Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

We Are Fine, But Many Are Not

If you’ve seen the news today, you’ve probably seen coverage of the tornadoes that came through Alabama yesterday.  I’ve lived in Alabama my whole life, and I’m not new to tornadoes.  My parents’ house was leveled in the 1974 tornado outbreak, and so we always took tornado warnings seriously when we were growing up.  I remember going into the storm shelter at my grandmother’s house (where my brother and sister-in-law now live) on many different occasions. 

Gary and I don’t have a basement or a storm shelter, but we have a safe place identified in an interior hallway on our first floor, and that’s where we gather the kids for tornado warnings.  Honestly, since the kids have been born, we’ve probably had to go to the safe place only 3 or 4 other times.  Yesterday morning I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to the phone ringing and the sirens going off (we use WeatherCall for storm warnings, which is great).  We grabbed the kids and went to our safe place, and stayed there for about 45 minutes.  To be completely candid, it was a little scary there for a moment.  We lost power right off the bat (which is very rare in our neighborhood), and heard a few small things hitting our windows, but it was just strong winds and a bit of rain.  To our surprise the kids went upstairs and back to bed after the warning was over.  Gary and I then took a nap upstairs in the guest bedroom so that we could hear them since the monitors weren’t working without power. 

I grew up in north Alabama and I have many Facebook friends from up there.  When I started checking Facebook yesterday morning, I saw that by the time I showered they’d already had 3 tornado warnings.  I called to check on my mom and dad, then got ready for work.  The more I paid attention to the weather forecast (I love James Spann’s weather blog), the more I started getting worried.  Plus, as a farmer’s daughter and someone who has grown up in Alabama seeing severe weather, I can just feel in the air when bad weather is coming.  And it felt bad yesterday.  I decided to go to my hearing then head home. 

At some point I remembered my stash of frozen breastmilk and called Gary in a panic that we wouldn’t get power back before the next wave of storms and it would thaw and have to be thrown away.  He promised to find a small appliance generator or something to save the breastmilk.  Luckily, our electricity was restored around 2:30 p.m. before I made it home, and once I was home our nanny went to her home to check on things there.  Gary got home shortly thereafter (he couldn’t find a decent generator for a reasonable price, but we had power by that time so I was feeling better about things).   We watched the weather for a bit, and decided we were in the clear for a couple of hours, so we took a nap since the kids were napping, too.

When I woke up from my nap, I checked Facebook on my iPhone and saw that my sister-in-law had just posted a status update about debris falling from the sky.  Not long after that my Mom called to tell me about a huge tornado that passed by (they were watching it from the door of the storm shelter).  Here are some photos of it that my brother took on his phone of that tornado.

photo_2[1] (2) photo_1[1] (3)We got the kids up and Gary bathed them, then about that time everything started happening in Birmingham.  Tornadoes were spotted in Cullman, and in Tuscaloosa.  Then the tornado warnings started for our area and we went to our safe place.  In between some tornado warnings, we were watching the news coverage and saw a tornado that came from Tuscaloosa and was heading toward downtown Birmingham, where both Gary and I work.  It filled the entire screen.  It was so big that at first Gary didn’t even think it could be a tornado.  Click HERE to see a video that was pretty popular on Facebook last night that shows you what we were watching.

As we were watching that tornado, we got another tornado warning, went to our safe place, and lost electricity.  Gary ran upstairs and grabbed Penelope’s radio and we found a channel with James Spann’s storm coverage.  We kept that station on until hours later, when the worst had passed and the station went back to playing bad 80’s music.  We ate cold chicken fingers for dinner then put the kids into bed a bit late, then Gary and I sat down and tried to get our iPhones to work for long enough to see what was going on.  We weren’t able to get much information due to busy networks.  We were pretty sure that we were going to see lots of bad things the next morning when the sun came out and we had more contact with the outside world. 

And we were right.  The damage is downright shocking.  We are so lucky to have made it through the storm with our house and family intact.  We even got electricity late last night as we were going to bed.  So many others in our community and state were not nearly that lucky.  Gary and I went in to work (albeit a little late today).  It was surreal to be doing normal things with all the destruction and deaths nearby.  We’ve been watching the news coverage all day, and our hearts go out to all of those suffering now.  It’s going to take a little while for our city and state to get back on their feet, but I’m sure it will happen. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Seeing Double

Weekend before last, we had a cookout with some friends.  Actually, the cookout was with my best friend from college, who was also my maid of honor in our wedding.  We lost touch during law school, then got back in touch a little over a year ago.  Now here’s the crazy thing – she also has two-year-old triplets and a baby!  I still can’t believe that we ended up with such a similar family make-up after all these years, but I’m really glad that we did.

Anyway, my friend, her husband, and their 4 kids all came over the weekend before last.  I kept trying to get a photo of all of the kids in the same photo, but I never managed to get all of them in a shot.  I came close a couple of times, though.

DSC_0415 W DSC_0451 W The kids had a great time together.  At first the kids co-existed but just played with their own siblings, but by the end of the night the kids were all playing with each other.  It was also really funny to watch Penelope with the other baby.  Penelope kept crawling over to the baby and kissing her on the head.  At least it looked like she was kissing her on the head – that’s what the kids do to Penelope so it makes sense that she’d do the same to another baby!  To me, the absolute cutest part of the night was when all of the kids sat down to eat.

DSC_0475 W We’re going to have to get a bigger table for when our babies get a few months older!  As always, I love getting to take some photos of kids other than my kids.  Not that I don’t love taking photos of my kids, but it’s sort of nice to have new material, especially when they have gorgeous blue eyes like these girls do!

DSC_0426 W DSC_0440 W DSC_0470 W DSC_0443 W We had a great time and I can’t wait for us all to get together again! 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Day

When Gary and I woke up yesterday morning, we were really excited to find out that the Easter Bunny visited us!

DSC_0513 W DSC_0510 W DSC_0509 W DSC_0506 W The baskets had lots of fun stuff in them.

DSC_0515 W We took the kids’ baskets upstairs so that they could see them as soon as they woke up.  All of the kids were really excited!

DSC_0553 W DSC_0555 W We got Penelope up and took her into the kids’ room so that everyone could check out their Easter baskets.

DSC_0558 W DSC_0560 W DSC_0576 W DSC_0585 W DSC_0613 W The big kids each got an Elmo egg with some chocolate in it, and a Peep, in their Easter basket.  Penelope didn’t get any candy, but she did get a Dora DVD about going on an egg hunt.  Henry tried trading his book for Penelope’s DVD, but she wasn’t into that trade.  She was kind enough to let everyone watch her DVD after breakfast, though.  After watching the DVD, everyone was really excited to find out that there were Easter eggs to hunt in our very own backyard!

The kids each had a very specific strategy for hunting Easter eggs.  Rosemary was a typical Easter-egg-hunter.  She took off and quickly put as many eggs as possible in her basket.

DSC_0642 W Piper got more caught up in the process.  She seemed to really take the time to enjoy herself.  She probably isn’t going to win any Easter egg hunting contest, but she definitely will make some pretty photos!

DSC_0681 W DSC_0696 W DSC_0710 W DSC_0713 W DSC_0716 W DSC_0727 W Believe it or not, Rosemary found a grand total of NINE Easter eggs.  We tried to tell her that she got a different number of eggs, but nope, she said she had NINE.

DSC_0750 W DSC_0764 W Henry had a slightly different approach to Easter egg hunting.  He found a few Easter eggs on his own, but he quickly learned that it was much easier to find Easter eggs that were already in the girls’ Easter baskets.  As you can imagine, that didn’t go over so well with the girls.

DSC_0775 W DSC_0779 W DSC_0787 W Penelope took a nap for most of the Easter egg hunting, but she did hang out and play a bit after she woke up.

DSC_0800 W Later that afternoon, Gary had three shrubs to plant in the backyard.  He had a lot of help from the kids.  I mean, a LOT of help.  I can’t imagine that he ever would have gotten everything planted without everyone’s help.  I was so busy helping the kids help Gary that I could barely take photos of the whole process, but I did catch this one of Rosemary, who was much cleaner than Henry.  As you can imagine, we went straight to the bathtub after the planting.

DSC_0803 WEaster was a very busy day that led to the kids actually laying down and going right to sleep for bedtime.  They partied a little tonight, but didn’t take too long to go to sleep.  And everyone took a (short) nap today after going 5 days without a nap!  Maybe we’re catching on to this whole toddler bed thing.  I’m hoping that things will be somewhat back to normal in a week or so. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!  I hope you all had a great Easter!  We had a great time today, and are all exhausted.  We are so exhausted that we tucked the kids in tonight and they went straight to sleep without any partying!  I have lots of photos and stories to share later, but for now I’ll just share that the Easter Bunny did some visit us. . . .

DSC_0516 WI hope you all had a great Easter and that the Easter Bunny made it to your house as well!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Up Three Sets of Ear Tubes, Down One Set of Adenoids

Yesterday morning, the three girls each received a set of ear tubes.  Because she snores so much, the ENT checked Rosemary’s adenoids and found that they were obstructing her nasal airway by 75-85% and so her adenoids were removed as well. 

Nana and Papa drove down to be with us for the procedures.  Because she is the youngest, Penelope went back for her procedure first.  Before she came back, Rosemary went back for her procedure, then Piper went back for her procedure.  Penelope was back in my arms about 15 minutes after she left my arms and wanted to nurse.  Piper was back with us about 15 minutes after that, then Rosemary about 10 minutes after that.  Because Rosemary also had to have her adenoids removed, she had to have an IV and a longer recovery time.

Penelope was a little fussy once she was back with us, but after probably 10 minutes or so, she literally went back to normal very abruptly.  One minute she was fussy, the next minute she was smiling and acting like her normal self.

Penelope Tubes 4-21-2011 W Piper was pretty confused when she came back to us, and actually asked to lay down on the bed.  After a few minutes she was back to normal, too.  For the highlight of her day, she received a book of stickers and a popsicle.  She quickly decorated herself with stickers and started enjoying her popsicle.

Piper Tubes 4-21-11 WIf you know us, you know that we typically don’t let the kids have sugar for the sake of sugar.  We don’t prohibit sugar or desserts, we just don’t have sugar on a daily basis just for the heck  of it.  We try to teach the kids to eat healthy, but we try to balance it with some good fats because the kids could stand to gain some weight.  Anyway, the nurse brought the popsicle back upside down in a styrofoam cup.  Because she’s only had one or two popsicles in her life, Piper’s response was to try to suck on the wooden popsicle handle like it was a straw.  Poor kid.  But she figured it out in no time and downed her popsicle.

Rosemary took a little longer to come around.  The first thing that she wanted to do was take off all her wires and her hospital gown.  Then she just wanted to sit with her daddy for a while.  Rosemary’s asthma started acting up on Thursday night and continued into yesterday morning, so she had to have two breathing treatments after her surgery.  Thankfully, she hasn’t had to have a breathing treatment since then.

Rosemary Tubes 4-21-11 After the procedures, the anesthesiologist dropped by to laugh with us about how different Piper and Rosemary are.  Once the girls were back there for the procedure, they kept asking Rosemary if she wanted a mask, a hospital gown, etc. and she repeatedly answered every questions with a resounding “NO!”  Piper was apparently a little more agreeable.

When we met with the ENT after the appointment, he told us that Rosemary and Penelope in particular had a lot of really thick fluid in their ears.  Piper also had fluid, but it wasn’t as thick as Rosemary and Penelope’s fluid.  I just hate that these poor kids have dealt with persistent fluid for as long as they have and I’m glad that they are going to be getting some relief now. 

Before we left the outpatient center the girls were acting almost normal.  By the time we got home, they were starving.  Rosemary ate more in one sitting that I believe I’ve ever seen her eat.  Then she followed it up with a huge lunch.  She’s been eating very well ever since the surgery. 

Today everyone has been doing great.  Rosemary had some Motrin this morning, and Penelope had some Tylenol.  Rosemary has two little black eyes from having her adenoids removed, but other than that everyone seems back to normal.  We even went to a birthday party today.

Hopefully, this will put an end to the ear infections and help with the speech delay. 

P.S.  We are still adjusting to the to toddler bed thing, but tonight was the easiest bedtime yet.  I hope that in a couple of weeks we will be back to normal on that front too.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

‘Nana ‘Cakes

The kids absolutely love bananas (also known as “nanas”) and they really love pancakes (also known as “cakes”).  The other weekend I decided to make them banana pancakes.  When Gary brought them downstairs after getting them up and dressed, I told them that we were having banana pancakes for breakfast.  Rosemary got a look of bemusement on her face, and it was clear that she’d never contemplated anything so wonderful as combining bananas and pancakes.  She stood there and grinned for a while, repeating “nana cakes” over and over again with that little grin on her face.  Fortunately, the banana pancakes lived up to her expectations.  Rosemary can easily take out two adult-sized ‘nana ‘cakes in a sitting!

P.S.  On the whole bed issue, I had a work event tonight, but when I got home, Gary told me that the kids were only rowdy until about 8:30 p.m. tonight.  Unfortunately, they didn’t take a nap today.  I just keep telling myself that each day is a little better.  I really think we’ll get there . . . eventually.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Part Two: It Was Great While It Lasted

About 15 minutes after I made my post last night, Henry was standing at the gate to their bedroom screaming, “I NEED A NAP!  I NEED A NAP!!” 

Poor kid. 

They finally settled down around 11 o’clock last night.  I got up around 12:30 to nurse Penelope, and went in to check on them afterwards.  When I checked on them, Piper and Rosemary were asleep on the floor, and Henry was in Piper’s crib with every pillow, blanket, and stuffed animal in the room.  Piper had a blue doggie, but Rosemary did not.  When Gary checked on them later on, Piper and Rosemary were head-to-head sharing the blue doggie.

Gary and I decided that it is time to move on to toddler beds.  A few months ago we probably would have gone the crib tent route, but we both now feel that we are ready for the next step.  So, tonight on the way home from work Gary stopped by the storage building and picked up the toddler bed conversion rails.  He put them on the beds while I did dinner with the kids, then everyone went upstairs to see their new beds.

Inspired by Cathy’s new use of her iPhone camera and some photography apps, I took these photos of the kids checking out their “new” beds" (using the Hipstamatic app):

Piper New Bed 04-19-11 W Henry New Bed 04-19-2011 W Rosemary New Bed 04-19-2011 WAnd then we left them alone again.  And the partying commenced.

My (current) theory is that we don’t change the kids’ routine and they adapt to their newfound freedom by reason of necessity.  Gary woke the kids up at their normal wake time this morning, and it was no surprise that they didn’t really want to get up.  But they did.  Miss Sally told me that they were all asking to go “night night” this morning.  But they mostly stuck to their regular schedule, which means that Miss Sally woke them up from their naps at about the time they normally wake up. 

Tonight went marginally better than last night.  About an hour ago I went up there and poor Henry was asking to go “night night” so I put him back in his bed and covered him up.  The girls are definitely keeping him up.  I keep going back and forth in thinking that he needs his own room, versus thinking that he wants to be with his sisters.  After that, I was learning toward Henry needing his own room. 

Right now it’s mostly quiet up there, which means that they settled down a little more than an hour earlier than last night.  I think that if we just keep them on their regular schedule that eventually they will be tired enough to just go to bed at night.  We’ll see.   And of course (hopefully), at some point, the novelty will wear off.  I think we’re going to give it a few nights and see what happens, then reassess if necessary.

Monday, April 18, 2011

It Was Great While It Lasted

The kids are almost three, but they are still in cribs.  When friends would ask me how long I was going to keep them in cribs, my response was that they’d be in cribs for as long as they’d stay in the cribs.  I often added that they’d go to college in cribs if they were willing.

Well, they won’t be going to college in cribs.

In fact, they probably won’t make it through the weekend in cribs.

Right now I’m thankful that we had the foresight to go ahead and purchase the toddler conversion kits when we bought the cribs. 

I’ve known for quite a while that the kids were capable of getting out of their cribs – but the kids just didn’t know it.  The kids even climb into their own cribs at night.  They just never seemed to climb out as well.  But when we got home today, Miss Sally told us that during naptime she found the kids in one of their closets.  Not cool.  But I assumed that would be a naptime thing and not a bedtime thing.

Gary and I put the kids in bed and I ran downstairs to grab my iPhone so that I could check out Facebook while I nursed Penelope.  Gary and I barely hit the bottom step when we heard the bedroom door slam.  We decided to just ignore it.  My thoughts are that they may stay up late tonight and for a day or two, but eventually their need to sleep will catch up with them after a few days and they will have to go to sleep at night (please, let me enjoy that hope).

Then Henry started screaming.  Not screaming like he was sort of upset, but screaming like he was really not okay.  I went in the bedroom and it was a disaster with everything all over the floors, and Henry was very upset.  He kept telling me that he wanted the door open.  I told everyone to get in bed, then tucked everyone in again and left.  I barely sat down in Penelope’s room across the hall when the door slammed, and Henry started screaming again.  I assumed that he was scared of the dark, but now we think that he just didn’t like the door being closed.  Anyway, since this was clearly going to be an “issue” I told Gary what was going on and closed Penelope’s door to nurse her while Gary handled the door issue. 

I heard lots of coming and going in the room while Gary tried to solve the problem, followed by a lot of hammering.  At first I thought I was just hearing things, but no, the hammering continued.  The longer I sat there, the longer I started getting worked up about exactly what Gary was doing in there.  I was a little surprised, perhaps a little relieved, and definitely amused, when I put Penelope in bed and walked out of her room to see this, which I captured with my handy iPhone camera:

Door 04-18-11 W Well, that’s one way to keep the door open.

Always thinking outside the box.  That’s my Gary.

More than two hours after bedtime, we could still hear everyone up there playing.  Well, actually, the girls were playing and Henry sounded nothing short of traumatized by everything.  I don’t think that he likes the idea of sleeping while he is vulnerable to attack by the girls. 

Gary and I have been tossing around a lot of ideas tonight.  We have definitely decided to convert the cribs to toddler beds.  But if Henry continues dislike the girls’ free reign, we may have to turn the guest bedroom (a/k/a Nana’s room) into Henry’s room.  We’ll give him a few days to see if he’s going to make it or not.

We just heard a little more noise than one should hear, and went upstairs to see what was going on.  Everyone quickly laid down and acted like they were going to sleep (again, courtesy of my iPhone):

Floor 04-18-11 W Yes, on the floor.

Maybe we won’t convert the cribs into toddler beds after all.  We can just throw a few blankets on the floor and be done with it.

P.S.  They are still awake.  And playing.  God help us all.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Two More Teeth

The last two nights Penelope has gotten up more than she normally does.  Initially I was worried that she had another ear infection, but yesterday morning I was brave enough to stick my finger in her mouth and found two new teeth that are just now poking through – the center top two teeth. 

DSC_0407 WThis is particularly interesting to me because Piper and Rosemary’s teeth came in a strange order.  Their top teeth came in on the top sides first, then the two in the top middle came in, which means they looked a bit like vampires there for a little while.  This strange order, to me, makes it more likely than not that they are identical instead of fraternal, but that we still haven’t decided whether to get them tested to find out for sure. . . .

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gone Fishing

Gary has been wanting to take the kids fishing for as long as I can remember.  For a very long time, the thought of our three (now four) kids near a body of water with fishing poles was way more than I could handle.  But when Gary brought up fishing again last week, it seemed like something we could do.  So, we ordered up some Diego fishing poles and this past weekend we went to the “lake” in our neighborhood for some fishing.

DSC_0288 W The kids were thrilled about going fishing.  After we told them the plan for the day, they ran around saying, “I want to go fishing!”  Gary and I couldn’t move fast enough for them.

DSC_0322 W DSC_0328 W Henry and Rosemary were all about some fishing.  They were absolutely thrilled to throw their fishing lures into the lake and then reel it in.  Within minutes their lines were tangled and Gary had to re-tie them.  Gary and I laughed about how he’d have to put new line in their fishing poles every time we went fishing.

Piper liked her fishing pole, but didn’t seem quite as into fishing as Henry and Rosemary.

DSC_0339 W Henry and Rosemary got wet and dirty pretty quickly.

DSC_0313 W DSC_0314 W Even Penelope, who spent the great majority of the fishing trip in her stroller, got a little dirty.

DSC_0363 W But not Piper.  Her shoes remained as white as they ever are.

DSC_0356 W Piper really preferred to keep an eye on things and make sure that everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing.

DSC_0350 W I can understand that.  I, too, like the idea of fishing.  But I don’t like actually fishing.  More than that, I just don’t like fish.  They are really quite disgusting creatures.  Sure I can get over it enough to eat fish, but I don’t like fish.  Not long ago Gary found this photo from years ago:

Gary and Heather Fishing in 2000

That is me and Gary, based on my ring, from from when we were engaged but not yet married (which would put it between March and August 2000).  I went fishing with Gary when we were visiting his mom and dad in Pensacola.  When we got back to Gary’s parents’ house, Gary’s mom and dad made me hold the fish we caught.  I guess that is something that one will agree to do when she is engaged.  I don’t see me ever agreeing to that again.

So, it’s a good thing that Gary has at least 2 kids who are happy to fish with him.  And I’m a little happy that I’ll have one to stay behind with me, and maybe want to sleep in then go get a mani-pedi.  We’ll have to see what camp Penelope chooses later on.

Regardless, I enjoyed watching everyone fish, and I really loved when Henry would pull up his fishing pole, see his little blue plastic fish, and yell, “I got a fish!”

DSC_0329 W Whether or not Piper enjoyed fishing, she definitely had a great time.  She walked back and forth keeping an eye on everyone, and making sure that her fishing pole remained pristine (which it did).

DSC_0375 W DSC_0385 W But, for some reason, we didn’t catch any real fish.

DSC_0390 W I can’t imagine why not.

DSC_0392 W I mean, really, why didn’t we catch any fish?

DSC_0394 W Oh well, we had a great time anyway!!

DSC_0399 W