We Made It.

A year ago today, I was laying in a hospital bed with my arms wrapped around my belly. The contractions were coming every 10 minutes and I knew today would be the day. I was unusually calm. I had seen enough moms roll through the Antepartum Unit, and I remember that feeling of panic that would overtake the room as their babies would come too soon. I had spoken to the neonatologists – the experts, who went through with me all that it would mean for my babies to be born at this time – all that they would need to survive. No expectations were given, only odds, as these babies all have a mind of their own. A lot of unknown. But, here I was, calm. As I hugged my belly, I leaned down and told them, “if you’re ready to meet me… I’m all in.” I knew my body was no longer the place for them. They needed more, something I couldn’t give.

Fast forward to today, and here we are, a family of 6. As I write this, my babies are tucked up in their beds, having their morning naps. Completely content and asleep, they are telling me they are happy, and have everything they need. There is nothing more comforting in this world. It has been a wild ride to say the least, but as I look back, I know how blessed we have been through the whole thing.

The missing pieces of our family’s puzzle have arrived, and they’ve let us know it.

Our Henry – born at 1:35pm on this day last year, weighing only 2 lbs. 15 oz.

Henry

Our Henry – now, weighing 15 lbs. 4 oz.

Henry

Henry is a firecracker. With piercing blue eyes and 4 adorable teeth, he’s a heart-melter. Although, the last thing he feels the need to be, is a heart-melter. Our busiest baby, Henry is much too busy to snuggle up and flirt – he’d much rather flash you a toothy-smile from across the room. He’s always on a mission, places to go people to climb. Our explorer, Hailey calls him, out to conquer the world. He has been meeting his milestones all ahead of schedule, and before his brother – something we weren’t sure would happen after his PVL diagnosis (see article here: Periventricular Leukomalacia). This is still something “on the table”, to see how or if it will affect him, and he will be followed closely until about age 3. But, there’s no arguing, he’s perfect.

Our Ethan – born at 1:45 pm on this day last year, weighing 3 lbs. 7 oz.

Ethan

Our Ethan – now, weighing 14 lbs. 12 oz.

Ethan

Ethan is our soft-hearted soul. Taken along for the ride after Henry’s water broke, we maintain that Ethan would have been much happier staying inside my belly for as long as he could. “The serious one”, Ethan has heart-wrenching hazel eyes, and the same 4 teeth as his brother (although, his smiles are still “gummier” than his brothers… gotta love them gummy smiles). He is mama’s boy – and I’m so thankful for that. Our resident “ham”, he will stare at you – waiting for eye contact, and then proceed to either play peekaboo or tilt his head to the side in an attempt to “look cute”… anything he can do to get you to smile. The bulk of his first year has been spent by my side, perfectly content to be within my line of sight, with a hand on my knee or an arms length away. It’s been just recently he’s started venturing out with his brother, the two of them becoming quite the pair – if Ethan’s not with me, he’s with Henry.

My boys

Today, I’m a mom of 1 year old twin boys… a mom of 4 beautiful children. Wow. How lucky am I?

Parenting is the strangest phenomenon. To feel THIS much love for something … it’s overwhelming… and to feel THIS much love for 4 somethings – it’s unreal. I have to pinch myself everyday. Being a mom has been the biggest challenge of my life. But I can’t think of a challenge more  rewarding than this. If I’m going to sacrifice anything in this life, let it be for them, my kids. Then I know it will be worth it.

I am so thankful to have been chosen to be the mother of these two amazing boys. They have taught me so much about strength, perseverance, sacrifice and love in SUCH a short year. I am anxious and excited to see what’s in store for them next, hopeful to be along for the ride for as long as I am able.

Here’s a song that I heard on the radio the other day, and basically burst into tears as I instantly pinned it to my love for my kids… It sums up everything that I feel about them. As a mama, we choose to put our kids first, whether we realize it or not, it’s actually a choice. A choice I would make any day of the week. I’m NOT perfect and my kids will know this. But I’m here, looking to learn from my mistakes. I know I’m unprepared for what the future holds, but I’m willing to take it as it comes in the best way that I can. When my children think of me when they’re all grown up with children of their own – whether I’m around or not – I want them to think of love. Above all else, I want to leave a “lifelong love letter” to my kids.. and not just the hug/kiss, tell them I love them kind of love… the hard kind – the doing what’s best for them as much as it hurts me kind of love.

Happy birthday my smart boys!

I love you more than you or I will EVER be able to understand!

Want to read our story from the beginning? Start here: pProm with Twins

My Favourite Family Board Games – Happy Family Day Weekend

I couldn’t be more excited to have my kids home with me for the next 5 days! With Calgary’s teachers going to Convention today and tomorrow, and Family Day on Monday – we get some well-needed (and hopefully lazy) family time. We have declared it an official stay-cation (especially since Hailey has friends travelling to places like Edmonton… and Hawaii… sigh, someday…) and we are determined to do fun things we don’t get to do as often as we’d like.

This includes – board games! I am a board game fanatic. Along with children’s books I don’t know if you can ever have too many board games! I always have a board game under the tree at Christmas and even manage to throw a few into the kids Christmas stockings.

I thought it would be fitting to narrow a list down to our top 10 favourite games right now, in this moment. Zach is 5 and Hailey is 7, and these are all games we can play together as a family (usually locking the babies in their “cage” as the big kids call it, their time will come!).

Top 10 Board Games

1. Rory’s Story Cubes

We have the original cubes, but these dice come in all different theme packs and even different sizes! This is a great one to help you realize how creative your kids can be (and to re-ignite your own creative side!) Guaranteed to end in laughter, everyone takes turns rolling the “cubes” and creating a story out of the pictures that turn up. It’s nice too because if the babies decide they no longer accept their “cage”, the big kids can carry on playing without me – either with each other or by themselves.

2. Go Ape

Go Ape is basically the game, “Go Fish”, only more fun! To ask another player for a card, you need to act out/copy the monkey’s position on the card. We’ve been playing this one since Zach was probably 3 – he always gave the most accurate depictions of these apes, which made it totally hilarious for us! Game is fairly quick, can probably play a round in 20 minutes on a good day, just enough time to keep the twins occupied in their “cage”.

3. Busy, Busy Airport Game

A Richard Scarry game that anyone can play! There’s no reading involved, which makes it easy. Set up your airport and your four destinations, the nice thing about this one is you can spread them out all over the house if you want – giving your airplane farther to travel, and your children some time to be active indoors! Roll a dice, load up some passengers, drop them off at their destination of choice and pick up a souvenir on your way back! The souvenirs and passengers are pretty small, so could be easily lost – but the airplanes are a ton of fun – with slots to fill with passengers and a slot to keep your souvenirs safe. Game play within 20 minutes – if you can get away with only playing once!

4. Hedbanz

We were gifted Headbanz – the Disney Edition from some amazing people, and it has been a HIT ever since! Disney was great to start out with because my kids are movie fanatics and know (mostly) all the characters! There were a couple of movies we needed to watch though! We’ve since added the original “Headbanz for Kids” to our collection – so instead of a Disney character you could be a food, household object or animal. Great game to get your kids thinking and asking questions! We don’t really play by the rules – we use the timer as we’re supposed to to time our guesses, but we never keep score, and just keep playing as long as we want to!

5. Traffic Jam Jr.

This is more or less a one-player game, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to engage and play along! Basically, you have a deck full of logic puzzles – ranging in level of difficulty – and the goal is always to move the cars around to let the taxi out! Zach’s very math-minded and could spend hours on these! It’s a huge confidence booster when he gets it right and he’s never afraid to challenge himself.

6. Smart Games Day and Night

Another one-player logic game (man, I must really like these… or they just really work to get me that sought after quiet alone time!). In this game, you need to arrange the blocks as they are shown on the page (each page with a different puzzle arranged in order of difficulty). Ready for a challenge? On the opposite side of the page the same puzzle is shown, “in the dark”, where you can only see the outline of the shapes. We loved this game so much that I went out and bought a similar one by the same brand (just a step up in difficulty) – I can’t find the second one we have online anywhere!

7. Cat in the Hat’s: I Can Do That

This is a great group game to get everyone moving and active! With a bunch of familiar items/objects from the story of the Cat in the Hat, turn over cards to reveal a “challenge” for you to complete. Complete the challenge and keep the cards. A quick game they’ll want to play over and over! A little bit of reading/understanding is needed for the cards – but easy enough to figure out if they did decide to play this one on their own.

8. Life

I know what you’re thinking, finally – a classic! This one requires a little more adult involvement and guidance – but the kids absolutely LOVE the game of Life! They love choosing jobs, getting married, having kids (especially twins) and buying a house! It can get a little on the confusing side and sometimes take FAR TOO LONG – more like a twin-sized-nap-time rather than a sitting-on-the-side-in-the-“cage” kinda game.

9. Guess Who

Only for two-players, I guess this really isn’t a family game. Although, play is pretty quick you could easily have a “winner plays next person” type of scenario/tournament going. We have the travel sized version – buuuut I’m dying for this new version that isn’t just a mystery person… you’re a mystery CHARACTER – making it so much easier for the kids to ask questions / notice details… instead of accidentally flipping down the guy with the moustache you were supposed to keep up!

10. Draw Something

Similar to Pictionary (from what I can remember) – we take turns drawing something while everyone else has to guess what it is! The board is super fun – it only lights up for a certain amount of time, and its clear so that wherever someone is sitting they can see what you’re drawing. Once time runs out the light will turn off and you can no longer see the picture! This game has become a lot more fun since Zach’s drawing skills have vastly improved just this year! It does come with a set of cards to tell you what to draw, which Hailey happily reads – but most often we have no problem deciding what we would like to draw on our own!


 

So that’s our top 10 (at THIS moment in time) – there are so many other games that I would love to have on our shelf!

Gamewright Little Hands Cardholder

 

 

I do need to give a shout out to GameWright for their “Little Hands Card Holder”  – if you’re going to be playing any kind of card game with a little one – these are a MUST! And fit in a stocking so nicely!!

 

The next games on my radar – Swish Jr. and Sorry!

Swish Jr. was a stocking stuffer this Christmas and still haven’t had the opportunity to check it out and play it! Maybe this weekend is the weekend? And Sorry! – CLASSIC. Zach got to check it out at his last sleepover with his Aunt and Uncle… and boy, did he love it!

Next Board GamesHave a great Family Day Weekend everyone – and if your not traveling – maybe a family trip to the store to pick out a new board game is in order?!