Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Gaius is TWO MONTHS OLD today! WTH?!? How did that happen??? He gives us such awesome smiles and coos. We have little "conversations" with him, and his siblings love it when he looks at them and smiles! He is growing right on track (actually a little ahead!), so apparently my breastmilk is working for him!
Breastfeeding has certainly been an adventure. I had a lot of pain at first and kept getting the standard advice: use lanolin, rub breastmilk on the nipples, let them air dry, etc... The pain should have been gone after a week or two, so at 5 weeks when I was still in tears half the time when Gaius ate, I called the lactation nurse again. Before going to see her, I looked up my symptoms (bruise-like pain, painful letdown, cracking, and "blanched" nipples after feeding) on the La Leche League website and KellyMom, another breastfeeding site. I discovered (and the lactation nurse confirmed within 30 seconds of watching Gaius breastfeed) that I have forceful letdown, so when Gaius was latching on, he would clamp down to slow the flow. That clamping cut off blood flow to the nipple, which was made worse by my already-poor circulation. Apparently, this condition (called vasospasms) is made worse by cold, which is what happens when you put lanolin and breastmilk on nipples and let them air dry. Great. So the things I'd been doing for FIVE WEEKS were actually causing me to have worse pain. Lovely.
The lactation nurse (whom I suspect is a miracle worker) showed me some alternate nursing positions that slowed my flow so Gaius wouldn't clamp down as much - basically to lean back and position him face down on my breast. Again - the opposite of what conventional breastfeeding advice tells us to do. The nurse also suggested to cover my breasts immediately after nursing or pumping to minimize air exposure and cold and to apply dry heat when practical. Within ONE DAY I was already feeling significantly less pain. A week later I was pain free! Breastfeeding is finally a pleasant bonding experience that I actually look forward to now! Since I'm back at work, I only nurse while I'm at home and I pump at work, which isn't fun, but it's for a good cause. :)
Giovanna and Roman are now THREE!!! And they have hit the "terrible threes" which is even worse than the terrible twos. They are exploring their individuality and independence, and in the meantime, driving Kyle and I bonkers! They ignore us, sass back, say "I did" when they clearly didn't do whatever it was we asked of them, scream for attention, and fake cry. We have attributed this a little to jealously issues with the new baby, but it seems to be in line with other children we know of the same age.
In direct contrast with the outright defiance, they are also displaying an amazing amount of love, imagination, and humor! The other day, we were driving down a hill and we hear Roman say with a quiet fake panic: "Ahhh! We're going down! We're all gonna die!!" which made everyone crack up. Where the heck did he get that?? And Giovanna started talking about how an orange dinosaur had scared her, and when asked by a friend where she had seen it, she said it followed her home from the doctor's office. We had been at the doctor's office the day before and had seen an old woman, fake-tanned to a leathery crisp, hair bleached platinum, over-makeuped, wearing all bright orange! In retrospect, it wasn't a big leap to think of her as a dinosaur, lol. These kids make us laugh every day - I love it. And Giovanna is drawing recognizable objects! Here is a face and her apple, complete with bite marks.
Kyle and I are doing great, too. I'm not thrilled about being back at work, but we're settling into a routine that works for us. :)
More pics: http://family.webshots.com/album/575569149CCHAAu
Sunday, October 4, 2009
It's certainly been an interesting couple of weeks. Giovanna and Roman both adjusted pretty well to having a baby in the house. They are constantly asking where Gaius is, what he is doing, and if they can touch or smooch him. Roman loves to see when Gaius' eyes are open, and Giovanna likes to say "I love him!" and "I'm a big sister!" They haven't really had any jealousy issues, probably because they are used to sharing their parents with each other.
Gaius had his two week appointment last Thursday - healthy and 7 lbs, 13.6 oz! The doc said that they hope for newborns to gain about an ounce a day, and Gaius had gained 13 oz in 10 days, so he was very pleased! He even asked me if all I was giving him was breastmilk, lol! We went back for a follow up test (routine) and he is 8 lbs 3.4 oz - a steady gain! Gaius is currently spending all his time sleeping or nursing, with brief periods of looking around and making funny faces and noises. He is very strong and has been holding his head up for a few moments since we were at the hospital! He generally wants to nurse every 1-3 hours. He gave me a good 4 hours of sleep one night, which is the longest I've slept since I started contractions on 9/15. He is starting to fill out a bit more, too. :)
Kyle and I are tired, of course, but we nap occasionally and we sort of naturally adjusted to getting less sleep. We've been getting out of the house almost every day, which helps all of our moods. I'm still getting used to nursing (these first few weeks are painful, but sooooo worth it!) and my body is still healing from the birth process, of course. I'm so grateful for having a more "normal" birth and newborn experience than we had last time. To be able to hold Gaius immediately after he came out, to be able to nurse him within the hour, and to have him "room-in" with me at the hospital and come home with me has been amazing. It was so hard to go through the twins' hospital stay and I am relieved and so happy we didn't have to go through that again.
Both Giovanna and Roman have really taken off with their vocabulary and they amaze me every day with what they can figure out. One of their new games is to switch everyone's names - i.e. I am daddy, daddy is mommy, Roman is Boogie, and Giovanna is Robot. This sometimes involves donning another family member's hat or shirt, lol. They also pretend to be us and they take turns putting each other in time out for random things. I love watching their imaginations take off!
All three kids have colds right now. :( Giovanna has been stuffy for almost a week, Roman has had a tiny sniffle (his colds are usually milder than hers), and Gaius is even snotty. No fevers or anything - just congestion. Hoping it's over soon. Kyle had a sinus headache yesterday, but neither of us has really gotten a full on cold. There is a lot of handwashing going on in our house right now!
More pics: http://community.webshots.com/album/574944229znCUVR
Saturday, September 19, 2009
On Tuesday (9/15) I had my 39 week appointment with the perinatologist. He told me I was dialated to 1 cm, 3 cm long, and at a negative 2 or negative 3 station. So basically exactly where I had been 2 weeks earlier. I had been hoping for a little more progress than that, so I was a little disappointed. After the appointment, we went grocery shopping and headed home.
That evening, I started having some cramping, which I attributed to having an internal exam done. They were not very regular, but just in case it was labor, we skipped our Lovenox injection that night. I woke up at 2:30 am on Wednesday and the cramps had gotten stronger. I tried timing them and they were 8 to 9 minutes apart. I was getting excited and couldn't sleep, so I kept timing them all morning and by around 9 or so, they were down to 6.5-7.5 minutes apart. I took a shower, drank some water, and laid down to see if they would stop or slow down (which would indicate false labor). I ended up dozing off around 10:30 or 11, and when I woke up a little later, the contractions had become very mild and very irregular - about 12-30 minutes apart.
The rest of the afternoon we spent wondering if this was real labor or not, but by late Wednesday evening, the contractions had become regular and strong again, about 8-9 minutes apart. I kept timing them all night (I dozed off between some contrax, but only for a few minutes at a time before the next one came and woke me up) and around 6am they had dropped to 6 min apart. The hospital told me to come in when contractions were 3-4 minutes apart, so I took a shower and we got the kids ready. During that time, the contractions became so strong I couldn't stand or sit through them and had given up timing them. We piled in the car and drove to the hospital while I made all sorts of crazy noises and couldn't sit still. The twins were SO AWESOME. They quieted down when we asked and they just kept asking me all morning if my tummy hurt and if I was all better. :)
We got to the maternity ward (after several lobby/hallway stops for contractions) a few minutes after 8am. They got me situated and checked my cervix....
...8 centimeters. Oops. I asked (panicked) if there would be time for an epidural and the nurse said there should be, and to let her know if I felt the need to push. She messed up giving me an IV, but I apparently didn't notice because I didn't realize it until later, lol, then they wheeled me to the delivery room. 10 feet out the door (Kyle and the kids trotting behind us) I started to feel a lot of pressure. I told the nurse and she said not to push yet (duh).
I looked around the delivery room when we got there - there was a rocking chair, a birthing ball, a stool, and I had been told down the hall was a jacuzzi tub for laboring mamas. I had wanted access to all of that, but wasn't going to be able to use it!
At this point, my contractions were so strong that I was almost writhing out of bed with each one, but I couldn't push yet because there was still some cervix not quite dialated and I could really get injured if I tried pushing too early. I can't believe poor Kyle's fingers were intact after the crushing I gave them while trying to breathe through what felt like my uterus trying to escape.
All of this occurred so quickly that none of my family had been able to make it to the hospital yet. The twins were in the room with us, sitting on the window seat and eating their cheerios and raisins, looking just like they were watching a movie! Kyle got between me and them and Giovanna said "Daddy, move! I can't see!" LOL! A nurse sat with them and tried to entertain them, but they were just fine anyway. They didn't get upset at all! They just seemed fascinated by the whole process.
I asked again for an epidural and the doctor said she could get me one, but I would have to hold still, sitting up and hunched over my belly for 15-20 minutes, breathing through many contractions. That just wasn't going to happen, so I said "f___ the epidural" followed by many repetitions of the phrase "I'm so scared!" and "I can't do it!" I also asked that they tilt my bed up further and dim the lights, which they did.
Finally, they checked my cervix and said I could push. I started and my water broke immediately and I could feel Gaius shift into position to come out. The nurses helped me pull my legs back and hunch forward and I started to push, apparently making some unholy exorcism-type noises. The few seconds reprieve I got between contractions I breathed.
After the 3rd pushing contraction, the nurse said "One more and he'll be out!" I said "Really?" and found some previously-unbeknownst cache of strength. He wasn't out on the 4th one though, and the doctor said "Ok, he'll be out on the next one!" I said, "You said that last time!" and the doctor said "I didn't say that!" and I said "I can't tell who is talking! My eyes are closed!" The doc assured me that if I pushed really hard he would indeed be out on the next contraction, and Kyle said "She's right! I can see his head already!" so when it started, I PUSHED.
Ouch. I felt his head crown and come out, followed by his shoulders and the rest of him slid right out. And suddenly, he was on my chest and that was all I could focus on. One of the big things I felt like I had missed out on with the twins being so premature was being able to hold them right away. The nurses quickly rubbed off most of the vernix and newborn goo and I just held him and looked at his face while I delivered the placenta and the doc cleaned and stitched me up. I think I said a bunch of things like "Oh my god, I can't believe you're here!" and "Look at you! You're so beautiful!" I held him for what felt like ages - it was so wonderful.
My sis, her hubby, my dad, and my stepmom all showed up within the half hour after the birth and cooed over the baby and entertained the twins (who thought that Uncle Matt bouncing them on the birthing ball was the coolest thing ever, lol).
The nurses finally measured and weighed Gaius (7 lbs 6 oz, 20.25 inches long, 14.5 inch head circimference) and gave him his first bath.
Roman and Giovanna's reactions to the new baby were much different than I expected. Roman, who hadn't previously showed much interest in babies at all (except to yell at my tummy to come out and play, lol) was fascinated with Gaius. He kept grinning and laughing and saying "that's my baby brother! He came out of Mommy's tummy! He came out her 'gina!" LMAO! Giovanna, who usually fawns over babies, dresses up her baby doll, and often rubbed my belly and asked if the baby was sleeping, was much more timid when Gaius was actually in front of her. She hesitated before touching him and kept mostly to playing with the grownups in the room. Then Grandpa and Gramma J took the kids to the park and then home to nap while Kyle and I stayed with Gaius and Kyle sent pictures and messages to everyone we'd ever known. ^_^
I was able to try breastfeeding as soon as I was fixed up and Gaius was weighed. So far, he does the same thing Giovanna did - he doesn't open his mouth wide enough so we have to re-latch a few times to get a connection that isn't terribly painful for me. Once we get a decent latch, he figures out how to drink pretty quickly. The nurse told me on Friday that I was making "a ton of colostrum" which was good because then Gaius wasn't super-hungry. My milk started coming in yesterday though it's hard to measure how much he is actually getting. He was making some good gulping sounds early this morning, which is a good sign!
The rest of the hospital stay was pretty uneventful - we just got checked on a lot by the nurses and talked to a lactation consultant. We came home midday on Saturday (yesterday).
And without further ado - pictures! http://family.webshots.com/album/574742881ZUXOPc
(all of my new pics are available at http://community.webshots.com/user/Brieshon)
Thursday, August 27, 2009
They measured Gaius and are estimating he is 5 lbs 10 oz (give or take 13 oz, lol), which is the 65th percentile. We got a great pic of some already-chubby cheeks. The doc called him "well-nourished" and warned us he may be so used to being well-nourished that he will expect the same amount of nourishment after he is born, lol!! I figure if my breasts could mostly keep up with two babies, I can keep up with one hungry one! :) He's head down already, but no indication of labor any time soon! I've had a few Braxton Hicks contractions, which the doc says is expected at this point.
Gaius is very very active - he is always kicking and squirming and stretching in there! He likes to push up against my diaphragm which makes it uncomfortable to breathe easily, but at least he isn't usually pushing on my bladder or cervix, lol. The twins did that and it was soooo uncomfortable! My main discomfort is the heat and just having my belly in the way all the time, lol. My ankles and feet have been getting some swelling which has been pretty uncomfortable!
I'm getting so excited! We pre-registered at the hospital after our appointment last week so when I go into labor I don't have to fill out any pesky paperwork. I got all teary-eyed just being in the maternity ward lobby!
Giovanna and Roman are doing AWESOME as always! Kyle took them out on what the map said was a 10 mile hike this week!! They slept soooooo well after that one, lol!! They continue to crack me up every day with silly stuff they say. This age is so damn fun (though the whining and random completely-disregarding-mommy moments can be very frustrating). We're working on potty training with Roman now. Still doing a lot of laundry, but he's making progress and he's soooo proud when he uses the potty!! Giovanna tells him "good job! You peed!!" lol!
I have a ton of pics to upload, but my photobucket tells me it's apparently full, so I'll have to figure out another place to upload stuff! I'll give a few here:
Good thing they are washable (both the kids and the markers, lol)
Holding hands was their idea:
They looooove to hike with Daddy!!
At one of the many water fountains in Portland!
Me at 36 weeks:
Gaius at 35 weeks:
Some "well-nourished" cheeks, lol:
Saturday, August 8, 2009
I am 33.5 weeks along - only 6.5(ish) more weeks to go! Exciting! Everything is going well. I feel very full of baby already - Gaius likes to push up against my diaphragm and make it somewhat difficult to breathe comfortably unless I am leaning back with my belly sticking out, lol. Not the most ladylike of poses, but whatever, lol. I'm still enjoying myself since I don't plan on doing this again! ;) My last appointment was a week ago and still no signs of premature labor. No contractions, no dialation, and Gaius is VERY active. At least once a day I can sit back and watch my belly shift and churn like something out of Alien. If I didn't know what was in there, I'd be freaked out, lol. My next ultrasound is on the 18th - I'll be 35 weeks along and after that they won't stop labor if it starts! ACK!! Then another appt at 37 weeks, and probably one at 38 or 39, then it's showtime!
Giovanna and Roman are growing up so freakin' fast. I know it's totally cliche to say that, but I marvel every day at the crazy, funny stuff that comes out of their mouths. For example, Roman's new alphabet lyrics are "Now I know my ABCs! Next time won't you POOP with me!!" followed by hysterical laughter. The other night, Giovanna was trying to postpone bedtime by refusing to get off the potty. The subsequent conversation went like this: "C'mon, Boogie. Time to get off the potty and go to bed." "No, I'm upset." "Why are you upset?" "I'm UPSET 'cause... 'cause... Roman didn't give me coffee!" Roman then poked his head around the door and said, "Boogie, you want some coffee?" They say things like "What are you talking about?" and "It's blue, ACTUALL." Total attitudes. Love it. Usually. ;)
The animals (by which I mean the pets) are all doing great! Wulfric, our new kitten, has pretty much taken over. He play-attacks Merlin mercilessly, and Merlin just sits there and takes it. Sometimes he plays back, even! Never thought he'd do that, lol. Alex knows to pretty much stay out of the cats' way, lol.
We went up to Bellingham last weekend. We had a lovely small baby shower - Tory, Laura, Nana/GG, Mom, Rick, and our brood. We had grilled salmon and veggie kabobs - so yummy! We got great gifts (thanks, all!!!) and had wonderful fireside conversation about babies! And I love to talk about my babies. ;) It was so fun to see Laura's baby belly poking out! It is so cool that we will have cousins close to the same age!
We also spent some time at the park that weekend, and the kids played in my mom's backyard a LOT, often sans clothing! They picked veggies and apples from her garden and helped water the plants! They even helped Pop in the garden - Roman pretty much attached himself to Pop most of the time, and had a blast! It was a short trip, but very fun.
Yesterday, Kyle had a bunch of his parenting group over to do tie-dying! He made some really cool shirts for Roman and Giovanna (they are calling them their superhero shirts, lol) and some onesies for Gaius! He even left me a couple of white onesies so I could make some too! Yay! Here's what he made:
A few weeks ago we went to the wedding of our neighbors, Christe and Matt. They are expecting a baby this fall, too! It was a bit of a drive, but we all had a lot of fun. The twins got to watch the fish in a koi pond and run around with a bunch of older kids (who were great about including them!). And we all got to blow lots and lots of bubbles. :)
We've also spent a lot of time at the park lately (on days where our thermometer didn't read 110 degrees anyway) and the zoo and the Children's Museum, and visiting family and friends.
Tons and tons of pictures at the link below. Sorry some are rotated wrong. Photobucket is still not uploading pics right. Argh.
Friday, June 19, 2009
A couple weekends ago, my little brother got MARRIED to his beautiful partner, Laura. They are so smitten with each other, it’s just silly – I LOVE IT! I’ve really never seen my brother so happy. The weekend was just lovely, and it was wonderful to see the whole family! Our drives up and down, however, were… eventful.
Kyle went up on Thursday with my sister’s husband and my dad, so they could join the bachelor party. My sis and I had a sleepover with the twins, who decided that sleepovers are not for sleeping. Giovanna whined about dinosaurs until midnight, then both kids were up at 4am. Not cool. Temi and I got up around 5 and (slowly) finished packing and getting ready. We hit the road at 9 and the kids were out before we reached the highway! Between stopping for play/lunch and many MANY potty breaks for our now-fully-day-potty-trained little girl, we reached Bellingham at about 5pm (yes, a 5 hour straight-shot took 8 hours). Then we had to get to the ferry and wait… and wait… and we finally got to our destination at about 6:20. We went through the rehearsal, had a delicious dinner, and crashed very hard that night!
Saturday dawned absolutely beautiful. We woke up earlier than we’d have liked (dang our early bird son!), but we had a ridiculously delicious breakfast, spent some time at the beach, had a lovely nap, and made it for pictures on time. The ring bearer, an almost-3-year-old boy named Isaac, spent most of the weekend chasing after Giovanna and trying to give her hugs! So cute! The ceremony was wonderful – Giovanna did a great job hamming it up as the flower girl, then she and I hightailed it several times to the potty. Roman was a champ and sat in Grandpa’s lap almost the whole time! The reception was really fun – had some amazing cheeses and appetizers, and a delicious dinner and cake.
Then the dancing started. Giovanna discovered the dining room had been turned into a dance floor, and started dancing around 8 or so. Just jumping around and going to town! Ro was already getting tired, so he spent a lot of time in my lap. People started joining Giovanna and the dancing went until very late! Isaac tried to dance with her several times, but she’s more of a solo dancer, lol. She seriously was jumping and dancing for about an hour and a half, nonstop, after a very active day. Meanwhile, Roman spent the better part of that time dancing in the arms of one of my brother’s friends, Elise. He actually spent much of the weekend fawning over her! We finally went back to the cabin between 9:30 and 10, and crashed hard again!
We were up early on Sunday, packed and headed down to breakfast. We spent some more time with the close family members still on the island, and watched Thoren and Laura open their wedding gifts. Teary-eyed, we headed out a little after noon.
We got about an hour south of Bellingham when the car started doing crazy things. We pulled over and called roadside assistance, were informed it was the battery, and that they were sending a tow truck. Well, a tow truck wasn’t about to do much for us, so we called my dad, who was a little further south than us. He (with my sister and her husband) turned around and picked us up a battery and followed us as we continued our journey.
An hour and a half later, just north of Olympia, the car died completely. Not the battery then – it was the alternator. This time, we did call for the tow truck, who happened to know a guy that Kyle used to work for in Oly! He had a shop, and said he should have the car ready by the end of the day Monday. We all piled in my dad’s Volvo and kept driving, with multiple potty breaks for Giovanna. We made it home a little after 12. That normally-5-hour-drive was about 12 hours!!! Thank goodness for my amazing family. The adventure would have been so much harder and crazier and more stressful if they hadn’t been willing to spend hours moving luggage, laying uncomfortably in the back of the Volvo, entertaining toddlers, and stopping every hour or so to pee, without complaint. I am so freakin’ lucky to have my wonderful family!!! THANK YOU!!!!
As you may have gathered from the above tale of crazy adventure, Giovanna is now fully day-potty trained! She has random accidents during naps and at night, but that’s it!! YAHOOOOO!!!!! Roman is following in her footsteps – asking to sit on the potty for looooong periods of time, though he usually doesn’t pee or poop there yet. Baby steps… 3 more months until Gaius is here… that’s the goal – only 1 in diapers at a time! :)
Since we’ve gotten home, the went through an icky cold. The kids both had low grade fevers at different times, a lot of congestion, and had a bit of a cough. Both are still a little snotty, but are mostly over it. Kyle had it for about two days, and I've been battling it all week. And it sucks because the only medicine you can take while pregnant is Tylenol, which does absolutely nothing for congestion. Ugh.
Giovanna is still talking about dinosaurs in her room at night. She acts scared, but turns it off and on without any effort, so we’re of the mind that it’s currently a sleep-delaying tactic (like saying she has to pee or poop on the potty when she’s already done it, or that she wants to snuggle, or wants more hugs/smooches, or more milk, or is hungry… she is a master sleep-delayer). The dinosaur changes locations (it was in the closet, and since we’ve started keeping the closet closed, it’s outside the window). We’ve tried sooooo many things. We tried explaining that the dinosaur has gone home (even waved bye-bye and Roman informed us that he went home in a big truck, and that he went bowling, too, lol!!), that the dinosaur was nice and would never hurt her, that her stuffed dragon will save her from the dinosaur… and many other things. Once she would only fall asleep for her nap on the floor between their beds (away from the window). The only thing that works at all is to tell her (rather firmly) that there isn’t a dinosaur and it is time to go to sleep NOW. Sometimes this takes a few tries. We hate having to do that, but when she’s up until after 11pm fake-crying about a non-existent dinosaur… well, we just don’t know what else to do! Meanwhile, Roman usually falls asleep during her whining and explanations, lol.
Developmentally, both kids are on track or ahead for their actual (not adjusted for prematurity) age! YAY!!! They continue to grow, but aren’t gaining much (if any) weight, which is totally normal and expected for crazy active toddlers. I give full props to Kyle for getting them exercise, creative time, learning time, snuggle time, reading time, and relaxation time, EVERY DAY. And he has lots of playdates with his parenting groups and friends so they get good socialization time, too. He’s an amazing daddy – I’m so lucky!
Gaius is doing just fine! He kicks me constantly (this week he has been targeting my bladder and cervix – ouch!) and I feel him squirming around in there all the time. It’s such a weird feeling! I've been terribly tired lately – not sure if it’s fighting off this cold, still recovering from the long weekend adventures, the pregnancy, or a combination of all of those. Still getting a bit nauseous in the mornings (ick) but it’s manageable.
I had a routine appointment last week with my OB (not the perinatologist I also see for ultrasounds and the “high-risk” part of my pregnancy). All looks great – I’m measuring right on schedule, not dilating at all, and no other concerns. YAY! I also got my gestational diabetes glucose screening test (involves drinking basically pop syrup and getting a blood draw) that I PASSED (I failed the screening with the twins and had to do the long 3 hour glucose test that involves fasting and FOUR blood draws, which I then passed), and my rhogam shot (my blood type is negative, and since Kyle’s is positive, I have to get a shot just in case the kid comes out positive so my body doesn’t freak out about the weird blood type). Oh, and I lost another 1.5 lbs, so I’m down about a lb or 2 from my pre-pregnancy weight. I really don’t have much appetite when I’m pregnant, so it’s not a huge surprise! I've been trying to get calories in me so I at least maintain my weight. The docs aren't worried at all since Gaius is so active and is growing fine. :)
The kiddos helped daddy make ranger cookies a couple weeks ago. (Ranger cookies have just about everything but the kitchen sink in them - very hearty, and made with a lot less sugar than regular cookies!) The kids helped measure, mix, pour, and shape the cookies! And they helped to eat them, of course! And they were sooooooo yummy!
That's all for now - I have a ton of picutes at the below link. Sorry they aren't in order. I uploaded them in order and they went all out of whack and photobucket is really hard to rearrange. Hope you enjoy anyway!
Saturday, May 30, 2009
My family lost my Aunt Christi (my mom's oldest sister) to cancer 2 weeks ago after a year of fighting it. Her last few days were spent at home, surrounded by family. My family wrote a beautiful memorial for her (click here).
I already miss her so much. We visited the family last weekend (a week after her passing) and I am simply amazed at how my family has bonded stronger than ever. They have all shown amazing strength and supportiveness during her last days and the time after. We spent some time last weekend reminiscing, celebrating, and crying, and I felt a strong sense of love and healing throughout. To my amazing family - I LOVE YOU ALL!!
These were from last October, but I just love these pics:
We also spent some time last weekend with my brother and his fiancee, Laura! She had her bridal shower garden party, complete with decoupage, tea sandwiches, white gloves, and crazy hats! I was initially a little nervous about being "girly" enough for such an event, lol, but we had a lot of fun! Here's pic of the sisters (Laura, Temi, me) looking coy in their amazing backyard:
And being Amazons:
GG took us on a whale watching trip this weekend, too - we were a little concerned about how the twins would do on a 7 hour boat ride, but for the most part it went fine. Roman had a couple of meltdowns - he apparently has some anxiety about boats (we've never been out on one with the kids before) and he was overtired when we got there. They (miraculously) napped over 2.5 hours on the couch:
We did get to see a lot of whales, including a few babies with their mamas! Giovanna has amazing eyes - she saw a seal before the rest of us, and even pointed it out saying "LOOK! SEAL!!" I can't believe she knew what it was - all she could see was the head for a split second!
MOVE YOUR BODY!
This was at Grandpa's house a couple weeks ago. "You've got to move your body!" Click HERE for the video.
The twins have a pretty good idea that there is a baby in Mommy's tummy. They even know his name is Gaius. Not sure if they understand that in a few short months, they will have a new baby brother, though, lol! We had another doc appt this wee, complete with ultrasound. The perinatologist measured my cervix (on the ultrasound screen) to make sure it wasn't shortening (shortened cervix is a sign of preterm labor) and he said it's long and perfect! YAY! He chalked up the twins' premature birth to the fact that there were two of them in there. He's not worried about this one at all! :) Here he is at 23 weeks, 1 day:
Check out those lips!
Profile pic - he's laying on his back, facing up. His head is on the left, and his leg is up over his tummy on the right.
For many more pics:
Friday, May 8, 2009
Feeling pretty good, just a bit tired and my feet swell a bit in the evenings.
Still a little nauseous in the mornings, but not too bad.
Feeling regular movement, especially when I eat fruit or drink juice.
Well, we had our Level 2 ultrasound on Thursday and found out we are having another BOY!!! We have decided on the first name: Gaius (pronounced GYE-us). Still kicking around middle names, but we have a few months to go, lol.
The ultrasound went very well - everything is measuring perfectly, nothing to raise any kind of concern. Since the twins were premature, they consider me "high risk" and are keeping a close eye on my cervix length through ultrasound to make sure it doesn't start to shorten or dilate (signs of possible premature labor) - so far so good! The doc and u/s tech even went so far as to say it was "perfect... almost too perfect." LOL! They don't think I'm really at risk to deliver early again, since last time it was twins and the labor catalyst was Giovanna's water breaking. Water breaking early is generally a random event (though some things can weaken the sac), and doesn't indicate that it will happen again. The doc wants to see me in another 3 weeks (I think appointments are usually every four weeks at this point).
Since I'm technically sort of "high risk," though, that means I get more ultrasounds (completely safe - they are just sound waves, like sonar) at the perinatologist office, as opposed to my regular obstetrician office. The peri ultrasound machine is apparently much higher-tech, and can do 3-D images... and the doc suprised us by doing a couple 3-D for us!!! Usually you have to go to a special clinic, and/or pay hundreds of dollars - and we got ours at our regular visit! YAY!!
And without further ado, here's baby Gaius!
And some good ol' fashioned ultrasound pics:
And proof that it is a boy, lol:
I think the twins are starting to get that there is a baby coming. They say hi to baby Gaius and give him/my tummy hugs and smooches. They got a big kick out of seeing the baby on the screen at the ultrasound, and they recognize the pics as being the baby in mommy's tummy, lol! They still have to be reminded sometimes not to jump on mommy a lot, though. Not that it would hurt the baby, but it's sure uncomfortable for me!
Both Roman and Giovanna are doing so well with their talking, counting, recognizing letters and numbers, and imagination. One of the latest things is to say "Oh my GOSH!" We were at the pretzel place at the mall a couple weeks ago, and she saw that there was milk in the cooler, so she ran over, pointed, and said "Oh my GOSH! There's MILK in there! Oh my GOSH!!!" Roman sauntered over, looked at the cooler thoughtfully, and said "Yeah, there's milk in there," and walked off. During the rainstorm last weekend, both of the kids said "Oh my GOSH! It's RAINING!" LOL!!
Potty training seems to be going well. Boogie is still being very consistant pooping on the potty, and has been asking to pee on the potty every once in awhile. She did have an accident when she had panties on the other day, but since we haven't practiced that a lot yet, it wasn't a big suprise. Roman actually asked to pee on the potty today, and he did! And on the toilet seat, and his hands... but at least it's progress! Only 19 weeks 4 days left to get these kids out of diapers before we have another little poopy butt on our hands, lol! We're not pushing it - we're letting them go at their own pace (with encouragement). No need to stress them (or us!) out!
The kids have had several playdates lately with a bunch of other kids. We've been a part of a group of people looking to start an intentional community (basically a co-op living arrangement, as self-sustaining as possible), and we went to see a farm last weekend with a bunch of the rest of the group. There were a couple other little boys there (one just turned 2 and the other is 3) and they played a LOT! There were some older boys there, too, and the youngest (about 10?) played with the preschoolers most of the time, lol. Kyle has also been going out with his stay-at-home-dads group who all have kids around the twins' age. Again, all boys! Luckily, our friend Connie has 2 girls (a 1 year old, and a 2.5 year old just a couple weeks older than ours). I love that the kids get so much socialization even though they aren't in daycare or school yet.
Here's a bunch of pics!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
The gray and green ones on the top are Roman's. The orange and bright blue ones in the middle row are Giovanna's, the yellow and pink ones on the bottom row are mine, and the 3 in the right column are Kyle's:
We also went to a birthday party for our friend Audrey's 1st birthday! The kids had blast and eating pizza (and ice, lol), and of course, the cupcakes with bright blue frosting and rubber ducks on top:
And we met with a group talking about setting up a new intentional community in the area. The kids played with 3 other preschoolers there and completely wore themselves out, lol!.
In developmental news, Giovanna is pooping on the potty all by herself now! She just gets up, strips down, poops, and comes back out to get cleaned up and re-diapered! Neither she nor her brother seem particularly interested in peeing on the potty consistently, or wearing underwear. Sigh... oh well. 4.5 more months until we have a newborn in diapers too... ack! Today, Kyle peeked in on Giovanna on the potty and she screamed at him "Daddy go 'way! No look!" LOL! Guess she's getting bashful!
The kids have also been starting to tell stories (like about what the neighbor is doing that's making noise upstairs) and preschooler jokes (like the birds on TV are eating tacos) - they really like to crack us up! And each other - they seem to have private jokes that we don't always understand, lol. They are both using long sentences and they pretty much pick up any new word we say. Including "dammit" and "son of a bitch." Oops. Now if someone says "dammit," Roman corrects them by saying "DARN it!" And we're playing with other things that they can say "son of a" about (i.e. "son of a taco... hamster... scooby doo... sock... fish...")
I'm feeling ok. Tired, and still having some nausea in the mornings (blah) and am reeeeaaaally picky about food. Luckily, the food aversions and nausea have kept me from gaining much weight! I dropped about 4 lbs in the beginning, and I think I've gained back 2 or so. And it's all in my tummy! I'm definitely poking out more than I used to!
Well, it's off to bed. More pics at http://s132.photobucket.com/albums/q8/Brieshon/2009/2009-04-23/
Monday, April 6, 2009
I took last Friday off as a personal day - I really needed some rest! Saturday Kyle went with Tory, Temi, Matt, and Dad (and several canines, lol) and went fishing. So I took the kids to the zoo. By myself. I thought I was crazy! Turns out my day of rest, and the fact the kids slept well and had a great breakfast (eggs, bacon, fruit salad, and daddy's homemade cinnamon rolls!), made for a wonderful time! They walked almost the whole 2 hours we were there, and listened to me whenever they started to stray too far! Of course, I forgot the camera, so no pics of that day (there are zoo pics in the link below, but they are from an earlier trip they took with their daddy).
Sunday and today we walked to the park again and got some great pics! Gotta love natural sunlight. Kyle also took the kids to the Japanese Gardens today, and that place is BEAUTIFUL! He got some amazing pics there, including several from the kids' point of view. :)
I'm feeling pretty good right now. A restful and sunny weekend made all the difference. I feel much more energized, and only a teensy bit nauseous in the mornings! I've been feeling little twinges that feel an awful lot like a baby moving in there, especially when I eat an orange, lol! The sugar content must wake the kid right up. :) My next doc appointment is April 15, and my "big" ultrasound is May 7th. If the baby cooperates, we should be able to tell the gender then!
And without further ado... PICTURES!
And in regards to the gray blobs that were the ultrasound of the new baby, here is a map to show you what each blur means. :)
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Face (still looks like an alien!):
They couldn't tell the gender yet, but they said the baby is measuring right on schedule and there is nothing to indicate concern of any kind. YAHOO!!!
The docs did decide to put me on a daily regimen of Lovenox again. Fun - daily injections into my tummy fat that leaves nasty-looking bruises. Yay. Oh well, it will keep me from developing blood clots, which could put me and the baby at risk.
The docs also decided that I'm NOT high-risk for preterm labor again, since last time it was a multiple pregnancy and the preterm birth was caused by water breaking, not preterm contractions. So, no weekly progesterone shots and no bedrest! YAY!
The morning sickness (which was getting pretty bad) finally let up last weekend and I started feeling 90% normal again by Monday! I still have some pretty strong food aversions, but at least I'm not running to the bathroom whenever I think of them, lol. The nausea let up just a few days shy of the end of the 1st trimester - right on schedule!
The twins are doing amazing. They talk all the time. Boogie says very matter of fact things that we can't understand sometimes, lol. Roman tries so hard to get us to understand him when he has a hard time getting his meaning out.
Both kids are so imaginative, too - they put towels over their heads and run around after each other saying they are Batman, lol! They like to crawl around and pretend they are puppies and kitties, they stir imaginary food and say "I cook" and they always have the funniest answers when I ask what they're cooking. Often it's soup, or cookies. Sometimes it's something totally random, like popcorn, or jellybeans. Or blueberry pancakes. Crazy kids!
Giovanna's potty training is moving right along. She poops in the potty almost every time, and she's getting good at telling us RIGHT before she has to go, instead of having to sit on the potty for 20 minutes before pooping. The problem is she still hates pooping, so she'll say (slightly panicky) "POOP ON THE POTTY!" and when we get up to help her, she says "NO! POOP IN DIAPER!! POOP IN DIAPER!!" We have to guide her into the bathroom and convince her to take off her pants and diaper and sit on the potty sometimes. Once she sits down, she's usually pretty good, though she whines when she actually poops, then afterward she says happily, "ALL DONE!" and gets up to get a tattoo, lol. Roman sometimes asks to pee or poop on the potty, but doesn't actually want to do it once he's there. He'll be ready eventually. As long as one of them is at least day-trained by the time the new one is born, I'll be happy. :)
My mommy came to visit us last weekend and we had a BLAST!!! The kids got some wonderful grammy-time, which gave Kyle and I some interacting-without-being-constantly-hounded-for-attention time! Temi and Matt came to visit for most of Sunday, too, so we had some great family fun time. Much game-playing and drawing ensued. Giovanna threw a fit when Grammy had to leave, but Grammy called the next day and they got to have a nice follow-up chat. :)
That's all the news I have for now!
Monday, March 2, 2009
While the promethazine (which I take every 6 hours, though it wears off every 4.5-5 hours) does not fully take the nausea away, it does give me mostly-puke-free days, and allows me to eat healthier foods that were beyond my capability a week ago (fruits, veggies, meat…). Without the meds, all I feel like eating is candy and chips. Not so good for me or the baby! Thank goodness for prenatal vitamins. Random cravings have been hitting me. Right now I would kill for some French Onion Soup, but by the time I get home, I probably won’t want it anymore, lol. I have leftover pizza for lunch and it sounds pretty good right now!
My stomach is certainly changing already. It’s a bit firmer and less roll-y (if that makes sense). My pants are terribly uncomfortable without modifications (rubber bands or paperclips, lol) and don’t stay up well with said modifications. But I’m not nearly ready for maternity pants yet. I remember this transition time last pregnancy – so frustrating! The baby is the size of a kumquat - about an inch or an inch and a half. My weekly pregnancy email says that abdominal thickening at this point is probably due to weight gain or bloating, but I stepped on the scale on Sunday and had lost 2 more pounds (grand total of 3 lbs lost) with clothes on! They say you “show” much earlier with subsequent pregnancies.
We started taking the kids swimming last week at the Southwest Community Center! We’ve been 3 times already. We got them some swimsuits with foam floaties built in so we don’t have to use lifejackets. The first time, Giovanna refused to be in the water – she would only sit on the side and kick her feet. Roman, however, had a great time, as long as Kyle and I kept our chests and heads above water – the second we got deeper, he started to fuss. The second trip was more successful – we floated Giovanna around on a big foam pad that we called her boat. Yesterday was the most successful – we got both kids out where they couldn’t touch the bottom, holding on to us or the bar on the side of the pool! They are great kickers! They both laugh when they see other kids jumping to their parents, but neither want to do it themselves yet (well, Roman did the first day, but hasn’t since then!). I wish we could get pictures, but apparently cameras aren’t allowed in the pool area. ::(
Kyle had to get some unexpectedly painful dental work done last week, and has more coming up later this month. Poor guy!!
Otherwise, we’re all doing great!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I'm 9 weeks and 1 day pregnant today. Morning sickness and fatigue have been kicking my butt a bit, but nowhere near as extreme as when I was pregnant with the twins. I've been craving sweets like crazy, especially chocolate, which I don't normally crave.
The twins are doing awesome, as always! Ahead of the curve, according to the doc, in speech, comprehension, and motor skills! YAY! Go Giovanna and Roman! And go daddy and mommy! They charmed the heck out of the doc and nurses in the ob/gyn office where I got my exam last Friday. :) Both of them pretty much say any words or phrases (usually a bit modified for toddler-speak) and they are using 3-4 word sentences. They are doing pretty well at taking turns (unless they are really tired) and often make sure that their sibling gets their fair turns! "Boogie turn?" "Roman turn?" Roman has been singing the Batman song ("da-na-na-na-na-BATDAT!"), which we got on video (see below link) along with the kids talking like a rooster ("caw-doodle-doo!") and Giovanna twirling in her new dress.
They are both really exerting their 2-year-old independence. If we try to help them with something (like putting on pants), they say "No! My help!" and try to do it themsleves. If they get frustrated, they do ask for our assistance, though. One of their new games involves one of them pretending to fall or be stuck, then reaching their hand out and asking for the other's help, then the other holds their hand and "helps" them out of their predicament. Much giggling ensues.
They're still into being artsy, which makes a mama proud!! Some of their recent work (and other adorable pics and video) can be found at:
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Me and the new family addition:
As of today (2/3/09) I am 7 weeks pregnant. Morning sickness increases a bit each day, and I tossed cookies for the first time this morning. Much better than when I was pregnant with the twins, but it makes for unpleasant bus rides. :( My other main symptoms are fatigue and sore breasts - normal for this stage! Otherwise I'm feeling pretty good. Should be getting an ultrasound in 10 days to determine if there is just one baby in there this time.
Giovanna and Roman are doing great! They are doing so well with their letters, numbers, and colors, and stringing together sentences like crazy. Giovanna almost always uses the potty to poop, and Roman is being a bit more consistant with the peeing (though I think he'll be content in diapers for awhile yet). They are certainly entering the "terrible twos" stage, including tantrums, random screaming, and being obstinate. Fun fun fun! :) We try to have a "and this too shall pass" mentality when they are going nutso, and time outs are often the result. Sigh... Still, when the Giovanna flings her arms around my neck or Roman snuggles up in my chest, and they say "I love you!" it makes everything else seem trivial. Happy mama! Kyle gave the kids AWESOME new haircuts (note the return of the 'hawk and a new do for Boogie!):
Doing great, too! As always, teaching the kids new stuff every day! I love coming home and seeing everything new they've been working on that day. They're doing numbers now. The kids seem to like the number 7 best, following both of their parents love of prime numbers. Haha!
Here are the rest of our pics from the last month:
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
More good news - my doc office has midwives on staff! Normally, my first appt would be with a midwife or nurse practioner, but with my history of fraternal twins, severe morning sickness, premature labor, and a blood clot, they decided to get me in to see a doctor first instead. I will still ask to have a midwife assigned to me, though - I really wanted one last time but they didn't do that at my old doc office.
The next 3 weeks and 3 days are going to draaaaaaaaag... I can't wait to see the little bean!!!
Otherwise, I'm feeling ok. Heartburn is kicking my butt. Had a little mild nausea this morning but it was gone pretty quick. My coworker told me I looked pale this morning, even though I felt ok. Coffee tastes funny to me today, even though it's the same as always. In general, I haven't wanted sweets and I've been craving Chinese food, especially dumplings, somen noodles, stir fried broccoli, and soy sauce! I'm drinking water like crazy. I seem to have blank parts of my memory - I totally forgot what preggo brain can be like!
I keep having thoughts and dreams of a little girl. This is contrary to the old wives tales (craving salt = boy, lack of nausea = boy), Chinese gender predictor (boy), and Kyle saying "he" the night we found out we were pregnant. I'm awful at predicting gender for others (I don't remember ever guessing right!) so we'll see!
Oh, and pants are uncomfortable already. Is it bad to want maternity pants at 5 weeks?!?!? LMAO! I have plenty of room (usually I need a belt, which I put away last week), but I can't stand ANY pressure on my abdomen right now. I think it would be unprofessional to unbutton my pants at work, lol!
The twins are doing great! Giovanna had a cold 2 weekends ago, and it was Roman's turn this last weekend. I've been fighting it off since early last week. Mostly congestion and coughing - nothing alarming, but it interferes with sleep something fierce!
The kids identify all the letters by sight now (and sometimes they call them by the image that's on the puzzle - i.e. if I say "Where's the M?" they say "M for Monkey!" and grab the M!). Kyle is doing GREAT at teaching them letters and colors. Roman is 99% on yellow, orange, and purple, and about 75% on the other colors. Giovanna's drawing style is getting very deliberate. Instead of huge circles, lines, and scribbles, she slowly draws tiny circles, lines, and dots, then she identifies them as a specific object (heart, monkey, baby, balloon...). I've noticed a few times where Roman watches her, and when she identifies a drawing as a specific item, he nods and says "uh-huh! Monkey!" They both do that to each other when they identify animals, colors, and letters, too. Kyle is planning to start working on numbers with them this week (they are still counting to two, and can identify the number 7 for some reason), so that should be exciting! I love this stage so much.
Oh, and the sweetest recent moment... they were both dancing wildly to music (they are developing some amazing new moves, lol) and Roman got right in Giovanna's face and said "I LOVE OH!" and she giggled loudly and tried to hug/kiss him, at which point he turned away and kept dancing, lol!!
I'll try to get some pictures posted in the next few days - we haven't got many recent ones with us all feeling like poo the last couple weeks.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
As of today (1/17):
- I am 4 weeks, 4 days pregnant (248 days to go!)
- I'm due September 22
- Feeling fine, other than tired and bloated (I already can't wear a belt - the pressure is too uncomfortable!).
As for the likelihood of twins again, my chances are 5% (as opposed to 2.5%, which is the normal statistic). I will be pushing for an early ultrasound to see how many hearts are beating in there!
I did my Yoga Mama video I bought last time I was preggo - boy it's a nice workout! Not too strenuous, but I feel relaxed and positive afterward.
You might notice I added my pregnancy ticker to the top of my blog for easy reference. (If you are reading this in an email, click the "The Art of Monkey" link at the very bottom of the email). I had to fudge the code a bit to make the ticker appear, so hopefully it will work! It appears to be a day off, but that's close enough for me. ;)
As for the twins, they don't really understand yet. They had a lot of questions about the ladies' tummies on my Yoga Mama video, and seemed interested when I said there was a baby in there! We know they love babies (especially Boogie!) so I'm not too worried at the moment. It will sure be interesting to see them as older siblings, instead of peer siblings!
The night we got our positive home pregnancy test I went in to tuck the kids in. I thought they were asleep and I was just going to put their blankets over them. I tucked Roman in, and when I turned around, Giovanna was awake! Her back was to me and I don't think she knew I was there. I watched her put her stuffed puppy and monkey on her pillow next to her, then pull her blanket on top of them, pat them sweetly, then lay down, arm across them in a big hug. It. Was. So. Freaking. Cute.
Roman's big thing lately is to be independent. Just a few weeks ago, if we asked "do you want help?" he'd say "help" and nod. Now, he says "NO! MY HELP!" and refuses any assistance. It's kind of funny and cute, but not terribly convenient when it takes an hour to get dressed instead of 5 minutes!
Oh, the next 7.5 months or so will be interesting... ;)
Monday, January 5, 2009
We opened Grammy's Christmas presents for the kids - a ton of books! The kids were tremendously excited to find "pwesents!!" in the living room after their nap, and they opened the whole stack in about 5 minutes! There are a few that they bring us repeatedly so we can "wread pease" to them, lol.
Grandpa and Grandma J got them toddler trikes and a couple wooden food sets where the pieces are held together by velcro so the kids can "cut" it apart with their very dull wooden knives. The kids looooove the food toys - they cut it apart over and over again, shouting "I DID IT!" every time! They are very excited about the trikes, and are learning how to use them - so far a lot of scooting and pushing has occurred, not so much pedaling...
Tory and Laura got them coloring books (already very decorated) and natural wax crayons that are holding up VERY well to the kids' art time. Their favorite thing to color in the books are the dogs ("puppies!") so it's a good thing one is a dog coloring book! They are currently very obsessed with the tee-wa-wa (chihuahua) lol.
We also got the kids a wooden letters puzzle (they LOVE LOVE LOVE the ones Auntie Dawn gave them!) and they are doing sooooo well at learning their letters! We can dump them out and ask them to find a specific letter, and they are right 95% of the time! I'm INCREDIBLY impressed by this, of course!
Our house is full of so many fun things for the kids to create, read, and play with! This makes mommy and daddy very happy (and busy!)!
Potty training is going slowly but surely. Usually 2-3 times a day, and only pee so far. Stickers and temp tattoos are proving to be great incentive for using the potty. Woe be unto us when we run out of car stickers, though - they seem to be the favorite...
Giovanna will pretty much always pee within 5 seconds of sitting on the potty. Then again a few minutes later. Then again a few minutes after that... She asks to go potty a couple times a day, and she likes to wipe herself, and will let me know if she has "more pee" or if she's "done" (usually accompanied by the slamming of the potty lid, lol). She pooped on the potty once last week, and was soooooo proud!
Roman wants to be part of the potty activity, and will let me take off his pants/diaper about 90% of the time. And he'll actually pee on the potty about 80% of the time. He doesn't usually ask to go, but gets excited if someone else (i.e. me or Giovanna) brings it up. He won't pee sitting down anymore - only standing/squatting backwards, which is a bit messy, but whatever. Nothing a little 409 or Lysol can't fix.
I think they key so far has been asking them if they want to go potty at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon (if Giovanna hasn't already asked), and keeping them occupied once we get in there. We usually have a few board books (ones I don't care if they get peed on) and we play with squares of toilet paper, or bath letters, or whatever keeps them busy so they don't want to get up and run their nekkid butts around the house, lol. Also, after I give them their stickers, I ask if the want to go show them off to daddy, which they get VERY excited and proud about!
They pretty much say anything, now. If they are upset, they have a hard time telling us why, but we can usually get a few key words out of them ("table ow!" or "Roman/Boogie push"). They give us smooches ('moochees) and hugs (uuuughs) and say I love you (I luv oh) spontaneously a lot now! It's the best thing ever. They also give us (and each other) mooches when we get hurt. And they say sorry (sozzee) and give each other hugs if they hurt each other or snatch stuff from each other! They are starting to use conjunctions and other filler words to create complete sentences (i.e. "car is loud" instead of "car loud"). They are also saying longer words like butterfly (buh-luh-lye) and dinosaur (die-no-soh), too!
Their color recognition continues to improve, especially Roman's! And both of them count to two (or count to two over and over if there are more than two of something). A big step from "one...one...one...one..." lol!
Pictures and videos:
Note: sorry about the blank photos in previous Art of Monkey posts. I had to reorganize my folders a bit on Photobucket and it broke all the links. I will try to get them fixed, if I can find the time!