone once told me that the days are long but the years are short. They were right.

Eli and Jude at 2 weeks old - leaving the NICU

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Funday

So, a quick little video of the boys at play. Jude especially has become more fascinated by the leapfrog learning table, and it shows in his dancing and clapping to the thing as he plays with it too =) They're also beginning to respond to requests very well and can put away their toys into the proper places (most of the time)! Ahh.. life is exciting with the boys.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Eli and Jude at the playground

The day was pretty nice today, a bit hot but very sunny. I decided it would be a great time for a park trip! The boys have been mostly restless for the last couple of weeks with Alex recovering from surgery, especially when it was rainy and nasty outside, so I figured a trip to the park would be a wonderful excursion for the little guys to get some energy out.

So, we packed up the stroller and a little cooler full of snacks and drinks for our hour-long sojourn to the apartment complex's playground. I really can't stress enough how convenience this playground is for us; the boys love to go there every time, and I think they might even enjoy it more than swimming in the pool, which is good since Alex can't get in the water yet (shortly she'll be able to though)! As you can see in the video, the little explorers are into all of the environment, not just the playground equipment, so we were constantly having to run into the woods chasing after our little questers. They certainly have picked up on how we move as well; I rarely see them moving together, more often than not attempting to separate us in an attempt to break free and explore where we're not letting them go. Such is the life of a baby I suppose, but it certainly makes it much harder for us to keep tabs on them every second of the day!

As you can see by the second video, the boys are successfully starting to master stairs. This worries me a bit as well, mainly because i think it is giving them the idea that they can explore them by themselves, without any help from us. They are certainly enjoy expressing their independence: Alex gets frustrated at this because when she wants to hug them, they oftentimes don't want to hug and sometimes run up to her and then run back to whatever they are doing. Our little ones are starting to grow up right in front of our eyes.

I hope next week to take a video of the boys swimming with Skylar and Sydney, if they're able to come over for a dip in the pool. Our success with their swim training is limited at the moment; the last time we went swimming with them, the boys learned to kick their feet while being suspended in the water and are learning to blow bubbles more in the water. Next time, I'd like to get them to dunk their heads under water for a second and learn to hold their breath. If anyone has a suggestion for a good swim instruction book though, I'd be more than happy to take a read; leave a comment for me and I'll look up the book.

Anyway, here are the videos. Enjoy!