Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Love where I'm at.

Grace and Zoe sure are growing up! It's pretty amazing.

Grace has been half rolling over for a few weeks now. This morning, as I was getting ready for work, my Mom and I looked over and she had made it to her stomach! She still hadn't quite pulled her left arm out, but she had definitely rolled over! I received a text from my Mom that she did it again while I was at work. So amazing!

Just in the past week, we've noticed that they are reaching more deliberately for their toys. They focus on them, grasp them, and typically pull them toward their mouth! Zoe is all about pulling on toys from her activity mat. They also grab their stuffed animals and teething rings and are much better at getting them where they want them (again, typically the mouth)! It's so much fun to watch.

We all had a nice weekend. We took a family trip to Whole Foods on Saturday morning to search out some more dairy free options. I'm happy to state that we've found some good dairy free cinnamon rolls, yogurt, and ice cream... Oh and animal crackers and muffins! Also tried Daiya cheddar shreds last night on a chicken sandwich. The chicken was pretty spicy, so I'm not sure exactly how the cheese tasted, but that was probably for the best. Ha! So far I'm hanging in there, and we hope it has a positive effect on Zoe.

Sunday we took our first visit to my Mom's house. The girls were great in the car (about 50 minute ride). They were very excited to see Gram's house, which is very light and full of things to look at. They have their own room, which is lovely, and it was a great day. It was wonderful to be able to take a walk outside and in the woods. How I wish we had better walking options where we live! Mom's cats, especially Bobby, were fascinated by the girls.

On Thursday, Kate and I celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. She is such a great Mom to Grace and Zoe, and I'm so lucky to have her. I feel so blessed that we have these two beautiful daughters - it's what I've always dreamed of, and more.


Zoe reaching for her toy

Blurry Grace rolling over shot
Grace rolling over!!

Bobby checking Zoe out at my Mom's
Zoe & Bobby

Happy Zoe & her Gram
Happy Zoe

Grace conked out in her swing
Sleepy Grace

Kate & Grace walking around my Mom's
Mom & Grace

Me, Zoe & my Mom
Mama, Zoe & Gram

With my Mom & the Girls
Zoe, Gram, Mama & Grace

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Halloween and Milk Proteins.

So, we had a scare last Friday. When Kate was changing Zoe's diaper, she saw a spot of blood. We wound up taking her to the pediatrician, and they believe she has a milk protein intolerance. They recommended that I cut out dairy from my diet for three weeks (as both girls are exclusively breastfeeding right now) to see if that improves her condition. If it does, I imagine that will be a permanent dietary restriction until she either grows out of it or stops nursing. We didn't get too many details.

Thankfully Zoe seems to be holding up well. We are watching her to make sure she doesn't get worse, or show signs of a true milk protein allergy. I am very hopeful that this will be a temporary thing for her. I have little experience with food allergies, but after spending a good chunk of the weekend on the web trying to find dairy-free recipes and products, I am amazed at what is out there to fear. I pray that Zoe gets through this without any true allergy.

Taking her to the doctor due to illness was a terrifying thing. She is so much our "baby" of the two girls -- just because she is smaller and more delicate, quieter, and more pensive. It somehow made it worse. Luckily, we have a wonderful pediatrician's office and the doctor we saw was very nice. In the meantime, please send good thoughts Zoe's way. (And refrain from eating any frozen yogurt in my presence. Thanks!)

Grace and Zoe continue to amaze me with how much they grow. Their chattering has increased, and we often hear Grace talking to herself in her crib at night. They are laughing occasionally - the most adorable sound ever! Both like to "stand" in our laps and be pulled to standing positions from the floor. They are doing better with tummy time and Grace is still rolling on her side. We bought them an exersaucer recently and both seem to really enjoy it, although Zoe is still growing into it. They are both in size 2 diapers now and I bet Grace will graduate again soon! They have also started to skip their nighttime feeding some nights! We are still not sleeping through the night, as they have several wake-ups, but lately they haven't been eating. We're hoping this gets even more stable as they grow.


Zoe's turn

We lost power with Hurricane Sandy back in October, so that was an adventure. The girls were troopers -- they slept with a glow stick as their nightlight and ate their nighttime (and first morning) bottles by candlelight. We were just about to pack up and head to a friends' house when our power came back on. Whew! It was very cold in the house, but the babies looked all adorable bundled up. That being said, that was a stressful experience that I did not particularly enjoy.


Grace and Zoe also celebrated their first Halloween! While they didn't go trick or treating, they did rock their costumes (as you can see from the pictures below). They also helped hand out candy on actual Halloween. It's exciting to think that they can probably go around the neighborhood next Halloween!

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GZ Week 15 and Halloween 2012 060

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First Halloween Compilation

Mom & her girls

We are settling in to a routine of our days in our family. We are so incredibly blessed to have my Mom, who is willing to watch the girls twice a week while I work. The girls absolutely love their Gram, and they are all having a fun time together. She is a trooper, for sure! It is much easier to leave in the mornings when I can leave Grace and Zoe with their Gram or their Mom. We are enjoying our time together at home on Wednesdays, and I'm certainly learning to work amongst naps, down periods, and after they go to bed!

Kate & Grace
Mom & Grace

Punky Zoe

Monday, October 22, 2012

Three months old!

I simply cannot believe that the girls are now three months old (as of October 16th)! When did this happen? Where has time gone?

The girls seem to grow and change every minute. Their personalities are still so different and distinct. Grace started "talking" first and has been chattering away ever since. Her stomach issues have eased up slightly and she is a much more cheerful baby (though she certainly has a set of lungs). She is smiling like crazy and loves to turn her head and flirt and smile at you (or anyone who comes into her frame of reference). She is still a great eater and a good cuddler, though she is very insistent on sitting up now. She likes to sit in your lap and look around the room. She seems to be taking it all in. She is big enough to sit in her Bumbo, as well. Yesterday, she rolled over half way, so we think the full roll won't be too far behind.

Zoe caught up with Grace quickly on the talking and smiling, and she's just so adorable. Kate calls her smile the "goofy grin," which is very apt. She is a big talker now, and is generally a tad lower in decibels than Grace, with the exception of the occasional shriek. She is still a very content and easygoing baby, who typically only tends to cry when she's hungry (knock on wood). She is also able to sit in her Bumbo and likes to sit on your lap and look around, though perhaps not quite as much as her sister. She has been eating much more lately and seems to be growing like a weed.

I cannot remember when they started sleeping in their cribs, but they are regular night crib sleepers now. They are doing pretty well with falling asleep in the evening. The nights themselves seem to be hit or miss. They wake fairly often and cry, which is a change from the past, but hopefully they are maturing through that. We've had a few "good nights" lately, so we shall see. They are still getting up to eat around 1 or 2 am each night and then are back awake between 6:30 and 7:30 am.

We went to the beach at the end of September, which was very fun. The girls were amazingly good on the car ride, with only a few crying spells from Gracie. We stopped once each way to feed them and they really were troopers. The beach itself was great -- we got in lots of walks to the beach and into the town of Duck. We are looking forward to next year when the girls are more aware of their surroundings. At the beach they also started facing forward in their Bjorns. This is really fun -- they seem to be able to take in so much more when facing forward!

We had a lovely weekend this past weekend. The girls' Aunt Nicole & Aunt Katy came for a visit and we went up to Graves Mountain Apple Harvest Festival, which is a big festival about 40 minutes from our house. We had a great time. The girls slept through their first hayride, while us adults got to eat a lot of good food and browse all the vendors. It was a lovely day and the trees were absolutely gorgeous. We're so glad that Nicole and Katy live in Maryland now and can be a part of the girls' lives. Kate and I also love seeing them and catching up on what's happening with them.

I returned to work a couple of weeks ago, which has been difficult, but has gone well. I certainly miss Grace and Zoe while I'm gone, but I'm lucky that I have Kate and my Mom to care for them while I'm away. My employer is also very flexible and has been letting me work from home on Wednesdays, which is really nice, as I get a chance to see more of them on those days.

Overall, time just seems to fly by. I spent this past Sunday sorting through the girls' clothes -- we had to bring down the 6 - 9 month bag for Grace! I already have two big bags full of clothing they've outgrown (and that doesn't count what we've already donated back). I look at the pictures of them as babies and am just floored by how they grow. I feel so incredibly lucky to be their mother, and I couldn't ask for two better kids.

Three Months!
Picture 285

Us at the beach
Beach family

13 weeks in their Bumbos
GZ Week 13 013

Smiles all around
Happy Grace

Smiley Zoe

Sleeping Grace
Sleeping Beauty

Watchful Zoe
Sweet Zoe

At the Graves Mountain Apple Harvest Festival

We took about a million pictures of the girls at the beach, so if you're bored and have a few hours (haha, joking, sort of), you can find them all here.

Pictures of Grace and Zoe from October can be found here on flickr.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Two months old!

So our baby girls turned TWO MONTHS old Sunday. How is this even possible? These last two months have gone by in a crazy, amazing blur. I cannot believe that in three or so weeks I'll be back at work and life will fall into whatever pattern it's going to be for some time... wow.

So much has happened in these few weeks. I feel like the girls are growing in leaps and bounds. We went to the pediatrician Monday, and they are doing really well! Grace weighed in at 12 lbs, 13 oz, and Zoe was 10 lbs, 1 oz. I cannot believe it! It is far more difficult to carry them in their car seats at the same time now. Plus, they are so strong! They are holding their heads up much better, and can walk around on your shoulder with their head up, looking around. They can also hold their heads up much better when they take a bottle. They are looking at things and tracking our movements more. Grace is smiling a lot, and Zoe is smiling too, though she tends to save her smiles for very special occasions. I feel like they just change every time we look at them.

They are also developing such distinct personalities! Grace is totally our cuddlebug. She is also the crier, though it tends to be because she has stomach issues and is in pain. Boy, that girl has a set of lungs. But she’s also a smiley baby who loves to conk out on someone’s shoulder. She loves, loves, loves to eat and is always happy to take her bottle. She’s starting to coo now, and her repertoire of noises is hilarious. She has a shorter attention span than her sister and often gets frustrated when she can’t “get” the toys in the play yard or the bouncy seat. She flirts with her grandparents and is generally just hilarious.

Zoe is our quiet, reflective baby. When we’re home alone, I feel like the poor kid gets the short end of the stick, with her sister always crying and needing to sleep on someone. Zoe always looks thoughtful, like she’s taking everything in – she looked that way from the moment she was born. She often curls up on herself, much like she must have been in the womb, and she sleeps with one little hand folded up by her head. She cries much less than Grace and also sleeps much less than Grace. She fights sleep and is always looking around. They both love to be walked around to look at things, but Zoe especially. As I said, she smiles less, but has this cute little curl to her mouth when she’s happy. She absolutely loves the play yard and can spend 30 minutes plus kicking and reaching at the animals in it. She’s also my champion nurser and that’s when she gets her cuddling in.

Kate went back to work several weeks ago, so that has been an adjustment for us. She works very long days on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, which is hard for everyone. She is tired and on her feet all day, while we are all home alone and missing her! I am lucky to have a lot of family members willing to help out. My Mom comes over most Tuesdays and Thursdays, so that is really nice. I know the girls will be happy to have their Gram help take care of them when I get back to work.

We are getting out more now with the girls -- shopping, outings, etc. We stopped by my office today and we've been to Old Navy, the mall, Walmart, etc. Such excitement! We also went to Charlottesville Pride this past weekend, which was a lot of fun. We've had good success carrying the girls around in their Baby Bjorns -- they are very cute in them!

Life is very busy and we're always washing bottles or throwing in a load of laundry when we aren't hanging out with the babes, but it's fun. We are very lucky. More, hopefully, soon.

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Classic Unhappy Baby Shot
Pride Babies

Smiley Grace #1


Monday, August 13, 2012

So make the most of everything you dream of: Grace & Zoe At 4 Weeks

So, while I knew it would be difficult to keep up this blog, even I'm surprised at how long it has been for me between posts. I'm not even sure I've taken the computer out in nearly a week. Thank goodness for smartphones, huh?

That being said, I cannot believe that Grace and Zoe are four weeks old today! Where has time gone? They are truly becoming bigger and starting to take on that true "baby" look, versus tiny newborns. Gracie is really filling out, but Zoe isn't that far behind!

Other things we've noticed that they are doing:
-The girls are "talking" more -- chattering, grunting, barking, etc.
-They seem to be more aware of each other now. While one can still cry and not wake up the other, their crying or chatter often causes the other to stir, or to chatter back in response
-They are looking at things more -- for instance, they are focusing on the animals over the play-yard in their pack-n-play, or on the mobiles in their cribs
-They are holding up their heads more and getting stronger, especially when we hold them over our shoulders
-They love walks around the house, looking at picture frames, or bright lights
-They seem responsive to music and have been going to sleep at night with their lullabies playing
-We have had a couple of baths in the tub now and while there is still some crying involved, they seem to enjoy them -- especially the warm washcloth on their stomachs and getting their hair washed

We've had a busier couple of weeks, too -- we're finally getting out of the house some, which is exciting and often daunting and time-consuming. In the past few weeks, we've made trips to Kohl's and Sam's Club. We spent several hours at my company picnic this past Friday, with the girls sacked out in their car seats, as their admirers circled past them. It was very nice to get out to see many of my colleagues and also to show off the babes. We also went to Brightwood on Saturday so the girls could meet their great grandfather for the first time. He was so excited to hold them, and it was a moment to treasure for me, for sure.

The girls seem to be doing well sticking to their day schedule -- nights are taking more work. It seems that if one is sleepy, the other is awake. Or, someone will take so long to fall back to sleep that it's practically the next feeding and the other is awake. We are managing, though, and are always pleasantly surprised when we get 2 or 2.5 hours of sleep in a row-- rare as this event may be.

It's been so much fun to watch both girls grow these past couple of weeks. They are each developing their own personality, for sure. I look forward to seeing how many of these traits remain core personality features as they grow. They are such fun girls, with overall good natures, and we just love spending time with them. Kate has been reading to them from Harry Potter nearly every day, which is so cute to watch. Zoe watched several old Bulls game with me, along with most of the Olympics men's basketball gold medal game... she's already got her Michael Jordan tongue going on, and I couldn't be more proud. Grace is definitely our cuddler, but Zoe zonked out on me yesterday for quite some time -- all warm and snoring away.

I am very curious to see what the next four weeks bring...

Grace and Zoe turning 3 weeks old and enjoying their Nap Nannies from Melissa

Grace & Zoe: 3 weeks old

Lovely Grace

Grace: 3 weeks old





Zoe - Our 70's girl

Zoe: 3 weeks old

Stylish Zoe


Reading with Mom
Reading Harry Potter

Pack & Play Time
Pack & Play Time

At Mama's Company Picnic
At Mama's company picnic

Meeting Great Grampa
Meeting Great Grampa

You can find more two to four week photos here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Other Side of the Curtain

(This is slightly overdue - seeing as the girls are already over three weeks old! But better late than never, right?)

One of Kris' co-workers gave me some pre-csection advice: stay on my side of the curtain. He urged me to just keep focused on Kris and keep my eyes away from the nitty gritty (aka bloody) parts on the other side of the sheet. I kept thinking about that as I sat in the little chair outside the OR, waiting for a nurse to come bring me in. Kris was getting her spinal put in and I was told to sit in a strange office chair that was positioned awkwardly outside the mechanical doors that led to the surgical suite. Up until that point I had been with Kris every step of the way, so it felt really odd to be left out there, swiveling back and forth with anxious energy.

My version of the rest of the day really doesn't vary too much from the story that has already been posted. Once I was led into the OR, they were just about ready to start. It felt like only minutes went by before they were showing us Grace over the curtain and laughing about how she really did come into this world pooping. I popped out of my seat and followed the nurses over to the warmer where they started checking her out. Before I knew it, Zoe was squirming around in the warmer just next to her. I didn't know what to do, so I just kept going back and forth, snapping photos and trying to soak it all in. Everything went by in such a blur - one minute Kris and I were a family of two, and the next we were a beautiful family of four. 

Once the babies were checked and cleaned by the doctor in the OR, I was able to follow them back to the nursery where they were weighed, wrapped and tagged (literally!). They were wiggly and crying and nearly every picture I took was blurry, but I am still glad I captured as much as I could. I really wanted Kris to have something to look at so she wouldn't miss a thing. As the nurses worked to get the girls ready, I couldn't help but be anxious about Kris. I needed to know she was okay. I needed to be sure that my new family was still intact. Knowing that she had made it to the recovery room was music to my ears. Now we could start going through this journey together. Up until that point the burden (for lack of a better word) was on Kris. It was her body that was being put through so much to get these babies here safe and sound. Now that they had arrived, she and I could share the responsibility. It felt good to know that I could do more - for Kris, and for the girls.

Kris pretty much summed up excitement of the afternoon - her blood loss, the chaos of a room filled with so many medical personnel, the doctor throwing around the words "surgery" and "hysterectomy" as though they were things that we should just accept. It was scary. Watching my wife turn so pale just made my heart sink. I was sitting there holding my daughter and I couldn't do anything to help Kris. I had to put my trust in the doctor and nurses and just tell myself that they will help her get through this. And they did. It took time, but she made it through to the other side of that crazy day. 

And now we have two daughters.  Two perfect, tiny humans to call our own.  I am one very lucky lady, because not only do I have these two amazing kids, I also have an incredible wife to share them with.


Monday, July 30, 2012

If There Was No You: Grace & Zoe Turn 2 Weeks Old

It is hard to believe that Grace and Zoe are two weeks old today! Where has time gone?

Here are the girls turning one week old, shortly before a trip to the pediatrician. We are happy to report that they are doing well and still gaining weight. No sign of jaundice last Monday! Zoe has another appointment tomorrow for a weight check, and we’re hoping she’s growing a lot! If so, they won’t have another appointment until they are one month old!

One week old…

Zoe & Grace: One Week Old

One week old!

Our first two weeks are going well. We have been home for over a week now, which has been wonderful. While everyone was so kind to us at the hospital, there is nothing like being home. I am enjoying being able to be up and around, with the ability to pick up the girls and contribute more! Imagine: a parent excited to have the ability to change diapers! We have been working hard to get the girls on a schedule, where they eat at least 8 times a day. While they are not always on board, it has been successful overall, and gives their two Type A parents some semblance of normalcy. For instance, right now, they are eating at 11 pm, 2 am, and 5 am, and sleeping fairly well between each feeding (** knock on wood ** ), so we are getting around 2 hours of sleep between each feeding. It doesn’t sound like much, but we will take it!

Since we were instructed to supplement the girls’ feeding with formula, we have a good routine down, with me starting by breastfeeding and Kate finishing up with a bottle. I’ve been lucky to pump enough that the girls are typically only eating formula at night – staves off the guilt a bit! It also gives each of us a chance to bond with each baby, which we really enjoy. We have our sleepy routine down pat – I think we can truly change diapers, feed, and prepare bottles in our sleep.

We are also lucky to have loving friends and family who have been amazing at helping us out. Our parents have stopped by for good chunks of time, allowing us to nap and shower. Never thought I’d see the day where my father folded my laundry! (A true sign that my life has changed – accepting such help!) My Mom has made us dinner and brings us lunch a couple of times a week, amongst many other tasks. Neighbors we barely know stopped by with a veritable feast. Another neighbor mowed our lawn. A friend did a major diaper and formula run for us… I’ve been floored by how generous everyone is and very touched. We are all very lucky, and we love seeing how loved our girls are! The girls have also met their younger cousins this week (still waiting on meeting the older boys). Aunt Karen, Pop, and Robyn stopped by last week for a visit, as did Aunt Mia, Uncle Robert, and Owen. Shockingly, so far, the kids aren’t too interested in each other, but we all know that will change eventually! Looking forward to some fun beach trips, cottage trips, and parties in the upcoming months and years!

I am also looking forward to being off medical restrictions, so we can move around more freely. We had been looking for a good day to take the girls for a walk around the neighborhood, but between the heat and various visitors, it took a while. Both Kate and I yearned for a little fresh air! We finally got our walk in on Sunday night.

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We are also looking forward to the time when I’m able to go up and down the stairs freely, so we can start using our nursery bit by bit (and stop living in basically one room!). Poor Kate has the tedious task of fetching things from there – mainly clothes. I’m so ready to have free access to the girls’ wardrobe! Half the fun of having two little girls is dressing them up, right? ;) We are amazed to already see that clothes that fit the girls when they came home, particularly Gracie, are already too small – especially in length. She’s going to be a tall one! Even Zoe is starting to fill out some of her tiny onesies.

I will leave off with the girls’ two week pictures, along with a bunch of other pictures from the past two weeks.

Two Weeks: July 30th
Two weeks old

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Zoe & Grace
Zoe & Grace

Zoe & Grace

First Doctor Appointment (Z, G)
Zoe & Grace

They love their rock and play sleepers (Thanks Schroll aunts!)
Grace & Zoe

Little Zoe
Zoe, our rock star in training

tiny Zoe

Beautiful Zoe Katrina


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Miss Grace



Sleepy Gracie

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You can find more pictures of Grace and Zoe’s first two weeks here.