2 September, 2014: Two Toddlers

It’s been an eventful couple of months since we last updated! Lots and lots of “firsts”: first hiking, first camping, first concert, importantly (for Neil) first Sounders match, first houseboat visit (hey, it’s Seattle)….and one other first that we will get to ūüôā

To start…here’s what they look like now:

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In July we had a lovely visit back to Canmore. The girls…wait a minute, no, WE really broke in the baby backpacks. I can’t think of a better way to keep in ¬†shape than to hike with an extra 25 pounds on your back. If nothing else, shows how badly we wanted to be out hiking…and have the girls experience some of the great Canadian landscape. Even though Grandma Diener outdid herself and had stocked up the home with great toys, we hauled the circus out a few times. We also had the immense pleasure of seeing our old friend, Allison. And the girls happily took Grandma and Grandpa Diener’s 40 pound schnauzer in stride (and vice versa) which was a relief for all. A fantastic vacation!

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In mid August we really pushed the envelope. No hiding that Lara pushed this plan on the family. Neil makes no bones about taking absolutely no responsibility….

We camped. In a tent. For two nights. With one year old crawling twins. And survived to tell the tale! It was even fun. (even Neil agrees with that)

We chose to take the plunge because it was a very twin-friendly environment. The Seattle Families of Multiples organization booked a group site so that twin families can descend en masse and not worry about the pandemonium bothering anyone else. ¬†The site was gorgeous and the girls did very well. The biggest challenge was actually preventing Kat from eating pebbles. And napping. Napping in a bright tent was not happening so we took a couple drives. Thankfully the nights were no problem with the girls snug in their pack’n’play portable cribs. We were really pleased that it all seemed to go as well as it did.

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It has been a beautiful summer in Seattle which has given us the opportunity to get to the local concert series held outdoors at the Zoo (Zootunes). The girls went to two concerts (with us) and had a blast – charming the people around them and clapping completely not in time to the music.They don’t look overly thrilled here, but we swear they bopped to the tunes.

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Most recently, the family had an outing very dear to Neil’s heart. The girls got to experience their very first Seattle Sounders match in person. The plan is to have the girls go to as many games as possible with Neil…learn the chants…wear the green colors…and take up soccer themselves. Obviously ūüėČ

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To make it even better the Sounders won.

Then on a real Seattle note. The girls also had their first visit to a houseboat. The float planes landing were a big hit. We do love this city!

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On the home front…there have been pretty big changes since the camping endeavor. Namely…both girls are officially walking! So we have two toddlers. Which is unbelievable to us. The developmental progress these babies make in a year is mindboggling. We know most parents experience a¬†sense of awe as their babies make strides into toddlerhood, but it’s been especially breathtaking to us given their two pound start. No surprise at all…Kat decided to walk the day after we got home from camping and she didn’t look back (http://youtu.be/ruOAOL7uE0g). No more crawling for her. Her walking has since gone from a steady zombie striding to a full tilt rushing about with arms waving style. There is no slow walking for Kat.

Tasha tried walking about ten days later with the most cautious, slow and steady couple steps I could imagine (http://youtu.be/d1x7Lj5H4_4). She then applauded herself for a few minutes and squealed/screamed. We assume in delight. Only then did she consider trying a couple more steps. She’s still cautious and slow with the walking, often just crawling. On par with what we would have predicted for Tasha’s personality! ¬†The girls continue to be a joy. Watching their VERY different personalities is endless entertainment for us (http://youtu.be/02VyL5Q7DSc).

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3rd July 2014: Belated Happy Solstice!

Lots of change here at the twinmageddon household! ¬†The girls have become extremely mobile…we’ve had a a whole lot of crawling and “assisted walking”. Since they’re speedy and, of course, seem to know the optimum direction for danger, we are kept on our toes! Kat has already “opened” a can of ginger ale. ¬†We can’t believe they’re the same tiny babies when we see them hoofing it from kitchen to living room to baby gates to Bruno, back to kitchen, etc. They are both approaching 20 pounds and on track with developmental milestones.

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At the end of May we got back from a trip to the Big Island, Hawaii (pics below) with the Diener clan and within no time¬†Kat was crawling. Apparently we got back in the nick of time to do the frantic babyproofing thing (yes, yes, we know you’re supposed to get that stuff ready early). About 48 hours later she was pulling up into a standing position. And within a couple weeks she was couch surfing with confidence. Tasha followed suit, crawling a few weeks after her sister. We don’t doubt she had the strength for crawling earlier, but Tash is a cautious creature who doesn’t rush into anything new. And besides, her feet were busy holding onto toys so that she could study them better.

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The crawling also has added whole new dimension to our girls’ interactions with each other. Said interaction was pretty minimal (non-existent for weeks at a time), but being able to crawl to and follow each other around has moved their relationship beyond just throwing at and stealing toys from each other (Kat from Tash 99% of the time). Now they play head butting games that result in hysterical giggles, grab each other’s hands, do mock kissing of each other’s shoulders, and even…gasp…share toys!

http://youtu.be/1vDvwrM7L94

http://youtu.be/S7gUNwjY7A8 (you might need ear plugs or mute for this one!)

Lucky for us, Bruno has remained incredibly patient with this new crawling development. The girls chase after him to “pet” him, but when he gets tired of them¬†he moves under the kitchen table for a quiet snooze. Tash remains particularly enamored with the dog…especially his ears and nose (poor Bruno!). Both girls and Bruno love a game of fetch, even if it involves head on collisions ūüôā

http://youtu.be/HcT9PlKXagM

We also celebrated Father’s Day – Neil’s second but first with the girls actually being at home – in style. We hit the fav pub, the Yard, for lunch and some World Cup. ¬†At their young age, the girls have watched essentially no TV with the exception of about a dozen World Cup and Sounders matches. They love to play with balls…so time will tell. ¬†There were also the usual father-daughter gravity games to be had:

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Finally, some pics from the Hawaii trip with Grandma and Grandpa Diener and Uncle Anton and Aunt Vinaya. Unfortunately the girls caught colds second half of the vacation. This resulted in some rough nights (and the quintessential night-time howling baby experience for Anton and Vinaya whose bedroom was nearest ours…sorry guys). This also meant a rough flight home that we shall block out as thoroughly as we can. At least our fellow passengers were extremely kind! ¬†And our time with family was priceless.

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As of today Kat is standing for a couple of seconds at a time and her walking is becoming less and less “assisted” so stay tuned for some interesting video on the next update!

PS HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDPA D (AKA BO)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12th May 2014: HAPPY 1ST BIRTHDAY!

The girls have completed their first orbit of the yellow dwarf star¬†we like to call the Sun! They went all the way around, didn’t cut a single corner, and covered the 940,000,000km at an average speed of 108,000 km/hr, without getting a single ticket! We’re so proud of them.

Joking aside, this is a powerful day. We have been reading back over some old blog posts and looking at unpublished photos/videos (many we don’t feel comfortable publishing on this blog), so….there have been many emotions bubbling up today. For us it’s mostly relief and thankfulness – the girls are doing as well as our¬†most hope-y dreams hoped they would. ¬†When we look at the old photos it startles us¬†to see what they looked like, makes us¬†quietly pause breathing for a second, but now: ¬†http://youtu.be/726s2rSpy_s

…wow….so, so, so happy.

To celebrate they each got a carrot-banana cupcake – we haven’t introduced them to chocolate yet – and the very long (10min) video is, of course, worth watching ūüôā http://youtu.be/wtvVvMHIn0M. As an aside, one question we get asked a lot is whether we can tell them apart or how similar they are, which is an understandable question with twins. We always laugh and if you watch that video you will get a good sense of why.

We also took them back to the NICU to see some old friends (Kat and one of her primary nurses below…they were tight after 100+ days!), drop off some donuts and visit the Family Tree (http://www.swedishfoundation.org/swedish-family-tree) where their names are inscribed on plaques, thanks to the Diener grandparents. The NICU staff couldn’t believe how good they looked (see ”¬†hope-y dreams” comment above).

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They are starting to interact with each other more and more. Mostly this is Katarina stealing whatever toy Natasha is playing with, which results in Natasha frowning, looking sad and then…..picking up a different toy and continuing to play. Recently, however, Natasha has started fighting back, and startled Katarina the other day when, instead of letting go of the bright yellow block Katarina was coveting, Natasha whacked her with it. Katarina looked around with a very confused expression on her face.¬†The girls tend to get reserved whenever we bring out the video camera (Natasha more than Katarina) but here are a few other videos worth watching. First Katarina v a beach ball¬†http://youtu.be/l0jLoZnjzyM¬†and one of our personal faves: the girls playing piano¬†http://youtu.be/WbYDHwOfLqw¬† Their album will be out soon.

Their first birthday is absolutely momentous to us…but we also managed to celebrate Mother’s Day in style. Mom’s dream to get back out hiking came true…we did our first family hike. Of course Twin Falls had to be our choice ūüôā

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A belated Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

14 April, 2014: Consonants, Clapping, and Crawling

A very belated update from the twinmageddon household!

Girls are now 11 months old and tomorrow is the anniversary of the ¬†day everything started to change. A year ago today we arrived in Boston for the marathon and tomorrow is the anniversary of the bombing (which occurred well after we left the finish area). A year ago on the 17th, Lara went in for a routine 24 week check-up and it was discovered that she had preeclampsia and Kat was <5th percentile and not growing appropriately. Lara was immediately admitted to hospital and put on bed rest. Lara can’t believe she was only on bed rest for a month. It seemed like at least 2 months.

How life has changed since then! Last check with the pediatrician a few weeks ago, Tasha and Kat were 16.5 and 15.5 lb, respectively. By our scale they are now in the 17 to 18 lb range. They have been healthy and happy with the exception of one cold (upper respiratory only, thank goodness). Tash got the worst of it, Kat and Lara got mild versions, and somehow Neil escaped it. We will consider ourselves incredibly fortunate if it’s the worst we experience for our preemies this first winter. Here are Kat & Tasha at about 10 months unadjusted age, both having mastered “sitting with stability”: IMG_0420 IMG_0421 Kat IMG_0407

And here at 11 months unadjusted:

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Lounging as the case may be for our Tasha bear: IMG_0334

Note incoming teeth and hair. Kat’s forte is the former and Tash’s the latter. On the food front,¬†“mum-mum” crackers and cheerios are extremely well loved by Kat. She’s ready to end the bottle nonsense and move on to 100% solid foods. Tash is more a mushy banana girl and doesn’t yet appreciate chewing solids. Kat shows off her four of her six pearly whites and competes with mom at cracker-eating:
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We’ve done a couple of road trips to Leavenworth and Whidbey Island. Amazingly the girls sleep very well in the car. Apparently road trips are the way to go for us right now! We also had several lovely visitors: Kelly made the trip from Saskatoon, and Grandpa and Grandma Diener from Toronto. We have also been thrilled to use the double Bob stroller. This thing is a remarkable piece of engineering and a joy to maneuver compared to the unwieldy Snap and Go we were using. Kind of like comparing a tricycle to a Bianchi. The girls clearly aren’t yet appreciating the marvel of this device, though Grandma and
Grandpa Diener did:

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In other news, we are pleased to report that baby-Bruno bonding is going well: Kat,BrunoIMG_0567 Dad & girls (“hoodie-off” and aquarium): IMG_0350 Tash,Neil,aquarium

A sunny day at Green Lake…the girls have become more than a handful. Biceps are coming along well on mom’s part:

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And of course some video footage for the hard core fans ūüôā

Tash clapping, Kat playing peekaboo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWhDXho_-aY

Tash crawling, almost: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6FNxIeHcVc

Girls supposed to be sleeping: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3Dsfmiqu0w

Tash consonants,Kat bouncing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9xmLuq83J0

Kat bouncing on mom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgrDIPBv5B8

Kat peekaboo with grandma D. and Tash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-C8zmw7F07g

9 February, 2014: 9 months unadjusted/6 months adjusted

Happy to report the girls have been thriving! ¬†They are now six months adjusted age and almost 9 months unadjusted. Tasha is a whopping 15 lb 11 oz and Kat is 14 lb 5 oz. That’s impressive growth for two girls who were two pounds not that long ago!!!

Tasha now looks like this:

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Kat now looks like this:

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They are more interactive with us, with each other, and with Bruno.

Kat telling Tash about her tricks…

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Tash’s response…

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…and then deciding the logical thing to do is stick her finger in Kat’s mouth.

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OK. Maybe the girls are interacting with Bruno (grabbing at his fur as he strolls past) but he may not be so interested in interacting with them quite yet. Food droppings have helped so we think it’s just a matter of time.

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The big “new” event of the last few weeks has been the introduction of pureed food. ¬†Carrots, sweet potato, and avocado were all met with Bollywood-caliber dramatic grimaces and face scrunching looks of disgust. Banana was more successful. On every front, Kat has been more willing to open up her mouth and receive the spoonful of food, whereas Tasha’s mouth is more like a bank vault. We knew they were very different personalities from the get-go and watching how they deal with the newness of life at this young age has been tons of fun.

What do we do with this stuff??

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oh….this is not much better…

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Videos of the girls attempting food…

Girls v. Carrot:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldcCZjI7Ph8

Girls v. Sweet Potato:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTpEVtt7Jlg

Katarina v. Banana:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnzP2dBC96A

Natasha v. Banana:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC33VcaFHTg

12 January, 2014: In with the teeth, out with the thickener!

Top three updates from the twinmageddon household!

#3: The teeth are here, the teeth are here!  Kat is leading the pack with her two lower teeth having popped up. She tolerated this very well. Tasha, on the other hand, has had teething angst. Generally more prone to crying and lots of pulling at her gums with her fingers. Infant Tylenol has been our friend at night to ease her discomfort.

#2: Kat made another big step in her feeding journey. She has had a thickener (xanthum gum to be precise) added to her feeds to help her with swallowing. The idea is that thickened, slightly gel-like milk goes down the throat more easily. This is one of the big reasons she was able to get off her feeding tube and avoid surgery. As of a couple days ago, we tried feeding her without thickener and she continued to drink like a champ. A wonderful advance for her.

#1: Seeing teeth and ditching thickener have both been fantastic. But I must confess my favorite highlight for January has been watching the girls make each other laugh for the first time. Warms the cockles of the heart, not times two but times 1000. At least. We discovered that Tasha is amused by Kat’s chatter and now cracks smiles her way. She broke into full guffaws when Kat was made to “jump” up and down in front of her. Seeing as Tash is usually the more serious one (i.e. harder to crack a smile out of her), it’s been tons of fun watching Kat provoke grins. Not a huge surprise as Kat smiles at everyone and it’s been said by several non-biased individuals that she has a most contagious smile.¬†We sorta caught part of this on video:http://youtu.be/4TUdJvzMaCI

Sometimes, however, Katarina is not quite as successful: http://youtu.be/L_73JXQP0FY

 

 

 

24 December- Happy Solstice!

Happy winter/summer solstice and other assorted holidays to family and friends on several continents! ¬†We hope you’re all enjoying good company, health, and of course food and drink this holiday season.

After a year such as ours, we can’t help but reflect on the journey thus far. Thirty plus days of bed rest and uncertainty, a 28 week twin birth on Mother’s Day, 100 plus days of daily NICU visits, one daughter home and one in hospital, hospital parent rooms, endless hours of tube feeding by hand, and medical appointments galore. However, we can now say that it’s all somehow culminated in a pair of happy, healthy 5 month (adjusted) old twin girls who bring us immense joy. Natasha is now 14lb, 3.5oz (6.5kg) which (just) gets her onto the growth chart without adjustment, while Katarina is 12lb,10oz (5.7kg). ¬†So we thank our good fortune and look forward to many years soaking up our girls…whatever their personalities may turn out to be! (REALLY hoping they’re good sleepers though).

A few holiday pics to help get you all in the mood if you’re not already. This is our impromptu holiday photo shoot in the living room rather than on Santa’s lap. Note usual photo bombing by Bruno:

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Tasha enjoying a Christmas Eve photo op:

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Neil hangin’ with the girls who still don’t seem too sure about each other:

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Grandma and Grandpa Diener paid us a lovely pre-Christmas visit in early December:

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And Uncle Anton and Aunt Vinaya met their nieces in November!

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And some video because that’s the good stuff where you really see their “true selves” coming through- and we can prove that Kat is actually super smiley and laughs a ton even though it never appears that way when the black device comes out to take photos. Most recently she’s discovered bouncing on her own legs is hysterically funny (especially from 44sec onwards) (http://youtu.be/7c4pccC3geg). Meanwhile Natasha is more serious and instead of laughing makes a noise more like what we imagine a velociraptor sounds like. But in a cute way of course. We haven’t managed to catch that yet on video but here is her “Xmas Eve Address”:¬†http://youtu.be/kOM3UCBlXX4