Friday, August 22, 2014

Our first playground day

For one reason or another, we've never been to the playground. We have swings and a slide at home, and plenty to explore in our backyard; so maybe it's that we've never felt the obligation to go somewhere else for the afternoon. However, part of my hesitance also lies in the fact that James and Maisie have been on different skill levels mobility-wise. Maisie is running and climbing all over the place, while James is cruising, crawling and pulling to a stand. 

As a parent of twins, it's also difficult to let two wild toddlers have free reign of a play structure that could be very dangerous without another set of hands or eyes. So today, when we had a few hours to kill and we went to the park, I must not have been thinking straight. 

We started off on the toddler playground. It was small and manageable, with a cute tunnel and two little slides. The little dragons had fun for a good 15 minutes before that playground had run it's course. 

We tried out the baby swings and that was entertaining for a few minutes as well. Then, the babies wanted to explore. Maisie was content on the sandbox; after a few fistfuls of sand in the face he scampered off towards the huge big kid's playground. 

Maisie was tossing sand all over herself but wasn't going anywhere so I followed James. He's been working on stairs with his grandparents lately and he decided he was going to attempt the stairs here. They were no challenge whatsoever. James was fast and furiously racing towards the top of the playground, towards a long and steep slide that was closest to us. Just before I caught him, he lept in face first and flew down the slide.

Mommy heart attack.

Maisie was still playing in the sandbox, throwing sand everywhere and having a grand old time. James had reached the bottom of the slide, crawled out and and reached the bottom of the stairs just as I got to him. He was thrilled and heading back for more. 


James went back to the steep slide a few more times before brazenly attempting the next slide, a twisty one up another half-flight of stairs. He then attempted the tallest slide, two stories high and curly. James screamed and laughed the whole way down, and at the end headed back for more. 

Maisie did have her own taste of adventure when she bolted off towards the street without warning and then collapsed into a fit of laughter when I caught her. She also wanted to hug a very large and unfriendly "puppy" without warning. 

***
It's definitely a challenge to watch twin toddlers making their mark on a playground for the first time. James was truly remarkable and faced his challenges with absolutely no fear. This was amazing therapy for him. James is the strongest and most determined person I have ever known. Maisie continues to keep me on my toes, and each day is definitely a challenge yet so rewarding. Her love and tenacity is second to none. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Food Festivals and Frankie

Today we spent our morning playing and our afternoon at two food festivals. We are exhausted and the little dragons are wound up.


First we stopped by Denver Celiac Association's Annual Festival and they had over a hundred vendors with gluten free foods to sample. We were there at the very end, which meant free parking and lots of freebies from vendors in excess of what everyone else probably took home. The babies tried pizza, cookies, quesadillas, pretzels, and more- and they had an awesome time. 

Following this we loaded up the car and headed down the street to the Potenza Lodge for the Feast of St Rocco. It is a tradition in Jimmy's family to attend - his grandparents ran the cake and coffee stand for years and now helps out at the sausage sandwich stand. We stopped by to take in the festivities - and though the babies and I didn't eat there we had fun exploring the sites and sounds and visiting everyone. 

Maisie wanted to run everywhere and was absolutely wild. She danced to the music, said hello to everyone, and decided she wanted a motorcycle. Uncle Luke won Maisie a princess doll which she was thrilled about!

James was in a very loving mood and was giving out kisses left and right. He also did lots of walking and even took several steps holding on to just one hand! It was a huge accomplishment for James! His AFO's have been a wonderful thing and he is up to wearing them 10 hours a day. James got a giant red football from his Uncle Luke. 


***
This week was also exciting for another reason. Maisie and James have been anxiously awaiting their new cousin, whom they lovingly nicknamed "Frankie"; and he was born earlier this week. They were able to meet him just hours after he was born for a few minutes and they were both very sweet with "Baby Frankie". 

They also had a great time running all around their birth hospital and turning the waiting room into a giant jungle gym. 



Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pancake balls and sleeping motorcycles


The days have been flying by. We've been busy working with James and his new AFO's, adapting to our new schedule and spending lots of time learning new words. Every day it seems that the little dragons are coming up with new words and phrases; their vocabulary is growing exponentially.

James can identify all of the following balls: baseball, basketball, soccer ball, football, and beach ball. He has special names for all of the dozens of balls he plays with too, like "green ball", "big red ball", and "zoo ball". This identification of balls spills over into foods, too. In the produce section of the grocery store, if something is ball shaped he gets really excited and calls out "ball!", even when he can't identify the fruit or veggie right away. 

Friday I made muffins and James decided they were "blueball (blueberry) pancake balls", which is pretty accurate - they were ball shaped and tasted pretty pancake-like.  He ate 5 pancake balls and I was very glad I made a double batch!

Maisie is very much into identifying peoples, objects and what they happen to be doing. For example, Saturday there was a bicycle race on our road and we saw hundreds of bicycles. Maisie says "cycle" every time she hears or sees a motorcycle. 

In the morning, she saw all of the bikes and told me, "Mommy, motorcycles sleeping... Shhh..." Of course; bicycles are a lot quieter that motorcycles! When a cyclist got off their bike in front of our house, Maisie said "cycle fall down and got an owie". We didn't check but we think the cyclist was okay. Maisie offered a bandaid but they left before we could get one. 

***
We've been working on lots of exercises to help James stretch and strengthen his legs. We are now up to wearing the AFO's about 5-6 hours a day consecutively. He has been doing well but at times it is difficult to keep James focused on exercising. 

It is hard to believe that only a year ago James began his army crawling. He was very slow but determined to get to his Clifford book. Today he is a wild man and will barely sit still for five seconds. He has an uphill road but we know that James has the fortitude to get the job done. 

We've been working on pushing a weighted shopping cart around the house, sitting on the basketball and practicing standing up, and walking with help all around. Though we love living in our ranch-style home, we are missing stairs for James's sake right now - the only ones we have are outside on the deck. Stairs are a perfect strength building exercise for him and James loves to climb the stairs. 

Maisie is very much into playing with her Little People and her tiny baby doll, which she borrowed from her Auntie Victoria. She loves to talk for them and interact. Maisie is also very affectionate and tells her friends and family "I love you" in a very sweet way. It's SO cute. 


***
Finally, we have a new neighbor we've been hanging out with this summer. Here he is:
The little dragons are very in tune to when Deer is around and tell us before I even realize he's wandering around. 







Saturday, August 2, 2014

Friday with Mommy

With my new job and schedule comes some down time. Presently Fridays are a day off, which is new to our schedule. Because it's a weekday, it also means I spend time trying to contact providers and insurance companies; working to resolve the little dragons' ongoing To-Do list. 

James got his AFO's (ankle foot orthotics) earlier in the week. And while they were less than originally planned due to a lot of insurance policy work-arounds, doctor's exception reports and phone calls, they were still expensive. James is happy, and he definitely needs them- so we'll work out the finances later. 


1. Today my mom took us to get new shoes for both kids. Both have outgrown their 3.5 StrideRites and James needed something that could fit his AFO's. We found some great shoes that the little dragons love!

2. We effectively destroyed an area of Tokyo Joes with chicken, rice and edamame. There was no eating involved, only throwing and screaming. Usually the little dragons are very well behaved but unfortunately today was not their day (or mine). Though I often wish I could bring my Black & Decker DustBuster with me everywhere, I really wanted it today. But then that would have made the whole scenario that much more over the top. It is days and times like this - food everywhere, overwhelmed parent and grandparent in hysterical laughter - that you makes you just want to give up going places. Or, hide in the corner. 
Before the chaos and the crowds. 

3. Maisie gave herself pen tattoos. At least they are washable!

4. The little dragons thought a great new toy would be a bag of potatoes from the pantry. I think I've found most of the potatoes they hid but they had a blast with rolling and hiding them. Maisie also tried to take a bite out of one. 

5. James spent the majority of the afternoon standing by himself at the "potty" with his new shoes/AFO's and bouncing the big green ball around the toilet area. The height worked out well, even though it isn't an ideal spot in my opinion. 

After playing in the bathroom James walked the shopping cart all around the house on his own - with me only holding the wheel to make sure it didn't take off unexpectedly. The AFO's give James improved balance that he didn't have before.  

6. Maisie and James had a poor diet. Though offered other food, they only really ate GF waffles, blueberries, cheese, fruit snacks, and pretzels. Oh, and Udi's GF pizza for dinner. This is atypical for them, though they drank a ton of water and juice. 


7. The babies spent more time laughing and giggling with each other than I've seen in a long time. They also gave each other lots of hugs and kisses!

8.  There was a little Elmo Ball before bedtime so I could clip fingernails and toenails...

9. James and Maisie helped me go through the mail. They were so helpful that it is now all over the living room in pieces. Twin toddlers can destroy something in a matter of moments!

10. They are sleeping very soundly after a fun, busy, and productive day for all of us. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Almost 25 months old

The little dragons will be 2 years, one month old tomorrow. 

This week we've thrown a wrench into our schedule because of my new job, and the little dragons are the most impacted. It's hard to see them struggle with where they're supposed to be or what they're doing for the day. For example, they've been going to the front door for the last few afternoons asking about "Anne" (our PT)- but she comes on Monday. Or, they wake up and ask if they're going to Grandma and Papa's house or if Grandma is coming to make "buckies" (pancakes). Their concept of time is all messed up right now. Eventually we will be reoriented to a new schedule, which includes telecommute days for me and everyone having three day weekends! It will be so worth it. 

 

Here's what the Little Dragons are doing and loving right now. 

Maisie:
Book: Five Little Monkeys
Song: "Nom a Nom", "Elmo's Song", "Itsy Bitsy Spider", & Caspar Babypants
Words: Maisie can say five words in a row. Right now she likes to say "monkeys jumping on the bed". 
Toy: Molly, baby, or her stuffed animals
Food: cheese sticks, cookies, pancakes, waffles, avocado, fruit snacks
Animal: dog, kitty, dragon
Time of the Day: Potty Time (she's gone #2 a few times in the potty chair)
Activity: playing outside, sharing with James and make believe
Color: blue or purple
Clothing Size: 9-12 months, maybe some 18 months but she can wear 6 month shorts 
Shoe Size: 3.5 wide
Weight: 19 lbs 3oz at last checkup
Height: 31.75 inches
Number of Teeth: 17+

James:
Book: Baby Beluga & Hop on Pop
Song: "Nom a Nom", "Elmo's Song", "Itsy Bitsy Spider", & Caspar Babypants
Words: He loves to say "Maisie". He is adding a lot of words to his vocabulary. Just today he learned to say "beach ball", "Friday", "panda", "hippo", and "cream cheese". 
Toy: Any kind of ball
Food: He likes variety- but does not enjoy chocolate! (He says it's poop). 
Animal: dragon or bear
Time of the Day: meal time
Activity: playing catch, bounce, or other ball activities; sharing and make believe with Maisie; chewing on his green blankie
Color: green
Clothing Size: 9-12 months, maybe some 18 months but he can also wear 6 month pants 
Shoe Size: 3.5
Weight: 17lbs 9oz at last checkup
Height: 30.25 inches
Number of Teeth: 18+


Thursday, July 17, 2014

1, 2, 6

The babies are all about talking right now. 


For James it's "Maisie, Maisie, Maisie". He's turning into a little parrot and will repeat so much of what you say - but he absolutely loves talking about Maisie. He can also say "James" along with many other words and phrases. He is pretty sneaky so his language will catch you off guard if you aren't paying attention. He told me the other day, "water petunias". 

Maisie is a lot more unpredictable. She will chirp out things like "thanks" and "welcome" during meals and playtime, and even tell you about her "owie owie boo boo", then instruct you to "kiss it", even if it happens to be her poopy butt. It's quite hilarious and yet very adorable at the same time. She'll even count to six (one, two, six). 

They are really into playing together and sharing. At dinner tonight James bit off his "agogago" (avocado) and asked "Maisie bite?", then proceeded to give her the rest of it. Maisie stole James's cookies, said "thanks", and then when he asked for more "potato chips" she promptly gave him hers. Mind you - they prefer to feed one another straight to their mouths like newlyweds but as long as it's cordial I won't stop them.


***
This past week we've stayed busy. On Saturday we met up with friends for dinner and had a great time. Sunday we visited the Wildlife Sanctuary with Michelle and Alena, followed by an Indian food lunch. The little dragons were exhausted but absolutely loved their birthday present adventure day! 

Monday, as always is therapy and our therapists were just amazed at the burst of language and communication coming from the little dragons. They are very into pretend play and language right now, which everyone was thrilled to see. 
James shows off his ability to sit completely independently while watching a music video on the iPad. 

***
They also have been extremely emotional. I guess that comes with the territory of being two. A melt down could take place following a minor complication - like not being able to hear Elmo's Song or having to go Night Night - and it's pretty epic to see. 

James was upset about Night Night and was refusing the water bottle that he had just asked for. It probably wasn't in the right cup, and this upset him even more. 

Maisie believes our house is occupied by a shadow cat, ghost dog, ghost bug, etc. I'm not totally discrediting her, because she is seriously scared when telling us about these animals - but lately she's been perfecting the details of her dramatic performance. Maisie may very well have acting or speech and debate in her future. It's made life very interesting here!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Splish Splash!


After moments like this - avocado explosion - the only way to clean a little dragon is bath time. 

The babies absolutely LOVE bath time. They make tons of waves, throw balls all around the bathroom, and take turns giving me more gray hair. 


As they've gotten older, bath time is both easier and harder. We can do a dual bath and most of the time is spent playing. The toughest part is wrangling each baby to wash hair while making sure they don't drown (or drown their sibling) on accident because they are WILD!  They are so wild, in fact, that the only way I get a decent photo of the little dragons is to take a video and find a still photo later. 

***
This year has been one struggle after another with insurance. We were lucky to have amazing insurance for the babies' first 18 months with Premera Blue Cross. In Febuary we switched to Aetna due to an ownership transition at my work. The change was tough- higher cost, higher deductibles, higher out of pocket maximums and coverage that is seriously lacking in many areas.

Take James's orthotics, for example. Aetna believes that pediatric orthotics are not medically necessary, and they are not covered by our plan. I have the best plan offered by my employer and we are still looking at paying a cost of $1200 every 6-12 months for the ankle/foot orthotics James needs to be able to walk. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg, and we are sinking. Every dime I make goes to pay medical expenses, and yet we make too much money to qualify for Medicaid disability, or any other assistance. The nonprofit aligned with my work cannot help us because we are a) employees and b) not underserved enough. It's miserable. 

So, as a family we decided that we needed to make a change to help protect our bottom line and help insure the family. Next week I am leaving a career and a business that I love - one that has been very supportive of our family - to a new job where there's more flexibility and better comprehensive health insurance. 

Here's to the future- more time with the little dragons and less time haggling with stupid insurance companies and medical bills!