Sunday, January 24, 2010

I thought we were past this stage?!

My newest project!

What has happened to my great sleepers? My precious boys who slept from 8pm to 8am like clockwork? Where did they go? I am ready for them to come back!! Granted...our family has been through A LOT during the past 3 months and I know it has taken it's toll on the boys - especially my poor Ayden Baby!
Our sleep woes started after about 2 weeks of sleeping in pack n plays at my parents. By this point the boys had not seen their daddy in a month and had been in a different house, in a different bed and in the same room as mommy for 2 weeks. These were all shocking changes for them and, honestly, they adjusted surprisingly well to it all. Ayden started by just sleeping restlessly during the 11o'clock hour. This restlessness turned into waking up and easily being comforted and put back in bed after another week or two. He was always very easy to put back to bed. I simply picked him up and held him for a minute or two and put him back in bed. Every once in while he would cry within a few minutes of putting him down and I would simply do the same thing again. During this time Ashton rarely woke up - maybe once every 2-3 nights. Sometimes when he saw me with Ayden he would want to be picked up as well and I would just sit at the foot of the bed holding them both for a few minutes. Other times he looked at us and laid back down, or just sat in his crib and watched. By the time we left Grove Ayden was waking 2-3 times each night. Once this phase started Ayden only slept through the night a couple times while we were in Grove.

After arriving in St. Louis Ayden was not so easy to get back to sleep. We were hoping the opposite would occur since we were all reunited again! But, now he had yet another new room and mommy was not in the bed next to him. When Ayden woke now, he was upset and did not want to stay in his room. He would point to the door and mumble something we quickly understood to mean "Get me outta' here now!" He had only done this once or twice before now. I would walk around the living room with him or sit with him on the chair and then put him back down. For awhile I had to go back in every single time within 5 minutes of laying him down because he would start crying again. He was also waking up 2-3 times each night. The times were random for the most part. If there was anything close to a "pattern" I would say that his times for waking were around 11pm, 1:30am and 4am. We even had a few days of waking around 6am, one of which both boys woke up and stayed up! (Remember - these boys haven't woken before 7:30 in a long time, and it's usually 8!) Ashton continued to only wake up randomly, but it was really hard when they were both awake and wanting to be held at 4am! A couple weeks ago we had a phase where both boys would be awake for 1-2 hours at a time. Luckily (for me), this was usually before Jeff went to bed so I had some help! We would go in and out of their room calming them and leaving and repeating - it was draining! One night we actually let them play for 45 minutes or so before putting them back to bed! Somewhere along the way (I am so sleep deprived that I can't remember exactly when) Ayden picked up the sign for "mommy's milk" and would often give this sign in the middle of the night, as well as the sign for more. We have not night nursed in a lllooooonnnnnnngggggg time, so I really tried to discourage this so as not to start another habit. I did give in to him a few times, but it was obvious that this was not what he wanted and he did not go back to sleep.

During this time we have tried several different ideas to help Ayden sleep better - obviously nothing has helped! When my mom suggested a lavender scent in their room I thought "I am willing to try ANYTHING at this point!" I forgot that weekend when I went to the store but she reminded me later and I picked it up later in the week - Thursday Jan. 14th to be exact! It was a day I remember fondly because it was the first time in several weeks that Ayden actually slept through the night! Was it the lavender?! I don't know, but he did it again the very next night! So, I can tell you that I have NOT taken that plug-in out of their room and I don't intend to for awhile! Since then things have gone up and down a little, but overall Ayden has been sleeping MUCH better! The third night Ayden woke up once and one other night he woke up and was awake in our bed from 11:30 until 4am! Jeff and I dozed on and off, but I really don't know if Ayden slept the entire time. At 4am I couldn't take it anymore and took him upstairs and put him in his bed - not a peep was heard from him until 9:45am when Ashton woke him up throwing a stuffed animal in his bed! Also, during this week Nana bought the boys foam mattress toppers to put in their pack n plays in an effort to make them more comfortable - since that was one of our guesses for why Ayden was not sleeping well. We do think that this has made a difference and that they are more comfortable. Also, for comforts sake, I made the boys their very first pillows to sleep with. They are sort of a travel size and are made of a silky soft yellow velour on one side and a silky baby blue satin on the other. They both seem to enjoy their new pillows. On the downside this week - you knew this wasn't totally over, right?! Adyen has slept through the night more nights than not this week, but now the issue is actually GETTING to sleep! This, again, has not been an issue for sooooo long! The boys nurse before going to bed and Ayden is now trying to avoid bedtime so he thinks that if he doesn't unlatch he doesn't have to go to bed! If I force it he gets really upset and screams when we put him down - not because he wasn't done, just because he doesn't want to go to bed. This was really bad for two nights in a row. Normally they go to bed between 8 and 8:15. The first of these nights Ayden didn't go to sleep until around 10 and the second night was closer to 11. The nights following have all been different, sometimes we never have to go back in and other times we have to go in 5 times in the first 30 minutes to an hour. Regardless, this is progress!
So, due to this lack of sleep during the nighttime hours, the boys have begun sleeping in until around 9am- yes, that means, mama is sleeping until then too! ;) Also, nap time was 1-3pm before our sleep saga! Now, nap usually lasts until 4pm - No, mama doesn't get a nap! :(

Our strategy right now is to go in and calm Ayden down without getting him out of his crib. Ayden does better with Jeff with this new plan, so he has been doing a lot of the work this week! Ayden is getting very easy to reason with and that help's Daddy's patience too! He does sometimes get him out, but we do try to avoid it. We are hoping they do start sleeping well soon so that we can attempt to make our first "night away date". Jeff got me everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) for a great night out on the town for my 30th birthday last week. He has had this planned for while and didn't anticipate the sleep situation we currently have. So, we are planning a great date for (insert date the boys start sleeping through the night)!

We know that this all must be incredibly hard on our poor boys and we are very sympathetic to that! We know that this may very well continue until they are sleeping in their own cribs and we are settled into a new home - whenever that may be! We are making plans to go back home to pick up their cribs and set them up here in hopes that they will sleep better in their own cribs. Until then, we will take all the prayers, sleepy vibes, and sweet dreams that you have to offer!

This was when I first gave them their pillows!

ETA:Of course, as I am finishing the final sentences of this blog Ayden woke up screaming! Jeff is up comforting him now! One day we will have time to work, sleep, blog, sew, read........

Monday, January 11, 2010

St. Louis Childrens visit!

Ashton, getting into everything!

Ayden, so relaxed and compliant!

Yesterday was a GREAT day! One that Jeff and I have been looking forward to for a long time! We finally were able to see a Pediatric Ophthalmologist who does a lot of studies on nystagmus, the side of effect of the ocular albinism that Ashton and Ayden both have. Dr. Tychsen (pronounced Tyson), as well as St. Louis Children's Hospital, has come HIGHLY recommended by everyone we talk to. We were referred to him by the leading N doctor in the country right now, Dr. Hertle. We are so thankful we found him and, that through a series of events, we have landed in the same city as Dr. Tychsen, AND we are covered under a great insurance plan that he accepts!
We ventured out to an area near downtown St. Louis yesterday morning with me driving the boys behind Jeff in his car - he had to go to work after the appointment. It was a fairly short drive, and I found several places along the way that I will have to check out soon! We arrived at the hospital with 20 minutes to spare! (That is very exciting and rare for this family!) We found the office very easily and were greeted by a wonderful staff and a full, but very kid friendly, waiting room. The staff were great and the people flowed in and out very smoothly - like a well oiled machine!

When it was our turn we were taken to a room where a doctor quickly arrived. I was surprised to see that a doctor (an optometrist) was the one to do the preliminary tests. He was very patient and spent a lot of time with each boy. Ayden was very quiet and cuddly while we were there. He was also very compliant and smiley for the doctor. Ashton was a little more antsy and just wanted to check it all out. If the doctor turned around to write something down he took that as a sign that he was finished and would try to get off my lap. When the doctor was finished he told us that we would go in another room to get the boys' eyes dilated for Dr. Tychsen. As soon as we walked in the new room we spotted guessed it! Yet another bed to lay down on! Both boys got up there okay and even laid down pretty good (of course, there was a pretty young girl making faces at them over their heads!) Ayden did fine while the dr. looked in his eyes with the light, but when it came time for the drops he started to let that dr. know how he felt about him! Luckily it was just a drop in each eye and it was over. He was fine as soon as he sat up. Ashton seems to be more light sensitive and did NOT like the combination of laying down AND having a bright light in his eye! We had to hold him down while the dr. looked in his eye and put the drops in. Ashton was also fine as soon as we got him off the table/bed. They told us we could walk around or get a drink/snack for about 30 minutes while their eyes dilated.

We walked around the hospital and found some neat things to look at. We also gave the boys a snack before heading back to the office. When we were called back we again saw not an ordinary assistant, but another doctor! He looked at the boys' eyes with bright lights and different lenses. I don't know everything he was looking for, but he was looking to see if they were far or near sighted. Ayden again did excellent for the doctor - we couldn't believe how he just sat there! Ashton, on the other hand, wanted NOTHING to do with this activity! Every dr. tired to use a tv behind their heads as a distraction. Since we don't do tv with the boys, they could care less about that and it was a huge flop! Ashton HATES bright lights and he HATES to be restrained...we had both! It was terrible for me, as a mother, to put him through this! He was sitting on my lap and I had to hold down his hands. The doctor called for an assistant to hold open Ashton's eyes. We did this while Ashton screamed and the doctor flashed a bright light in his eyes! I hated that we had to do this, but at the same time I was glad that they were doing what was necessary to gather all the information they needed to best help us. This doctor then took us into yet another room to finally see Dr. Tychsen! We didn't have to wait long before a man with a bright light around him walked through the door! (Okay, so maybe we were the only one's who could see the light - but, what can I say...we were really anxious to meet him!) Ashton, again, was not real cooperative, but Ayden did great. In order is better look at Ashton's eyes we again went to the room with the bed. Dr. T called for the assistant again and she held his head while I held his arms down and the dr. was able to look at his eyes.

SO, for the exciting news! Our thoughts were confirmed about the null point/head turns that the boys have. Our last PO did not see this, even when I specifically asked him about it. We were told that the boys still do not need glasses! They are a little bit more farsighted than what is normal for their age, but it is not enough to need correction. He did tell us that about 50% off all kids with ocular albinism do end up with glasses. We are scheduled for some very advanced testing the end of February. One of the tests is an eye movement recording. There are very few PO who do this testing, so we are very fortunate to have one locally who has this technology. This testing will tell us more about the extent of their N and how it can be improved. Yup, that's right, I did say that they can improve it! Dr. T will be performing surgery on the boys' eyes sometime before they begin Pre-K. This surgery will move their null points to the center of their eyes so that they will not have a head tilt and will see the best out of the center of their eyes. Currently Ayden can see best out of the top of his eyes. This means when he wants to really see/focus on something he puts his chin to his chest and looks out the top of his eyes. Think of a granny looking over the top of her bifocals! :) Dr. T is more worried about Ayden's head turn because of the potential growth problems it could cause. Ashton can see best out the right side of his eyes so he turns his head to the left and his eyes go to the far right. After the surgery their null points will be moved to the center of their eyes, therefore they will not have to move their heads. Also, the surgery will dampen, or lessen, their N. This is what makes their eyes move side to side, or "jiggle". The surgery was not something that our previous PO was very willing to do. After discussing my research with him he said he would be willing to do it if that is what I wanted. It was obvious that he did not believe it would make a difference. He also did not have the technology to do the surgery with the accuracy that Dr. T can.
We feel so blessed to have found such a great hospital, team and Pediatric Ophthalmologist! We are so optimistic about the future of our precious baby boys and our new relationship with Dr. Tychsen! We will be updating when we find something out from the tests in February!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

So long mullet babies!

Yup! That's right! Today was the BIG day...we finally took the boys for their first haircut! It case you were wondering, they will be 21 months old on January 22nd. It was a sad, yet exciting day! Sad because their baby hair is one of the only "baby" things left about them that I could still hold on to! Exciting because they are growing up so quickly and they were converted into little cover models in less than an hour!

Friday I called and made 2 appointments for 11:30am at The Hairy Elephant in Ballwin. This morning the boys slept in until 9am so we had to get around quickly to get us there in time (yes, it takes us that long!). We were hoping to have some extra time before the appointment to drive around the area since this is one of the areas on our "short list" for buying a house. But, we did not get around in time so the only looking we did was the road we took to get there!

Upon arriving at The Hairy Elephant we checked in and were greeted by our stylists. They showed us a cabinet of flavored/scented shampoos and told the boys to pick one. They had everything from strawberry to peanut butter cup! We helped the boys and went with a basic grape. From there we were escorted to the elephant wash stations. The boys love to have their hair washed so I didn't anticipate a problem with this step. Unfortunately, I did not know that they used a platform where the children laid down in front of the sink instead of the traditional chair. As soon as I saw it I knew it was trouble - it looked like a doctor's office table, without the white paper! The boys knew it was trouble too and screamed as soon as we tried to lay them down. We each held one while the stylists attempted to give them a grape wash. As soon as we sat them up they were fine though - it was as if nothing had ever happened!

After the elephant sink, children were allowed to pick out both a movie to watch and the chair/car they wanted to sit in. Since we don't do tv the stylists popped something in just in case (Neither of them watched it even though it was right in front of them). And, since we wanted them side by side there were not a lot of vehicle choices. Ashton got a race car and Ayden got a golf cart. They both had steering wheels and some buttons to push. They were both draped with a cape and the stylist's went to work.

Ashton wasn't too sure right off, but as long as I stood right there with him he was fine. As the stylist went along he relaxed and started to play with the steering wheel and the buttons. The stylist asked me if he wore his hair to the side. I told her that it usually just went straight forward. She started cutting it like that. A few minutes later I noticed that it was to the side a little. I told her that if it wanted to go that way that she could cut it like that. As she was finishing she put some gel in his hair and blow dried it to the side. He didn't care much for the clippers on his neck or the blow dryer. But, when she finished he did look very handsome! I am not sure if the "to the side look" is for him though. A few hours later it was already going forward again anyway! He has a little widow's peak so I think it will be staying forward from now on - we'll see...
Ayden did okay when we sat him down. He did raise his hands to us and say "Up, up!" many, many times throughout the process though! Ayden looked around a lot and did play with this steering wheel and, of course, the buttons. Ayden had such cute little curls around his ears that it was hard to see them go! He has a light swirl on his front hairline which makes his hair go to the side. The stylist confirmed with me that was how we styled it and she started cutting. Ayden wasn't real hip on the clippers either but, the stylist let him touch them and turn them on for her and that helped a little I think. After cutting the back of his hair, we realized it stuck straight out about the bottom of his neck line. She tried to cut it up a little so it would lay down better. I think it just needs to be trained to lay down and then maybe next time we won't get it cut so short in the back. Ayden's stylist did not put any product in his hair or use the blow dryer (probably a good thing!). He was really transformed when she finished with him - such a big boy!
Once the haircuts were complete the boys played in the waiting area which had a train table, some wall toys and soft seats. Daddy paid while I was given a very cute certificate for each boy, complete with a 5x7 "after" picture and a lock of hair in a little baggie both attached to the certificate. We left with children we hardly recognized as our own, but we were proud parents none the less!

Ayden - Before

Ashton - Before

Ashton did great up until the blow drying!

Ayden was all smiles!

Ashton - After

Ayden - After

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Holidays, Homes and a 'Hole Lotta' Changes!

Things have been so crazy with us lately I have been finding it difficult to find time (or a free computer) to update our blog or upload pictures! SOOO...this might be a bit of a lengthy update - get comfortable!


I drove with the boys from Grove to St. Louis the weekend before Christmas to spend some time with Daddy and celebrate Christmas with the Kitsmiller family. We had a great time with our family, the boys got lots of new toys and clothes and we started to get settled into our new temporary "home" (more on this a little later!). The boys had a great time playing with their cousin, Chase, this year. They also loved their new rocking horse and lego table, just to name a few gifts! We stayed for a long weekend before heading back to Grove to spend the week back at my parents finishing up packing, wrapping gifts, etc. before celebrating Christmas with my side of the family.
Jeff changed his plans at the last minute and drove down from St. Louis on Wednesday evening after work in an effort to beat the blizzard the weathermen were predicting for the next day, Christmas Eve. Sure enough, by noon Wednesday parts of OK were covered in a blanket of snow. The snow didn't make it to Grove until about 8pm though. Of course, since this is OK no snow storm would be complete without freezing rain falling before the snow! This makes for a hard cleanup and very unsafe driving conditions. Because of this my sister, Vicke was not able to make it on Friday like she had planned. So, Christmas morning we all woke up to 6-12 in of snow on the ground, with drifts a lot higher than that! It was beautiful - from the warmth of the inside looking through the dining room glass doors anyway! The boys gazed upon this wondrous site with excitement when they woke up Christmas morning. It is very rare for a white Christmas in OK so I was glad that our last Christmas there was a memorable one! No one came over and we didn't leave the house because of the cold and terrible road conditions. The next day my grandma, my sister Kim and her family and my sister Vicke all made the drive to my parents' house and we had a great day opening gifts, eating and playing Phase 10! Originally the plan Sunday was for both Jeff and I to head back to St. Louis with our cars loaded down with everything we owned that was still left at my parents' house. The roads were better, but we weren't sure how great they would be the entire way. We decided that since there was no hurry for me and the boys to get there that we would wait until Monday to leave. It worked out great and we all made it to St. Louis safe and sound!
So, the boys have now completed their 2nd Christmas. It was more exciting this year since they were able to understand a little more. I anticipate next year will be even more exciting and that they will really be into the meaning behind Christmas! I can't wait!

Chase, Ashton, Ayden and Papa

"The boys" playing with the new lego table. Christmas morning

Ayden opening his stocking

Ashton opening his stocking

Ashton playing in the snow - don't let the face fool you, he didn't care too much for it!

Ayden trying to eat the snow!

Popa with the boys the day we celebrated Christmas with my family.

Our Christmas Cuties!

Daddy and Ayden with a Cheesecake Factory Bear from the Sawyer family!

Ashton opening yet another package!

Everyone was excited about the table and chairs.

This wooden airplane rocker was a huge hit!(Unfornately, it was too big to fit in the car this trip!)

Homes -
So, as I said, we are all in St. Louis now! And, now we are all going through yet another adjustment phase! It is very hard to be without all my "stuff", to be without the boys' cribs, and just in general to be out of our "normal". I will be SOOOOO glad when we finally sell our house and move into one of our own! Jeff's parents have been more than accommodating and the boys have their own room, while Jeff and I have our own sort of efficiency apartment. We are in a portion of their basement that was sort of an office/gym area before we took over! It is nice that we have our own space and that we are not sharing a room with the boys but, unfortunately, Ayden preferred it the other way! He is not sleeping well! I usually have to trudge my half asleep self up the stairs once or twice each night to calm him down. Some nights are better than others, and we are starting to see improvement. I think it is a combination of things, but I think once he realizes that we are all here together and he is safe things will calm down. (This will probably happen just in time for us to move again!!)
Our house has not sold yet, but we are hoping for that magic phone call everyday! We are starting to casually look at different areas around St. Louis trying to narrow in on one area. We thought we had decided on an area, but we have decided to open that up a little more and see what we can find.

'Hole Lotta' Changes -

Oh, how my baby boys are growing! It is not suppose to happen this quickly! Just in the two months since we moved out of our house they have changed dramatically! This is just a quick run down, I am sure I will forget a lot!

~Both boys have added many new words and use them often. They are also started to repeat a little more.

~After over a year of signing the boys both started signing back to me on the same day! That was more than a month ago and since then they have added a couple more signs.

~Their language comprehension is incredible! I often wonder how they know what I am talking about when I ask them to do something new - but, they do! I asked Ayden to get me a Kleenex the other day. We don't usually even have much around, but I have been battling a cold. I had never asked him before, or probably even talked to him about a Kleenex, but he went right over to the box! This is just one of many examples that occur on a daily basis lately. I guess I should just get over it and quit using "they don't understand" as an excuse!

~Ayden is a Puzzle Master! The kid is AMAZING! He perfected his first puzzle the week after Thanksgiving. He did it over and over even when he could do it with his eyes closed! He got a new puzzle when we celebrated Christmas in St. Louis and he put every piece in the correct place on his first attempt. We then got out a more difficult puzzle from our "for later" stash, and he had a little bit more difficulty with that one - but not for long! He had again mastered this in less than a week! Ashton can do the easier shape puzzle and will work on the others. He knows where the pieces go, but gets easily discouraged when they don't go right in.

~My boys have become even SWEETER! They started hugging several months ago, but now they are also kissing and holding hands! It is the most precious thing to watch! They also share food with each other and feed one another!

~They have started to do some pretend play. I so wish we had the boys kitchen right now (it's still in OK)! They are pretending to talk on the phone and give me or each other food/drinks.

~Ashton is an old pro at using utensils and plates/bowls! Ayden started out doing better than Ashton but has now regressed. He will use the spoon if you help him a little, otherwise he prefers to hold the spoon with his right hand and shovel it in by the fistful with this left hand.



~They have become great little helpers! They are really getting into picking up after playtime and also getting/doing things when asked.

~They are starting to understand and enjoy playing with playdough and coloring.

~Can we say "personal space"?! Their boundaries have sure changed recently. Not only are they hugging, kissing and holding hands...but they are always sitting RIGHT next to one another (sharing a chair even), pushing/guiding each other around (nicely usually), shampooing each other's hair...the list goes on! It is so sweet to watch how close they truely are! We often wonder how they would act had they been born singleton's!?