Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Half-Birthday!

6 months old today! Happy Half-Birthday, Charlie and Lily!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

First Christmas!

Charlie and Lily's first Christmas seems to have been a success! The babies really enjoyed themselves these past few days, and to say that Joe and I had an awesome time would be an understatement. This was by far our best Christmas ever, and we know it will only get better each year!

Charlie and Lily kicked off the holiday on Wednesday night with a visit from Aunt Linda. She brought the babies some gifts, including one of Lily's fast favorites - her first purse. Linda gave Lily a cute little change purse in the shape of a handbag and Lily loved it. She held it in her hand all evening - she was too funny! We were also treated to a quick visit by Aunt Rhea and Uncle Larry, who were kind enough to bring Joe and me dinner. Yum!

Christmas Eve brought my side of the family and tons of gifts! Joe and I hosted my mom and dad, sister and boyfriend Aaron and Nana for dinner. After we ate we sat down for the first big round of gift opening. Charlie and Lily received tons of great presents - clothes, savings bonds and toys from Nana and toys, toys and more toys from Crackers and Aunt Jill. Before the night was over, Santa stopped by for a visit with Charlie and Lily. They had been so good that he had to come see them personally.

On Christmas morning the babies awoke to some gifts from Santa, including two special surprise gifts left by Santa (aka Daddy). He wanted to give the babies something they would love looking at. Charlie received a little baby photo album full of pictures of Charlie and Mommy together and Lily received a mirror! After enjoying some monkey bread, we all piled in the car and headed over to Grandma and Grandpa's house for another round of gifts. Oh, the presents that awaited Charlie and Lily there! So many adorable outfits and fun toys.

Mommy and Daddy also received some wonderful presents, with the best being from Uncle John and Aunt Rebecca. They turned all of our blog posts into a book! It's a beautiful, hard cover book with all the posts and pictures from the blog since the day we started it. It was such a meaningful and thoughtful gift - we love it! (And John, it just might be good enough to cause Joe to forgive you for all the Phillies clothes you gave Charlie and Lily...)

After Grandma and Grandpa's house we stopped by the cemetery to visit Annaleigh. She was on our mind a lot these past few days as the holidays really seemed to highlight her absence for us. We miss her so, so much and wish with all our hearts that she could have been here to celebrate with us. It felt good to spend just a little time with her this Christmas, even if it wasn't at all the way we wished it could be.

The rest of our day was spent at home unwinding and putting away the mountains of gifts. Charlie and Lily tried out some of their new toys, but mostly they napped to recover from their busy holiday. Thank you to everyone who helped make Charlie and Lily's first Christmas so special!

Lily and her new purse. She's all ready to hit the mall!
Lily loves her Christmas dress. So pretty.
Crackers loves her Charlie!
It's Santa! Too bad Lily couldn't bother to wake up to say hello. Charlie was happy to see him though!

Mommy kissing Santa Claus. Don't tell Joe...
A special note from Santa.
Charlie and Daddy check out Charlie's Santa gift.
"And I got a rattle and a dolly...."
Stockings at Grandma and Grandpa's.
"What is it, Mommy? What is it?"
With Grandma and Grandpa.
Yay, Christmas!
Enjoying one of their gifts from Crackers. (The mirror was Lily's special gift from Santa!)
Christmas is exhausting. It's hard being showered with presents.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to All!

Today Charlie and Lily celebrate their first Christmas! We'll have a huge holiday update coming soon, but right now we are just soaking in the moments and enjoying the fact that this year we are celebrating Christmas with two beautiful babies. This past year was long, hard and painful - it often felt as if we'd never reach this point, but it was worth each and every step because it brought us here. This year we learned the true meaning of not only love and family, but also of friendship. Thank you to each and every one of you for helping us reach today. We wish you a very, very merry Christmas. Hug your children, tell your families how much you love them, laugh, share and make tons of memories - we plan on doing it all!

The pictures in this post are outtakes from our Christmas card photo shoot attempts. We did four different photo shoots and took at least 100 pictures.
This is the picture we finally went with for the cards. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snow Day!

All the snow on Saturday resulted in us waking up on Sunday to a good foot of the white stuff covering everything. Snow is pretty when it's falling, but once that part is over the rest kind of sucks. We had to dig out our cars, driveway, porches, etc. and now the roads are covered with giant piles of snow and the sidewalks and roads are icy. Plus our dog Tucker decided that he is way too delicate to walk out into the yard in the snow to pee. If we put him in the yard he immediately hides under the house until we come back for him. But walking on the leash in the snow? Well, that's totally acceptable. In fact, it's fun! So now the only way that Tucker will go to the bathroom is if Joe takes him for a walk. Grrrr.

But the snow isn't all bad, because it got Joe a snow day! School was cancelled on Monday so Joe got to spend the whole day at home with us. We had a great time together. After playing all day we bundled the babies up after dinner and took them out in the car to look at Christmas lights. This is something Joe and I do together every year so we were excited to include Charlie and Lily this time around. I can't say that the babies were all too excited. Charlie dozed with his binky and Lily cried until I climbed over the seats and wedged myself between their car seats so that I could hold her binky in her mouth. But Joe and I had fun :)

Look at that smile! Is he not the cutest boy ever?
Charlie and Lily are modeling some early Christmas gifts - new shirts from a former student of Joe's. Lily's shirt say, "My dad rocks!"
Super model!
Up to no good, as usual.
This morning the home care company came and took away all our NICU paraphernalia. We came home with two monitors, a pulse ox and three oxygen tanks (we thankfully never needed to use the O2, it was just for backup). It was pretty sweet to see them leave the house, although I did save one of the belts with the leads on it for the memory box.
Our downstairs bathroom has officially been turned into a baby spa.
Snow sexy! Getting ready to go outside and shovel was way more fun than actually doing it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

We're Wireless!!

Big, big news! As of Friday afternoon, Charlie and Lily are officially OFF the apnea monitors!! Their last monitor review showed that neither had any episodes to speak of, so the monitors are out of here. We are so excited - we really thought we'd have the monitors until at least March, so to be completely wireless before Christmas is so great! At the moment we're still using the monitors at bedtime because we haven't set up the Angel Care ones in their cribs yet, but as soon as we do that the monitors will be gone forever. (We don't NEED the Angel Care monitors or anything, it's just for our own peace of mind!) I am very glad they came home on the monitors as it helped Joe and I relax a bit, but now we are totally over the cords and wires and beeping. So yay for Charlie and Lily - such super babies!

I realize that we spend a lot of time on this blog with Lily stories. She's such a quirky, funny baby! But I feel like I must now talk about my Charlie a bit. He is just the world's easiest, sweetest, most lovable baby. He is SO good! He's happy to do whatever we want him to. He'll gladly sit for hours in the kitchen with me watching me do chores and bake. He smiles and laughs so easily. When he sees me, his whole face lights up and he breaks into a huge smile. He'll then follow me everywhere with his eyes and watch the doorway when I've left the room waiting for me to come back. I could not have asked for a better son. I often feel like I don't deserve the love and adoration he has for me. I hope I can be the kind of mommy he seems to think I am!

In other news, we got some serious snow here this weekend. I'm guessing there's about a foot and a half to shovel out of. Why do these storms happen on weekends? What a waste - we would have liked Daddy to have a snow day!

My sweet, sweet Charlie!
This playmat was handed down to us by a triplet mommy whose daughters spent time in St. Peter's NICU. I pulled it out the other day because I thought the babies were getting bored with their playmat. Charlie LOVED it! The first time I put him on it he stayed for an hour and 15 minutes smiling and staring at everything!
Feeding time! We've easily mastered the double feeding. Look at Joe go! (And look at the snow falling! That was just the beginning. Roger had the time of his life at that window yesterday.)
I forgot that we had these bathrobes, a gift from Aunt Linda. I found them in the closet yesterday and of course had to put on a baby fashion show. Lily doesn't look too thrilled though.
Note to self: Do not attempt baby photo shoots at 8:30 pm right before bath and bedtime bottles. Babies are tired, hungry and cranky. This is how we ended the picture taking - Charlie was trying to eat Lily and Lily was trying to eat the couch.
Charlie and I spent several hours baking our Christmas cookies yesterday - it was a great snowy day activity. All went well until we made the peanut butter blossoms and I dropped every last one of them on the kitchen floor. So much deliciousness gone to waste.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Santa Claus is coming to town

Charlie and Lily have been very busy preparing for Christmas. There's lots to be done and Charlie and Lily are happy to help! This week we've been focusing on baking. We made three kinds of Christmas cookies - snickerdoodles, mint chocolate delights and our absolute favorites, monster cookies. (Back when I had time for that sort of thing I had a cooking blog - you can find the cookie recipes there if you're interested!) On Wednesday Aunt Jill came over to help. Jill, Charlie, Lily and I all gathered in the kitchen to get mixing and measuring. While we froze most of the dough to bake up fresh cookies right before Christmas, we had to bake a sampling to make sure we had done a good job (we had!). Charlie really loves helping me in the kitchen. He enjoys sitting in his bouncy chair and just watching me do things. Just this morning he helped me make a bundt cake for a party Joe is going to tomorrow.

Lily doesn't find me nearly as interesting as Charlie. She prefers that I hold her and allow her to participate in whatever activity I'm trying to complete. In my pre-baby days I was taught an aerobics class called Body Attack at Gold's Gym. Last night I returned to class to teach a portion for the first time in a year. I had to practice before I went, so earlier that day I put on my music and held Lily while I walked through all the moves. Believe it or not all that bouncing and wiggling put her to sleep! But she was happy to be a part of it all.

Another Christmas activity we've been enjoying comes at story time. Right after Thanksgiving my mom brought over all the Christmas books she had saved from my childhood, along with a bunch of Christmas books that had belonged to my cousin Adam. The babies and I have been having a great time reading a different Christmas story each day. My personal favorites are The Biggest Most Beautiful Christmas Tree and Santa's Surprise Book which I always loved when I was little. On a more modern note, we've enjoyed Bear Stays Up for Christmas, which belonged to Adam. So cute! We're saving The Night Before Christmas for Christmas Eve!

This weekend I'm going to need Charlie and Lily's help with gift wrapping, and on Sunday we plan to take them to a drive through light show. I can't believe Christmas is next week! I hope Charlie and Lily have the best first Christmas possible!

Lily is very excited for Christmas (and the presents)!
My baking elves in the kitchen - Aunt Jill with Lily and Charlie.
Choo Choo Charlie loves helping Mommy! (Thanks for the cool shirt, Grandma Anne!)
All those holiday preparations are exhausting! Charlie and Lily relax with their Wubbanubs after another busy day. (Note to self: clean out pack n' play - apparently there is hardly any room for babies in there...)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Opposites Attract

Joe and I laugh pretty much daily over how different Charlie and Lily's personalities are. Charlie is just so, so chill. He'd be happy to sit on my lap all day long and gaze around. Give him a binky and he'll do whatever you want. He is patient and super easy going. Even in the middle of a fussing/crying fit he'll often stop to smile at us. However, no one would describe Lily as chill. She is incredibly active - always wiggling and moving and flailing about. The other night Joe and I sat and watched as she turned herself in a complete circle around the playmat. And she's always tossing her legs to one side and turning her head super far - if we blew on her she would roll over.

Lily recently "found" her cry. Up until a few weeks ago both babies had pretty weak cries due to prematurity and many weeks on the ventilator. Now that they are bigger and stronger though they can YELL! And Lily does! She's learned that crying gets a response. She'll cry hysterically, but as soon as I bend down to pick her up she stops. She's also become incredibly impatient. She knows when it's bottle time (I put both babies in the pack n' play beforehand while I warm the bottles and change diapers) and starts to scream immediately. She whips her arms and head around in the pack n' play, often slugging Charlie in the process, and won't calm down until we put her bib on her. Charlie, on the other hand, also knows when it's bottle time but unlike Lily this knowledge makes him happy instead of angry. He'll lay in the pack n' play smiling and gurgling and patiently waiting, even while Lily is beating him up. We can't wait to see how they interact with each other when they're a little older!

Bottle time! Charlie is happy to wait for a nice warm bottle. Lily? She wants it NOW!
"Lily, Lily, Lily - good bottles come to those who wait."
Lily isn't always cranky. Once you've done what she wants she is happy as can be!
Charlie's typical expression - cool as a cucumber.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree

Christmas is coming, and we've been busy getting ready! Most of the presents have been bought (thank you, Internet!), the stockings are hung by the staircase with care. And yesterday we got out tree! We had originally planned to bring the babies with us, since we'd be outside, but it recently got SO freaking cold (I hate winter!) that there was no way we were going to bring them out in it. So Grandma Anne came over for a bit while Joe and I ran to the tree farm to pick out our tree. It was too cold to dally, but luckily we found the perfect Fraser Fir right away and claimed it as ours. In just a few minutes it was on the roof of our car and on its way home. After a little artful rearranging of furniture and baby gear, the tree was situated in the living room. We spent the afternoon stringing lights and hanging ornaments. Charlie and Lily really enjoyed watching me decorate, and they both helped a little when they could. Now we have a pretty, sparkling tree and it really feels like the holidays! Plus, there are sparkling lights everywhere you look! What more could Charlie ask for?

Not much else to report, which is good! Babies are both doing well. We've been spending our time playing, dancing and reading Christmas books. The other day I put in one of our Baby Einstein DVDs since Lily is always staring at the TV and both babies seemed to enjoy it. Of course, they'll stare at shadows on the wall for 2o minutes at a time, so who knows what they found interesting about it? But it beats indulging Lily's America's Next Top Model addiction all the time!

Lily is the star on the Christmas tree.
Ooooh, so very, very sparkly.
All ready for Santa!
These ornaments were a gift from blog reader Laura. Aren't they wonderful? I collect snowmen and love the S'mores characters. These are the sweetest addition to our tree yet. Thank you, Laura!
Our stockings, waiting to be filled!
Taking a break from decorating for a little snuggle.
Charlie and Lily helping out with some holiday baking. What is Lily smiling at? Her reflection in the oven door, I believe!
Charlie loves his time in the kitchen!
Charlie's revenge! After weeks of being a tasty snack for his sister, Charlie decided to give Lily a taste. Mmmm, Johnson's baby shampoo...