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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Transitioning to Twins: The Toddler Bed

As the big sister, one of Scarlett's rites of passage had to be moving out of the crib. I had every intention of just moving her to a regular twin bed immediately. I didn't want to buy a toddler bed and then have to buy a twin bed later. It just didn't make sense to me. But then someone was selling a toddler bed -- with the mattress! -- on our base classifieds page for $25 and we were sold.

It caught us off guard. We planned on buying a bed over the summer, but this came available sooner than we anticipated, so we jumped on it. We initially thought we would just leave it in the garage until we were ready to move Scarlett. Then our friends gave us some great advice. They moved their toddler bed into their son's room with his crib in there, and let him choose for a few weeks which to sleep in. After about a month he was consistently choosing the bed and that's when they moved the crib out.

We decided to try it. Todd unloaded the bed into the garage and we prepared to clear some space in her room. But once Scarlett saw the little bed sitting in the garage she was immediately hooked. She started crawling all over it, and we were shocked. That night she chose the toddler bed and never went back.

There were some adjustments along the way. The first night we went in to check on her and the entire lower half of her body was falling off the bed. And this is how we discovered her every morning and after every nap for the first couple of weeks. She would grab all the toys she could reach and pull them into bed with her to sleep. I have no idea how this is comfortable.

And then she surprised us again. After sleeping in a pack and play for a couple nights at Grandma's house, she'd had enough. Much to our surprise she insisted on sleeping on the queen bed in the room she stays in. I was convinced she'd fall of the bed, but that has yet to happen. And just like that, cribs of all kinds are done. And just like that, she's all grown up.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Mono/Dis

So the boys are identical. But what does that mean? 

Twins can either come from one egg that splits, or from two separate fertilized eggs. If they come from one egg that splits, they are monozygotic (meaning one zygote), and they are identical. If you're like, duh, everybody knows this, then you would be surprised to know there are people in this world who do not.

It can be difficult to tell if they are identical while still in the uterus, but in our situation there are some clues that help us know that these boys are identical.

You're probably asking yourself, surely there is a complicated-sounding medical term for this situation. And you would be right! There is!

Our twins are monochorionic/diamniotic twins (mono/di for short), meaning there is one chorion and two amniotic sacs (the far left picture above). There are layers of the sac that a baby is in (who knew?), and the outer layer is called the chorion. Inside the chorion is the amniotic sac. So basically, they are each in their own amniotic sac, but both are together in one big sac.

Mono/di twins share a placenta. There are instances where two placentas can fuse, making it difficult to know whether they are identical or fraternal. But usually on a level 2 ultrasound you can see signs of fusing, and that is not the case here. So there is one placenta providing nutrients to both babies.

Because they share a placenta, there is cause for concern. Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS for short) can occur in this situation, meaning one baby starts taking all the nutrients from the placenta, leaving the other baby without anything. This occurs in approximately 15% of twin pregnancies where there is a shared placenta.

SO that means that since my anatomy scan at 20 weeks, I have gone to the OU Medical Center (2.5 hours away, ugh) for a level 2 ultrasound every two weeks for monitoring by a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist to make sure TTTS isn't occurring. They measure amniotic fluid levels and the babies, among other things. If one has more fluid or is measuring much larger, those are signs of TTTS and they start to take action. I am also not allowed to go past 37 weeks, so these babies will be here by the last week of September.

So basically, between my visits to OU and my monthly visit to my local doctor, I have three appointments a month. Which means I get three ultrasounds a month, that is, until I reach 32 weeks, when I will be seen weekly. Where will I go? Who knows, that's still up in the air. Excellent.

And the one question I get asked so often that I really should start keeping a count is, where will I deliver? Again, that's still up in the air. There are about 837 factors that will come into play as time goes on. So your guess is as good as mine.

In all seriousness, your prayers for two healthy babies who don't steal each other's food and stay inside as long as possible are greatly appreciated. There are lots of healthy mono/di pregnancies, but unfortunately there are some that are not. So far we have been very blessed, but we also know it's a long way to September!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

No Floatie!

Dear Altus AFB,

You may have heard alarming shrieks and screams coming from the pool last night around dinnertime. Don't worry, nobody was being attacked or murdered. It was just my daughter refusing to put on her puddle jumper and throwing an epic tantrum.

See this? This is her exact floatie:

What's not to love? It's pink and purple with a seahorse. So cute, right?

But Scarlett has been swimming for a long time now, and only in the last couple of weeks does this thing finally fit her. So she's had a lot of freedom in the water until now. Oh excuse me, "freedom" meaning must be held at all times.

But now she's bigger and stronger and more independent and the dang thing fits, so guess what, SHE WILL WEAR IT. I'm pretty strong-willed. But so is she (stupid genetics). 

Last night's tantrum at the pool was every parent's worst nightmare. She screamed and cried and pouted for almost an hour. She was not allowed to get in the big pool without it on. And she has deemed herself better than the baby pool, so screaming and crying she did while we sat on a chair and watched her.

We finally wrestled her into it and made her get in and surprise! She was so happy! She swam around saying "I'm swimming! I'm swimming!" and nobody was allowed to touch her. 

I really really really wanted to say to her "I told you so."

Monday, July 14, 2014

Was this spontaneous twinning?

This is what one of my doctors asked me at my last visit. Yes, one of my many doctors that I see.

Twins do not "run in my family" (that's a different post for a different day), and we were not doing fertility treatments of any kind. So yes, I think spontaneous is the word.

Upon our shock of learning we were having twins, I started devouring information about multiple births. The likelihood of having twins, the types of twins, possible complications, etc. It turns out that your likelihood to have twins increases into your mid-30s. Your body is basically in shut-down mode and is just throwing eggs out. 

Seeing as I am 34, I thought this was the case and that we were having fraternal twins (two eggs = two separate everything = fraternal twins). I would think to myself, this would have been good information to have when I was trying not to have babies in my 20s.

We knew from my very first appointment at 10 weeks that they had separate amniotic sacs. There was a very clear membrane dividing them, which was a big sign pointing to fraternal twins. Still, I had this nagging in the back of my mind...

With twins, you get an ultrasound at every doctor appointment to check their heartbeats. At our 16 week appointment my doctor said maybe one was a boy but it was too hard to tell what the other one was. Okay fine.

We thought we knew exactly what was going to happen at our 20 week anatomy scan. We expected to go in and hear that we were having one boy and one girl. We already had one boy name and one girl name and it would be perfect. 

Our ultrasound tech first asked if anybody had told us what kind of placenta they had. No, nobody had mentioned it and I hadn't asked yet. But I knew that the placenta was a big factor in knowing what kind of twins they were. 

Then she said, surprise, it looks like two boys! Shock! Two boy scouts for Todd! Hooray! And then surprise, they share a placenta! More shock!

A shared placenta, with no signs of two placentas fusing, means one thing. IDENTICAL TWINS. Identical boys to be exact. It's pretty much the last thing I ever expected to hear. 

Spontaneous means coming or resulting from a natural impulse or tendency; without effort or premeditation; natural and unconstrained; unplanned.

I think it's safe to say this was definitely spontaneous twinning.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Transitioning to Twins: The Pacifier

One of my goals in this process of getting ready for the twins is helping Scarlett grow up a little bit. She needs to be the big sister in the house, not another baby, and getting rid of the pacifier is no exception. I am by no means opposed to a pacifier. I think they serve a purpose, especially for teeny babies to learn to self-soothe. But there is no way I could keep up with three kids' pacifiers. That would be absurd. So it was time to get rid of Scarlett's pacifier.

When Scarlett was approaching her first birthday, I was determined to wean her from it. She really only took it while she was sleeping (nap time and at night), but it was a great way to relax her if we were traveling or having some kind of "off day."

And then I started justifying the pacifier -- "we can't get rid of it until after our trip," or "she needs it to fall asleep at Mom's Day Out." And then before I knew it she was 18 months old. At that point I knew it was definitely the time to take it away from her. But then I just continued with my justification -- we're traveling, she's sick, etc etc.

Sometime in the spring I got really confident and decided to poke a hole in the tip of each pacifier with a needle. I had read this would work great because the pacifier wouldn't have the same suction, and then she would lose interest. But that didn't happen. She still loved them.

We went to Florida the last week of April/first week of May when she was 22 months old. We had a lot of full and busy days at Disney World where she was generally out of control because of the lack of sleep, excitement, and the heat. So we used the pacifier A LOT to keep her calm.

She started requesting specific pacifiers. She referred to them by their colors, "pink one" or "blue one," and when she got upset she would come running to me and say "blue one!" She would ask for a nap at 9:30 a.m., which was really her way of asking to get her in crib to suck on her pacifiers because she knew she couldn't have them unless she was sleeping. It was time to get rid of them.

But Scarlett is one stubborn kid and she has a TEMPER. I just knew it was going to be a fight for days and I didn't know if I had the willpower to stick it out. Plus what if she refused to sleep without a pacifier? Mommy needs her nap too. But I also knew I couldn't have a toddler who was attached to her pacifier and newborn twins on my hands. No way was it happening.

So finally one morning I had the courage to fully snip the ends of her pacifiers. When she asked for one I would give it to her. She'd spit it out and hand it back to me. I asked her, "oh is it broken?" Soon she realized they were all broken and she totally lost her mind. She was mad, kicking and screaming, asking for her pacifiers. At nap time I put her to bed with the broken pacifiers and she didn't want them at all. She handed them to me and told me "broken." I told her if they're broken we should throw them away. So she did. And that was that.

Seriously. I had 22 months of fear and anxiety about this whole situation and that's all it took. She asked for them a couple times over the next couple of days, but nothing major. I would just say, "remember they were broken?" She cried for a couple weeks when she went to bed, but it wasn't more than 5-10 minutes.

And there's another checkmark on my To Do Before Twins list. Hooray!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sour Cream Apple Pie

Remember the 4th of July recipe linkup I participated in last week? 

As part of the linkup I was randomly matched with another blogger's recipe. My assignment was to take their recipe and make it my own. 

I was assigned Sara's Sour Cream Apple Pie. Looks delicious doesn't it? When I saw it, I was like, don't make me change anything! I just want to eat it this way! But I'm too scared of life NOT to follow the rules, so I had to find a way to make it my own. #TypeA  #Rule-atarian  #ohwaithashtagsdontworkhere

But then I remembered that everything is better in miniature form, am I right? So I figured this deep dish pie would also be good as mini deep dish pies made in a cupcake pan. Apparently I like my pies to be as small as they can be.

Here's the recipe:

For the topping:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the filling:
1 1/3 cups sour cream
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 large Granny Smith apples (about 2 1/4 pounds)

For the crust:
1 pie crust (I use a store bought crust because I just can't go the extra mile. Sorry people.)

I followed Sara's instructions and made the topping first.

It will require all of your willpower not to eat it all with a spoon. Get control of yourself.

Then I made the filling. I sliced and chopped the apples smaller than Sara did because I was making smaller pies.

Chopping all those apples isn't easy. I had to take a quick swig of my DDP for sustenance.

Then I rolled out my crust. I used my handy Tervis Tumbler lid to cut the circles to put into my cupcake pan. The Tervis Tumbler is practically perfect in every way, and I bet they didn't even know what a great baking accessory it could be. Genius.

I reached the end of my pie crust at 6 circles. I could have rolled out the scraps and gotten 2-3 more circles, but I figured I was good with 6.

Then I filled my pies and added the topping. Please note that this original recipe is for one deep dish pie, so you are going to have a lot of filling. I got lazy and didn't want to make more than 6 pies, so I had a lot of filling left over. If you are making all of it, you are going to need more than one pie crust.

I baked them at 350 for 15 minutes. While I was waiting I realized I probably needed a snack and the leftover cinnamon topping was just staring at me, waiting to be eaten. So I got out my spoon and finished it off. 
Don't judge.

Just out of the oven:

Finished product:

Delicious, especially when drizzled with some caramel on top!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Building Traditions in Military Life

Our first 4th of July together in 2006

If there's one thing that comes with military life, it's instability, which isn't exactly conducive to building lasting traditions. Even though we've been married for almost 7 years now, I don't think we've ever done the same thing two years in a row for any holiday. Sometimes Todd is home, sometimes he's deployed. And because we live so far from our closest friends and family, we always seem to be traveling over some holiday. This is probably one of the hardest aspects of military life, because I like to have established traditions, preferably in our own home now that we have children.

 July 4, 2011

Grilling his 4th of July hamburger in 2011

Our very favorite holiday is the 4th of July. There's a lot to love about it, but what we love the most is how carefree it can be. There is nothing worse than an over-programmed 4th. By the end of the day, you're hot and cranky and hate everyone around you.

I learned a long time ago that flexibility is key to military life (please note: me = notoriously inflexible and hates change). We can't get too attached to very specific activities with this lifestyle, but we have certainly been able to create our own holiday traditions by sticking to two rules: 1) lower our expectations, and 2) create traditions that can be done anywhere. We may not be able to go to a specific parade or watch a certain city's fireworks display, but the activities we love the most for the 4th of July are simple and easy to find anywhere we go.

Scarlett's first 4th of July in 2012

Two weeks old

Todd and I grew up doing different things for the 4th of July, so we are nostalgic for different aspects of the holiday. We've pared down our requirements for the day to what makes both of us happy -- Todd has to have a hamburger, I have to go to the pool, and we must see fireworks. And SOMEHOW, the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest has made it's way into the annual plan. I have no idea how it happened, but over the years it has become must see TV and I set my DVR every year so we don't miss it.

July 4, 2013

This will be our first 4th of July spent here at Altus AFB (even though we lived here a year ago, we were travelling). It's somewhat daunting to make plans when you have no idea what to expect (again, me = notoriously inflexible and also a serious planner). But I know we will participate in our traditions that we can do anywhere. We'll put out our flag, don our patriotic clothing, and enjoy the celebrations at church and on base. We will eat a hamburger at the pool and watch fireworks later that night. And just like that, we've done everything we want to do!

Happy 4th of July!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Girl and Her Cat

These two have a love/hate relationship.

Scarlett does most of the loving and Clarity does most of the hating.

But Clarity tolerates Scarlett more and more every day.

We mostly just feel sorry for the poor cat.

She has no idea what's coming.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Transitioning to Twins: The Minivan

After I was done laughing at the doctor for telling us we were having twins, I immediately told Todd we were going to need a new car. A minivan to be exact.

I am not one of those people who thinks minivans are beneath me. If you don't want to drive a minivan because you think they're uncool, fine, but while you're judging me I'll be opening my sliding doors from my key fob and watching my 2 year old crawl in the car without any assistance from me. I love minivans and I have been waiting for the day to finally get mine. We had initially decided that my car (a Toyota RAV4) could hold two kids, so we were going to wait on the van. But there is no way that three car seats were going to fit in the backseat of a RAV4, so it was finally time to get the van, and I was READY.

Todd obsessively searched the internet for days. We test drove a Toyota Sienna at the Toyota dealer in town, and seeing as there were no Hondas for sale anywhere around us, we test drove our friend's Odyssey. We finally came across one in the DFW area with absurdly low mileage and an even more absurdly low price. So off we went at the last minute in the middle of the week to go buy a car. We literally just picked up and left -- if somebody had walked into my house they would have thought we'd been kidnapped in the middle of dinner. But I did not have time to waste in picking up the house -- I had a minivan to buy!

And here it is, the new ride -- a Honda Odyssey. It's your standard minivan blue color. Scarlett's favorite feature is the DVD player where she can watch her Disney movie of choice whenever she wants (long car rides only!). Sure, I know I'm a mom because I have a kid with me at all times, but driving this thing REALLY makes me feel like a mom. It's totally awesome.