Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Today: 13 Month Photo Shoot

I know I promised TN pics today, but this is so much funnier!  I decided to get a 13 month pic of the boys on our oversized armchair this morning because I wanted their Ferris U t-shirts immortalized (they won't fit much longer, Aunt L!).  So, here is how the photo shoot went.  Go ahead and laugh - it's hilarious!
Shot 1: ain't havin' it, Mom!
Shot 2: Is that the lawn guys we hear?
Shot 3: Mom breaks out the animal crackers for a distraction. Whassup, Nathan?
Shot 4: C is for cookie, yum,yum,yum!
Shot 5: Matthew cracks a smile; Nathan is very serious about eating this cookie as fast as possible!
Shot 6: Hi mom!  It's in, I want another!
Shot 7: See?  I'm ready for more!
Shot 8: Gettin' tired of this, Mom.  One cookie?  Seriously?
Shot 9: We're outta here!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tennessee: Bears and Fish

Last week's blogging absence was due to our family vacation to Gatlinburg, TN.  We met my parents, sister, brother-in-law and two nephews down there and spent the week hanging out and seeing the sights.  Because my husband and I completely lost our minds, due to flight complications, we drove from MN to TN, and due to vehicle complications, we took a Buick Lacrosse, the loaner car from the body shop.  I just mention it because you'll see it in the upcoming photos and because I think it's quite funny that we drove such an old man car, putting 2000 miles on someone else's vehicle! 

Okay, first things first.  We got there on Saturday and while we were driving up the mountain (yes, UP a MOUNTAIN) and into the drive, we saw a bear just steps away from the place we were staying.
Here he is, walking away from the car- that's the door handle behind the driver's seat you see!
He's hard to see because of the window glare, but he's behind our car, in between the boys!  (They were SO POOPED from the long drive, not to mention mom and dad.)  Our family friends (at whose house were were staying) had warned us of the bears and while we hoped to see one - way off in the distance - we didn't expect it to show up while we were pulling in on our first night!    We sat in the car, wondering if we should get out for several minutes.

Fish: Father's Day was Sunday, and the whole family spent it together at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.  It was quite an impressive aquarium, too - something you wouldn't expect to be found in a mountain town!  Kudos to my sister for coordinating the event!
Nathan and Steve get up close and personal with some fish
Matthew's turn! Both boys enjoyed being "inside" the cylindrical fish tank.
Then we took our little sugar bears back to our mountain house and grilled steaks on the deck with the family for our Father's Day dinner.  Happy Father's Day, Steve!

P.S. Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog: Tennessee:Dollywood and Dixie Stampede!
P.P.S. To my blog friend who requested traveling tips: don't drive from Minnesota to Tennessee.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Traveling Tips

I received a formspring question this week: "What are your tips on traveling with multiples?"  My boys are just 13 months, so I can only answer how we've done it with babes on an airplane.

1. Bring help!  Only once did I fly alone with the boys when they were tiny, and while I survived (read about it here), I do NOT recommend it.  I think I'll be able to try it again when they are old enough to obey directions to stay put - otherwise, I need another adult.

2. Strollers: if the babies are still in their carseats, take a snap-and-go type stroller that your carseats fit into.  We bought ours on Cragslist for $20 and schlepped it all over the world until it died (tribute blog here).  Now, when we fly, we take two umbrella strollers. We do that so we can fold down the strollers to go through the security screening machine at the airport (our uber-limo double stroller weighs 40lbs. and takes up the back of our van when folded).
Me, the boys, and the beloved Snap and Go in St. Maarten.

 The boys in their umbrella strollers we use now, visiting Dow Gardens.

3. Carseats: when we fly, we try to get each boy a seat and strap him in his carseat.  I did a LOT of research when we moved up from the Snugrides.  We decided on the Sunshine Kids Radian 65's, which are top-rated carseats that fold down and can be carried through an airport backpack-style. Even though we could hold the boys, and have, we don't like doing it - for safety AND sanity!
Hubby, Matthew, and our beloved Snugrides buckled into the seat.
We use the Sunshine Radians in the van every day, too.  They're bulky, but still easier to carry through the airport and get into an airplane seat than I believe other convertible carseats are.  I had to use the above photo because we don't take pics when we're sherpas at the airport!

4. Food: You are allowed to take bottles for each baby through security, so do it!  You just have to declare it before you go through security and they will open it up to test it - they just wave a "sniffing" wand over the milk.  We've also just taken formula through and mixed it up with bottled water and a hot cup of water for warming from a coffee shop on the other side of security.  Jarred baby food is okay, too- we took the plastic sealed tubs.  Now that they're older, we take a lot of snacks: puffs, cheerios, yogurt bites, goldfish, you name it!  

5. Sleeping arrangements: we've done it both ways - take the pack and plays and use hotel cribs.  Both worked fine, even though we once had a hotel staffer tell us that two cribs were a fire hazard.  We just asked a different staffer and got them.  Our boys have each had their own bed from day one, and we're just not willing to sacrifice sleep to experiment putting them in one together.  The room is pretty mushed, but it's worth it, especially when we have to sleep in there, too.
Crib with a view

Those are the ones that come to mind first.  What about you?  Anyone out there have tips for traveling with kids?  I could use some because as the fellas get older, they're tougher to entertain.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sixteen Little Monkeys

Jumping on the couch
One fell off 
And cried out, "OUCH!"

Okay, no one fell off the couch, and as far as I know, none of them can actually say, "ouch." 

Yes, there were 8 MVMOMs and 16 one-year-old twins in attendance at this week's play date!  The photo shoot lasted less than two minutes and this one had one escapee, and Mr. C. on the far left was leaving, too.  Matthew and Nathan were gems and stayed put on the floor where the couches come together, waiting for the other 14 kids to get their acts together.
They didn't.  That's our buddy, A, escaping into his mom's arms.

Hopefully someone got a shot with all the kids in it, but I didn't.  I was just glad that my two behaved themselves the entire two hours!  I think they're understanding that when they're good in public, I'm willing to take them places (or maybe I'm convincing myself).  They save their naughtiness for the car and at home.  That's okay by me.  Above, that's me and Matthew waving to the camera, surrounded by friends.
Here's Nathan and buddy G.  Nathan LOVED this shopping cart and played with it for about an hour.  He was even able to push it through the crowd of kids all by himself!  After this playdate, I realized that our toys are kind of babyish and spent yesterday afternoon taking out the baby stuff and pulling out the big-kid toys.  A kitchen or workbench type toy is on my list - I think I'm going to need it this fall and winter when we have to stay indoors.  They LOVED playing with it at this date!
 Here's your bonus pic: we actually had TWO playdates this week - here we are at E's house, who had put her boys' bouncy chair in the basement.  Guess who found it and surfed?  Matthew and Nathan spent about an hour doing this - you can see how much Matthew loved it!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Way Back Wednesday

In the spirit of celebrating our anniversary, I thought I'd post a couple more wedding pics.  We only have a few digital pics because we had a lousy digital camera back then and Steve's aunt made us a CD with snapshots she took (our photographer was old-style; we received negatives).  I know, I know...one can get them digitalized, but do you really think I'll do that?

I like this one because Steve's not looking at the camera, but is smiling - and it's a great shot of my awesome bouquet!

There are my two sisters fixing me up for the photos...it had rained that morning and I think they were making me stand on something to keep from sinking.

I love this one because I'm smiling, my sister Patti is holding my dress, my cousin Cassie (who's a college woman now!!!) is holding my train, and my other bridesmaid Krista is behind me seemingly talking to another wedding party! 

Here's the whole wedding party all lined up.  See how it turned into a gorgeous day?

It was the best day of my life and if I could do all over again, I would.  Thank you to our friends and family who have loved and supported our marriage from day one. We love you!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

8 Years Ago Today

My sweet, sweet hubby is guest-blogging today.  Enjoy!

Eight years ago today, we awoke to low clouds and rainy conditions and much like today, the clouds broke and the sun appeared and we had such an amazing wedding it still makes me smile. It was a wonderful start to a wonderful life that I share with my wife. Some of the things I also remember on that day.

- I remember waking up and saying to God, "if this is a dream, don't let me wake up."

- I had cereal for breakfast, much like I do every morning.

- My best man and best buddy picked me up at home to head for the church.

- I had hoped for a few moments to my self to pray before the wedding and actually had to ask all my friends for a second of privacy.

- Our Mom's looked beautiful.

- I was SO excited to see Kim come down the aisle and we did not see each other before.

- I was glad Kim gave me those white handkerchiefs, because when she did come down the aisle, I cried like crazy.

- Kim looked beautiful, I couldn't stop crying!!!!!

- Kim winked at me as she stood with her Dad.

- I sang to my wife.

- My Dad said a long, but very meaningful prayer.

- When our Pastor introduced as Mr and Mrs Aulds, I raised my hand and couldn't stop smiling.

- My Grandpa cried, I had never seen him do this prior to that day.

- The pictures at Dow Gardens were really fun, but it was very humid and difficult to stay cool in our suits.

- We had an amazing reception at SVSU, with a perfect sunset.

- Our party favors are still among the most unique I have seen. We took flavors of Jones Soda in our wedding colors and put our own pictures on the labels of fun moments we had shared together up to that point.

- Our cake was fantastic and there was very little left because we think the SVSU staff serving our reception ate much of it as the night wore on.

- Everyone danced, even people I never thought I would see.

- I couldn't stop holding my brides hand.

It was a wonderful day and the journey since then has been so adventurous.

I love my wife and I am thankful for eight years of marriage. Here is to 88 more.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rainy Day Update

We've had a rather boring and uneventful few days here since the boys have come down with the sniffles.  I had to miss a Bible study group, cancel a play date, my multiples' club annual family picnic was canceled due to rain and the boys and I missed church because I just don't feel comfortable putting 4 snotty nostrils in the nursery.  We were climbing the walls with rainy-weekend-and-sniffles boredom yesterday, so we managed to go for a long walk when the skies cleared and made a Target run.  Yep, Target...the highlight of our weekend.

That being said, it seems like the worst of it has passed since we all slept through the night last night (cue "Hallelujah!" chorus).  The boys were still pretty funny this weekend, though.  See this green Rubbermaid tub?

It's for toys.  A few days ago, their favorite game was to take all the toys out, and climb in and out of it incessantly.  Nathan looked like a caterpillar going in one side, out the other, turning around, and doing it again!  He did that until Matthew climbed in with him.  Sometimes they just sat there together, then they would start shoving until one got pushed out.

Now they're on to bigger and better things.  Wish I had a pic of it, but yesterday Nathan turned the tub upside down, pushed it over to the dining room chair, and used it as a stool to climb up there!  One second he was on the floor, next he was standing on the dining room chair!  Oh, dear, I REALLY have a couple of monkeys on my hands - smart ones, at that!

Matthew can open the screen door in the living room and let  himself out onto the balcony (and close the door behind him, too!), so now we have an enormous gate blocking off about half of the living room.  It's just gorgeous.

They also have figured out how to unroll the toilet paper and play in the toilet, so now the door is always shut - that was an easy fix.  But they will stand guard beside the door if you're in there, banging and laughing (or crying) and stick their fingers under it.  If you don't close the door, they will stand at your knees/unroll the paper, while you struggle to do your business.  I've learned to hold it until naptime.

The best part is that they've learned to hug and if you're sitting on the floor, will crawl over to you, pull themselves to standing, and snuggle their heads into your chest or shoulder.  So cute...then you see you've been slimed.  Which reminds me - I need to put some clothes in the dryer.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Stellar Day!

Despite this week's ominous beginning and subsequent disappointments, Thursday turned out to be a stellar day, not only because Daddy came home, but that:


Yes, that's right.  He's just 12 months old, and the 4th one is about to erupt like Mt. Vesuvius!  Yikes!


MATTHEW TOOK HIS FIRST REAL STEPS YESTERDAY!  It's blurry because he was moving so fast, but I assure you, no one is holding that other hand. 

Lots of stuff has gone wrong this week, but we're keeping a positive attitude and being rewarded with lots of baby smiles (some with 10 teeth!), hugs and steps. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Way Back Wednesday

One year ago today, the fellas were just two weeks old and had only been home a few days.  Here's what things looked like at our house about a year ago.
I love looking at the newborn photos and marveling at what incredibly curious and sweet boys they're becoming!  Today they're entertaining themselves by endlessly climbing in and out of a plastic toy bin, something that seemed unimaginable when these photos were taken. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Every Little Thing is Gonna Be Alright

I woke up to the sound of steady rain pattering outside my window.  The boys were, and are, still sleeping.  I think they've got a lot of sleep to catch up on from our jam-packed-fun-filled trip to MI last week, so I took a chance and made my coffee.  I just spent the last 20 minutes drinking coffee, listening to the cozy rain, and checking up on all my "real" and "virtual" friends.  By the way, it's the Dunkin' Donuts coffee I referred to in this blog entry and I must say, it's pretty darn good! 

After an auspicious start to the week, I think things are looking up.  Because doesn't it seem like the bad stuff always happens right before something really fabulous? 

I mean it.  Even when things were not looking good at the airport at 9 am on Sunday morning, I called a friend and she not only answered (gasp!) but was willing to drop everything to retrieve me and my irritable family.  Things went from bad to worse after that (in the van department) once the keys were found, so maybe they should have remained lost, but that's not my point.

My point is: no one was hurt but Unnamed Person's pride, the boys got a taste of what it's like to really travel with us, and I learned that my friends are true gems and really mean it when they say "call me for anything."

I hear my munchkins singing their little-birdie wake-up song now, so I've gotta wrap this up quick.  I'm on my second cup now, brainstorming a clever line to leave with you this morning, but all I've got is Scripture.

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Is not life more important than clothes?...Do not worry about tomorrow, for each day has enough trouble of its own." Officially in Matthew, paraphrased from my old brain.  While I'm trying to retrieve the verse, I hear Jason Mraz singing in the background of my brain, "Every little thing/is gonna be alright."

Okay, time to go get my munckin-birdies out of their cages.

Here's a parting pic: Daddy and the boys wearing Ferris State T's from Aunt L, celebrating his 30th with the fam last week.

See?  Everything WILL be alright!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Graduates, Bad Days and Target

Sounds like a bad joke, right?  What does a graduate do when she has a bad day?  She goes to Target! 

I should go into comedy, no?

Okay, the truth is those are the highlights of this weekend.

    • There's just one graduate - my sweet cousin R, who graduated from WHS, my alma mater (does that term apply to high school as well as college?) this weekend.  Congratulations for graduating with honors!  You're going to make a wonderful teacher!  I have to admit I'm really proud of her for choosing an education major.  And guess what?  That will make 4 of our grandparents' 8 grandchildren teachers!  What's really ironic, and something she might not know - the restaurant where her graduation party was held is the same place that Steve and I had our first date exactly 10 years ago TO THE DAY!  We were going to be all schmoopy and go sit in that booth and hold hands, but two little fellas kept us busy!
  • BAD DAY (Cliff Notes version)
    • Almost didn't make the flight after getting up at 5am 
    • Held two squirmy lap babies for over an hour (see above photo)
    • Lost van keys between luggage claim and van
    • Two angry, hungry, overtired babies gave mom a hard time at baggage claim
    • Found keys at lost and found
    • Unnamed Person got into an accident in the parking lot
    • Unnamed Person picked up mom and babies at baggage claim two hours after plane landed
    • Everyone but Vanna (our minivan) is okay.  She's going to the car doctor later this week to be fixed.  (Can anyone recommend a good body shop?)
    • Inspired by yesterday's events to make this a good week, and by my twin-mom-friend E, who said it can be done, I packed up the boys for a run to Target this evening.  I know what you're thinking - this girl flies all over the world with her babies and she's uptight about taking them to Target?  Germ-infested carts aside, I must confess that I EXTREMELY RARELY take both boys anywhere by myself if it's not baby-proofed.  Meaning, they go to E's house, the church nursery, and ECFE (baby school) with me alone.  I'm serious...but I digress.  Something that would take a normal person 10 minutes to do - run into the store to buy diapers and wipes, etc. - took the three of us about an hour.  But here's the proof!  It can be done!  They really seemed to enjoy looking around (People!  Lights!  Wow!), riding in the cart, and shaking baby puff containers.  Now that the diapers are re-stocked and my hope in this week has been restored, I'm certain I can do anything!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"i cant even believe you take care of these kids everyday by yourself!

1. Happy 30th Birthday to my wonderful husband!  Welcome to the club - glad to have you along, finally!  May this year be filled with more wonderful blessings and much love.

2. I confess, I took a few days off of blogging and LIFE.  Hubs and I took our first "vacation" since the boys were born.  I know, you're all like, HUH?, remembering our pics of Hawaii and St. Maartin last winter, but the truth is, we haven't had a vacation- just the two of us, WITHOUT him having to work for at least part of it, for 3 YEARS.  Yeah, I know!  Ludicrous.  So, we left the munchkins with their grandaparents and flew off to an undisclosed location for 3 FABULOUS nights.  What did we do?  Next to nothing!  Seriously, we took maybe a dozen pictures- 10 of the sunsets and two of us eating.  Because we just laid on the beach, ATE, and slept in. 
  • Those of you with twins know that you spend the first year of their life sleeping with one ear open.  I know I don't have much to complain about, since they've been sleeping through the night since they were 4 months old, but...I got to sleep in till 8:30!  Isn't that crazy?!  (Well, sort of crazy, since 8:30 EST is like 7:30 CST, which is only 30 minutes later than every day of my life, but you get what I'm saying.)  Because after that I got to take a shower without having to put the kids down for their morning nap first and eat my breakfast without having to cut it up into a million tiny pieces for the boys to share.  Heavenly!
  • The best part was when my 19 year-old brother-in-law texted me this: "i cant even believe you take care of these kids everyday by yourself! haha"  I haven't laughed so hard in months!  
3. Did I miss the boys?  Hm.  How do I say this kindly?  Well, I thought I would and I did call no more than twice a day to check on them.  They'd never been left behind before.  We talked about them a lot, but it was kind of like they were 4 or 5 and would have really enjoyed a beach trip.  For example:
  • We watched several families with kids playing on the beach, in the water, building sandcastles, collecting shells.  I would think (and say) that the boys would have so much fun doing these things.  Then I would laugh!  They're 12 months old!  They would eat the shells and sand!  Who am I kidding?
  • We'd see families with older kids (lots of them had 2 boys!) eating out.  I'd watch and think, isn't that cute?  Aren't they so well behaved?  Wait!  All those kids were texting, or playing handheld video games or watching a DVD.  Will I really sink to this level in a few years? 
4. When we (finally) got back last night, the boys were just fine, having been well-taken-care of by their grandparents, aunt and uncles.  I suspect they were fed marshmallows for dinner once, but no one's fessing up to it.  I know they missed me, though, because I put them down to bed - like normal, none of that grandma-rocking!- and this is what I hear, mournfully, through the monitor: "MaaaaaaMaaaaaa!  MaaaaaaaMaaaaa!  MAAAAAAMAAAAAA!"  Yep, my little mama's boy is crying out for me, (My little daddy's boy is already sound asleep!)  and I had to go give him some snuggles.

All in all, a wonderful trip, but I'm glad to be back "taking care of these kids everyday by myself!"