Monday, June 28, 2010

Happy Birthday and Smash Cakes

We're still waiting to get the pictures back from the birthday party but in the meantime I thought I'd post this video of everyone singing "Happy Birthday" to Charlie and Lily. Neither seemed particularly interested in their smash cakes, but given the heat, the lack of naps, and the crowd of people, I guess we really can't blame them.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday!

I remember this day last year as if it were yesterday. Of course, how do you forget the happiest and most terrifying day of your life? As I mentioned in my last post, June 27 is my and Joe's wedding anniversary and my mom's (aka Crackers') birthday. On that date last year, I was of course in the hospital with my broken water. The day was full of visitors. My mom came in the morning - I gave her her birthday gifts and we watched a few episodes of True Blood on the hospital TV/DVD player that a kind nurse had swiped for me. Our friends Christina and Doug came and visited in the afternoon, and our friend Cox swung by with an anniversary dessert he had made for us. That evening, Joe's parents brought us dinner from our favorite Italian restaurant and we enjoyed it with them. It was around that time that I started to notice that something wasn't right. I was having weird cramps that weren't going away. By the time Joe's parents left the pain was pretty intense, so I called a nurse, who hooked me up to the contraction monitor. Nothing was showing up on the monitor, but the pain had me in tears so the nurse called in a doctor. The doctor adjusted my position in the bed and - boom - contractions were showing up all over the monitor. She quickly did an exam and pronounced, "You're 10 centimeters dilated. We're delivering now."

Suddenly our world was turned upside down. The room was full of nurses prepping me and making Joe sign paperwork. He was trying to sign, comfort me and call our parents at the same time. I was crying hysterically and shaking so badly that they couldn't get the IV in my arm. Next thing I knew the nurses were running my stretcher down the hall to the OR, screaming "Move, move, move!" at anyone in the way. Joe was racing along behind us, and I kept craning my neck to look back at him to make sure he was still there. He was so comforting, ensuring me the whole time that everything would be just fine, even though I knew he wasn't so sure.

Once in the OR, the babies were out in a matter of minutes. First Charlie. Then Annaleigh, making her tiny cry. Lily wasn't ready to come out, and was hanging on in there. It took a little muscle for the doctor to get her out, but she made her debut just 2 minutes behind her brother and sister. It wasn't like any delivery I'd seen on TV. There were no joyful cheers of "It's a boy!" or "It's a girl!" They didn't even show me the babies before they handed them to the waiting team of NICU doctors and nurses. Joe was able to peek at the babies and tell me that they were perfect, but I couldn't see for myself. As they stitched me up, I stared at the only thing I could see - the team of nurses working on Lily. I could see only that they were using a bag to make her breathe, and they worked on her for a LONG time. I was really starting to get scared when they finally announced that Lily was ready to move to the NICU, where she would begin her 99-day stay. Charlie was already there, beginning his 95-day stint.

I remember the first time I saw them - still on my stretcher an hour or so after delivery. The awesome nurses let me touch each baby, and one nurse even let me put Lily's tiny bottom in my hand. Truly amazing.

Of course, you all are familiar with the rest. The ups and downs. The highs and lows. The loss of our beautiful Annaleigh. And now here we are. One year later. I don't even know how to describe how Joe and I feel today. Bittersweet, maybe? We are overjoyed to be celebrating Charlie and Lily's first birthday today. We are beyond sad that their sister is not here to celebrate with them. Someone is missing today. A very important player from one year ago is gone, and there are really no words to describe the emotions associated with it.

But still, we are happy. Our babies are downright incredible. They are strong. They are smart. They are adorable, if we do say so ourselves ;) And they are so freaking happy. They bring us so much joy every single day. Thinking back on their rough and scary start, it blows our minds to watch them be "normal" babies - to progress, and grow and thrive.

Last night after dinner Joe and I sat on the couch and watched Charlie and Lily playing. They were looking at each other and laughing hysterically at some secret joke, and we knew that this is what it had all been for. The long and stressful infertility treatments. The incredibly hard and traumatic pregnancy. The scary premature delivery. The NICU roller coaster. Saying goodbye to our Annaleigh. We made it through the worst moments of our lives, the moments when we thought we couldn't go on, so that we could be here, today, celebrating our miracles.

Happy first birthday, Charlie and Lily. Words will never properly describe how much we love you, how much you mean to us, and how happy you have made us. Thank you for being you.

Our dear, sweet Annaleigh - we miss you so, so much. Our only wish is to have you here with us, today and always. We love you.

Happy birthday, babies.

Charlie at birth - 1 lb, 13 oz.
Charlie today!
Lily at birth - 1 lb, 8 oz. Lily today!
The birthday babies.
Remembering Annaleigh, today and always.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Crackers' Birthday!

Poor Crackers (aka my mom, Pam), has lost her birthday. Seven years ago Joe and I chose to get married on her birthday - June 27th. She was thrilled, and said that she was so happy to be getting Joe as a son-in-law for her birthday. She said that it was the best gift she could get. Well last year, Joe and I somehow managed to give her an even better birthday gift on June 27 - grandchildren! So poor Crackers has lost her birthday, but she says she is more than happy to hand it over to Charlie and Lily. This June 27th we'll be partying hard for Charlie and Lily, so we decided to celebrate Crackers' birthday tonight. We gathered at her house for cake (her favorite Fudgie the Whale) and presents. Charlie and Lily had a blast helping Crackers blow out her candles and tasting all her birthday cards (for some reason they love chewing on cards and envelopes). They even each had a tiny bite of vanilla ice cream. It was a fun evening! Happy Birthday, Crackers - Charlie and Lily love you!

Crackers with her daughters and grandbabies.
Helping Crackers blow out her candles. Or, candle. "Crackers, how can so many awesome people be born on the same day? It's baffling..." ;)

Please keep voting!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has been voting for Charlie and Lily in the Parents Magazine Cover Model Contest. Voting ends this Sunday and we're currently in 26th place, so we definitely still have a shot. Please pop over and vote again if you have time. Thank you so much!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Fun!

The first day of summer has come and gone. The weather is HOT. And Joe is almost done school for the year - yay! Charlie and Lily have been enjoying their summer days - playing, swimming, shopping and getting ready for their first birthday party. This Sunday we are throwing a HUGE birthday bash for the babies and they can't wait (and neither can Joe and I!). But they are anxious for Sunday so we've had to keep them occupied with plenty of fun to help pass the time.

Last week we went outlet shopping with my friend Lauren and her son Danny. Charlie and Lily picked out these cute outfits for themselves at Carter's.
"Ooooh, let me see that!"
"Not a chance, Charlie. This girl never parts with her cell phone."
"Okay, I got it back. It's cool."
"I thought I was just sitting. How did I get down here, Mommy?"
Snuggles with Mommy are good in any season!
So are snuggles with kitties! Charlie loves Roy and Roger, and luckily they don't seem to mind him too much even when he grabs them.
Charlie knows that it's important to wear shades in the summer.
Today Charlie and Lily hosted another pool party for their friends Abbie, daughter of my friend Colleen, and Owen, son of my friend Jenn. Here's everyone in their suits ready to hit the pool.Splish splash!
Ah...there's nothing like drying off in the warm sun after a nice swim.
My friend Colleen and her husband Chuck and daughter Abbie gave Charlie and Lily these adorable personalized toy buckets for their birthday. They are currently the perfect size for the babies ;)
And last but not least, Charlie and Lily spent some time this week partying down with Daddy's co-workers. Joe's colleagues were kind enough to invite the babies and I to their end of the year party, and Charlie and Lily had a blast. Look how happy Lily was! (And how happy Joe was to finally have the babies meet his friends!)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Please vote for Charlie and Lily!!

They were chosen as Reader's Choice finalists in the Parents magazine Cover Model Contest! If you have a second, please go vote for their photo!!


Monday, June 21, 2010

06-21-10 - Goofy Lily

While Lily has yet to completely master the crawling thing, she is definitely able to get around well. ...That said, she's an absolute goofball sometimes! In this video, she was rolling around the living room while Brooke was feeding Charlie on the couch. She decided that she needed to inspect everything she could see. What a personality she's developing!

06-22-10 Insane Babies!

We took Charlie and Lily to meet some of my school friends at our end-of-the-year English department party. They had an absolute blast! They were in their glory with all the attention, and when we got home afterward both babies were crazy. I guess they were keyed up from all the attention or something, but as soon as I took them out of their carseats they both started laughing. Both have been laughing for months now, but I've never heard Lily laugh like this! I really wish I had the camcorder handy so the video quality was better than this crappy cell phone video, but I'm just glad I was able to capture that laugh.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Today we celebrated Joe's first Father's Day. Charlie and Lily were very excited to spend this special day with their Daddy and even had some treats planned. They got up nice and early and dressed in their special Father's Day t-shirts.
When Joe woke up, Charlie and Lily were ready to shower him with cards and presents. But first, Charlie had to sample the envelope just to make sure it was fine enough quality for Joe.

The envelope was so delicious that Charlie continued to snack on it while Lily read Joe his card. Then they helped him open his presents - a photo skin for his laptop with a picture of them on it, plus a butterfly feeder in honor of Annaleigh. They also bought him a Father's Day book that Joe read to them before their morning nap.

While the babies napped Joe snacked on the peanut butter cup cupcakes that Charlie and Lily had asked me to make for him, and once they were awake the four of us headed out to brunch together. Charlie and Lily had a great time making friends at the diner and sharing some of Daddy's pancakes. When we got home, they spent some quality time playing before their next nap.
Later that afternoon we headed of to Aunt Linda's to celebrate Father's Day and cousin Matt's birthday. It was great to spend some time together with the whole family. Here we have four generations of DiGiuseppe men!
Cousin Michael is not a big lover of babies in general. He usually wants nothing to do with them, but Lily was determined to win him over.
Success! But really, who can resist the Bug?!?
Catching up to Aunt Linda in the height department!
At Aunt Linda's Charlie and Lily got to meet their cousin Ava for the first time. I think they'll be good friends!
After a fun and busy day, Charlie and Lily headed home for baths and one last snuggle with Daddy before bed.
Note to Joe: You are truly the best Daddy I have ever known. I am incredibly lucky and proud to have you as the father of my children. The way you love Charlie and Lily makes my heart melt each and every day. We know they are very special babies, and they have a very special Daddy to match. I love you. Happy Father's Day.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tub time!

For some reason, I've still been bathing Charlie and Lily in a reclined position in their tub. I guess it was just habit, plus it was nice and easy to wash their hair that way. But tonight I figured it was time for them to graduate to sitting in the bath tub instead. It wasn't as easy to keep the shampoo out of their eyes, but they liked the new perspective, and the ability to splash and play with toys.

"Um, Mommy. I think you're doing my bath wrong..."
"Okay, never mind, I like it this way!"
Lily had no problem with the adjustment! (Can you believe how BIG she looks in that tub?!?)
Aunt Jill visited this evening and read Charlie and Lily stories while the other was getting their bath. Lily thought that "Hippos Go Berserk" was delicious.
Earlier today Charlie and Lily had a visit from their pal Danny. Charlie and Lily enjoyed playing with Danny, and tried to pick up some tips on crawling from him, since Danny motored all over the house. "I think Danny did it like this..."
Even though Charlie and Lily's birthday is still 11 days away, they've already started getting presents. They enjoyed opening these adorable Little People play sets from Joe's friend Lisa. Thanks, Lisa!
Lily liked modeling the wrapping. Big bows are all the rage.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Congratulations, Kim!

This weekend Charlie and Lily joined the family in celebrating the college graduation of their cousin Kim. This was the babies' first big party, and also their first time meeting many of the aunts, uncles and cousins on Joe's side of the family. The party overlapped with nap time, so they were a little more subdued than they usually are, so you'll see that they DON'T smile all the time (just most of the time!), but both babies enjoyed getting to know their relatives. Charlie and Lily are looking forward to many more family get togethers!

Lily and Kim, getting to know each other. Joe and I often say how much Lily's personality reminds us of Kim's, so we were excited for them to finally hang out together.

Despite the look on his face, Charlie was happy to hang with Kim too!
Lily and Mommy with cousin Melissa. Lily was fascinated by Melissa's beer bottle. I hope that's not a bad sign...
Melissa is funny!
Charlie and Lily with Aunt Rhea and cousin Jodi.
The party was held in Kim's backyard, and there is a gorgeous pool. We didn't think to bring the babies' bathing suits, so they had to settle for dipping in their feet. Lily thought the water was okay.
Charlie, on the other hand, was NOT a fan.
As per usual, Charlie was willing to take a nap while we were out, but Lily would have none if it. She hates to miss any action.
In other news, we're trying to work on finger foods. Charlie is doing great with them - he loves his Puffs and Mum Mums, which is what he's snacking on here. We're planning on introducing more finger foods to him this week. He tried some crumbled, hard-boiled egg yolk yesterday, and I have pancakes, boiled carrots and steamed sweet potato on the list for this week. Lily still gags on any finger food that so much as touches her tongue, so she may be sticking to purees for a little while longer.
We're also working on using sippy cups, although neither baby is really sure what to do with them yet.
Lily is still hard at work on her crawling efforts. She can sure get around, even if she isn't doing it correctly just yet. Lily loves Tucker. Here they are hanging out before bed.
Shop 'til you drop! A recent after-dinner run to the mall wore Lily out.