Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Eve part 2: Baking Cookies

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This month has been crazy at work, and just about the time things finally started to slow down a bit, I got sick. Nothing serious, but I felt pretty rotten all the same. So it wasn't until Christmas Eve that I was finally feeling up to baking some Christmas cookies.


I had hoped to watch the Polar Express like we usually do on Christmas Eve, but Bitty had other plans and Cuddlebug and Bearhug were busy with their video games. I decided it wasn't really worth the possible meltdown to pull rank on Bitty and insist on watching a Christmas movie (haha) so we baked cookies with World of Zoo in the background (on the Wii) instead.

Bitty likes to be my "counter helper" so he sat on the counter and helped pour the ingredients into the bowl and stir. Once the dough and frosting were made he went back to his game while I rolled out the cookie dough. Bearhug and Cuddlebug came by every few minutes to help cut out the cookie shapes. I was sooo amazed at how carefully they cut out the shapes so they wouldn't overlap, something I usually have to repeatedly remind them to do. They got a little impatient whenever the cookie sheet would fill up and they had to wait to do another one (I had two cookie sheets going so at any given time we had one baking, and another either cooling or being filled up with new cookies, so the wait wasn't *too* long).

When it came time to frost all three of the boys wanted to help with that, so I brought a couple of plates of already-cooled cookies to the table and set them up with bowls of frosting.





Normally it takes quite a while to bake and frost the cookies, and often even longer when I let the boys help. This time, I was amazed at how quickly all the cookies were finished with all three of them helping. It was great! (and the cookies were so yummy!)


After we finished the cookies and cleaned up, I asked Bitty if he wanted Santa to come to our house. He looked like he'd seen a ghost. I had to ask a couple more times before he answered with a soft, almost whispered but emphatic "No!" He's not really into Santa (obviously) and I guess the idea of a bearded stranger coming into our house was not so appealing to him. I had to actually promise to tell Santa to skip our house; then he relaxed and went back to his game.

Lucky for us, Bearhug and Cuddlebug aren't into Santa either so they didn't mind my telling Bitty that we'd ask him not to come. Cuddlebug informed me earlier in the day, "I don't believe in Santa, Mom, I believe in St. Nick." As in, St. Nicholas from history.

Letting the boys stay up to help with cookies also helped them get a little more tired so it was easier to get them into bed :). Everyone was excited for Christmas morning, and Bitty reminded us for at least the 1000th time "you ca' open you pwesents on Sa'urday December 25!"




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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Eve part 1: The Christmas Story

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I have long wanted to start a tradition of reading the Christmas story with the boys on Christmas Eve, but so far they just haven't had the attention span. Sometimes we read one verse of the story from the Bible, but we've never been able to actually read the whole thing.

One year, the boys got upset when I tried to *tell* them the story, so I ended up working it into a Thomas story (what can I say, I was desperate, lol). In the book, Thomas was trying to deliver a package and had to ask many of his friends for help, so in my "revised" version, Thomas was trying to deliver a package and told all of his friends about Jesus being born. Lucky for me, the boys didn't mind the revision, as long as Thomas was still the main character, hehe.

Anyway, so this year I decided to try again. We gathered in front of the tree with our Scriptures (Cuddlebug and Bearhug each have their own set that they got for their birthday last year) opened up to Luke 2. Bitty wasn't really interested but he *was* intrigued by the pictures in the middle of his brothers' Scriptures so he borrowed one and entertained himself by looking at those. We each took turns reading the verses and actually made it through verses 4-20. Bitty didn't want to read a verse, but wanted a turn reading and chose to read the description of one of the pictures he was looking at. It had absolutely nothing to do with the Christmas story, but that's ok :), we just moved on from there.

It was great! We're definitely going to do this every year now :).

After that, we let each of the boys open one of their presents, and then while they were busy playing with those I started baking Christmas cookies...



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Negotiations

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Cuddlebug and Bearhug were arguing over which video game to play. I suggested they take turns and play one now and the other one after that.

CB: (sighs) Ok, we can do one race on Monster Trucks.

BH: ok, then we're only doing one race on Mario Kart.

CB: (bigger sigh) Okaaaay! We can do ten races on Monster Trucks.

BH: Ok!

CB: But I'm NOT gonna have FUN.

lol :)

Of course once they got started, he DID have fun ;).

And they even managed to switch back and forth between games without any further disputes.


Disagreements like this can dissolve into an all-out brawl in the blink of an eye around here, so I was *extremely* impressed that they both stayed calm, used their words, and found a compromise they could each live with. Yay!



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Monday, December 27, 2010

Blessings

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(Taken about a week before Christmas)


Bearhug sat quietly in front of the tree and his brothers joined him. If anyone started to talk, he gave them a quiet "shhh." Dh and I were rather amazed to see the three of them sitting so calmly together, we stood behind them just watching (and obviously I grabbed my camera). After a minute or so, Bearhug got up and said he just wanted to take a few minutes to look at the tree and think about how grateful we are for Jesus and all the blessings in our lives.

Words can't express how grateful I am for these precious boys.

With the Christmas season we've been trying to focus on the reason we celebrate, the greatest Gift of all.

Sometimes it's hard to tell if they're listening.

And then they do something so sweet and simple like this, and I remember that sometimes I am the one who needs to do more listening. :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. ~3 John 1:4



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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

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(painting by Simon Dewey)


"And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Jud├Ža, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them."

Luke 2:4-20


My family and I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas!


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Friday, December 24, 2010

Send thanks to our troops

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My MIL sent this link to me, Xerox has set up a website where you can choose a thank you card and they will print it and send to our troops stationed overseas. The designs are all from artwork submitted by children around the country, and they have some really cute and patriotic ones over there :).

Just wanted to pass this along, it only takes a minute and it's free! And you can visit as often as you like and send as many cards as you want.


Let's Say Thanks




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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Random Christmas Joy

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This is beautiful. I love the reactions of the shoppers :). Merry Christmas all!



From the description on YouTube: "Accompanied by the Wanamaker Organ - the world's largest pipe organ - the OCP (Opera Company of Philadelphia) Chorus and throngs of singers from the community infiltrated the store (Macy's) as shoppers, and burst into a pop-up rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's "Messiah" at 12 noon, to the delight of surprised shoppers."




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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shutterfly Christmas cards!

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I have seen these on a couple of my friends' blogs and they are super cute.

So when I saw that Shutterfly was offering free cards to bloggers for spreading the word, I had to go check it out! (and barely made the deadline, eek)

I'm still trying to decide which is harder - choosing from the huge selection of cards or getting my three rowdy boys to sit together long enough for me to snap a current picture (or a few) to actually put ON the card.

So here we go...

Step 1: scope out the options. There is no shortage of possibilities over there - they have folded cards and flat ones, cards that include one photo or 6+... you know, in case you can't decide which photo to include ;).

Step 2: obtain Christmas-card-quality photo of the above-mentioned hyperactive boys. I have no shortage of photos of my sweet and handsome guys, but photos of the three of them *together* in the same shot - that's something of a rarity. The three of them together, with all three actually looking in the general direction of the camera with a reasonably pleasant expression... I can probably count those on one hand. With fingers to spare.

The majority of attempts look like this:


Or this:


Oh who am I kidding? Even getting two of them together is an adventure, lol:



But hey, did I mention you can put over six photos on one card? So lacking a photo of all boys together is NOT a deal-breaker! I can just include individual photos, woohoo :).

Step 3: narrow down the choices and make the final selection. Yikes!

I'm still working on it. And hoping I can wrap it up in time to get the cards out before Christmas. But hey, getting Christmas cards in January is great too, right? I mean, that might make them stand out amid the crowd of December-arriving cards. Ok, maybe not so much...

They have some great deals going on right now and there's still time to have your order arrive before Christmas. I should warn you, when you go to check out the cool holiday cards, you'll also see links to create your own photo books, calendars, and other great gifts. Super cool :). I may or may not have spent a fair amount of time checking those out too (but even if I did I can't admit it here because someone reading may or may not be the intended recipient of those gifts and I wouldn't want to give it away. I've already said too much!).

So back to the cards, I managed to narrow it down to these. I'd love to hear your thoughts.









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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

TTTS Awareness: What you need to know

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World TTTS Awareness Day

December is TTTS (Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome) Awareness month, and today is World TTTS Awareness Day. TTTS is a disease of the placenta that can affect identical twins who share one placenta. The babies themselves are healthy, the issue is with the placenta and the circulation of blood between the babies and the placenta. (More about TTTS at the bottom of the post). I have shared our experience with TTTS with our boys previously. For today I want to focus on what you can do to help, and what you need to know if you or someone you know is pregnant.

An ultrasound is encouraged within the first three months to determine whether there are multiples, and if so, whether there is a shared placenta. TTTS only occurs in identical twins with a shared, monochorionic placenta. Monochorionic means one placenta and one outer sac, and there can be either one or two inner (amniotic) sacs. Twin pregnancies can be any of the following:

Dichorionic / diamniotic (two placentas, two amniotic sacs)
Monochorionic / diamniotic (one placenta, two amniotic sacs)
Monochorionic / monoamniotic (one placenta, one amniotic sac)

Once it is determined that there is only one placenta, extra precautions can be taken to monitor the pregnancy and watch for any potential issues.

From the TTTS Foundation website, here are the 15 most important questions for parents expecting twins to get answers to (the link has a more detailed explanation for each question):

Confirm at First Ultrasound (preferably by 10-16 weeks)

1. Is the placenta monochorionic?
2. Are the babies the same sex?
3. Can you see the dividing membrane?
4. Is the placenta anterior or posterior?
5. Do the cords have 3 vessels or 2?
6. Are the cords fully attached to the placenta?

Ask at Weekly Ultrasounds (Starting at Week 16 to Delivery)

7. What is the largest vertical pocket of fluid for each baby?
8. Can you see the bladder of the donor baby?
9. What are the weights of the babies in grams? (every 2-3 weeks)
10. Are the dopplers normal for both babies?
11. Is the heart of the recipient baby enlarged or thickened?
12. Does the recipient baby have hydrops?
13. What is the measurement of your cervix, is it long and
closed or thinning or dilated?
14. Is the smaller baby growing at the same rate?
15. What is the fundal height?

And for those who may not be familiar with TTTS, here is an overview, also from the TTTS Foundation website:
What is TTTS?
-Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) is a disease of the placenta (or afterbirth) that affects identical twin pregnancies.

-TTTS affects identical twins (or higher multiple gestations) who share a common monochorionic placenta.

-The shared placenta contains abnormal blood vessels which connect the umbilical cord and circulations of the twins.

-The common placenta may also be shared unequally by the twins

-The events in pregnancy that lead to TTTS are all random.

-TTTS is not hereditary or genetic, nor caused by anything the parents did or did not do.

-TTTS can happen to anyone.

And from the Fetal Hope Foundation website:
TTTS or Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome is a disease of the placenta. It affects pregnancies with monochorionic (shared placenta) multiples when blood passes disproportionately from one baby to the other through connecting blood vessels within their shared placenta. One baby, the recipient twin, gets too much blood overloading his or her cardiovascular system, and may die from heart failure. The other baby, the donor twin or stuck twin, does not get enough blood and may die from severe anemia. Left untreated, mortality rates near 100%.

The cause of TTTS is attributed to unbalanced flow of blood through vascular channels that connect the circulatory systems of each twin via the common placenta. The shunting of blood through the vascular communications leads to a net flow of blood from one twin (the donor) to the other twin (the recipient). The donor twin develops oligohydramnios (low amniotic fluid) and poor fetal growth, while the recipient twin develops polyhydramnios (excess amniotic fluid), heart failure, and hydrops. If left untreated, the pregnancy may be lost due to lack of blood getting to the smaller twin, fluid overload and heart failure in the larger twin, and/or preterm (early) labor leading to miscarriage of the entire pregnancy.

Some general treatment approaches consist of using laser energy to seal off the blood vessels that shunt blood between the fetuses. Because the surgical approach is via an operative fetoscope, there is minimal risk to the mother. Laser therapy for TTTS has been shown to provide improved pregnancy outcomes compared to alternative therapies. Although all treatment options should be discussed with your fetal surgeon.


TTTS Resources
:
TTTS Foundation
TTTS resource @ Twinstuff - written by a father of twins who survived TTTS
Fetal Hope Foundation
Club Deb Radio Interview - TTTS
World TTTS Awareness Day
Matthew and Steven TTTS Walk for the Babies


Reposted from last year with minor edits


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Sunday, December 5, 2010

The gift of voice

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I've been thinking a lot lately about how far my boys have come in terms of their ability to communicate. Not just speech, but communication. As many of you know, having speech isn't necessarily the same as being able to communicate. I am so grateful for every word, every thought expressed that I don't have to guess. And I'm grateful for any clues our boys can give when the messages they're trying to convey are hard for me to understand. The ability to communicate their needs, wants, and ideas is something I will never take for granted.

Many children and adults must find their voice in ways other than the spoken word (as our boys once did and sometimes still do). One technology that can be extremely helpful is the iPad with special communication software. The cost can be prohibitive for many families, so this Christmas season the HollyRod Foundation is working to help provide this to both children and adults who would benefit from it.



To find more information about how to donate to this effort or how to apply to receive an iPad, visit the HollyRod Foundation website.


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Spoiled kitteh

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Had the sewing machine out and came across a little scrap of soft fabric that was too small to use for what I was working on but just the right size to make a little pillow for the cat. So I did. I think he likes it :)





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I'm a mom of three boys on the autism spectrum, 11-yr-old identical twins and a 7-yr-old. My husband is a SAHD.

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