Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ezra - 2.5

And then there's this guy. In the full swing of being 2. He has recently decided that he is potty trained (what!? I didn't even have to do anything!) He loves to assert his independence and loudly declare "I do it!" about everything. He's also practicing his negotiation skills to try and get more jelly beans for going potty. I know you wouldn't guess it by this face, but also a little bit of a troublemaker and instigator of all things naughty.

What's your favorite color? Um, red!

What's your favorite toy? Um, my big Christmas tow truck.

What's your favorite thing about Mommy? Play with me.

What's your favorite thing about Daddy? Play with him.

What do you want for your birthday? A Tow Mater and a Lightning!

What's your favorite thing to eat? Drink juice and eat food.

What do you like to do with Cohen? Play big rigs and cars with him.

Do you want to go to school when you grow up? Yeah. Like Cohen. 

What do you want to do at school? Play blocks.

Why don't you like to stay in bed at night? Because I love you.

What's your favorite movie? Minions! 

How come you don't like to wear clothes? Because.

We attempted to take a few pictures of the boys for Gramma for Christmas. Ezra was feelin' the baby modeling. I told him to go stand up against the fence and the second picture is what he did. His first model pose. 

Cohen - 4.5 years old

This boy...he's getting so grown up and so smart. He's working on all kinds of things and making great progress at them. He is Mr. Serious and Literal who insists that we are NOT allowed to say "Say cheese" when taking a picture because cheese is a food in the refrigerator. A
nd also Mr. Goofball who likes toot noises and silly faces.

I thought I would ask him a few things and see what he said...He yelled these all back from the bathroom.

What's your favorite color? White and brown and grey and black

What's your favorite food? Mac and cheese

Why don't you sleep at night? Because...it's because...I don't like to sleep at night.

What's your favorite animal? Horses.

What's your favorite toy? My animals.

What's your favorite number? 9. (always 9 - When playing hide and seek he insists on counting to exactly 9, never more or less).

What's your favorite thing about Daddy? Playing.

What's your favorite thing about Mommy? I like to play with Daddy. (alrighty then).

What's your favorite thing about Ezra? Playing with him. I like to play big rigs.

Do you like school? No. 

What's your favorite book? Poop book. (Look inside your body book)

What are you going to be when you grow up? A man.

What are you doing in there? We're just cleaning the bathroom...

We interrupt this interview to see what kind of disaster "cleaning the bathroom" means.  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Oh, Christmas Tree 2015!

The Saturday after getting home from Utah, we went for my sister and sister in law's birthday breakfast and then Christmas tree hunting. Cohen wanted all the tiny trees (and tried to pull them out like big weeds, his summer fascination)


The boys LOVED riding in the wagon, I wish the next one wasn't blurry, they were loving it!

And then they couldn't wait to get home to decorate it! The biggest tree we've had in our little house in years! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Teeny Tears Headquarters Trip

This past week, I got the chance to take the trip of a lifetime! We hopped on a plane and headed to Utah to meet THE ladies behind Teeny Tears, the diaper organization who has played such an important role in my life over the last 4 years. Originally, my mom made plans to go, asked me if I wanted to go, I didn't think there was any way I would be able to get away. BUT, thanks to my wonderful family and friends, we were able to work it out. But we kept it a surprise for Megan, who had NO idea I was coming. Her reaction was so worth it, she was definitely surprised. One of the best surprises ever.

(Diaper example)
We got to spend a few days with Megan and Vanessa, the ringleaders of Teeny Tears seeing all the "behind the scenes" stuff and helping them out with a few things. While we were there, they held a diaper party and there were several people that we "knew" online that we got to meet in person. It was such a special, encouraging day. I also got to meet another fellow TTTS mom that I knew but had never met. We processed 1000 diapers and made 2500+ tiny hats!

I also got to meet THIS amazing little fellow. Megan's son, a fellow TTTS surviving twin, just like Cohen. This kid is a fighter, through and through. I love him to pieces and may have shed a few tears when he popped through the door after school.

I give these ladies and tiny diapers a lot of credit for helping me keep my sanity over the 4 years. At a time when I could have fallen into a dark hole that I would have struggled to get out of, I threw myself into late night emails to Megan dreaming about how we could diaper the whole world. I sewed many tiny diapers to mail out. I found something productive and positive to do with my grief and love for Carter. I also found hope and friends who had walked similar paths.

As we found ourselves saying ALL week "Teeny Tears is about so much more than diapers". It's about healing and hope and community. In a world that can seem so dark these days, it's so great to know this group of amazing people exists that want to help make things just a little better for families in an incredibly difficult time. Many of the volunteers making diapers (and hats and blankets) are baby loss parents, grandparents, aunties etc. Some of them found the project after they themselves received a diaper and came to the group to start making them themselves. It's amazing what Teeny Tears has grown into.

It was so, so great to get to meet these ladies in person. It sounded a little crazy to jump on a plane and go meet our "internet friends", but I'm so, so glad that I was able to go. One of the best trips of my life. It feels a little bit like leaving summer camp and hoping and praying you get a chance to see your friends again someday.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Picture Drawings

It seems like Cohen has been learning so many new skills lately. One day, he could put on his own shoes! And with a little work, his socks too! He can write his name and recognizes all the letters of the alphabet and numbers 1-20. He hasn't been much of a drawer up until recently. He drew this today and I couldn't help but be so proud! Cohen is getting to be so grown up!

It's our house, with me outside, a sun and a cloud.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Eye Exam Day

Pretty proud of this fellow who went in for his eye exam today. I promised him NO drops because of our last experience and when he was doing so well, we decided to do the drops. He handled it like a champ! AND he has perfect vision and no scarring or damage from his ROP as a baby (common preemie eye problem). Such a better experience than last time!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Family Descriptions after Loss

Today, one of the days my heart has been dreading has come. Cohen's preschool is talking about families. He got a note with a little bag of small rocks with instructions to send back a stone for each family member and a family photo. It seems simple enough, right?

 But then I feel it. The heaviness in my heart that we don't have that extra stone. That the pictures won't include our Carter, the other member of our family. Someday when Cohen understands more I will let him decide what and who he wants to tell about his brother. We counted out the four stones to send back to school, feeling the ache in my heart. This may be our first encounter with this, but I know it won't be our last. I don't know how we will handle it in the future, probably however Cohen feels he wants to handle it.

It took me a while to get over the guilt of answering "how many kids do you have?" with the number of my living children. But I reached a point where I didn't need to tell every single person about Carter. I know he is my child and in some ways, I feel like I'm protecting us both by not always delving into his story. There have been times where I have mentioned him and have been so, so blessed by the reaction, stories, or hugs I have received. But not everyone understands child loss (thankfully) and the reactions can be awkward and uncomfortable and hurtful. So I've learned to go with what feels right in the situation. I have a feeling this may become similar in the future for Cohen. But right now, the first time makes me feel that deep longing for my child and how much I wish he could be here counting out family stones with his brother.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sharing Our Story

Whew! We're still here...just busy and tired!

Over the last couple months we've had a couple more cool opportunities to share our story. It's always emotional and tiring, but we feel it's important to share and we are so thankful for the people out there who are trying to make the difficult path of the NICU and child loss a little bit better.

Last month, we did a video interview with UW, where the boys were born. The video will be used to train healthcare workers in the NICU experience and also what it's like to lose a child. Today we had the opportunity to be a part of a parent panel for a NICU conference.

Reliving all of the hard moments, the difficult moments in our experience that we wish we could forget, and the experiences we will always cherish is very emotionally draining but it's also so rewarding. To know that people are willing to hear our stories and to learn from our experiences gives me a lot of hope for future families that will walk a similar path. Of course nothing is going to fix the situation or make it pain free, but there are definitely things that can be done to improve how a family and their child is treated during such an impossibly difficult time. It's also so interesting to hear the other parents stories and even though we've never met before, we just all connect. And I'm always so honored to hear the stories of their little ones.

Even though it's hard, we always find it so rewarding to share our story and that people are so receptive. We are humbled and thankful that people want to listen.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Apple Picking 2015

Today we went for our annual apple picking trip to a local spot nearby (last year's trip is here). We've all been fighting colds, thanks first week of school, and the weather wasn't great but we decided to go for it anyway.

We went straight for the honeycrisps, our favorites! Ezra sampled one to make sure they were still good this year, they were!

As good as it gets with these two little jokers!!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Preschool - Year 2

Cohen started his second year of preschool last week. After having the summer off, it was a pretty big adjustment for him. He was not excited about it, but he was brave and has been doing well so far. He goes 4 days a week now and gets multiple services while at school. He also gets to ride the bus which he thinks is pretty great.

Ezra is a little bit jealous of big brother. He tries to get on the bus every day and the few times we've visited Cohen's preschool he has made himself right at home and not wanted to leave! Cohen's class is half kids who need services and "peers", kids who are developing "normally". I think I need to sign Ezra up to be a peer next year, I know he would love it!

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Hiking We Will Go!

We normally try to go hiking a few times over the summer but just didn't get around to it until today. Cohen starts preschool again this week so we decided to embrace our last day off. Cohen loves adventuring and hiking. Ezra has always been little enough to carry in the hiking backpack but we decided to let him tromp around on his own today. Obviously, it wasn't a difficult hike but the boys loved it and it was so great to get up to the mountains!

Ezra is big into the 2 year old "me do it" phase. He loved climbing all the big rocks by himself and then jumping off just as many other ones.

Oddly enough, for someone who has long struggled with balance and physical motor skills, Cohen is in his element when he's hiking and exploring. For some reason, he seems to be so much more coordinated and climbs rocks and goes over uneven ground without much trouble. It's so great to see. We joked today how awesome it would be if our "wimpy white boy" who spent two months on a ventilator, spent 8 months of his life on oxygen, and was supposed to have "crappy lungs" became a mountain climber! (Well, we know he has already climbed so.many.mountains. but you know, actual physical mountains someday)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Grampa's 2nd Annual Camping Trip

Last weekend was our church camping trip and this weekend was our second year of doing a family camping trip for my dad's birthday. We came home, did six loads of laundry, threw the camping stuff in a pile and then packed it all up again a few days later.

The boys did good, they liked running back and forth between campsites and playing in the dirt. We did get rained on the second night, but you aren't a true pacific northwesterner if you aren't blue tarp camping. When we first got there I knew there was rain in the forecast and I asked Danny to see about getting a tarp over the tent. I came back and he had draped the tarp directly over the tent (instead of tying it to trees above) it was pretty classy and we looked a bit like redneck campers. They did fix it up properly on Saturday which is good since it rained Saturday night.

Cohen was fascinated by the fish the big boys caught. After Danny cleaned and gutted them he had them in a bucket and Cohen just stared and stared at them. "Why aren't they swimming? Hey! What happened to their heads!?"

It has been nice to unplug and just have some family time. I will also be glad to sleep in my own bed next weekend.