Thursday, January 31, 2013

Life lately...

Visit to my parents. Found Kate like this one morning!

"Talking" to each other

Finally weight gain!!!

Miss Personality Kate

LOVE bath time!!

Helping me cook dinner

Evening catnap with Dad

Just looking around

Monday, January 28, 2013

Why Gluten Free?

My journey to gluten-free living began almost three years ago. People often ask me how I knew I was gluten intolerant, what symptoms I had, and some even comment that it's not really "real." My suggestion to them is give it a shot for 2 months...they will soon change their minds! ;)

I was always a sick child and I never remember ever being "full" of energy. As I grew up through college and after my exhaustion seemed to just get worse. Even when getting plenty of sleep, I would feel like I was hit by a truck and couldn't seem to catch up on sleep. When Matt and I were married my problems began to get increasingly worse. I continued to be exhausted all of the time! I would fall asleep all the time, even during Avatar! Who falls asleep during 3-D movies?!? I went to my general practice doctor in April of 2010 to tell him my symptoms (exhaustion, achy joints and muscles, headaches). He quickly did the whole work up of blood to test vitamin levels, thyroid, etc...everything came back fine. I was SO frustrated because I did not want to live life feeling this way. As the year went on stomach symptoms soon appeared. I could not eat a meal without getting a throbbing headache or some range of stomach problems. A friend at work suggested doing a test for gluten intolerance...after putting it off for about a month I did the test. It came back POSITIVE!

I had a sense of relief/fear/sadness about the positive test results. I was glad to finally have an answer, but sad to think about ALL of the foods I cannot eat! :(  I IMMEDIATELY could tell a difference in my energy level after removing gluten. However, it did take a dedicated 2-4 months to finally see results. I cannot explain to you the change in my body's energy and overall health!

Going gluten free is not necessarily a "diet." Honestly, most gluten free products are higher in calories and very starchy! If you are a junk food eater prior to going gluten-free, you can easily continue to be a gluten free junk food eater.

-Avoid ALL wheat, barley, rye, msg, and modified food starch.
-Become a label reader!! You will be SHOCKED to discover how many products wheat is in (candy, soups, marinades, etc)
-Be careful with "gluten free" foods. Some still have chemicals in them. For example, Chex cereal is gluten free but has BHT...I get a headache every time I have them!
-Eat clean and fresh foods
-Start somewhere! You won't do it perfectly at first!
-Don't think you have to get totally new recipes! Just replace the "gluten," with a gluten free alternative!
-Be careful at restaurants! I still order my favorite sandwiches...just no bun!
-Give it time! You get use to not being able to say "yes" to everything. The pros outweigh the cons!
-Find new favorite foods and places you love with options!
We have a local all gluten free bakery! Check out their website! It is AMAZING! I recently had a wonderful chocolate birthday cake. My family LOVED it and couldn't tell it was "gluten free."

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bill and Clutter Organization

This use to be the corner counter in our kitchen. It functions as a bill payment center, mail sorter, but inevitably ends up being a "catch all." I cannot stand stacks! haha Stacks of clothes, stacks of mail, stacks of anything...everything needs a place and things get lost in stacks. 

Not long ago I had enough with the stacks! I had previously tried different ways of organizing bills and the clutter, but have now finally found a system that works. I purchased a large/cute file box from Target, then labeled the file to match our clutter. 

It helps hide the chaos or mess in a cute way! So when visitors are over I'm not feeling like I have to hide all the paper mess!

I also use my Erin Condren planner for bill payment! 
(The weeks are the age of the twins! NOT another pregnancy!)

As soon as I get a bill in the mail, I write its due date on the calendar. The bill is then placed in the "to pay" folder. Once the bill is paid and mailed, I mark it off! It has helped me stay on top of bills so much!

Easy, simple organization to help with the paper clutter!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

3 months!

Kate and Maddie are 3 months old today! Oh, and Happy Birthday Bud! (my dad)

Oh mom, we are so happy even though we just spit up all over ourselves! 

The past few weeks both girls have become so much fun! They interact all the time with us, and I swear sometimes are jabbering to each other. I can leave the room, and it sounds like they are having a cooing conversation. The smiles are constant! Makes this momma happy! It is amazing how much they develop in such short periods of time! I can't wait to see how much more they will change over the next month! 

Kate: Don't you think she is funny
Maddie: I don't think she has a clue what she is doing!


-9lbs 2oz on Monday (only gained 1oz in a week...not good! This is due to all the feeding trouble we've been having...more to come on that)
-0-3 month clothing! Finally! 
-LOVES...I mean LOVES when Matt whistles to you
-"talking" all the time
-loves listening to music, you kick and squeal! 
-Our observant one...You really don't eat when there is a lot going on around you. You just want to watch everything!
-You are a happy girl! You cry typically only when something hurts (spit-up, eating, etc) or you are tired
-Discovered your hand...better than a paci! ;)
-Rolling over from belly to back
-Grabbing hair!

-Lifting your head better and better everyday. Kate rolled over on you the other day during tummy time and caused you to face plant...just the beginning of twin accidents!
-Enjoys "standing up" 
-Now unswaddled at have made no fuss about it! ;) Still like being swaddle for naps. We will do this for a few more weeks until we get the hang of it! 
-Bedtime feeding at 8:00, then down by've slept through the night until 7:00, but I wake you at 5:00 to squeeze in more feedings, then start our day at 7:30.
-Since switching to formula, you have become a much better napper! My breastmilk just did not fill you up! You take 3 naps, plus one little catnap at night before bath.


-8lbs 6oz. I think Maddie wants you to catch up with her! 
-0-3 month clothing! It's pretty long on you still though! 
-You like to chat on your changing table
-"talking" all the time
-You LOVE for me to read to you! I think we could do it all day. You coo, kick, squeal, and stare at the book intently while I read! Makes this momma happy!
-Nothing makes you happier than the bird noises on the play mat. If you are upset...I put you down under it, and all is calm again!
-You go from fussy to smiling in seconds. I think you are going to be quite the actor! 
-You smile so big when I wake you from naps
-Grabbing at things and starting to bat at things too!
-Rolling over from belly to back. You no longer like to stay on your tummy to practice lifting your head! 
-Enjoy sitting on my legs and "talk"

-Love bathtime!
-You kept escaping from your swaddle in the past few weeks. No matter how tight I got it around 2:00ish you would be free. Sometimes you would escape again within the hour! So we decided it was time to take the swaddles away! Night one...not a peep until about 4 with a little fussing. Night had a little harder time adjusting and fussed off and on...not a full on cry though. Night three will be tonight, so we will see! ;)
-Around Christmas you were NOT a good sleeper! I don't know what the deal was, but you would just fuss off and on sometimes starting at 12. Finally, we kept pushing you later and later to feed...then ahhh...7:00am! We've had to back track a little and wake you up at 5:00 for another feeding. 
-You are still a pretty good napper! You take 3 naps a day.You are usually out for the catnap in the evening, but awake happy.

Over the weekend things seemed to get worse. Saturday was very difficult. They took very little, and cried through most feedings. Out of desperation we talked to our friend who is a nutritionist at Children's. She suggested trying Nutramigen formula just to see if they could digest it easier. Maddie hated it! She took it the first few times, but then refused on Sunday. So back to Enfacare. I tried once again to give them breastmilk. It does not work for them! It makes me so sad, but it does not satisfy them. They don't nap, fuss more, spit up more, and usually are hungry within an hour. I wish so badly that breastfeeding/expressed milk would work for them because it is what's "best." I had to come to the realization (and release myself of guilt) that for my babies formula is best. They NEED the extra calories to grow! 
On Sunday it dawned on me to try Dr. Brown's bottles again. It was worth a shot to see if it cut back on gas in their bellies. They didn't take the Dr. Brown's bottles I had, but then I looked online and realized I had the widemouth ones! Off to Target I ran to get the "standard" nipple bottles...they took them great! Big time fail on my part for not realizing this sooner! ;) I really do think the bottles have helped. The biggest difference is they will start eating again after stopping! This is huge! There has been much less fussing/screaming during feeding too!
I took the girls in for a weight check on Monday morning. Maddie only gained 1 1/2 ounces and Kate gained 4 ounces...not good! They should be gaining 1/2 ounce per day! Our pediatrician was concerned more about the discomfort than the intake amounts. He assured me that we were not at the "failure to thrive" point...which was in the back of my mind. Also, when you look at where they started they have doubled their weight. This is good! But, they started off behind, and we need them to catch up more quickly. We discussed if it may be a milk intolerance (formula) or more of a reflux issue. I told him that feedings are really the only times the girls are upset! After they are done, they are happy and content. To him this meant it was more of a reflux issue. So we had a gameplan. Switch to Prevacid for their medicine and give it a week or so. If things got worse then come in sooner, if things improved check back in a week. I don't "like" giving the girls medicine...yes I eat organic yet feed my daughters formula and give them Prevacid....They'll get the organic stuff when they are older! ;) 
We have really seen an improvement! Feedings aren't "perfect," but the intake amount has increased and the discomfort has decreased!!!! Kate took 22 ounces total yesterday, which is big for her! Matt and I both realized that we needed to try to relax during feedings too. It can get SO stressful sitting there trying to figure out how to get them to eat the other day I started singing hymns to remind myself to stay calm...First off...I CANNOT sing! I have no pitch memory! It's horrible...I didn't even make elementary choir! ;) hahaha But the girls seem to like it, and it keeps me distracted from thinking about how many ounces they are taking in. I'll just keep the singing for at home though! 

We are SO thankful that the past few days have been better. Praying that it continues to improve and that the girls grow, grow, grow!!! What a crazy month this has been! 

Friday, January 4, 2013

It's just eating...

Earlier this week Matt provided me with 2 glorious hours out on my own. I ran to the mall to return somethings and shop around. I enjoyed the alone time, but also couldn't help but notice babies everywhere. A Dad with a newborn in a carrier, a mom browsing through clothes while holding her tiny baby, and then a mom easily giving her newborn a bottle...jealousy ran all through my veins. I have felt so confined lately. I can't just take the girls out to run around town, then pop a bottle in their mouth. They don't eat. So therefore I'm home majority of everyday. I'm trying to be content with this present challenge, yet find myself praying this season to go by quickly. I know that's horrible...I shouldn't pray for my babies to grown up fast, most want them to stay small forever. It's just a hard place to be.

We had our appointment with a Speech-pathologist at Children's Hospital today. We discussed what we experienced with the girls' feeding, and then she observed them eat. Her first comment was that they look "distressed." This word keeps resonating through my precious babies are hurting, anxious, upset, uncomfortable during the most basic and important processes of life...eating. She stated that especially when watching Maddie it doesn't appear that she "likes" to eat. There is no sign of "oh, this is good, I like this." It's more survival mode. A praise is that she didn't seem to see any problems with their mechanics of eating, but that it seems to be more discomfort. She was able to observe them spit up...yes they spit up even before we fed them...but this helped her to know that they are not digesting their food in a timely manner. She also observed them reach the "point of no return" as I call it. They initially start eating well...but once they cough, chock, spit-up, get too uncomfortable and the nipple comes out..there is no going back. Whether they have taken 1 1/2 ounces or 3 ounces. They rarely cry out of hunger to eat. During the day I almost always wake them to eat. They started sleeping through the night last week, but we are having to wake them for a feeding. They eat the most at the bedtime feeding and middle of the night. Matt and I both expressed our concern that we feel like we are torturing them at times...pushing them to take more because they NEED to grow more. But, in doing so it can cause further problems. This is my biggest fear! What if they start to hate eating...I can't even go down that road of worry.

So what now...We try different things...We will try to switch formulas...we pray...we hope that something will make a difference. Early this morning I simply prayed for God to overwhelm me with his peace. Peace in knowing he has love for my girls far beyond my love for them. Peace in knowing that we will make it through. Peace in knowing that he will provide answers in his time. Peace in knowing that I am not alone in this...amen...cause I sure would be much more of a wreck if I was! :) 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Big year of changes...on to 2013

A very eventful year...

February: We were SHOCKED to find out were were pregnant:

March: Traveled with the family to Como, Italy for Spring Break

March: SHOCKED again to find out we were having not one, but two babies!

June: The dogs escaped out of the fence, causing a day long hunt for Lily

Summer: Many celebrations of weddings and baby showers

July: Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha

August: Many baby showers

September: Started to see a specialist and be monitored more closely

October: Welcomed our itty-bitty blessings! 

November: Welcomed the girls home after 21 days in the NICU! 

December: Babies' first Christmas + snow!

2012 was a year of the unexpected. I never would have imagined life would be so different now. Matt and I had it all "planned" in what we thought the year would hold...little did we know something better was waiting for us. God taught me so much about waiting on him, and that I cannot will things to happen. I said goodbye to teaching in the classroom, and am still transitioning to life as a stay-at-home mom. 2012 was a year of abundant blessings, and I can't wait to see what this new year holds!