Monday, March 29, 2010

The Results Are In...

A couple of weeks ago I told you guys that we were going to test Eli and Jude's genes to find out if they are fraternal like our doctor told us initially or identical as we've been suspecting since their birth. For the previous post, look here.

We also asked for what you think and the poll is now closed. It seems that 50% of respondents think that our boys are identical, 37% think they are semi-identical, and 12% think they are fraternal. Well, the official results arrived this afternoon in the mail and... *cue drum roll*

THEY'RE IDENTICAL!

For those of you who know our incredible conception story, it makes it a little less absolutely insane. One day I'll go into detail for people who aren't in the know.

Seeing Double

Okay, so I wanted to write this post because I have a very specific opinion about dressing twins and some people may disagree with me. It became a little longer and a little more rant-y than I anticipated so I apologize for that. But please remember, how you dress your children is your choice. I'm not setting out to tell anyone what to do. I just want to put my opinion out there and vent a little bit about my frustration with the children's fashion industry and the expectations in both directions put on parents of multiples.

This was all brought to the surface when one mom on my local Moms of Multiples' forum shared the advice with an expectant mom of triplets to buy a few of the same outfit when you find one you like (especially for boys due to the lack of selection, but that's another rant) because it's more convenient and often cheaper. The future triplet mom responded with a short - and I thought borderline rude - response that she "will never dress my triplets in the same clothes because they will be individuals." I laughed aloud and thought to myself, "Ah, how naive." I'm sure I said something similar when I was pregnant with Eli and Jude, and I'm sure plenty of other twin/multiples moms have too but I quickly realized that my preconceived notions of how I'd dress my children became null and void after their birth.

I too decided that Eli and Jude would be "individuals" and I would help to foster their personal growth by never dressing them in the exact same outfit, but may on occasion coordinate their outfits to reinforce their special twin bond. The first thing I realized was that families and friends will buy you gifts that don't necessarily fall into your fashion "box" and we received MANY identical outfits immediately at birth and still continue to receive them to this day. Why? Because they also realize that it's cheaper and more convenient (okay, and cute)! That segues into my next realization - buy it if it's on sale. You see that polo shirt you like that only comes in one color or style for buy one get one 1/2 off? BUY IT! We live inside a pretty snug budget - like many families - which has made me really rethink the necessity of buying two completely separate and different wardrobes. I don't even try to separate Eli and Jude's clothes after doing laundry anymore. They wear the same size and it's simply more work than I choose to put on myself and Travis. Thirdly, they already ARE individuals! What they wear doesn't make them any less of who they are. You can put a punk kid in a preppy sweater, but he'll still be a punk! Putting Eli and Jude in the same outfit doesn't make them any less themselves. Eli still observes and thinks through things and Jude still jumps head first off of the couch when they wear the same onesie. My two little sisters who are two years apart choose to wear the same dress sometimes but they couldn't be more different. The idea that "twins that dress the same are the same" is just fallacious. I refuse to buy into that mentality.

What does this mean? Do we dress them the same? Do we dress them differently? Both! The reality is that we have duplicate outfits of most of the clothes the boys own and most of the time, we put them in the first thing we grab. It is easier for us to dress them differently because it's easier to identify the boys from far away if they're in different colors. Some days, it just so happens that we grab the same outfit or the same colors for the boys and then I'm just too lazy to change it. I have enough to do without changing the boys' outfits because I don't like what they're wearing. Also, due to the lack of choice for little boys' clothing, a lot of our "special" items are duplicates - like overalls, shoes, and dress clothes. I'm sure if I REALLY was dedicated to finding two pairs of overalls that were not the same and were both inexpensive I could find them but I just don't have the time or energy for that kind of a search. And finally, we had a family portrait session yesterday and the photographer recommended that we all wear clothes in the same color family. Lo and behold, the only clothes I could find for Eli and Jude in the same size and in similar colors were a light blue polo shirt from Old Navy. The shirts were on sale and that was good enough for me! I really wanted these cute guayaberra shirts they had (also on sale!) but of course, they didn't have two in the same size and the different patterns clashed and we were stuck. Sometimes preconceived notions are changed and plans get thrown out the window. This is life.

I guess the theme of this whole post is that worrying about the minute detail of whether or not Eli and Jude are wearing the same shirt today requires too much effort. My brain power is occupied with more important things like what to make for lunch or if Eli is using Jude's face as a step-ladder. Any twin/multiple mom who DOES have the energy to worry about exactly which outfit to put on their kids deserves admiration. Or they're on speed. I pity the poor future triplet mom because I fear she is in for a rude awakening.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

PLAYGROUND on 3/27/2010!

So Alex, Eli, Jude and myself went to the playground today, and had tons of fun. The day was pitch perfect, with sun all around and not a cloud to be seen for miles. The boys sure enjoyed the heck out of it and were really psyched to see everything. At the end of this post, I'll post all the videos about it.

Also, in the unfortunate category of news.. Jude smashed his left index finger in with the door to our foldable chair/table set. It's mainly my fault; I walked away for a second to check on the video encoding (see below), thinking the boys certainly wouldn't get into too much trouble in one minute playing in the dining room (big mistake) when I heard Alex asking Jude if he was okay. I rushed out to the dining room just in time to hear a monstrous scream he must have been holding back for a while erupt from the poor baby's mouth. I was panicked at this point, feeling guilty that I left him alone and frustrated at myself for being so stupid. Fortunately, Alex assessed his injury and we think, right now, that its just going to be bruised in the morning. He could move the finger easily and was picking things up, eating, and sucking on it for a bit without pain, so I imagine it looked worse than it was in reality. I hope that's the case!

Anyway, enough of my rambling: Here are the videos:

Eli and Jude Swinging:





Eli and Jude on the Playscape Part 1:



Eli and Jude on the Playscape Part 2:



Eli and Jude on the Football Field:



And as a special treat: Me reading Moo, Baa, La La La to the boys and them answering with the animal noises! Our babies are so smart =)

Bathtime at Grandma's, Feb. 14, 2010

Late video #1: Babies first snow!



Late video #1: Babies first snow!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Something is wrong here...

It was story time before bed and I wasn't really paying attention until I heard something that didn't sound quite right...

"And then the very hungry Rainbow Fish ate the caterpillar..." --Daddy

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

the camera loves them and they LOVE the camera!

I couldn't help myself, Eli and Jude were just being too cute today and I took a couple of videos. The problem? Anytime I take out the camera/phone, they quit doing what I thought was cute and do something else. Luckily, it normally works out. In the first video Eli decides that he wants the phone (probably to eat it) and will stop at nothing to either get into the shot or make a grab for it. He's such a a little ham! In the second video, they decided to run up and down their "new" hallway - their favorite new pastime - pushing their retro rockets. There are a few close calls where I was afraid Eli almost got run over but there are thankfully no tears. Enjoy!


video


video

Why is your mouth blue???

So, this morning I tried to teach the boys how to color unsuccessfully. I read in our What to Expect: The Toddler Years book (or, as Travis and I call it, The Baby Manual) that this month they may be able to scribble a little bit so I wanted to try it out! Over the weekend, Travis and I bought some construction paper and these crayola toddler markers for the boys and I've been itching to play with them. Also, I'm getting ready to do a big deep cleaning of our kitchen and thought some cute artwork from the boys would make an excellent addition to a newly clean refrigerator door. Both sides of the family have artsy people so I thought, "It's in their blood! They'll love to draw and be great at it!" Ah, how naive.


My first mistake was probably putting them in the high chairs. I read on several websites that the best way to avoid technicolor walls at the beginning to always do coloring activities while strapped into high chairs. Sounds brilliant, right? Well, since Eli and Jude only go in their high chairs when they eat - plus it was almost meal time - I can see where there could have been a misunderstanding as to our activity.

My second mistake was looking away. After showing both boys how their markers made pretty colors on their own paper and saw they weren't quite getting it, I thought that I should probably model how to do it and color with them. I looked down at my page for just a moment and when I looked up Eli had blue lips, a blue tongue, blue teeth, and a few blue fingers. I took the marker out of his mouth and said "No eating, we use this on paper." but it went right back into his mouth. I glanced over at Jude and sure enough, he too was green in the lips, tongue and teeth. After a few attempts to get them to stop eating the markers and color with them, I gave up and took them away. This brought on lots of tears and anguished cries but they were fine when I gave them some oranges and waffles.

Luckily, because these markers are marketed for toddlers, they seem to be mostly water with a tiny hint of color. By the time I thought to take a picture of the aftermath, most of the pigment had come off of their faces and hands already. But, we probably won't try coloring again for a while.

Friday, March 19, 2010

My baby is a GENIUS!

So, we had a big exciting day at the park today - we even bought some sand toys to play with in the sand volleyball court - and it was seeming like a day like any other. Eli and Jude have become so much more adventurous on the playground. They're running around, climbing on the playscape, and even trying to slide down the slides on their own. That in itself would have been enough to write a blog. Judah was positively adorable when he went down the slide without me and fell right off the bottom and bounced. He smiled, got up, and started to climb back up the steps.

But the real action happened tonight when we were getting the boys ready for bed. We were to the reading portion of our bedtime routine and Daddy chose to read Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton - one of the boys' favorites and a guaranteed laugh riot - and he started with the first line "A cow says..." and paused to see if the boys would try to answer. I was dumbfounded when Eli smiled and said, "MMMMM!" Okay, not quite the "moo" I was expecting, but a cow noise nonetheless. We praised him (I was practically jumping up and down, I was so excited) and Travis continued with "A sheep says..." and Eli answered again "BAA!" I almost fell over, I was so surprised! It's official, ELI IS A GENIUS! He didn't quite get the "la la la" part and didn't answer any other animal noises but two is plenty. Especially for a first time. I'm just still so stunned and pleased. Eli's really shown an interest in speaking the last few days but nothing like tonight. Not even close. I can't wait until he can read the whole book - at this rate, it won't be too long! : )

Thursday, March 18, 2010

You thought the last video was cute?

Wait until you see this one! I was in the kitchen getting the boys' lunch prepared when I heard them running and giggling hysterically in their "new" hallway. Luckily, I had my handy-dandy cell phone (I love Blues Clues, can you tell?) in my pocket and managed to catch some of their silliness on video. They weren't as hysterical as when I wasn't watching them, but they're still pretty goofy in the clip. This is what they've been doing every day since the hallway became open to them. Also, look for Eli testing our yarn baby-proofing solution for the laundry room. Eli also demonstrates one of his new tricks - getting onto his retro rocket by himself! Nevermind that he's on it backwards... : )

video

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kitchen Gate Gaiden

Just a quick note regarding the kitchen gate as well. We have our laundry room opposite to the kitchen and it is closed off by a wooden slate bi-fold door that the boys have always been interested in. When we set up the second gate and opened the long hallway to our bedroom, Alex was certain that the boys wouldn't figure out how the door worked. I, being a baby mind-reader (at least for the baby exploration desires since I had the same thing as a kid), knew that the boys wouldn't stop until they figured out how to get it open.

When I brought the first baby out from his nap, I let him run around on the floor, exploring all the changes we made to the living room. This baby was Eli, and immediately upon getting to the floor and noticing the toy box was gone, he walked through the newly minted hallway and made a B line over to the bi-fold doors. Being the ever curious little sneak he is, he started to play with the wooden slats of the door and noticed they made a sound very pleasing, at least I thought pleasing as he giggled and repeated the motion over and over again until his brother joined him. They took a short jaunt down the hallway and explored the new space, running around in circles down the hallway. It was very cute, but they returned to that bi-fold door, determined to open 'er up. Alex and I were sitting on the couch passively watching them and watching the news when suddenly they started to bang on the door. What do you know- one side of the bi-fold slightly caved in. Huh, I thought. I didn't see that coming, as I honestly thought they'd be able to reach the knob and yank at it (they could end up reaching it, but not have the leverage to yank at it). Alas, this caving of the door created a slight crack in the joint between them, and Eli and Jude started to tug at the opposite door until it opened up. Alex saw this and jumped up, but by the time she got the boys, they already had made it into the laundry room and were on the carpet, trying to pull at the brooms. "No, no!" Alex remarked, and I slowly got up with a smug look on my face: I knew they'd figure it out. I didn't expect it to be within 30 minutes, I'll admit, but the day wasn't done until the boys figured out some sort of trouble to play on our best laid plans. I can't wait to see what sort of engineers we have.

Kitchen Gate III - The Prisoner of Kitchenaban

So, Eli and Jude have suddenly entered into a climbing phase. I'd seen signs that it was coming a few weeks ago when I left the living room to make them lunch and when I came back, they had magically appeared on top of the couch. They did not do that trick again until a few days ago when it was all out, non-stop climbfest. I've been going out of my mind chasing after them and pulling them off of things and moving fragile objects and remote controls to higher ground.

What, you may be asking yourself, does this have to do with the kitchen gate saga? I will explain. For those who have never seen our apartment, we have a generally open plan. You enter directly into the living room, looking down the hallway to the master bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room. On the opposite side of the living room, there is a dining area with another entrance to the kitchen and Eli and Jude's room. Our previous babyproofing included a big red toy box blocking the hallway and gates blocking the one kitchen entrance and my office area. This set up has worked surprisingly well - minus the previous kitchen gate dramas - since December. It probably would have continued to work if I hadn't needed to rearrange our furniture a little bit due to the climbing insanity.

We - being young, hip, utilitarian, and poor - have a storage cube that doubles as an ottoman (thank goodness the boys haven't figured out that it OPENS!) that was previously blocking an absurd amount of wires attached to all kinds of electronic goodies used to play games and watch television. We also stacked the bumbo seats on top of it for good measure. I was out of the room again, fixing food as always, when I heard two thumps and giggles, and started seeing things disappear off of the kitchen pass-through. I looked around the corner and there was Eli, standing on top of the storage cube holding our mail in one hand and the cord to the PS3 in the other. Jude was standing at his feet, smiling and also holding some paper that had been pulled off of the counter. I'm sure my eyes bugged out of my sockets and I ran to Eli and took him down, telling him "No!" and tried to put things back the way they were supposed to be. The boys, in a truly remarkable bit of teamwork, each pulled down one of the bumbo seats I'd just replaced and climbed back on top of the cube. I realized then that our furniture was moving again.

I went through the same process as a couple of weeks ago (see Kitchen Gate II) and started calling around to local stores to find another of those Crosstown gates for the other side of the kitchen. But - SHOCKER! - BRU hadn't restocked since I bought their last one! So there were none at Walmart, Target, or BRU within 50 miles of us. I was pretty frustrated when I decided to go out on a limb and tried Toys 'R' Us. The clerk I spoke to said she had FIVE in stock. I made her go check to make sure they were actually there and they were! I sent Travis to pick it up after he was done working and we set it up during the second nap of the day. We moved the cube to the corner of our living room behind the papasan chair and put the toy box where the cube used to be. Our kitchen is now like a little jail cell though, with gates on either side.


Eli and Jude love this new set-up though. They've been running up and down the hallway that was previously off limits constantly since it became open to them. They've also been standing with one on each side of the kitchen and laughing at eachother. It's very cute. I'm glad to give them a little more space to run around. I think we've finally found a layout that will work... *fingers crossed*

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Zygocity Question

"They're so cute! Are they Identical?" is a question that we - and all twin parents - get all the time. I find it incredibly interesting that even parents of obviously fraternal boy/girl twins get this question too. But to be completely honest, I was guilty of asking this question of twin parents before Eli and Jude entered my life and still am now. It's typically the first question that flies out of my mouth before I can even reign it in when I meet a new set of twins... unless they look significantly different, that is. What can I say, it's interesting! The sheer fact that a single fertilized embryo potentially split into two separate, but genetically identical people is simply fascinating to me. So, naturally the first question I asked my ultrasound technician (after the shocked "Are you sure?" and "Can you check again?") was "Are they Identical?" Little did I know how complicated this question really was.

The ultrasound tech told me that day that she was almost 100% sure they were fraternal, or dizygotic. She showed me the membrane between the two babies and the two placentas and explained that it was highly unlikely that they were identical, or monozygotic, given those circumstances. I didn't know very much about twinning at the time so I just nodded and assumed she was right.

Fast forward to after Eli and Jude were born, while we were still in the hospital. I started getting the identical question twice a day in the NICU - once for each nurse assigned to their case. One nurse said to me, "I see a lot of babies and they all generally look alike, but yours look A LOT alike. Are you sure they weren't di-di twins?" I didn't have any idea what she meant but I explained what the ultrasound tech had told me and she nodded but said that the chances of identical twins being in separate amniotic sacs with separate placentas is not as rare as one might think. I was surprised and did some research. It turns out that about 25% of identical twins are dichorionic-diamniotic but most are diagnosed as fraternal. The only way to be sure of fraternal twins is if you have one of each gender. More suspicious facts were that the boys were only 2 oz apart in weight and half an inch different in length at birth - which the doctors say is normal, but seems to be quite a coincidence to me - and have only grown more similar in looks as they've gotten older. They also have hit all of their developmental milestones within weeks, sometimes days, of each other. This is less common, but also still normal for fraternal twins. Needless to say, Travis and I have been suspicious of their original dizygotic diagnosis for a while. And it makes answering strangers' questions awkward because you never know what to say or how much information to share. Everyone seems to have their own opinion, even passers-by who only take a quick glance at the boys' faces!

Finally, all of our questions are going to be answered. Our home genetic zygocity test kit arrived today. It's hard for me to imagine that in a little more than a week we'll know the answer to the ever-present zygocity question! So, I put up a final poll to see what you all think. Are Eli and Jude fraternal, identical, or somewhere in the middle? I'll post the answer when we find out.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Adorableness!

Not much has happened of note since the last time I posted. Travis, Eli, Jude, and I went to the park again today and had a grand old time. The boys were much more enthusiastic and excited than the last time, possibly because there were so many other children there today. We went down the slide a few times, played on the swings, climbed through a tunnel, and ran through the grass. Fun was had by all. : )

After we got home, the boys were just being too cute. So I took a short video of their silliness with my cell phone. It's not the best quality video but they're cute anyway.

video

After naps (and the video) we went to kid's eat free night at Applebee's and the boys fell asleep in the car on the way home. All in all, a good day.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spring is here!

Today, I decided to take Eli and Jude to the park. They were antsy, I was antsy, it was sunny and a beautiful 66 degrees and I had to get out of the house. So, to the park we went! It was my first park experience by myself with the boys (and possibly ever? I can't remember if we've been before...) and it was a lot of fun. Eli and Jude obviously were nervous about a new environment and spent the beginning sitting in the wood chips - and tasting them too - but after I decided to try them on the swings they got really comfortable. Jude and I tried the slide but he didn't get it and tried to stand up in the middle... we'll try again next time.

There were several other babies there since this is one of the first good days of the year to be outside. It seemed like every stay at home parent had been suffering from cabin fever! So, we made some friends and before we knew it, it was time to go home for some food and a nap. Luckily this park isn't too far from our apartment so I plan to go back soon. : )

Here are the adorable pics of Eli and Jude while swinging! The smiles say it all:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A picture of the cute boys trying to break through the gate. Not quite as cute as the babies getting through the wooden one, but a whole lot easier to manage this way. They don't seem to be too upset that they can't get through; they certainly were angry when they found out how to get through the wooden one and we kept preventing them from going further. Passive restraints tend to do better for holding back the tantrums it seems.

That's all for me now, it's late and I'm tired. I'll post some more tomorrow.

Kitchen Gate II - Success! For now...

So yesterday after much internet searching and message board browsing, I decided to just buy the Evenflo Crosstown Travel gate. I called all of the Walmarts and Targets nearby and - shocker - they were out of stock. I looked up the number for Toys 'R' Us and they too were out. I finally gave in and called the evil that is Babies 'R' Us (I know TRU is the same company but for some reason I don't hate them as much...) and they had ONE in stock. There was only ONE of these stupid, mediocre reviewed gates in all of Austin. I had them hold it for me and picked it up. Luckily, I had a coupon so it only set us back $34.99 before tax and I saved the receipt and box, just in case.

After my mom's party, Travis and I installed the gate. My main comment/complaint is that it is NOT a travel gate. It was such a pain to get the correct width setting that we've decided not to move it. Ever. But, it fits tightly and is made of mesh so I can see the babies/they can see me.

It got its first tests this morning when Eli and Jude both went up to the new gate and squished their faces against the mesh, trying to break through with their faces. It was adorable. They continued to do it all day so hopefully I'll get a picture tomorrow. When that didn't work Eli tried to slide through the 4" gap between the bottom of the gate and the ground (okay, so I know this gate is supposed to be ideal for people with baseboards because of its different settings for top and bottom... but it was enough work to make it fit at one width, let alone two!). And, it didn't budge despite all of the face-squishing. I'm optimistic that this gate will solve my problems. Hopefully there will be no part three... : )

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Kitchen Gate - Oh, How I Loathe You

So, the boys figured out our (admittedly simple) kitchen gate situation a few days ago. They pushed over the chair, moved the gate, and BAM! freedom. They did it once the first day and once on the second day. Today, we are not so lucky. I've stopped counting how many times I've heard that chair hit the ground today, but it's pretty constant. They've even pushed the chair over on top of each other a couple of times. Let me tell you, today has been AWESOME.

So I've been looking around for an extra wide tension gate for the kitchen that won't make us poor or fall apart in a month. This seems to be an absurd request. I saw one gate - marketed for pet owners - that cost more than $250. I found one gate that will stretch the width we need for $50 that got pretty hit or miss reviews.

Travis suggested we just let the boys in the kitchen. I am not keen on this plan. Not only would we have to install cabinet locks on all of the cabinets and drawers - two locks per cabinet since Eli and Jude are genius babies who have already figured them out - that comes to 22 locks that need to be installed. Never mind that it's already a small space and I probably won't get any cooking done while worried about tripping over one of my darling children. And I'm not sure how we'd keep their hands away from the stove and out of the oven. It just seems like too much to worry about. More than I can handle during the three plus times per day that I'm making food and countless times when they'll just run in there. Besides, with my luck, the cabinet they'd learn to unlock first would be our fine china... No thank you.

So I'm still in search. If I have to build one myself, I will. I guess this story is to be continued...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Maybe I'll do it... finally.

I could blog about the boys, perhaps. That might be an easy one to do. I'll say this though, once I get a new iPhone this summer... I'll be video-blogging the boys for all time. I'll have to figure out how to link YouTube to Blogger for easy uploading here... but they're both Google apps, so it shouldn't be too hard.

Oh, right, onto the boys. Eli and Jude have been sick for the last 2 weeks, finally I think we're out of the woods though. They didn't have RSV, but some sort of annoying cold that they passed to each other at least once. Oh well... sickness, thy fate is with babies. Let's hope the upcoming Spring is great for their health!

Cute things the boys did today: Eli brought me a forgotten slice of Apple from yesterday's dinner that he found -somewhere-. He was so proud of his find, but I was even more proud to see how he was holding it- with his pincer grasp. He's becoming so dexterous. Jude's cute moment for the day was when he brought me a block that had a whistle in it, and I shook it to show how it made noises, and he giggled and started jumping up and down and mimicked the motion when I gave him the block. They love sounds, our sons.

As a first post, I hope this is good. Video blogs will be coming soon!

Breakfast Time!

So, as I sit here watching Eli and Jude methodically devour their Eggo waffles, bananas, apples, and milk, I realize that our babies have a strange eating system. They haven't quite mastered silverware and will promptly throw any plate handed to them so we usually just put a few pieces of each food item on their high chair trays and refill as necessary. I've noticed before that they both like to hold a piece of (usually different) food in each hand and bite from each alternately. But today, I noticed for the first time that Eli inspects the food thoroughly before taking a dainty bite. He holds it up in the light and finds the most delicious looking part of the waffle and then takes a little bite and even chews with his mouth closed sometimes. And when he doesn't like something after taking his dainty bite, he drops it straight down to the floor beneath him or places it on Jude's tray. It's fascinating.

Judah doesn't do the "inspect it before you eat it" ritual and has always been a little bit messier, but he's still a remarkably clean eater. I'm a little sad that we don't get very many good spaghetti all over their face/head/hands pictures, but that is quickly washed away with the happiness that comes with minimal baby cleaning after meals. There is usually a minefield of half-eaten apple slices on the ground though. : )