Birthday girl

Today is Lauren’s birthday and the boys and I couldn’t be more excited about celebrating with her!  We are so spoiled having her in our lives and so it’s nice to return the favor every once in a while.  Lauren’s been a bit laid-up recently since surgery in December to repair a torn labrum.  Since then, I’ve taken on a larger “Mr. Mom” role (cue blooper music).  Let’s just say that I continue to be convinced that being a mom is a the hardest job on the planet.  Statements most definitely made by me in the last few weeks:

  • “Ok, I think the boys are down and asleep (approx. 8:30pm).  I’m gonna get ready for bed!”
  • “Is it cool if I take a nap while the boys are napping?”
  • “I think it’ll be more restful to go back to work”
  • “When do you clean the house?” not to be confused with…
  • “When do you go grocery shopping?”

Yeah, I think we’ve been pretty spoiled in the past.  Well baby, we love you and hope that today has been a special day for you!  You mean the world to us and we couldn’t do this without you.

P.S.  I’m happy to help in whatever way that I can while you’re recovering (for as long as that may be).  It’s been a joy to help take more care of our boys and I feel as though I’ve grown even closer to them and have enjoyed all most of it, but I will continue to pray nightly (and daily) for you to have a supernaturally fast healing!

All my love,

-J

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a letter from daddy… birthday #3

Cullen and Lane,

You are 3 years old today.  Three. Entire. Years. Old.  It is mind-boggling in every way.  I vividly remember the moment that you both came into the world and the nerve-racking circumstances surrounding your entrance.

This year has been yet another adventure… your personalities have really come out which has been unbelievably hilarious and also pretty challenging.  You continue to amaze me with how sweet you can be to one another and how stinking smart you both are.  You (and your mommy) are the reason that I do what I do.  I want to provide for your needs and take care of you and teach you so much about life… everything from how to fix broken things to how to treat women (I still need to work on treating your mom more like the amazing creature she is) to the proper technique for a curve ball and how to hit opposite field and how to ride your bike (although C has already figured that out pretty well thus far).  I want.  I desire for you.  Am I really doing a great job of this?  Some days it’s hard to tell.  Some days I’m too tired to give another piggy-back ride, some days I don’t drop everything and just enjoy you.  Why?  Because I’m sinful… Because I need more of the Lord.  Because I need to rest in the fact that work can wait and that moments with you are important and years fly by.

This past year has seen a lot of firsts:  surgery, broken bone, big boy bed, bicycle… These are the moments to remember, both good and bad.  It doesn’t REALLY matter if the dishes are put away right after dinner or if the lawn gets cut as often as it should (thank God for that since I’m pretty terrible at keeping up with it!).  What matters is that you know that your mom and I love you more than life itself and that God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you.  These are the things that I need to focus on.  Because before long you’ll be in school, then off spending time with your friends and making decisions that I pray are the result of God working in your life.

You are my loves, my wrestling buddies, my handymen helpers.  My sons.  I love you more than you’ll ever know and pray for you constantly.  Happy birthday!  May I not ever forget these moments and may you slow down in growing up.  Just a little bit.

Love,

Daddy

Potty training twins

Well, it’s been a while now and I’ve promised to deliver a potty-training post.  Now many people called us crazy for trying to potty train twins at 29 months.  Even many of those who were supportive gave us crazy-eyed looks and spoke of the horrors of potty training one child… let alone twins.  Lauren and I went into it planning to be committed for a week and then adopt a “wait and see” approach.  If the boys weren’t ready and simply just wet and soiled themselves with no understanding of what to do, we’d just give it up and try again later.

We started this “project” just before Christmas as I was on my two week mandatory vacation leave at the Bank and we figured that we would need all hands on deck to manage the chaos.  Lauren had read books & solicited advice from other moms who had survived training already so therefore we had a game plan.  We could tell the boys were showing signs of readiness (especially Lane) because they’d tell us when they needed to go & want to be changed immediately.  They could communicate it, they followed directions well, & they were starting to HATE (& fight) diaper changes, and even wearing diapers.  Lots of stripping down naked at any time, along with a few random potty successes.  We were ready to give it a try.

Days 1-2:

Extreme nudity –  let the boys run around naked all day and try to determine their signals for potty.  (there was a bit of prep work involved as we rolled up the rug in the living room and put towels on the couches to prevent any mishaps – also, thank goodness for all hardwood floors downstairs… and a steam mop!)

Results –  As you can imagine, lots of messes.  We did have some semi-successes, but for the most part we were just carrying a peeing child to the potty and at best getting a couple of drops to make it into the toilet. We gave the boys lots of juice water (certainly a treat in this house) and tons of positive reinforcement (chocolate chips for a pee, and a cookie for poop–#2 was harder to convince them to deposit in the potty so we had to go big or go home).  Lane actually picked up on the idea pretty quickly but we couldn’t convince Cullen yet… until he started seeing his brother racking up the treats & star stickers on his chart.  The Pyles competitive nature again rears its ugly head – this time to our advantage!

Days 3-5:

Big boy underwear –  We made a big deal about them getting to wear big boy underwear (just like DADDY!) and how they needed to let us know if they needed to go to the potty.  Still gave them lots of juice and treats for successes.  Asked them if they needed to go often but then realized they were doing better when we just shut up & let them tell us.  (If we asked Lane, he’d get really annoyed & shout “I NOT! I NOT NEED TO GO!”)

Results – To my great surprise, it all just “clicked” and they started getting it almost right away once they had underwear on.  After a couple of accidents, they realized they didn’t like the way that it felt and did a great job of telling us when they needed to go (not always in enough time to get to the potty, but for the most part we were really successful).  They really got the idea of wanting to stay dry!

I was absolutely stunned that this worked the way it did… maybe our boys are all-stars (we can hope!), but the process sure seemed to work for others too.  We were told to make sure we had the following on hand to make the process work:  treats (for the boys when they went potty), lots of juice (to make them have to go) and plenty of booze (obviously for us).

Highlights:

  • The joy on your sons’ faces when they went on the potty: “Mommy!  Daddy!  I went peepee on the potty!”
  • The boys asking each other to go to the potty- “Lane, you go potty with me?” & cheering each other on- “Bro bro went peepee in the potty!”
  • Not needing diapers during the day – a serious cost/time savings depending upon whether you use cloth or disposable diapers.  “We don’t need NO diapers anymore!”  (It’s so crazy to put away the cloth diapers for good… well, at least until the next child.  *No, this isn’t a pregnancy announcement.  The diapers should be hanging out for a while.)
  • Having your boys read books on the potty while they are trying to go… pretty cool moments.

Lowlights:

  • Cleaning up poop on the floor and/or the body of your sons
  • Not getting to said poopy fast enough and having your dog attempt to “help” dispose of it (I’m throwing up in my mouth just thinking about it)
  • Having to sing the “Super Pooper” song to encourage your son to push it out.  (a song I made up to the tune of the “Super Why” theme song… Lane was a bit scared at first to go poop on the potty but this song was magic for getting him to laugh, relax, & therefore have a success!  Lauren definitely considers listening to me sing this a massive/hysterical highlight, not a lowlight.)
  • Getting peed on while you’re trying to get a boy situated on the potty “Daddy, I pee on you” – said while laughing hysterically.

I’d like to say that we’re just really awesome parents & that’s why this worked, but let’s be serious–the boys were just ready & are rock stars.  They get all the credit.  And the process has been proven to work in many cases (if of course they’re ready. If they aren’t, I would totally just wait & try again later!).  I think we caught them right when they were really interested/able (for our boys that meant waiting until 28/29 months – we’ve had friends train much earlier, but they had singletons… we were too scared to try! Obviously others aren’t ready then & need to wait – especially boys).  Their preschool teachers were really proud of them too, so that was fun for them when they went back after break & shocked them all with their big boy underwear!

In summary, expect the worse & you might be pleasantly surprised.  But you’ll be very thankful it’s all done, no matter what.  WAY TO GO BOYS!!

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Birthday Girl

I’m a really lucky guy… I mean, ridiculously lucky.  Nah, I’m not a card shark and I don’t play the ponies or the numbers, but I’ve been married to my best friend for almost 6 years now and this is the 10th birthday that I’ve been privileged to spend with her.

Lauren, you’re everything I could hope for and so much more.  The boys and I are extremely blessed to have such a special person in our lives.  You’ve successfully potty-trained twin boys (I may have played a small role… but you were the one to make it all happen), you have helped our boys to start learning Scripture, you have been my confidant in career confusion/frustration, you’ve been able to create some creative and extremely delicious meals (healthy too!) for us on a budget and manage to look more beautiful every day.

Thank you for making life so much fun and for making me laugh like no one else can.  Thank you for raising our sons to love the Lord and for managing the craziness that is our home!  Thank you for always taking care of me and pushing me for the best in all things.  Thank you for loving me when I’m unlovable.  Thank you for documenting our life through this blog…

Happy Birthday Lauren!

All my love,

-J

PICU

We had already had felt like we’d been completely drained by the time we arrived at “our room”… little did we know that the fun was just beginning.  Lane was completely miserable- it was horrible to watch.  We noticed that he had broken out in a rash all over his chest and his back.  Turns out he was having an allergic reaction to morphine… awesome.  They switched up his pain medication and we tried everything to distract him.  He screamed violently for a few hours until we finally were able to get him distracted by videos on our phones.  (Note: Thank goodness for iPhones… and Netflix.  I really can’t imagine trying to “entertain”/distract him without it.)  Not that we didn’t have a ton of options… the nurses and child life specialists (I never knew there was such a thing) were fantastic the whole time and tried to do everything they could for us… from movies to toys to stuffed animals (even one that we were able to take home with us!).  At one point they allowed us to unhook from all of the leads he was attached to so that we could take him on a “walk” around the floor.  He was desperate to get out of the room and I think everyone was a bit at their wits’ end… it didn’t result in much of a transformation, but he was able to get a balloon which seemed to please him at least momentarily.

Lauren and I were pretty involved with his basic care (checking temperature, giving oral medication, etc.) as by the time we had settled into the room he was pretty done with any hospital staff coming near him.  Our poor nurse Anne had to keep her distance from him or he’d immediately start screaming (and this was AFTER she brought him the balloon… our little guy was definitely freaked out by the hospital!)  He eventually fell asleep on me in the rocking chair (wouldn’t go near the crib in his room) in the afternoon and slept for a couple hours.  He was definitely daddy’s boy during the day and was stuck to me like glue.  Lauren’s sister brought us food (we realized at about 3pm that we hadn’t eaten anything since before 6am and were starving) and my sister drove down in the afternoon to hang out and give moral support, but kept visitors to a minimum to try to keep him calmer.  We had figured out that the second pain medication that Lane was on wasn’t working as well as it should either (it made him angry/out of sorts when awake), so we ended up switching to a third one.  Thankfully this one seemed to calm him down more and put us all a little more at ease.

We had a lot of time to think and chat with the nurses about the plan for Lane and why we were in the PICU.  Basically, the doctor was concerned that Lane’s lung wasn’t going to function properly after the surgery (they had him wake up from the procedure in the OR because they thought he would need to be intubated – miraculously, he didn’t) and we were in the PICU for monitoring.  Swelling peaks between 12-24 hours after surgery and if Lane had any issues, they wanted us in the PICU as they had all the equipment on hand to “maintain his airway”… again, not a comforting feeling for a parent (we didn’t sleep much at night).  They did reassure us that Lane wasn’t the “normal PICU patient” and kept mentioning how they would reconvene with the surgeon in the morning to see the next steps which helped to comfort us a little.

Mom and Dad Z came in the evening and spent some time with us as well.  It was great to have some visitors as it helped to pass the time and keep Lane’s attention focused away from being in the hospital and wanting to go home.  As night came, Lane’s needs did as well and now he only wanted mommy to lay with him in the bed (our nurse wisely suggested that we might want to forgo the crib and try for a hospital bed since that had a better chance of Lane trying it out – it worked.)  I got a few hours of sleep and then switched with Lauren so that she could: a) go to the bathroom and b) get a few minutes of actual sleep.  Lane slept pretty well for most of the night… his oxygen saturation dipped a bit during the night (nothing that scary or unusual, but they wanted to keep his up higher to ease the recovery from the procedure).  They gave him a nasal cannula (another reminder of our prior NICU experience – not a fun flashback), but he hated it and it didn’t stay on all that long.  During the night he also managed to ruin his IV as he had been pulling at it and messing with it non-stop and eventually the IV just stopped working.

Morning finally came (after we seemingly watched the same Clifford DVD, Boz DVD and Caillou on Netflix 200+ times) and we got word that we would probably get to go home, or at least step down to the main floor for a while.   The staff still had to get final approval from the surgeon, but Lane had done remarkably well and they seemed satisfied that he was finally “out of the woods.”  By 8:30 we found out that we could actually go home directly from the PICU (the nurses & doctors said this NEVER happens – God is good!) and they started to get paperwork and prescriptions and all the discharge stuff done.  Unfortunately we still had to get Lane one more antibiotic and since his IV was gone, we had to have that done via an intramuscular shot (read: very painful)… just another great experience for our seriously traumatized boy.  He did finally get some food after about 40 hours without anything to eat – and seriously ATTACKED his breakfast – we’re talking eggs flying.

After the shots & paperwork were finally finished, the rest seems like a blur.  As soon as we were able to get the rest of the wires/leads off of Lane and he was free to roam again, his whole demeanor changed.  I went to go get the car and Lauren and Lane hopped in the wheelchair to head out of the hospital.  Apparently he was waving and excitedly saying “bye-bye” to all of the staff as Anne wheeled them out.  She even commented on how she had never even used the elevators that carried them down to the lobby since she had never discharged a patient home directly from PICU.  We drove off and Lane couldn’t have been happier about it.  We had a great reunion with Cullen after he got over being “mad” at us for being gone (he was lovingly taken care of by friends and family: Aunt Ashley, Abby, and Grandma, Grandpops and Uncle Kyle) and we finally got the boys to bed for a nap–with us following shortly thereafter!

Looking back we realize how blessed we all are and just how God protected Lane and the rest of our family through all the events that happened.  It’s so hard to think about your child undergoing surgery and not being able to do anything to fix it.  Praise God for guiding the surgeon’s hands, praise Him for the hospital staff, praise Him for giving strength & a fighting spirit to Lane and praise Him for helping Lauren to save his life in the first place.  What I’m most thankful for now is that I can hold him in my arms and that all of this is behind us.  We serve a mighty God… there is no other explanation for how things ended up.  We went from a possible week in the PICU to a little over 24 hours. That’s not just medicine…

so here’s what happened with Lane…

I’ll admit it… I’m a deadbeat. It’s been almost two weeks since I promised to post here. You see, Lauren and I have this sort of tentative agreement whereby she does most (read: all but a few posts) of the work and I do very little. Ok, so it’s not so much an agreement as me just being lazy and not knowing what to write or feeling like I’m capable, but I digress… Our blog history has been a bit sparse lately and most of you already know part of the reason why. Here’s “the rest of the story….”

A little over a couple weeks ago, on a normal Thursday in the Pyles’ household, the boys were having a snack of crackers and nuts in their playroom. Aunt Ashley was over visiting and all were playing and having a good time. Lane was doing his normal “shove every single morsel into my mouth at once” style of eating when he tipped backwards in his chair and fell onto his back. He coughed a couple of times and then stopped making noise… Lauren was immediately concerned and picked him up. He had stopped breathing and begun turning blue (not just a little blue either, head to toe blue). She sprung into action (like the absolute supermom that she is) and gave him the Heimlich maneuver… only, it didn’t work (note: I guess this thing is no longer called the Heimlich maneuver, but I want to still recognize Dr. Heimlich for his life-saving work). Ashley ran to call 911 & Lauren had the awful realization that an ambulance would never get there in time… his life was literally in her hands. Remembering back to the infant CPR class we learned when the boys were born (and in the NICU), she turned him over onto his stomach on her arm , held him almost upside down and gave him back blows in an attempt to dislodge the obstruction. Finally, after what had to seem like an eternity, he began to cough and vomited up all of his snack and started breathing again. He was terrified and quite upset (naturally) and it took quite a bit of time to settle him down. Lauren was very understandably shaken, so much that she texted me about the incident (note: not at all the text any dad is prepared to receive and certainly phone call worthy). I instantly sent back a text and asked the logical question of why she didn’t pick up the phone and call me… When she replied that she wouldn’t be able to hold it together on the phone and that she was still consoling and snuggling with the now-safe Lane, I knew that this was much more serious than even I had imagined and only later would find out the details of the event.

Lane seemed to be doing pretty well that night when I got home and although I was a little emotional about the event and held him extra tight when I picked him up, I didn’t think much more about it other than how thankful I was to God for watching over my son and how in awe of my wife I was that she saved his life. Cullen was even pretty traumatized by the whole incident and kept repeating various things that happened: “Lane cough… Ashley, towels (to clean up afterwards), etc.” Pretty tough day, but we figured that the worst was over. Even the next day when Lane had a little bit of a wheeze, we called the doctor but didn’t think too much about it.

They wanted to see him immediately, so Lauren took him in and had our pediatrician check him out. He wanted to rule out a foreign body in his airway so he ordered a throat x-ray (negative) and put him on a steroid for any inflammation caused by the event. When he wasn’t better over the Labor Day weekend and his wheeze had gotten more pronounced, we called back and had another appt with a pediatrician. He didn’t like what he heard in Lane’s breathing and referred us to an ENT. We went to that appointment and had to have a laryngoscopy (basically a scope through the nose and into the throat. of a toddler. while not sedated) which was pretty horrific for all involved. That didn’t show anything so a chest x-ray was ordered (also negative) and he put Lane on an antibiotic for a week to clear up any possible infection from the “aspiration event” (we’ve gone from choking to aspiration now for those keeping track).

Needless to say, he didn’t get any better on the antibotic and was just getting more and more miserable (wheezing more pronounced, laboring to breathe, fussy – which is really odd for him, etc.). We called a few days later and got an appt with another ENT, this one a pediatric airway specialist, to examine him and let us know if surgery would be required. Eleven (11!) days after the initial problem, we had the appointment with the specialist who almost immediately told us we were going to have to go in for surgery ASAP. While we knew this was the most likely outcome given that nothing else worked and that he was getting worse, no parent wants to hear that their 2 year old is going to need to have surgery.

sweet boy about to be taken back to the OR

Two days later (lots of breathing treatments in the meantime), we went to the “One Day Surgery Center” (ironic in hindsight) to have a bronchoscopy for Lane to clear out anything that may be in his lungs. We were briefed on the timeframe of the procedure (usually about 20 mins, booked the OR for 45 minutes just in case). They took him back at 8:05am and Lauren and I went to the waiting room. At 8:45 I started to get a little nervous… by 9:00 we were downright scared. A nurse walked by and asked us if we had heard anything. Maybe it was the frantic “no!” in response, but she went right back to the OR to see what was going on. She didn’t come back for another 10 minutes and when she did, all that she said was that Lane was ok and that the doctor would be out to see us soon… That didn’t sit well, but didn’t exactly prepare us for the surgeon coming out and letting us know: it was worse than he had anticipated, there were 3 pieces of almond (one imbedded in the lung tissue); Lane’s left lung was almost swollen shut and we would be heading straight to the PICU for “at least a couple days and possibly a week.” His final words of “We’re not out of the woods yet” still haunt me. We immediately broke down… well, Lauren cried and I held it together for .3 seconds and then started sobbing like a little girl.

After another agonizing hour, Lauren was finally able to go to the recovery area to see Lane and I followed shortly thereafter to find what didn’t look at all like my son. This kid was not only unrecognizably swollen but hysterical – crying, screaming, thrashing about & pulling at all of the leads on his body… a mess. We tried to calm him down, but it was no use… he was as freaked out as we were. Lauren literally had to climb into the hospital crib with him, sobbing, as I held his hand and we went through the entire hospital – finally arriving at the Children’s Hospital PICU.

Realizing that this is already over 1200 words… I think I’ll stop for now & finish the Lane Saga tomorrow with a part II – the PICU.

Two wild and crazy guys!

Things have been a bit wild around here lately… two boys at 23 months (today) makes for an adventurous household!!! It’s been so much fun coming home to the family lately. The boys are so excited to see me when I get home, especially since there have been a number of days over the last few weeks where the boys haven’t been awake when I’ve had to leave for work. There’s nothing better than coming home and having both of your kids running full speed towards you and yelling “DADDY!” at the top of their lungs. It makes me feel so welcome home and it’s a perfect end to my work day and start to my time with the family.

I feel like it’s important to remember the snapshots in our life right now, so here are a few that epitomize our life with two boys at 23 months:

  • TRUCKS!!! The boys are absolutely obsessed with trucks…. (and airplanes and cars, but most definitely trucks) Tonight we watched several youtube videos of trucks with them. They couldn’t have been more impressed… I guess my dream of owning a pick-up truck will have to come true just so that I can be the boys’ hero and let them ride around in a real truck. Somehow they aren’t nearly as impressed with my sweet 2003 Ford Taurus even with the JR Nation license plate on the front.
  • Wrestlemania – This is a nightly event and isn’t exclusive only to us boys. Mommy definitely gets in on the action as we tag-team on the boys and rough-house with them. It’s one of my favorite things to do with them. It’s something that I remember doing with my dad when I was little and I want my boys to have good memories of me playing with them and always getting involved with what they have going on.
  • BALL – Lane and Cullen may say this word approximately 627 times a day. I mean, these boys can’t get enough. Softballs, tennis balls, soccer balls, basketballs… you name it, they’re all over it. We probably have a few dozen balls in rooms around our house (under the chairs, in couch cushions, beneath the coffee table, etc.) They are already practicing their pitching form and run around with glee whenever they have one ore more in their possession. Now, this may lead to an argument or ten when one has a particular ball that the other wants, but I’m certainly enjoying the fact that they are “all boy”.
  • Climbing and jumping off of anything – With little to no regard for any safety, these monkeys are on a chair or ottoman in no time flat. Before you know it, you’ll hear “Ready… Go!” or “one, two… tree” and a child will be flying through the air into your arms (hopefully!) and ready to start flying again. This all started with jumping into the pool, but has escalated to anything that looks enticing to an almost two year old… which as it turns out, is just about anything.
  • Prayer time – This is one of the sweetest, most heart-warming things right now. Watching your sons fold their little hands or hold hands when we say grace before dinner literally brings a tear to my eye. It’s so precious seeing them say “pray.. pray” as soon as their plates are set in front of them at meal-time. Sometimes Cullen will even bow his head until it’s just about in his plate… what can we say, he’s a pretty reverent kid. Bedtime is also a great moment… we always start prayers with “Dear Jesus, thank you for…” and let the boys finish for us. There are some standard responses: Cullen normally always says Jesus first (adorable) and then proceeds through the family tree (although mommy and daddy sometimes get lost in the shuffle after grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles and friends… and dogs!). We’ve really enjoyed our nightly routine and want our kids to know that we’re praying for them and with them because of our faith in the Lord… I don’t think there’s a much more beautiful sight than to see a family bowing their heads in prayer together.

Just a peek into our lives right now… sometimes crazy, never dull, and always moments that I cherish. I’ve been pretty horrible about contributing to this blog… Lauren definitely does all the heavy lifting in posting updates/pictures. I’d like to say that I’ll do a lot better and contribute a lot more, but I’m not sure that will be true. However, I will do my best to record little moments that mean a lot and memories that I’ll want to hold onto for a long time.

-J

Mommy added a couple fitting videos:

 

Daddy time

This weekend Lauren was able to attend a photography workshop (a birthday present from me this year) and that allowed me to have a morning with my boys.  It’s been tough since I started working at the bank because with my commute, I get a lot less time with them and relished the opportunity to hang out for a few hours.  Not that I’m complaining about having a job… that part is very nice and is allowing us to get a new house and start the next chapter of our lives as a family.  It is just a little hard when I get home most nights during the boys’ dinner and get to see them for 90 minutes (or less with traffic or meetings).

Needless to say I had a great time with them and enjoyed the moments of them relying solely on me for their care (minus a quick trip to Wal-mart with just Laner while Grandma Z hung with Cole).  Maybe they ate more graham crackers in a couple hours than they do most weeks, maybe we slid down slides that weren’t meant for 2 toddlers and their grown daddy, maybe Lauren had to ask me if I gave them any fruits or veggies for lunch… I did. It just took me a second to remember what 😉

As cool as it was to just have some time with my two sons, it was even cooler for Lauren to be able to go to this workshop.  I tried to surprise her with it, but she’s sneaky and found out about it (ok, so maybe I wrote down the info on a post-it and left it sitting out like an idiot… she still snooped for it in my mind! ha!)  She came home pretty excited about all she learned and using terminology that I wasn’t at all familiar with (did you know that ISO is pronounced “eye-es-oh” and not “eye-so”?… yeah, apparently only amateurs call it that… who knew?)  A cool class taught by a friend of some friends. (www.lindseyleephotography.com)

Sure, maybe I’m biased… but I’ve always thought my wife took dang good pictures (maybe she just has great subjects?).  However, her confidence in photography and her ability to “make the camera work for her” (in manual) have increased exponentially.  I’m so excited for her to continue to develop  and take better and better pictures.   It’s something she really enjoys and I definitely want to encourage her to pursue it as I think she’s really good and can even make me look decent in pictures, which is no easy task.

I’m sure you’ll be seeing lots of evidence to follow…

-J

STUD

Back by popular demand (ok, maybe just Lauren wanting me to contribute to “our” family blog), I make my return to post some more ramblings.  I’ve been home for a little over six weeks now as a SAHD (Stay At Home Dad) or as I like to call it… STUD (Still Temporarily Unemployed Dad).  As difficult as it has been not working and feeling as though I’m not able to provide for my family as well as I would like, I have been doing my best to cherish the moments I have had with Lauren and the boys.  I’ve certainly learned quite a bit more about the boys’ personalities and what will calm them down if they are upset.  It is very cool to feel so close to them and to be able to assist Lauren in raising our children.

There are many lessons I’ve learned over the past weeks, but none greater than that twin walkers are a LOT of work.  These boys are everywhere… they are fantastic investigators.  Whether it is letting us know when a door is slightly ajar or helping us find a missing bobby pin under the couch, we have to have our eyes on them constantly.  I am so thankful that Lauren is such a great mom and is so good at taking care of them because I’m not so sure that I would be able to do this on my own for any extended period of time.  We have been trying to give each other some free time during the day since both of us are home.  It’s a little like tag-team wrestling… someone’s getting worn out, stumble to the ropes and tag in your partner who can get some fresh legs into the ring to wrangle the boys.  Somehow Lauren is able to take care of them and come home looking immaculate (as always) whereas when I’m in charge solo, I’m lucky to return with all of our clothes and body parts intact.

I’ve learned to appreciate all the work that goes into bringing up these boys and how tiring some days can be.  Don’t get me wrong… I’ve had an absolute blast with them and enjoyed the perks of being home.  However, it is a lot of work handling twins.  Case in point: Last week I took the boys to Wal-mart by myself so that Lauren would have some time to herself and be able to recharge her batteries.  When I pulled into the parking lot, I had to think about how I was going to get them inside at the same time, so I drove around until I found a shopping cart stall with the side-by-side seats for both of the boys.  I was quite fortunate that I found one and was able to start my journey.  No sooner than I get inside the doorways than I’m swarmed by two octogenarian Wal-mart greeters who just “love your boys… aren’t they the cutest things ever??”  Yes ma’am… we like them a lot too, can I just get my bread and milk and get out of here before Lane bites Cullen, vice-versa or someone dirties a diaper?  I manage to just start moving the cart forward, trying to give the ladies a hint, and finally break away.  We get moving and get just about done with our trip without another hiccup when I’m passing the snack aisle and a man (walking with a serious purpose) who stops dead in his tracks, looks me straight in the eye and says “Are those twins you have there?”  Caught slightly off-guard, I answer in the affirmative and he simply says “It will get better son, I promise.  My twins are now 30 yrs old… there is light at the end of the tunnel”.  With that, he takes off like Usain Bolt and vanishes towards the beer/wine section (can you blame him?).  It appears there is a fraternity that we’ve been accepted into… and anytime we are around other parents of twins, they feel the need to console us and let us know that we will survive.  Well, I daily thank God for my lovely wife because I feel as though we are more than surviving… we’re having a lot of fun and the boys seem to be thriving!

Lauren was away on a mother-daughter girls’ weekend with her mom and several friends, so it was a man weekend here at home.  The boys got their first taste of bratwursts (LOVED it) and watched a lot of football, although every single team that any guy here rooted for this weekend lost… it was pretty remarkable.  We made it through the weekend without any major injuries and mom and grandma had a nice, relaxing weekend away.  The boys and daddy are extremely glad that mom’s back home and tomorrow’s agenda certainly includes a nap for yours truly.

Thanks to all for your prayers for us and especially for my job situation.  I have had a couple of great leads including a possible position at ESPN here in Charlotte and another working for my old boss who I’ve loved working for in the past.  I’m confident that God has something great in store for me and our family and we’re just waiting on His timing for the right opportunity.

-J

1 year old – not a typo

I’m still in shock.  I cannot believe that my little boys are a year old.  It’s been the most exciting, challenging and and eventful year of our lives.  I still tear up thinking about the moment that I first met these guys…  I remember the nights in the hospital hoping and praying that they would hold off being born until steroids could build their lungs and help them develop.  I remember waking up early on Sunday morning and Lauren telling me that something wasn’t right.. getting encouragement that she and the boys would be ok and that we would just be stuck at the hospital for the remainder of the day… and then returning with some movies to pass the time only to find out that we had to do an emergency c-section.  These images are burned into my memory and will never leave.  They are the last few moments before we became a true family.  I remember seeing just how tiny the boys were and I can still hear the cheers when Cullen weighed in over 4lbs… I remember holding Lane in the OR and feeling the pride that can only come from fatherhood.

Boys, I’ll never forget the first time seeing you both in the NICU… with wires everywhere, your little chests heaving in and out struggling to breathe on your own, wondering what was happening and wishing for all the world that I could trade places with you both… that I could give you my strength and take your weakness.   Your mommy and I cried a lot, prayed even more and worried far too much about you.  Those 38 days in the NICU made us a stronger team… our marriage was fortified by the struggles we saw you having… and we were more and more prepared for a life of loving you and raising you.  I’ll never forget the night we “roomed in” with you both and the day we brought you home… FINALLY our family was home, safe and sound.  There were many sleep-deprived nights and learning moments for me, adjusting to being a dad and trying to feed both of you at once.  There were lots of doctor’s appointments for you both and schedules to figure out, yet throughout all the chaos, our love for you continued to grow.

Before we knew it, you were rolling over… Lane first with Cole (and his huge noggin) lagging a bit behind.  Then Cullen decided to start army crawling around and Lane was left in his proverbial dust for a little while… but he caught up rather quickly.  Then you started pulling up and “driving” your push toys around… where was the time going?  What could I do to slow it down?  How could you be getting so big so fast?  In the blink of an eye, Cullen starting leaping from standing and decided to take his first steps… Lane’s still a bit cautious, but certainly has the balance to do so any moment now.  Where has the time gone?  What has happened to this first year???

There are so many things I still want you to know… life lessons that still need to be learned.  Not that it’s too late, I realize this… but if your second and subsequent years go by with the same quickness as the first… I don’t know how I’ll let you know all that you’ll need for life.

First and foremost, your mommy and I love you more than you’ll ever know.  We love you more than life itself and want you to have the best life we can possibly give you.  However, no matter how much we love you and care for you, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ loves you immeasurably more.  His sacrifice and love has given us a model by which we will try to live our lives and teach you how to live.  BUT, we will fail.  You see, we aren’t perfect… which means that mommy and daddy will have disagreements, we will be short-tempered from time to time, we will let you down… but God never will.  This is the most important lesson you can ever learn and I promise that we will do our very best to always let you know this.

Second, your mommy is an amazing woman.  You’ll do very well in life to find someone half as great as her.  She is the epitome of “Wonder Woman.”  She is a jack-of-all trades and masters them all.  She’s a gourmet cook for you, an expert diaper changer, takes you to all kinds of fun places, plays with you and makes you laugh like no one else can, and is an inspiration to other moms who don’t know how she can do what she does.  Remember this always.

Third, you have wonderful families and friends.  This was well-evidenced yesterday at your birthday party.  You have SO many friends already.   You have grandparents willing to travel any distance to see you, willing to scour craigslist to find you great toys, willing to watch you so mommy and daddy can have date nights and all-around think you’re the best stuff on the planet.  You have unbelievably loving aunts and uncles… related and otherwise.  They spoil you like crazy and have such a blast with you.  Your mommy and I are thankful for them and probably don’t give them enough credit.

There are many other things you’ll need to know (the importance of rooting for all Cleveland sports teams regardless of win-loss ratio, Ohio State football, camping, golfing, the art of the cornhole toss, perfect pitching form and the list goes on and on), but we’ll have plenty of time to work through those.  At one, more than anything you just need to know how much you’re loved and how grateful we are to God for you.  These last couple weeks your mommy has been more emotional and has had a hard time accepting you turning one.  Dad has tried to remain strong and just celebrate your life… but with tears streaming down my face, maybe it’s time to admit that your daddy is just a little emotional about this as well…

Happy Birthday Cullen and Lane!

-J