Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cracked my heart

Tanner's transition to his big boy bed has gone fairly well. He stays in bed until we go down to get him up (thank you, daycare!). However, he does have a bit more freedom in this bed.

Case in point...last night. I kept hearing a "thud thud thud". At first, I thought it was one of our younger neighbors driving by with their bass a little too loud. Then, I noticed it happening at frequent intervals. I finally figured out, that this was actually Tanner laying on his bed and KICKING the adjoining wall.

Trip 1. "No Tanner, we don't do that".

Trip 2. "Tanner, what did mommy say - quit kicking the wall"

Trip 3. "Tanner, it's time to go to bed, please do not kick the wall"

Trip 4. "Tanner, mommy asked you not to kick the wall. If you kick the wall again, mommy will have to spank you."

Trip 5. "Tanner, mommy told you not to kick the wall". Spanking.

Tanner erupted into a puddle of tears and sobbed. This continued for about 10 minutes until he finally fell asleep around 9 p.m. (two hours after his bedtime).

About 2 a.m., Tanner woke up sobbing again. I went downstairs, and he got out of bed and wrapped his arms around my neck and sobbed, "I'm sorry, mommy".

Cracked my heart...

I'm sorry, too, Tanner.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Africa & Australia

A while ago, I posted here that we were considering splitting the kids into separate bedrooms. Well, we didn't end up doing it, although there are still some days that I think we should.

But, now, we are making the jump and splitting them up...in daycare. Our kids attend a Montessori-type daycare. Now, I'm not an education person, and we primarily chose our daycare on which one had the best vibe while we were there (oh, yes, and that was clean, would work with us on Tanner's medical stuff, and had a great local reputation). The one interesting thing about this daycare is that they blend ages. They have two classrooms for the little kids (age 12 mos - 2.5 years) and four classrooms for the big kids (age 2.5 years - 5 years). Most schools only have one room for each age group - and the kids would have had to have been together. This gives us the unique opportunity to split them before we hit kindergarten.

I always believed I'd be one of those twin parents who would keep their twins together - and go to the school board to fight if they wouldn't let me. I thought it would be better for Tanner's medical condition, but now that he's normal, well that shot that argument all to hell.

Since Morgan has become much better at speaking, she spends a majority of her time telling Tanner what to do "Tanner eat your food", "Tanner no-no", "Tanner don't say that", "Tanner....". You get the picture. And, Tanner, well, his favorite words right now are "NO!". He really seems to resent the constant direction, and I pointed out to Randy that he may never get married as he's been nagged his whole childhood.

We've struggled with this decision, but a a few weeks ago Tanner had the opportunity to spend the whole day at school by himself. The teachers said he was a whole different kid - talking up a storm (he receives speech therapy, so this was a shocker), playing, laughing, dancing. And, Morgan, well, when Tanner isn't around, she desperately misses him ("where's Tanner", "Tanner, where are you?", "what's Tanner doing?"), but she also needs to learn that she can't boss him around all the time.

So, in the next week and a half when the kids are moved up to their new classrooms, Tanner will be moved into Australia (the classrooms are named after the continents) and Morgan will be moved into Africa. The rooms are adjacent to each other, and the kids will be able to see each other during recess (which is three times a day). It'll be intersting to see how they change.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

All Grown Up

Tonight, Tanner is sleeping in his Big Boy bed for the first time (he's done naps previously, but not an all night stent). We'll see how long it lasts.

Morgan - she prefers her crib. When we offered up her big girl bed, she said "No, Morgan sleep in crib". So, she's in the crib surrounded by her stuffed animals.

I know you aren't supposed to compare kids, but it's so difficult when you have twins who are the same age, and experiencing the same stuff at the same time. It amazes me that Tanner loves his big boy bed, while Morgan is terrified of it and wants nothing to do with it. Yet, Morgan is starting to show some interest in potty training, and that isn't registering with Tanner yet.

So, we will see if it lasts all night. This means that we'll have to be extra vigilant to wake to a crying child, and to go to their room at the first sign of mayhem. Darn, and I was just getting used to my sleep.

How can it be that my little guy is already this grown up?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Vacation Wrap-Up

Thursday afternoon, we drove out to Faust Park after a relatively long nap by the kids. Because they had napped longer than we had originally attended, we ended up getting caught in a bit of traffic jam, and did not make it to Faust Park until about 4:15 p.m. The Carousel closed at 4 p.m., so we didn't make it this time. But, it is one attraction that is inside and will be open when we come back in February. We'll try it then.

The kids didn't seem to mind at all, as there is a huge beautiful playground here, too. They just couldn't get enough of the playgrounds.

They slid:

And slid some more (notice the nice static effect on Tanner's hair here):

Climbed a rock wall:

And just ran around on the cool playground mat:

They were worn out from all the playing, and got to bed at a much more normal hour than they had been this week.

Good thing, because we started out early this morning at the zoo again. Morgan's favorite thing at the zoo is the "Tiger". So, of course, she had to ride the tiger (again) on the carousel. Can you see the pure joy in her face?

Then, deciding not to fight it anymore, we took them back to the zoo playground so that they could (what else?) slide some more. This time, they also played around on the hippo in the playground. Here is Tanner imitating the hippo, while on the hippo:

Now, the hot thing at the St. Louis Zoo right now is the baby elephant. Everyone was talking about it, so we decided we'd feel a bit foolish if we didn't take time to catch a peek. We headed in that direction around 9:45 - we were astonished to see that there was a sign about 1000 ft from the baby elephant that said "the line starts here". Thankfully, there was no line today, and we were able to see this magnificent little guy.

Tanner has loved the elephants when we've seen them, so it was no suprise that when we headed off to Build a Bear to make our souverneir, that he quickly grabbed on to the elephant. And Morgan, well, she chose a tiger of course!

Here is Tanner giving his Elephant it's heart:

And, it's test hug:

We named the elephant Ross, after Dr. Shepherd who is Tanner's main GI in St. Louis. And, appropriately, the elephant got a pair of scrubs to wear home.

Now, I don't have pictures of Morgan at Build a Bear, because about the time that Tanner was giving his elephant a hug, some lady with a double stroller ran over Morgan (literally). Morgan ended up with a small cut at the outside of her eye, and we couldn't get her calmed down enough to enjoy the Build a Bear experience. Daddy and Tanner filled her tiger, and Tanner even put two hearts in it for her.

After all that, we headed home...it's been a long vacation.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Grant's Farm

This morning we visited Grant's Farm. I would highly rate this as one of the best attractions yet. The zoo is great, but this was just a wonderful experience. It's mostly backed by Anheuser-Busch, and they have really made that place beautiful and convenient.

The day starts with a Tram ride through their wildlife preserve area. It has lots of different deer, zebras, buffalo, Canadian geese, Texas Longhorn steer, elk, turkeys, and lots of other animals. Tanner ate this up:

Along the way, we also passed by Ulysses S. Grant's original homested which is also in the park. It's only open to tours a few times a year - and this wasn't one of those times.

Morgan was even a show-stopper while on the Tram...she dropped her sippy cup off the tram, and they had to stop it to pick it back up.

Once inside the actual farm, there are all kinds of animals that you can see. Birds, kangaroo, tortoises, and baby goats that you can feed. We grabbed a few bottles of milk, and let the kids feed the goats. They didn't quite know what to think.

We saw the elephants perform, and then had a unique chance to feed their three camels which are known as The Three Amigos. Morgan absolutely loved doing this (go figure that feeding the goats scared her, and she loved feeding the camel who could literally have bitten her fingers off).

We finshed the morning by touring the Bauernof (German for barn). It was built in 1913, and surrrounds a courtyard where you can feast on brats and (free) beer. Ironically, we forgot to get beer.

It's where a few of their horses are kept, along with some of the Budweiser show wagons, harnesses, and awards that the Busch families have won over the years. It was absolutely gorgeous and really neat to see.

We then hopped back on the tram, and headed back to the main entrance. Near the main entrance is the Clydesdale Stables. We had a family photo taken with one of the horses (sorry, we haven't scanned it yet), and then did a tour of the stables and farmyard. The Clydesdale, also known as the Gentle Beasts, are huge, but so friendly. They were absolutely gorgeous animals.

This time, Morgan was afriad, but Tanner wanted to pet the horses. He was so funny pointing at all of the horses and yelling "horsey!".

Needless to say, all of that excitement has left us with two exhausted kids. They are napping now. We've switched up our plans a bit, and we'll be heading out to Faust Park this morning. We're going to let them run on the largest playground in St. Louis County, and hopefully ride the carousel as well.

Tomorrow, we'll visit the zoo, including the carousel and playground there, do Build a Bear, and head home. Hopefully we'll be home by late evening and we can all enjoy a good night's sleep. As much fun as we're having, I think we're all looking forward to getting back home.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

New Theme: How Many Parks Can We Visit in 5 days?

The kids took a late and long nap on Tuesday afternoon. So, we decided to do something prior to supper, and stopping at a park seemed like a great idea. We went to the Turtle Park, which is part of the Forrest Park. The kids had so much fun, climbing on the turtles:

And, they had even more fun throwing rocks at each other in the "Turtle Nest" complete with Turtle Eggs (some even hatching).

Unfortunately, we were out late, and the kids got to be later than normal. Which meant that we had crabby babies for Tanner's doctor's appointment. Tanner's Prograf was redrawn (despite the very low level, his liver was still very happy) and we'll wait to see how the level was.

The summary of the doctor's appointment - "NORMAL". Dr. Shepherd mentioned several times that Tanner was "normal" now, we should expect him to lead a "normal" life, and that the odds of him experiencing a major rejection or bile duct issue had subsided. They were pleased that he had not yet contracted EBV. They told us that he will probably develop it at some time, but the further out from transplant and the lower his suppression level, the less dangerous it will be for him (EBV is a virus that can lead to PTLD - a cancer in post-transplant kids). It's truly amazing to hear a doctor who has seen lots of very sick kids lament on how far Tanner has come...he remembers that little 10-pound boy with a big belly and stick arms, blue eyes in a sea of yellow. And, today, he got to listen to a 2.5 year old shreiking, climbing, and acting like a typical boy. We'll go back in February for Tanner's 2nd transplant anniversary and some more extensive studies - including a kidney study.

This afternoon, we went to the Magic House. It was a pretty good time for the kids, but the place was aimed for a little bit older kids. They did have a toddler area that the enjoyed. It included playing in the sand:

And, their favorite, playing in the water:

Afterwards, we found yet another park. In the grand scheme of things, it's amazing that seemingly their favorite thing to do is the least expensive. They absolutely love the playgrounds. We've hit the Columbia Cosmopolitan park, the Forrest Park Playground, Turtle Playground, and now the Kirkwood Park. No plans for a park tomorrow (although Grant's Farm may have one), but we are planning on hitting Faust Park on Friday.

Here they are riding the little springy animals:

And, sliding...Every time that Morgan would get off the slide, she'd hold up her pointer finger and say "I'll be right back". And, she'd go down the slide again. Repeat about 10x.

Tanner just liked marching around on the playground equipment. This one had several different platforms connected by bridges, arches, and tunnels. He would march back and forth....to and fro...he is our little explorer.

Tomorrow we're headed to Grant's Farm (where the Budweiser Clydesdale's reside) and back to the zoo (or another park) in the afternoon. Friday morning we'll go back to the zoo and ride the carousel, make a bear at Build a Bear, and head to Faust Park (for another carousel ride). Hopefully by then, the kids will be worn out and we'll have a peaceful drive home.

Until then, enjoy the pictures!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Lions and Tigers and Bears - OH MY!

Today was our first day at the zoo. We got a slighter later start than we had first anticipated, but we were at the zoo around 9:20.

The St. Louis Zoo is amazing - and most of it's attractions are FREE. Yep, you read it folks, free. You pay for parking, but there is even free parking if you are willing to walk through the park aways. And, for two of the paying attractions, they offer free times - the first hour that the park is open each morning.

So, we started our day at the Carousel. Morgan absolutely loved riding it, and insisted on riding the Tiger first, followed by the Lion. We had to physically remove them from the animals at the end of each ride. We'll probably try to hit it again tomorrow between labwork and our follow-up appointment.

Then, we went and saw the bears, penguins, apes, orangatangs, zebras, camels, giraffes, swamp land, gazelles, and "big cats" including Morgan's beloved tiger.

In the middle of the Children's Museum is a playground that the kids loved. It had a chute slide made of plexiglass - as you are going down the slide, you can actually see the Beaver and other animals playing in the water next to you. The kids LOVED it. Here is a fun picture of Tanner that Randy caught.

We ended the day at the Ape House, where I caught a picture of these monkeys:

The kids are now napping. We joined the zoo just for this trip - it gives us free parking, as well as free access to the railroad and children's zoo (two of the few that charge admission). So, we'll head back there later this week.

Part of our package here at the Embassy Suites was a "Buid a Bear Package" that included a sleeping bag, toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, and a t-shirt for your "bear" along with a $5 gift certificate. We found a special Build a Bear inside the Zoo, so we'll be doing that as a souvenir of our trip.

Tonight, we'll head about for a quick meal. Dining at a fine dining establishment isn't what I'd call relaxing - so we may grab some fast food, find a restaraunt, and have a picnic for supper.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Planes, Trains, Car Seats, and Playgrounds

Today was Day #1 of our vacation - which primarily meant that it was spent actually getting to our vacation location. This was a "short trip", a mere 275 miles from our home. However, when you have two, two-year-olds, that means its about 6 hours from home. Thankfully, the kids were mostly cooperative today.

Randy & I loaded the van last night, so we were pretty well ready to go this morning. After getting up, we ate breakfast, got ready, locked the house down, and then left around 9 o'clock this morning. We pulled in our hotel in St. Louis at 3 p.m.

Tanner and Morgan were occupied by Baby Einstein during most of the first 1/2 of our trip. We stopped in Columbia, MO, and ate lunch at McDonalds. We found a lovely grandmother who was local, and she filled us in on a park called Cosmopolitan Park. So, after a leisurely lunch of Apple Dippers, Cheeseburgers, and French Fries, we set out in search of this park.

We were amazed at the size of this park, and the kids had so much fun. There was a long tunnel they could tromp through (Tanner's personal favorite), little spring animals to ride...

slides to slide down....

hills to climb....(see those yellow and orange tube slides down the hill...there was a similar one on the hill that Randy, Tanner, & Morgan are climbing - it was the kids favorite slide at all and about a 15' drop)

playstructure bridges to run along...

We were probably only there for about 30 minutes, but when most of the time they are going in opposite directions (like here)....it wore mommy & daddy out.

The remainder of the trip wasn't too bad, but wasn't quite as enjoyable as the first. We spent the last hour of our trip looking for airplanes, trains, and anything else that would capture the kid's attention and keep them for howling for any length of time.

And, after we were settled into our hotel room, we headed out for supper, and spent another 30 minutes swinging and sliding at the Forest Park playground. Pictures from that later on.

Tomorrow is the zoo (assuming that the rain stays away) - or Magic House. Even with grumpy kids who melted down (only about 20 minutes of naps today!) at dinner, overall it was a good day, and we are looking forward to seeing the kid's reactions as they are introduced to the zoo tomorrow.