Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Surprise Me, God Update

I just had the best surprise of all!  It's the miracle we've been praying for!  It's the end-all, be-all, gotta-have-it, elusise FULL NIGHT OF SLEEP!

I'm not kidding you.  I know, I've said the boys are sleeping through the night before.  But I was stretching it; it just FELT like they were sleeping through the night because I wasn't nursing them.  Last time I told you I was sleeping through the night we were getting up 3-5 times a night to replace a lost binky. 

So I thought that was pretty good.  Then last wek we had a, hm, how do I say this without swearing?  Really POOPY week of sleep.  It was insane: binkies at 1 am, 1:30am, 2am, that "I'm starving you idiot!  Feed me!" cry at 2:15 am, then the other baby started his binky campaign at 4am.  Rocking, burping, feeding...ugh, we just finished this part of newborn-hood!

Then last night, we all slept in our own beds at our own house. 

 For the first night in over a year, I slept for 8 hours STRAIGHT.  The boys are still sleeping, clocking in at 11.5 hours as I write.

Peace be still.


Amen and amen.

What a glorious, fabulous, miraculous surprise.  Thank you, God!

(Yes, I checked on them and they are still breathing!)

Nathan's pumpkin-butt in the air.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cute Cousins

Evan with Matthew, Seth with Nathan

"Can I hug Baby Nathan goodnight?"  My nephew Seth asked from the doorway.

"Of course!" I crouched down with Nathan in my arms so he could reach for a hug.  Seth then wanted to hug Baby Matthew, so Steve did the same.  He gave us each a hug as well then went to sleep himself.

"Happy Birthday Aunt Kim," he'd printed in his best penmanship, next to a purple cake with 4 candles and "32" drawn on its side.  Beside it was another card with a pumpkin-esque drawing from Evan.  They'd bought me a caramel-nut apple from Bayne's, but just to make sure I knew it was mine, Seth had added a note, "for you --->(that's an arrow!)"  He's really good at this spelling thing!

This morning, my mom was fixing Seth's breakfast as I heard him ask, "Is Baby Matthew sleeping?"  He wanted to say goodbye to him before leaving for school.  Matthew was stirring, so I took him to the living room and set Seth up to hold him. 

"Baby Mat-chew!  Baby Mat-chew!"  two -year-old Evan sqealed as he rounded the corner.  "Where Baby Nay-tan?"

After Seth and Mom left for first grade and work, Steve and I were alone with our boys and Evan for the day.  Very rarely do we get an opportunity to spend time with our nephews like this, so we agreed to watch Evan while his parents celebrate their anniversary today.  (Happy Fifth Anniversary, Megan and Daniel!)  The boys were playing while Steve and I fixed our own breakfast and started laundry, when I heard Evan talking.  Peeking around the corner, I saw Evan "reading" Baby Beluga to Matthew, who was lying on the play mat!!

My nephews just adore Matthew and Nathan, which makes my heart happy because I know that Megan and Daniel have been teaching them who we are, despite the fact that we live hundreds of miles away.  They can even tell the difference between the boys (Matthew has More hair, Nathan has None, Seth says)!  We call and we skype to keep in touch, but there is nothing sweeter than the precious moments we've had with the cousins this weekend.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Life is good.

"I am an optimist.  It does not seem too much use being anything else."  Winston Churchill

I've been blogging to share our family's joy over the birth of Matthew and Nathan.  I've been blogging to share my own joy in the face of all the sadness reported in this world.  I've been blogging to prove to myself that LIFE IS GOOD.

The boys went down for their nap this morning and I started my new little routine: check my email, check my facebook, check my blogger dashboard.  On facebook today I read that my former colleagues are grieving: one of their students passed away after his second two-year battle with cancer.  My heart is sad for the family, as well as my friends who grieve.  I never taught this student, but I know he touched many lives fighting valiantly.   

I checked my blogger dashboard next, where I can read any updates of blogs that I follow.  I only follow a few, but I learned today that an old friend has been fighting for the lives of his leading ladies: both his mother and his wife have been fighting breast cancer in just the last two years. 

My dear friend A's mother is also fighting breast cancer as I write - for the second time in her life.  My own father has beaten prostate cancer.  My husband only knew his grandmother for 8 years because she passed away after her own fight against cancer.

That's not to mention the non-cancer issues so many others face right now.  We have dear friends in their twenties who are battling Crohn's disease and melanoma.  A fellow multiples-mom lost one of her babies in utero three weeks ago and is bravely facing three more difficult months of pregnancy in order to give birth to baby R.

I didn't even mention my husband's near-death experience last month, when he had emergency surgery to correct a bowel obstruction just 4 hours from bursting and becoming septic. 

Why do I list all of the troubles my friends and family are facing?   I don't usually sit and think about all the negative things in my life.  In fact, I try to do just the opposite: to be optimistic.  So when I found Winston Chruchill's quote this morning, I knew that was the one.  He's right; it does not seem to do much good being anything else.  But ignoring it won't make it go away, either.

We need to remember that we serve a loving and compassionate God, who heals all of our diseases and infirmities, who takes our sorrows as far as the east is from the west, who turns our joy into dancing.  We don't always understand His ways, but we still must trust that He will watch over us, take care of us, and give us burdens no heavier than we can bear.

Because when we least expect it, He makes life very, very good.

Matthew and Mom, Grandma, Great-Grandma, Nathan with Great-Great-Grandma on her 95th birthday.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mountain Thunder Coffee

Burnt toast.  The odor fills one's nose the same way that the delicious aroma of freshly brewed coffee beans does.  I smelled my dad's burnt toast this morning before I opened my eyes, which made me think of COFFEE!

OH, how I miss my coffee!  I'm in coffee pergatory right now, waiting, waiting, WAITING for the day I can drink of God's most wonderful creation.  I believe the promised land flowed with milk and coffee...who drinks milk and honey? Oh, but I do like sugar, so if they used honey instead I guess it could be milk and honey and coffee...but I digress. 

Why no coffee? you ask.    My children.  I now understand what sacrafice means!  I had to give it up in my 9th week of pregnancy when my stomach lurched while grinding beans one morning.  That was one very wicked day of caffiene withdrawl!  I got back on the wagon the day I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes five months later.  I decided that if I couldn't have sugar, I WAS going to have my coffee!  The last two months of the pregnancy was pretty rough, but I had coffee to make it all better.

THEN I delivered early.  Darn kids robbed me of three more weeks of coffee drinking! 

The boys were just a few weeks old and I was SO sleep deprived I could hardly believe it.  In fact, I remember thinking, THIS is why they use sleep deprivation as a form of torture!  Steve was making coffee.  Mmm, just thinking about grinding the beans now makes my mouth water.  I'll have just a bit, a teacup full instead of my Mountain Thunder coffee mug, I reasoned.   I sipped that teacup and made it last all morning...ah, heavenly.  How could something so wonderful POSSIBLY affect the babies?

Oh, we learned.  In a hurry we discovered why nursing moms (me, at least!) should NOT drink coffee.  Let's just say I'm OFF the wagon again, waiting in coffee pergatory for those pearly gates to open and let me in coffee paradise.

Where is coffee paradise?  It's at Mountain Thunder Coffee in Kona, Hawaii.  When you leave the sunny, warm Kona coast and drive about 30 minutes up the hill into the cooler, foggier coffee region, you discover coffee heaven.  I've had the privilege to visit twice and can't wait to return.

There's so much to learn about coffee there!  Did you know that when you buy a "Kona Blend" coffee that it's only 10% Kona beans and those are the lowest quality beans that plantation is allowed to sell?  I don't even buy it any more! 

Now don't get thinking I drink 100% Kona coffee all the time.  That would be like eating wedding cake every day!  (Not that I wouldn't like that, though.)  We buy a bag or two of Kona to bring home with us and brew it until it's gone.  We've learned you can't save it for special occasions because otherwise the beans dry out and then you've got a very expensive bag of dried up, tasteless beans.  Might as well be decaf then.

Isn't it funny how something so strange as the smell of burnt toast can remind you of something so fabulous as Mountain Thunder Coffee from your Hawaiin vacation?  Or is it just me?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Up Up and Away!

Midland Ballon Fest Sept.19

Our second family trip to Michigan is already better than our first one was!  We want our boys to be good travelers so that we can show them the world and spend time with our out-of-state families.  On the way to the airport, we coach them to be as cute as can be so as to dazzle the folks working at the security checkpoint - they didn't disappoint!  People are so amazed to see a couple traveling with infant twins, they don't mind as we unload the two carseats, two diaper-backpacks, shoes, wallet, cell phones, baby bottles, and a double stroller onto the x-ray belt because staff and passengers are occupied making ga-ga and goo-goo faces at the babies! 

It turns out that twins are more common than I ever imagained.  While checking our luggage at MSP, a woman at the check-in kiosk nearby said, "I'm a twin, too!"  and the customer service agent asked us, "Did you name them like I named my twins?  They're 15 now - Sharika and Shaniqua!"  Steve and I grin whenever we have to explain our babies' 'normal' names: Matthew and Nathan.  I guess that's just too boring for some folks.

Nathan is our little sleep machine, so whomever carries him in the Snugli has the easy ride.  Mr. I-can't-close-my-eyes-because-there's-stuff-to-look-at-Matthew rode in my carrier, so I was busy, busy, busy the whole flight!  He decided it was taking too long to get his bottle (it was about 5 minutes past baba time) and started fussing.  Since we had to wait for the plane to be at cruising altitude before the flight attendant could help warm the bottles, I tried giving it to him cold.  WRONG!  My seat mate and I had a huge laugh as Matthew oh-so-politely refused his cold milk, screwing up his face and crying as it poured out both sides of his mouth!  Fortunately, he was a father of two boys and thought this was a blast from the past.  Even better, the flight attendant came right then to warm up the babas.  Whew, close call!

But that's as bad as it's been so far this weekend.  After finishing his (warm) baba, Matthew turned on the charm and batted his loooong eyelashes at the woman across the aisle who was trying to get him to smile.
Now that they're bigger, stronger, and so expressive, it's a lot of fun taking them out in public.  We're learning to be gracious to people who take such a keen interest in them.  As we walk by, strangers smile, wave, coo and talk to them before even greeting us!  I suppose I might have done the same thing, marveling at infant twins.  I don't mind though.  People have been generally kind and helpful (or at least give us a wide berth!) when they see us coming. 

Our babies are becoming real Fly Guys!  Up, up, and away!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Track and Field

Wouldn't you know it, we're already raising a pair of athletes!  Today's tummy time turned into a track and field race! 
Matthew: Waa, waaa! (Mom, I'm so bored with just looking at Nathan during tummy time!)
Nathan: Wa (Me too)
Matthew: Waa, waa! (Let's race each other!  I know I can smoke Nathan in the belly crawl!)
Nathan: Wa (You're on)

We think Matthew is considering a major in communications.

So I set them up at one end of the blanket and placed the elephant at the other end, the finish line.  The elephant was chosen because Matthew was particularly fond of it this morning - he put it in his mouth, that's how I know.  We'd practiced the belly crawl yesterday and Matthew WAS very fast, so I lined them up, giving Nathan an extra inch.  Well, he's shorter, come on! 

Me: On your mark, get set, go! 

I placed one hand behind each pair of feet and instructed them to push off toward the elephant. 

Nathan: Ung, ung! (Ha, ha!)
Matthew chooses not to respond to the taunting and instead, stares out the sliding glass door.  I glance to see he's heard the kindergarten school bus stop outside our townhouse to pick up the afternoon students.  Strong powers of observation, Matthew!  In the meantime, Nathan glances behind him to see bro-bro dawdling at the starting chalk, so he takes a moment to spit up on the blanket. 

Me: Time out! 
I wipe up the spit up, hoping Matthew will see that Nathan has crossed half the blanket in just two minutes.
Me: Okay, go!

As you can see, we have one who is all talk and one who is all action!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I am Blessed

Steve's work schedule took him out of town tonight for the first time since July, so I was on my own for bedtime tonight.  Fortunately, my good friend A. came over so I had a hand with the bedtime routine.  Thanks, A!  The evening was nice and calm, I'm happy to report.  After our nightly stroll, warm baths and babas, the boys went down like champs.

Being alone in this quiet house tonight has got me thinking about how incredibly blessed I am.  I have good friends who will lend a hand on a moment's notice, like tonight.  My babies are healthy and happy as can be, sleeping like logs these days - nothing short a miracle for 16 week old twins!  And best of all, I have a devoted husband whom I love more every day.

Nathan and Matthew had their regular bedtime routine tonight, but I don't.  Even though we talked and said our bedtime prayers over the phone, like we always do when he's on the road, I'm missing Steve more than usual. He's been traveling for his work for over three years now, so I got used to him coming and going.  Now that I've had him home for most of the last four months, I've decided I like having him around. 

He's such a great dad!  My heart fills with pride when I see him bathing our sons or hear him singing lullabyes to them.  I nearly cried when he read Goodnight Moon to Nathan last night.  Sweet little Nathan's eyes closed a tiny bit more with every turn of the page until, at the very end, when Steve read, "Goodnight noises everywhere," he was asleep in his daddy's arms. 

Even though I'll go upstairs in a few minutes and do my teeth-brushing and face-washing routine alone tonight, I will fall asleep with thanksgiving in my heart for my many, many blessings.  
One of Nathan's first baths at home with Daddy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Double Doody

"It's Mommy's turn!"  I hear my husband singsong to the boys, kicking and playing happily in their bouncy chairs this morning.  Dang it, he's right.  I can smell the distinct baby-poop scent wafting my way.  I'd weaseled my may out of several poopy diapers over the weekend because "I do it all week - you can do it on the weekends!"  (Don't knock me - it's still working). 

Sniff, sniff..."Which one?" I ask.  They both smile and kick.  I choose Matthew.  It's time to change them out of their pj's anyway, so I lay out the blanket and haul over two sets of overalls, two diapers, and the wipes.  Matthew laughs and coos as I unfasten the diaper as if great fun is about to be had.  I reach to keep his left foot from crashing into his poo and jam my own finger into the small pile of rank, warm mush.  "Eww, Matthew, ewww!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I cry, as he kicks his right foot into the mess.  "Matthew, stop that!" I laugh.

Steve, of course, thinks this is totally hilarious, and takes this opportunity to remind me that HE had to change all the poopy diapers this weekend, so I deserve the mess Matthew is making.  ""Har, har," I retort.

Nathan, by the way, has been watching the scene lying alongside Matthew, quiet as can be.  Steve gloats in his victory of having chosen the clean baby. 

Great fun WAS had by all when he opened Nathan's diaper to find the biggest load of stinky baby doody he's created in weeks! 

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Surprise Me, God

When Pastor asked the congregation who liked surprises, I leaned over to my neighbor and whispered, "Are you kidding?  Surprises cost money!"  She was like-minded and added, "Surprise!  Your refrigerator broke on vacation and all your food spoiled!"  He then explained that insurance companies have conditioned us to believe that surprises are bad - unwelcome "Acts of God," such as tornadoes, fires, and floods.

Matthew's round blue eyes searched mine from behind his rounder, bluer Soothie pacifier.  Aren't Nathan and I God's best surprise ever? he seemed to ask.  I was immediately convicted. "Yes, you are," I whispered, and kissed the top of his warm baby head.

Pastor taught us today that God is a God of surprise, not God of the boring.  This is a lifelong lesson for us.  Steve and I continually ask each other when our lives will become "normal," because absolutely nothing about our lives seems to work out the way we think it "should."  God is always surprising us!
Because I cannot possibly recount all of His surprises, I'll just tell you about the biggest one of all.  You guessed it: the day we learned we were pregnant with twins.  The following is an excerpt from the scrapbook I created for the boys while I was pregnant:
November 3, 2008
"The Most Shocking Day of Our Lives"
You two have never known what it's like to not have a twin.  Before this day, the idea of being twins' parents had never crossed our minds!
We had a doctor's appointment in the morning.  It was supposed to be short and quick, so your dad and I both planned to go back to work afterward.  We expected the doctor to say, "Congratulations, you're pregnant," and we'd go back to work like normal.
On the ultrasound screen, we saw lots of black and white fuzzy stuff, but in the middle were two black ovals, each with a fuzzy, blinking center.  Having never been pregnant before, we didn't know that we were looking at TWO six-week-old embryos.  "It looks like there are two in there," the doctor said calmly.
I gasped and clapped my hand over my mouth in shock!  Your dad was silent, holding my hand and staring intently at the screen.  After years of waiting and praying, believing for one baby, it seemed unimaginable that God would bless us with two babies at once.  Your dad's sense of humor kicked in (and thank goodness!  I couldn't speak because I was crying tears of joy!) and he asked, "Are there any more?"
As expected, the appointment was quick and we were done, but neither of us wanted to go back to work.  I was so excited and disoriented that I got into your dad's car instead of mine.  In the parking lot, we laughed and hugged and kissed some more.  We prayed together in the car, thanking God for two miracles growing in my belly.  
Pastor has challenged the church to pray, "Surprise me, God," every day for 30 days.  I'm up for it.  He's proven himself faithful to us time and time again, "giving us more than we could ever ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20).  I wonder what kind of surprises he has in store for us this month?

(Stop snickering!  I know some of you out there are thinking I'll get another set of twins out of this!)
I'll let you know how it goes.

Become a Follower!

Please join my two devoted followers of aulds world!  When you visit the site, you'll see in the top right corner a "followers" area.  Click the "follow" button and you can join using your email account.  Add a photo of yourself (or your dog) to create a beautiful collage of all my friends and followers.  I'm brainstorming my next blog.  What do you want to hear about?  By the way, that's Matthew doing tummy time this week!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Baby Story

The boys are napping and I thought about turning on TLC's show, "A Baby Story" this morning while I worked on laundry and the kitchen, but I decided to write you OUR baby story instead.  It goes like this:

After two years of struggling to get pregnant, Steve and Kim learned that they were expecting twins.  This came as a shock to both of them, but they've spent the last few months preparing for the arrival of their fraternal twin boys.  It's Memorial Day weekend and Kim just had her 35 week checkup.  Both boys look healthy on the ultrasound and Kim's doctor has scheduled her C section for June 17, which is over 3 weeks away.

Conversation in the minivan (yes, we did buy a minivan!) on May 24th:
Kim: I'm so glad you came to visit me this weekend, Mom.  The boys look great at every ultrasound, so I'm sure I'll make it to June 17th.
Mom: That was a big contraction you had on Saturday, but you seem to be feeling better today.  You should pack your bag, just in case.
Kim: You're right, I should.  Maybe I'll work on that this week.
Conversation 10 hours later, at the Aulds' house:
Kim: Steve? I think my water broke...
Steve: What? Ok, did you call the doctor?
Kim: No.  I'll just call the hospital and see if we should go in.  It's too early.  Maybe I just peed myself. (Yes, I really said that!)
Kim searches for the phone number while Steve hurries to pack her a bag.  It's about 6:30 am when they climb into the minivan and chat about what a beautiful sunny Memorial Day morning it is...what if this is their sons' birthday?  By 7:30 am, Kim's been admitted and the nurses have confirmed that it's amniotic fluid, NOT urine, that she's leaking, and yes, today is the day.  It's no small miracle that her doctor is on call today and she is relieved!  He says the C section is scheduled for 9am, but would she like him to do an ultrasound to see if the breech baby has turned for a vaginal delivery?
Kim places her hand on her enormous belly to feel the baby's gigantic head pushing into her ribcage.  He's still breech.  "No, Dr. C., let's do the C section," she says, thereby avoiding her worst nightmare: one vaginal and one surgical birth!
Steve phones both grandmas-to-be to spread the word while Kim is prepped for surgery.  It is an agonizing few minutes for Kim as she waits for her husband to join her in the operating room.  Finally, Steve is allowed in and the surgery begins.  Steve holds Kim's hand and calms her fears while several blue-clad doctors and nurses work quickly on the other side of the curtain.
Minutes later, a baby cries and appears above their heads; a tiny arm, leg, and part of a head before he is whisked away.  One minute later, it happens again!  Steve kisses Kim through the tears and the mask, then snaps photos of their minutes-old sons.
Angry pink babies are crying, music to the new parents' ears.  They boys are bundled up and tight, Matthew is handed to Steve and a nurse holds Nathan close to Kim's face for her first baby snuggle.

 One month later...

Kim: The hardest part was leaving them in the NICU after I came home.  Because they were born premature, they had to stay there until they were strong enough to take their feedings orally.

Steve: Matthew was 7 days old and Nathan was 10 days old when they came home.  Even though it was difficult to have them in the NICU, we know that we're very blessed to have them home so soon.

Kim: We've had so much help the first few weeks...our families are such a wonderful blessing to us.  They've flown and driven out here to take shifts and be with take care of me and Steve, too!

Steve: They each have their own little personalities already.  Matthew is very serious about his meals and Nathan is more laid back and smiley.

This episode took place at United Hospital,  Children's Hospital in St. Paul, and Lakeville, MN. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My New Job

A lot can happen in 9 months, so I’ll summarize what’s happened since the last entry in Dec. 08:

  • January 09: Steve again gets assigned to audit Mexico several times while I shiver in the Minnesota winter, pregnant with twins. He tells me how ‘cold’ it is in Mexico on a day that was ten below zero in Lakeville!
  • February 09: We learn the twins are boys and start talking about names. Our families think we’re being coy calling them ‘Righty’ and ‘Lefty’ but the truth is, we just cannot agree on two boy names!
  • March 09: In the midst of my stay-at-home or put-them-in-daycare dilemma, I learn that my teaching position will be eliminated for the 09-10 school year, meaning I will be laid off. So, I take that as a divine sign that I am to stay at home with my future sons.
  • April 09: In my 30th week of pregnancy, I start my maternity leave and begin weekly doctor’s appointments for my gestational diabetes and babies’ ultrasounds.
  • June 09:

· June 1: We bring Matthew home.

· June 3: We celebrate Steve’s 29th birthday at home, happy because we know what tomorrow brings:

· June 4: Nathan comes home!

· June 15: We celebrate 7 years of marriage at home with a cake and reminiscing with our photo albums.

  • July 09: Reality sets in as we enter our 5th week of not sleeping: we are parents!
  • August 09: The boys are cleared to travel after their 2 month appointment, so we plan a trip to Michigan. I am to stay there with the boys at my mom’s for 2 weeks while Steve gets back into the swing of things with a business trip to Brazil. It’s not to be: STEVE HAS EMERGENCY SURGERY AUGUST 2 TO CORRECT A BOWEL OBSTRUCTION. We spent 2 ½ weeks in MI while he recovers from the surgery and he struggles with a bout of pancreatitis.

  • September 8, 2009. It’s my first ‘official’ day as a stay at home mom…my friends and colleagues returned to their classrooms today. I feel like I “should” be there with them, helping the 6th graders unlock their new lockers, reading students’ schedules and directing them to the correct room, trying in vain to memorize faces and names that I won’t learn until Thanksgiving, staying late to finalize lesson plans for the rest of the week because I didn’t actually finish them during workshop week last week…wow, I didn’t think I’d miss it.

However, I spent my day playing with my three month old sons, nursing them, rocking them, singing to them and reading to them. We took a ride to pick up a swing for a pregnant friend and stopped by the vegetable stand in Farmington for the best sweet corn I’ve ever tasted. The boys had a rolling over contest, which Nathan won 2-0! Go Nathan! Matthew has beaten him every time we’ve played, until today. Now they’ve fallen asleep to the thumping of the dryer, pushing their little tushies high into the air.

I ask myself, can life get any better than this?

Yes, it can.

Steve is going to grill salmon tonight to eat with the sweet corn, we’ll take the boys for a walk around the neighborhood and then begin our nightly bedtime routine: baths and babas. If it goes well, they’ll be down for the count around 8:30 and they will sleep through the night. Yes, it’s happening – they are sleeping through the night (more often than not)!

Then I get to do it all over again tomorrow.

God is so good to us, it’s indescribable!