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.

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.

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.

If You Give the Muppets a Midnight Snack

If you give a muppet a midnight snack,

he’s going to ask for a fresh new diaper.

When you change his diaper, he’ll probably want to put on a new outfit as well.

Once he’s dressed, he’ll ask to put on a drool bib.

Then he will want to chew on his hand and various lovies nearby.

While he’s sucking his thumb, he’ll probably realize that there’s a lot of interesting stuff surrounding him. So he’s going to want to look around a bit.

When he’s finished taking everything in, he’ll want to listen to some classic music to calm himself down. You will have to make sure the iPod is plugged into the speakers and find the Disney Classic Lullabies playlist.

While he’s listening to the songs, he’s probably going to want to sing along. He’ll smile and squeal; his voice will make him remember a funny story he wants to share about his day.

Telling his story will remind him of all the books in our children’s library. So you’ll read him one of his cardboard books and he’ll want to turn the pages himself.

When he holds the book, he’ll get so excited that he’ll want to hold all his toys. He’ll ask to sit on the floor so he can grab his blocks.

He’ll try to crawl. When he starts to get frustrated, he’ll want to snuggle with you in his glider.

The gentle rocking will slowly start to put him to sleep against your chest. Which means you’ll need to bundle him back up in his wearable blanket and put him back in his crib.

Squirming and rolling in his sleepsack to get comfortable will make him realize that his diaper is wet again. So…he’ll ask for another diaper change.

And chances are, if he needs a new diaper, he’s going to want a midnight snack before he goes back to bed.

 

Inspired by the book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Joffe Numeroff

Auld Lang Syne

Interestingly enough, I am closing out 2010 in the exact same fashion that I welcomed it – in my sweats, in my comfy chair, and gunning to be curled up in bed by the New York New Year. That’s about all I can same for the similarities between the years.

What a year. This has been a year of absolute elation and terrifying concerns. Absolutely nothing played out the way I’d envisioned.

When the clock struck midnight 365 days ago, I was sound asleep – dreaming of what the following year would be like. I pictured us a new family of three. Would we have a little boy or a little girl? I envisioned waddling around, glowing with delight as I prepared to welcome a child. I imagined being the guest of honor at a baby shower, opening cutesy baby clothes. I thought the summer would come to a close and I’d find myself cradling a crying and wrinkled newborn while Jon grinned and teared up nearby.

The first curveball came less than a week into the year. We were going to straight to a family of four. The nurse pointed out two blinking dots on the ultrasound screen. It was my first introduction to my two children.

Then I got sick. Turns out, that glow of pregnancy so many people talk about is simply the blood rushing to your face as you arf your guts out.

I didn’t imagine the level of fear that would consume me when my sons were born. I never thought I’d be a preemie parent. I hadn’t fully grasped how much I would fall in love the very second I saw their tiny wriggling bodies beneath the mounds of wires.

I spent this year completely ensconced in a bubble. No world events penetrated my thoughts. I didn’t care what kind of health care plan Obama signed – as long as the muppets were getting the best care right this very second. I sensed that the BP oil spill sucked from a peripheral point of view – as long as there was enough gas to get me to the NICU twice a day I was fine.

Despite the setbacks, 2010 was a year of new arrivals. Friends welcomed new babies, and shared that siblings were on the way. Uncle Paul proposed to Aunt Stephanie, so I’m getting a sister. But by far the biggest celebration of the year was the weekend of August 6. The muppets came home.

2010 saw much heartache and joy and so many milestones. This evening, Jon and I sat on the living room floor with the boys, playing with blocks. Caden sat by himself, with the tiniest bit of support. Logan stood with a little help from Jon. Drool soaked all of us since both boys are teething. And when it came time to say goodnight, the muppets bid their first calendar year goodbye with a grin and a giggle. Who could ask for more?

Life is no longer about me. Laundry can wait. That honey-do project may get done someday. Friends and family have no interest in visiting me; they want to meet the muppets. We’ve given up our identity as Jon and Tricia – we’re the twins’ parents now. It’s the coolest title I will ever achieve.

This year, I have 3 guys to kiss at midnight (Sydney time, London time and New York time respectively). 2011 holds so much possibility – we get to watch little lives discover and develop before our eyes. Just think of how different life will be at the end of 2011. Sure, I’ll still be sitting in my comfy chair gunning for bed by 9. But I’ll be reflecting on a year gone by with toddlers.

Without a doubt, this has been the most amazing year of my life. But I’ll be honest, I’m not sad to see the year become the past. Here’s to the coming year. I wish everyone happiness and health in 2011. May your dreams come true, and may even more memorable events be created from the dreams that don’t precisely play out.

To paraphrase New Year’s Rocking Eve host Ryan Seacrest, “Stream 2010, OUT!”

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s Christmas vacation 2010! This is my favorite time of the year; I’ve always loved the holidays. But I don’t think I’ve been this excited since I was a very small person.

It’s the muppets first Christmas – the first year we start creating our own family traditions.

Christmas was a VERY big deal as I was growing up. My brother and I would routinely wake up every hour the night before and yell, “Mommmm, is it Christmas yet?” Our parents would blearily mumble that it was not, and attempt to convince us to go back to bed. Paul and I would run back and forth into each other’s rooms.

After enduring many long minutes of discussion about the following day’s celebration, we would run into our parents’ room – carefully averting our eyes from the living room. Neither of us wanted to see the decorated tree until morning.

Our parents would groan and again send us back to bed. This scenario would repeat many times throughout the night.

When “morning” (quotations used because we would usually wear our Mom and Dad down by 6a.m.) arrived, we would run into the living room to plug in the tree. The rainbow colored lights would dazzle the gift-wrapped bounty below our plastic tree. Paul and I would grab our stockings and settle down next to “our” side of the tree. It was a treat just to be in the living room – the room no one was allowed in on any ordinary day.

Mom and Dad would stumble into the kitchen to make coffee. Someone would grab the camera. Paul and I would bounce around in the living room like hyperactive puppies, our eyes wide with excitement about the endless possibilities.

This is the first year my childhood tradition is changing. This is the first year that I won’t wake up at my parents house (albeit much later than dawn for many years now) and join my immediate family by the tree. This year we’re the grownups. Family is coming to visit us.

We have an action-packed celebration ready to remember.

Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, the muppets will experience their first Christmas mass. Aunt Ivy has volunteered to brave the ideal of holding a quiet infant throughout an hour-long mass with us. Christmas morning, we’re having a breakfast gathering with friends before GrammaJ and GrampaTavo arrive. Uncle Paul and Aunt Stephanie are joining us on Dec. 26 for an all-out family dinner.

Will these turn into the Stream family traditions? Only time will tell. I’ve been bouncing around with excitement for weeks now. I am excited about experiencing that same wonder and amazement through the eyes of my children.

This year may be a bit early for that – we’re more expecting them to contentedly sit in the arms of all their admires and track shiny objects. But there are endless possibilities for the years to come.

As a child, I was often most enthralled by the material gifts. After the whirlwind events of 2010, I can honestly say I truly believe. Santa came early this year; we have healthy muppets home with us. We have our family ready to create traditions that Caden and Logan will hopefully remember fondly 30 years from now.

Joy to the world people. The muppets are getting ready to celebrate.