Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Welcome home!

... and now our Internet is connected in our new house, so I can post again! YAY!

OK, so here's our recap:
- Our Louisville house sold... yayayay!!! Hope the new owners give it the love and care it deserves... it really was a fabulous first house.
- We closed on our new house on Thursday and immediately started moving in... finally! Everything is still pretty chaotic around here, although significantly less chaotic than it was Thursday - ha! I am just so ready for everything to be all set up and looking pretty, but I'm having to give both of us some serious grace here. Let's just say that if I thought moving was hard pre-kids (and oh, how it was), I had NO idea just how hard it could be with them! I mean, not only is there a TON of work to be done setting everything up, but there's also a TON of the usual work to be done of taking good care of the girls! I am so motivated to get the house finished, though, that I feel like I've been the most productive I've ever been, just trying to do it all. With help from my mom and dad and my fabulous mother-in-law and sis-in-law, we truly have made a lot of progress, and many fun memories as well.
- I am most thankful to have our own house again. I've actually enjoyed the moving-in process (well, as much as it can be enjoyed, I think), just because we've had to wait so long to move in, and it has been good to sift through everything we have and clean it all up. It has given me a chance to throw out all kinds of things we don't need anymore, sell some stuff and give some other stuff away. If I learned nothing else this summer, it's that I can get by without a ton of the stuff we have that just tends to create clutter. Simplify, simplify, simplify is the new motto around the Vafi house! (So is dust, dust, dust. You would not believe how dusty everything gets just sitting around for a few months in a house that is waiting to sell!)

Here are some pictures from the past few days:

Evie catches up on some sleep on the way from closing at the attorney's office to the new house.

Tamsie, on the other hand, like Aerosmith, doesn't want to miss a thing.

Dad helped us out that morning, watching the girls and directing the heroes of the day - the movers and the pest-control guy.

Chris with the new house keys and an early-morning 5 o'clock shadow

They didn't sleep much the night before, so neither did we - but coffee and adrenaline kept us going!
As soon as we had the chance, we set up a home base for the girls in the playroom upstairs. They were LOVING having so much space to play! They just kept giggling and crawling everywhere as soon as we put them down. I grabbed my camera, and by the time I did, I had missed the best parts, but I did catch this:

Friday, Carissa and Cliff dropped by to check out the new digs.
The girls enjoyed having such a cute little buddy to play with. This time, he paid Tamsie more attention than ever before... are he and Evie on the brink of a break-up?!

Evie in front and Tamsie in back on their first trip to the Memphis Zoo this weekend. Chris's workplace hosted a get-together at the zoo, and we had fun seeing everyone!

So much to see!

Saturday we celebrated my cousin Chris's 16th birthday! Here he is, modeling one of his gifts: an obnoxious Vols hat!

Playtime with Evie... notice the sheet over the window in the background. That's because we don't have blinds yet! 
Our house is on a little lake, which makes for a pretty view! You should know that right after I snapped this lovely little picture, that white bird on the left and one of the geese got into some kind of an avian conflict. I'm thinking the goose won, because the white bird flew off.

Evie has always had a nice little bicep!

The kitchen in the throes of unpacking and settling in. I never know what to do with that space above the cabinets, but maybe this is a start.
I should wrap it up and get my rest while I can, because I still have loads of work cut out for me in the morning! Goodnight, y'all.

** Please remember to pray for Tamsie's kidney situation. Her ultrasound is Friday! Thanks so much!! :) **

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy 11-Month Birthday, T and E!!! (and an update on Tamsie)

Evie's wearing pink, and Tamsie's sporting the yellow headband. NICU Bear is being smooshed in the middle. 
Dear Tamsie and Evangelyn,

Sweet girls, how I love you. I can't find a way to say it that doesn't sound terribly cliche (and I don't know how to make accent marks work on that word in Blogger), but I do love you more every day. This month has been a fun one for sure, and we've loved watching you grow and grow! Here are some highlights since our last update:

You always play right next to each other. Here, Tamsie is holding on to Evie's back.
* Both of you are standing more. Like ALL THE TIME. It's so fun to watch you crawl around and stand up as you explore absolutely everything around you!
Now to get back out again...

* You've started playing with toys you can push around... except you don't really push them yet. Instead, you flip them over and play with the wheels! Maybe once we move into the new house, you'll have more open space to figure out how they really work.
Evie's holding a paci that Tamsie would love to get her hands on.
* You're eating some finger foods now! YAY!! I was really scared about introducing them at first, with your history of bottle issues. The first few times we gave you puffs, both of you coughed and looked a little miserable, which only scared me more. But after a little practice, y'all are getting really good at taking those suckers down, along with banana bites and watermelon bites! (And to anyone who comes across this blog and thinks I am one behind-the-times mama for just now introducing finger foods - they really should only be eating like 8-month olds, since that's where their little tummies are developmentally. Our speech pathologist is very proud of their progress! :)
Tamsie demonstrates how to eat a puff. Both girls make ridiculously serious faces while eating their puffs.
* Y'all are our little sleeping champions these days. You typically sleep at least 10 hours at night, and sometimes you take a little nap after you've been up for an hour or so in the morning. You take a late morning nap and a late afternoon nap, and sometimes you drift off for a short early evening nap.
Blurriness is everywhere, because they're in constant motion!
* You're interacting with each other more than ever, which is super fun to watch! You make each other laugh on a regular basis.
They love talking into their stacking cups and making funny sounds. In fact, this is apparently MUCH more interesting than actually stacking them up... don't think I've ever seen them use these things for their actual intended purpose!
* Both of you have started waving and clapping your hands. I love it! When we get in your play yard to play with you, both of you climb all over us.
11-month birthday pictures are harder than EVER to come by... even with the help of Chris and my mom!
* You're just getting around better. You're crawling more gracefully and standing impressively well. Sometimes you hang on to things and practice a little bit of walking. It's all happening so fast!
"Mom! She's touching meeeeee!" It's already starting.
* Both of you are sitting up in your little tub for bathtime, and we're finally able to bathe both of you at once. You love splashing each other! I'm pretty sure we'll be trying you in the big tub at the new house! :)
Tamsie is making the famous turtle face. It looks like she's trying to be Evie's personal stylist here.
* We still have you on Prevacid for now, because you're doing so well at bottle time that we don't want to change anything and potentially jinx the good thing we have going. We've tried sippy cups, but you don't quite get the point just yet. You prefer to be held and fed the good old-fashioned bottle way for now.
And the teething continues.
So does the styling.
* Tamsie - here's the update on your kidney situation for now. Your grandma and I took you to the kidney doctor on Friday, and Evie, you came along for moral support. We really like your new doctor, Tams. She told us she is NOT surgery-happy, and she's very conservative when it comes to things like that. HOWEVER, she thinks there's a greater than 50% chance you'll have to have some kind of surgery. That's about all she could say, though, until she has more tests run on you to get a better idea of where you are right now. She said she really wants to watch you like a hawk. We're praying that you've improved and that you won't need surgery! You're going in for an ultrasound on the 28th, and then you'll be heading to LeBonheur sometime soon for some more extensive tests. In the meantime, you'll still be taking Bactrim every night to prevent UTIs. (The doctor was VERY happy you've never had a UTI before!) We're just hoping and praying to get good news out of all of this! It will tear your mama up watching you undergo all these painful tests, but you are one tough cookie, as you've shown us time and again. And God's gotten you this far and brought you through a LOT to get you to where you are now, so we just have to trust Him with this. It's not easy, but He's good.

Posing. At this point, Tamsie was trying earnestly to go overboard, and Chris was getting increasingly concerned about the safety level of this photography session... so it was cut short. No individual pictures this time. Girls, I promise your 1-year pictures will be MUCH better, because Melissa will be taking them!

* OH! Stats! I almost forgot. Both of you are somewhere under 16 lbs but bigger than 15.5. You've eaten more than EVER before this month, but you've gained the least you've ever gained in a month... probably because you're on the move nonstop. You're both wearing 6-9 months in clothes and size 3 in diapers. You're petite!
Tamsie lets her Grandma feed her at her Great-Grandma's house...
... while Evie allows Grandpa to feed her...

... and she rewards him for his patience with a nice grab o' the beard.

Tamsie smiling up at her Great-Grandma
These are about all the updates for now. I'll leave you with some little playtime videos!

AND here's a link to a beautiful letter I found that made me think of you. I wish I had written it, but it still applies. I want you to read it someday.

I love you so much and can't WAIT to celebrate your first birthday in less than a month!!!!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

8 Things We've Learned About Life With Twinsies

Here's our update: still living with my parents. The countdown is temporarily off, because it's hard getting our hopes up for a closing date that gets pushed back. At this point, the closing date on the Louisville house has been delayed at the buyers' request and pushed back to the 17th. We can't close on the new house until they close on the old house, so we're in limbo for a little bit longer... but we're hoping not for much longer! I have put in the order for the girls' first birthday party invites (!!!) - WITH the new address included - so the pressure is on to move in ASAP! We're praying it all goes down smoothly and soon.
When I leave them alone in the play yard to hang out, this is pretty much how I find them: playing together in the same tight little area! (For those keeping track - and for my own forgetful self when I look back on this someday - E is in pink this time.)
Really that's about all I have as far as updates, so I thought it would be fun to share a list of a few bizarre things we've learned about life with twins!
E loves to hold onto her sister.
1. When both are crying, it's generally best to try to calm down the one who started it first. This is particularly noteworthy because it runs totally contrary to what I read in a book about twins, but we've found that this little technique works best with our particular girls. We're frequently asked what in the world we do when both cry at once. Usually what happens is that one of them is legitimately upset about something, and the other just chimes in because her sister is upset OR because she's annoyed by her sister's crying. So in general, by the time we've solved the first one's issue, the second one has already calmed herself down.
Tamsie enjoys putting this raspberry teether upside down in her mouth, and then she goes around looking like she has a green mustache, which, by the way, is nearly impossible to take a picture of! She is also sporting some bruises in this picture. Poor girl falls constantly these days... she's strong but still so wobbly!
2. Try to get them used to sleeping in the same room. Once again, this runs contrary to much of what we've heard about dealing with twins, but by keeping them in the same room, we're amazed at what they learn to sleep through. Often we hear crying on the monitor and go in their room to find one of them going bananas and the other one peacefully asnooze through the whole ordeal. I am convinced this makes them better sleepers. Speaking of sleeping in the same room, another question we're often asked is whether or not they sleep in the same crib. Because they were never in the same incubator in the NICU, and because I have always been paranoid that one of them would suffocate the other, ours never have - except for rare occasions during naptime. But those naps have always been crazy short, so that just never really worked for them.

Staring down the paci...
... and biting on the hard part of it! Blasted teething. It's nothing to see these girls going around with pacis backwards in their mouths these days so they can chew on the hard part.
3. Try to keep them on the same schedule, but slightly staggered. I have NEVER had success feeding them at the same time, so I give one her bottle and then I feed the other. It's best to feed the first one while her sister's sleeping so that you don't have to deal with drama when one of them sees you feeding the other first. Also, if you keep them on the same schedules, you'll (ideally) have times in the day when both of them are asleep and you get a break. Otherwise, someone's always up and you're always on!
Rockin' the backwards paci. It's what all the cool kids do...? Eh, probably not.
4. Parents of multiples can't be perfectionists. I really don't see how anyone out there can do everything completely by the book when you have two the same age to work with. My girls sleep in their swings during the day (and sometimes at night, as a VERY last resort), they love their pacifiers, they watch TV while I eat or while I feed them, they don't wear bows as often as I'd like them to because they try to choke on them when I take my eyes off them, they don't always go to bed at the same time every night. But that's OK - you can bet they're always loved, always fed well, always sufficiently clean, and generally pretty happy! We do what we have to do, and we learn to celebrate the extras. This has actually been a nice way for me to combat the perfectionism I tend to struggle with. (Blogging has also helped with this. If I were too much of a perfectionist in this area, I'd never post a blog entry... so sometimes good enough just has to do, and that's OK! :)

These girls love their dolls.
5. Be sure to give them both equal amounts of attention. Tamsie's personality just tends to be a little more attention-seeking than Evie's, but Evie still needs every bit as much attention as Tamsie does. We just have to remember to go out of our way to give Evie the attention she needs, since she doesn't clamor for it quite as much. Similarly, when both girls want attention and I'm the only one around, I have to remember to make a point to talk to the girl I'm not holding at the time so that she doesn't feel left out.

Evie heartily enjoys making her doll kick its little legs.
6. It's essential to treat them like the individuals they are. Just because they happen to look alike and have many of the same needs, it's important to remember that they are their own little characters! When both are feeling sick, they may not be sick for the same reasons. One may actually have a cold, and the other may just be teething. There for a while, Evie did significantly better on a completely different formula than Tamsie did well on. They have different senses of humor, different preferences in toys, and VERY different personalities. I have read that often, twins trail behind their singleton peers in their speech development. Experts have speculated this is because adults tend to interact with them as a unit rather than as the individuals they are, so each twin only gets spoken to half as much as a normal singleton would - thus significantly reducing their exposure to language. It's important for us to spend time talking and playing with each of them, honoring their God-given individuality and celebrating what makes each of them unique.

When did my little teeny tiny babies get this big?! (And YES, the TV is on. Pretty sure I was eating lunch when I snapped this one!)
7. People are crazy about twins. I had no idea just how crazy (literally, in some cases) until I started taking these girls out in public!

8. Mixing them up is never really a problem. This was actually a fear of mine while I was pregnant with them, but we can ALWAYS tell them apart! They look totally different to us!

OK, I am fully aware that the rest of this post will probably only interest you if your last name is (or ever was) Grayson, Bigbee, or Vafinis... but here are some cute videos of the girls from this past week!

First of all, playtime together, parts 1 and 2:

Evie has developed a little dance she does while in her high chair. Usually she has one arm straight out and the other behind her head, a la sprinkler... but by the time I get my phone, she always stops! This was the best I could get it (please pardon the food on her face - she was mid-meal):

Typical silliness:

Evie sings at her Great-Grandma's house:

Alright, so any twin moms who come across this, now it's your turn! What have you learned about having twinsies? What works for you? Please help a mama out!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The countdown is ON!

Sometimes I feel bad for the girls' sake that their first year has been so unstable. I mean, they started out in the NICU for a couple of months, then came home after exactly 56 days. They had to get used to the new environment, and then we took them on as many trips to Memphis as we could get away for. Then came the big move Memorial Day weekend - into my parents' house. They had to reacclimate. Then the move into the apartment. More reacclimating. Then the move back to my parents' house. MORE reacclimating. Then vacation... and on it goes! I don't think that most babies have so many readjustments to make their first year, but I'm hoping it just makes them more flexible! This is all to say that we are so beyond ready to close on our new house, which is scheduled to take place in exactly 12 days at the latest, or so we're told! I just wish so many times that I could communicate to the girls in a way that they'd understand that they are just about to have a home again - a real home that we don't have to move out of! :)
This is how I find them all the time when I let them play together - facing each other and talking and giggling. I love it!
I feel like they've missed out on so much. Like our video camera is packed away, and our cord for the camera is likely somewhere in storage... so here we are at 10.5 months with a bunch of iPhone photos to show for our daily lives together.
Evie's lovely curly top
But I've been reminded through it all, again and again, how blessed we are to be where we are. We're so fortunate to be able to stay with my family. Honestly, I don't know how people in our position would be able to afford to move from one city to another if they had a house to sell UNLESS they had family to stay with! My parents have been absolutely wonderful. They help us out with everything, and the girls love having them around. They even squeal when their grandparents come home at the end of the day! Despite living out of suitcases for the past three months, there is nothing I regret about moving closer to family.
Out at Humdinger's Trivia Night with McKenzie (and Matt and Sara, of course!)
That said, I can't WAIT for the girls to have their own house. If nothing else, this has been a real reminder, albeit on a MUCH less grandiose scale, of the fact that as believers, we're living in the in-between times. We know we have peace with God and a living hope for the future, but we're still on earth, and Christ hasn't come back yet. We still mess up all the time, and we have to put up with all the nonsense that living life on earth entails - tragedies, disease, injustice, even just simple inconveniences. But praise the Lord that if we have Christ, we know this isn't all there is! He's going to make everything right one day, and we have a glorious home waiting for us that will be ours forever. That we don't have to move out of... ever!! That said, on with the pictures!

Tamsie demonstrates the girls' favorite new(ish) skill: standing up!
Look, ma(mamamamama)! One hand!
Deep in concentration

Great-Grandma time!

Tamsie is resting her head on Great-Grandma. Tamsie rarely rests her head on anyone, so this is very special indeed!
Rachie-Face came to town!! This haute mama is pregnant with a sweet baby boy who is expected to arrive not too long after the girls' first birthday! He is as yet unnamed, so we just call him Lil' Fisch for now. Apostrophe included.
Evie really does love Rachel - she had just woken up at this point, so she was less than her usual level of enthused at the time.

It's the Tamsie and Evie Show!
You would not believe how nearly impossible it is to get a decent, non-blurry iPhone photo of the two of them these days!

If Herbie hadn't been entertaining them while I was trying to get this picture, I don't think it would have happened.

The girls celebrated their first Seminoles game in the most proper way they knew how: wearing FSU pillowcase dresses and sitting in their daddy's lap!

We have been hanging out at his family's house in Mississippi for the weekend. Since FSU is not always adequately appreciated in these parts, he had to watch the game online. Let's just say it's a good thing the Internet was invented for times like these!

Evie takes after her Mama. She's not quite as into football as her dad and sister are.

The halftime show!

Mrs. DeeDee took these pictures while watching the girls during halftime. Meanwhile, Chris and I went to the fanciest Kroger that can possibly be in existence anywhere. (No joke - just ask my dear friend Jennifer, whom I was on the phone with on the way there. I was waaay more excited about finally going to that Kroger than any rational human being ever should be about going to a grocery store. But perhaps you'd understand if you saw it in all of its grocery glory!!)

Now I'm starting to wonder if we picked those Wubbanubs out on purpose for their FSU color similarities!
Tamsie Pearl!
Out of my frustration with failed attempts at taking decent pictures of girls who are constantly in motion these days, I gave in and made a video at one point this week. This is pretty typical of their adventures these days, especially since Evie keeps trying to pull up on Tamsie:

This morning, we took the girls out for brunch at Julep. YUM! This was actually their first time to sit up in high chairs (out of their car seats) at a restaurant, and also their first time eating baby food at a restaurant. They felt like such big girls! :) (Note that the table cloth has been folded away from them. They kept pulling hard at it, so we had to childproof it for them!)

This afternoon we dropped by my cousin Keri's house and had a grand old time. They felt like celebrities at one point, with Uncle Walt, Cousin Keri and their mama all snapping pictures of them at once! :)

The girls LOVE silly voices right now, which worked well for them today since their cousin just so happens to be amazing at that. She read this book to them, and they loooved it!

The girls loved getting to pet Chewie too! They were in awe.

Super cool: Keri has a hat that once belonged to our great-grandmother whom Tamsie is named after. Here's Baby Tamsie in Tamsie, Sr.'s hat!

Keri also has an authentic Greek fisherman's hat, which Evie wore in honor of the Greek heritage of her name!
We are having a wonderful weekend in Mississippi, and tomorrow we'll be at my aunt and uncle's house in Collierville for a cookout. Happy Labor Day Weekend, y'all!