Monday, November 30, 2009

Go VIKES!!

Ever since Ella was a newborn she has loved wearing hats.
The ONLY hat Ella does not like to wear
is her purple Vikings Helga hat.
She actually gets sad when we ask her to put it on.
We're just hoping she's not secretly a Packer's fan.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Two Years Ago

I just came across these pics
from when Ella and Zoe were 1 1/2 years old.

*Little Miss Ella*

*Little Miss Zoe*

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving!!


We have so much to be Thankful For . . .
Fantastic Family, Fun Friends and two Gorgeous Girls that keep Smiles on our Faces and Joy in our Hearts -- even when it's a challenging day.

Thanksgiving 2008


Santa visited my parent's house last year too,
and these are some of my favorite pics from that day.


Wondering Who is at the Door . . .

. . . it's Santa!!

Listening to Santa tell a Story.

Watching Santa Leave.
Love this photo so much : )

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Officer Friendly


When we were at my parent's house last Saturday a police officer driving by stopped so the kids could check out his squad car.

I am a little concerned with how quickly Ella hopped into the back seat and how comfortable she was sitting back there.
At least Zoe didn't think it was too great.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

An Early Thanksgiving


Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving with my side of the family.
Santa visited and was a hit.

Ella and Zoe were surprised and excited
when they saw who was at the door : )

Santa read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' . . .

. . . and spent time with each Grandkid.

Ella told Santa she helps set the table (which she does sometimes) and that she wants a little doll for Christmas. I had no idea.


Zoe told Santa that she cleans up her toys (which she also does sometimes) and that she would like a few Little People and some cars. Again, I had no idea.


Santa gave each child a gift of two books
and let the little ones jingle the jingle bells
as we all sang 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas'.

The other big hit?
Grama and Grampa got a new PUPPY!!
She's a 10 week old, 18 pound Ivory Lab.
Her name is Annie and she's a perfect fit for our family : )

It was a great day -- always nice to spend time with family
and the food was FANTASTIC. We have a lot to be thankful for.

We even got a family photo
where all four of us were looking at the camera . . .

. . . which was pretty good considering some of the other pictures
looked more like this : )

Friday, November 20, 2009

Look What Ella and Zoe Got . . .


Funky new fashion boots!!


Fellow April 19th 2006 Birthday Girl Maddie (preschool pal)
has a pair that I've been admiring since September --
and they finally went on sale!!

Ella loves her pair so much
she would take her bath and sleep with them if I let her.
Zoe likes hers too,
but she's still quick to change into her ballet slippers
when we're hanging out at home : )

I wish they came in my size.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Uniting in the Fight for Preemies



Today is a special day -- It's Prematurity Awareness Day.

Ella and Zoe were preemies.
They were born a little over 10 weeks early and spent
47 and 57 days in the NICU.
They had many issues to overcome, though not nearly as many as they probably should have had. They were fighters from the get-go, like all preemies are. They had to work hard to be able to do things a full-term baby is easily able to do on it's own. They needed a lot of help and were given that help by the most amazing NICU nurses and doctors. They are alive today due to medical advances which were brought about by the research funded by the March of Dimes.

They are now 7 1/2 year olds and you would never be able to tell they were premature, by either looking at them or talking with them. I think Ella and Zoe have quite the story to share, and this week I am joining in with hundreds of other parents and bloggers in the Fight for Preemies to help raise awareness and fight... because babies shouldn't have to.

Ella and Zoe's story started many years ago when Tom and I first began our journey of trying to become parents.

During our 'trying to have a baby' stage (a stage that lasted many years) we spent a lot of time at doctor's offices, we had lots of appointments and procedures, we had lots of disappointments. We also learned how to keep trying after many negative pregnancy tests, and we also learned how to move forward after painful losses.

Then we found out I was pregnant again.
.We got the positive and started celebrating. Cautiously.

I started bleeding at 6 weeks (at 11pm) and we spent that long night together and braced ourselves for more bad news. We were beside ourselves when we saw not one, but TWO hearts beating strongly on the ultrasound screen. We were going to have TWINS!!

Then at almost 12 weeks there was more bleeding, and that's when we found out Baby A's placenta (Ella's) was starting to detach.

That was the beginning of my 8 weeks of bedrest.

At 24 weeks preterm labor started and so did my time in the hospital.

A little over 10 weeks early, due to a really bad case of preeclampsia that turned into the beginning stages of HELLP syndrome -- (I gained 19 pounds over the weekend), my doctor decided it was time for us to meet the babies. We were super excited but very nervous that it was too early. On Wednesday, April 19th (29 weeks 6 days) at 6:49 pm, Ella Marie was born. We named her after Tom’s mom, Della Marie, and her name means ‘Light’. She weighed 2 pounds 14 ounces and was 16 inches long. She was perfect. At 6:51 pm, Zoë Dianne was born. We named her after my mom, Dianne, and her name means ‘Life’. She weighed 3 pounds 5 ounces and was also 16 inches long. She was also perfect.

Ella

Zoe

Even though we were nervous, the c-section went really well and was so amazing. Ella, the tiny peanut that she was, came out crying pretty strongly for such a little thing. Zoë had swallowed more amniotic fluid so her first cries sounded more like a kitten rather than a baby, but to Tom and me hearing both girls make noises (their lungs were working!) was the best sound we’ll probably ever hear in our lifetime. After the initial assessment by their own team of neonatal doctors and nurses both girls appeared to be overall very healthy and only required room air oxygen to help with their breathing. Hearing that news was such a relief! (Most preemie problems are respiratory related.) Even though they were only almost 30 week gestational babies they were doing so well! Before they were taken out of the operating room the nurses brought Ella over to me first and then Zoë. Ella had been crying since her grand entrance but stopped when I started talking to her, my heart melted. Because Zoë had swallowed more amniotic fluid her team was in more of a hurry to get her to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), so instead of talking to her I gave her a little kiss on her forehead. It was probably a reflex, but that little sweetie leaned forward and kissed my nose! My heart melted again.

During the first few days of Ella and Zoe’s lives they each had a lot of different things done to them: Including IVs (which they did not like, and often pulled right out), feeding tubes, and being attached to monitors for pulse, oxygen content, respiratory and blood pressure. Both had brain ultrasounds done a couple of times, and we were relieved to hear they each had “normal brains” (meaning no bleeding or swelling). The girls did need to pass a few tests before they could come home. They needed to: Breathe on their own and Ella needed to stop having her apnea spells, they needed to regulate their own body temperatures and they needed to learn how to suck, swallow and breath, all at the same time.

On the fifth day of Ella and Zoe's life I was finally well enough to go to the NICU. It was the first time I remember holding Ella
and the first time I actually held Zoe.
My sister was with me and she also had a chance to hold Ella . . .
. . . . and Zoe, too.

And so began our life at our Home Away from Home -- the NICU.

Zoe and Ella ~ 2 1/2 weeks old
First time together since their birth.

Zoe with her eyes open.

Ella with her eyes open.

Zoe and Ella ~ One Month Old

Wearing their fairy outfits made to fit a teddy bear.

Ella ~ 6 Weeks Old

Zoe ~ 6 Weeks Old

Ella

Zoe

It was a ‘one step forward two steps backwards’ type of dance those first few weeks but we were lucky, Ella and Zoe did really well, especially considering all of the ‘what could have beens’. And we had THE BEST PRIMARY NURSES ever!!
We will always be grateful for the care that Molly,
Cori,
Denise,
and Becca gave our daughters.
Leaving them each night would have been much more difficult it weren’t for those four nurses, as well as all of the other amazing staff that helped take care of our girls.

After 47 days we brought Zoe home!!
Zoe's first car ride : )
It was somewhat bittersweet though as Ella needed to stay in the hospital a bit longer, but the only way we were able to leave Ella was because Nurse Molly was there to hold her for us. Again,
we’ll always be so grateful.


Ella recovering from her infection.
She was a pretty sick little girl for over a week.


So for 10 days we learned how to parent a single baby at home while also spending time in the NICU helping Ella recuperate from her infection. On day 57 we brought Ella home and FINALLY, all four of us were under one roof!! We were ready to start the next exciting chapter in our lives . . . A life that included a heart monitor for Ella, a pump, bottles, feed schedule every 3 hours (because both girls couldn't swallow very well and needed their milk thickened) that took 45 minutes to accomplish if everything went well . . . and lot of playing, smiles, cuddles and love. It took some time to get into a routine, and we didn't get a lot of sleep those first few months, but eventually our days were more often less chaotic than chaotic : )

Zoe and Ella ~ 4 1/2 months old.



Ella and Zoe are now 7 1/2, in 2nd grade and are THRIVING.




We are still in touch with our Wonderful Primary Nurses
and have so much to be thankful for.

Thank you, March of Dimes.



Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy Me

Guess what I got?
My FIRST blog awardS ever!!! That's right, plural -- I got TWO of them!!

Thank you Annie of Santiago Twin Girls, sooooo much,
for the 'Our Lovely Blog' award

and for the 'Gorgeous Blogger' award!

You are such a sweet friend to think of me. Wow!! This sure has put a little jump in my step this morning : )

The rules for accepting the 'Gorgeous Blogger' award are to share six things you don't know about me, and to pass the award on to six other Gorgeous Bloggers.

Six Things You Don’t Know About Me:

1. I can not stand onions. The sight, the smell, the taste, the texture . . . but I'm trying not to make them into too big of a deal (I'm actually starting to eat them if they're cut in tiny pieces and mixed in with other food). I'm really trying to be a good role model, I don't want Ella and Zoe to grow up not liking a food that's in most everything made.

2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE a Good Sandwich, that someone else has made. Minus the onions, of course. I think a well-made sandwich quite possibly could be the perfect food.

3. Tom and I traveled a lot before we became parents. We've been to many of the states here in the United States, a few places in Canada, all over Mexico, a couple of the beautiful countries in Central America, a handful of the gorgeous Caribbean Islands, Puerto Rico (love it there --Annie!!) as well as England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Sicily, Egypt and Northern Africa. When Ella and Zoe are older we plan on traveling with them too, and hope to show them at least Egypt, Italy/Sicily, Mexico and as many of the beautiful islands that we can.

4. Some day I will also go on a cruise around the Greek Islands and visit Ireland. Someday.

5. I really enjoy cooking and trying new recipes, but I'm not very good at it. Domestic stuff does not come naturally to me -- but I am good at never giving up and trying to keep a positive attitude : )

6. I love watching scary movies (the scarier the better) even though they'll keep me awake at night and can give me scary dreams.


And now to award 6 (actually 7) other Gorgeous Bloggers....

*Heather from
3 under 3
*Missy from
Two Little Monkeys
*Annie from
Annie of Santiago Twin Girls
*Jane from
Love is a Place
*JD from just one more mile...
*Jennifer from The Amazing Trips
and *Taylor's Mom from The Adventures of Taylor Tot


Check out their awesome blogs when you get a chance~ and can anyone tell me how to add links directly to other blogs? I cut and pasted to do these, there has to be an easier way, right?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Yy is for Yellow Yogurt ~ and Other Non-Y Stuff


While we were home bound with the sickies for 11 days we watched
A LOT of tv, but I tried to also keep the girls busy with
different low-key kinds of activities.

I was hoping to finish our Alphabet Bakery Book but we only got to the letter Yy. I wasn't very clever either, we added yellow food color to vanilla yogurt (whoo-hoo), but the girls thought it was great, so it was great! And using food color had a lasting impression; later in the week when I put hair color in my hair Ella told me she thought I should use red food color next time : )

Ella with her Yellow Yogurt . . .
(and yes, bows do make a girl feel better when she's sick)

. . . and Zoe in response to me putting red food color in my hair
(while eating her Yellow Yogurt).


And even though we didn't make it to dance class the girls still wore their ballerina gear, and they also did a lot of building
with the wooden blocks.

Zoe was really into making roads with tunnels.
And Ella loved building whole cities and castles.

They had their moments of feeling more pep, but those would only last for about 15 minutes (tops) and then they would start to get tired
and want to rest on the sofa.

Here's Ella with her 'I'm getting tired' look.

And this is what Zoe thought about being sick for so many days.

My Girls -- I love them both.