Monday, April 26, 2010

Coming to a close

Well, the birthday celebration week is now over and the 2 year check up is complete. That means this will be the final entry into this blog book. I was going to put the boys' first year of life into a blog book. I later decided to do the first two years since I didn't start the first year until they were more than 6 months old. So, here goes the final chapter in Double the Love the First Two Years!

So, here is the scoop on all our birthday celebrations!
After our great Lego party on Saturday we kept the rest of the celebrations more low key! Thursday, April 22nd (also Earth Day) was the boys' actual birthday. I wanted to fix all their favorites for meals so I started the day with banana pancakes for my birthday boys - they LOVED them! To celebrate both their bday and Earth day, we went to Powder Valley Nature Reserve. This is a part of the MO dept. of conservation. I didn't really know what to expect, but it was really neat. Because I wasn't sure what to expect inside I opted not to take the stroller in. This, of course, made the trip more enjoyable for Ashton and Ayden, and more difficult for mama! We got to see lots of animals, both real and stuffed, as well as puppet animals and pictures of animals. We saw lots of animal habitats as well. The reserve also offers classes and many hiking trails. We didn't do any of that today, but it was still a great morning! When we got home we watered our ever growing fruit and vegetable garden. The boys love to do this daily chore and check on the progress of our sprouts. For lunch we had another favorite - leftovers from a pasta dish the night before, cottage cheese, toast, strawberries and mixed veggies (not so much a favorite, but mama insisted!) Then, off then bed for a much needed nap! While they napped I made them a special birthday treat! After nap we played with some of their new toys before I had to start dinner. Of course, another favorite, sloppy joes in a biscuit bowl! After dinner we sang "Happy Birthday" (for at least the 100th time that day!) and presented the boys with their first ever brownies! Since we don't give them sweets and junk food this was another rare treat. In fact, we realized that this was only the second time they had ever had any chocolate. The first was their 1st bday cake. They both ate it, but they didn't seem to just be crazy about them and took their time eating the 1/2 a brownie given to them. After cleaning up the chocolate mess we gave them the remainder of their bday gifts. They are so fun to watch now as they tear open each of the gifts without any help! We got them two different sets of Melissa and Doug wood play food sets to go with their kitchen. They also got a starter wood train set and 8 Dr. Seuss books. Nana also had a book set for each of the boys.

During the day we talked a lot about it being their birthday and we sang happy birthday SO many times and I also told them about their birth and what was going on during that exact same time two years beforehand. By the afternoon they were both repeating "happy birthday", by the end of the day Ayden was freely saying "Happy Day!!". It was adorable! When I was telling the boys how the dr pulled them out of my belly by their feet first, Ashton, who was sitting on my lap, put his foot up to my belly as if to reenact the scene! They just get smarter and more fun each day!

The celebration continued as my parents, Papa and Grandma, arrived in St. Louis on Friday! Saturday morning we went to the Museum of Transportation where we saw lots of old cars and trains. They had so much more, but that was all we had time for today! Papa even bought them a train to go with their new train set! After lunch and a nap the boys were excited to open even more gifts! Gigi sent a two sided chalk and magnetic board with the alphabet as well as a cube toy with a play cube. Papa and Grandma brought the boys a shape sorting wood Noah's Ark with all the animals (times two of course!) and a Band in a Box set. These were both Melissa and Doug toys, causing us to refer to this as the Melissa and Doug birthday since that is the brand of most of the gifts they received! My parents had to return home on Sunday, so we spent the day relaxing at home. We have been so busy that this was the first day we have just stayed in and relaxed in more than two weeks.

This week marks the end of the second year with the two year wellness visit. We saw our new pediatrician is St. Louis and were very comfortable with him.

Here are the stats:

Ashton: In general under the 50th percentile
Weight- 26. 4 lbs
Heights - 33.5in

Ayden: Overall between the 50th to 75th percentile
Weight - 30.4 lbs
Heights - 34in.

So, now all the birthday celebrations are complete and I have come to terms (I think) with the fact that my babies are really no longer babies! I feel like they knew that they were crossing a milestone. They have changed a lot over the past week or so and are doing so many new things. They are talking so much more and are going up and down stairs so much better than just a few weeks ago! Ashton and Ayden both have a new independent streak as well. Ayden wants no help going up and down the steps and Ashton climbs up into his highchair/booster seat all by himself and wants no assistance.

Now, it is time to say good bye to the first and second years of life for my precious babies Ashton and Ayden. But, we are welcoming in the third year with optimism and excitement!


Keeping Busy

We have been so busy during the past month or so that I have not had time to share pictures of all of our adventures! So this is a random post about all the fun stuff we have been up to!

We planted daises, sunflowers, and an herb garden. We had so much fun the next week we decided to start growing a fruit and vegetable garden.

Painting with watercolors

Matching and sorting Easter eggs

Rice and Beans


Silly Putty

Water Play

Building with daddy

Tunnel and tent play

Just being cute

We have also been enjoying the nice weather by playing in the yard and watching everything grow! We have been to several parks and have still gone to a few story times. There is so much to do in St. Louis, and we are just starting to be able to get out and enjoy it all. I can't wait to take the boys on more of the great adventures this town has waiting for us!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Delta Gamma - Run For Sight

As many of you know, Ashton and Ayden were born with two genetic visual impairments: Ocular Albinism and Nystagmus. Although these impairments make it difficult at times for them to see; they have persevered through it very well in their first two years of life!

Our young family made the move to St. Louis, Missouri as Jeff got a new job in November of 2009. We were here for less than two weeks and visited the Vision Center at St. Louis Children's Hospital. We were met with more information, amazing resources, great doctors and helping friends than we could have ever asked for. One of the best resources was a contact at the Delta Gamma Center, a center for children with visual impairments.

Although we're new to the various programs available at Delta Gamma, we have already experienced an explosive growth in the development of Ashton and Ayden. We, as parents, have been able to learn more about these visual impairments by interacting with all of the other parents that this amazing center provides for.

These services are ABSOLUTELY FREE of charge to participants like us, and the mission statement clearly defines the scope of their goals:

The Delta Gamma Center for Children with Visual Impairments is committed to helping children who are blind or visually impaired reach their full potential through individualized education and therapy services for infants (birth to three years) and their parents and through support services for children of all ages, their families and the community.

We know that we're less than 1 WEEK away from our event, but we're confident that with your help, we can give our sincere appreciation and gratitude to the Delta Gamma Center for doing all that they have done for our boys in these past few months.

Thank you in advance for your assistance!


The Kitsmillers
Jeffrey, Darla, Ashton & Ayden

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dear Birthday Boys

What a long way we have come! Before starting this birthday letter to you I decided to take a peek into our past and reread the birthday letter I wrote to you last year. It brings back so many memories, yet reminds me how much has changed in such a short year! In this year you have gone from babies who could not walk or talk, to full fledged toddlers who can not only walk, but run, and are repeating everything you hear!

This year we have watched as your personalities began to really blossom. You both still have very much the same personalities and temperaments as when you were babies, they have just continued to grow and development over this year.

Ashton - You are very much an independent child. You jump right in, you observe, you study, you do things in your own time and your own way. But, you are still very much a mama's boy! You love knowing that I am nearby and are always running to find me if you can't see me. You call out "Mama", just to check on me. You love to be held, cuddled, kissed and rocked. You stay pretty calm and quiet most of the time. When it comes to talking you let Ayden take the lead, but you are always right there behind him. You thrive on consistency and order. You always let us know if something is not where it should be or if a door is opened that should be closed. You have formed an attachment with a particular blanket that you sleep with and call "B".

Ayden - You are a very social child. You love to get attention, smile and wave at passersby, "act" shy, and most of all, get your way! You know exactly how you want things done and you make sure everyone else knows how that is! You love to laugh and giggle, especially at Ashton. You are always babbling about something. Luckily for us, the babble has recently turned into many new words and we love knowing more about what you are thinking. You have an extraordinary memory and are always surprising us with what you remember. You love to be held and carried (not so easy now that you weigh about 30lbs!) and you enjoy holding hands. You have some sort of attachment to Dr. Seuss books. We don't know how you know they are Dr. S books before they have even been read, but you do. You always have a book in your hand and 8 times out of 10 it is a Dr. S book.

These tidbits are just the tip of your traits and personalities. You charm, entertain and amaze us everyday. I feel so blessed that I have had the opportunity to be able to stay home with you these past two years and be the one to care for you, guide you and witness the amazing changes taking place in you each and every day. As I said last year, you can't fully know everything parenting entails until you experience it for yourself. You can't know the pride and joy you feel watching tiny babies grow into curious toddlers. I would have never guessed that I could love you more than I did the day you were born, but I do!

You are learning and taking in so much right now and it is an incredible thing to watch. Everything is new to me again as it look at it through the eyes of a toddler. A simple things like planting a seed and watching it grow brings wonder to your eyes, and then to mine! I watch in awe as you experiment with scooping, pouring, pulling, pushing, turning, writing, splashing, cooking, and cleaning. What you learn in a day is astonishing and exhausting! You amaze me with how quickly you pick things up and remember things. Everyday is something new and different and I love experiencing it all with you!

Yes, as you grow there are things that get harder as well. You often exert your emotions and opinions in ways that are "less desirable" and this brings a whole new twist to parenting. As much as I hate to admit it...You aren't perfect! There I said it! You are only human, just like your mother and father. You get mad, you get impatient, you get frustrated and tired. When these things happen you do cry, bang your head and stomp your feet. But, you are learning a better way and we will get past it. We are not going to use the phrase "Terrible Two's" at our house. Not because you wont' ever have a fit again, but because we aren't going to put a label on a whole year of your life. We aren't going to have those kind of expectations or excuses for behaviors. We are choosing to parent you in a way that will make you loving and caring children and we have no doubts about that!

So, "Terrific Two's" here we come! Again, I look forward with excitement thinking about all that will come in this new year of life for you. I am so proud to call myself your mommy!

Love you,

Ashton at birth

Ayden at birth

Ayden and Ashton at 1 year

Ashton at 2 years

Ayden at 2 years

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Building up some birthday fun!

What a beautiful weekend to celebrate the birth of my beautiful baby boys! I can't believe we are already celebrating the passing of two years since their (surprise) birthday! To celebrate this milestone Jeff and I selected a Lego theme for the party. Ashton and Ayden both love all kinds of Lego's and blocks so we thought it would be both fun and cute! We were right! The party was a success and we all had fun!

The party day, Saturday, started out with a "bang"! No...really! The bang of Ashton's head hitting the ground as he jumped out of his crib! (He just saw his brother also do this for the first time on Monday night!) Unfortunately, this was only the beginning of the incidents for poor "Ashton Love" today!

After getting Ashton calmed down we preceded with our normal morning routine of breakfast and getting dressed, etc. While we were getting ready in the house, Daddy and Papa got the patio and back yard ready for the party. Then we finished up getting ready and decorating the inside just as our family and friends arrived for our birthday bash!
After playing with some Lego's (of course!), the boys dug into the mountain of gifts awaiting them! They got so many great things and loved ALL of them! They got the usual clothes and jammies, but they got some great big boy toys and some outdoor toys as well! These gifts included a sand and water table, complete with toys and sand, from Nana and Papa. A picnic table from Aunt Amy, a golf set from Cousin Chase, Aunt "Juju" and Uncle Larry a bubble mower and Lego's from Karen and even more Lego's from Great Aunt Janet and Great Uncle Don. Jeff and I got them a double sided easel and all sorts of things to go with it and a wooden bead and lacing set. We will be saving their other gifts for their actual birthday.
Ayden and Aunt Amy
Yes, it's true...I actually ended up in a picture!

After so many great gifts we had to go outside and break them all in! It was a beautiful day, 68 degrees and bright, warm sunshine! The kids all had a great time playing outside. Jeff picked up some pizza and brought it back for lunch. We continued our backyard party and ate on the patio and the boys enjoyed their new picnic table. After lunch came the "masterpiece" I stayed up working on until after midnight the night before. (You wouldn't know that I made it, as opposed to the boys, to look at it! Much less that it took me nearly 4 hours!) Oh, well! It was fun and pretty cheap and tasted fabulous! I bought premade pound cakes and cut them squared into different size Lego shapes. I also baked some cupcakes and cut them round and flat to be the Lego nodes. I also attempted to make Gigi's 7 minute icing recipe. It took me two tries and more than 7 minutes each try...but I got the icing made! The pound cake soaked up most of the icing during the night and I probably should have made a double batch....again, oh, well! The boys got the idea (I think!) and it tasted great! Why I choose to make the boys cakes from the red icing colored with red food coloring I will never know! Bad idea on so many levels! In the end I don't think they ingested too much of it and I don't think we will have any stains once I get finished with the laundry! Ayden didn't want much to do with the cake. Ashton dove right for the cupcake on top and ate it, but was pretty much done after that. Since we don't give them sweets this was quite a treat, but they certainly didn't care to indulge.

After a busy and fun filled morning it was time to clean up and take a nap! After the kids got down for naps the adults continued the party on the patio. We just sat enjoying the weather and each others company! It was so nice and relaxing!

Ayden and Aunt "Juju"

Our cool Lego shirts made by mommy!

Ashton and Chase
After all the boys woke up from their nap they enjoyed a snack and more backyard activities. We sat up the sand and water table and the bubble blowing mower while they were napping. These were both a great hit with all three of the boys! We again spent the afternoon relaxing in the backyard and watching the boys play. The "men" also started up the grill and cooked turkey dogs, chicken, brawts, and burgers. We then enjoyed a great bbq on the patio!
After dinner as we were cleaning up the toys and food Ashton ran after me and fell and skinned his knee on the patio. This was not the first or even the second time he did this today, but it was the third time! And, this was by far the worst! He also hit his forehead when he landed this time. He just seemed to have a rough day! Falling out of his crib, tripping, running into was one thing after another all day!

Ashton's poor knees!

It was a great celebration for our great boys! The day could not have been more perfect! (Well, I guess maybe if my family could have been there too!) Now, time to plan the day for their actual birthday!