Thursday, January 31, 2013

No More Feeding Tube

Feeding Tube Removal
Addison thinks it's no big deal that her tube is finally gone!

That's it. It's so final. And was so "brief". I don't know what I expected to happen when GI decided it was time. It just...happened.

On Day 95 of tube weaning and 75 days after her last tube feeding, Jan. 30 2013 she is officially without a feeding tube.

We had her regularly scheduled weight check/follow up regarding out tube weaning. Our regular GI was out so we saw her colleague  she reviewed everything with me. Once. Twice. And then I heard those words that I longed to hear "I think we've reached the point where we can safely remove it." She asked if I wanted to do the honor, or allow her to. I've changed it a million times, but today I couldn't bring myself to take it out. Instead I let the doc do it. I held Addison's hand, explained how proud we were of her and what this all meant. And then in an instant her lifeline, the safety net, that one thing that kept her alive and well for so long...was gone. In it's place a tiny whole (smaller then the diameter of a pencil) with a band-aid covering it-remained.

We did it. SHE did it. All that hard work. The months of stress, crying over thrown food and wishing she would just take ONE bite, suddenly was done. A chapter closed. My little itty bitty once 1lb 12oz baby girl who has had a feeding tube her entire life, is no longer feeding tube dependent and she is THRIVING. She weighed in today at 22lbs 12ozs (naked baby weight) and 32 1/2 inches tall. (25th percentile).

I've stared at her belly a million times. Admiring that flat surface when her Mini-One button once stuck out. And I had to laugh just thinking, exactly how long would it be until I go to change her clothes or a diaper and "forget" that it's supposed to be gone and panic that her button is no longer there... ya know, for just that split second. I am still trying to wrap my head around all of this. Proud doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about this accomplishment.

I totally wasn't expecting to walk in to this appointment and have her tube removed. I thought they would be hesitant and resistant, but the doctor was anything BUT that. After reviewing everything with me, she too felt confident that we could easily do this with no issues. As she pointed out, I still have several more options and resources to get added calories into her diet should the need arise.

I think sometimes it becomes hard for a doctor to look past what's on paper or in a textbook and actually consider the whole situation. That's what happened today. The GI doctor looked at Addison as a whole, and I was once again reminded just how lucky we are that she doesn't have many of the issues that other tube fed kids are faced with. That's another huge factor in why things have likely gone so well. Addison doesn't aspirate, her reflux has been well managed since her Nissin surgery, she doesn't gag or choke on her food, and most importantly both developmentally and psychically there is NO reason why she can't eat. A blessing for sure.

Time will tell if the site closes on its own. We are hoping to avoid having it surgically closed, but it could require that. Today so far I've seen minimal draining even when she eats or drinks, so I am hopeful that we might just dodge that bullet.

Another preemie/feeding tube momma asked me "If I thought six months ago that she would be tube free by her 2nd birthday." My short answer - No. I long ago accepted the fact that "one day" we might be able to remove it, made peace that she might need her feeding tube for the rest of her life (even if it was just for small supplements to her oral intake), not because I doubted her, but because it was my defense is many ways. Six months ago she was not ready, six months ago we were lucky if she ate more then 4 ounces  in one day and took more then one sip of milk. Six months ago she hated food, she hated me when I tried to make her eat.

What changed? I don't know. Time-perhaps. Her OT always told me one day it would just click. And I prayed, we all did. And then it just happened. It took some nudging and a few leaps of faith but it happened. And we have not looked back.

Just because her feeding tube is gone, does not mean her struggles with eating are over. The hard part is though. I assure you we still have days where she doesn't want to eat this or that, and would rather graze all day. Or days where she really tests my patience when it comes to peaking her interest to eat.Which really truly could also just simply be a toddler thing, honestly. But even with all of that, she still gets enough nutrition and maintains/gains weight. The next thing we'll have to begin working on now that we've crossed the first bridge, is letting other people feed her (or just watch her eat, if she is self feeding)...getting past some of the behaviors and teaching others how to respond to those behaviors. And getting her to eat BETTER in public places or crowds. (This is yet another thing that she does well sometimes and then other times gets overwhelmed and distracted.)

I do believe it will all come in due time. For now I am taking a moment to step back, thank God for this amazing blessing and rejoicing.

Breakfast at Friendly's
After her appt, we enjoyed a celebratory breakfast before heading home.
Here she is enjoying a sausage link, after already inhaling half a pancake and downing milk.

Chocolate Frosty
And here she is with the evidence of a celebratory lunch - Frosty, Fries and Nuggets.

Tonight we took her to one of our favorite places, Red Lobster, for dinner. (Thanks to our last gift card from Christmas, from Jake's cousin!) She enjoyed half a cheddar biscit, some fries and believe it or not she ate a whole filet of broiled fish! I was shocked. But she just kept going to town. She amazes my For desert I bought her (and Blake) a heart shaped cookie that says "You Rock" on it, but they were both too sleepy to even enjoy it. That's ok, I saved them for tomorrow and we will just keep right on celebrating this HUGE accomplishment.

Also its been just 24 short hours and her stoma looks as if it has closed up! (HOW AWESOME IS THIS? Yet another of God's many miracles.) She had relativity no drainage from the site since it was removed, with the exception of once today when I changed her diaper and noticed her onesie was a little damp (like not even enough that her shirt on top of the onesie was wet!) We'll see how this continues to progress, but it's looking promising!

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Money Saving with Coupons

I am a stay at home mom and I like to save money, and if by saving money I can continue to stay home then by golly that is my goal. Every penny counts in this house!

I've always been a saver, but not so much a couponer or bargain shopper. There was just once a time in our lives when we were both gainfully employed and could just do things without much consideration to a financial impact on us. That changed for us back in 2008 when due to a shaky economy we were faced with a huge loss of income when dear hubby's job took a hit and there wasn't enough work... No work = no pay.

It was then that I learned the art of bargain shopping and coupons. Really its a no brainer and really something that I should have been doing all along, but it (admittedly) can be time consuming. Growing up my grandmother clipped coupons often. Cost of living was high for them as well due to my grandfather's healthcare needs.

This week was/is a great week for bargains because one of the periodic Proctor & Gamble coupon inserts was included. What can you expect from Proctor & Gamble' coupon insert? Typically some of your most popular (read: expensive) household products, included laundry detergent and DIAPERS

I clipped my coupons, looked through my sale adds and planned my trips. I'll need to hit up four stores total this week: Target, Rite Aid, CVS and Giant. (You can make it work for you with less stores, because a lot of them feature the same items within a $1 or so difference, so it's best to consider gas mileage as well. For me, three of those four stores sit at the same intersection so it' worth it for me.) My first trip was to Target (which is the furthest away, but had THE BEST deal on most of the items, and I had to go that way anyway thanks to a not so fabulous mail carrier who refused to deliver a certified letter and the crappy Post Office that insisted I come pick it up - long story, bottom line...LAZY on the mail carrier's part.) The rest I will do the rest of my shopping likely this coming Friday.

But for now, here is a recap of my Target trip -

Out of our wallet, I spent $96.08 - I got $30 in FREE products which included Digiorno Pizza, Pediasure, 6 Carter's Onesies, a bottle of Irish Spring body wash and a 2 liter of Pepsi. In addition to what I got FREE, I saved $46.82 with coupons and the 5% off for using my Target debit card.

Let's to the math, with no coupons and discounts and freebies, I would have spent $172.90 on this  shopping trip. (Which to put things in perspective, included 2 cases of diapers and 2 cases of wipes along with our most used grocery items.) $172.90!!!! I only paid $96.08! That's a savings of 44%!

Clearly I am by no means an "extreme" couponer and have yet to get my entire order for free, but this is one of my best trips. And last week I saved $100 off my grocery budget by meal planning based on the current sales and a few coupons! 

I'll keep you posted on how the remaining three stores go.

Tell me, what are your best money saving tips?

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Find Us on Facebook!

It's official, we have launched our Facebook page!

Be sure to head over and "Like" us so you can stay up to date on all the latest happenings with Our Valentine's Day Surprise!

Our Valentine's Day Surprise - Live now on Facebook!

Wordless Wednesday

For hire:
Sweeps, dusts, steals your heart with her million dollar smile and even wash dishes. Trainable too!

And Blake will take care of your dishes.

Cost: You pay their grocery bill and send them home in time for dinner and bed.

Cleaning, Sweep the floor, Dusting, Dust Bunnies

Cleaning, Sweep the floor, Dusting, Dust Bunnies

Cleaning, Dishwasher, Loading the Dishwasher, Helping Daddy

Monday, January 28, 2013

Guest Blogging

I've recently teamed up with one of my closest friends and fellow blogger, Stephanie (aka UrbanFlowerpot), to do a little guest blogging.

Join us as we swap stories about our daily happenings, preemies, toddlers and so much more.

You can follow my appearances on her blog at

In fact I made my debut there today, to see what topic I focused on click here :

And look for Stephanie to make her debut next Tuesday (Feb 5th) in her very own series here at Our Valentine's Day Surprise, titled "From Philly - With Love". You are not going to want to miss this!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Milestone/Mommy & Me Monday...

I know...I know... I mentioned earlier we'd be seeing less and less of the Milestone Monday's but I needed to share this one because it is a HUGE milestone...

Yesterday we were at breakfast and something happened. Something that I know I personally had waited a long time for. A lady sitting at a nearby table looked over at us, at Addison, and said "Wow, your little girl is such a good eater. I am impressed." Meanwhile, Addison had already eaten more then half a Greek yogurt and was shoveling in a pancake...yes shoveling it in by the fist full (with no help from me)!

I am sure she thought I was nuts because it stunned me for a split second. This lady had NO CLUE, how far Addison had come and what our struggles had been, yet she was completely blown away at what she was doing. I wanted to cry tears of joy. It was in that moment that I realized something, this is our new reality, this lady was right. SHE IS A GOOD EATER (when she isn't being stubborn or picky, lol, but even in those moments SHE EATS).

No longer were we being subject to stares because a.) she wasn't eating like Blake or b.) needed to be tube fed. I thanked this sweet lady for her compliment and smiled as we continued to enjoy our meal. Soaking in the moment. This ... was our new normal. And I couldn't be more proud!

Now for what you all really came for ;)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Date Night

It's Date Night again! I am look forward to this night more and more every week and I hope that somewhere along the way I have inspired my followers to take some time out of their chaotic lives to have a date night every now and again too!

First let's recap...

Last week's movie - "The Lucky One" The opening scene shows a Marine squad performing a night ambush, while it was not anything near graphic, it's probably not best suited for the faint at heart or someone who it would be too close to home for. It was exactly what I expected from a Nicholas Sparks piece of work, even though I admit I haven't yet read this particular piece. Logan follows his heart and tracks down his mystery woman. He begins working side by side with her at a dog kennel, but she has no clue what's brought him to town. Same ol' love story in the end. If you think you can handle the first three minutes (or fast forward through it), I say go for it!

This week's movie - "The Words" Starring Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana. About an aspiring novelist whose work is repeatedly turned down from publishing companies. He stumbles upon an old manuscript and types it word for word on to his computer where it is discovered by his wife. She pushes him to pitch the work thinking it is his own.

This was my pick because Jake loves me (lol). It's been a snowy day here, but I was committed to date night and was sure to get out first thing this morning to pick up the movie before the first snow flake fell. As a result of said snow, date night is happen a little later then usual, but it will be nice to cuddle up on the couch on this snowy night. Digorno Pizza and Movie time.

One last thing before I go:

I am sooo excited about this and want to make sure all our followers know about this!

As promised, there are some big things happening here at Our Valentine's Day Surprise!

The very first of these big things is my first official "guest blogger" spot for this coming Tuesday (Jan 29th)! Be sure to check it out and "add" my dear friend Urban Flowerpot to your reading list and like her on FB so you can be sure to get the latest updates AND know the instant we make a guest appearance.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oh The Things They Will Do...

THIS... has been a few snapshots of my life from the past few days.

I've witnessed some of the sweetest conversations:

Blake: "Need help Sissy?"
Addison: "Ahhhhhh"
Blake: "No cry Sissy. I got you."

Have been witnessing their independence:

Me: "Where'd Addison go?"
Addison: "In kitchen MOMMA!"
Addison: "I GOT IT!" As she handles whatever it is lol.

And this:

Poor Addison woke up with these horribly red cheeks. No fever, acting normal, no other symptoms.
I am torn between dry/chapped skin and some kind of virus. So for now, I'm lathering her up with moisturizing stuff and watching it. It doesn't seem to bother her in the least.

I call this Potty Training Twins 101.
Note: We aren't actually working on Potty Training yet, but ... 
I was trying to cook dinner when this happened. 

These two were from after breakfast when I got a formal request to "Draw Peeessee"
As you can tell they are very focused.

Here's lovely Miss Addi working on her fine motor skills while enjoying her lunch.
In days/weeks past she has been a Mac & Cheese protester, but today she was all about it.

And probably my favorite, just after bath time. I call this the double team.
I am brushing Blake's teeth and she unrolls the TP. Well played Addison, well played.
I also love the innocent look on her face like somehow this is just not her fault.
And I should also mention that this is NOT the first time I've had to try and get all that rolled back up.

It just amazes me, the things thing come up with and know how to do. And the things they find entertaining...Though I think we need to work on that (unrolling TP = not fun) lol. I wouldn't trade it for the world though. Not a single minute. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Seriously could they get any cuter? This is exactly why I always have a smile on my face.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Eyes, Nose, Fingers, Toes!

This is the TRUTH about what happens when you teach toddlers about body parts...

"Eyes" ::Poke:: (As in POKE in your EYE)
"Nose" ::Poke:: (As in toddler finger in your NOSE)
"Mouf" ::Poke:: (Same finger IN your MOUTH)
"Ears! EARS!" ::Tug:: (Tug on our earrings)

My all time favorite from Miss Addison herself - "Gasses" (swipes glasses off my face, quickly followed by...) "EYES!" ::Poke, Poke":: ... As if needing glasses to see isn't bad enough, I now have a toddler finger in my eye. And if you are thinking for one second that I could have stopped her... WRONG... girl is QUICK. And I fall for it every time! Call it her sneak attack.

"Hand" ::Smack:: (Me: "Not nice, we don't hit." Blake: "No, no Sissy. Not nice!")
"Toes" ::tug, tug:: (Me: "Blake! Stop tugging my toes." Blake: "hahahah TOES hahaha")

The very best part of this is the absolute PRIDE they have on their face when they have identified the correct body parts. So at the end of the day, I suppose it's all worth it, but really I hope they learn to be more gentle as I try hard to encourage them to be.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mommy & Me Monday

So the events of this Mommy & Me Monday actually occurred on a Friday. BUT they did in fact happen, and after all that was the goal, to have a Mommy & Me Adventure.

Allow me to set the scene for you...

8:30 am - I am up and in the shower just as I hear small whispers down the hall. I know they aren't fully awake yet, but I've got to be quick. This usually means I've got 20 minutes.

I get all three of us ready and dressed in our "Purple Pride", it's Purple Friday in honor of Daddy's favorite team the RAVENS ! We're going to have an extra special day. I have coupons and a sale that expires today for groceries so that's the big thing on our agenda. But first, we are hitting up the Dunkin Donuts, I've already downed my first cup of coffee and opt for a Coke instead. Three donuts. One purple with Ravens written on it. It's going to be a good day...

Until I realize that ::gasp:: they only have one high chair. Gulp. The least wiggling child gets the seat of honor on the "big boy" chair. Wild woman gets strapped in. Half a donut later, I've lost them. Blake is trying to stand on his chair or get "down". I am able to distract him long enough to return the tray to the counter and put a donut in a bag. Out the door we go and on to the grocery store.

Ravens, Purple Friday, Donuts

I am already admittedly nervous because their bordem in the donut shop could roll over.

It only gets better. We get to Giant and ::double gasp:: there are no available twin carts (ya know, the one's with the cute little cars attached that they can ride in and the double basket seats). Ooooh boy this could be interesting. Again, Addison gets strapped in. (She has already proven she cannot be left in the basket of a cart, as she once leaped out of one. Luckily she was not hurt, but I still have nightmares about it.) I debate briefly just hanging it up and going home, as Blake makes his way to the produce department at full speed. I pick him up and in the basket he goes. 

I am not really sure why the store is so crowded today, but it is. And I now have to walk beside the cart and keep a hand on two kids. I am also surrounded by moms with singletons who have (in my own opinion) abused the twin cart privilege. One kid, riding in a twin cart/car. I shot dagger eyes as they pass me, especially when they act offended that I am taking up so much room in the aisle because I am forced to walk beside the cart. (How else am I supposed to shop with two little ones?) I keep walking. And praying. I have two hands, and no pen to mark off things on my list.

I am also annoyed because I've left my sale flyer at home and for whatever reason Giant doesn't clearly mark all things that are on sale, so I missed out on some of the items I needed. Addison and Blake are taking full advantage of any chance they get to get near a shelf, by randomly selecting objects that I have to then remove, to which they take as an example and then attempt to remove items that I ACTUALLY NEED from the cart. This is fun.

And as if that isn't enough I have a kid trying to sit on the eggs and another who has now opened my wallet. I am able to find a bare spot and stop long enough to remove my wallet from Addison's hands and show Blake a safe place to sit. Unbeknownst to me, in retaliation for my taking my wallet Addison has now tossed BLAKE's coat from the cart. Not her coat... HIS. I do notice though probably I'd say an aisle or so later. And I back track. The whole store. Not once...but FOUR times. And make TWO trips to customer service. Nothing. His coat is gone. I am irrationally sad and ticked. Not so much at Addison, but at whoever found this coat.

1.) Who in the world would just freakin' pick up a child's coat and walk off with it? I mean really. Is there not a single decent person left in this world? 2.) I hear my dad's voice saying "Well, all you can hope is that the person who took it, needed it more then you, and you just helped someone less fortunate." FINE, but really it's like what 20 degrees outside? My kid now doesn't have a coat RUDE. 3.) I am never leaving the house with these two by myself ever again. Just saying. (And I am lying, because trust me... by tomorrow we'll be out and about again.)

I did have more things I wanted to attempt, but alas, I surrendered and came home. Lunch. They napped, and I put away groceries. Made meatballs and a meatloaf to freeze while they slept. (Check back for my meatloaf recipe soon!)

Things really usually aren't this complicated. Addison and Blake are usually great shoppers. Most of the time. This was just simply one of those days.

And that loyal readers is our Mommy & Me Adventure. What adventures have you gotten into with your kiddos this past week?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

We're Going to the SuperBowl!

Baltimore Ravens, Ravens, Football, Superbowl

Ok well really "we" aren't really going to the SUPER BOWL but the BALTIMORE RAVENS are.

This makes the hubby one very happy man. And as you can see Addison and Blake were wearing their Ravens jerseys proudly!

Way to go Ravens! I see a Super Bowl party in our future!

Gooooo Ravens!

I openly admit that I am a fan of both the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens in a head to head battle I will pick Tennessee every time. However as I am sure everyone has notices...Tennessee did not make it to the playoffs.

This Sunday I can promise you that we will all be sporting our Ravens jerseys and joining around the t.v. to watch them stomp Tom Brady and his crappy Patriots.

I am praying with all my might that the Ravens win which will also result in a happy husband. Otherwise not only will Jake be miserable but I will be eating crow for some pretty heavy trash talking I've been doing to one of my fellow preemie moms (HI! S, if you are reading this).

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Silly Things...

That have happened this week alone.

One, trust me when I tell you that I am 100% positive that I am missing a lot because something silly happens like less then once an hour around here. These are just the few I remembered off the top of my head.

- At church on Sunday, our first time at this church to begin with. They have a nursery for little tikes, but welcome children in the congregation during service. We were hesitant about the nursery and decided to see how they did, if things got crazy we'd take them down. Which just before the sermon they did get a little restless - so we took them to the empty nursery. Not even the attendant was there. Blake had already ran off to play with some toys, so I figured I'd wait a minute or two. The minister saw us head down and sent someone after us to take the kids. Great.

In walks a teenage girl, sweet as pie. And this happens - "Pastor sent me down to look after them. You can come get them right before communion if you would like, or wait until the end of the service." Me: "Oh ok great. Um... that one (points to Addison) has a feeding tube, it's tucked under her onesie though and doesn't really impact anything, I just mean um. Like if he pulls on it or she does, which they usually never do. Like it basically doesn't exhist or matter, it's just there. Um, so yeah. So if you need us, we'll be upstairs." Meanwhile I am thinking my rambling has surely scared her off, she replies "Oooh, oook." And I go "K. Bye." and walk away. I handed my two kids to a complete stranger and walked away. Do not ask what came over me.

We get back to our pew and I start giggling quietly. Jake asks why I am laughing, "We literally just handed them off and walked away. Like to a stranger. Atleast we are in a church, I mean nothing bad can happen right?" Jake goes, "Um yeah, and you didn't even tell that poor girl what their names were." - _ -  He's right. No names, just "That one has as feeding tube." - _ - Allow me to formerly submit myself for Mother of the Year. And Jake...shakes head...I will not take all the blame. He was present. He could have spoke up too! I have absolutely no clue what came over me.

- Getting myself ready to go somewhere important (read in front of adult people whose opinion I value), I am applying brow liner in attempt to hide a few small bald spots do to my cheap over plucking job (don't judge me) when I look in the mirror and think, "That looks pinkish and feels...weird". Yeah because it is pink, or the manufacturer's idea of Neutral...LIP LINER! I just applied lip liner to my brows. Thankfully I started with the brows and hadn't done my whole face before I realized this. And for those of you asking how I made this mistake, remember I wear glasses, and did not have them on. Clearly Neutral looked... NEUTRAL, it is not my fault that all the liners come in similar tubes.

- Get on the computer after Jake and he is logged on to FB, so I did what any caring wife would do. I updated his status for him. He logged in to his account and reveled comments regarding "I am sexy and I know it." He texts me promptly and says simply "I am sexy and I know it." He has now repeated this throughout the evening here at home whenever he goes to do something or I ask him to do something. That's now his go to response "I am sexy and I know it."

- Feeding A & B lunch. (We have a rule that we wait for everyone to finish eating before we get up from the table.) We are almost to the end and I ask Addison "Would you like another bite?", to which Blake screams "NOoooooooo, no more bites Momma!" He had already finished his lunch and was clearly ready to get down, and felt strongly that Addison was done too.

- Dinner time. Most of the time I put food finger foods on the table for A & B versus on a plate, otherwise the food and plate ends up being tossed. Jake had set the table, I got them strapped into their chairs while Jake brought over drinks. Blake was in his chair first. When I look over after getting Addison settled, he has stolen Jake's plate and is trying to help himself to food, not to mention he put what I already gave him on the plate.

Pot Roast Dinner

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Date Night...

This week we opted for a meal at Panera Bread because I also needed to make a Target run and it would kill two birds with one stone. Jake was also off early enough that we could make this happen at a decent time, plus I had to go back out anyway because I failed to make my Redbox pick. (After today's earlier grocery store adventure, I wasn't brave enough to venture out twice in the same day with A & B, alone.) So dinner was a double date of soup & sandwiches. (Seriously have you tried their Italian Combo & Broccoli Cheddar soup? Amazing!) Target, home and kiddos in bed. Momma and Daddy will be curled up on the couch with this week's movie in just a few short minutes.

This week's movie - "The Lucky One" is based on the 2008 novel by one of my personal favorite writers Nicholas Sparks and features Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, and Blythe Danner. The leading character finds a picture of an unknown woman while he is serving in Iraq, who he and his buddies dub his guardian angel. Upon his return home he makes it his mission to find the mystery woman.

I'll let you know what I think of it next week. For now... I leave you with a review of last weeks movie. Enjoy your Friday Night!

Last week's movie - "The Grey" in short... too much for me. I guess a "mans" movie, but certainly not for me. Was for sure exactly what the summary stated, a movie about a bunch of men who were stranded in Alaska after a plan crash while wild wolves chased after them. Too much blood and disgust for me. Ranked up there with cheesy movies like "Open Water". (Sorry Jake. Here's to hoping your choice in movies improves because otherwise... um... yeah we might have to have game night or something else instead lol.)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Happy Birthday Betty White!

Today the great Betty White turns 91! (Say What?) I remember watching her on Golden Girls when visiting my Grandmother. I hated that show then, and it's still mildly annoying to me. BUT, I like Betty White. Her comedic relief is quite amusing and I hope to one day live to 91, still be mostly intact and look nearly half as amazing as she does.

I would love to know what she uses to stay so young looking. Perhaps it's Preparation H, like Jake's great-aunt Margret swore by. (Yes she swore that she stayed wrinkle free by using Preparation H on her face... Not even joking.)

Betty White

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wordless Wedensday

They say children learn by example. I suppose this is what Jake and I do whenever we go out with them. LOL... And for once they weren't fighting over a toy!

Playing Pretend, Twins, Babies, Toddlers, Fisher Price Stroller, Wordless Wednesday
Playing Pretend

Thankful Thursday...

Today I am thankful that we found a church that seems like a good fit for our family. We went to our very first church service since moving and we met a lot of amazing people just like us. There was a great mix of elders and younger couples, as well as families with children. I am excited to make it back again this weekend and incorporate church back in to a regular part of our lives.

I have great memories of church on Sundays as a child and the things I learned. I still remember my first Sunday School Teacher Miss Nancy and how she taught us "Away in a Manger" and I want that experience for our children. Something just warms my heart when I think about attending church and coming home to a nice family meal. It's just a small part of my idea of the American Dream.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

60 Days - 2 whole months

Without a single tube feeding! (And she is gaining weight! 23.1 lbs is the official weight.) And this last week she has suddenly started eating one waffle AND... AND an entire Greek yogurt for breakfast (it used to be one or the other.) Her appetite is growing for sure, and I am seeing her eating a lot more.

We couldn't be more proud. And to celebrate I made her a double layer chocolate cake! And I am also excited because for the first time ::knocks on wood:: neither kiddo had a reaction to the icing. The plain.white.vanilla.icing. Lol.

Today ( 1/15/13) is the official date for this "versary" but we celebrated on Sunday while Daddy was home for work, so he wouldn't miss out on the celebration.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mommy & Me Monday ...

The milestones are becoming BIGGER and less frequent (as the should), so Milestone Monday will be happening less and less.

In it's place we'll continue Mommy & Me Monday... where I share none other then MOMMY & ME photos! :) I am also planning on expanding this and making it a whole day about a Mommy & Me adventure, but I haven't gotten there YET, I need to get creative, seeing as how we have lots of adventures on the daily basis here.

Branding Photos, and more...

I've been thinking about expanding the blog and it's general audience and by doing so I want to protect things on the blog. As you've seen from my various blog posts I have a lot of things I am passionate about and I want to reach a larger audience to encourage, inspire and help raise awareness.

Generally speaking anything I post on this blog is my own "intellectual property". I imagine in the future (if they haven't already) people will link to the blog or share a post or two of mine. When that happens I want to protect what I can and ensure that the things don't end up in the wrong hands or passed off as their own. AKA, I'd hate to see pictures of A & B as models for the latest fashion trends on a billboard somewhere without my consent (ok, so that might not happen BUT... if it did, I'd want credit for their cuteness), or my simply amazing writing plagiarized.

So going forward you will notice each photo is branded with our name. And you'll know it's our photo when it appears anywhere else.

In addition, if you are reading this blog and want to share information what you've read, by all means go for it, by linking the specific post and giving credit to Our Valentine's Day Surprise. You can also share by clicking on the link at the top "Share".

And while I am sure this is not nearly as exciting as all my other posts, I appreciate you taking the time to read it, and respect it. It's a necessary part of my blogging experience. Be on the look out for more new things coming for us, that may even include our very own FB page - which is set to launch on 2/14/13 (the twin's second birthday nonetheless!)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Pray for Brae

When Addison was in the NICU at UMMC we had the honor of meeting Braelen. In fact they were roommates for a brief period of time. His mom is simply amazing. She has been faced with so much but has never given up hope. Braelen's story is nothing short of amazing and I am afraid even I wouldn't be able to depict the details and amazing miracles this amazing boy has endured.

But I want to share Braelen's story with you. Visit the link below to learn about Brae and his progess:

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Date Night...

Keeping with our resolution to spend time together, it's date night!

Pizza, milkshakes and a movie.

I had a coupon for a free pizza from Papa John's so I used it.

Rented a Redbox movie, - "The Grey" with Liam Nelson,, "The Grey is a 2012 American adventure drama film co-written and directed by Joe Carnahan and starring Liam Nelson, Frank Grillo and Dermont Mulroney. It is based on the short story Ghost Walker by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers, who also co-wrote the screeplay with Carnahan. The story follows a number of oil-men stranded in Alaska after a plane crash, who are forced to survive using little more than their wits, as a pack of gray wolves stalk them amidst nercilessly cold weather."  (from Wikipedia)

Jake's pick not mine. I'll let you know how I feel about it next week lol...

Hit up the drive thru for milkshakes, and came home to first enjoy our double date. Picnic in the living room and watching "Sophia the First" on Disney. They are finishing up an episode of Mickey's Clubhouse then it's "teeth and night" (these two keep me on track, to the top of the steps they climb and exclaim "My teeeeth" and run into the bathroom). Then Mommy & Daddy will indulge in their movie and a semi early bed time (any time before midnight is huge around here).
Blake's 1st milkshake!

Ignore the sweet potato spot on her shirt...  She loves her milkshake too!!

Crappy iPhone self portrait... Family time cuddles!

Last week's movie - "Trouble with the Curve" was about a retiring baseball scout who ends up with his daughter tagging along for his last trip. Featured Clint Eastwood and Justin Timberlake (now you know why this got my vote), I hoped I wouldn't be disappointed with a movie solely about baseball, and I wasn't. It featured a decent love story plot (without being too "chick flick) and a shirtless JT. Jake even commented that it was a pretty decent movie. 

I am actually looking forward to spending this time together and I was shocked when Jake even remembered and commented "It's date night", too. So without further delay, it's time I end this post and get ready for the movie. Sweet dreams!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thankful Thursday...

Today I am thankful for Jake's work schedule this week. It happens few and far between but I am enjoying not having the alarm clock buzzing in my ear at the crack of dawn and having him around at least for breakfast. The irony is that he still gets home typically around the same time each evening/night BUT it still gives us more family time. And it's given me a some time to get some much needed things caught up around the house too which is always nice.

He does a lot for us, his little family. And I am always thankful for that. We make a heck of a team together, I'd be lost without him. He's hard work lets me do what I do.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Where to Wednesday ...


Join us on our adventures as we explore! I mentioned wanted to spend more time doing things as a family, getting out of the house. To hold myself accountable I am commiting to "Where to Wednesday", where on the first Wednesday of every month I'll share a place with you that we have either a.) visited or b.) will be visiting soon. They may be simple places we imagine in our minds, or a far away land. Stick around to see what adventures we'll do next.

Our first Adventure is Dutch Wonderland in PA. I visited here often as a child, then again with my Godson over the summer during my teen years. Life came full circle when we made our first visit with Addison and Blake to see their "WinterWonderland" of lights. (Addison even rode a kiddie ride all by herself). They enjoyed it (ok I lie, Addison enjoyed it. It was mostly too much for Blake.) And I think they will love it even more by this summer or the next. The best part is that it's reasonably priced and not too far away. I highly reccomend it for the younger crowd. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My 2013...

With each new year brings a chance at a new beginning or sorts. Time to make resolutions and set goals.

I've done a lot of thinking about what I'd like to accomplish this year both personal and otherwise. As well as what I'd like to see the four of us accomplish. And yet here we are over a week into the new year and I feel like I've barely tipped the iceberg.

The BIGGEST goal for this year hands down is making more time. Unplugging from the cell phone and internet (Facebook) more often. Being able to connect instantly is awesome, and I truly enjoy sharing all out moments and such with our friends and family and I can still do that, but I want to limit my time. One huge thing that has helped a ton already with this, is not having internet at home (yet). I have access to many things from my phone which has served its purpose and initially raised our bill until I was able to wean myself away, steps. So if you've missed me on FB (hahahaha) that's why. I also want to blog more. (Weird right?) But I feel like this blog is a better resource for documenting things and storing memories (as well as expressing myself).

Taking the TIME to spend time with Jake. Just the two of us. Even if it's pizza and a movie in the living room after Addison and Blake are in bed. In fact I've vowed to make Friday's frozen pizza and a movie night (who knows we may even splurge and order delivery once in awhile). But having the time to connect with one another and unwind. Be Melissa and Jake and not Mommy and Daddy, just for a moment.

Doing more things the four of us when Jake's not working. As Addison and Blake grow, they are more and more on the move, and exploring anything they can. I want "us" to encourage that and in turn GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. Use the backyard we now have. Walk the peaceful neighborhood. Let the kiddos ride their cars on the side way, play catch, tag, whatever it may be... Just get out of the house. We did this on Saturday between breakfast and lunch/naps (after an episode of Jake and the Pirates, lol), and let me tell you, it felt great. We had so much fun that Blake had the biggest epic meltdown when it was time to come inside for lunch.

Spending Sunday's as they were intended, as a day of rest. Doing the bare minimum. Which also includes going to church. (I am still working on the last part, but we will do it. My goal for now is once a month, depending on how A & B do...which to be honest, I think they'll be fine. I still remember my mom's bag o' tricks to keep my occupied in church.)

And taking time for me. A hour a week, to myself to do whatever I want. (I'll let you know how that goes.)

Add to that list, the usual - build our savings, pay off a few small bills, loose a few pounds, de-clutter (there is a play room still waiting to be played in), celebrate each moment and I think that just about rounds it out...

Tell me, what are your goals to make 2013 a great year?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Milestone Monday

I am not sure it's really a milestone BUT.... They like their veggies, and enjoy a good grilled cheese and spinach sandwich for lunch. And I guess in some ways this is HUGE for Addison, up until a few days ago she wouldn't eat grilled cheese. Blake enjoyed them, hated them, and appears to enjoy them again. Addison is also officially addicted to milk, like as in 24 ounces a day. WOAH! And still eating like a champ.

Blake now tells us every night "brush teeth" and walks in the bathroom on his way to bed every night, and at nap time too. They both actually really enjoy brushing their teeth and I let them take turns "practicing" on their own while I help the other. He is also talking more and more in sentences. And Addison is taking cues from him by picking up new words every day. (Mommy needs to be careful what she says).

Oh and let's see... This morning during breakfast I was correcting Addison for being rotten instead of eating and I said "Do you want to be punished today?" She turns to Jake and goes "Daaaaaaada?" In this really innocent voice, hands folded in front of her at the table as if she were about to negotiate. He looked at me and I could see it... Co-parenting went out the window and he was about to give in. Well played Addison, well played. Learn how to work Daddy already. Sigh.

And we are at the stage where it's "I do it", "Daddy do it" or "Mommy do it" and if we do not honor these requests, tantrums ensue. (Blake)... For example - Me: "Come here so Mommy can put you in your chair." Blake: "Dadda DO IT!" or Jake: "Ok buddy bedtime, lets go." Blake: "MOMMA DO IT!"

So yeah. That's where we are right now. It's pretty exciting watching them grow and learn to do all these new things.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I don't believe I ever actually shared this part of "our beginning", in detail anyway. So I'll do it now. (Fair warning this will probably be more then anything you ever wanted to know about your son (son-in law) and daughter (daughter-in law), you've been warned and are encouraged to stop read now lol. However you may find it highly informative, so read at your own risk).

We got married April 7, 2007 and started TTC (trying to conceive), ok well actually playing the "let's just see what happens" game. (To me TTC is more like timing things, temping, all that stuff). I was convinced that I'd just stop taking birth control pills and it would happen, that is what happens right? Little did I know it would take so much more.

A few months went by, we had some tragic family events come up and once things settled we decided that since "see what happens" hadn't "happened" we'd get a little more in tune with things. I read some stuff about all the things you should/could do to help things along and we tried. Months went by where I'd think "Could I be, I might be, am I?", only to be discouraged by a very late cycle or negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test. I went to the doctor. The first OB/GYN I saw (ironically later became my OB when I finally got PG and delivered A & B) wanted to take a wait and see approach. He thought we were young enough, and had plenty of time, everything appeared normal, except some weird cycles and he believed if we waited there was a chance my body would get it together. At the same time I was working for a GYN who more then once ordered a blood pregnancy test for me because things were so out of sorts and I just had to be sure. Finally, one day he spoke up and asked more. I am forever grateful.

He ordered more blood work and diagnosed me with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). My "current" OB still wanted to wait. The other, gave me knowledge, power, insight, and offered a solution. I switched OB's, started a pill called Clomid and we tried, again and again, for months. Nothing happened, ok well something happened. I ovulated, but nothing else happened. It was Jake's turn to be poked and prodded. We waited, took a break, explored options. My OB said he could get things started on Jake but obviously couldn't treat anything related to him and made more reccomendations, one specifically, "Go to Shady Grove Fertility and start treatment with an RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist)." At the time our insurance didn't cover much past what we had already tried so things went on the back burner.

Sometime in the beginning of 2010 I finally made our first appointment at Shady Grove, after wasting a year with another RE who basically sucked. Nothing like sitting in the waiting room at the RE's office and starring at a visibly pregnant woman and then later listening to the sound of her child's heartbeat echo out into the hall where I waited...waited for answers and my time to be a mother. An RE should never really share an office with an OB, it's sort of sucky for those other patients, no matter how happy I could be for everyone else there was still heartache there for me. Shady Grove was so very different. From the staff to the environment, it was all just...different... and better. I felt like it could actually happen for us finally. I learned we'd have to have a lot more tests done before we could even get started, and then right in the middle Jake changed jobs, which ended up being a huge blessing because of their Infertility coverage, to say it dramatically lowered our out of pocket costs would be an understatement. His new job also gave us the opportunity to pursue IVF, which would not have happened otherwise. Many people have success with IUI, but our RE felt given our history, age and other factors it would be safest to do IVF and reduce the risk of multiples.

It took 8 months from start from that first visit until we made it to our first IVF cycle. The irony in this process? I had to go on BCP (birth control pills) to prep my body...TO GET PREGNANT!  Oh and I also had to loose about 20 pounds. The week before our cycle was to begin I was still up 5 pounds... I went to the gym and ate as many low calorie foods as I could. I probably was the healthiest I have ever been in my entire life prior to getting pregnant. The irony in that? After my egg transfer I was on modified bed rest and encouraged to avoid any exercise other then some easy walking until our 6 week u/s. All that working out and then I couldn't for 6 long weeks.

The in between - I was on two shots twice a day then three shots, I went for monitoring every other day for a few days, then everyday for a week or so. Looking back I wish I had been a blogger back then (or at the least kept a journal), but I didn't. Either way I do vividly remembering writing in my planner about watching the sun rise in morning traffic on way way to monitoring appointments and how peaceful it was. I recall bits and pieces of details throughout. They seem like a distant memory now.

Once they felt like I had decent sized follicles, they scheduled me for the egg retrieval (follicles are retrieved and are mixed in a pee-tree dish with "the boys" <--- medically correct I know, lol) and gave me protocol to follow after that (which included Progesterone suppositories OH WHAT FUN). I also had to take a trigger shot...which had to be done at a very specific time...which happened to be, at the same time as kickoff for a Ravens game we had tickets too. The RE's office marked the area that we needed to inject that final shot into, my brave husband was terrified and couldn't perform (get your mind out of the gutter, he is terrified of needles and was shaking to bad to attempt it). So ladies, I stood in the MedStar First Aid booth, they pulled a curtain and a Medical Assistant who I had never even met prior to this event, "pulled the trigger" pun intended.

Let me just say, there was absolutely nothing glamorous about this. Nothing at all. Nothing "normal" about this. On Monday morning I was in the RE's office and prepped for the procedure, I remember none of it, including the nice shot of HCG (yes the pregnancy hormone) that I got. I know I felt that later though. They retrieved 12 follicles on Day 1 - 9 had fertilized, Day 2 - only 8 remained and so it went... Day 3 - We had 4  (or maybe it was 6, I don't recall) embryos 2 A's 2 B's (A= best quality, B= decent quality), we were planning to transfer that day but our RE recommended we wait until Day 5 in hopes that one of the embryos would pull ahead and he could make his best reccomendation on which embryo to transfer. He had one rule, we could transfer no more then 2 embryos. He was that confident. So we had two more days to decide, contemplate, hesitate. Day 5 arrived, we went back to the RE's office. By this point I craved some normalcy and Jake and I had a running joke about a "conception song" (Ya know all those stories about "Oh we had few drinks, a song came on and next thing you know here was little Jake...ok ok cheesy but play along), and I had brought my iPod with me. This was Labor Day weekend, we planned a getaway for that weekend so I truly could focus and relax.

The RE brought us our Fert Report. Still 2 beautiful 8 cell A quality embryos and 2 B's. There was no option in our mind. We'd put back two. Our best two. I laid back on the table, turned on my iPod - Chris Young's "Gettin' You Home" played and we watched a small flicker on the screen as those two embryos where put in place. I had to lay there for some ridiculous amount of time (with a full bladder at that) and then it was over. The RE came back in with a picture for us. A snapshot of our two embies... The two that later became Addison and Blake. A snapshot of life the moment it began.

I would return in 10 days for a blood test to find out if it all worked. At the same time they shared the news that those other two embryos (the B's) didn't make it... they had planned to wait 2 more days and then freeze them. Those 2 embryos arrested the next day. Only the two we transferred survived.

It was (what I thought would be) the longest 10 days of my life (hello 153 days in the NICU) and I couldn't wait. So I cheated a little. I bought several dollars worth of tests and started testing at home on 4 days after our egg transfer (a Wednesday) it was negative. I fought hard not be disappointed. And promised myself I wouldn't test again. I broke that promise 2 days later, 7 days after our egg transfer (a Saturday) and it was positive. It would be another month before we'd know it was twins (10/13/10) to be exact. Nothing can explain the joy felt that day.

It was an emotional and sometimes terrifying ride. There were days we felt hopeless, and alone. I'd be lying if I said it didn't take it's toll on our marriage in some form. Something what was meant to be so natural, romantic and spontaneous; suddenly became about timing and schedules and precision. We pulled ourselves together and pulled closer together because of it, in the end. And just when we thought things were "better", we had healed and recovered, we were slapped in the face with two preemies who rocked our world and tested our faith all over again.

Despite it all, we don't regret a single moment of it all. Don't get me wrong, I questioned it...maybe we weren't meant to be parents. Were we tempting fate by going against the "normal", was God against IVF, would we be punished because of it? I have accepted this is "our normal" and I am beyond thankful for it. I've had to put my faith in medicine and accept the fact that God made man and gave man the power to do these miraculous things. To perform His work, His work of miracles. And most importantly, that Addison and Blake are indeed our meant-to-be's. From 12 to 2...nothing would stand in their way. Our fighters since the beginning.

And that adoring fans, is our story. I hope that by sharing our story, someone out there will benefit from it. That it will give them a voice, courage and inspiration and most important, let them know they are not alone. Infertility doesn't have to be a dirty secret.

(For more information about Infertility and Support visit Resolve or Shady Grove Fertility )

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thankful Thursday...

Aside from being EXTREMELY thankful for Addison's progress and weight gain this week,

I am also extremely thankful for my little cuddle bug boy. He is growing into such a smart, amazing, lovable and kind boy. He talks (oh my gosh does he talk - once he warms us to you lol) like he is grown. I love watching his personality shine through. My heart melts when he comes over and says "I cuddle Momma" and climbs into my lap. I live for those days because I know those days slip fewer and far between and one day he won't want Momma's cuddles. But for today he is my little boy. My love for both my babies, still amazes me. I never imagined my love could be this strong.

Step right up!

New Year's Eve cuddles as Prince Charming fights to stay awake

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Weight Check...

Day 48 without a tube feeding...36 days since her last Ped visit/weight check and.............drumroll................


The Ped was beaming from ear to ear and told her "Sweet girl you are simply doing amazing, and I am so proud of how far you have come. You are really doing great!"

This is huge... HUGE. Our 1 lb 10oz baby girl who has been tube fed most of her life, hasn't had a tube feeding in 48 days and has gained a half a pound. Amazing miracle I tell ya!

I have been so stressed and so worried about it, and once again Addison has proven that she is defying the odds. I am simply amazed. Hard to believe that in exactly 42 days (not that I am counting) these amazing twins will be 2!!!!!!!!

And now for your viewing pleasure I leave you with a picture of the princess herself, driving in her Cozy Coupe this morning... Which by the way, she now informs me "Things do, back later" and drives off across the living room.

My Cozy Princess. Can you stand the cuteness?