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

.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I never realized candy was so evil

So, forget the fact that my children ask for candy about 50 times a day. Forget the fact that Daddy has convince Gracie and Luke that fruit snacks are candy. Forget the fact that Lukie can find candy hidden in the deepest darkest recesses of our kitchen.

Know this: Candy was created by evil people intent on making crazy maniacs out of nice, normal children. This is truth.

Gracie and Luke have mood swings caused by sleep. Those are nothing compared to the mood swings we experienced today! We had thrown popcorn, torn books, bruises on Gracie's face, water ALL over the bathroom, and more things I care not to remember.

I trace all this back to cookies and the See's Candy box that we opened at Aunt Bec's today. Good Gravy of America! I don't know how they got as much into them as they did, but Gracie and Luke had way too much chocolate and sugar. It's not like I meant for them to eat all of that. I kept snatching away anything they had in their hands, but they kept finding it. They even raided Aunt Bec's pantry and found Hailey's candy. The little Pilferers!

Their behavior and unhappiness made it clear to me that too much sugar is very bad for Twinsies. In the morning, I plan to eradicate the house of all visible candy. Some will be saved for Daddy and low blood sugar, but the rest of it is going!

It's fruit and veggies from here on out!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Twas the Night Before Christmas

I had a poem.
It wasn't working, so I hit backspace.

The time is 11:32 pm and for some silly reason, I am still awake.  Today has been one of THOSE days.  We discovered our oven is broken yesterday and it has thrown a wrench into everything.  My peppermint cheesecake is possilby (most probably) over baked.  I had to keep it in the oven longer than required and I had to keep messing with the temperature to keep the oven hot enough to cook it.  It feels awfully hard now.  The best cookies ever (peanut butter and chocolate) recommended by Marcy (Hi! Marcy!) came out crumbly because of my oven troubles.  All this has led to worry, stress, and disappointment.

Add to that that Gracie and Luke won't nap, are in full blown Two Year Old Tantrum Phase III, and are having nightmares, I need a vacation.

Gracie and Luke fell asleep tonight after we read "Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus" repeating over and over what they want from Santa.  Somehow, Daddy convinced them to say it over and over so they would dream of what they want.  Gracie said, "Dolly, dolly, dolly."  (News to me!  She told me she wanted a red choo-choo.) Lukie said, "Choo-choo, blue.  Choo-choo, blue."  Luckily, there is a choo-choo under the tree for Lukie and I'm hoping Gracie will see Mr. Potato Head as a dolly. 

There are also tubs of Play Dough, Magnadoodles, play food, and 2 Sit N Spins!  Hiding behind it all are two MegaTubes of M&Ms for my chocolate obsessed toddlers.  It is a lovely sight:  our first real Christmas tree with presents for children.  Daddy is so excited, he made sure the Flip Video Camera is ready to go.  Me?  I'm trying to come up with a special breakfast that does not involve an oven.  Sigh.

Tomorrow we are off to Aunt Bec's house for yummy dinner and a, hopefully, edible peppermint cheesecake.  Just in case, we are bringing Marcy's cookies and two pans of apples to make apple crisp.  Fingers crossed that one of them work!

Tomorrow is a long day, so I'm off to bed...

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Santa Photo Attempt #2

After school today, we met Daddy at the Mall to visit Santa. It is all Gracie has talked about for a week. Daddy arrived about a half hour before we did and got in line. It's a good thing. It took Gracie, Luke and I 20 minutes to find a parking spot. By the time we got into line with Daddy, we only had to wait 5 minutes.

As expected, Lukie walked right up to Santa and sat on his lap.

As expected, Gracie balked and attempted to climb up the leg of the woman behind us in line.


Daddy told me to Photoshop Gracie into the photo.


I don't know. Does it work?

Coolest Christmas Display of 2009

Gracie and Luke are loving the Christmas lights this year. Every night, we try to take a little drive to see some new ones. Tonight, we went to Candy Cane Lane, famous in the Valley. It was pretty cool, but nothing compares to this one. We watched this guy spend days decorating his house. He actually broadcasts the music so that you can listen to it in your car.



The lights are choreographed to go with the music. It is so amazing. Daddy and I could sit there for an hour or more. Gracie and Luke just liked the music.

Isn't it cool?

So Tired!

I took Gracie and Luke with me to school last Friday for the Winter Fest.  They ran, destroyed things, ran, ate rice and noodles, ran, climbed things, ran, kicked balls, ran, and drove me insane.  I don't know why I set myself up for these things!

In the car, on the way home, I went a half mile before Gracie fell asleep.  Turn your speakers up and you'll hear how tired she was.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why Daddy (the chef) should not be allowed in the kitchen alone

Graham Cracker Houses and Barney (again)

Christmas is one of my favorite times. I have a lot of memories, particularly with my Aunt Loretta and Grandma Velma, that I recall each year. Cookie Day was the biggest, but there was also Mass with my Mom, sisters, Auntley (as we called Aunt Loretta), and Grandma. I loved going to church when it was all decorated for the season. I know Gracie and Luke would never survive the hour and a half services that are common this year, so we haven't gone to Mass. This makes me sadder than I thought it would.

In looking to establish traditions of our own, I have been paying attention to things others do to see if they might be exciting to Gracie and Luke. One of my Twin Momma friends, Caryn, made Gingerbread Houses (actually, they were graham cracker houses) with her kids the other day. When she blogged about it, all of her kids were totally into it. Even her husband, Bryan, got into the act.

So, even though I am sick, I dragged the crew to the store to buy some supplies, came home and whipped up some of the frosting "cement" Caryn wrote about. Gracie and Luke enjoyed licking the frosting off of the beaters! Papa was focused on making cookies, so he locked Gracie, Lukie and I into the living room so that we could make our houses. At first, Gracie and Luke were more excited about eating the candy I put into the bowls, but when they saw the house I was building, they wanted one too.

We managed to have 2 nicely constructed graham cracker homes until Lukie's was the victim of a karate chop from the sky. So, I built a third home and he adopted that one as his own until a second karate chop devastated his second piece of real estate. After that, I quickly came to the conclusion that Lukie should only rent for the rest of his life.


Gracie and her house.



Our supplies


The aftermath of Lukie and the Frosting

(frosting in his hair, on his face, on his clothes)

Some video during our activity:



In the end, I realized I forgot to give them something to spread with, so it only took us about 10 minutes to create our houses. Our activity quickly became a candy eating frenzy, punctuated by Lukie and his love of spreading frosting all over his head, hands and anyone he could touch. We had fun and next year I will definitely remember the spreaders for Gracie and Luke.

After a bath, we cuddled on the couch and watched Barney Night Before Christmas DVD (for the 100 millionth time).
Suffering from sugar overload.





Ah, Barney and the train ride through Santa's Workshop. Please, may I watch you 50,000 times more? Please?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Great Gift Dilemma

Daddy and I have been avoiding shopping for Gracie and Luke. We can't really agree on what to buy them for Christmas. Should we get them Mr. Potato Head? A Sit and Spin? Big Wheels? Food for their play kitchen? What?

I think what is bothering me is they already have so many toys; toys they don't seem to play with. They have puzzles whose pieces are strewn about their room. They have books that are read, but mostly destroyed (their new favorite thing is tearing the covers off of their books). They have dolls and stuffed animals that they sometimes cuddle, but mostly live in a storage box. They have Lego Duplos and they like those, but I'm always finding them in crazy places and am terrified that Daddy will trip on them.

It's frustrating. We want Gracie and Luke to have toys that will spark their imaginations and give them the opportunity to play. But, we don't want to add to the unused toys and we don't want them to get the message that Christmas is all about gifts.

Today, a writer on a How Do You Do It?, a multiples mommy blog, wrote about this very topic. She added that she is making service as a part of her family's traditions. I love this idea and I'm going to have to work on how we can contribute during the holiday season.

One thing that caught my attention was this: limiting the gifts we give our children to 4.
  • Something they want
  • Something they need
  • Something to wear
  • Something to read
This makes total sense to me and will be a great guideline as we go forward. Strangely, this is what Grandma and Grandpa have been doing for years (minus the "read" gift). They always give Daddy and his brothers one thing they want, underwear/shaving supplies/cologne they need, and a new outfit or jacket to wear.

I'm feeling a little better now that I can focus myself. Hey! Maybe we will actually go shopping this week!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Metrolink Holiday Toy Train

Every year, Metrolink sponsors a Holiday Toy Train (it really should be a Christmas train since Santa is involved). They pair up with the local firefighters and collect toys from the people who stop by to see the show. This year, the firefighters were called away to take care of an emergency, so we did not get to give them they toys we brought. However, we plan to stop by our fire station so that the toys can be given out to people who need them.

We've been going since before Gracie and Luke were born. In the beginning, it was just Cousin Hailey! Last year, I took Gracie and Luke and they were interested, but not as much as I suspected they would be this year. Boy, was I right! They loved the lights and kept pointing at all of the characters dancing around. Gracie even sang along with some of the songs.

Aunt Bec, Gracie and Bianca sat on the cold ground to watch the show.
Bianca (a.k.a. The Picture Ham!) and Gracie from above.

Lukie was very interested in drinking his entire chocolate milk.


Why is Bianca in so many pictures?
Don't you love the chocolate milk moustache?

Nate and Brandon waited patiently for the train.

Gracie looking at Baby Emmie sleeping in her wagon, decorated with lights.

Gracie and Lukie looking for the train.

A spontaneous smile!

Baby Emmie (believe it or not, she's wearing an outfit Gracie wore last winter!) and Aunt Bec

Lukie loved the lights.
The reindeer (a.k.a. "horsies!") on the Holiday Toy Train.

Cookie Day 2009

When I was little, Cookie Day was actually more like "Cookie Weekend" with Auntley. We'd spend days with her at Grandma's house, making cookies, fudge, brownies, breads and making ourselves sick in the process. I have an image in my head of one particular Christmas when we made SO many cookies that Grandma's entire dining room table was covered end to end with sugar cookies, chocolate cookies with chocolate frosting, snowball cookies, chocolate chip cookies, Auntley's favorite thumb print cookies, and refrigerator fudge. There were more cookies than anyone could ever could have eaten and it is one of the few memories I will never lose.

Aunt Bec, Auntie Ten Ten, and I have tried to recapture some of the magic of cookie day. I don't know if there are too many adults involved, if the kids are all to little, or what, but it hasn't quite developed into an event that can match our amazing memories of Cookie Days Past. However, I can say, that we have fun anyway! Cookie Day is evolving into the memory we will make of it.

This year, we met at Aunt Bec's house to bake our cookies. We went through more than 3 lbs of butter, two bags of flour, one bag of powdered sugar, one full bag of granulated sugar, a dozen and a half eggs, and 4 bags of chocolate chips (semisweet, white, and peanutbutter/chocolate combo). This year will be dubbed as the St. Paul's Cookie Day. Nana found a cookbook from St. Paul's Parish (where Auntley was the principal of the Elementary and Middle Schools for 20 years) hiding in her house. We opened it up and found a treasure trove of recipes, including the original recipe for Snowball Cookies! Yay!

Some of the recipes worked better than others. For example, the Snowball Cookie recipe rocked! The lemon bar recipe was a major fail. The lemony part never made the nice solid gooeyness that is a required part of lemon bars. We were very disappointed.

Nana suggested that we create a Cook Girl Cookie Day Cookbook and store all of our favorite cookie recipes in there so that we preserve them for all time. I'm thinking maybe we could make one and take pictures of our cookies, along with some pictures of ourselves making the cookies and I can create photobooks for each of us. Wouldn't that be cool?

We had a great time! Many thanks to Auntie Ten Ten (from whose Facebook page I have stolen these pictures because I failed to take a single picture).

Here I am cutting the lemon bars that never solidified!
They stayed a liquidy mess. Aunt Bec had to throw them out.
She told me the other day that she has been craving them ever since
the Great Lemon Bar Debacle.

Here's Aunt Bec with me in her kitchen.
Her oven is crazy and kept trying to burn the cookies.
For Christmas, I am going to call the Gas Company so that they can fix the temperature!



Auntie Ten Ten helping Nathan and Gracie "paint" their cookies.

Lukie creating a "Lukie Special" as Auntie Ten Ten called them. They consisted of frosting, white chocolate chips, saliva from licked fingers, saliva from licking the spoon, and sprinkles.

Gracie enjoying a cookie she "painted."

Nana with all of the Girly Grandchildren.
See the terror on Emmie's face? She was not excited about the picture.
Notice how there are no more bows in Gracie's hair. They did not last long!
Left to right: Emmie, Hailey, Nana, Gracie, and Bianca.


Nana with the Boy Grandchildren.
Left to right: Brandon, Lukie (OMG! Look at that crazy hair!),
Nana, and Nathan.

Tiny note for posterity: Cookie Day was Sunday, December 6. Yes, it took me more than a week to post these pictures.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

One Step Closer to Christmas

I haven't mailed our Christmas cards. One moment it was Thanksgiving and, today, I looked at the calendar and it is December 12! Where did the time go?

I sat down tonight to try to get them started and realized none of my attempts at photos of Gracie and Luke have gone well. So, I decided to see if I could digitally scrap something together. This is our Christmas picture to be included with our cards (at least when I get them done):


If you usually get a Christmas Card from us, keep your eyes open for this crazy creation!

Our Lone Picture with Santa

Gracie will not sit with Santa.

But Lukie will!

So far, this is our only picture with Santa. Really, Lukie only sat on Santa's lap for the candy.

It worries me that my son will do anything for a peppermint candy cane!

Friday, December 11, 2009

An Attempt at a Christmas Image

People everywhere seem to be able to get pictures of their children smiling, giggling, looking straight into the camera.

Mine? They want nothing to do with it and unless my camera has a spanking new battery in it, it can't focus quickly enough to snap the shot. As a result, I have a ton of pictures of the sides of Gracie and Lukie's heads. Two weeks ago, we spent Sunday with Nana in anticipation of the Metrolink Christmas Train. We started our day at Victoria Gardens and attempted to take a picture in front of the Christmas tree. I won't bore you with the story of how our visit to Santa was thwarted, yet again.

Instead, I give you a selection of pictures that did not make it into our Christmas Card:






Seriously. Is it too much to ask?

Nana tried to convince Gracie to smile for me.
That didn't work either.

It's happening again

...I have about 3 different blog posts bouncing around my brain. All of them include pictures which currently live on my camera or video that currently lives in my Flip.

I promise to come back soon with updates.

Here's a sneak peek:

1) Christmas Light Festival

2) Cookie Day

3) Christmas Lights at home

All Christmas until 12/25!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas on Euclid

The first of many traditions in Mommy's family is Christmas on Euclid in Ontario, the town where I grew up. Christmas on Euclid started as a craft fair and got so popular that one year it not only went up and down Euclid Avenue, but it spread to many of the side streets between C and G street. I remember buying Christmas angels from Christine and cat ornaments from the lady who was so clever with plastic balls and pom-poms. The things we purchased from them have become a part of our Christmas traditions.

Today, we met at Christmas on Euclid for our annual shopping trip. Aunts and uncles had tri-tip sandwiches for breakfast and cousins had freshly made doughnuts. We saw Santa and huge firetrucks and screamed bloody murder when Mommy wouldn't let us walk. Sigh.

Gracie, Cousin Nate, and Lukie
Don't you love Gracie's bows?

Lukie got to stand on a huge fire truck that
had its ladder fully extended. He loved it!

Inside the truck. I have no clue who that girl is.

Lukie was the only one to sit on Santa's lap. Gracie was having none of it! She was, oddly, obsessed with Tremor. He gave her a high five and knuckles. She was very impressed.

We left filled with kettle corn, doughnuts, water, and tri-tip. We were ready for a nap. I'd like to say there were naps, but none were forthcoming. It was a loooong day.

Your Life Flashes Before Your Eyes

We all have them; our worst nightmare. They vary from person to person. Some are afraid of speaking in public. Some are afraid of driving on the freeway or tripping and falling in front of a group of strangers.

When you are a father of toddlers and are disabled, your nightmares and worries are many. You worry that you will fall and not be able to get up on your own, scaring your children. You worry that that you will drop one of them or not be able to pick them up because your own balance is off.

The worst nightmare for a disabled father is that one or both of your children will run from you into danger. This is Daddy's nightmare. He worries that it will happen constantly. Friday, it happened.

Daddy picks up Gracie and Lukie from day care every day. Occasionally, Grandma or I will pick them up, but mostly, it is Daddy. The day care has fences enclosing the playgrounds and the walkways from classroom to classroom. Surrounding it, though, is a vast parking lot for the attached church. The parking lot is bordered by a small side street and a large, very busy boulevard.

Usually, Gracie and Lukie listened to Daddy carefully. A simple statement of "Help Daddy, please," elicits an immediate and proper response. They hold his hand, walk with him, go to the car and wait.

But Friday, for whatever reason, Gracie decided that she wanted to run. The moment they left the gate from the day care, Gracie took off running across the parking lot. Her path was unerringly toward the huge, busy boulevard. Daddy yelled for her to stop, walked as fast as he could, across the parking lot, calling again and again for her to come back. Lukie tried to get her to stop, too, but Gracie wasn't interested. She just kept running full out toward the busy street.

When Daddy called me, several minutes later, he was crying and incredibly upset. He was having a hard time breathing, both from his effort to catch up with Gracie and the terror he experienced thinking she was going to run out in front of a car. It took me a long time to help him calm down, the terror was still too fresh.

I know how he felt though. When you are in a situation like that and one of your children is rushing head first into danger, their whole life flashes before your eyes. You see them as tiny babies and remember them when they actually listened. You see their smile and their laughter. And all you want to do is stop them so that you can have more smiles, more laughter, and more hugs.

Daddy is still reeling from Friday's events. He was reminded in a huge way about his limitations and how they can and will be tested by toddlers. While he already has plans for how he will get the Twinsies to the car safely in the future, I know that the experience is never far from his thoughts. He holds Gracie and Lukie closer and is working harder at helping them know the limits.

The nightmare can still become reality again. Hopefully, though, it will not be any time soon.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Muppets on YouTube

Have you seen them? The Muppets have their own channel on YouTube.com. They are hysterical!

Here are a few I love:

Muppets performing Bohemian Rhapsody


Ode to Joy

Habanera

They are just silly and I know Gracie and Luke are going to love them.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Our Newest Lullaby

Every night, Daddy sings Gracie and Luke to sleep. They crawl into bed, let me tuck them in, and out I go, turning out the light as I leave. Daddy remains to sing to them.

Usually, Daddy sings Spanish songs his mother sang to him when he was little. One is about an elephant sitting on a spider web. I know, I have no idea what that means either! The other song is a nonsense song about going to sleep. Occasionally, Daddy changes things up by taking requests:


"One sheepy, two sheepies, three sheepies..." He counts sheep for them.

"Twinkle star, Papa?" He sings Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star for Gracie (when he remembers the words).

Now that the Christmas season is here, a new song has been added to his repertoire. Tonight, I sat outside their room and listened to him sing "Silent Night." He doesn't always remember the words, but his voice is calming and sleep-inducing. Better yet, it helps Gracie and Luke fall asleep.

What songs do you sing to your children at night?

It's all about food

For as little as Gracie and Luke actually eat, they sure talk about food a lot.

Last week, we went to breakfast at Beeps and Lukie started stealing my food.


Last night, Gracie, amid her singing and telling me what red and green lights meant, told me what she wanted for dinner.


Not to be outdone, Lukie did too.


I'm in love with these two.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

O Christmas Tree!

My intention was to have our house decorated for Christmas by Thanksgiving weekend.

Needless to say, that did not happen. I was so devastated by our inability to decorate, I posted my distress on Facebook and told anyone who would listen. I'm not sure why I was so upset, but it really bothered me. Daddy learned firsthand how upset I was. I wouldn't stop telling him!

So, tonight, after Gracie and Lukie were finished with dinner, I asked them if they wanted to help Mommy put the tree together. They enthusiastically said, "Yes, Momma!" I don't think they truly understood what I was saying, but they were excited, none the less. I talked them into baths first, so we cleaned them up, put on their footie pajamas and we came into the living room to get started.

Our tree is an "older" fake tree. I am allergic to pine needles, so 6 years ago or so, we bought a fake tree. Unfortunately, we bought it the year before the amazing pre-lit trees were introduced. Instead of being 3 pieces to put together, our tree is 68 pieces. I enlisted Gracie and Luke to "fluff" each of the branches so that they looked "real." They lasted for all of 3 branches before they started using the tree trunk as a Merry-Go-Round. Taking the hint, I turned on How the Grinch Stole Christmas and they were mesmerized. Daddy helped me with the branches and we managed to finish putting it together at the same time the Grinch ended. So off to bed they went. They were both exhausted and it wasn't long before they were asleep.

As I sit here, there are lights on the tree and about 20 ornaments. Most of them are new for us this year. Each of them has a story.

These ornaments are from Pottery Barn and were purchased with a gift certificate one of my students gave me before Gracie and Luke were born. Can you believe that I still had all of the money on the g/c more than 2 years later?





Gracie and Lukie picked out all five of these ornaments. They gently carried them to the counter to pay for them. I'll have that memory in my head forever.

We also have some ornaments I bought for specific memories:

One to put Gracie and Lukie's names on.



A cow to remember how obsessed Gracie and Luke have been with them this year.

A dalmatian to remember our first Christmas back home after last year's fire.

And then, there is this one.
I bought it after the other football ornament I chose broke before I could pay for it.
This one broke in the bag on the way home.


If you notice, he seems to have had the same leg amputated as Daddy.
This kept Daddy laughing for a half an hour.

He made me throw the leg away and let Football Santa being just like Daddy! I'm glad we could laugh and regain some of my Christmas enthusiasm.

Tomorrow, I'm going to see if Gracie and Luke will help me put some more ornaments on the tree and, then, we'll try lights outside! I'm so excited!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving

Gracie, Lukie, and I hung out most of the day waiting for Daddy to be done with dialysis. While we were hanging out, I attempted to make a Paula Dean cheesecake. Alas, my cheesecake refused to bake all the way through. It did not help that Gracie and Lukie wanted my attention. EVERY. MINUTE. OF. THE. ENTIRE. DAY.

When Daddy got home, we got ourselves dressed and headed over to Grandma and Grandpa's house for Thanksgiving. Tio Freddy, Tio Joey, Tia Adriana, and Calvin were there, too, to celebrate Thanksgiving. They were waiting for us to eat, so right after we arrived, we sat down for turkey, ham, homemade mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, biscuits and more. Lukie and Gracie were kind of interested in the food, but not quite sure about all of the new foods. Gracie took one bite of ham and declared herself done. Lukie ate a little turkey and a biscuit and decided he was done. We let them down from the table and the spent the next 15 minutes or so tearing up Grandma and Grandpa's house.

They wore sandals because it was unseasonably warm.
Like Gracie's outfit? She wouldn't let me take the pants off when we put the dress on.

Biscuits? Hmmm.....

Biscuits, ham, and what???!!

Here, let me get some gravy for you!

Gracie didn't stop talking through the entire meal.
At some point, they decided they were hungry, but only for food on adults' plates. They snuck back time and time again for a biscuit, a bite of ham...Whatever they could sneak off a plate or talk someone out of.

After some dessert, Gracie and Lukie had a bath and we headed home around 7 pm. We were all tired and Gracie and Lukie went right to bed.

We had a fun Thanksgiving!