Tiny Techies

Hide the toaster.

Given my proclivity for toast flambe (topped with tiny melted marshmallows) and Caden’s intense analytical investigative skills, small appliances don’t have great odds for remaining intact in our house.

His personality is beginning to show through as the type who will revel in divesting objects of their inner bits. Caden will sit among his toys – after dragging them all toward him – surrounding himself with his favorites. (Proud Mommy moment: the muppets favorite toy is their soft book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”)

With great aplomb, he’ll pick one up and turn it around and around in his hands – investigating every angle. Then, seemingly without warning, he’ll fling it aside.

“Done with that one!”

And as we continue to work on mobility, Caden is displaying the true meaning of being a child born in 2010. What is the only object that intrigues Caden enough to immediately prop himself up on hands and knees and, with a look of intense determination, propel himself forward (even if it’s not exactly “crawling” yet)? The iPhone.

Hold the sexy smart phone out in front of him and Caden immediately starts to motivate himself. Focused on all-fours, he’ll begin to rock back and forth. He’ll lunge forward, face plant, pull himself slightly forward in a twist and roll movement and army crawl a few inches. Then he’ll collapse onto the ground, give his thumb several powerful sucks and repeat the entire process.

Every time he propelled himself forward within reach of the glowing gizmo. Every. Time. Jon observed, “Now THAT is true intent and determination.” Even the muppet’s Caterpillar book doesn’t illicit such an intrigued reaction.

“Awww, he wants to talk on the phone,” cooed GrammaJ (who thinks everything her “cutiepies” do is adorable and brilliant – I think that’s rule No. 1 in the grandparents handbook). Talking/chewing – simply semantics, right?

Logan is the muppet spending his days chattering away. While his conversations don’t often make much more sense than some of GrampaStavo’s Englalian language creations, he’s clearly communicating. “Ai!” he’ll squeal when someone walks into a room.

He might actually be saying “hi.” The greeting is always followed by his trademark infectious grin.

Today we were working on sitting – Logan is getting quite good at remaining upright. Holding his beloved Caterpillar book, he looked up. “Ai!” Then he fell straight backwards with a cry of, “Ai!”

Thunk.

He hit the carpeting, head on the ground and legs sticking straight up in the air – his body stubbornly remaining in the (vertically) seated position. The smile never wavered.

“Hi” and “Goodbye.”

Wriggle, Wiggle, Squiggle and Squirm

Toys are haphazardly strewn about my living in room – they lay where they fell in the aftermath of Hurricane Muppet.

Both muppets are sitting on their own. They can’t get upright by themselves – but they look adorable when you prop them up. Logan isn’t as good at maintaining the posture. Caden will lean and catch himself. Logan? “Well, guess we’re going down now.” Thunk.

They’re far more interested in the continued discovery of each and every toy. The can reach out and drag objects toward them. (Deemed “advanced skills” on the milestone growth chart timeline.)

Caden spent the morning scootching his little legs up underneath himself and rocking back and forth on his knees. He is so close to crawling. He’ll scoot backwards a few inches, growing increasingly frustrated that the object of his current attention is seemingly moving farther and farther out of his reach. Then after several attempts, he lurched himself forward. He completely faceplanted – but hey, we’re making mobility progress here.

Logan’s big boy carseats arrived today. The UPS man rang the doorbell, surrounded by four giant Britax boxes. “Four, huh?” he deadpanned. (To be fair, we went ahead and ordered Caden’s at the same time.) Jon set about putting the seats together and we strapped the muppets into the land-yacht stroller – forward facing – for the first time. The muppets were giddy with glee. Freedom!

But I think we’ll prolong their childhood (in infant seats) a few weeks more; Logan has a good two pounds left…And Caden doesn’t quite fit. Although, it doesn’t appear he’s going anywhere in his seat; he gave a rousing Houdini effort, but stayed firmly ensconced in his seat.

Today the muppets are nine months old.

The same amount of time has passed in their young lives that they should have remained with me in utero. From two pounds to 20 – why dwell on the beginnings when we’ve come so far. Our days now involve the mundane dealings of infants growing up. (And rantings in the blogosphere from their slightly neurotic mother.)

The wiggles, squiggles, giggles and grins.

Beach Boys

On Sunday, we caravanned down to Manhattan Beach to visit Uncle Paul and Aunt Steph. In preparation for the muppets first beach vacation, Mother Nature decided to play along and the weather was a picture-perfect, sunshiny, 70 degree day.

G.G. had not yet seen Uncle Paul’s new digs either. Paul has spent the past five years living in the ultimate bachelor pad. Four blocks from the beach, bachelor Paul lived in the downstairs “apartment” of a four-bedroom townhouse. In reality, this “apartment” was the townhouse’s mother-in-law unit with an external lock put on its door.

While the 900 sq. ft. room would have been quite spacious as a guest area, it made for some tight  permanent living quarters. The bedroom consisted of…a bed – the queen size mattress filled the entire space. His closet consisted of a divot in the wall the height of his waist. (Even 4’10” Steph had to squeeze into the closet.) The bathroom door did not fully open, as the sink was in the way, so one had to scoot around the plumbing for any desired cleansing. True to form for a bachelor pad, a black leather couch graced the living room. In front of the stereotypical settee was the state of the art, all encompassing entertainment system. A lone tiny plastic plant languished in the corner.

But now that Paul is marrying his better half, the two of them now reside in a gorgeous (full-sized) home with panoramic Pacific views. There is still no living greenery in their home, but the palm trees bordering the Strand more than make up for that particular omission.

Manhattan Beach is not known for its stellar parking situation. So we played a Rubik’s Cube game of fitting the whole family into the Pilot. Ultimately, the stroller was banished and the third row got its inaugural passenger. GrammaJ kicked off her shoes and climbed over the muppets row, gracefully tumbling into her seat. GrampaStavo planted himself in between the boys where he could commence cooing over his grandsons. (We are not sure who babbled more during this trip – Grampa or the muppets.) G.G. rode shotgun.

After the circus-like attempts to get the whole gang together in one vehicle and an Abbott and Costello themed performance on directional navigation, we turned down a narrow alley (allegedly a street in MB) and parked in front of his garage. The six of us piled out of the SUV in clown car style only to revise the seating arrangements shortly thereafter so we could walk the Strand. (We drove to the beach because the stroller was left behind; muppets had to be carried.)

The muppets were giggling away in their carseats when Steph decided to climb in. One moment she was standing beside us, the next she had ducked beneath the carseat – crawling through the minuscule leg space – reappearing between the muppets. This inspired GrampaStavo to attempt to hurl himself from the back of the car into the third row. He was luckily thwarted in this endeavor, and sent with Paul and GrammaJ to walk instead. GrampaStavo is a lot larger than the pocket-size carseat crawler Steph.

Speaking size, both muppets are now officially chunky. Without the stroller, our family took turns acting as human strollers – carrying the boys along the beach. Caden was in his element, enjoying every moment of the ocean air. The rest of us admired the multi-million dollar homes adorning the beach front, making fun of some of the more eccentric architectural choices.

On Monday it was gloomy again. Even Mother Nature was sad we weren’t still at the beach. I bet the muppets will absolutely love Maui too…

 

Fly Me to the Moon

It appears we’re not quite qualified yet. We missed the height requirement by just a smidge.

Basic qualifications required for consideration as a NASA astronaut include a degree in engineering, biological or physical science, and the ability to pass the NASA long-duration space flight physical – including 20/20 vision.

Unlike most children their age, the muppets already have one graduate degree. (More average kids don’t typically experience a graduation until at least kindergarten – we earned our first degree before their expected delivery date. They’re NICU grads, with an emphasis in breathing.) Given the medical attention they received, and the wires and sensors that surrounded their tiny bodies throughout their stay, it seems like they’ve earned a bioscience degree for not letting anything hurt their little bodies and an engineering degree for navigating all those wires.

We have another opthalmology appointment tomorrow to confirm 20/20 vision, but their little eyes are tracking objects they are interested in with a laser like focus. The minimal Grade 1 ROP was declared dissipated months ago.

Astronauts often operate in a zero gravity environment, so I figure the muppets’ inability to sit up of their own accord is irrelevant. But sadly, we can’t explain away the height requirement. Astronaut candidates need to be between 60-75 inches tall; the muppets are pushing 26 inches.

Nevertheless, we spent these past few beautiful California days practicing for some hard missions. NASA notes that training for long-duration missions lasts two to three years beyond the initial training and evaluation period.

The muppets experienced their first swing ride at the park. My little thrill seekers loved every minute of the swaying adrenaline rush. Due to size restrictions (again with the “tiny” issue), Caden and Logan decided to share a swing. They already look like little space men, ready for a moonwalk.

Tonight we took upon a second trial mission. We set out to procure some basic household items. We loaded up, headed out and bundled back into the stroller. A woman sidled up next to us as we entered the store. “Oh bless your heart,” she smiled at me. “Twins?”

I started to smile, and let her know how blessed we are. “A boy and a girl?” she asked? I sighed. “Two boys,” I assured her. I aimed the stroller in the probable direction of oatmeal. We maneuvered our way past the candy aisles, which were swarming with last minute Valentine’s Day sweethearts in search of sugar.

“Aww,” a voice cried out from among the throngs, “Twins!” I looked up. “A boy and a girl, right?” said a very excited woman. Again, I assured her Caden and Logan were both boys – this time without the smile. I pushed forward faster, determined to locate the oatmeal and get back home. But once again, we were thwarted in our pursuit of mashed grains. A woman standing amid the family planning and prevention paraphernalia. “Wow! Twins. A boy and a girl?!”

“Two boys,” I said through clenched teeth.

It finally occurred to me that most of these exuberant multi-sex proponents never even take more than a cursory glance at the double stroller before pronouncing what must be the “ideal” twin result. Caden and Logan are both very much boys (despite a friend, who incidentally does have boy/girl twins, said that “Cadence” has a nice ring to it – pun intended).

No, they are not identical. They are brothers. Both boys. And the “ideal” twin result – is two healthy babies, who may or may not be future astronauts.

Happy Birthday Daddy

Happy birthday, Jon!

My husband always said he’d envisioned himself as a father by age 30. We didn’t have any children by his 30th birthday; he hits the ground running with double the trouble and double the grins – blessed with twins for age 31. Although, I don’t think our muppet story is quite how he pictured himself arriving at the point of “My Two Sons.”

To celebrate Jon’s arrival into his third decade, we did absolutely nothing. Zilch, zippo, squat, a big 0-fer. Normally, we at least go out to dinner as a family. This option was presented to me and I became a bit nauseous at just having the thought of a restaurant forced upon me. I suggested that perhaps he could go out alone. Instead we decided to have a laid back pizza party at our house. So I dressed myself up in my least offensive oversized sweats and perched at the kitchen table in what I hoped to be the most pleasant shade of green possible. My milestone gift? Not throwing up directly on him.

This year, I was determined to make up for last year’s giant fizzle. We’re all home, happy and healthy. If ever there was a year to celebrate! I conferred with my boys. Cooper and Scout readily agreed that for their father’s birthday surprise, they would refrain from eating poop for the day. (Gross, I know…whole separate blog post for that topic.) The muppets and I had a more difficult time coming up with the perfect “we love you Daddy” present.

Jon is not the easiest person in the world to shop for – especially when you’re searching for a “perfect” gift. Jon, himself, is a notorious fabulous gift-giver. Somehow, some way, he always manages to pick the perfect item to fit any occasion. (Granted, I would still argue not arfing on someone is a great gift for any occasion.)

Perhaps he would enjoy the new Xbox. I quizzed a few gamer friends about various consoles and platforms; they proved to be of no help at all. (What good are nerdy friends if they can’t provide video game support!) Ultimately, we decided upon the new Xbox Kinect. We’re parents now, so looking absolutely ridiculous as we bounce and flail around the living room using our bodies as the controller seems right in line with our current station in life.

Caden thoughtfully nodded his head at me. He agreed that the Kinect system would be a good idea. However, for the first birthday gift he was leaning toward a more traditional route. Dad has an affinity for all things “tactical.” So Caden followed suit with the video game theme, but chose to give Daddy “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” Jon opened the game, looked at Caden and said, “You look like a Black Ops kinda guy, little man.”

Logan had other ideas; he was going to do his own thing. We were all shocked when Logan smiled and proudly revealed his birthday gift.

His first tooth.

Logan now has the beginnings of one little tooth – one of his bottom incisors has officially cut. Jon and I are both in complete awe at how fast our little muppets are growing up. I know what you’re all thinking. Logan? But Caden is the one who’s been gumming his way through a minimum of three soggy drool bibs per day.

First to come home, despite so many medical proclamations, and now first with a tooth despite Caden having a significant jump on the teething process. I think Logan is still showing his competitive side a bit after being thwarted for firstborn.

For Jon’s 31st birthday, Logan got Dad his first tooth; Caden got him black ops. Edge to Logan, but just barely.

Bertie Bots Every Flavor Baby Food

It’s official. The muppets like food.

That’s a good thing, considering our days pretty much revolve around it. Since they were wee little two-pound tots living in a plastic box, we’ve focused on food. The first few NICU days focused on whetting their appetites as doctors dripped 2mL (a single ounce is 30mL) into their pea-size tummies.

Then our nurses informed us that one of the first big challenges we’d face was determining how well the muppets would be able to handle processing food. Typically at 27 weeks, tykes prefer to just use the easier umbilical cord route – intestinal digestion requires an awful lot of unnecessary calorie burning. As we’d so traumatically (and literally) cut off that option days before, the neonatologist on call blithely warned us that NEC is a not uncommon preemie issue. (NEC, or necrotizing enterocolitis, is when the intestines die – often taking the attached baby with them.)

Caden and Logan didn’t get NEC. They progressively tolerated higher and higher amounts of milk – never experiencing the step backward we were constantly warned about. Then we learned how to drink from a bottle. Granted, drinking from the bottle wasn’t so much the issue as breathing in conjunction with said bottle. That took a bit of practice, but by discharge Logan had earned himself the nickname “Alarm Clock” for his high pitched screams should any nurse (or delinquent parent) be late with an every-three-hour feeding.

These past few days, both of my little men have been inhaling their big-boy solid foods. Breakfast consists of oatmeal (also a fabulous facial and hair care enhancer, a factoid the muppets wholeheartedly embrace). Then after nap time, the vegetable of the week is served as lunch. Carrots were our first endeavor; today we graduated to peas.

The carrots were a bright orange mush, but otherwise smelled like carrots. The peas are, well, pea green. Add in the gruel-like consistency, and they rather resembled something I’d expect to see extruding from the opposite end of my children. (In fact, I’m not sure I haven’t…)

Jon and I wrinkled our noses in disgust as soon as each 1.5 ounce jar. “Oh, they are not going to like these,” we agreed.

Turns out, they’re currently into food. Although we had a similar cause for concern when the foreign flavor crossed their lips, the moment quickly passed and the green goop was quickly gobbled up. Thankfully, this stuff doesn’t stain. “No doctor, they’re not feeling ill at all. Just a pea-bit fashion statement…” However, I cannot yet vouch for pea spit-up. I assume an uninformed spectator will very quickly be on the phone with an exorcist while keeping a keen eye to see if either muppet noggin begins revolving in 360 degree rotations.

Their love of food is showing. Especially on Logan. Jon and I decided to venture forth for a family breakfast this morning. After settling into a booth for four – muppets remain in their carseats – our waitress arrived to coo at our darling children (and allegedly take our order).

“Twins?” she exclaimed. I smiled and nodded. “A boy and a girl?” she smiled at us. No, two boys I assured her.  She was not phased by the correction and plunged right ahead with the interrogation. “Are you breast feeding?” I am not, but I would like some chocolate pancakes.

“Oh that’s good,” she sighed with relief. “I was thinking your little girl here was taking all the milk!” she laughed at Logan. So what I hear you saying is that my son looks like a girl and is fat?

Jon has repeatedly suggested that perhaps Logan’s eyelashes, with their perpetual appearance of heavy mascara, cause people to assume femininity. I disagree. Everyone knows ALL the muppets have big round eyes and long luxurious lashes.

More Carrots and Peas, Please

The carrots have been defeated.

Today was Day 2 of the solid food trials. Caden opened his mouth wide and stuck his tongue straight out. “I’m waiting, Mom…” Apparently, the taste is still a bit new – it took him by surprise and yesterday’s extraordinarily concerned facial expression returned. After the wrinkled nose subsided, he swallowed, eyed me suspiciously, and opened wide again.

In honor of yesterday’s fallen bib brethren (we’re on laundry load three), we experimented with plastic big boy bibs today. The washing instructions on those directed me to simply hose them down after the battle (I paraphrase).

Logan decided he wasn’t into eating carrots today. He requested a pass this afternoon, despite Dad’s repeated pleas. Rather, he was fascinated by his new bib and chose to chew on that instead. Caden took this distraction as an opportunity to knock the jar out of my hands.

Carrots aplenty!

While I futilely attempted to scoop up the vegetable bounty, Caden took the queue from his brother that the new bib may be delicious. Shortly thereafter, there were no carrot remnants left on his bib. He was a proud baby boy.

He took one last big bite, and sneezed. My little muppet shares!

Two washclothes, laundry load four running, and a brand new outfit later and we’re ready to take on tomorrow. Oatmeal breakfast (raspberries supplied by muppets) and carrots for lunch.

“Oompa Loompa Doompadee Dee
If you eat carrots you’ll grow big and see
But orange may be your color too
Like the Oompa
Oompa Loompa doompadee do”

Carrots and Peas, Please

Remember word problems? Solve for X:
The baby food vegetable variety pack includes 12 jars comprising 4 flavors. Each new flavor is introduced once a week. If Jon and Tricia have two babies, how many variety packs will they need to order so they have enough for each muppet can enjoy one flavor each week?

The muppets are eight months old today (actual); to celebrate, we awoke and trooped off to a morning doctor appointment. The boys continue their determined path to put their preemie days far behind them. Both are officially on the growth chart for their chronological age. More importantly, they are both maintaining a studly positively upward trajectory on their individual charts. My sons are obviously brilliant.

Caden Welker: 8 Months
15.5 lbs (2nd percentile for weight, 65th percentile weight for length)
25 inches (0.3 percentile for length – but double the 12 inches at birth)

Logan Anthony: 8 Months
17.5 lbs (16th percentile for weight, 95th percentile weight for length)
25 inches (0.3 percentile for length – but double the 12 inches at birth)

With two chubby growing boys at home, we continue trying solids. To build upon our math equation, eight months actual equates to five months adjusted. After tots decide their little tummies will tolerate infant cereals, “First Foods” are recommended for babes 4-6 months old – single ingredient pureed fruits and vegetables.

The idea to begin with vegetables comes highly suggested. Fruits are sweeter and kids may not want to go back to vegetables after eating pureed bananas that taste suspiciously like the filling in banana cream pie. So the menu options for this evening read: carrots, peas, squash or sweet potato. (Really only the first two, since the store was out of the latter two.) We decided on carrots.

The muppets were strapped into their highchairs, their bibs were read last rites, and we popped the little orange jar. (Interestingly, it smelled just like carrots – tasted rather bland, but Jon and I got the general carrot gist.) Caden and Logan are both used to the dinner-time drill. They expressed complete apathy toward rice cereal months ago, preferring to chew contentedly on the soft-tipped spoon, and have been enjoying oatmeal for several weeks. Jon scooped a small amount of orangey vegetable goodness and aimed for Caden’s mouth. Our little muppet opened wide and gulped down his first bite.

His face twisted in horrified concern, his little lips puckering and his tiny nose wrinkling. His eyes squinted in a combined glare and impending wail. He shrank backwards into his chair and tilted sideways as his 17.5 inch circumference mind raced feverishly. Words could not have more clearly expressed the thought, “Dad…there is something very wrong with my oatmeal!”

Logan’s response was strikingly similar, with the added effect of our more vocal child opening his carrot-filled mouth to explain, “Ablwaa.” The orange revolution had begun.

Both muppets decided to give this strange concoction a second try. And on the third or fourth bite, they both decided these “carrots” were good stuff. There were several successful big boy bites. (Of course, there were also several none-to-successful any size bites.) They finished the first jar, which we’d split between the two of them, and looked at us expectantly as they sat patiently in their high chairs. Ten minutes later, they’d polished off the second jar.

After dinner, we went straight to the bath. We did not pass Go. The boys shed their previously blue outfits. (I was going to type something here about what color the outfit was now, but there was no blending of colors. Orange won.) I then realized we were bathing Oompa Loompas. The boys had the distinct color of a bad spray tan. And it wasn’t coming off…

I’ve heard you can turn orange if you eat too many carrots. (I’ve also heard flamingos are pink because they eat shrimp and only polar bears that live in the snow are white.) The muppets apparently tried to fast-track this anomaly by simply staining their skin. I’m hoping the coloring won’t get worse as we continue to eat carrots for a full week. And given their raspberry-blowing abilities, I’m hoping my coloring won’t be terribly afflicted.

Next week we start peas. So if the muppets look a little green around the gills, no need to worry – it’s probably just pureed vegetables.

For those of you still pondering the opening question – the answer is 5.

I Think I Can…I Think I Can…

In March: It’s a New Generation – One with Many Ultrasounds Baby B is a bit more . . . rambunctious. I’m pretty sure I saw him punch Baby A at one point. It’s actually been quite difficult to get a still photo of Baby B. Every time the camera tries to freeze frame, for something like a medical measurement, Baby B thinks it’s hilarious to jerk and move away as quickly as possible. We also think he’s had the hiccups several times. Flailing about, clearly warming up for as many 90-foot sprints as possible, Baby B is clearly the frontrunner in the mischievous category.”

In April: Ain’t that a Kick in the Head “Earlier in the week, Jon had suggested he get some games to keep us all occupied. Baby B apparently took this to heart. Based on his circumstances, Hide-n-Seek was the game of choice. The nurse and I could hear his heartbeat faintly in the background. The nurse continued to move the puck around on my stomach trying to track Baby B down. But B is very good at Hide-n-Seek. He was winning even though the nurse had the sound wave monitoring machine advantage.”

Four hours after his birth last May, Caden’s primary nurse June, informed me he was refusing to stay swaddled in his bunting – despite the wires encompassing his little body. Throughout his NICU stay, he was only happy once he’d kicked his little feet out. By two weeks old, he was scooting around his isolette and trying to push himself up.

Now that he’s a big giant boy, he’s attempting to mobilize in earnest.

He has spent the past several mornings scooting around the living room. Rolling over from back to tummy is a piece of cake; lifting his head up to look around in a half push-up position takes him very little effort.

Yesterday, Caden noticed his soft discovery block about three feet in front of his playmat. He reached out toward it, but it was just out of range. You could see the wheels turning in his head.

“I want that block. That block is over there. I am over here.” He reached forward again – nope, still an arm’s length away. “I want to be over there. That is where the block is. I want that block.”

With a laser-like focus on the big blue block, he scrunched his little legs up underneath him. Step one. He paused, diligently trying to problem solve the situation. The lightbulb went on! He shoved with his arms. And scooted backwards. He repeated this scenario two or three more times. Each time moving farther away from the desired block.

At this point, Caden was starting to get frustrated. He collapsed his head to the floor – tushy still pointing skyward.

Caden is a voracious thumb-sucker. It may be for self-soothing, it may be his magic feather, or it may be his superpower recharger. He’d flung his head onto the carpet and was furiously sucking his thumb. Thumb firmly ensconced and drool soaking the carpet, his lower lip was just about to jut out in the quiver that precedes the wail, when he noticed the two smaller blocks in the set in his line of vision, just to his left.

He lifted his head slightly, peering at these blocks, and then turned his head to look back at the big blue block. He put both hands on the floor and shoved himself finally forward – inchworming over to the blocks. He was very pleased with himself.

Caden has discovered he can move. It’s still a bit wonky. He can’t quite crawl yet. But he’s mastered the art of pulling his legs up under himself, inchworming a few inches and then rolling to the side. He’ll be fully mobile in the very near future.

This morning, he attempted a full tour of our living room. Then he passed out for his morning catnap – bottom still straight up. I took those few moments of solitude to order babyproofing items…