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Gwen and Chloe, 12 months! [Oct. 3rd, 2012|06:26 pm]

Okay, so they're actually 13 months old now.  I'm a little late on this post.  Oh well.  For starters, here is an adorable picture of them on their birthday.


They are not identical.  I know it is hard to tell for some people who do not see them every single day, especially when they're dressed in identical outfits, but they really look quite different from each other.  Maybe it is easier to tell in this photo of them making silly faces:


Alrighty.  On to the finer details of their little one-year-old lives.  We'll start with Gwen, since she's a whole minute older.


Gwen is delightful.  She scoots on her belly in the fastest army crawl I've ever seen.  I think the tile floor helps a bit, but she slides across it crazy-fast.  She is currently working on teeth #5&6, both molars, so she's been a little cranky lately due to that.  She likes sitting, she likes pulling herself up to a stand holding on to furniture, she likes sitting on laps, and she shows little interest so far in walking (though she'll take a few steps holding onto furniture).  She is the one who cries when they wake up from their naps, and generally she doesn't seem to need as much sleep as Chloe.  She pays little to no attention to the stuffed animals in her crib, but likes playing with Chloe sometimes through the slats.


She's fairly calm most of the time.  She's a messy eater, and has, after some initial reluctance, come to absolutely love playing in the water, whether the bath or the pool or the sink.  She loves mimicking sounds, and can manage a whooshy throaty growly sound, raspberries, mama, baba, tongue clicking, and sticking her tongue out.  She likes throwing food on the floor, and eats a bit slowly.  Beans (like black beans and kidney beans) are not her favorite food, though she will still eat them.  She loves bananas, and likes PB&J sandwiches, and most everything I try to feed her.  She dug right in to her birthday cake, grabbing handfuls and stuffing it into her mouth.  She is a sweet, snuggly girl, except for when she bites you when she's teething (she'll go for shoulders, knees, arms, fingers, whatever happens to be next to her mouth when the urge strikes, though she really doesn't bite very often).  She's not very assertive when Chloe steals her toys and relies on crying loudly at me to get them back usually.  She's got beautiful blue eyes and an underbite that is adorable now, but will undoubtedly require orthodontics when she's older.  She likes to clap, and wave while saying bye-bye.  She likes making noise by drumming on things or hitting things together.  She babbles a lot throughout the day, and really likes tickles, kisses, and having her hair blown on.  She loves playing with hats, and playing peek-a-boo, and wearing sunglasses.

Now on to the youngest, Chloe.


Chloe seems to be trying to make up for being the youngest by being the earliest of my babies to do things.  She has eleven teeth already, crawls beautifully, and has just started walking in the past week.  She loves climbing up and onto things, and makes it onto the couch without a second thought, and climbed up onto the double stroller a couple days ago.  She is starting to learn how to get back down off of things, which is good for my sanity.  She seems to want to be on the go almost constantly, and consequently needs a bit more sleep than Gwen I think.  She also likes sitting on laps, and climbs up onto my lap out of nowhere regularly no matter what I'm trying to do.


She likes sucking on her rattle-cat-blanket-lovie in her crib, and self-soothes with that every time I put her in her bed.  She also likes playing with Gwen through the slats, and pulling up the roller blinds behind the cribs (I think they both do that though).  She rarely cries in her crib, but is prone to crying in her high chair when she runs out of food or wants to get down.  She eats fairly neatly and also very fast, which is always kind of surprising to me.  She doesn't like avocados at all and will spit them out if I try to feed them to her.  She eats most everything else though, and like all her siblings, loves bananas the most.  She ate her birthday cake very cautiously at first, scooping frosting off with a couple of fingers and tasting it for a long time before she made it to the cake part, which she dug into pretty well once she'd had a taste.  Despite generally being more adventurous than Gwen, I think she's a little more dubious of strangers.  She steals toys from Gwen all the time, and gets very mad if I take them back from her.  She seems to have ideas lately as to exactly how things should be, and gets upset if things don't match up to just how she wants them (though sometimes even she seems unsure of how things should be, and just ends up crying anyway no matter what I try).  She has beautiful blue eyes and an overbite.  She likes to clap, and loves Baby Signing Time, and tries to sign Baby whenever I turn it on or sing the song for her, and will keep it up for several minutes after the song is over.  She also signs more, all-done, eat, and a few other sporadic signs.  She is more vocal now than she used to be, and sometimes after watching Gwen do it for awhile, tries to join in with the sound mimicking.  She also really likes to wave, and clap, and can blow a note in the recorder, which she loves doing.  She likes taking hats and sunglasses on and off, and loves peek-a-boo.  She likes tickles and kisses and being lifted up high in the air.

Both girls are well-loved by their brothers, who like trying to make them laugh and are learning to share with them.  They follow the boys around the house, and want to play with whatever the boys are playing with.  They've learned how to put Mega Blocks together already, and how to drive toy cars around on the table back and forth.  At their one-year check-up, Gwen was 19lbs 15oz and 29.5" tall, and Chloe was 19lbs 6oz and 29" tall, both healthy and right on track.  They are adorable and I am delighted they are mine.  They are definitely worth the bed rest, daily medications, and the C-section.  They are exhausting and adorable, and have been really very good babies (it's more the four kids four-and-under that's exhausting, rather than the girls specifically).  They sleep all night and take two naps a day (three if they're really tired).  They don't use pacifiers and no longer use bottles and have mastered a variety of sippy cups, handles, no-handles, and straws.  Sometimes they like Mommy best, and sometimes they want nothing more than to have Daddy hold them and will chase Mike down the hallway crying until he picks them up for snuggles and playing.  They love their Grandma and Grandpa Van Dusen, although I think they like Grandma a little more.  They both dislike dirty diapers way more than their brothers ever did, and are more prone to diaper rashes.  I think one of my very favorite things in the whole entire world is when they wake up at the same time and play with each other through the crib slats in the dark of their room.  I have no idea what they do in there, but I hear them laughing at each other from across the house, delighted peals of laughter intermixed with giggles and squawks, and I love it so much.

Here's to another lovely year with two wonderful, beautiful, happy girls!

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Guatemala, for real this time (to be updated soon with pictures) [Aug. 20th, 2012|07:17 pm]
Hopefully soon I will intersperse some pictures into this post.  I'd add them now but I'm tired after waking up every two hours all night to go wake Chloe up to make sure she didn't get a concussion from climbing over the arm of the couch yesterday (she seems fine).

The flights to and from were fine.  We had a layover in Dallas each time, which is a fairly nice airport, though really big.  There were some areas to run around in that the kids liked.  We flew American Airlines, which was nice, much better than our previous flight experiences of various other airlines.  The Jacob's Ladders that I had made for the kids fell apart the first time they tried to play with them, possibly because Aiden insisted on me showing them to him before the glue was completely dry.  I'll have to glue them back together sometime.  The mini dinosaurs I brought were a big hit, as were the toy airplanes.  I think Aiden played with the iPad almost the entire time we were on the planes.  The boys didn't really touch the notebooks full of coloring and dry erase activities that I painstakingly put together for them.  Oh well, now we've got them for them to do at home sometime.  Nobody got sick on the plane, we didn't have any blowouts, and everybody liked eating the snacks I brought, particularly the applesauce pouches (Best. Airplane. Food. Ever.).

It was so nice to see my parents again.  It took the kids a little bit, but they got used to them pretty fast, and soon were playing with them quite happily.  The girls were a little clingy for me, but then again, they usually are right now, so that wasn't anything out of the ordinary.  The weather was amazing, nice and comfortable and cool compared to the Arizona heat.  It only rained hard on us once, which my parents said is fairly unusual.  We went out to eat several times, and had yummy steaks, Guatemalan black beans, fried plantains, Pollo Campero fried chicken, a typical Guatemalan breakfast (more black beans, more plantains, eggs), and of course, yummy food my mom made.  I thought the black beans were interesting, they're like refried beans in that they're mashed smooth, but they're also kind of...fluffy, for lack of a better term.  Everything was tasty.  I got to play Scrabble, which was delightful, even if my mother did trounce us, and we learned how to play Mexican Train dominoes and Chicken Feet dominoes, which were very fun.  The boys got to play with Legos and PlayDoh and all the toys my mom borrowed from her friend, so they had lots of fun whenever we were at the apartment, and the children got their first bath with all four of them in the same tub at once.

On Monday, we went to Kaminaljuyu, which is a big grassy area in the center of Guatemala City with some partially excavated ruins.  It was a good choice for our first day there, since the boys got to run around lots after having to sit almost the entire day before as we traveled.  That afternoon we went to Antigua, the old capital of the country, which had lots of beautiful colonial style buildings, a neat jade store/factory that we got to tour, and a restored cathedral that the boys particularly enjoyed seeing the large fountain in the middle and running around on the roof.

On Tuesday, we went to Lake Atitlan.  The road there was extremely windy and up-and-down in elevation as it went through the mountains, but the views were beautiful.  Mike and I went on an 8-leg zipline, which was awesome, while my parents took all four kids on a nature hike.  We saw a monkey swinging by its tail, and some other sort of animal that I really don't know what it was.  We could see the lake from many parts of the zipline, which was beautiful, although I was more focused on making sure I started braking with my hand in time to avoid crashing than I was on the scenery.  What can I say, the ziplines were really fast.  At the end of the zipline adventure, they had a little ropes course thing.  The first part was walking across a suspended board while holding on to some ropes above you (and being harnessed onto a center rope above for safety), and that wasn't too bad.  The second part was leaping from swinging suspended wood plank to wood plank, each far enough from each other that you had to take big steps, which of course sets you swinging.  It was extremely difficult, and I fell down twice (harnessed to the top, so I only fell to a sitting position even with the wood planks, but man is it hard to stand back up!), and got a pretty nice looking rope burn on my arm from a misjudgement as to the best way to grab the ropes for the next plank 2/3rds of the way through.  But, we both made it across without serious injury.  After that, my dad was very nice and drove around for quite awhile until we got to a point where we could walk Aiden and Caleb down to a little dock at the lake and they could see the water.  Three points of note about Lake Atitlan: 1, it is huge, 2, it is beautiful, surrounded by volcanoes covered in greenery, and 3, it is stinky.  I realize many lakes stink, especially when you factor in pollution, sewage runoff, and fishing, I just wasn't prepared for it, just as I wasn't prepared for how big it is (lakes in Arizona tend to be kind of small).  It was extremely beautiful though.

On Wednesday, my mom very kindly watched all the kids all by herself while my dad flew with us up to the Mayan ruins at Tikal.  They were really amazing.  Photos simply don't do them justice.  These pyramids and temples are huge.  Really, really, really huge.  And steep.  Very, very, very steep.  Our tour guide was great, he took us on a several-hour tour full of interesting facts about the ruins, Mayan civilazation, and once he noted we were interested, he pointed out interesting trees, animals, and bugs for us.  There were bright orange centipedes everywhere which were cool, a big black centipede or millipede or something that is the dangerous sort, a very beautiful big spider in a web stretched across a doorway, a giant tarantula that one of the Guatemalans had caught in a water bottle to show to tourists, some butterflies, a small gray mountain fox, monkeys, termites, ants, beetles, and loads of mosquitos.  If you ever go to Tikal, I recommend taking bug spray and sunscreen.  It was very hot, so when it started pouring rain in the afternoon, Mike and I both enjoyed getting totally soaked, while my dad and our guide waited under various overhangs for the rain to disperse. We got up at 4:30 to get there, and didn't get back until about 9:30, but the trip to Tikal was one of my favorite parts of the whole week, it was really amazing.

On Thursday, we went to the Relief Map, which was much larger than I was expecting.  It's a 3-D representation of all of Guatemala, with all of the cities having little flags with their names.  The vertical scale of the mountains is not the same as the scale of the horizontal area, so the mountains all look super-steep, but it's really amazing overall, especially when you consider it was made in 1905.  Then we went to the Central Market, which the kids didn't really enjoy, but I thought it was fun to browse around.  We bought a tiny toy marimba for the boys, and some brightly colored dresses for the girls.  On the way home, we stopped by a large playground near my parents' apartment, that had large cement slides, which the kids enjoyed.

On Friday morning, my mom watched the kids again while we went to a temple session.  It was my first time in one of the smaller temples, it was nice.  Friday afternoon I spent packing to come home while the kids played.  My mom quilted some beautiful quilts for the girls, and my parents both seemed to like the Scrabble blanket I made for them.  Aiden got car sick a couple of times during the trip, and the girls both got sick also on the way back from Lake Atitlan, and we had one potty accident, but overall, the kids all did great, and didn't come home with any illnesses or anything.

It was a fantastic trip, and I'm so happy we went.

Hopefully pictures will be coming soon, I have some editing to do and I have to acquire over half of them from Mike still, and check if my mom has some that we lost off our camera somehow.
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We went to Guatemala [Jul. 22nd, 2012|08:02 pm]
And it was terrific.  But that's not the real subject of this post.  I will save all our trip stuff for another post.

Due to some recent thoughts about losing faith and science and things from various relatives and friends, I have been thinking a lot lately about my faith, and about science, and the interaction of the two in my life.  I like science and science-y things, I think there's a lot of interesting stuff to be learned from chemistry, physics, biology, astronomy, geology, etc, etc, etc.  I also like my faith.  I think there's a lot of interesting stuff to be learned from my religion, from the scriptures, from prayer, from temple attendance, etc, etc, etc.

I was reading a blog post about scientific literacy, and ran across a couple of quotes from commenters that I liked and wanted to share.  First:

""Science teachers need to teach skepticism as being core to the scientific method".

Exactly. Core not just to the scientific method, but to life. The challenge is to try to maintain that sense of skepticism while at the same time teaching a scientific subject that teaches a large number of "you'll just have to take this on faith for now" facts. That's a tightrope walk."

Second:

"What we know is not the whole story. How we know it is equally important."

There are a great many things I run across in life that I am skeptical about.  Claims made in books, movies, advertisements, the internet, by people I know or have never met.  Issues of correlation vs. causation.  "This thing happened right after that thing, so this must have caused that" is generally an opinion that I consider ill-informed.  Frequently I run into statements that I can't make up my mind about due to a lack of sufficient information.  Sometimes I go look up information, hopefully from trustworthy sources without too much bias one way or another (though all sources, of course, contain some bias).  Then I think about what I've read, and come up with my own conclusion on the subject.  Other times, I really don't care enough about the subject to bother searching out sufficient information to come to a conclusion.  For instance, politics.  Don't talk to me about it, I really don't know enough about it to come to an informed decision and will therefore probably just be a very boring conversational partner.

Yet at the same time there are a great many things in life that I simply take on faith.  I don't understand how or why they work.  I may have researched them and not been able to find anything that helps me understand them better.  I may not have researched them at all, but have simply accepted that they are, they exist, and there is somebody somewhere who understands it much better than I that I will trust.  Sometimes that someone I am willing to trust is a friend, sometimes a relative, sometimes a researcher, sometimes God Himself, through His prophets or through the Holy Ghost.

There seem to be two very different ways of knowing things in my life, which I have been thinking about due to that second quote above.  What I know is important, how I know it perhaps is equally important.  There are the things I know because other people have done experiments and have come up with hard data and have interpreted that data and other people have taught me those interpretations.  Then there are the things I know because of what I might call soft data (there is probably a specific definition of soft data which may very well be different than how I am using the term here, please excuse me).  There are thoughts and feelings, and what other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints would term as revelation and promptings.  Some of this soft data I have acquired myself, some of it other people that I trust have acquired, interpreted, and taught to me.

I am well aware that there are plenty of things which I know, through either method of knowing, which could be wrong.  There is information I have undoubtedly learned that has already been or someday will be proven false.  There are things which, with my limited understanding of the universe and the life present in it, I have undoubtedly misinterpreted.  I think one of my cousins said recently that you can know something 100% and yet still be completely wrong.  I don't think there are many things in my life that I would say I am 100% sure of, and those few things I would say that about, I don't think I am wrong about (obviously).

One theory as to how I reconcile my skepticism with my faith might be that my skepticism itself is based in faith.  I believe some of the sources I find, I have faith in their validity.  Other sources I throw out the window as being completely ridiculous.  The soft data, or my feelings as to what feels right and true and honest, probably overrules everything else when it comes to what I do believe, and what I don't.  I am not very good at logical arguments or apologetics or honestly (despite my English degree) at even writing essays that follow a progression to "prove" a point.  You've undoubtedly realized that by now.  I can't really explain to someone else why I am skeptical about the miracles of homeopathic healing, and yet I am not skeptical about the miracles of Priesthood healing; or why I am skeptical of almost all self-help books, yet I am not skeptical as to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

My favorite scripture lately, with all this thinking about faith I've been doing, is Hebrews 11:1:

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

I have faith in God, that He is my Heavenly Father, that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for the sins of mankind, that I will have the opportunity to live with them again if I strive to live a worthy life.  I have faith in the gift of agency.  I have faith that the Book of Mormon is a book of scripture written by ancient prophets and translated by Joseph Smith through the power of God.  I have faith that the Holy Ghost will guide me in my life if I listen and seek after him.  I have faith that the prophets who lead the church today receive revelation from God, and are able to share His commandments with me.  I have faith in black holes, and dark matter.  I have faith that calculus, which I do not understand in the slightest, works and forms the backbone of most modern scientific endeavors.  I have faith that there are supernovas and magma chambers and all sorts of magnificent wonders throughout the universe, most of which I will never be able to see, and am unlikely to ever understand intimately (at least in this lifetime).  And I have faith that all the wonders of the universe were created through the power of God, which process I am also unlikely to ever understand intimately in this lifetime.  I have faith that after I have died, that my spirit will still exist, and will still be capable of learning and growing, and that I will someday be able to be resurrected, that my body and spirit will reunite and be perfected, and that just maybe, someday in the eternities, I will be able to understand all the things that I can't in this life.

Man is fallible.  The leaders, past and present, of the church I believe in are fallible just like anybody else.  They are not perfect, as I'm sure they'd be the first to tell you.  While I believe that they often speak for God, they also sometimes just give their own personal opinion on subjects about which they have not (yet (sometimes)) received revelation.  Man has his agency, and the only person who has ever even been able to be perfect is Christ.  People are, for the most part, good hearted.  These are all things I believe.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for.  I like that word, substance, and its derivatives, substantial and substantive, as applied to the concept of faith.  Faith is the evidence of things not seen.  I find that phrase interesting, that faith is the evidence.  There are innumerable things that I have not seen, and am not likely to ever see.  I can't measure them.  I can't perform experiments directly on them.  I can see how they affect the world around them, and in some cases, I can see how they affect my life itself.

There are many who would probably argue for the necessity of extensive scientific literacy among the general population.  There are people who similarly argue for spiritual literacy among the general population, whether they define that as being well-versed in your scriptures of choice, or knowledgeable about many different religions besides your own, or just in-tune with your spirit, or your inner being, or whatever it is that your belief system tells you makes up the essence of who you are.  My knowledge of probably the majority of scientific concepts is fairly shallow at best.  My knowledge of probably the majority of religious concepts is also probably fairly shallow.  I am not a great scholar of science or religion.  But I enjoy learning more about science, and I find joy in my religion and my faith.

I apologize if this post has been disjointed and rambly.  I am prone to rambling no matter what I do, and the disjointedness can be attributed to being interrupted many, many times to take care of the little ones whose needs are more pressing than my need to write down my thoughts on this subject.  Also, I don't proof-read and edit my posts, because I am a lazy writer.  I sincerely hope that somebody, somewhere might be able to make some sense of what I'm trying to say, as convoluted as it's been.  I also sincerely hope that I haven't managed to offend anyone.  This post is not directed at anybody, I'm not trying to convince anybody else of anything, I'm simply trying to write down and maybe make a bit of sense of my own thoughts after reading three separate blog posts in as many weeks from three different people, all of whom I like and admire for various reasons, regarding their personal loss of faith, and the loss of community that accompanies that.  Maybe someday when I'm getting more sleep and have longer chunks of uninterrupted time I will be able to make more sense of my thoughts and on the resolution between the apparent dichotomy between scientific skepticism and faith.  For now, hopefully this will appease that little niggling need in my brain to write things down.

In closing, I would just like to say, have peace.  And I would recommend avoiding trying to read chemists' blogs when your glasses, eyes, and brain are all fuzzy (I need new lenses).  And maybe avoid writing blog posts under similar conditions.  And get a good night's sleep.  And maybe eat some vegetables.  I will stop now, before I end up advising you to use the potty, pull up your pants, flush the toilet, wash your hands, and don't forget to brush your teeth. (You say something enough times, and it starts to just slip out into every conversation eventually, regardless of whom you're speaking with.)

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Huh [May. 26th, 2012|10:30 am]
Somehow it has been almost nine months since I last posted.  What can I say, my kids wear me out and I rarely feel like writing anything in my few minutes of child-free time every day, I suppose.  I post a lot of little life snippets on FaceBook and a few on G+, so if you are actually interested in how things are going on a regular basis, I'd recommend reading over there rather than here.

Aiden finished his first year of preschool.  He knows his numbers quite well, and is learning his letters.  He is getting better at tracing.  He really doesn't like singing in front of people, he thinks it's scary, and so during all three of his preschool programs this year, he sat on his mat, refused to sing, and glared at everyone.  So, we're working on teaching him songs and helping him sing in front of other people this summer.  He's very imaginative, and has two imaginary friends, Roger and Dasher, that he plays with and talks about all the time.  He consistently will have two toys have conversations with each other.  Anything unpleasant is now apparently worth crying about, which is rather annoying, but at least he doesn't have full-blown tantrums very often.  He loves pepperoni pizza, olives, pickles, quesadillas with salsa, frozen burritos, and doesn't really like trying new foods most of the time.  His favorite color is blue, his favorite stuffed animals are his bear-kie, a lamb-y, and a moose.  He wakes up at 5:30 every morning, and doesn't like going to bed before 8pm, and doesn't take naps unless we go on a car ride in the mid-afternoon, which generally results in him falling asleep.  He's a wonderful big brother most of the time, and other than regular fights with Caleb over toys and the iPad, he's very nice to his siblings.  He plays with Caleb most of the day every day, and loves holding the babies on his lap for a minute or two, and making silly noises that make them laugh.  He loves to say silly things.  After a bout of him repeating "What the heck!" we decided we didn't want him to say that, so he replaces it now with other words, and goes around saying "What the goose" and "What the head" and other things like that, followed by giggles.  He very rarely has potty accidents any more.  He loves playing grown-up games on the iPad, like Gesundheit and Plants Vs. Zombies and Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja and Cut the Rope and Swordigo.  We just set up the Wii again for the first time in two years, and he's been enjoying trying to play Wii Sports and Wii Fit with me also.  He loves story-time every night, and will sit still for long picture books now.  He's starting to think up things by himself to say during his prayers every night, and seems to enjoy being in Sunbeams, though he refuses to sing during Primary also.  He adores going to his grandparents' house, and asks me every few days if he can have a sleep-over there.

Caleb is learning new words consistently, and I'm working with him on pronouncing things properly.  He leaves off the first consonant sound of most words.  He still babbles nonsense sometimes, but most of the time he uses real words and makes small sentences.  He is much more emotionally intense than I'm used to, and has large-scale meltdowns as well as fits of long, loud laughter when he finds something funny.  He has to have things lined up just-right on his bed each night before he can go to sleep, and gets upset if something is out of place.  He plays pretty well on his own now, but much prefers to play with Aiden (whom he calls A-A).  He loves going to nursery, even though it's right during his normal nap-time and he sometimes falls asleep by the end of nursery.  He mimics everything Aiden does, almost all day.  He tries to say the same words, and do all the same things, and follows his brother around endlessly.  His very favorite person, though, is his Grandpa.  His second-favorite person is me.  He loves the movie Wall-E and we watch it a lot.  He also likes Ponyo quite a bit, and Cars.  He likes The Fresh Beat Band and Blues Clues and want to watch things pretty much all day every day.  He loves playing with the iPad, his favorite game is probably our toddler puzzle game called Tozzle, wherein there is a train puzzle that he adores.  He really loves trains.  He plays pretend sometimes, especially with the Little People we have, whom he makes walk between the dump truck and the airplane, and bounces them on a pillow for a trampoline.  He loves baths and trying to drink his bath water.  He likes to eat Cheerios with sugar, corn dogs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bananas, and a few other things, and is generally very resistant to trying new foods unless they're desserts or similarly sweet.  He's finally starting to come and tell me when he's got a poopy diaper, so I think we're getting close to him being ready to potty train.

Gwen only has two teeth still.  She's getting quite tall, and her face is filling out a bit, and her legs are quite chubby, which is cute.  She scoots around the floor, pulling herself forward with her arms.  She almost always wakes up before Chloe, and cries every time we put her in her bed to sleep.  She's getting pretty good at sitting, though she is still figuring out getting down from sitting to crawling.  She is fairly content most of the time wherever she is, and doesn't really go exploring that much.  She also loves snuggling and sitting on my lap and playing with me.  She likes talking, and will babble a lot when she's excited.  She is reserved about giving out smiles most of the time, but when she does, they're delightful.

Chloe has four teeth still, but I'm pretty sure she's working on another one right now.  She's much shorter than Gwen, and skinnier, though her cheeks still look pretty chubby.  She is very fast at army-crawling all over the place, and loves to explore until she realizes she's all alone and can't see anyone anymore.  She switches between sitting and crawling easily all on her own, and back to sitting again when she finds a toy to play with.  She pulls herself up to kneeling on the edge of the couch, and on our big Mega Blocks box, and other things like that.  I suspect she will be a climber.  She loves moving.  She is very impatient when it comes to eating and cries between most every bite of baby food because she doesn't want to wait the 30 seconds while I give Gwen a bite.  She cries louder than Gwen usually, and laughs more too.  She likes trying to bite my hand or arm and laughs when I wince and tell her no.

Both girls get jealous of each other whenever they see the other one on my lap or being held.  They also get jealous when they see Caleb sitting on my lap.  They like it when I'm sitting on the couch near them, and get upset when I go sit at the table to eat, or go do dishes, or make food for the boys, or whatever.  They are fascinated by Yo Gabba Gabba and Baby Signing Time.  They love listening to music, and always flip around from whatever they're playing with when there's a song in a TV show.  They think Aiden is pretty hilarious, and generally want to play with anything Caleb is playing with, which he doesn't like at all.  Chloe loves being in the water, she's a little fish.  She splashes and dunks her face in and gets all wet and doesn't cry at all.  Gwen is scared of the water and tenses up whenever she gets near the bath or the pool, and clings to me or to a toy for a long time before she relaxes at all.  She doesn't like being splashed.  They both eat any kind of baby food I give them, and are very interested in real food now, though they have not succeeded at eating Cheerios or Banana Puffs the couple of times I've given them some.  They like Mommy the best, and get excited every time I walk in the room after being away from them for a few minutes.

I've been doing alright.  I've started dieting (by just eating less food at every meal), and trying to get a bit of exercise in sometimes.  I've been doing small amounts of crafting, a lot of movie and TV watching, and a lot of reading with my Kindle I got for Christmas.  I got a BlendTec blender for my birthday/mother's day, which has been fantastic for making healthy smoothies to drink.  I feel tired almost all of the time, probably because of going to bed too late and Aiden waking me up at 5:30 every morning.  I've been thinking lately about a future career in librarianship possibly.  Who knows, I seem to change my mind every year or two about what I'd like to do for a job someday if I ever have to or want to go back to work.  My house is generally a giant mess and my yard is a wreck and my garden has been doing its own thing all year (I scattered all my leftover seeds in it willy-nilly at the beginning of spring, so I don't even know what's growing in it right now).  The birds like our yard a lot.  We replaced our drip system.  There's lots of things I would like to do, or that kind of really need doing, but by the point in the day that I have enough time to do most of them, I'm too tired to.  I should start going to bed earlier, I guess.

Mike is doing well.  He's getting back into photography after a long baby-hiatus.  He's still enjoying his full-time job as well.  He's really busy most of the time.  We regularly wish we had some sort of inheritance or something so he could stay home every day and just play, but obviously, that's terribly unrealistic. ;)  I'm glad he works hard to support us, and generally likes what he does during the day.

We're going on a family vacation in July to Guatemala to visit my parents.  I've got all our passports ready, and plane tickets purchased.  I'm really excited for my parents to see the girls for the first time.  I think it will be a lot of fun, even if the plane rides are going to be insane with all four kids and only two adults.

Who knows when I'll post again.  I should put up some more pictures some time, my kids are all really cute.  We'll see if I get around to it or not.
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Gwen and Chloe! [Sep. 10th, 2011|01:34 pm]
Well, my baby girls are a week old today.

Yep.

After being put on complete bed rest a week and a half ago, and switching to a stronger medication to stop contractions, I still ended up going into labor on Friday night (the 2nd). Long story short: We went to the hospital, I was dilated to a 5, they couldn't stop my contractions, my Dr. was out of town so the other Dr. from her office who was on call came over to the hospital, decided he didn't want to attempt a breach delivery of a twin that early due to very high risks (34 weeks 5 days along), so I agreed to a C-section. It was quick and felt very strange with all the tugging and pulling, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, other than the part where they were trying to push Baby A out by pressing really really hard on my upper abdomen/lower ribs. That part was quite painful. Spinal block took care of all the other pain. It was very weird not being able to move my legs and feet at all for several hours.

So, at 12:18am, Saturday the 3rd of September, Gwen Van Dusen was born, weighing in at 5lbs 5oz, and at 12:19am, Chloe Van Dusen was born, weighing in at 5lbs 6oz. They went straight to the NICU, of course. Gwen was on a CPAP for a few hours on Saturday, then was doing fine and was switched to room air. Chloe was on the CPAP for several days, then very suddenly apparently decided she desperately wanted to bottle feed, so they switched her to a nasal cannula delivering oxygen, which she was on for several days, and just got off of yesterday. Both girls are eating well now, though Gwen tends to be a little pickier and sometimes won't eat much, and Chloe is generally a little chow hound. They are both finally gaining weight again instead of losing weight. Gwen was on phototherapy for one day but has been fine since.

They let me stay at the hospital until Wednesday since the girls were in the NICU. It was very hard emotionally going home while leaving them there, but I've been trying hard to rest and recuperate and spend a bit of time loving on my boys since getting home, so that I will have lots of energy to take care of the girls once they're released. Recovering from a C-section has been drastically different than recovering from either of the boys' births. I am really looking forward to being able to twist, bend, and pick things up off the floor again at some point. My feet finally today just stopped being swollen. I spend most of my time sitting on my bed, a large portion of that time is spent pumping, which has been going surprisingly well. I am just barely managing to keep up with how much the girls are eating every day. I get my walking in on our trips to the hospital every day, twice a day. It wears me out, and I'm generally ready for a nap as soon as we get home from seeing the girls. Mike put reminders into the calendar on my phone for when to take my pain meds, which has been very helpful, and has kept most of the pain at bay.

Gwen and Chloe have both been doing really, really well, and might get to come home as soon as Tuesday, assuming they don't have any more episodes where they "de-sat" (significant drop in their oxygen levels in their blood). I am starting to feel a bit more confident about taking care of them. It's harder than taking care of a full-term baby. Despite being a really good size, especially for their gestational age at birth, especially for twins, they are still little itty-bitty girls who require extra-cautious care. I love getting to hold them and snuggle with them, and they are doing better for me at eating from their bottles. I'm still working on burping them, I'm not very confident with that yet. And swaddling...it is daunting trying to swaddle someone so little bitty. I think I need one of their nurses to talk me through it one of these times. They are currently allowed to try nursing up to a couple times a day, we've been doing it once a day in the mornings the past few days. It doesn't take more than a few minutes before they're completely exhausted from the effort, but they are doing marvelously well overall and have impressed all of the lactation consultants that have come in to help us.

They both have lots of dark hair, and look a lot like their brothers to me. Gwen is a bit more on the petite side, and Chloe has adorable chubby cheeks already. We still have no idea whether or not they are identical, and will probably just have to order a DNA home test kit (cheek swabs) sometime to find out for sure.

And now for the best part: pictures!

Gwen:
Chloe:
 Together (Gwen on left, Chloe on right):

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Starfish [Aug. 21st, 2011|01:36 pm]
I've got a month left, hopefully, before the babies get here. We've got the third bedroom cleaned out ready to move them in there whenever I decide they need to be in there instead of in my room. We've got two cribs. We've got clothes, and blankets, and a twin nursing pillow and a nursing stool, and bottles, and baby soap, and washcloths and towels, and hangers, and wipes, and so so so many diapers. I've ordered a stroller that should be getting here in not too many days now, the Valco Baby Tri-Mode EX Twin. It's a very nice, very expensive stroller.

Let me talk about the stroller for a bit, because I'm pretty excited about it. It's a double, side-by-side stroller. Both seats can recline completely flat, and the reclines are independent of each other, as are the sun shades, which are nice and large. There are storage pockets on the backs of the seats that can zip off revealing a mesh peek-a-boo cooling window. There are two attachments we are planning on getting as soon as they're not backordered anymore: a toddler joey seat, and a hitchhiker board. The joey seat hooks onto the front of the stroller, higher up than the other two seats. The hitchhiker board hooks onto the back and provides a nice place for an older child to stand when they get tired of walking. So with both of those, all four children will be able to ride on the stroller! So, I'm psyched.

I'm particularly psyched about the stroller because I'm really, really looking forward to going on walks, out of the house. After a whole bunch of contractions a few weekends ago (and a trip to the hospital for monitoring when one bout wouldn't stop despite the terbutaline), I am now on a regular every-six-hours dosage of terbutaline. It's working really well, I haven't had any bouts of contractions since I started taking it regularly, but I do still have sporadic contractions, sometimes painful, particularly if I do, oh, pretty much anything other than sitting on the couch or in bed. I've read several great books, I've beaten quite a few iPhone games, I've done a bit of crocheting, but lately I've been feeling lazy and have mostly played a lot of solitaire. Oh, and basic child care like diaper changes and potty training, and the occasional load of laundry, and sometimes I get fed up and pick up all the toys off the floor, but that's pretty much it. I've had a cold the past week and a half, so I haven't gone to church, so the only time I've gotten out of the house in the past two weeks is to go to the doctor's.

Everything is looking good though. No signs of the babies coming excessively early (though I'm 33 weeks now so they'd do okay most likely if they were born soon). Baby A is still head down and likely to stay that way, which bodes well for birthing. She's 4lbs. 3oz. right now, based on my ultrasound on Thursday. Baby B is currently head up, and also likely to stay that way, though she sometimes flops over sideways I think. She's 4lbs. 14oz. right now, quite a bit chubbier than her will-probably-be-older sister. So, they're growing well, and will both hopefully be over 5lbs. when they're born, which is what I was aiming for. They gave me ridiculously bad heartburn for a couple of weeks, but that seems to have subsided a bit, so they must've shifted around. They kick and move around a fair bit. It's rather odd feeling one kick my pelvis while the other kicks my ribs, though that doesn't happen terribly often. Baby B gets hiccups sometimes, I haven't noticed Baby A having any yet.

Aiden likes telling me that he likes my belly. He comes up and puts his hand on it sometimes and says hi to them, and occasionally will play with his baby doll after, and put her down for a nap on a pillow. He's started preschool and seems to be enjoying it as far as I can tell. He gets to ride to and from with a girl he knows from nursery. He now knows what a lowercase letter "a" looks like, and has been particularly excited after having gotten to use glue (am I a bad mommy for never letting him use glue at home?) during one class, and getting to paint (on purple paper!) another day. He's doing reasonably well with potty training. He still has small accidents most every day, and occasionally big accidents when he gets caught up in what he's doing and doesn't want to stop to use the potty. Overall he's doing much better though. He has been growing, growing, growing, particularly his feet. We need to get him some new shoes, I think size 10's now. He likes running around the house with his church shoes on, and likes having socks on both his feet and his hands. He really likes playing with his foam "Thor" sword, and we have been trying to teach him to hold it with two hands so he has a little more control over it. He and Caleb will occasionally sword fight and whack each other's play swords repeatedly while making sounds effects and laughing. Aiden also loves pretending to fix things, and helping cook, and playing with PlayDoh, and all sorts of normal 3-year-old activities. He's particularly enjoyed watching Kung Fu Panda most every day lately, as well as InterStella 5555, and My Neighbors, the Yamadas, and Lion King.

Caleb has also been growing a lot. He's got three canines now, two of them just came through a couple days ago. He absolutely loves watching My Neighbor Totoro, and is starting to enjoy watching Baby Signing Time again after disliking it for a couple of months. There are some things things where he is exactly the same as Aiden was at this age (like the obsession with shoes, and hats), but I'm frequently amazed by how different they are from each other. Aiden has always been very independent. Caleb is a snuggler. He climbs up onto my lap all the time to give me a snuggle before running off to play again. Aiden has almost always been a very good eater. Caleb is sometimes picky and will refuse to eat half the food I offer him. Aiden never had any problems with nursery, he didn't ever suffer from separation anxiety when we left him there, but Caleb generally cries for at least 10 minutes at the beginning of nursery every week, and frequently breaks down again sometime before it's over. He also has a hard time with going over to other kids' houses to play without me there, and cries for 5-15 minutes before he'll get distracted and start playing. Aiden is a bit nervous about heights and falling, whereas Caleb has absolutely no fear, and absolutely loves getting tossed up into the air and falling back down. Aiden started talking on the early side, and Caleb is just starting to seem interested in talking. Speaking of talking, here's a lovely list of signs Caleb does regularly, followed by words he tries to say sometimes:

Signs:
Cracker
More
Wash hands
Brush teeth
Water
Hat
Sleep
Eat
Milk
All done
Banana
Bubble
Book

Words:
Shoes
Cracker (gager)
Water (wa)
Wash (awsh)
Baby (baybeh)
Hat (ha)
Reggie (my in-laws' dog, he says JiJi)
Milk (ilk)
Eat (ee)
Please (eeesss)
Up
Banana (nana)
Yay
Bubble (buhbuh)
Book (ook)
Me (memememememememe)
Daddy (da-eee)

That's all I can remember right now. He sometimes clasps his hands for a few seconds when we say prayers. He loves sitting and "reading" his books to himself, turning all the pages and looking at the pictures. He likes to dance, which consists of spinning around in circles until he falls over. He likes clapping and saying Yay. He's started noticing his reflection in shiny surfaces around the house and will put his face right up against it and say Baby and smile and touch it. He sometimes will try to give kisses, which consists of him pressing his whole lower face against your cheek and going "mmmm". His teeth have continued their trend of coming in ridiculously slowly, causing him weeks of suffering, crankiness, and runny noses (and the occasional fever). He loves stacking things, like stacking cups and stacking rings, and Duplos. He also really really likes throwing things all over the ground. He uses utensils quite well, and is probably better at it than Aiden was at this age. He loves playing with his brother, and absolutely adores his Grandpa and cries whenever anybody that isn't Grandpa comes to the door. He likes doing anything Aiden is doing, including coloring, painting, PlayDoh, sword-fighting, throwing balls, and sometimes throwing tantrums too.

Both kids love playing outside, and love playing in the water in their kiddie pool and making mud and digging holes in the dirt and driving their little play cars. They both love baths, and going for walks in the stroller, and playing in the sand at the playground. They like hitting things and drumming and playing one loud shrieky note on their recorder and whacking keys on the piano. Aiden sings sometimes, and Caleb sometimes tries to sing a little as well. They like pushing their tiny plastic kid chairs all over the house, which makes a very loud noise that they both love. They like chasing each other and playing hide-and-seek, and completely adore their daddy. When he comes home they both run up to him and jump at him until he picks them both up at once. They love it when he runs through the house holding both of them, and when he drops them out of his arms onto the couch, and they love rough-housing with him before bed. I have been the more "threatening" parent lately, which has its pros and cons.

Mike continues to be ridiculously busy all the time, running extra training sessions at work, attending lots of church meetings, and taking care of me, the kids, and the house whenever he's home. His grandfather (FarFar) passed away and Mike will be going to the funeral in California this weekend. I wish the kids and I could go with him, but I'm pretty sure my doctor would nix any ideas of me traveling anywhere, and I am not going to foist the kids on him by himself again. He took both of them on the Ward Campout last weekend by himself. They had a lot of fun and came home ridiculously dirty, and all three of them were completely exhausted from it.

We continue to be blessed extensively, receiving help from family and ward members without asking for it. People have brought us food, babysat the kids so I could rest, cleaned my house for me, and have been very generous with gifts for the babies. I am continually grateful for their service and kindness, even if I am really behind on writing thank you notes.

Knowing myself and the infrequency of my posting, the next post you read will probably be after the twins arrive. If you want any info before then on how my life is going (sitting on the couch, contractions, etc., absolutely riveting updates I tell you!) I update FaceBook regularly and just started using Google+ as well.

The End.

P.S. My belly is bigger than it has ever been before. Just in case you were wondering.

P.P.S. The title of this post has nothing to do with anything. It's just the first thing that popped into my head when I was looking at the text field. Now you can spend the rest of the day thinking about starfish and how they relate (or don't) to everything else.
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Couch Potato [Jun. 22nd, 2011|02:26 pm]
I've officially gained 30lbs. so far this pregnancy, and still have 3 months left to go (hopefully) before the babies arrive (and that will still technically be early). I've also been having contractions for the past month, with several bouts of regular, slightly painful ones, so after my visit to the doctor today, I've got a prescription for Terbutaline to take as needed, and orders to be a couch potato for the next week until I have another (extra) appointment. I'm honestly kind of looking forward to having such a great excuse to not do any housework or cooking or anything and just sit and read the pile of books I've got that I haven't read yet. My cervix still seems fine, so that eased my mind quite a bit, and I've got an ultrasound tomorrow which will hopefully show that everything (and everybody) is still doing fine in there with no signs of coming yet. Of course, if the contractions start getting really frequent and regular, then we'll switch to a consistent dosage of Terbutaline, and if things still don't calm down, then I'll start getting daily steroid shots to boost lung development of the babies. Hopefully things don't go there. My belly is huge already, so I think my uterus is a bit confused and thinking it's about time to get things started because it's almost as big as it was full-term with the other kids. Hey, uterus, take a chill pill, ok? Could be over-activity/dehydration/etc. too. It has been over 100 every day here for the past couple of weeks (107 right now), and I do tend to get more contractions if, say, I do the dishes, or pick up my kids, or whatever. Luckily, Mike is being fantastically helpful whenever he's home, and my in-laws have been wonderful about watching the kids and helping out around the house regularly. And my ward is full of really great and wonderful people who I'm sure would be very happy to help with whatever if we need them to. My hormones have been kind of crazy for the past week, too, and I've broken down crying at around dinner time almost every day since Sunday. My poor family. It's going to be a long, tough summer, I think.

This last weekend, we went with my in-laws to California to see Mike's FarFar and FarMor (grandparents), and visit with his brother and family as well. We stayed at the Lawrence Welk resort, which was very fun. I got to try putting on a real golf green for the first time ever (I'm terrible at it, but probably not as terrible as I am at all the other not-putting parts of golf). We went fishing, catch and release, in a pond, with hotdogs and American cheese for bait, and I caught three fish, which was very exciting. And I de-hooked two of them all by myself, another first for me. I haven't gone fishing in a long time, so I really enjoyed that. And we went swimming at the pool, which the kids loved. And we went to a family party, and Mike's grandparents got to see Caleb for the first time (and have all their great-grandkids there at once), so that was nice, and Aiden absolutely loved getting to play with his cousins again. All in all, it was a very enjoyable trip, except for the contractions in the middle of the night our last night there, and the contractions all the way home in the car, and Google Maps telling us to not take the freeway but to take a little mountainous (beautiful) curvy swervy hilly road instead, which led to me feeling very carsick for half the trip, and Aiden throwing up. Minor negatives though. It was most definitely the last trip of any sort that I'll be taking for probably the next six months at least.

My parents went in to the MTC today, and are off to Guatemala in a couple of days. I'm excited for them, and am sure they'll do wonderfully, but I already miss being able to call my mom whenever I want to talk. I will probably be a hormonal emotional crying wreck when the babies get here and she's not here (then again...I would probaby be a hormonal emotional crying wreck after the babies get here even if she was here...I don't do well on not enough sleep). I'm hopeful that we'll figure out some way to go down and visit sometime during their three years there, though I looked at airfare the other day, and holy cow, it's ridiculous. Maybe that'll be what we spend our tax return on in a couple years. Ooh, tax return should be extra big next year with four kids all of the sudden instead of two. I'm sure we'll need the extra, diapers are expensive enough, let alone buying all-new baby clothes for two babies at once, and all the other incidental expenses associated with having children.

Lets see, other things of note since my last update...Mike and I went on a date to the ballet, which was fun, and led to lots of kicking from the girls in my tummy (did I ever mention they are both most definitely girls?). I think they liked the music. We went to San Diego where Mike shot a wedding (I assisted), and that was fun, though I got sick for several nasty hours the day of the wedding, and missed some of the time when I normally would have been helping him take photos. At least I made it for the surfing, the wedding, and the reception. My computer unexpectedly stopped booting up while we were there too, which led to some interesting hijinks trying to offload the photos from the memory cards to free them up for more photos the rest of the day. Booting into safe mode ended up working eventually, and then I fixed all the broken file permissions, and then my computer decided to work again, yay. We also stopped by a baby stuff store while we were there that weekend and got to try out a bunch of different double strollers. Unfortunately, they didn't have the one stroller I'd really, really like to see in person, but they did have all the others I'd been considering. For now, I have decided to hold off on getting another stroller until I determine whether or not I'm ever actually going to go anywhere ever again by myself with my kids. We had our 5th wedding anniversary, my 28th birthday, and Mother's Day all within a week, which was fun (for me, at least...). I got lots of lovely presents, like a (complete surprise) shed to expand our storage space so we can finally turn our third bedroom into a bedroom rather than a storage room, a beautiful green KitchenAid stand mixer, which has already gotten lots of use, several books that I've been wanting to read (The Way of Kings (fantastic), Cooking for Geeks (also fantastic), and Godel, Escher, Bach: The Eternal Golden Braid (a bit difficult for me to understand various parts of, but very, very interesting so far)). I also acquired this week a copy of Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians, which I'm excited to read. For Father's Day, I decided we should replace our waffle iron, sandwich cooker, griddle, and mini George Foreman grill, and got Mike a combo CuisinArt Griddler (and the optional waffle plates), which so far seems pretty fantastic, and will free up a fair bit of room in my kitchen cupboards. Multi-purpose kitchen appliances are amazing and wonderful. I sorted through a bunch of our stored junk, and have a decent sized pile to sell, and a smaller pile of stuff to toss out, and some stuff to move into the shed, and some stuff to move into other parts of the house, to make room for babies. I wanted to sort through a bunch more stuff this week, but can't now, due to all the contraction stuff. I think that's likely what Mike and I will be doing on his days off for the next month or so.

Oh! I bought window crayons for the kids. They're pretty awesome and I love having colorful scribbles all over our sliding glass door. I can't believe I've never used them before.
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To summarize (or not...very long) [Apr. 26th, 2011|09:52 am]
Easter was quite lovely, with some of the most delicious ham ever. My children both ate way too much candy, between three different Easter Egg hunts total, and two pinatas. They had a fantastic time. We watched one of our church-produced films about Christ twice, and tried repeatedly to explain both death and resurrection to Aiden, but I don't think he quite gets it yet.

We went to Virginia Beach for a family reunion with my family, which was fabulous, other than the traveling there and back, which was terrible. There were no direct flights, so we had scheduled a flight with a layover/plane-switch in Cleveland for the way there. But, after an hour or so of hanging out at our gate for our second plane, they announced that there were tornado warnings in Virginia. Eventually, our flight ended up being cancelled, and since it was due to weather, they only gave us a discount on a hotel for the night, and then there wasn't a direct flight from Cleveland to Norfolk with three open seats on it for the next day, so we got to fly to Newark, and from there to Norfolk. Since the storm the day before had apparently smashed the entire East coast, the Newark airport was dealing with the aftermath of loads of cancelled and rescheduled flights, and the flight we were supposed to be on ended up being delayed, and Mike got us switched to a different, earlier flight, which also ended up being delayed so we got to Virginia almost exactly 24 hours after we were originally supposed to be there. And our one checked bag didn't make it until later that night, and so we had to go pick it up from the airport the next day.

We went to Busch Gardens our first day there, which was nice, but I didn't get to hang out with my family as much as I would have liked, since everybody split up for most of the day to take their kids to all the different age-appropriate rides. Aiden got to meet Grover and Elmo and Abbie from Sesame Street though, which he loved. He gave Grover a flower that he had picked a few minutes before from a nearby planter. It was unbearably cute.

The next day we went to the aquarium, which would have been fantastic if my children had not been fairly grumpy due to extreme fatigue still from all the traveling and missed naps and hunger from a very delayed lunch-time. Aiden really liked it all until we got to the tunnel of fish, which seemed to terrify him for no apparent reason. He also thought the sharks were a little scary, but I think realistically he was just so tired by the time we got to them that he wouldn't have liked them no matter what. Watching the Harbor Seals out front was very fun, though, and I loved seeing all the different fish. That evening we did a family photo, since we won't all be together again for over three years. Mike was taking the photo, so he was busy all afternoon and evening getting all his gear ready and prepped and figuring out where to take what photos, etc.

The day after that was check-out and go-home day. We all helped clean up the beach house and packed up all our stuff, then the kids did a pinata and we said good-bye. I haven't let myself think too much about the good-bye part or how long it will be before I see any of my family again. Caleb threw up that morning right before we left the beach house, so that was fun. We had a plane change in the middle of our trip back, in Charlotte this time, and our first flight ended up being delayed so they switched us to an earlier flight so we could make our connection. We still only had half-an-hour to deplane, get all our gate-checked items (2 carseats, one stroller, one suitcase), and make a mad dash from one end of the airport to the complete opposite end. We ran about halfway, and then caught an electric cart for the second half, and ended up being pretty much the last people on the plane. Caleb threw up again partway through the last flight. My "Mommy reflexes" are getting pretty good when it comes to keeping vomit off of clothes. And, of course, to top it off, our two checked bags on the way back didn't make it home to Arizona until an hour or more after we did, so we had them deliver them to our house the next day.

I really did love getting to see and hang out with my family, though! But we have determined to not fly Continental or United or U.S. Airways again for as long as we can.

My Mom and younger brother came to visit us about a week before our trip, which was lovely. My mom came to my nuchal translucency screening ultrasound with me, where they informed me that both babies seem perfectly healthy, and that they are guessing they're both girls, although we won't know for sure until my next ultrasound in May. So, that was exciting. We also had a birthday party for Aiden's third birthday while they were here. He got way more presents than any 3-year-old needs, including nine different toy dinosaurs, a toy leaf-blower with goggles, a super-hero cape, some new clothes, and some other stuff that I can't remember right now. He loved all of it. I made him a cake that looked vaguely like a dinosaur. He likes to wear his goggles and cape and run around being a super-helper or Super Grover or a space ranger sometimes when it's just the goggles.

Caleb is learning to talk, and in addition to MaMa and DaDa now says "Iiiii" for both Hi and Bye, and Uh-oh whenever anything drops. He is almost walking, he loves holding onto our fingers and walking all over the place, and will take up to about six steps on his own without holding on to anything before he falls over generally, and has started crawling with all his limbs straight because it's more like walking. He got his first hair cut on Saturday, which didn't really make him look different at all because all his hair is still pretty much invisible, but we feel better that he doesn't have a mullet any more.

I got some new maternity clothes from Ross, which has been really nice. They're light and comfy and should last through the summer pretty well (I hope). And, they're cute too, so that's always a bonus. I felt one of the babies moving a little on Sunday during Relief Society. Still waiting to feel the other one some time.

That covers pretty much everything!

tl;dr: Things overall are great, kids are growing up, twins are doing well, airplane travel can suck.
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This and that [Mar. 23rd, 2011|11:52 am]
The kids have been sick (Aiden has had a stomach virus for the past week and a half, and Caleb's got ear infections in both ears), I have been sick (a cold and morning sickness), and I am tired of everybody being sick.

A couple of weekends ago we went to Disneyland with Mike's family. We drove there in our new (used) minivan (2007 Honda Odyssey, I love it so far, remote open doors are fantastic), which was quite nice. Aiden came down with his stomach virus in the middle of the night after our day at Disney, which was kind of terrible. I will spare you the details. But the kids really enjoyed the park, though Aiden thought the Nemo subs were a little scary. They were both entranced by It's a Small World. Aiden also really liked the Casey Jones train, and I think he enjoyed Autopia quite a bit as well. We probably won't be back to Disney for quite a while due to the logistics of so many small children.

My stomach is growing ridiculously large. I have already switched to my maternity pants and will soon need my maternity shirts. I want to buy a maternity swim suit, I never purchased one with the other two pregnancies, but I am waiting to buy anything baby-related until after my next appointment, as I must admit I'm still a bit nervous about how well things are going in there. Aiden is convinced that both babies are girls.

My mom gave me a really pretty bird feeder for Christmas. I've been filling it up with bird seed ever since, but only recently have we started to actually get birds using it. Mostly it's doves and sparrows that come to snack. We've also got a couple of little birds that I think are probably a type of flycatcher that stop by occasionally. And there's some big old black birds that come eat things off the patio and lawn, probably bugs. I've been enjoying watching the birds and trying to identify them. It would probably be easier to do if I cleaned my sliding glass door so that I could see all the little markings on the birds.

I've been letting the kids watch ridiculous amounts of movies and TV lately while I've been sick and they've been sick. I am really sick of all three Toy Story movies, as those are Aiden's favorites lately. I discovered there's Sesame Street episodes on Netflix, so we started watching that yesterday. Much more enjoyable. Also, we have been watching Shaun the Sheep which is hilarious.

My family is having a family reunion next month in Virginia. I'm really excited to see everybody again, I've been missing my family lately. And it is probably the last time I'll get to see my parents for the next three+ years. I find it somewhat funny that I will be pregnant again. I was pregnant at our last reunion, and very newly pregnant at the reunion before that. I also seem to be running into the problem of being pregnant every time we go to an amusement park and being unable to go on any of the rides.

Lots more cravings with this pregnancy than the previous ones. Mostly for protein, like steak. Yum. Occasionally chicken. I seem to have an aversion to fish at the moment, as well as milk. Cheese is good though, along with basic carbohydrates, especially if they're smothered with butter and, well, cheese.

It's been beautiful weather here lately. We would be spending a lot of time outside if we weren't all sick. Though we did go out last week and I pulled the weeds from our front yard and side yard (of which there were a lot, mostly very, very large). My cilantro, arugula, and basil plants are all flowering. The garden's quite pretty with all the little white flowers. I'm giving up on the garden for the summer, I just don't have the energy to take care of it properly this year.

We went to the zoo awhile ago. I got to see the face of one of the visiting koalas, and oh my goodness, they are freaking adorable in real life. Aiden really enjoyed trying to touch the stingrays in their pool, and absolutely loved brushing the goats. He was running from one to the other, touching their heads or ears with the rubber brush for a split second, then running away laughing. It was so cute.

Caleb just woke up from his nap, so that ends this post.
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Surprise! [Mar. 1st, 2011|04:17 pm]

 
Twins!

 
I'm due Oct. 9th. We're incredibly excited! There's no history of twins in my family, so we weren't really expecting two, though I had thought about the possibility several times. My life is going to be crazy, with four kids under the age of 4, plus my mom won't be able to come help because my parents are leaving this summer to go be mission presidents in Guatemala (which we're also very excited about), so, it will definitely be crazy. But, I'll survive. Everything is looking good so far with the pregnancy, it feels quite a lot different than my previous two pregnancies. Here's hoping it all continues to go well and without any complications. What a fabulous start to March!

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