Sunday, December 30, 2007

More giggles

A&K having some more laughs.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas morning continued

The girls surrounded by all the presents.

Lisa showing Alyssa her new overalls that she received from Micki and Rhett.

Katy reaching out for more presents.

I like this series of Alyssa opening a present.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

We've got our first tooth!!!!

The girls have been extra sensitive the last couple of nights and now we know why. We just got the flashlight out and found that Alyssa has her first tooth!! It must have cut through either last night or sometime today. Katy can't be too far behind because her temperament has been very similar and her gums feel very sharp. It should be a matter of days before she has her first. We'll try to get a picture but it will be hard.

Speaking of pictures, how about some more Christmas photos?!

Alyssa going through her stocking with her Daddy.

Then we set up for some under-the-tree photos.

...with and without the flash...

Prepare yourself for some Christmas morning hilarity.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Eve and Christmas morning

So we had an incredible Christmas. The girls got lots of fun stuff...too much to list. I will share some photos, though. I am so spoiled. I don't know how I lucked out and got sooo much good stuff.

These first photos are from Christmas Eve. We went next door and had a traditional Swedish Christmas Eve with meatballs, rice pudding, and uh....other stuff that I can't remember. Our neighbors are the only ones (outside of family) to have baby sat so they were wonderful with the girls. We got down on the floor and had a great time with everyone.

Christmas morning was so special. The girls just recently began sleeping with no restrictions in their crib. Katy can roll in all directions but she usually stays relatively in the same place at night...she just might roll up on her side. Alyssa can't roll from back to front so we were very surprised to walk in Christmas morning and find Alyssa upside down and crowding Katy.

We took over 100 pictures and a couple videos of the girls Christmas morning. I will post some of them the next couple of days. I did want to share a realization I had last night.

We were sitting down after the girls went to sleep and it was still snowing outside (we got 4.5 inches Christmas Day!) and looking at all of the pictures that we took during the day. About half way through the pictures I had one of those moments. I realized that 10 or 20 years from now we'll look at these pictures with our girls and we'll reminisce about their first Christmas. They'll say things like, "Wow, dad. Look how young you look." and "Look how much hair you had!" The same things I've said for years about pictures my parents have shown me from my first Christmas'. Well, not the hair comment but just seeing the young versions of my parents.

These are the pictures my girls will look back at for their entire lives.

I don't know why it hasn't hit me until just now. They're almost 9 months old but this was really the first time that it's sunk in.

I'm going to go take the dog for a walk in the snow and think about the meaning of life a little more. I hope everyone out there had as happy a Christmas as we did. We are certainly very fortunate. Our family and friends are those most giving and wonderful bunch of people in the world. Thank you everyone! We love you all!

More pics and videos to come soon.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas!

...and boy, are we having fun!

I'm sorry for the lack of postings. I've realized that when things are going tough, I tend to not share so much. I've started writing several times but as I'm writing, it feels like I'm just whining. I don't like sending out to the world the impression that we're always struggling and never having fun. To be honest, it has been a struggle lately. After making incredible progress the first week of our new routine, the wheels seemed to come off and we went back to a lot of crying. It's hard to describe without going into a lot of detail but the short of it is, we're still putting them down in the crib drowsy but awake instead of holding them to sleep. That involves more crying than we would like and a LOT of patience. It has been very difficult at times but overall, we're confident that we're making progress and the girls are gaining the ability to fall asleep on their own and more importantly, fall BACK asleep on their own without assistance from us. Just today, Katy fell asleep TOTALLY on her own for her afternoon nap and slept for almost 2 hours!

Otherwise, we're doing fine. We have a nice routine going and having fun in the process. The girls have started to sit up a little. If we sit them up, they will stay in the seated position for a while now before falling over. Before, it was mere seconds before they would lose their balance, but lately Katy has been sitting upright on her own for a minute or two at a time. Pretty impressive.

So hopefully most of our Christmas Cards have arrived. I wanted to share a couple of photos that didn't quite make the cut. The 10 or so pictures that we didn't use are just as priceless as the 2 we did. This first one we tried, Lisa and I made all kinds of noise to try to get the girls to smile. Of course, this made the girls just look up at us instead of the camera. Notice, Alyssa's looking at me and Katy's looking at Lisa.

This next one would have been a great picture but between takes I was lifting up Katy over my head to keep her happy....and she drooled all over my shirt. Nobody really noticed until we looked at the pictures later that there were giant drool marks all over my shirt.
...just a cute photo of me and the girls.

and Lisa.

Merry Christmas everyone! We love everyone and can't wait to hear from you. We'll be taking lots of pictures tomorrow. Love you all.

Andy, Lisa, Alyssa, and Katy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Out-takes of Katy's efforts

We took several videos of Katy trying to roll over before we got the one that I posted earlier. I wanted to post this one too because you can see her latest way of talking. At about 1:30 in the video, she does her new baby talk..."bah, bah, bah". It's pretty cute.

Our new sleeping routine is working very good. They have their moments but all in all, we can't complain. They still get a dream feed between 10 and 11 after being asleep for a couple of hours and then will stay down the rest of the night. So Lisa and I, for the first time in 6 months, are getting 7 or 8 hours of consecutive sleep.

Our only problem is that we have programmed our bodies to wake up at the slightest noise coming from the nursery. Once we lay there and realize they've made it back to sleep on their own, we find it very difficult for us to fall back asleep. Maybe we need somebody to come pat our tummies until we fall asleep!

For the most part, they are falling asleep within 15 to 20 minutes but there is the occasional 45 minute cry fest. Lisa said she had a real hard time with naps today and ended up giving up after almost an hour and decided to put them back on the floor instead. A little bit later, the girls were getting tired again so the next attempt was much more successful and they slept for over an hour and a half. SUCCESS!

Weather wise in Anchorage, the snow has finally returned. It's been a tough 3 weeks or so with almost no snow on the ground but it's finally returned today. The cold air will arrive later this week so hopefully it will stick around for the rest of winter and I can get some snowboarding in soon.

Lisa's mom arrives Saturday. Great timing because Lisa and I will be celebrating our 8 year anniversary next week. We haven't been out on a date in months so it will be nice to get out and have some fun...and do some Christmas shopping.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Katy....roll roll roll

As you'll see, Katy has figured out to roll, she needs to grab her toes and lean. The hard part then is muscling her inside arm out from underneath her. I had taken 3videos before this where she got stuck on her arm and couldn't quite get it. She kept trying and trying. Lisa even noticed that she's rolling with purpose she sees something she wants and she'll roll over to get closer to it.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

3rd night....

Sorry, forgot to post about how our third night went with the new routine. After an apparent step backward the second night, we pushed forward and went into the third night with a positive attitude. We were rewarded.

The girls are super stars. Alyssa seemed to be getting used to this idea of falling asleep in their crib a little better than Katy but all in all, Katy did just fine. Alyssa was asleep with minimal help within 30 minutes and Katy fought it for another 15 or 20 after that. The real difference between the two was about an hour later when Alyssa started crying out in her sleep with gas. She was able to work through it and stay asleep but it stirred Katy and she couldn't get back to sleep. We went in to help her and she was lying there with tears streaming down and a runny nose because she'd been crying so hard.

Then, it seemed like breathing through the nose became an issue because she would start to fall asleep but couldn't close her mouth and breath so she would wake herself back up and cry. This went on for about 45 minutes before she was able to finally fall asleep again. didn't last long. Just a little bit later, she woke up again. By then, it had been about 4 hours since her previous feeding so Lisa fed Katy and put her down without a peep. She stayed asleep the rest of the night. Alyssa fed in her sleep at about 11:30 and did the same thing, didn't wake up the rest of the night.

Tonight has gone even better. Katy decided that she was going to be the star for the night and fell asleep in less than 5 minutes!!!! Alyssa fought it for about 40 minutes before she finally fell asleep. There was some noises off and on for the next couple hours but they both made it past 11 so they are now getting fed in their sleep. If everything goes like it has the last 2 nights, we won't hear from them again until morning. NOT TOO BAD!!!!!

Nap times are much improved too. On average, the girls would nap about 30 minutes...sometimes 20 minutes, sometimes 40. We've told people that and the response is always, "oh, they're cat-nappers". All the books say 6 month olds should be napping 1 to 2 hours at a time and we've never understood why they couldn't do it.

This new routine that we're doing seems to have solved that problem. The first day after we changed the night time routine...they slept for more than an hour for their first nap! We were shocked. Today's morning nap was the shortest since we switched 4 days ago and it was 40 minutes. But this afternoon's nap...2 hours!!! ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!! Even if we hadn't been making progress during our night time routine, at least we know they are figuring out how to get themselves back to sleep since they are staying down for 3 or 4 times longer during their naps. That is the most amazing part to me.

During the day time...the girls have been very busy. They helped decorate the Christmas tree and have been working very hard at rolling over and sitting up. I was going to save pictures for another post but I just looked at them and they're too cute to pass up.

The first two are of Katy waiting patiently on the couch while Alyssa helps decorate the tree.

Then there's Alyssa who has been sporting some great chicken hair the last couple of days. She's the one on the left if you couldn't figure that out.

Congrats to Lisa on this photo. This may be my new favorite photo of the girls...of course, I say that about once a week.

We started using a small tripod with the digital camera to get the pics in focus in low light situations so that's what Lisa was experimenting with when she took these pictures. Great job, babe.

So it's now amost midnight and Alyssa is finishing up her dream feeding. Katy is in bed and stirring a little but hopefully all she will need is a burp if it gets out of hand. Otherwise, I'm planning on sleeping for the next 7 hours!!! YEA US!!!

Oh, and we got a video of Katy rolling from her back to front. I'll start downloading it before I go to bed so I can post it in the morning.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Night #1 down...

...and it went pretty good. Lisa and I were just talking about it tonight and realized that last night wasn't nearly as bad as we thought it would be but by no means was it easy. Like I said yesterday, we're doing a modified Ferber method so we're not letting them cry it out per se but we are allowing them to get themselves to sleep....which involves some crying. Lisa read about this method in a book called "Secrets of the Baby Whisperer" and it is what our friend used with her twins with great success.

Anyway, last night was a challenge but we got through it much faster than we both had anticipated. The girls were incredible. Alyssa was the first to start crying...then after about 30 minutes of me picking her up, comforting her and putting her back down, she feel asleep on her own in the crib. What made it difficult is she would immediately start crying the second I leaned over to put her down, then after a minute or two of trying to comfort her with touch and "shhh", I would pick her up again until she was soothed. All in all, I probably picked her up 20 or 30 times. When Alyssa feel asleep first (while Katy was screaming right next to her) Lisa and I looked at each other with amazement. It was so awesome!

Katy took another 15 minutes or so and just like Alyssa, I put her down and she cried and cried and then it was like someone flipped off a switch, she was asleep.

It was amazing. We walked out of the nursery at about 9:30 with both babies asleep!! It was the first step toward baby independence and us reclaiming our evenings. It's been a long, long time since we've had our evenings to us.

It didn't last too long when Alyssa woke up about 45 minutes later. This was one question that I had going into it was how do you start over and won't she wake up her sister? I started from scratch and went right back into the routine of picking them up until their need was met and putting them immediately down in the crib. It took another 30 minutes but she fell back asleep without ever waking up her sister (even though she was making A LOT Of noise).

At about 11:30, Katy woke up. We had decided that after 4 hours from their previous feeding, we would go ahead and give them a "dream" feeding. Lisa fed Katy at 11:30 and put her down in the crib without another sound and SHE DIDN'T GET UP AGAIN UNTIL MORNING!! Lisa got Alyssa up and fed her in her sleep and put her back down without a sound. The real test came at about 2am with Alyssa. Alyssa woke up and we let her cry for about 10 minutes and when it was obvious she wasn't going to get her self back to sleep, I went in to start the whole process over...this time when I was exhausted!

It was definitely tougher at 2am but I pushed through and even started falling asleep standing up leaning over the crib a couple of times. After about 20 minutes, Alyssa just got completely quiet. She wasn't squirming or making any noise, she was just laying there looking at me or the ceiling. A couple of times, I had to really listen to make sure she was breathing because it was so odd to see her like that. This lasted another 20 minutes and then the eyes closed and she was asleep. She, too, stayed asleep until morning. I hate to admit it because we probably should have gotten them up earlier but they didn't wake up until about 9:30am!! Pretty amazing actually considering what we have been doing.

So all in all, it went pretty good. The girls definitely proved they could fall asleep in their cribs...with some love and support from their parents. The hope is that each night they will need us less and less until we can just put them down, say goodnight, and walk out of the room. In the book, it described one parent using this method that had to pick up her baby 150 times the first night!!! The second night was something like 50 times and then 20 times the 3rd night. After that, they never had to pick up the baby again to comfort during bedtime.

If this afternoon's naps were any indication on how we're progressing, then I'd say it's working. The morning nap took them each about 30 minutes to fall asleep and they slept about 45 minutes (they average 20 to 30 minutes so 45 is pretty good). This afternoon's nap...Alyssa took 6 minutes to fall asleep and I never had to pick her up. Katy still took about 35 minutes.

We're going into tonight optimistic but prepared for another challenge. I have to admit it is very difficult to hear both babies screaming at the same time. The first 8 months of their lives, we've done everything we can to avoid letting that happen, for better or worse.

4 hours later......

We just finished bedtime routine #2 and it was actually a little tougher. They cried much more than last night. Alyssa took about the same amount of time but Katy took 2 hours and 5 minutes...not really progress. We've been sitting around trying to figure out why it didn't get better tonight. The only difference is we started later in the evening. So we'll regroup tomorrow and try again and pray for better results.

Just as I was typing this Katy woke up again and since it's been 4 hours, Lisa's feeding her.

Update on the is decorated. The girls helped of course. I haven't seen the pictures but Lisa says they're great. I'll download them tomorrow. I'm off to bed while Lisa finishes this feed.

Oh and I forgot to include their latest weights from yesterday. They both gained exactly 1 pound in a month.

They are now:
Alyssa 15 pounds, 13 ounces
Katy 14 pounds, 6 ounces

Another reason why we can't hold them until they sleep anymore, they're getting HUGE!!!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tonight is the night

Tonight is the night we begin our new routine. Lisa is doing their last feeding right now. First thing we are going to do different is let them stay up a little after this feeding instead of trying to put them straight to bed. This way we are hoping to get out some of that gas which will help them sleep better.

Then it's off to bed. I have my ipod standing by and Lisa has ear plugs. It's going to be rough but we're both going into this with a positive attitude.

The doctor gave us some reassurance that the girls are ready...there is nothing physiologically that should hold us back from letting them cry. Granted, we're not going full out on the Ferber method...more of a modified Ferber. But there is definitely going to be some crying tonight.

Our pediatrician also shared his story of his first boy and how he and his wife got through this phase. It was frightening but encouraging. We can do it.

So if you happen to check this tonight before you go to bed, say a prayer for us and our girls.

Here's a cute picture of Katy wearing my Texan's beanie.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A week of firsts

It's been an exciting week of firsts around here.

We'll start with Alyssa's new talents. About a week ago, Lisa was either changing her or just playing with them during floor time, but was doing her normal noises and games to keep her entertained. She was making the do I describe it? It's something like this...PFTPFTPFTPFTPFTPFTPFT...and involves the tongue somewhat outside of the mouth. You get the picture? Well suddenly Ms. Lyssa thought she would try and imitate that noise. She concentrated and put her lips together and her tongue out...and "pftpftpftpft". I missed the first time but she has done it a couple of times for me. It's very entertaining and is usually greeted with us cheering wildly.

A night later, Alyssa discovered that she could throw her toys off of her lap and onto the floor when she was in the swing. Lisa and I were sitting down for dinner which meant the girls were in their swings/bouncy chairs and Lisa was sitting on the floor in front of them. I won't be that way's just the way we do it for now to keep everyone happy. Lisa put our favorite cube toy in Alyssa's lap and she immediately flung it off to the side. Lisa put it back in her lap and the comedy began, over and over. Every time Lisa put it back in her lap, she would use all four limbs until that thing was on the floor. It was cracking us up but not her, she was very serious.

Not to be outdone...Ms. Katy beat her sister to a very big first. The long story involves poopy diapers and a Christmas tree. The short version is...after Lisa changed Katy's diaper, she rolled over from her back to her front!!!! The best part of it was we were both there and both watching when she did it. We're lucky enough to have two girls so if we miss a first of anything, there's a chance we'll see the other one do it but it's still exciting, and kinda amazing, that both of us were watching her as she finally figured out how to roll from back to front. She's been close for 3 or 4 days now but could only get on her side. But this time, she grabbed her toes and started rolling and didn't stop until her head popped up and she was on her belly.

The physical therapist that comes has been working to get them interested in their toes. Once they start grabbing their toes, rolling will come very easily. Katy has been a lot more interested...bringing her feet up into the air and reaching out to play with them. Alyssa just isn't interested yet. So it was just a matter of time before it happened. Here is a picture of Katy about 2 minutes after she rolled over. Notice she still has the "what just happened and why are my parents yelling?" face.

Lots to share...

If the girls would give us more time, I could post more than once a week but it's been hard to find free moments lately. The girls are teething and night time has been getting worse. Going along with the theme of firsts, we are ready to commit to a new night time strategy, I mean, routine. It has been too difficult on everybody and we can't continue this any longer. Lisa and I have both been fighting bugs and sleepless nights are making us feel worse and probably not allowing our immune system to help us recover. So we have a game plan but are going to the doctor tomorrow to talk about get his input and suggestions.

To be honest, we're both a little frightened of the unknown. We've been debating the best way to get them to fall asleep on their own. The thought of possibly hearing them cry for hours on end is depressing. Not that we're going to allow them to do that but knowing that the first several nights of transition could be very difficult. Are they ready? Are we ready? When do you pick them up? How much do you let them cry? Is it fair to do this if they're teething? We've read and heard all different ways to get them to sleep on their own and the reasoning behind it. It doesn't make it any easier to make that commitment and stick with it. We're going to be asking ourselves questions like these and who knows what else as we go through it. Please pray for our little girls and for us. It's going to be a challenge, no doubt.

Now, on the bright side...we've been decorating for Christmas! It is taking us much longer than your average family but we don't care, it's getting done. On Sunday, we got our tree. The girls got all bundled up (pictured below) for what was supposed to be a fun afternoon of shopping and Christmas tree hunting.

Mother nature did not see it that way. It was relatively warm for early December in Alaska but when the winds picked up and starting blowing dust, we had to alter our plans. Instead of walking around and taking our time finding the perfect tree, we had to take turns running through the lot looking for a tree while the other parent stayed in the car with the girls.

Then, it was a comedy of,

"I thought you said 2nd row, 5th tree from the back...that one has too many bare spots in it".

"No, no...the 5th row, 2nd tree from the back".

"OH...ok, just a second".
"Well, that's one alright. But what about the 3rd row, 2nd tree?"

Get my point? It was pretty funny. In the end, we picked out the perfect tree and thoroughly worked the salesman. I probably should have tipped that guy, oh well.

Then, the next night (I told you we were taking our time) we began decorating the tree. This was kinda special because again, we turned on the webcam and let family spy in on us while we decorated. My parents and my sister happened to be online (which was kinda late for both of them). I pointed the camera toward the tree and put the lights up. Of course, we had to get a couple pictures of the girls during the process.

I thought this was a cute photo of Katy straining to see what I was doing behind her.

If you can't tell, the girls are laying down while the lights were being strung out to make sure they all worked. We haven't had a tree since 2003 so it was pretty exciting for everyone.

After a couple hours of work and the girls were taking their last feeding, I took a quick shot of the tree with the lights on. Still no ornaments...those will come in the next couple of days. Again...taking our time.

By the way...yes we have "If you give a moose a muffin" and the girls love it. Thank you!