Monday, April 30, 2007

And now that that's over....

For the last three years, I've been carrying around all the extra "baby" weight. Nevermind the fact that I'm actually heavier than I was the day I delivered my twins. Yes, I know...I'm a stress eater. Do you know what the last three years have been like for me?

Pre-babies, I joined Weight Watchers and a gym - worked out and lost 57 pounds. I felt MARVELOUS. I even kept it off for quite some time (about 2 years)...and then I got pregnant. Now, ironically, my OB says I might have had twins because of the weight loss. (Since I've recently found out there are sets of fraternal twins in both of my paternal great-grandparents lines, this theory may have been blown out of the water).

So, starting tomorrow, it's time to get back down to business. Watch what I eat, control my portions, eat more real food (and less processed food), go the gym, and get to the point where I can chase after my kids instead of aiming at them with rocks from the back deck (Just Kidding...)

It's time for this baby weight to come off! So if I'm grouchy the next few weeks, you'll know I'm actually behaving myself.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Birthday Letter to My Twins

Dear Tanner & Morgan -

Happy Third Birthday! I can't believe that you are turning three tomorrow. It just doesn't seem like enough time has elapsed that my itsy bitsy babies have become full-fledged little kids.

Tonight, we weighed you - like we have every 3rd or 4th night since birth (some habits die hard). You weighed in at 27 lb 5 oz (Tanner) and 27 lb 7 oz (Morgan). This is over 12 times your birth weight. At first, this didn't seem such an extraordinary thing, but then I started considering that if a "normal" baby born at 7 lb had done the same thing - they'd be an 84 pound three year old. So, this is actually a pretty extraordinatry accomplshment. You've also both grown from around 13" to just under 36".

Do you remember where we started this year? I didn't - until I took a peak at this picture:

I saw that and I thought, was that really a year ago? Where did my babies go? You don't look like the toddlers in that picture. This past year, you have accomplished so many milestones. In June, you started preschool...and in October, we went one step further and put you in two separate classrooms. Morgan, you are now fully potty-trained, and Tanner, you are pretty close. You guys pretty much dress yourself each morning and are opininated enough now that you actually have to help assist me in deciding what you want to wear.

Morgan, you have grown into a sweet, beautiful child this last year. Oh, don't get me wrong, you still have your stubborness, but underneath that hard shell is a very sweet center. You watch after others around you - especially Tanner. Just this past weekend, you helped Tanner get up and then brushed him off afterwards. You love your brother so warms my heart. But, your love extends beyond your've been known to stop us in the middle of our day to tell us "I love you, Mommy" or "I love you, Daddy" and at Aunt Sherry's wedding this weekend, you turned to her and said "Aunt Sherry, you have the most beautiful dress."

Oh my, and you are smart as a whip. You are so determined to be in "Pre-K" that you keep telling us that you are going to be FOUR instead of three so that you can start pre-K. You know your entire alphabet and can count consistenly to about 20. On top of that, you've started to sound out letters and can identify starting letters for almost any word we can throw at you.

Your concentration is astanding for a child so small. You will sit and work on something for a VERY long time...until you figure it out. It doesn't matter if it's helping daddy with work...

Or helping him tie his shoes...

Or playing with Grandma....

You have the determination and will power to sit and work at things for over an hour...where most kids your age (well, at least Tanner) give up after only a few minutes.

You are very observant, and mommy and daddy have to constantly watch what we say around you. Earlier this year, you told your teacher that "my mommy has to go to jail". All because I told you it was the law for you to wear your seatbelt, and if you didn't wear it, mommy would get in trouble.

Just a few weeks ago, your daddy & I splurged and took the two of your to Disney World. We knew that we would have fun, but Morgan, I never knew how much fun it would be to see Disney through your eyes. You absolutely lit up when the characters came around, and the look on your face when Mickey Mouse brought your birthday cake out...well, it pretty much made the whole trip worth every single penny.

I know, Morgan, that we have many battles in front of us. How do I know this? Because, trust me, I put your Grandma Crazy Woman through the same battles (ever wonder what made her Crazy?) But, I just want you to know that I love you from the bottom of my heart, little girl. I promise to stick through the tough times...and help you grow into a beautiful, strong, smart woman. I'll be there for you in the hard times, and I hope that I'll be able to support your decisions as easily as your grandparents supported me. I love you, Morgan Olivia.

And you, Tanner Anton, you have developed into such a different child this past year. I'm not sure who gets the credit for all of that - but you are not the same little boy that you were a year ago.

Oh, don't get me wrong. You are still my sweet little boy who loves a good hug...every single morning when you get out of bed, you run towards me and throw yourself into my arms for a good morning hug. You wrap your little arms tight around my neck and give me a good squeeze, and some mornings for good measure, you'll even through in a kiss.

But you have blossomed so much...

A little over a year ago, we started you in speach therapy. At almost two years old, you barely had more than 15 words - well below the norm. We knew you had been delayed for awhile. Your speech has blossomed, you have so many words now. And, while they aren't all so clear, most of the time you do a pretty good job of getting your point across.

I think one of the biggest factors in your chnage has been preschool. We started preschool in a toddler room that you shared with Morgan. A funny thing happened one day, Morgan stayed home and you went to school by yourself. The teachers told us that they saw a whole new Tanner. A boy who came out of his shell and talked, laughed, and played with the other kids. Two months later, we put your and Morgan in different classrooms when you moved up to the "big kid room".

That was a big turning point for you and your sister. No longer did you give in to her got to make your own decisions. It didn't take you long to decide to apply that philosophy at home as well as school. You also started to initiate some of the fighting that happens occasionally between you two. (Ok, who am I kidding, regularly happens...)

I have to admit, your father and I have been secretly amused by your new found confidence. Morgan no longer bamboozles you by taking your have been known to outright take things from her hands. And, occasionally, we've caught you instigating the fights and trying to get your sister in trouble. We're actually a bit relieved to see this fiesty spirit.

And, you became all boy. Tractors and cars are a thing of passion for you. I think you are anxiously awaiting the day you get to help Daddy mow the yard. Whenever he mows while you are supposedly napping, I will go downstairs and find you sitting in the window waving to Daddy every time he drives by on the mower.

Like any good boy, you love getting into messes. There have been several times when we've found you head to toe in whatever strikes you...

Easter egg dye...

Cheesy Dipping Sauce...

Occasionally, we see glimmers of a class clown inside of you. Whenever you do something that you know explicitly you should not be doing, you try to avoid trouble by giving us your little grin and your infectious laugh. While it does work occasionally, mom and dad are starting to wisen up.

And recently, we've seen a glimpse of serious Tanner occasionally. Serious Tanner comes out whenever speech or phystical therapy is involved...or whenever any of the Disney characters tried to visit us at Disney land. It is strange to see my little boy who used to be so people happy, having stranger anxiety now.

And, at the ripe old age of three, I think your strongest asset is still your courage. You just don't give up...whether it be speech or physical therpay or learning to do something that your sister is doing...even when things aren't on your side, you don't give up. I know that life hasn't dealt you an even hand, Tanner, but I am so proud for the little person that you have become against these odds. I am so glad for your ability to love and laugh through it all. I am so glad for the light that you have brought to my life. I love you, Tanner Anton.

To both of my twins...I sometimes find it very hard to be the mother of twins. It's not an easy game. You're told not to compare the children...but you can't help but do that a little. It makes you worry sometimes...and it makes you ferociously proud other times. Sometimes it's hard to share my love and time, equally. I hope that is something that your father and I can work on this that you can each have personal time with Mommy & Daddy. That's been kind of tough to do the last three years.

I love you both so have taught me so much about being a mother and a better person...about what is really important in life. Thank you.

Happy Third Birthday, Tanner & Morgan.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Disney Detox

We are home from Disney and slowing getting things unpacked and put away. I'm on load 6 of 8 for laundry. I even snuck in a quick trip to Target to pick up a few necessities. We're headed out again on Friday for a wedding, so no need to stock the house just yet.

It's good to be back in our own beds, but the kids have been heartbreaking. A sample of our conversations:

Morgan: "Mommy, I don't see the Magic Kingdom."

Mommy: "No, honey, the Magic Kingdom is in Florida, it's far far away, and we can't see it from here."

Tanner: "Can we go to Florida?"

Morgan: "We're going back to Florida in TWO WEEKS."

They've talked about the Princesses and characters all day today. We've also discussed with them multiple times that we can't spend all of our time in Florida, but they really don't get the whole concept of money yet.

We do hope to return to Disney sometime in the future - hopefully during an even less busy time of the year - maybe when it's even a bit cooler. The kids had so much fun, and it let Randy & I act like a kid for a little bit, too.

I'll close with one of my favorite pictures of the kids - we took this one on the play area at the hotel just hours before we left. Excuse Morgan's hair...I didn't pull it back in a barrette that day.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Disney - Day 5

As today drew to a close, Morgan walked hand-in-hand with Daddy down the hallway singing “It’s a Small World After All…”

We finished today in good style. We started by taking an alternate route to the Magic Kingdom (via Epcot). We wanted to see what would be required when we went from Magic Kingdom to Epcot for dinner, and it also gave us the opportunity to ride in the front of the monorail. That was really neat, and the kids had a good time (although the driver could have been a bit more cheerful – guess he needed more coffee).

We started the morning off by heading to Toon Town inside of Disney – this is where Mickey’s & Minne’s houses are located. The kids got a kick out of touring the houses.

(Minnie’s refrigerator was stocked with cheese.)

We tried playing on Donald’s Boat – but Morgan right now has a phobia of getting wet. Of course, she got splashed as we entered the boat – and was D.O.N.E.

Then we hit the character area in toon town and met three princesses – Snow White, Cinderella, and Belle. Another replay of the other day – while Tanner won’t have anything to do with the full characters, the “face” characters he hugs and laughs and talks with it. It’s amazing how he transforms.

Then we went through the Mickey’s Philharmagic 3D show. This was just incredible, and probably one of my (and Tanner’s) favorite shows. They go through many of the favorite songs of their different animated flicks – all done with incredible 3D affects (they even pipe in the smell of apple pie at one time & splash you with water to add to the effect). It was really, really neat.

We hit It’s a Small World. If you couldn’t tell – it was one of Morgan’s favorite rides because “it wasn’t dark and scary”. She has sang that song off and on during our entire day of trip. She asked to go on it again, but was side-tracked by Cinderella’s Carousel. After that, we headed back to Toon Town and did a loop around the Magic Kingdom on the railroad before heading to Epcot.

At Epcot, we really only went for the meal. We’re still having a hard time convincing the kids that Chip and Dale are two Chipmunks, not just one Chipmunk named Chip and Dale. This was especially confusing when they both showed up at our table at the same time.

Oh, wait, you don’t see Tanner in those photos…yeah, that was because he was glued to his seat.

He did smile, wave, and blow them all kisses. He even played Peek-A-Boo with Mickey. We had a late reservation, and we got a lot of character interaction out of it. Pluto tried to eat Morgan’s ice cream for dessert, Mickey played with both her and Tanner, and the chipmunks were probably by our table a half a dozen times. Each time, Morgan had to hop out of her seat and give them hugs. When asked tonight who her best friend was, she replied “Chip and Dale”.

Then we made our 16th bus ride of the week back to the hotel. The kids took a short nap, and I started packing us up. We came in 5 checked bags, it looks like everything will fit in those same five bags to go home in.

We had dinner again at the cafeteria here in the hotel (I never dreamed we’d eat there 3 times this week). Then we walked around and viewed the animals, let the kids play on the playground, and then spent some time in the lobby while we figured out transportation for tomorrow morning.

While the kids played on the playground, it gave Randy & I a little time to reflect. We know the kids aren’t going to remember much about this trip – but we certainly are. This trip was a time for us to hopefully relax and find some peace with the last three years of our lifes. Our trip departing on Monday seemed appropriate – Monday was the day that I started having problems with my pregnancy. Just two short weeks before the kids were born – way too early.

We fought through the NICU – we’ve battled the liver transplant – subsequent egg allergy ~ and all of the emotional baggage that goes along with that. It has not been an easy road…and there are still days that it is very overwhelming.

During the parade on Thursday, as I stood there with Tanner on my shoulders, I couldn’t see his face. But I could hear him laughing, calling to the princesses, and waving – I could feel his smile. That’s what this trip was about – letting ourselves experience happiness. And while happiness to a three year old is seeing princesses, happiness to thrity-something year olds is having children healthy enough to enjoy it all. Thank you, Walt Disney World, for letting us experience that.

We head back home tomorrow mid-day. The kids are already asking when we’ll be back…after all, this is the Happiest Place on Earth.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Disney Day 4

Yes, indeed, we got a late start today. The kids didn’t get up until around 9 a.m. – and it was after 10 o’clock before we left the hotel room. But, the kids were well rested and in better moods.

We started the day at the Magic Kingdom, and since we got there much later than we originally hoped (10:45) – all we could do was a bit of shopping before our lunch reservations at the Crystal Palace. The Crystal Palace features a nice buffet with Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, and Tigger.

We’ve been really impressed with how much character interaction we’ve gotten at these meals. We saw each of the characters twice today except Eeyore. Once again, Morgan was our character groupie and Tanner was our chicken.

He would jump & shout whenever he would see the characters, calling out their names, pointing – but whenever they would get within 10 feet, he would retreat behind our legs, backs, or any available structure.

He did better today, however, and we did manage to catch a few pictures of him with the characters…usually as long as mommy or daddy were nearby.

This one caught early in the meal….

This interaction caught at the end of our meal….

He got better towards the end…we managed to sneak in pictures with Pooh & Piglet

We then went and hit a few rides that Randy & I wanted to see – even if we knew they might not be to the kid’s liking. We hit the Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise (dorky, but a Disney classic), and the Haunted Mansion. We finished the day up with the daytime parade.

They both loved the parades – especially the princesses. But, really, that has turned out to be both of their favorite part of this entire trip.

Then we packed up & headed back to the hotel. We stopped by at the gift shop & purchased the kids a Mickey animal (Tanner) and Minnie (Morgan). For the kids, it was love at first site.

You know it must be serious if Minnie sleeping with Prayer Bear and Morgan.

After nap, we watched the animals for a while. We had two giraffe, three zebra, a couple of wild boars, and a bongo. The giraffe were about 100 feet from our window while the bongo was literally 18 feet below our balcony. It’s neat to watch them.

(this is a Bongo – kind of like an antelope, called the “Shadow of the Forest”)

We then headed out for a quick dinner at the hotel café (the Mara). And, let the kids play in the wading pool. They literally cried and threw a fit while putting on their swimsuits, but had a ball once they started splashing water.

I can’t believe that we only have one full day left. We hope to get to the park earlier tomorrow – we’re trying to get the kids to go to sleep now. We now have late lunch reservations in Epcot with Chip & Dale, Mickey, & Pluto. Tomorrow we plan to spend in Fantasyland (Small World, Mickey’s Philharmagic, etc) and Toon Town (Minnie & Mickey’s Houses, Goofy’s Boat, and Meet & Greet with the characters ~ hopefully the Princesses).

Tomorrow evening / night, we plan on hanging out at the lodge. We’ll have to leave in good time on Saturday morning (9:30 or so), so we want to make sure bags are packed before we leave. We may try swimming again, playing on the camp equipment, or checking out the animals again.


Morgan's middle name is Olivia (after my much loved paternal grandmother). Whenever, she is in trouble, we do what every good parent does, and give her a firm warning "Morgan Olivia".

Tonight, I must have been doing something she didn't like. She turned to me and said:

"Mommy Olivia"

Day 3 Take Two - Chef Mickey & More

This was a big planned evening for us. I had managed to order an egg-free birthday cake for the kid’s at Chef Mickey’s. Now, I know that their birthday isn’t for another 1.5 weeks, but we wanted to celebrate it while we were down here. And, in the spirit that Disney can do nearly anything, they were able to make Tanner & Morgan an egg-free cake.

So, off on the monorail to Chef Mickey’s. The kids loved the monorail and it was a very convenient form of transportation. The characters were in full force. This was much to Morgan’s great delight. And, Tanner would squeal everytime a character came near, jumping in his seat, shouting their name, but when they got close….

“Tanner, do you want to meet (insert character’s name here)?”


Morgan LOVED meeting the characters.

And, of course, the highlight was when the birthday cake came our. They play a birthday song about every 30 minutes. Our waiter delivered it to the table:

And, then the characters come around to wish the kid’s happy birthday. In this photo, Tanner did not know Goofy was behind him.

When he found out, he hightailed it to the other side…you can see the empty seat in this picture:

He wanted nothing to do with it when Mickey came over to help blow out the candles. Thank goodness Morgan loved the help.

After dinner, we headed back on the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. We had considered skipping it, but we had promised Morgan the night before that she could ride on a carousel “tomorrow”. Of course, she had not forgotten.

This was Morgan’s first sighting of the castle…

We walked down main street towards the castle (we’ll do some shopping over the next few days), and made our way to the carousel. We actually walked right onto the carousel with no waiting.

While on the carousel, Morgan spotted the Dumbo ride and said “I want to ride that!”. Now, Dumbo is known for little kids loving it, and incredibly long wait times. When we got the line, there was a lady there, so I asked her how long the line was.

She said “Well, as chance would have it, I need a co-pilot for Dumbo, would one of your kids be willing?” This lady was part of the “Year of a Million Dreams” – and the “dream” she granted was a co-pilot for Dumbo’s ride – front of the line, no waiting, with a pilot’s license to prove it.

While it wasn’t a night in Cinderella’s castle, I was excited, and Randy was pretty amazed when he figured out what was going on.

Then, we rode the Winnie the Pooh ride. It was deemed to be very kid friendly, it still scared Morgan.

And, then, Randy & I decided that we would try to stay for the parade. We actually got excellent seating, and then waited the hour for the parade to start. Amazingly the kids were pretty good for the entire hour, and I think they (and we) were rewarded. They were very intent on the parade:

It really is a gorgeous parade with the nights on all of the characters and floats. We considered sticking around for the fireworks, but it started to rain just as the parade ended, and we really weren’t prepared for that. So, we took our four weary selves back to the hotel.

It’s nearly 8 a..m., and the kids are still out. So, it will be a late start today. We’re headed back to the Magic Kingdom for lunch with Pooh & friends (any wagers on whether or not Tanner will warm up to these guys?).

In other news…we’re starting to get really worried about Tanner. He has been doing wonderful with potty training down here. He’s had no accidents, even when we haven’t been able to get to the potty for 20 minutes after he’s asked (bus ride). However, he hasn’t pooped since we left Kansas (Sunday night). He’s tooting, so I’m more worried about whether or not I’ll have to change him when he does finally explode.