12 days 'til Christmas....

First. as promised, a photo of the tree. I set it up in the library so that people can see it from the road:

Then, a funny picture from the "Saoirse is silly" collection. Here we are making meatballs for our spaghetti the other night. The girls actually both wear this piece of Tupperware around, Saoirse just happened to be wearing it this time. What I love about this pic, though, is that it captures how nonchalant it all is. Like it's a normal hat, not a really silly thing to be wearing on your head.

Chris and I took the girls out the other night to finish up some Christmas shopping. It is awesome to be able to shop for them without even trying to keep things a secret, since they don't understand what's going on anyway. While we were shopping, we stopped at My Urban Toddler, a place I've mentioned before. Usually we just shop there, I've never been brave enough to take the girls to the playspace alone. This time, Chris was along, so we tried it out. It was awesome, and now I feel guilty for not having tried it out before. It's set up like a little town, with an open space in the middle, a "road" running around it, and little stalls all around the outer ring that are different stations. There's a market, a library, a theater, a house, etc...each one filled with toys and stuff that go along with the theme. Here are the girls playing in the fire station:

Chris went to Cleveland yesterday to help his parents with some stuff, and I didn't feel like being cooped up in the house for over 24 hours with the girls, so we drove over to visit my parents last night. This afternoon we took the girls out sledding for their first time. Saoirse kind of liked it. Rowan loved it at first, until she tipped over rounding a corner and faceplanted into the snow.

And while we were in G.R., I saw a sign last night advertising that Kate Gosselin (of Jon & Kate plus 8) was signing books at the nearby Barnes and Noble. I already owned the book, and I thought it sounded like fun. So we stayed an extra night, and Chris drove over here this afternoon to join us. I was a bit nervous about going to the booksigning, because I had a bad experience at one in NYC. I know, dorky, right? Most people have bad experience stories about bars, or one-night stands, or vodka (well, I have one of those too, actually). But I have a "bad experience" story about a book signing. But I used to like the author Jodi Picoult. She wrote a couple books I really enjoyed, and I was reading most of her stuff for a while. It's nothing that's going to win any awards, you know, but it's enjoyable. Then she came to the B&N by our place in Manhattan, and I dragged Chris there with me. We sat through a reading, for her new (and pretty weak) novel. Then we stood in line for ages. And you know how when you're standing there in line, you're kind of thinking...what am I going to say when I get to the front? Well, the guy right before me told her while he got his book signed that he lives in Hanover, NH, went to Dartmouth, his mom sees her around town. (Apparently that's where she lives). I hadn't known that before. So I get up next, like 10 seconds after he says this, and I say, "Well, I didn't go to Dartmouth, but my freshman year roommate at Michigan was from Hanover." Kind of in a "what a small world" kind of way. Hanover isn't a very big place, I thought it was an interesting coincidence. She doesn't even look at me, says, "You don't have to try to impress me." Seriously. I thought I might punch her. I said, "Uhh...I wasn't trying to impress you. I went to Michigan, and I'm proud of it. I was just making conversation." Then she handed me the book she signed, and I left. And I have never bought, or even read, another one of her books. Was I being too sensitive? Chris laughed about me being so pissed, said he'd hate to get on my bad side. And he would. ;) But seriously, what a bitchy thing to say. So...I'm wary of meeting people that I like from afar.

But Kate was nicer, I had no trauma. I told her that I have twin girls from IUI ( as she does) and that because of her my husband is terrified of my "just one more." She laughed, said, "As he should be! Maybe he can learn something." And that was it. Okay, we won't be best friends, but I still like her. Here's a cheesy picture of me talking to her to prove that I'm not making it up out of some stalkerish psychosis. :)

the Christmas spirit

Sorry for the lack of posting. Adjusting to having Chris at home, and job searching, is throwing everyone off a little. The girls had colds this last week, which seem to be getting better. We're starting to settle into a new routine. We're keeping our fingers crossed that an opthalmology job turns up soon. And we're getting ready for Christmas.
If it were just Chris and I, I'm pretty sure we would be going the Scrooge route this year. We're feeling pretty Grinchy. But...we have kids. Yet another way that having kids changes your life (and you). So I hung the Advent calendar, put up stockings, wrapped some gifts, and we ventured out in the snow to get a tree. The first tree, actually, that Chris and I have ever had. Our apartment in NYC wasn't a great place for a tree (small, a long trip up on a small elevator...plus we would have had to walk a tree home like that scene in When Harry Met Sally). Last Christmas the kids were still so small...I could barely breathe, let alone get a Christmas tree. So this year it is.
Here are Chris and the girls all bundled up for the trip:

Here the girls are taking a ride in the cart meant for the tree:

Something I learned while at the tree farm: the girls know what to do if you say "smile" for a picture. Here's Rowan, and then a before and after set of Saoirse.

I'll post pics of the tree later. It's not fancy, but it smells so good. And having the decorations up does make us all feel more in the spirit.

Teething is no joke

I never really took it all that seriously before I had kids when people said their children were teething. I guess just because I took it for granted. Every person in the world gets teeth, after all. It just seemed so routine, how bad could it be?
Rowan never really has had all that much trouble, but Saoirse does drool and chew and sometimes get cranky. But today really topped it all. She was acting strange on Thanksgiving, but then when she passed out at the table I chalked it all up to exhaustion. But today she just wasn't herself right from the beginning, and by early afternoon she was in full meltdown phase. Screaming and sobbing until she hoarse, throwing herself on the floor, drooling by the gallon, totally inconsolable. When I managed to get my finger in her mouth, there were three molars breaking through the surface. So almost her whole mouth is swollen, no wonder she's in such pain. I lay down with her and finally got her to fall asleep, but she woke up screaming again after only about 45 minutes of fitful sleep. It was awful. Her pediatrician's office is totally closed on weekends, so it's pretty handy that Daddy is a dr. Once she started on some Tylenol-3 late this afternoon, life has been quieter. She even goofed around a little, and we were able to go to Toledo to meet some friends of ours. As Chris said, "Wow, that codeine really works!" Yes. And I have a new respect for teething.

Here's a picture of Saoirse once she got dosed enough to be calm:

And here she is getting ready to go visit our friends. Isn't she cute in that hat?

I'm an auntie....:)

Okay, so they were born like 6 weeks ago, but yesterday I got to see them. These are at least the second cutest set of twins I know. :)

Newborns smell so good!

If I do say so myself

I consider my first turn as a hostess of Thanksgiving dinner a success. I know I'm bragging, but since this blog also serves as a family journal/baby book of sorts, indulge me for a minute.


Turkey (brined for 36 hrs in a buttermilk/spice/apple brine)
Mashed potatoes with brown butter and scallions
Roasted squash and root vegetables with a maple syrup glaze
Green beans with roasted mushrooms/garlic/carmelized shallots/toasted hazelnuts
Baked beans
Cornbread stuffing with chestnuts, bacon, and dried apples
Cranberry relish
Buttermilk biscuits
But here's the part I'm really proud of. I made everything from scratch except the cranberry dressing. I spent two days cooking and baking. And it was worth it, because I think everything was so good.
For dessert there was pumpkin pie, apple pie, and some fantastic Christmas cookies that my mom made.
Saoirse has been refusing naps this week, probably because of the novelty of having Chris home with us, so she was exhausted most of the day. It was unlike her, she was as quiet as I've ever seen her, we thought she might even be getting sick. Then we all sat down to dinner, and it was the first time she'd been still all day. Before we even took a bite, she fell asleep in her high chair.

She woke up about the time we were finishing, and then decided she'd eat after all. After she took a few minutes to wake up, she was back to being herself. It's amazing how little sleep she needs to keep going. She shared her drink with Rowan. They're getting better every day at sharing with each other.

After dinner the girls just enjoyed hanging out, and they helped us put stuff away in the fridge.

Watching them run around squealing, getting grandparents to "chase" them, Saoirse wandering around the basement wearing her white silk scarf on her head like a ghost, seeing Rowan actually come into the other room to get Saoirse and seeing Saoirse follow her back out and play with her...these kids get better every day. So much to be thankful for.

We're thankful...but...

I've put off writing this post for a few days, because I wasn't sure what I was going to say. Most of this blog is pretty lighthearted, regardless of the stresses of raising two high-energy kids, working, maintaining a marriage...you know, life. But this is a tough one to spin.
We we were told on Monday that, "due to the economic downturn," Chris is being let go from the practice he's been at since April. They will pay him through April 1st, because he's under contract, but he has been "relieved of clinical duties" in order to look for another position. Yeah. The practice that recruited us, that we moved to a new state for, that encouraged us to buy a home in Toledo (thank God we didn't) because they wanted someone who planned on having a long-term commitment to the area and the community...that practice has now let Chris go. So now we have until April for Chris to find another job in the area that will allow us to keep this house. Unless that happens, we're going to be one of those news stories of people who bought a house and now can't sell it for what they owe. (Everyone please keep your fingers crossed that the new government really does pass some kind of foreclosure relief package, just in case) It has come as a pretty big shock, medicine tends to be sort of recession-proof. Apparently not this time.
So...thankful. This is probably one of those times that it's even more important to count your blessings, right? That's what Oprah would say, I'm sure. :) So here goes:
I'm thankful:
1. For our health, of course. It's obvious, but still important.
2. That we are lucky enough to have people who love us, enough of a safety net that even if the worst case scenario happens, we won't starve or be homeless.
3. That if this was going to happen, it happened when Chris and I are still young enough to recover, and the girls are young enough that they won't even remember it.
4. That this means that for the next 4 months, Chris is home with us. The girls are totally thrilled already. The last two days have been great for them, it's like a perpetual weekend.
5. That Rowan is such a great sleeper. It took like 9 months for her to get there, but it makes life much easier now that she sleeps consistently through the night, about 12 hours a night, and takes a 2 hour nap in the afternoon.
6. That Saoirse is such a sweet kid, and so good at entertaining herself, during the day. She's agreeable so much of the time, it makes it easier to deal with Rowan's need for more attention during the waking hours.
7. That Rowan and Saoirse, more every day, are developing a great relationship with each other. I love getting to watch that. They share with each other, even when I don't tell them to, sometimes. They play little games with each other now, I totally love to just be able to sit back and watch them laugh with each other. I love it when they hug and kiss spontaneously.
8. That Chris and I are solid enough that this latest setback isn't something that threatens us at all. It's a lucky thing to be married to someone that you're so happy with, that you're totally sure is the right person for you, that you can honestly be grateful for. It's easy to say that no matter what happens, as long as you've got each other, it's okay. But it's amazing to be able to mean it.
9. I'm grateful for public libraries. Honestly, given my totally out-of-control addiction to reading, right now I'd be freaking out at how I was going to get my fix on the budget we're obviously adopting for the foreseeable future. But no....I can just go check out some books for FREE! (I know, I know, we pay taxes so it's not exactly free. But we'd be paying the taxes whether the library existed or not) Honestly, the idea that libraries are a thing worth using some of the tax money on was a pretty damn genius one.
10. I'm grateful for the chance to host my first Thanksgiving tomorrow in my own home. I've been really looking forward to it, and it's going to be great. I really hope it's the first of many in this house, and that it's not the only one. But even if it's the only one here, I'm going to really enjoy it.

Here are some photos of the girls helping Mommy make buttermilk biscuits for tomorrow:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rowan and Saoirse have decided to get up about 2 hours earlier than usual the last couple of mornings. And Saoirse has skipped naps entirely three times in the last week. That makes for long days. What does it say about you when you need more sleep than your 18 month olds?

We've spent some of that extra time starting our Christmas shopping, getting stocked up on some warm weather clothes, and preparing for Thanksgiving. Rowan and Saoirse are totally psyched for Christmas this year:

Here's Rowan wearing a new hat to play in the car, and then one of both of them. It was pretty chilly, even in the garage.

Saoirse wore one of her new t-shirts today, and she looked so retro it cracked me up. Burnt orange cords, a retro Batman tee. She looked like she could have been Chris or I, back in the 70's. Or, looking at this photo, her Uncle Blake.

And this, because although she doesn't sleep as much as I would like her to, when she does sleep I think it's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.

Random things

I don't have much a point to this post, other than to post some photos I like, so it's more of a jumble than a coherent post. The girls and I had a good week, but wow are toddlers tiring. (not news to most of the people reading this, I know) The weather turned this week, it's snowing outside right now. The one good thing about this is that Chris did not go to his soccer game that was scheduled for today, so we have him home with us all day. This is good news for the girls, they're all about daddy time. (I know it looks like Rowan is scowling in the second photo, but she's actually squinting because she doesn't like the flash going off).

Rowan and Saoirse and I did some shopping for Christmas this week. Normally I ignore the fact that Christmas is coming until about a week before the big day. But being a mom is changing that. The girls enjoy seeing the trees, and decorations, in the stores. And I'm enjoying planning ahead for the surprises waiting. We're even going to cut down our own tree this year. :)
The stuff the girls are doing amazes me more every day. I know, I sound like they invented this stuff, and it's just the normal process of growing up. But it's so astounding when they come up with something new. Yesterday while we were playing in their room before bed, Rowan found a broken off cap from a lotion bottle. She said "lid", crossed the room to the diaper changing basket and picked the correct lotion bottle and tried to put it back on! I just sat there with my mouth open. It's a cliche, I know. But to think of this little person being the same one that I sat next to while she slept in an incubator, unable to breathe without help, it blows me away. 18 months and 7 days ago, I only knew this little girl from her constant squirming inside my belly. And now look at her. :)

(she put that headband on herself, too)

18 months old!

I can't believe that the girls are this old. 18 months sounds like a kid, not a baby, to me. I struggle with that lately. I still call them my babies a lot, then realize every now and then that they are not really babies anymore.

Saoirse is still a bad sleeper. She's still cosleeping, despite numerous attempts to wean her of that. She's more stubborn than Chris and I, apparently, and that can only terrify us for the future. (It's good, right? I wanted strong girls, I named her "freedom" for God's sake) But as time has gone on, I've settled into an ok routine with her at night, lying in bed cuddling while she falls asleep. I didn't expect to spend this many evenings in bed at 8 pm, but I know I'll miss it when she finally grows out of it. When she's awake, she's a really sweet kid. She adores her sister, and is very affectionate. She hugs and kisses and cuddles all of us a lot, more than Rowan really wants usually. She loves books, and organizing her toys. She loves taking things apart, then putting them together. She loves putting things in, then taking things out. Or transferring things from one pile to another. If I had a dollar for every time someone has suggested she's going to be an engineer, I could start her MIT college fund. (Just kidding, she's going to U of M, of course) She loves music, dancing any time she hears music. In music class, she observed from my lap for weeks, but now has really warmed up and follows along with the movements, she's learned most of the elements of class that are repeated. She's not quick to get upset, but when she does, look out. Lately she's been doing a full body flail when she throws a tantrum, followed by her classic move, throwing herself on the floor. She also looks away from you, sometimes just her head, sometimes she turns her back on you, these days if you upset her. She chatters a lot, uses about 50 words. Her latest new words are "coat" and "ear." It seems like she's adding new words almost every day now. Also, probably the most characteristic thing about Saoirse is her sense of humor. She loves being silly. She is a little slow to warm up to people she's unfamiliar with. But when she's comfortable, she's a clown. She will do just about anything to get people to laugh, and once she's found something that works, she'll do it endlessly. She gets more and more wound up. She's silly.

Rowan has been a great sleeper for the last 8 months, and the last couple weeks she's been regressing, crying again when we leave the room. (she does sleep in her crib) We're hoping it's a phase, and a short one. Rowan, at 18 months, is our social butterfly. Everywhere we go, she makes friends. She flirts with people at the grocery store, at the dr's office, bookstores, libraries. Honestly, she just loves people. She'll go to people and raise her arms to be picked up immediately, within minutes of meeting them. Chris and I joke that she's like a golden retriever puppy, that she'd go home with anyone. She's also very interested in being independent, and mimicking us. She wants to eat with silverware, drink out of our cups. She "brushes" her hair, tries to put on her own clothes, tries to open the car door for herself. She pays a lot of attention to what we do, even when we don't realize it. She only has to see us do something once and she'll try it out. She uses about 50 words too, although a few less than Saoirse. Her favorite word these days is "No." She usually drags it out so it sounds more like..."Noooo.." She's got quite a temper. She's frustrated easily, and will scream, flail, and scratch to get her point across. She also is more likely to mind, though, even though you can see it on her face that she's not happy about it. She's pretty sophisticated, socially, for her age. And she gives me this dirty look, chin lowered, eyebrows furrowed that I totally recognize as my own. She loves reading, her stuffed animals, especially froggie, and blankets. She loves wrapping things around herself like a cloak and cuddling in it. She loves Saoirse, and will wake her up if Rowan wakes up first. But she needs her space, and gets very frustrated that Saoirse has to share her books, her toys, her mommy. Although I keep telling them that Mommy can hold two babies, there's room for two, both girls seem convinced that whoever's closest to my head wins. It makes for some interesting wrestling matches.

So that's pretty much them. Rowan's a smart little charmer with a fiery temper, Saoirse's a sweet, funny girl who's a bit of a drama queen. The first 6 months were rough with these two, but the last year (especially the last 6 months) have more than made up for it. They are so fun at this age. I laugh more than I have in my life. (I sleep less, unfortunately)

18 month picture tomorrow, my camera battery died. Yay Rowan and Saoirse for a great 18 months!!

Daddy's working late

Chris had a staff meeting to go to after work today, so he didn't get home until around 9 pm, after Rowan was already in bed. Normally I'd be putting Saoirse down then too, but I've made that mistake before. If she's almost asleep and then hears the garage door open all is lost, so we just hung out in bed together reading and doing our nails. When Chris called in the afternoon to check in, he said he wanted to know if the girls were being monsters, so he could decide if he could go to the meeting. I told him..."Hmm. I guess I should say they're being horrible, huh?" I didn't, though. Honestly, the days are long when I have them from wake-up until bedtime, but I did have to at least be thankful today that it's not like it was a year ago. A year ago now, we had every Monday evening without Chris, he worked until about 8:30 pm. It was about this time of year that we started having Ashley (the girls' first babysitter) a few afternoons a week, including Monday evening. She was a lifesaver. A full day alone inevitably involved tears from Mommy, not just the babies. It seemed impossible. It felt like I would never be able to take care of my own kids, like other people seemed to so effortlessly. So, even though I don't exactly look forward to whole days as the only parent on duty, it is a whole other world compared to a year ago.

I know this video is long, but it's just too cute.

Busy week

I took the girls with me to vote on Tuesday. I was afraid of long lines, so I packed a bag full of snacks, toys, books, and sippy cups. Fortunately, we only spent 20 minutes there, although the girls did manage to go through several snacks in that time once they figured out that I had some. Mostly they tried to climb up to the top of their stroller and checked out the other people in line. They were obsessed for the rest of the day with my "I Voted" sticker, so I had to find some stickers to put on their shirts. All I had were some stuff I pulled off new clothes from the Gap. Luckily, they can't read, so they accepted the substitution. I know you can't really see Rowan's sticker, but it says "3 for $15." If only, right?

Wednesday Rowan, Saoirse, and I drove to Chicago to visit Grandma and Grandpa and see Saoirse's orthopedist. The appointment with Dr. Brown went well. He says her foot looks great, and the nurses were amazed at how much the girls had grown since they last saw them a few months ago.

After the appointment, we had an afternoon to kill while everyone was at work, so the girls and I headed to the outlet mall. Their favorite part was the little corral where there were cars that they could ride. Even after I ran out of quarters, they loved them. Actually, Saoirse liked them more when they weren't moving.

Later that night, Uncle Blake came out to the burbs for a visit. The girls were hilarious, running around and playing "boo" with him, giggling madly. Saoirse pretended to give him a stuffed dog of hers, then jerked it back and ran around squealing like she was the first person to ever think up that trick. I wish we lived closer to him so they could see him more often. Unfortunately, my camera died during that visit, so I have to wait for Blake to email me some from his camera, I'll post them later.

Now we're back in A2, back with Chris. Ready for a quiet weekend.

Another Halloween...

Sorry this post is late, we went out of town for the weekend. The girls got to help hand out candy for trick-or-treating at Grandma and Grandpa's place. They loved it. I dressed them as ballerinas, they wore the costumes all day, mostly for me. It was just too adorable to only wear them at night.

They loved helping sort the candy and put it into the bowl by the door. (They didn't mind eating some of it too)

They loved hanging out with Grandpa waiting for the kids to come and ring the doorbell.

They loved going to the door and seeing what was waiting. Towards the end, Saoirse was even trying to hand out candy. She'd stand a few feet back from the door and throw candy towards the kids.

They wore themselves out and fell asleep about a half hour after the last kids left, and Rowan was so tired she couldn't even finish her bottle. The next day Bri mentioned some kids coming by, and both girls grabbed candy and ran for the door. So Halloween was a hit. Look at Rowan's face when the doorbell rang:

Chris and I went to a party in Muskegon, so we have Halloween pics too this year. Check us out. :) (as a Roman goddess and a gladiator)