Saturday, January 31, 2009

Upcoming Events

In years past, we normally plan a vacation in either Jan. or Feb. to take a break from the monotony of Winter. We were very close to booking something for this coming month but with a new home on the horizon, we are looking to stockpile all the available cash we have.

I will say though that we have a lot of events coming up in the Spring that should keep us very busy indeed! We have our annual trip to Louisville, Kentucky for the "Thunder Over Louisville" in April. We will be celebrating our 10 Year Wedding Anniversary in early May and Mike purchased awesome tickets for us to go see Elton John and Billy Joel as part of that celebration. I can't wait!

We are also planning on attending our first ever "Geo-Woodstock" Event in the Nashville area over Memorial Weekend. Which reminds me...I really need to book our rooms for this ASAP but we are still trying to work out the exact itinerary for the weekend. The big event takes place on that Saturday, so we know where we need to be that day, but the rest of the weekend is still up for debate. At least I know that plenty of geocaching will be involved! Yay!

Mike and I are also considering having another "Geo-Rally" in the Summer. It was a big undertaking last time but it sure was a lot of fun! We learned what worked and what needed to be improved-we're still up for suggestions if anyone that participated is reading this...hint...hint.

Overall, a lot going on and that doesn't include what might be happening with the purchase of a new home and the emptying and renting of our current one. I'm actually looking forward to the challenge and will be focusing on packing and organizing during these dull months before Spring comes and I'll want to be outside as much as possible!

Now where are those boxes...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Girls Night Out

I finally had a chance to get out of the house last night and spend an evening with some of my girlfriends. We all used to work together so it's nice to get together every once in a while and hang out, catch up and relax. We had a yummy dinner at NOODLES and then caught a flick over at Celebration Cinema. Somebody, not me mind you, wanted to see "Marley & Me" and let me just say that it was good that I carried a full set of tissues in my purse! about a tear-jerker! I had not had a chance to read the book, not being a dog lover and all, so I wasn't prepared for the emotional turmoil that the movie would conger up. It really was a good movie, which also surprised me, so I would recommend checking it out: but be forwarned that a super-sized order of Kleenex might be in order before the 2 hours is up!

When I got home, my dear husband had put the little kiddies to bed, picked up the house and tidied up the kitchen-what more could I ask for? Well... Mike? Do you want to sit down and watch a chick-flick with me? Yes, I know it's another English period-piece but I heard it's really good...please? Yes, I know I just got back from the theater...but that Netflix package is staring at me! Needless to say, I won, and I can honestly atest to the fact that it was one of the most relaxing evenings that I have spent in a very long while. It was really nice.....

Now back to my regularly scheduled programming: The Laundry

Monday, January 26, 2009

Party Mania

I am well aware that I entered the world of absolute insanity when I agreed to let the girls have a "kids" birthday party. All of my hopes...and fears came to fruition on Saturday night as we welcomed 17 kids into our home, ages 1 to 11, for a big celebration for the twins. We had "Dee Jay" the Clown over to put on a show for the kids and they all had a great time with that. We had some free play, 2 organized games (Toss the Marshmallows and Pin-the-Nose-on-the-Clown), present opening and cake & ice cream. Overall, the party was a big hit and I can honestly say that we had no injuries, no need to discipline and or scold, no throwing up and very few tears.

We had one little girl who had an accident, which was no big deal, and another who was afraid of the clown, but it was our girls who finally imploded at 8:40 or so and started crying and screaming and failing arms and becoming so hysterical we had to remove them from their own party! My worst nightmare...

Fortunately, they eventually calmed down and were able to say goodbye to the last of their guests and get to sleep without too much further fussing. Whew. Glad that's over with and I'm also glad we are not doing that again next year! Disney World-here we come!!!!!!

Many of the kids with their balloon hats!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Over the years...

Happy 1 day old Birthday! (2005)

We just turned 1 today! (2006)

Our 2nd Birthday we spent in the snow! (2007)

3 years old and loving it! (2008)

Tomorrow we'll be 4! Happy Birthday! (2009)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Are they twins?

Dumb Twin Questions: PART II

I can honestly say that I was not prepared for the onslaught of questions that we have been asked about twins from the time we found out we were having them and even now. I do give most people credit for being polite and usually very sincere when they are asking us about the girls, but sometimes I just want to beat my head against any nearby solid object!

Here are some of our favorites, and some of our favorite responses!
  • Are they twins? -No, they're triplets, we just left one at home.
Seriously? We have 2 matching carriers/car seats, matching blankets, same size little people snuggled up in there with matching little outfits! Of course they're twins! Duh!

  • Are they identical? -Only when they're both crying!
Now, I realize that in the beginning, during their first few months of life, that they were harder to tell apart. But, Lauren has always had dark hair, darker skin and a longer face. Tara has blonder hair, lighter skin and a round face. They do look alike in some ways but if you really took the time to look at them before asking that question, you would already know the answer.

  • What are their names? -followed closely by- Why don't they rhyme?
While I appreciate that folks out there want to know what names we chose for our precious girls, what difference does it make to them? I certainly don't walk up to random people on the street asking them what their kids names are! Then, we get accosted for not having them rhyme! People have told us that we should have done "Lauren and Taryn" or "Laura and Tara". Wow. Right from the start, we wanted the girls to know that we think of them as individuals and not just one unit. I just think that "same" or "rhyming" names will not do them any favors...

  • Which one is the sweet one? -or- Which one is the smart one? -or- Which one is trouble?
Why do we always have to put labels on kids? How exactly do people expect me to answer those type of questions, especially when the girls are usually standing right there with me! They do have ears, you know! I usually just smile and say, "Both!".

And last but not least, the most intrusive questions of all.
  • Are they natural? -or- Did you have them naturally?
What the **** does that mean?! And why do you feel you need to know this information? I know that there are a lot of people out there who need a little kick to get pregnant (fertility drugs, etc.) and have a much greater incidence of twins or women who are using IVF and choosing to have more than 1 fertilized egg implanted. Does that make mine better than theirs? Are their children "unnatural"? Please. Oh, and did I have them naturally? Seriously? Are you asking because you want to share in my pain? Or feel better about yourself because you pushed yours out when someone else had to have risky surgery to help bring a healthy baby into this world? Yes, I did deliver them vaginally, without an epideral (not by choice) and they were an hour and 1/2 apart after 40 hours of horrible labor! Now do you feel better? Ugh.

And even after all the questions and all the explainations, I still marvel at twins and I can understand that they do draw more attention than the average child. But for pete's sake people, most parents would be very appreciative of a simple nod, a smile and maybe a "Cute Kid(s)" thrown in for good measure. We all love our children, not matter how they came into this world, and can't imagine them any other way than the way they are. That's what makes them so special and no matter what, we'll always feel privilged to call them "Ours".

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Twins, twins everywhere!

Twin Reality: PART I

I never really thought much about twins. Not even when Mike and I began trying to start our family, and get pregnant, did it really cross my mind. I'm not a twin, my mother didn't have any twins nor any of her brothers or sisters (there were 9 of them!) nor anyone from my Grandmother's generation. There are no twins on Mike's side either-it just didn't seem like anything I needed to think about.

...and then it happened...

Went in for that routine 12 week check-up where you get to hear the little one's heartbeat for the first time....and nothing. Nada. Zip-zilch-zero. We were a little disheartened but it was our first try and we were young. The Dr. said that they would do an internal ultrasound just to be sure. She started the procedure and then started laughing. I knew this was a good sign but when she showed us that monitor, my eyes went wide at the sight of two perfect little people swimming around in there, happily floating away! Now that was a shock!

As Mike and I got used to the idea of having 2 at once, we also started doing a lot of research on twins and wondering specifically why WE were being blessed with them. By doing a lot of reading and asking multiple doctor's, I learned that I experienced multiple ovulation, where a woman's body releases more than 1 egg at a time. This is a genetic trait that will be passed down to my girls.
A healthy woman in her prime child bearing years (24-29) has about a 1-90 chance of conceiving twins without the use of drugs or IVF. If she does have a set of fraternal twins, her risk of having future twins is quadrupled! This also goes for fraternal twins, if they are girls (like mine), their chances of getting pregnant with twins or more increases to 1-17! Wow! I need to make sure that I point this little fact out to the girls when they get older-I wonder what they'll think?

This week, as I am thinking back to that time in my life (over 4 years ago), I wonder how different our life would have been with just one. I can't imagine not having them both-they've always been with me. One is older than the other, since the eggs are usually released 12-24 hours apart, but Lauren will always be our first born. She had a whole 1 1/2 hours to herself in this world before her sister rejoined her. They've never known what it's like to be alone and I hope it always stays that way.

Tomorrow, stay tuned for PART II: Are they twins? and other ridiculous questions...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

January Blossoms

Quick collage of some of their 4 year photos taken today-we did Spring Outfits/Theme and a Winter one, too. I'll go ahead and post the Winter collage tomorrow. For now, I just want to soak in the warm sunshine of those smiles and let it warm me up!

My beautiful babies are turning into lovely young ladies...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Full Speed Ahead

Met with my hematology Doctor today to discuss the length of time necessary for me to stay on the blood thinners. After going over every detail of my life, which was oh so fun, we made the decision to have me come back in 4 months (May) and if all looks well, I will be done! YAY! I will be so happy to get off these things so I'm hoping for smooth sailing all the way to May!

Things are moving rapidly on the house front. Mike is meeting with our mortgage company later today to get final approval and finish paperwork that will allow us start looking for a new home. We are mostly focused on the Forest Hills School District only, since we both came to the realization early on that not all public schools are created equal, and sometimes even the good ones are not that great!

We have also spoken with a property management company concerning the rental of our current home and were very impressed. They basically indicated that our home would be rented within 2 days if we put it on the market in the Spring. That's good news because we would be forced into a short-sale if we had to sell. Which is bad...very bad...

So, the future is looking bright, I'm wearing shades...and gloves, and a wool coat, and a scarf and a anyone else noticing how cold it is here? Why is it so flipping cold? Oh right, I forgot-GLOBAL WARMING!!!!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.....yeah right!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Home?

With the Real Estate Market the way it is across the country and particularly here in Michigan, Mike and I feel trapped more than ever in our home. When we bought it back in 2001, we got it for a steal at $142,000. There just wasn't houses available in Forest Hills (one of the top districts in MI) for that kind of money and as nice as ours is. Thank you, nasty divorce!

It was supposed to be our transition home-1st home was meant as a starting platform to get us 3-5 years. We sold our home in Kentwood, MI after about 3 years, as planned, and rolled the equity over into this one. Our current home was supposed to be on the 5-7 year, 1st child plan. Whoops...messed that up by having twins. Now what? We will have been on our current home 8 years in May and desperately need something bigger. With only 2 bedrooms upstairs, the girls have to share one and it's very small. There is another bedroom in the lower level that we use as our office, but we don't want to split the girls up on separate floors. Our garage is full, our laundry/storage room is full, our crawl space is full -AND- we have more over at Mike's parents storage facility. Geeezzzz....

We will be lucky to walk away from this home with any money afterward and are seriously considering renting it instead, in order to ride the market wave back up. We're in a hot school district for parents to get their kids into-families that might not be able to purchase our home right now but would be excited to rent it in order to get their kids into Forest Hills. It would be a gamble. We could always put it on the Market and take our chances with that as well, but we'll have to wait to move into something bigger for who knows how long. Tough choices...

Are any of you facing this dilemma? How have you handled it and what was your number one priority in making those decisions? Inquiring minds want to know....

Monday, January 12, 2009

Whoa...what a Road Rally!

Mike and I held our first ever Michigan Geo Rally yesterday and it was such a blast! The weather was nice and snowy, as usual, but the roads really weren't that bad. We had 22 cars competing with a 2 hour time limit in which to be back. The first car rolled in at about 33 min. and the 2nd place teams were merely seconds behind them. Most of the cars made it back around the 1 hour mark, with the last 3 cars just beating the clock to get back before the deadline.
We had about 50 teams at the Rally and over 100 people participating overall. Not too shabby! This was our biggest and most successful event thus far and we are already contemplating when and how to set-up the next one!
I don't have any pictures available yet on this computer but will be sure to work on that in the next day or so.

I'm finishing up the invitations for the Girls Birthday Party on the 24th and should have them in the mail by tomorrow. We have "Dee Jay" the Clown all lined up to entertain the kiddos, games and treats and all the good stuff that a kids party entails. Let's just hope that no one breaks anything and no one throws up! That's my goal anyway!

I finally have an appointment to go see a Hematologist on Thursday morning, so that should finally give me some of the answers I've been waiting for. With luck, I'll be able to get off the blood thinners in March for good. Speaking of blood, I've been dealing with a bloody nose every morning for the past week or two and it's really starting to get annoying. I know that it's just a side effect of the dry house and medication-those who know me know that I don't do well with blood (go figure!) so the sooner I can get back to my normal self, the better!

On a lighter note, I was thoroughly embarrassed yesterday at the Rally when another Geocaching Team came over to inform me that my youngest was "mooning" some older boys over in the corner of the room. Seriously? No...not my kids. Seriously! Urrrrggggg..... Tara was given a nice little speach about her "private parts" and the boys were given my best "evil eye". Oh boy, the antics of preschoolers-what's next? Nevermind, don't tell me.....

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Back to Life

Good news on the health front: Tests came back negative for any genetic factors relating to my blood clots. My blood levels were good today, although my daily dosage keeps going up. I'm still waiting to hear from the Hematology specialist. My Dr. is just hoping to get someone to back him up that I can go off the Coumadin therapy by March, believing wholeheartedly that the clots were only brought on by the paralytic symptoms related to Guillain-Barré. A girl can hope!

More snow today on top of the ice made for some treacherous driving this morning. Because my dear husband decided to take our Yukon, that left me with the Thunderbird. Ummm...I don't think that I have driven that car in the winter in at least 4 years. Seriously. And today wasn't a good day to give it a whirl. So, I stole my parents Trailblazer (which was very nice btw!). Maybe we should look into getting a more Winter friendly vehicle as our 2nd car. Something to ponder...

On a totally different topic, it's that time of year again! Planning the birthday party for the twins! This year we are having a "kid" only party-no parents allowed-and have hired a clown (whom the girls already know and love) to be the main attraction. We've opted for the big party instead of presents this year...they certainly don't need any more from us! It should be fun and I'm also hoping to give the parents a break for a few hours...we can all use that from time to time! I'll be sure to let you know how it goes. Can you believe my babies are going to be 4???!!!! Where did the time go????!!!! Sniff...sniff...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


When I was coming home from the hospital last February, from my struggle with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, this song came on the radio. I couldn't sing it, due to the damage caused by the ventilation tubes, but I could feel it. I felt every word of it... and I cried.

Over the past year, the meaning of this song has not changed for me, and it holds a special place in the emotional recesses of my heart. Some days I hear it and it makes me truly happy, knowing that my eyes are open and I can see and feel all the love around me. Other days, it's more of a comfort when I'm down and feeling lost. That's how I feel today. Lost. I feel rejected. I don't want to feel this way but I do and sometimes I wonder what I've done to deserve this ache.

So for today, this song (which is the intro song on my blog) will be my comfort. Tomorrow, I hope that it will signal my return to feeling better again. If you have the time, take a moment to listen...

February Song

Where is that old friend gone
Lost in a February song
Tell him it won't be long
Til he opens his eyes,

Where is that simple day
Before colors broke into shades
And how did I ever fade
Into this life, into this life

And I never want to let you down
Forgive me if I slip away

When all that I've known is lost and found
I promise you I, I'll come back to you
One day...

Morning is waking up
Sometimes it's more than just enough
And all that you need to love
Is in front of your eyes,
It's in front of your eyes.

And I never want to let you down
Forgive me if I slip away

Sometimes it's hard to find my ground
'Cause I keep on falling, as I try to get
away from this crazy world...

And I never want to let you down
Forgive me if I slip away

When all that I've known is lost and found
I promise you I, I'll come back to you
One day

Where is that old friend gone
Lost in a February song
Tell him it won't be long
Til he opens his eyes, opens his eyes.

Josh Groban
Awake 2006

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Welcome 2009!

Life has not slowed down for us in the new year yet but I know that it will eventually. We had a fantastic New Year's Party that was a Geocaching Event. We set the limit of attendees to 50 and still had more than that in attendance. It was CRAZY! We had tons of food, drinks, laughs, a hilarious auction for door prizes and a raffle for "first-to-find" honors on a new series of caches in the Greater Grand Rapids Area. We even had Teams from the Washington D.C. area and Ohio! Our home was packed to the gills with wacky cachers and it was wonderful-already looking into a bigger venue for next year's celebration!

We have a really big Geocaching Event next weekend-there should be over 100 people participating in Michigan's first ever Geo Rally. Mike and I have put a lot of work into this event and are really looking forward to it. Hopefully it will be successful enough to repeat again later in the year! Wish us luck!

The girls had their first ever sleep-over at Grandma and Grandpa Brace's house while the party was in full swing at our home. From all reports, everything went very well! Which is exciting for us since we were allowed to sleep past 10am for the first time in 4 years! They played in the hot tub and watched movies and played games-sounds like fun to me. They are already looking forward to the next time they can go back and do it again!

We spent all day Friday geocaching in the Kalamazoo area with Deane and Linda. We have not been able to go caching together in months and it felt really good to be together and get another 30+ finds under our belts. We also had dinner with our dear friends, Ty & Pat, who we do not get to see enough of. It was nice to just hang out and chat, and relax for a change!

Saturday, Mike helped my sister and brother-in-law install a new stove and dishwasher, which took longer than expected due to the need for some new wiring and additional electrical work. Good thing Mike knows how to do just about everything! And to top it all off, we met up with some friends from Portage, who were in town geocaching, for dinner!

Today is a day of rest and a time to regroup for next Sunday's Geo Rally. The roads are ice covered and there is a constant misty fog hanging in the air. A good day to be inside, just relaxing with the family. Ahhhhh......