Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The twins are ONE!

Well, I remember going to a first birthday party for a set of twins a year ago when our twins were a month old.  It seemed UNFATHOMABLE that our twins would be one, be sleeping through the night, eating all kinds of food on their own, etc.  But, here we are!  The twins turned one on September 16th.  We actually didn't have a big party for them.  I did that for Sophie, and after that experience, I decided no more until they are old enough to care.  It is just so much work! We just had a family get together for the twins a few weeks later.  We were so excited that Ryan's brother Shane and his family could make it!  These two girls are just beautiful blessings in our lives.  I remember before we ever even knew we were pregnant and I thought that just having Sophie and Sally was great.  I just thought it would be too expensive to have more kids, so the thought of having more never really crossed my mind.  I sometimes asked myself though, if money were no issue, would I want another one?  And sometimes, my answer was yes!  I loved my kids, and there is no doubt another child would be a blessing.  Still, I put the thought aside, because it didn't seem like something I really wanted to pursue.  God knew my heart though, and chose to give us not one, but two more sweet babies.  When I think about all the worry I had before they came about medical bills and just the cost of raising kids, I realize that it was all for nothing.  God has provided for all our needs, and He will continue to do that.  My sister shared with me recently about how she'd been learning that she didn't have to "save up enough grace" from God in case something tragic happens one day.  I realized that I do this.  I try to imagine worse case scenarios and prepare myself mentally for them.  How would I feel?  How would God get me through?  It was as if I were attempting to save enough grace for these future worries that my or may not come to pass, when God already gives me enough grace for each day, just only for that day.  He gives us what we need as we need it to teach us to continue to look to Him.  I don't have to worry about Ebola or my children dying at a young age or God taking me and leaving them without a mother (all things I worry about off and on) because if any of those things were to happen, He would be my (and my children's) sustainer.  I don't have to get myself ready for tragedy because the truth is, I will never be ready for it.  If it happens, the only way I will make it through is by the grace He provides to sustain me through it one day at a time.  After having four kids, my advice to anyone thinking about having another child is, don't let your worry get in the way of your heart's desire. 

Well, on to Erin and Elise and what they are up to!  Their day looks something like this:
8-9 am wake and eat 8 oz bottle and some kind of breakfast food
11:30-12 drink another bottle and down for a nap
 2-3 wake and eat in their high chairs and drink from sippy cups (straws are the best kind for them)
3 drink another bottle
5 dinner in high chair
6:30 drink another bottle
7-7:30 bed

I am SO glad we are down to one nap a day bc it frees us up to get out and do things in the mornings/afternoons.  I remember this transition was hard for me with the other girls because I loved all that naptime since it let me get things done or nap myself.  But now, I am up entertaining s and s anyway, so I would rather be able to get out of the house with everyone so we don't all go crazy.  I definitely feel confident taking all 4 out now on my own.  Still not an easy task, but do-able.


Elise is still the quiet and calm one, but she surprised me by being the first to say a word other than mama or dada.  She says, "Hi!" and it is so so sweet.  She says it all the time and waves while she says it.  They girls both understand a lot of words, but don't say very many yet.  When you say, "Did you go poopoo?", they both pat their diaper.  They love to play peekaboo and start doing it if they hear, "Where's Erin?" or "Where's Elise?"  They also know bye bye, hi, kitty, bang bang, book, and maybe a few others.  Back to Elise, she is taking a few steps on her own, but isn't full on walking yet.  Her sister beat her on that milestone.  It seems like Elise is the target of a lot of Erin's playful "bullying," if you can call it that.  Erin loves to climb up on Elise's back like Elise is going to take her for a ride (in crawling position), and Elise HATES it.  She cries and cries, and Erin thinks it is so funny.  Both Erin and Elise love to whack each other in the head when the other one is being fed a bottle on the floor.  I very seriously tell them no, but they smile and laugh and do it again.  Stinkers!  Elise still lets Erin do most of the noise making for her if they need to be gotten out of bed or need food on their tray or whatever it is.  Elise makes noise sometimes too, but it is a much more soft, contented type noise.  Though she loves to be around her sister, she seems also content to play on her own for bits of time.  Her favorite toy is probably toilet paper, and her favorite food is smoothies. She weighs 20 lbs. 6 oz (30th percentile) and is 28.5 inches tall (30th percentile).  She has been looking a tad bit bigger to me than Erin lately, and this doctor's visit confirmed it.

Oh boy, does this girl melt my heart (as do all her sisters).  She is FULL of personality and noise and life!  We have been calling her Sally Jr. for a while because of the strength of her personality and some similarities they share.  She is loud, and she can throw big fits if she is upset about something.  I can now tell the difference between their cries when they are in their rooms (usually) because Erin's is much more angry and unrelenting.  Elise's is just horribly pitiful and desperate.  Erin is a people person (though a major mama's girl), and loves to give hugs.  She will walk up to you and just give you a big leg hug (or regular hug if I am sitting down).  It is so precious.  She loves to look at books and sit in my lap.  She mimics my pointing at things and points and taps at everything in any book.  She seems particularly quick to catch on to things such as mastering new toys or following a simple direction.  She laughs ALL the time, and it is such a unique laugh.  She especially laughs every time we change her diaper.  So funny.  She points at everything and brings me things and says, "Dah?" in an inquisitive tone.  It is like she is asking me what things are.  She has been really walking well for about a week now.  Pretty much 80% of the time, she walks. Both girls are also big climbers, especially Elise.  They were trying to climb up their dresser drawers today, and they LOVE to climb on the couch.  S and S weren't such big climbers, so this is new territory for us.  Erin's favorite toy is a book or toilet paper, and she loves pasta with tomato sauce.  She weighs 19 lbs. 12 oz (25th percentile) and is 28.5 inches tall (30th percentile).  They are both definitely thinning out some, which I guess is because of all their walking and crawling.

Here are a few more pictures

this cute girls just loves the camera

hitched a ride to bed

Cousin Adri and one of the twins at their little birthday party

Sophie, Grandma, and cousin Tess

Erin mooching off of Uncle Shane



an Erin hug

Monday, July 28, 2014

10 months old, and they're only getting sweeter!



The twins will actually be 11 months old on August 16th!  Each month goes by so quickly.  These past couple of months have been busy ones for them.

They started crawling around 9.5 months (Erin first, Elise just a day or so later).  At first, Erin had this crawl that resembled a seal flopping around.  She'd lunge forward and then flop down.  So funny.  Now, she crawls normally.

They started drinking bottles unassisted, but only will drink a few ounces before abandoning the bottles for some other nearby distraction.

They started pulling up to standing (no cruising yet) just about a week ago.  Both did it for the first time on the same day.

They babble and talk a lot (especially Erin) and are always saying Dada and Mama about everything.

Their personalities continue to shine through.  A 16 hr. car trip will give you a good idea of a baby's tolerance for discomfort, boredom, etc.  Erin was pretty fussy after a while.  She can be LOUD.  Even when she is just happy.  We have started calling her Sally Jr. because Sally has always been so loud.  Elise rarely fusses or cries.  She has been teething this week, so has been fussier than normal, but usually she is just quiet and sweet and full of smiles.

They really interact with each other a lot more now, and it is so cute.  They fight over toys, and Erin most often seems to be the winner in those battles. 

They learned how to mimic us and will wave and clap back to us.

They are VERY interested in all our food.  They will try most anything, but still don't feed themselves very much in terms of quantity.  The majority of their nutrition still comes from breastmilk.

Speaking of breastmilk, I finally decided to stop pumping (well, I am starting that process anyway--which is NOT FUN!  I am down to 3 pumps a day right now (about an hr. long each), and my body is struggling to make the adjustment. I am so engorged and uncomfortable most of the time that I actually can't wait to pump!).  I have been pumping exclusively since they were about 4 months old.  I am so thankful to have been able to provide them with breastmilk, but it has been a sacrifice.  The main reason I decided to stop was to be able to spend more time with all the girls.  Every day, I spend almost all my time, when I would other wise be able to play with them, sitting on the couch pumping.  People always say, they grow so fast!  Enjoy them while they are little!  I finally realized, they ARE growing so fast and I am NOT getting to enjoy them nearly as much as I want to.  Another month and a half of receiving exclusively breastmilk is not going to make or break anything healthwise.  If I only had the babies, I would continue to pump.  But since I have older kids too, I decided to make the sacrifice for them.  I only have this year before Sophie starts school (tear!).  I am really looking forward to everything we'll be doing together this fall when Ryan starts back to school.  I also pumped exclusively for Sophie since she was born so early and never really learned to breastfeed.  I had to stop when she was 7 months old because I was pregnant with Sally (Breastfeeding can sometimes trigger pre-term labor, and the doctor wanted me to be super cautious since Sophie was born at 25 weeks.  Thankfully, Sally was full term and so were the twins!).  I wish I had some record of how many hours I have spent connected to the pump.  Crazy!

And finally, here is a typical day of theirs:

8:30 wake and eat (8 oz. bottle)

10 or 10:30 nap (sometimes they eat some solid food too before this nap)

12pm wake and eat (8 oz. bottle)

2pm solid food

2:30pm nap

4:30pm wake and eat (8 oz. bottle)

6pm solids

7:30 pm eat (8 oz. bottle)

8 or 8:30 bedtime

Next post for them will be when they turn ONE!  I can't believe it.  I am getting teary about them growing up much more than I did with the first two girls.  They are our last babies.  Sad!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Parenting is hard. Period.

It seems like, when people think of having twins, they think, "It must be twice as hard as one baby, right?"  And in a way, yes, it is twice as hard.  Twice as many bottles, feedings, outfits, carseats, baths, etc.  Two babies are certainly more work than one.  However, I have sensed MUCH more compassion from the general public about what a "trooper" I am and how hard I must work when I am out and about with the twins than when I was a mom of two young children who were only a year apart.  Having two young children just seems much more commonplace, I guess. 

Ever since I had Sally, I wondered to myself, "Would it be easier if they were twins?"  I mean, at least twins are doing the same types of things throughout the day.  But when I wondered that aloud, people generally seemed to think that twins would be harder.  Fast forward 3 years later and, lo and behold, I am pregnant with twins!  Who else could be an expert on this subject than someone who has two kids very close in age (13 months) AND a set of twins.  So, now that the twins have been around for 9 months and are officially mobile, here is my take:

First of all, I have come to realize that there is no definitive answer to my question.  What is hard for one mom might be easy for another.  A mother of triplets might find herself less stressed than a mother of a single baby, depending on the babies and the circumstances.   It all depends on a few things, in my opinion:

Things that make it hard:

-Babies who do not sleep well/sleep through the night by 6 months

Sophie did sleep through the night around 3 months, but Sally didn't until 14 months or so.  I always felt tired.

The twins have slept through the night (at the same time) since around 4 months.  I am SO thankful for this.

-Being a new mom

When you are a new mom, figuring it all out takes trial and error and time.  There is so much to learn and you are always second guessing yourself.  Even though I felt a little more confident as a mom with Sally, I was new to having more than one child to care for at a time.  This was very stressful to me.  I wanted to meet all of their needs perfectly, just like I had with Sophie.  Whatever she needed me to do to help her sleep well, eat well, play happily, I could do.  When there were two, sometimes I couldn't do it all when they needed.

Once the twins came, I felt very confident and had an idea of what I needed to do to be successful at breastfeeding, getting the babies on a predictable routine, and basically multi-tasking all day long.  I knew what it felt like to be so so tired and still have to function.  There was no surprise or shock to it all.  I also didn't feel the level of panic that I had with the first two when the babies were crying or needing something and I couldn't solve the problem right away.

-Having small children/babies who are on completely different schedules

When S and S were little, their naps hardly ever coincided.  If one was sleeping, I was feeding the other one.  When Sally was born, Sophie was still taking a bottle and had hardly started eating much solid food (and was SLOW to transition to table food).  I felt like I never got a break from baby care. 

The twins are on the same schedule and have been since pretty soon after they were born.  I do still have S and S to take care of, but the kinds of needs they have are different from the babies, so I do get a break from all the diapers, bottles, consoling, etc.  I don't ever really get a true break from childcare in general unless someone else is around to help, but by now, it just seems like second nature.

Things that make it easier:

-Having lots of help/support

I always had plenty of help and support after each childbirth for the first little while, but, as is normal, family and friends weren't around as much once the babies got a little older.  I didn't expect them to be, but I still would have appreciated the help (who wouldn't?).

With the twins, my mom came for literally MONTHS before the twins were here and helped me with lots of household projects.  She also stayed for 2 weeks after they were born to help.  It was awesome.  Then, after she left, Ryan had lots of paternity leave.  Once he was back at school, my friend Sarah came 2 days a week to help me all day.  I am beyond blessed to have all of this help and support.  It has made my life dramatically better than it would have been.  Sarah only recently stopped coming on a regular basis, so I had months and months of time where I consistently had another adult around during the day to talk to and to help me with everything at home.  Biggest blessing and gift of someone's time that I have ever received.


Now that I have four kids, and now that I have walked through the baby stage (almost) 3 times with 4 sweet girls, I can really appreciate things in a way I wasn't able to when S and S were little.  Things that used to seem difficult to me now seem like no big deal.  I can treasure the baby things so much more easily than I could before because I know how quickly they will grow.  I still get stressed out--often.  But I can get over it quickly and not let it ruin my day.  One thing that helps my worry and stress is to just remind myself that they belong to the Lord and that He loves them more than I do. 

If you have not been able to deduce the answer so far, then I will tell you:  In my experience, it was a lot harder to have 2 young kids than it is to have twins.  Granted, the twins have been really "good" babies so far, so that has certainly helped.  Sophie was a great baby though, and I still felt so much more stress on a day to day basis than I do with the twins.  So if you ever see a mom with twins and think, "How does she do it?"  Don't worry, she might have it a lot easier than you think!  And on the flipside, if you know a mom who has two young ones, offer her the compassion and support that you would to a mom of twins!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Who, me?

Most of the time, I feel like sometimes my identity is so wrapped up in being a wife and mom, that it is hard for me to even think of myself apart from those titles.  I love being those things, but I sometimes think to myself, "What do I even enjoy doing other than just having a break from the daily routine of taking care of everyone?"  Because right now, I consider any alone time--be it anything from a relaxing spa treatment to a visit to my OB/GYN--something I enjoy! Haha!  Right now, I am finished pumping and I should go to bed, but I just feel like writing a post, and this one is going to be about me!  So, here are some random things about me that you may or may not know:

When I was little, I dreamed of being a veterinarian.  I LOVED animals, especially my dog.  These days, however, I am really not an animal person at all.  I get why people enjoy having pets, but I have NO interest whatsoever in getting a dog.  Ryan really would get one at the drop of a hat, but I am in no need of more responsibilities or messes to clean up.

I feel most loved by acts of service, especially if it is cleaning or cooking or something I would other wise have to do myself.

I believe that prayer is very powerful.  It was very instrumental in the change that took place in my heart shortly after I graduated from high school.  I pray a lot for people around me.  At work, at church, in my family.  Basically the hope of every prayer boils down to the same idea: that whoever I am praying for would know Jesus' love for them and that their life would have new hope and meaning because of that revelation.  And that any difficulty they may be experiencing would somehow draw them closer to Jesus.

Every time I go online to routinely check our bank account, I get really nervous until I see the balance pop up because I am scared that someone has stolen our identity/money.  Weird, I know.

I wish there were some way to go back in time and tell myself when I was feeling overwhelmed by taking care of one or two (or none!) children that LIFE IS NOT AS HARD AS YOU THINK!  I stressed over silly things and had way more free time than I realized.  Why is it that you can't appreciate these times fully until they are already over?  My feelings back then were legitimate, certainly, but I just wish I could have taken myself for a walk in my current life situation for a little bit to gain some perspective.
The number one thing I am learning how to do (or, better put, learning that I DON'T know how to do) is to admit that I am wrong without having to give some kind of defense or reason for why I did it.  Our church pastor has really challenged me in this area to re-think the way I view myself as a Christian.  I am no less in need of his grace today to save me and renew my selfish thinking than I was 12 years ago when I was recovering from addiction.  Somehow, I thought that since God had helped me change completely, that I had made it to a place where I didn't really need Him as much.  That is not true.  My heart is just as sinful today as it was then, just in more subtle ways.  The difference between my heart before Jesus and my heart after is that after, I was able to understand that he loved me, and His love gave me hope and the desire to love Him in return.  The focus tends to be so much on our behavior, when really, it starts with our heart.

I love to make friends and be a part of the lives of people around me.  It just feels natural for me to reach out to someone new at church or a mom hanging out at the park with her kids.  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed because there are so many people I know that I'd love to invest more time in, but with having 4 kids, a job, and wanting to spend time with my husband, there isn't enough time to form deep lasting friendships with everyone.  I still try to make the most of the time I have to do that though.

I am a homebody mostly.  I know some people feel energized by getting out and about during the day, but with four kids, getting out of the house is just exhausting to me!  I love to go do things by myself or with a friend.  And Sophie and Sally are getting old enough to where taking them out isn't as stressful (usually).

Even though our family is a size that I am MORE than happy with, as my babies grow up, a little part of me wants to have more babies forever just so we'll always have a little one around.  They are so sweet and precious. (No, we are not going to try to have more kids!)

I feel immensely blessed by my friend Sarah.  This past year she has helped me survive the transition from 2 to 4 kids by faithfully coming to our house twice a week, all day, for no pay just to help me out and be my friend.  She inspires me to serve others selflessly and to give back to others in the same way she has done for me.  Seriously, when she has kids and later on in life and as I am able to as I am older, I plan to help moms out just by going over to their houses and doing laundry, dishes, whatever to give them a break.  It means SO much to me, and I can't wait to be that blessing to others.  I mean, really, how many moms (unless they have paid help) can say they get that kind of break?  It just goes to show that God knows what I need far better than I do and that He blesses me beyond what I could even imagine.

Speaking of God's blessing, you may remember that health insurance and bills from my pregnancy were a concern when I first found out about my pregnancy with the twins.  Well, through the generosity of others, extra unexpected income and through MediShare (a Christian bill-sharing program), I am happy to report that we have paid almost all of our medical bills.  What a testament to God's faithfulness and provision.  Why did I ever even worry?

We have four children, but each pregnancy I have had has been completely unexpected.

I wish I were one of those people who just loved being pregnant.  Pregnancy for me was always a pretty miserable experience (especially my pregnancy with the twins).

I can be pretty lazy sometimes, but with odd things.  For example, I hate getting appliances out and having to clean them and put them back.  We have a food processor, but I NEVER use it unless I have to because I hate to clean it. 

My least favorite chore is laundry.  Completing it feels so much less gratifying to me than getting a room clean.  Maybe that is because laundry can hide out in the laundry room and I don't have to see it pile up.  Oh, and the part of laundry that I am worst at completing is putting it away (right, Sarah!?).

People always say that I seem so easy going, relaxed, and peaceful, but I can get really upset and argumentative with Ryan.  One time (fairly recently), I got so angry I dumped a cup of water on him.  Not my best moment :\  In fact, both of us are very strong-willed and stubborn.

I love having kids, but they do put a strain on mine and Ryan's relationship sometimes.  We agree about the end goal of childrearing, but sometimes our parenting styles are not exactly the same.  It is hard to find a middle ground when there is something we both feel strongly about, only in opposing sides.

Of anything, I worry the most about my children's well-being as they grow older.  Physically, spiritually, emotionally.  I have to remind myself that God is in control and that worrying will not help anything.  I remember times in my life growing up when I questioned my worth or when I bought into a lie about myself or life or God.  I am not sure why I didn't talk to my parents about those things.  Sometimes, it never even occurred to me that there was something to talk about.  I want my kids to talk to me though.  I know they won't always, but it is my prayer that they do as much as possible.

My favorite memories (other than of my children) are of my college days.  Ryan and I were dating, and life was simple and fun.  My relationship with the Lord was new and exciting, and I formed meaningful lasting friendships.  I love SMU and everything about my time there.

Well, if you read all of that, congratulations!  I know it was long.  It was just therapeutic for me to write all this down.  One day, I can read it and say, this was me at age 30!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

8 months old!

I probably say this with each passing month, but I really CAN'T BELIEVE the twins are 8 months old already!  In just four months, they will be turning one!  This is so sad to me in a way because I feel like, of all my children, the twins' "babyhood" has been passing the most quickly.  I have never been one to get very emotional about my kids growing up.  Each new stage has just seemed exciting and fun (and hard, in a lot of ways too!).  But with these babies, the next stage is no longer as mysterious since I know more what to expect.  I just love this sweet innocent time and want them to stay here forever!  I also know that as babies grow, the independence they gain through potty training, eating on their own, learning to communicate, etc. (all things I could NOT wait for when the older two were babies) is really not as great as I had thought it would be in my mind.  I mean, yes, some things are nice, but now that they can feed themselves, I pour just as much energy into telling them to: stay seated, eat their food and not play with it, don't get up and play until you are done, don't smash your sandwich up all over the table!, etc.  And don't even get me started on potty training.  That was just a year long nightmare.  Oh my goodness.  There was just no logic to why they did what they did.  It was like they were trying to make me go crazy.  And now that they can talk and communicate well what they want, need, etc., they can ALSO argue, speak disrespectfully, completely defy us, and whine incessantly.  So, you folks with babies who dream of the days of toddlerhood, believe me when I tell you that you only continue to trade the current difficulties you have for different ones as your child gets older.  I don't mean to be entirely negative though.  Sophie and Sally are SUCH a joy, and watching them grow and have their own distinct personalities, likes, and dislikes has been so rewarding.

Well, at eight months old the twins:

-have teeth!  Elise got one first.  Now they both have two on the bottom.

-still don't crawl, but seem to be heading in that direction.  Especially Erin who gets up on her hands and knees sometimes.  Elise still is less of a fan of being on her tummy.  They do scoot backwards really well when on their tummies and never stay in the same place that they are left.

-sit very well unassisted.  We still put boppies behind them for the occasional loss of balance.

-continue to sleep through the night.  They sleep from 8pm-8am.  Yes!

-babble lots of precious sounds.  I think they have started saying mama when they are crying sometimes.  Still hard to be sure completely, but I think it is what I am hearing.

-have started to take toys from each other and get upset when they don't have a toy they were wanting.  It is so cute.  This is the only age when fighting over toys is cute.

-eat solids twice a day.  I am doing less purees than I did with S and S at this age.  I am not in such a hurry for them to transition to more solids.  Also, I am letting them experiment more with non-pureed soft foods in hopes that they will be able to do more finger foods sooner.  They had a hard time at first with things like banana pieces, avocado pieces, dissolvable crackers, and little pieces of bread, but now they are doing really well with them.

-take an 8 oz. bottle 4 times a day

-continue to have their own little personalities.  Erin is more vocal, a toy hog, and more mobile.  Elise is still so chill and relaxed.  She also seems very sensitive and is startled/scared easily.  She has this horrible heartbreaking cry when she actually does cry about something.  It just makes me so sad!  She sounds so desperate.  I can never ignore her when she is crying like that.  There is a difference between that cry and the slightly fussy cry she has on occasion when she goes down for a nap or to bed at night.

-are such great babies!  I really have no complaints at all.

For those of you who are interested, here is our current routine:

8am wake

8:30am eat 8 oz. breastmilk

10am nap

12pm wake and eat 8 oz. breastmilk

1:30pm eat solids

2pm nap

4pm wake and eat 8 oz. breastmilk

5:30 or 6pm eat solids

7-7:30 pm eat 8 oz. breastmilk

8pm bed

Here is just one picture of them, but I plan to upload more soon for a picture post.  Sally wanted to be included :)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

6 month old beauties

The sweet babes are already half a year old (I am a little late to post), and are more fun with each passing day.  Their unique personalities are starting to become more evident, which is so much fun!  It is neat to have twins in that you get to see those little differences a little more amplified as you watch how their sibling compares.  It is hard to know if your baby is really laid back, fussy, happy, playful, etc. moreso than any average baby if you don't have one to compare it to. 

Elise is definitely our laid back easy baby.  Really both the girls are really easy babies.  I don't know if it is because we are getting better at knowing what babies need or if they are just awesome.  Probably a combination of both.  When the babies wake up, Erin is almost always the one to sound the alarm.  It is like she cries on both their behalf, and Elise just waits patiently, knowing we will come.  If Elise wakes up first, she will just lay quietly and play for a bit before she starts to get vocal.  Elise is usually just happy to be alive, and doesn't demand much attention.  As long as someone is near her, she is content.  They spend a lot of time sitting on their blanket just playing (with some boppy support in case they fall back), and Elise will just sit and play forever.  Erin usually starts to cry at some point and wants to be picked up.  I try to make sure I hold them both the same amount of time, but Erin probably gets held more just because she cries more often.  Erin seems more active and playful in general than Elise.  She was the first one to really take interest in toys and grab them and shake them.   She was also the first to master spoon feeding.  Elise just wasn't in a hurry to figure it out.  Actually, last night was the first time that Elise really ate well from a spoon.  They both laugh and smile a lot.  The pediatrician said that usually by now they are starting to say consonant sounds and babble, but we haven't heard much more than shrieking, squawking, laughing or grunting yet.  They can roll over from front to back, but not back to front yet.  They spend more time sitting than on their tummies, so I guess that is why.They are great sleepers, and rarely wake up at night (10-12 hrs usually).  They are now in their own room, which helps that a lot, I think.  They sleep in separate beds, and are no longer in the rock n plays.  They are getting to be such chunky babies.  Elise, at 17.8 lbs is 80th percentile for weight and 36th for height.  Erin, at 17.6 lbs is 77th percentile for weight and 55th for height.  I think the height was mismeasured a bit though because Elise's head wasn't touching the top as well as Erin's.  They LOVE their jumping seats, and have really learned how to use their legs to go up and down.  Elise especially loves to jump, and she will just go at it endlessly it seems.  They also love the car, and when we drove down to Dallas over spring break, they hardly made a peep!  Even if they are hungry, they will wait it out much longer if we are driving.  This was helpful when we were 45 minutes away and it was time for them to eat.  I didn't know if they would let us go the whole way, but they did!  We drove down one day and back the next, so I am thankful they are so cooperative. 

Their schedule is in somewhat of a transition as we are trying to go down to 4 feeding times a day, rather than five.  Now that they are starting to eat solids, it seems like that last feeding is just a little snack that keeps us up later than necessary.  I am still exclusively pumping except for breastfeeding them individually first thing in the morning.  Elise has lately started to not want to breastfeed at all, which makes me kinda sad.  It is also less convenient because I can't just lay in bed and feed them for a while before getting up to pump.   

So, here is the old schedule:

8am wake and eat (7-8 oz.)

9:30am nap

11:30 am wake and eat (7-8 oz.)

12:30 pm nap

2:30 pm wake and eat (7-8 oz.)

5:30 pm eat (7-8 oz.)

6:30-8ish nap

8:30 or 9 eat (4-8 oz., depending)

In bed for the night between 9:30 and 10:30, just depends on the night

Here is their new schedule (still a mix of both right now)

8am wake and eat (8 oz.)

10am nap

12pm wake and eat (8 oz.)

2 pm nap

4 pm wake and eat (8 oz.)

5:30 or 6 pm catnap (maybe)

7 or 7:30 pm wake and eat  (8 oz. milk and also feeding them solids after they eat their milk)

In bed for the night between 8:30 and 9:30

I will probably incorporate more solids into their eating routine as they become more skilled eaters.  Right now, I am just doing rice cereal at night and trying the fruits and veggies during the day.

I just LOVE taking care of these sweet babies.  I never used to be such a baby person, but boy do I love 'em now.  I just wanna bottle up their sweetness and innocence so I can remember it when they get bigger and start acting crazy like their big sisters (S and S are super sweet, but just pretty challenging right now).  It will be so fun (maybe not!) when they start crawling around and are able to have a little independence. 


Thursday, March 13, 2014

budgeting for our family of six

The last time I wrote a blog post about budgeting was in 2012, shortly after Sally turned 1.  You can read about it here.  Frankly, I am amazed when I go back and read it that I was able to follow that budget.  It is VERY minimal.  I have to remind myself, though, that things have changed since then.  Now Sophie and Sally are 3 and 4, and they are eating way more than they did back then.  Also, we have made some changes in the kinds of food we buy.  We don't buy everything organic, but there are several things we buy a lot of now (organic) that we didn't used to buy.  We also have purchased a van since then (to fit our big family in!), so our budget now includes that car payment.  It also seems that there are just more random expenses these days, particularly medical ones. 

After the twins were born (and even a few months prior to), I was so overwhelmed by taking care of everyone that I stopped paying attention to our budget very closely.  I mean, I didn't spend crazy amounts of money or anything, but there was already enough stress in my life that I felt like I just needed to give myself a break and not worry about it for a little bit.  Well, now the twins are 6 months old and I am realizing I really need to get back on track.    I did learn from our old budget that, even then, $300 a month on groceries was pretty tight.  That was supposed to include other toiletry and paper product items, diapers, etc.  (We use cloth mostly, but still buy some disposables).  So, my new budget is going to put more money in that category.  Also, since I had things trimmed down so much, every time there was some unexpected expense or if we needed to get a babysitter, I would get so stressed out that we weren't "staying in the budget."  This time, I am going to create a few more categories so that we can accommodate normal expenses that are just going to happen.  Then, if we are under budget at all, I can use that money in other categories that are over the monthly norm.

The grocery category is the one I feel I have the most control over, but it is hard to keep it low!  I recently found a blog whose author claims to feed her family of 5 on $300 a month.  She even listed her expenses and meals for a month to show how they do it.  For one thing, they eat a lot of pancakes.  For another, I don't see tons of fruits and vegetables, which are really important to me to eat, even if it costs a little more.  She did have some good ideas though.  Some of them that I want to implement are:
-not eating boxed cereal for breakfast anymore (instead -- oatmeal, pancakes, homemade muffins)
-making more homemade breads, muffins, tortillas, etc. instead of buying them
-making more vegetarian meals/ using more lentils/beans as a source of protein
-not buying crackers, cookies, processed carbs in general
-buying more produce that is in season/on sale and utilizing our local farmer's market

So, these are my new monthly budget goals

Groceries and toiletries $450
Eating out: $40
Random: $200
Entertainment and babysitting: $50
Medical: $150
Gifts and Home Improvement: $75

Hoping this new budget will help us keep spending in line without causing me to fret over every last penny we spend!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Picture Post

all of us Lungwitz girls

Fun time tummy time!

Snow day!  This is their first real snowman they made.  They were so cute finding things to decorate it with.

sweet sisters!

The babies are learning to sit up now!  Erin is a lot stronger than Elise right now (on right).

Friday, January 24, 2014

Erin and Elise turn 4 months old

The babies are so so sweet these days!  They are just full of smiles and laughter.  Our favorite thing to do is to sit and look at them and laugh "back and forth" with them.  If you make a fake laugh, they will laugh back, and it gets louder and stronger until it is a full out belly laugh.  They love to sit and look at each other too.  They spend a lot of time in the jenny jump up or exersaucer when awake. They both drool a lot and are starting to gum things. Both are great tummy to back rollers, and they (esp Erin) try really hard to roll from back to front if you start to help them out a little.  Elise weighs 15 lb. 6 oz (82nd %ile) and is 24.5 inches long (55th %ile).  Erin weighs 15 lb. 3 oz. (79th %ile) and is 24.75 inches long (65th %ile). This is their routine on a daily basis (times are definitely not set in stone):

Between 7am and 8am: Feed them one at a time in bed with me (breastfed--the rest of the day is pumped milk in a bottle).  They hardly even wake up for this feed.

10am Wake and eat

11:30-1 naptime

1:00pm eat (they eat 6-7 oz. each feed)

2:30-4 naptime

4pm eat

 4-6pm awake time

6-7pm nap

7pm eat

Between 9 and 10 pm: Eat again.  Sometimes they take a little cat nap again before this feeding.  And the naps earlier in the day can last up to 3 hrs. sometimes, but not consistently

Between 10pm and 11pm: Asleep for the night (They have only woken up randomly maybe a handful of times at night where I had to feed them during month 3, which I attribute to a growth spurt.  Usually if they do wake up, a pacifier puts them back to sleep).

I am now almost exclusively pumping, which isn't what I had hoped for, but I guess it has its benefits too (being able to have others feed them, ease of feeding both in public places at the same time, etc.) It does take up a lot of my time though since I pump prior to each feeding for 20-30 minutes.  So far, my supply is still great, for which I am thankful.  Ryan complains that all I do is pump, and I feel the same way.  It does give me the opportunity to sit and relax for a bit though!

I feel like I spend more time caring for the babies than for the older girls (which is natural, given that they are babies), but it makes me feel like I am neglecting the older girls.  If I do spend time with the older girls, then I am inevitably neglecting cooking or cleaning, which are also important for survival!  I know everyone says to not worry about cleaning and just enjoy your kids, but realistically, you can only do that to a certain extent or else you might find yourself on an episode of Hoarders.

If you remember my post about what my day looks like, it has smoothed out a lot since them.  Things feel less anxiety-inducing (for the most part).  I have learned to multitask a little better to meet everyone's needs at once, and the babies eating/sleeping is a lot more predictable than it used to be.  Ryan and I feel overwhelmed a lot by the piling up of responsibilities around the house, but I guess that is just our season of life right now.  My dear friend Sarah helps alleviate that load on a weekly basis.  She has been the greatest gift to our family.  She comes on Mondays and Wednesdays for the better part of the day and helps with anything and everything.  All out of the love of her heart!  She also keeps me from going crazy by providing me with friendship and fellowship during the week when I would otherwise be with children only.  Things are hard sometimes, but I have to remind myself to look around and be thankful for all the wonderful blessings around me.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy Birthday to Sophie and Sally!

On December 2nd, Sophie turned four, and on the 28th, Sally turned 3!  The are so big and sweet.  They have become such wonderful big sisters to Erin and Elise.  They love to talk to them, entertain them, bring them things and help me in little ways too.

Sophie at age 4

Sophie is sweet sweet sweet.  She is wearing one of my dresses from when I was little in this picture.  She has a very gentle and quiet disposition.  She loves to do calm quiet activities, and is super easy to have around if she is by herself (otherwise the screaming and fighting may ensue).  She still is a big reader, and her favorite thing to do is to have us read her a book and then immediately read it back to herself on her own.  She is great at communicating with us, but sometimes chooses not to if her emotions are running high.  She sometimes will just cry and cry without wanting to explain what is wrong.  As far as potty training, she is fully trained!  However, sometimes at naptime, she will randomly go #2 in her panties and come tell us.  I can't figure it out, because a lot of time she will actually use the potty without any problem.  She will be starting preschool next week which I think will be great for her.  She is still a little hesitant in social settings and doesn't speak up much (very different from Sally!), so I think this new environment will help her spread her wings a bit.  She will go on Monday and Wednesdays from 8-11:30.  We are very blessed to have access to FREE preschool through Ryan's school district since he is a teacher.  Even though she is four, she still loves her mommy and daddy and will take you up on any offer to cuddle with her.  She is not very independent, and prefers to have us do things for her or help her whenever we are willing.  She has recently taken an interest in all things Jesus/God.  She has lots of questions and sometimes it is hard to give her answers she can understand.  One day she asked if she could go see Jesus, and I told her yes, one day, in heaven after we die.  She then asked, "How do I dive mom?  I want to dive and go see Jesus!"  She loves to read her "Jesus book," which is just a children's Bible.  When my sister was talking to her one day about Jesus, Sophie told my sister, "Jesus is a book."  She is actually sort of right when you think about the Word made flesh!  I am just amazed at Sophie when I look at how far she has come.  Sometimes we forget that she had such a rough start and that it is truly a miracle she is even here!  And doing so well at that!  I was reminded of that miracle the other day when I heard of a couple whose baby was born at 25 weeks, weighing 1 lb. 7 oz., but did not survive.  That is almost the exact same place we found ourselves with Sophie, 25 weeks and 1 lb. 12 oz.  What a blessing that God has allowed Sophie to be a part of our lives!

Sally at age 3
Sally looks just as old or older than Sophie to me in this picture!  Actually, when we are out, people often ask if we have two sets of twins just because S and S look so close in age.  Sally has a bigger than life personality.  She is always on the go and comes up with the cutest things to say.  She loves to introduce herself to strangers and usually proceeds to tell them about something she is wearing as well as introduce her baby sisters.  The other day she said to someone, "They're Erin and Elise, and their my sisters.  They're gonna be best friends!"  She is so outgoing and will make friends with anyone she meets.  She always remember other kids' names really well too.  We met a little girl named Riley over Christmas, and she STILL asks to go see her again even though they only spent a few hours together.  She is very independent and insists on doing everything on her own without any sort of assistance.  She throws fits a lot, and it seems like the smallest things can set her off.  She is very sensitive when people other than Ryan or I reprimand her, and usually runs off crying to find a hiding place if this happens.  She is very affectionate and sweet with all of us.  No one can ever leave the house without getting a hug and kiss from Sally or she has a meltdown.  She loves to play with Sophie, and lately they have been getting along better than they used to.  The other day, she melted my heart when she asked me to play with her.  She followed the question with, "because, you can play with us too mom because you're my best friend too!"  How can you say no to that!?  She is a challenge because she is so strong-willed and defiant, but more than anything she is a bundle of joy and laughter!