Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Big Day Today & Photos From One Year Ago

Today was a big day for Kyle & Owen: their last day of daycare before their summer vacation!!! They have been in daycare either part-time or full-time for the past two years straight. It will be very interesting for all of us to see how they like being out of daycare for the next three months! We're all really looking forward to having Alex be our Nanny full time for the summer. Last year at this time we were livin' it up in the Turks & Caicos Islands... Since I didn't have the blog then, I'm posting these photos now! :)

Malnutrition in Haiti

Please take twenty minutes of your time to watch this short documentary on YouTube:

Malnutrition in Haiti, Part 1 -- click here
Part 2 -- click here
Part 3 -- click here

Photo of the Day: Early Morning Playtime

Yesterday's Top Three Moments

--OR-- Three Things that can Truly make a mom of Twin Three-Year-Olds feel Tremendously Terrific:

1) Yesterday when I picked up the boys from daycare they did what they have done almost every single daycare day for the past two years... when they spotted me approaching, they starting jumping up and down yelling at the tops of their lungs "My Mama is here!!! Yay my mommy!!! Mama mama mama!!!" As soon as I was to them they were jumping all over me, hugging me. Nothing could make a working mom feel much better than that... except... it just so happened that no other parents were there when I was, and one of the daycare staff/'teachers' said to me: "Do you realize that you get by far the biggest welcome of any other parent?? No other parents get that kind of response from their kids when they come to pick them up! Kyle and Owen just adore you!!!!!!" Um, o.k., it does not get much better than that!!!

2) After daycare pick-up I brought the boys to the drugstore to buy each of them a new toy car to bring on vacation [very random, but Eckerd drug store seriously has the absolutely BEST toy cars on the planet -- and they are less than $3 each]... We were looking at all the toy cars and I was telling the boys they could each choose one. They were both having a really hard time deciding which one to choose. Kyle said, "Mama, which one do I choose?" I said, "I don't know baby, which one is your favorite? which one do you like the best?" Owen stops everything, turns away from the toy cars, gets right up close to my face and says, with total sincerity: "My mommy is the best mommy."

3) Last night was Hair Night (we re-twisted the boys' dreds)... which means we all sit on the floor of the family room and K & O eat their supper while watching videos as Braydon and I do their hair. I put the boys' supper in these containers (see below) for hair night... Their supper was (clockwise from top left): soy nuggets & ketchup, raw baby carrot chunks, cherry tomatoe halves, wheat bread with roasted-red-pepper-hummus. When Kyle saw his supper he said, "Oooooh Mama!!! Look at my supper!!! You make me a happy happy boy my mommy!!!"

Monday, May 21, 2007

Scenes from the Weekend

Friday Night In The Tub
The final installment of Snorkeling 101. The boys' instructor (a.k.a. Papi) assures me that they are now fully ready to move from the bathtub to the open seas.
Saturday Afternoon at Nate's Birthday Party
Our next door neighbors threw a big bash for their son Nate's 7th Birthday. Kyle and Owen were guests of honor -- despite the age difference, they are Nate and Ambika's best friends since coming home from India in October.

Owen's Attempt at Nate's Birthday Party Pinata
Even though they were the youngest kids at the party, everyone fully expected that either Owen or Kyle would break open the pinata... I was genuinely happy that instead it was the birthday boy himself who did!

Nate's Birthday Cake
The boys made sure they had front row seats, of course. They were dismayed when Nate (who doesn't know the traditions yet -- this was his first birthday in the U.S.A.) blew out all of his candles before everyone had finished singing the "Happy Birthday To You" song.

Saturday Night With Alex
Alex babysat on Saturday night while Braydon and I went out to dinner with the Uhrigs. Alex now regularly sends photos from her phone to Braydon's phone while we're out. She sent this message at 8:00... she had given the boys a bath, they were in their pajamas, and about to go to bed.

Sunday at the Park I
We didn't have the camera with us, so Braydon took this photo with his cell phone of the boys playing in a little stream...

Sunday at the Park II
...and exploring the shoreline of a little pond.

Dinner Wearing Backpacks
We're trying to get the boys accustomed to wearing their backpacks so that they will hopefully wear them (and carry some stuff in them!) while we're travelling and on vacation...

Playing Before Bed... Wearing Backpacks

Sunday Night Tradition
Quite frequently on Sunday nights Braydon and I wait until after the boys go to bed to eat our dinner -- often we're too exhausted to make a real meal, so we eat a dinner of appetizers and watch Extreme Home Makeover together.

Braydon's Quote of the Day

Sunday afternoon at the playground... Braydon turns to me and says, "It is days like today that I feel more like an uncle than a father. It seems like other dad's don't have this much fun with their kids, it seems more like something an uncle does."

Re: Groovin' Owen Video

This morning I had about a dozen emails waiting for me about the little video Braydon posted last night (see below and/or click here). Everyone wants to know what the story is! Here's the story -- on Saturday we were at a party at our next door neighbor's house. There were a lot of people there and a whole bunch of us were outside on the back porch. Someone came outside and got Braydon and said to him, "You've got to come inside and see what Owen's doing!" Braydon thought to himself, "Oh no! What has he gotten into now?!!!" But when he got inside he found that Owen was all by himself in the living room where the music for the party was playing loudly.... and he was groovin' to Madonna, absolutely oblivious to the fact that anyone was even noticing him. Braydon made the little video with the little built-in video-recorder on our camera. After the party Braydon told me, "I can't wait for you to see this little video clip I took of Owen!" I can definately say this about it: it is so Owen. It captures him perfectly!!! And... I think the Madonna lyrics sum up my sentiments about my precious-and-just-too-funny-Owen absolutely perfectly: "Borderline, feels like I'm goin' to lose my mind. You just keep on pushin' my love over the borderline."

Sunday, May 20, 2007

How to express this....

There really is just not much I can say, when you consider of the music and the hip motion....

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Little Rituals

Textbooks on child development all say that young children are very ritualistic. I don't know if that is generally true of all young children, but it is definitely true about my two young children. Since we became parents of Kyle and Owen, Braydon and I have always joked about how with our boys "it just takes three times for it to be a fully ingrained ritual!" If you rock them to sleep three times in a row they'll expect it forever. If you let them eat ice cream three days straight they'll fully expect ice cream daily. If you let your guard down and let them get away with pulling the cat's tail three times, you'll never see the end of it. I don't know about all kids, but with our kids three times of anything is all it takes. K & O love little rituals and they latch on tight to them. Braydon and I are both like that too (perhaps that has something to do with K & O being like that, perhaps it has nothing to do with it, we just don't know). We've somehow lapsed into a little Saturday morning ritual of "snacks! and milk! and juice!" in "Mama and Papi's bed!" while watching "Elmo!" (a.k.a. Sesame Street). This morning Kyle and Owen were both asking for this at 7:00 a.m. on the dot. Braydon got the t.v. on, and got them settled in our bed while I went down to the kitchen to get everything ready. Sometimes in the craziness of our life, it seems that it is these little rituals that become the glue holding it all together.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Boys On Bikes

If they are doing this at age THREE, what on earth will they be doing when they are THIRTEEN???

Today while they were playing in the driveway after daycare, Owen and Kyle decided that they wanted a "bump bump" to ride their bikes over. Braydon found a piece of a 2x4 and laid it down in the driveway for them. K & O quickly learned that if they pedalled hard enough they could actually catch some air coming off of it. They both loved that. And they literally rode over that bump about 30 times each.

But Kyle is our little dare-devil. He is FEARLESS. And soon enough he was not satisfied with just one "bump bump." Suddenly he announced, "I know!!! How about two bump bumps?!!" He looked to Braydon and pleaded, "Two bump bumps please Papi???!!!" Braydon took off into the shed and came out with another piece of 2x4. This time the "bump bumps" were laid out at the base of the driveway (our driveway goes down on a decline), and K & O quickly figured out that the higher up the driveway they started the faster they could get -- and thus, the more air they could catch coming off the double bumps.

It started to get really wild (Owen stayed somewhat in control the entire time, taking his feet off the pedals as he neared the bump so as to not go over it with excessive speed... but again, let me repeat: Kyle is FEARLESS. Kyle would just pedal harder and harder the closer he got to the bump with a crazed look all over his face that just screamed "THRILL SEEKER!!!"). Right around the time I watched Kyle's entire bike come off the ground a good solid ten inches, I turned to Braydon and said, "Do you really think we should be encouraging this when they are only just barely THREE????" Braydon's response: "Heck yeah!!!!!!!" Luckily for me, the boys soon decided to take the bikes off-road. Owen announced: "Mama, we are going to ride these bicycles into the woods." And Kyle said: "Yes, we will ride into the woods!" And that was that.

Ice Cream Cones!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Photos For Alex

If you read this blog you know about our incredible babysitter/nanny Alex. Almost exactly one year ago Alex started caring for our boys. Her official "start date" was May 22, 2006. She has been a steady loving centerpiece of their lives for the entire past year. As a working mother I can honestly say that Alex has been my solace -- my saving grace -- for the entire past year. Last summer she babysat 20 hours a week so that the boys could cut back to part-time daycare for June-July-August. This past fall semester she babysat every Wednesday afternoon and stayed late on Wednesday nights so that the boys could get a mid-week break from daycare and Braydon and I could have one late night (either working or out on a date). And this spring semester she has picked up the boys from daycare early every Tuesday and Thursday, and babysat every-other-Saturday night for Braydon and I to go out. Today was her last day of the spring semester daycare-pick-up-babysitting schedule. I am beyond thrilled knowing that she will soon begin babysitting for us full time for the months of June-July-August so that the boys can be out of daycare for the entire summer. Alex is the perfect nanny for my boys. Today I am so grateful in my heart for this incredible young woman who has become such a central part of our family's life. On Monday Alex graduates from Lehigh (with, by the way, academic honors and about 100 awards from the university for leadership and community service). She will begin graduate school at Lehigh in the fall. We are so incredibly fortunate to have her. Thank you Alex for being a major part of raising Kyle and Owen. These photos are for you... taken just after you left the house today, the boys wearing the bead "bracelets" (which soon became necklaces!!!) that you helped them make. Owen loves you. Kyle loves you. Braydon loves you. And I, especially, love you.

Love Thursday: Love of Love

Rocking Kyle to Sleep, Friday May 11, 2007

Last week my 'Love Thursday' post was about my lover-of-life-Owen (click here). This week it is about my sweetie baby Kyle. I love both of my boys fiercely and equally, but --surely, as all mothers and their children do-- we have very different relationships with different kinds of bonds. For Kyle and I, the bond was instantaneous, and it was deeply profoundly loving. From the first moment I held this child he was Mama's Boy. Sitting with him in the orphanage the first day, he had no interest in playing with me or even examining who I was, he simply took one look at my face, snuggled in tight, and within 20 minutes was fast asleep on my lap as we drove away from the orphanage -- the only place he had ever known. He showed absolutely no signs of grieving the loss of the people who had cared for him from the time he was born, he showed absolutely no signs of anxiety over leaving his home never to return, he showed absolutely no signs of losing everything he had ever known. He never looked back. From the second we met, all he seemed to care about were two things: 1) that his brother was o.k., and 2) that his Mama did not leave his side. He clung to me with an intensity that is impossible to describe. I'd hold him for all of his waking hours, and yet the second he awoke he'd frantically reach for me. I vividly remember the plane flight from Port-au-Prince to Miami. I held Kyle on my lap in a Baby Bjorn front-carrier. He did not sleep a wink. He cooed endlessly, and drooled all over me, and could not stop rubbing his face and lips all over mine. I remember actively trying to fight off the urge to feel self-conscious of what the people on the plane around me were thinking -- the scene was so completely over-the-top... This eight-month-old baby boy and I were fully in the throws of an intense love-affair in an isle seat right in the middle of the airplane. Kyle did not cry for the first week we knew him (and Rock, the Director of the orphanage, told us that no one at the orphanage had ever heard him cry). I remember thinking that this baby was so broken; that he had not cried meant that my mothering with him was going to have to be all about healing his ability to cry for his needs. I remember telling Braydon that "we have to be prepared-- this baby might only cry a little bit at first, but we have to respond right away and dramatically!" Or, I feared, "maybe we won't even recognize it as a cry?" But the first time he cried it was a wailing, heart-breaking, soul-wrenching sob that seemed to just drain all of the pain this baby had endured for the first eight months of his life. For more than twenty minutes straight he sobbed and sobbed, and I sobbed too, rocking him in the sunlight sitting in the pale blue rocker in the babies' room. It was the morning of our first day home from Haiti. He had slept in his own house for the first time the night before, and had just eaten two full bottles of fortified baby formula. He was happy, and content, and full of grief. He was only about 13 pounds, and his belly was so distended that I remember feeling like it was hard to hold him close enough. But I held him as tight as I could, and speaking in English --the only language I could speak, but a language he had never heard prior to that first week with us-- I told my baby that it was all done, I'm so sorry it took me so long to get to him, he was home now, and I was his Mama. Owen and Braydon were right there, sitting on the floor. Owen was bewildered and concerned (he had rarely, if ever, heard his twin brother cry), Braydon was struggling to hold back the tears in his own eyes, and we all four made our way through that moment in time. My Ky Ky eventually stopped crying, looked up at me briefly, and then fell fast asleep in my arms. Every time I rock him now I think of that experience. This boy is the sweetest thing I have ever known. His love just pours out of him. And he absorbs love like a thick love sponge. Kyle loves love. He loves to give it and he loves to receive it. People who know him well know this about my Kyle. Kyle loves with a rare, extraordinary intensity. Happy Love Thursday everyone.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Five Favorite Recent Photos

Owen in New Hope

Owen Asleep in His Bed For The Night

Alex Gives the Boys a Bath

Kyle at the Golf Course

Kyle Gets Sprayed by the Hose in Our Yard

Conversations: Q -- Revisited

For back-story to this post, click here.

The boys have not seen Q since he babysat for them a month ago. But from time to time they bring him up. For example, lately they are really into trying to learn the letters of the alphabet. They look for K's ("K for Kyle!") and O's ("O for Owen!") and H's ("H for you Mommy!!!"), etc. everywhere we go--- on street signs, store fronts, park benches, etc. Every once in a while they will randomly ask me to help them "find a Q for Q!" Last night when I as I was tucking Owen into bed, the following happened. It was totally and completely100% out of the blue----
Owen: "Mommy, Q is funny."
Heather: "Oh, Q is funny?"
O: "Yes! Q is funny! I want to see him."
H: "You do? That would be nice. Do you want me to ask him to come visit?"
O: "Yes, please tell him to come visit me."
H: "O.k. baby."

Also, a few days ago the following happened in the car. We were driving along and it had been quiet for a couple of minutes. Kyle was just staring out the back window from his carseat, and then totally and completely100% out of the blue he said----
Kyle: "Mommy, Q plays football."
Heather: "Yes! Q does play football."
K: "And Ashley plays football too?" [Ashley is Q's girlfriend]
H: "No, baby, Ashley does not play football."
K: "Why?"
H: "Um, um" [eeks, I was totally taken off guard... strangely we have hardly had to deal with any gender stuff whatsoever. Although they regularly bring up race, so far K & O have almost never brought up anything related to gender. In fact, the extent to which they both seem utterly oblivious to gender has been noticeable, and frankly, shocking, to Braydon and I...]
K: "Why Mama? Why Ashley not play football just like Q?"
H: [the pressure was on, and believe me, as soon as I let this slip out of my mouth I fully regretted it---] "Um, um, because Ashley's a girl. Only boys play football." [eeks! cringing!!!!!]
K: "Why Mama? Why only boys play football?"
H: [at this point I was looking for any out...] "Um, because baby, that has historically been the way it has been. That is just how it has been." [eeks! cringing even more, and kicking myself, thinking that I need to start getting on the ball {so to speak!} with my age-appropriate answers to 3-year-olds'-gender-related questions!!!!!]
K: "But why Mama? Why Ashley not play football?"
H: "I don't know sweetie. We will ask her next time we see her." [my pathetic cop-out]
...Then.... it had not come up again until about two days later... Braydon and I were sitting out in the lawn watching the boys ride their scooters in the driveway. Kyle rode his over to us, stepped off of it, and totally and completely 100% out of the blue said to me----
K: "Mama, what do girls play?"
H: "What?" [this was so out of the blue I literally had no idea what he was talking about]
K: "What do girls play?"
H: "Oh!" [miraculously, somehow it clicked in my mind and I understood where this was coming from--] "Oh, like, what kinds of sports do girls play?"
K: "Yes!"
H: "Oh! Girls play soccer! and golf! and baseball! and basketball! and field hockey!..." [Braydon and I both then proceeded to list every single sport we could think of until finally Kyle seemed satisfied, and interrupted us---]
K: "Oh! O.k.!"
...and with that he took off again down the driveway on his scooter!...

Boys in Fountains

How things change and how much they are the same....

Today I checked my cell phone and there was a MMS from Alex. She was babysitting the boys, snapped a picture of them and text'd it to me. How cool is that? How sweet is that? How nuts is that? I remember we had a rotary dial phone in our house with the four-prong plug when I was a kid. I am sure there are others reading this blog who remember far more changes. It was a super big deal when I got my 110 camera that had 24 shots on it. I loved walkie-talkies, but they didn't send pictures. I am so psyched about this though - I got to see a snap shot into their day - at the moment it was happening.

But somethings never really change I am coming to realize. And if any one is timeless in their jubilant approach to life, it's K&O. Two boys, a fountain and a beautiful day. They love that thing and they know how to find fun where ever they go!

If I had been really cool, I would have actually noticed when she sent the message, and would have replied back with something like: lol - 2cute -thx 4 the pic - ttyl! But I'm not - I missed it by an hour and a half.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Food Snobs

O.k., I've been postponing posting something about this because I've been in semi-denial that it is true. But it is time to come clean. My kids are officially food snobs. I don't know how this happened. Braydon and I are soooo not food snobs. Yes, we like our gourmet foodie specialty items. For sure. But we'll also jump right in line at a McDonald's drive through with the best of 'em. In fact, over the years, we've actively and conscientiously and purposefully avoided food snobbery. Yes, we've plunked down our fair share of a large chunk of change at some of the finest dining establishments the world over. And yes, of course we have filled our cart many a time at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods and Wegman's and the like. But my bonus card is loyal to the local Giant Supermarket and I'm not ashamed of having a bag of Cheetos in my cart from time to time. Kyle and Owen, however, are a different story. Despite our attempts to instill our food-values into our children, they are exhibiting rebellion in this arena early on. Food Snobs they are (with a capital "F" and a capital "S"), and they don't like mucking it with the rest of us when it comes to their dinner plates. At the age of just-barely-three, I think you definitely qualify as a food snob if you...

A) Prefer Stonyfield Farms' All Organic, Whole Milk, 'Yo Baby' Yogurt products... and...
... turn your nose up at Yoplait Kids yogurt, even when it is covered with images of Diego?!!!!!
B) Will only eat 'Annie's Homegrown' Organic Shells & White Cheddar... and...
...refuse to eat the classic Velveeta Shells & Cheese, telling your Mama that it is "stinky" (quote unquote).

C) Regularly chow down on 'MorningStar Farms' All Natural and All Vegetarian Soy 'Chik'N Nuggets'... and...
...won't even touch the all-American Kids Food: McDonald's Chicken McNuggets, even when they come specially packaged in a 'Happy Meal' and they are dunked in sweet and sour sauce??!!!

Yup, Food Snobs they are. Kyle and Owen both. I should have known it early on when we discovered that at the age of 16 months they both strongly preferred fine hand-made chocolate truffles from a specialty chocolatier to your basic household Hershey's M&Ms. What the heck?!!!!!!