Meet Gracie and Luke, our six-year-old twins!
We waited for them forever and can't remember life without them.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Daddy's Birthday

Thursday, we celebrated Daddy's birthday! He is officially 38 years old. You wouldn't know it though. When he plays with the babies, he is easily 25 years younger and so very happy!

Daddy and the babies spent the day together while I was at work. Grandma and Grandpa arrived in the morning and surprised Daddy with the traditional clanging of the pots and pans. They sang for Daddy, too, and had a special breakfast. They played all morning!

In the afternoon, we all went with Daddy to get his picture taken for the America's Walk for Diabetes mile markers. The photographer was captivated by the babies and took lots of pictures with Daddy, with me, and of all of us as a family. She promises to post the pictures to her website so that we can buy them if we like.

After that, Daddy decided he wanted to go to Islands for dinner. For the first time, the babies had a wonderful meal with us! We ordered them chicken tenders and they ate them right up! They especially enjoyed the few french fries we gave them. They even tried Daddy's special birthday ice cream cake, but decided it wasn't something they enjoyed.

On the way home, the babies fell asleep and it was only when we arrived home that they woke up long enough for a bath and bottle before bed time.

At the end of the day, Daddy told me, "This was my best birthday ever!"

I think he really meant that!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Just 'Cause They're Fun!

I've been collecting somethings I thought you might enjoy. Below are some pictures of Gracie and Luke, interspersed with some pics of their cousins. Oh, and a funny, video!

(click on the pictures to view them larger)

Gracie talkin' to MommyBianca and the Shark


Lukie The Diaper Dude


Gracie and Luke sharing french fries in Luke's car seat


Brandon with cheese faceA version of "Go, Go, Go Gracie"

video

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Talkin'

Nana says we need to record the babies talking. It is pretty funny!

Lukie's favorite word: "Ah, Dah!"
This pretty much means: "Look, there's an airplane!" "Yes, I want more milk." "That's my sister, silly." You get what I mean.

Gracie says more things. Too many for me to come up with off the top of my head.

Here is a little footage from a few days ago.


video

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Go, Go, Go Gracie!

She's walking! Holy Moly!

Happily cruising about the living room, Gracie is very pleased with herself. She smiles constantly and loves to try to carry things with her. For the past week, she has been working on taking more and more steps. Each day, she becomes more and more stable as she walks. She is learning that walking gets her places faster than her brother. Tonight, she stole a toy from Luke and took off, laughing all the way. We are in so much trouble!

Not to be left behind, Luke has recently started standing on his own. Given how quickly he picks up skills once he shows the initial steps, he may be walking like Gracie by their birthday.

Speaking of birthdays, in just 2 weeks will be Gracie and Luke's 1st Birthday. It is so hard to believe that it has been a year since Eddie and I were anxiously counting down the days until the babies would be born. Here we are with babies on the verge of being toddlers. Wow!

Seriously.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

The Great Bee Incident, Part 2

Other than some seriously long napping time today, Gracie appears to be fine after her bee sting ordeal.

Daddy and I, however, will never be the same.

Raising my fist into the air.

Darn those bees!

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Great Bee Incident

I don't know what it is about Gracie and creepy crawlies, but seriously kid, give it a rest!

Today, Gracie got stung by a bee. We think the bee was already dead and lounging (I guess you can't lounge if you are dead) on the grass in Aunt Bec's yard. Gracie was playing in the grass when all of a sudden we heard a terrified/pain-filled cry. I rushed over to her and could not figure out why she was crying. That is, until I saw the stinger sticking out of her thumb.

Cousin Hailey pulled the stinger out and Gracie continued to cry. Just in case the doctor needed it, we put the stinger (with the little venom bag still attached) into a zip-lock bag. Aunt Bec and I decided to give Gracie Benadryl and Tylenol. None of us are allergic to bees, but we decided an early hit of anti-histamine would be good. Within a few minutes, her thumb started to swell and the swelling made it down to the soft tissue around the base of her thumb. We washed her thumb with soap and water and held ice to it until she passed out from the trauma. Actually, she did not pass out! She fell asleep after we gave her a bottle.

I am keeping an eye on her to make sure she does not have an allergic reaction to the sting. Here's to an uneventful night!

Though, will someone please tell me why this child is a magnet for creepy crawlies?

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sleep Update - Night 2

Night 2 of sleep training brings crying babies...for only 6 minutes and then silence. Good gracious!

We did well last night. Luke woke up at 1 am, hungry (I would be too if I cried that hard). I changed his diaper and gave him a bottle. When he was done, I kissed him, told him it was time to go back to sleep and put him in his Pack N Play. He cried for about 5 minutes and fell back to sleep. It was hard not to go to him!

This morning, both babies woke up happy, hugged us, smiled, giggled, and were themselves! Yay! I was worried we would be hated. But nope!

We still had problems with naps, but we are working on it. Dr. W and I need some more time together until I can figure those out. :)

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sleep Training (or Trying to help Babies have Healthy Sleep Habits)

Let me start by saying that there are no people in the world that Eddie and I love more than our babies. Every morning when we wake up, every night when we go to sleep, and every moment in between, we thank God that we have been blessed with Gracie and Luke. We never dared to hope that we would be parents to two beautiful children and even when they frustrate the heck out of us, we realize how lucky we are.

This may be a controversial entry because there are many people who do not agree with what Eddie and I decided to do tonight. For the past 11 months, we have had very little sleep. We've tried to trade off so that occasionally one of us has more than 4 hours of continuous sleep, but it has been very hard.

In the beginning, the babies would always fall asleep as we fed them their last bottle of the day. This continued until 2 months ago when both of them started to crawl. As their worlds became bigger and more interesting, night times became impossible. The babies wanted to play until they dropped. We had nights when the babies were so tired that they were rubbing their eyes, crying, falling over from exhaustion, but still they would not sleep. Some nights, we were up until 10 pm trying to get them to sleep. In addition, nap times during the day have disappeared.

Not only were we having issues with going to sleep, but we also had issues staying asleep. Both would start off in the Pack N Play, but first Luke, and then Gracie would end up in bed with us. We've loved having the babies in bed with us, but we've come to realize that sleeping with us means they wake up more and aren't as rested. They wake up at minimum 2 times a night and usually are up at dawn. They often needed to be fed a bottle and would only take formula, not water.

In July, I felt so stressed out about bed time that I started having a stomach ache as the sun descended. My No Cry Sleep Solutions book asserted that the babies needed a routine. So, Eddie and I started giving the babies a bath, then a massage, put them in their pjs and gave them their final bottle. This worked occasionally, but usually we needed to rock them or sing to them. 80% of the time, we had to separate them until they were both asleep. The problem continued to be that they kept waking up.

Then, 2 weeks ago, I called Aunt Bec in tears. I did not know what to do any more. I felt like I was a bad Mommy because my babies would not go to sleep at night and they were not taking any naps unless we were in the car (and with gas at $4 plus per gallon this was not an ideal solution). Aunt Bec calmed me down and reminded me about our friend Aunt Dev and her adorable kids, Patrick and Kate. Aunt Dev is very faithful about putting Katie down for her naps and nighttime sleep at very specific times. Because she is so dedicated to Katie's sleep, Katie is well rested and always seems happy. Aunt Bec told me that Dev firmly believes in the Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child book by Dr. Marc Weissbluth, MD. Dr. W. espouses the belief that not only do babies need sleep to be happy, but parents do too.

So, I ordered the book from Amazon and started reading. I felt like every sentence was written especially for me. There were my babies: short (if any) naps, struggles going to sleep and staying asleep, exhausted Mommy and Daddy. As I read Dr. W's book, I realized that as much as I want to hold Gracie and Luke to help them fall asleep, I am not teaching them the most important skill I can give them: the ability to fall asleep by themselves and stay asleep. To be well-rested, ready to learn, ready to grow, ready to be the best people they can be, I need to teach them how to sleep.

We immediately started making changes. We started saying goodnight to our toys, one at a time. We kept the babies in the room with their Pack N Plays when we gave them their last bottle after their baths. The change was instantaneous. The babies fell asleep right away and we were able to leave them in their Pack N Plays. However, not everything changed. They kept waking up several times a night. We tried to soothe them back to sleep, but it just did not work. The more we tried to soothe them, the more they woke up.

Today, we arrived home from a 6 day vacation with Nana, Aunt Bec, and the cousins. Rather than be well rested, Daddy and I were exhausted from the sleep disturbances caused by sleeping somewhere other than home. We did well getting them to sleep, but no naps again and several wake ups during the night.

After 40 minutes of trying to get the babies to fall asleep, Eddie and I made the decision to put the babies into their Pack N Plays and leave the room. The babies were tired. We saw all of the signs. They had eaten. They had their bath. They were just fighting sleep. We turned on the Piglet's Big Movie soundtrack, told them we loved them, and left. It was the hardest thing we have done to date. Even Luke's MRI wasn't as bad.

They started screaming immediately. Horrible, awful screaming-sobbing. Eddie had me turn off the monitor. We did not need it. We could hear them all the way in the back of the house. After about 15 minutes of them crying, I called Aunt Bec and she talked me out of going to them; it would defeat the purpose of everything we had done. Aunt Bec reminded me that Gracie and Luke know how much we love them and that we would never let anything happen to them. Helping them learn how to soothe themselves to sleep is going to be hard, but in the long run, it is critical to their growing and developing.

Then, at 33 minutes, there was silence. No crying, no hard breathing. Nothing. Sleeping babies. They figured it out on their own. It is currently 2 hours since the silence began and we have had a few incidents of Luke waking up. However, he tends to cry (not hard, just in his semi-asleep state) for just a few minutes and then it is silent again.

If you asked me when I was pregnant if I would ever let my babies cry for 30 minutes without going to pick them up, I would have told you you were insane. However, I love my babies so much, that I want them to be able to soothe themselves if I can't get to them. Eddie and I both want them to be able to put themselves back to sleep so that they can get the best rest they can, not just little bits and pieces of sleep.

I know this isn't the end, but just the beginning of Gracie and Luke learning how to sleep. It will be hard work both for them and for Eddie and me. The rewards, of course, will be happier babies when they are awake, more restful nights for babies and their parents. How amazing that will be!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Quick weight update

We took Gracie to see Dr. A today. While we were there, Dr. A weighed the babies. Daddy and I have been worried that they aren't eating enough. They are down to 4 - 5 bottles a day and only finish between 3 - 6 oz of milk. They aren't too interested in food unless it is on our plates and even then they only eat a few bites.

So, our bitty babies weigh:

Gracie - 16 lbs 3.5 oz (with her clothes on - likely, she is smaller)
Luke - 18 lbs 2 oz (with his clothes on!)

Dr. A says that babies at this age need to eat 16 - 24 oz of milk a day, so Gracie and Luke are doing okay. She told us not to worry about Gracie (she's only gained 3.5 oz since her 9 month check up and that doesn't really count because she had clothes on when we weighed her). Since she has been moving so much, she is burning the food she eats and whatever energy she has stored.

Oh! and Bad Mommy! I forgot to mention in my last post that Gracie has 6 teeth (1 fewer than Luke).

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Good Gracious! 11 Months Old!

Where has the time gone? I turned and looked at Gracie and Luke yesterday at the park and was stunned to realize that they hardly look like babies any more.

Both are crawling like crazy; they can really move! Luke started crawling a month after Gracie did, but you would never know it from how well he does it. While Gracie still uses her crazy one knee crawling method, Luke uses the traditional method of crawling. He is frighteningly fast. They love to play Chase The Baby, i.e. chase my sibling. When they catch each other, a wrestling game usually ensues. Most times, Gracie is the winner, pinning Luke to the floor. He just laughs and laughs while she shrieks. It is so much fun watching them interact. They love to play with one another. Most times, they can be found within a few feet of each other, pulling toys out of their bins or playing "drum" on something that sounds cool.

At our most recent doctor's appointment, both babies were over 16 lbs. In fact, Luke is over 17 lbs. They are both still in the 3rd to 5th percentile for height and weight. Dr. A isn't worried, but it is a little weird for us. At 11 months old, they are still wearing size 3-6 month pants and 6-9 month outfits. They are long and lean. Recently, when we went to Sears to have their pictures taken, Gracie and Luke wore their Easter outfits purchased in March! They still fit!

At 9 am every morning, the Twinsies love to watch their 2 favorite shows: Cinco Minutos Mas and Las Tres Mellizas Bebes (The Baby Triplets). The shows are only about 7 minutes each and go by very fast. They are fantastic for helping the babies hear Spanish when Grandma and Grandpa are not around (secretly, Mommy is learning Spanish, too!). As soon as the music starts, they will stop whatever they are doing and turn toward the television. Then, they will start dancing by shaking their booties or bouncing up and down. They will even wave their hands in the air. We decided that we needed to keep the Mellizas in case of emergency, so they have been Tivo'ed (all 57 episodes!). That way, Anna, Tessa, and Nellie can be called upon for dancing and playing at any time!

A little about Luke:
Luk-a-loo is a very happy baby. He has a ready smile and his laugh is amazing! He is our garbage disposal: he will eat anything you put in front of him. We swear he has a hole in his big toe and all of the food he eats exits there! Lukie has 7 teeth: 4 on top and 3 on the bottom (two in the middle and one to the right). Like Sunny Baudelaire, Lukie likes to use his teeth to bite things. He likes to bite arms, people's clothes, toys, his sister, pretty much anything that gets close to his mouth!

Luke's favorite things to eat are Cheerios and Baby Mum-Mums. While most babies can eat these things without making a mess, Lukie does not believe in neatness. Cheerios tend to be strewn about the floor. Mum-Mums make a fantastic noise when you bash them together and break up nicely. Yogurt is also one of his favorite foods. Give Lukie strawberry yogurt and you have a friend for life.

A few months ago, we took Lukie to UCLA for an MRI. He did a fantastic job and all of the nurses fell in love with him while we were there. The doctors have decided that his hemangioma is just underneath the surface of his skin and does not pose a threat to his breathing. We get to take him back to have it measured and then visit UCLA every six months so that they can keep an eye on it. While it is frustrating to hear we have to leave it alone, we understand that surgery is more dangerous to Lukie than just leaving the hemangioma. In the meantime, we have become experts at answering the question: "Oh, what did you do to your nose?!"

Lukie loves his Grandpa. Whenever Grandma and Grandpa come to visit, Lukie makes a beeline for his Grandpa. They are best buds! Everyone else is chopped liver when Grandpa is in the vicinity. We haven't figured out what magic Grandpa is using on Lukie, but it is adorable.

Recently, Lukie started "talking" to us. He has started making the same sounds that Gracie makes and they seem to understand one another. The funniest noise he makes is what we call his "Pterodactyl" noise. We like to play with him by making the sound back at him. Usually, he gets sick of that quickly and the loud noise stops.

A little about Gracie:
Gracie-Lu-Who is happy, too, but as Aunt Bec says she "Mad-Dogs" everyone. For those of you who don't know what that means, it means that Gracie can give a mean "What-You-Lookin'-At?" face. Gracie is a fantastic talker! For months now, she has been making all kinds of sounds. Recently, those sounds have started to become words. So far, her vocabulary includes:

"itty" - kitty
"eera" - mira (Spanish for "look")
"Ma-ma-ma" - Mama (usually used when she wants something and stands at my legs holding up her hands in supplication)
"Mum-Mum-Mum" - food
"Go, go, go" - as she is using the push walker to take off across the room.

Gracie has recently changed her crazy crawl to an even crazier crawl. We think it is because she is getting closer to walking. What do you think?

Gracie's hair has always been fun. The hair on the top of her head sticks straight up in the air. Recently, it was getting long enough that it was starting to lay down and not look like she stuck her finger in a light socket. Aunt Becca actually managed to get her hair into two ponytails and put barrettes into it. I actually got really excited about the idea of being able to put things in her hair other than headbands. On Monday, Grandma was trimming Lukie's hair and trimmed Gracie's too. Unfortunately, Gracie's hair is much shorter now and looks like a buzz cut. Daddy reminds me that it will grow out...It's a good thing we have so many headbands!

Gracie is obsessed with babies! She thinks that every computer or television has babies on it. This is entirely my fault. I have a slide show of Twinsie Pictures as my screen saver. She can sit for a really long time looking at the babies. She will even respond if you ask her if she is watching the babies. She gets excited also when she sees the baby in the mirror.

Gracie is also obsessed with kitties. She will stop and point any time one comes into the room and she will also point out any we see on the street. Daddy has a stuffed animal in our bedroom: a white tiger I gave him when we were dating. Gracie thinks it is a kitty like Phoebe and Dee-Dee! "Itty!" she will point out.

Gracie's latest trick is to use the push toy to cruise across the room. Whenever I say, "Gracie, go, go, go!", she will stand up behind the push toy and start walking across the room. She gets a little hung up by the obstacles in her path, but we are working on the phrase "time to turn!" She is getting so good at it, that we think she may be walking before her first birthday!

Today, we celebrated 11 months old by taking the Twinsies to the Post Office to file our request for their passports. As usual, Lukie smiled and Gracie "mad-dogged." They were intrigued by all of the new things to grab and try to taste (yuck!). In just a month or so, we will travel to Ensenada for one of Daddy's cousin's wedding. How exciting! Travelling with Twinsies in a foreign country. Now that will be a story to tell!

For now, we are one month away from the most amazing anniversary ever! First Birthday! Here we come!


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