Sunday, December 30, 2007

Slave to the Un-Schedule and Monkey Dreams

Since Christmas the babies have been pretty "off" in their schedule. They have been staying up later and I've been playing around with the nap schedule trying to harness the ubiquitous "sleeping through the night" thing.

Two nights ago they went to bed at 10 pm. Gasp! I always hated that when parents would put their kids to bed late. But, my theory was if they are going to be in their bed crying might as well get them up to play until they are tired.

See, my kids go to sleep pretty easily and peacefully (usually). They just don't stay asleep.

Last night they went to bed at normal time: 7:30-8:00. Max slept until 2-ish and then came to bed with Michael and I. Madeleine slept straight through until 3:30! Success, right? Wrong. I came into her bedroom because she was howling. I went to pat her back and she sat straight up and said "oooh, oooh, ahhh, aaahhh, aaahhh". Which is the response to "what does a monkey say?"

I said, "were you having a dream about a monkey?"
She said yes in her own little way.

The thing was, the thing was, that after the monkey dream she couldn't settle down and go back to sleep. Instead she wanted to play and have breakfast. I know this because she is very good at communicating. In fact, our conversations look a little like my friend Nicole's description of communicating to the locals in Hungary.

First Madeleine pointed to the fish making the fish noise.
"Yes, that is the fish" I acknowledged.

Then she went to the play kitchen and pretended to wash her hands.
She motioned to me that she wanted something to eat. I made her toast and hot chocolate.

She squealed and pointed to her diaper. I changed it. She asked where Maxy was.
He promptly woke up crying and was brought out to the living room to play with Madeleine and me.

That is how we spent the morning. The babies had breakfast at 4:30 am. I watched CNN crap about the caucus. They went back to sleep pat 5:30 or so. Needless to say they are sleeping now.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gym Shopping

It is time for me to become a member of a health club again.

Long gone are my college days of the super sweet gym on campus where I would run, lift weights in the private girls-only weight room and then finish the routine with a swim. I attended step classes there and used their running track that ran above the basketball courts and rock climbing wall.

I quit working out at the gym when I became pregnant and was told by my doctor to walking slowly and for not a long time lest I go into labor. Which, of course, happened even without working out.

After the delivery of the Ms I vowed to walk my hiney off with them in the stroller in order to save the $35 a month dues. I walked some but not consistently. I then bought my double jogger in order to make running with them easier. Easier it is to run with them but hard as hell it is to take the sucker out of our storage unit and get the babes in it while I'm by myself.

Yoga, I have gotten books and videos in order to do Yoga at home but what happens instead is that I get tired when the babies go to sleep and end up blogging or watching saved "Grey's Anatomy" episodes.

It is time, Lord. It is time to get my booty back to the gym and get reacquainted with treadmill.

Here's the plan:
  1. Wake up in the am and take my lovely husband to work (because I am that kind of wife).
  2. Go to the gym with the babes.
  3. They play in the daycare and I run run run off my muffin top.
  4. Max and Madeleine have heaps of fun working off their energy playing with new germy toys at the gym.
  5. I sweat.
  6. Go home.
  7. Put babies to bed for a nap.
  8. Shower.
  9. Continue with our day knowing that I have done something good for myself.

Good plan, eh? I'm going now, as the babies are napping and Miguel is chilling, to various gyms in my neighborhood to scope out the best. I'm looking for:

  1. Clean equipment
  2. Clean daycare with good hours
  3. Nice people working in the day care
  4. Cost effective day care
  5. Plenty of Parking

Wish me luck!

Fishy is still called Fishy

We are still calling the fish "Fishy". I show two votes for Bindee but we are open to other names suggestions. Some of the names Michael suggested include:
  • Whitey
  • Abe
  • Clarence
  • Lyle
  • Morty

If you have a better one please let me know or I will be forced to call our male fish "Bindee".

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Presents Presents Presents

Thanks Uncle Dan for our noisy alphabet Caterpillar
Madeleine with Maxy's new baby doll
Maxy hugging his baby.
Uh oh, the fake food that Santa brought is too small! Madeleine put the whole orange into her mouth.
Our new kitchen!
Madeleine sweeping with their new cleaning supplies.
Feeding their Cabbage Patch Dolls from Grandma.
Thanks Grandma for our new Zebra!

With every gift Max said, "whoa" and Madeleine giggled. Christmas is such a fun time for kids!

The Magic of Christmas at the Klassens

Playing with the Nesting Dolls with Lisa
Brandon, Max and Madeleine at the Piano.
Snow globes with Caroline.

On the way to the Island

On the way to the island we were blessed with sunny weather and smiling faces!
Madeleine showing off all of her coolness.
Maxy on Island time, shoes off and pigs in the air.
So sweet!

Name the Fishy

When we asked Max what the Fish's name was he said "Dee".

When we asked Madeleine she said, "Bin".

So we considered Dee and we considered Bin and we considered Deebin and Bindee.

What do you think?

We are open to other suggestions.


I've attached a few pictures so you can see what he looks like.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007
For those of you who don't know, Michael celebrated his 36th birthday on Sunday. It is tough to be born the day before Christ's Birthday. Michael has memories of being stilted out of gifts and birthday cake as a youngin. I try to make him feel special even though at this time of the year that is hard.

We managed to get out for a date night on Saturday. We went to Piatti, which is where we celebrated our rehearsal dinner before our wedding. I have to admit that I wasn't expecting much but we had the best meal we have had in a very long time! It was a nice quiet evening full of pasta and wine.

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007
We woke up on Michael's special day with Madeleine at 4 am ready to start the day. Forty-five minutes later Max followed up with puking. He vomited everything he had and then some. Poor little guy, he actually looked green. He clearly needed to stay home and rest so Michael and Madeleine went out for a fun father/ daughter day. They went downtown to his work to pick some stuff up. And then went and had lunch. After that they went to the pet store and bought our first family pet: a male betta fish.

Upon their return Maxy was feeling much better and we went out for a quick bite to eat at the Santa Fe Cafe. The kids went to bed and Michael and I enjoyed the night before Christmas eve. The best little present I could have asked for was a full night's sleep. Yep, I actually got a full 8 hours of sleep that night! I'm writing this with apprehension because it seems that every time I write about sleep the opposite happens that night. Hold your breath and cross your fingers that this continues. Last night wasn't as good but it certainly was not bad.

Monday, December 24th, 2007
Thank you to my friend Megan for providing a lovely brunch full of good friends and good food. Max and Madeleine loved spending time with the big kids and Michael and I enjoyed catching up with our friends.

Home. Nap.

Later that afternoon we were on a ferry in beautiful Seattle Sun on our way to Whidbey Island to enjoy Christmas eve Bouillabaisse with the Klassen Family. Thank you Bruce, Caroline, Lisa and Brandon for your hospitality and great conversation. The food was tremendous, as always, and the desserts were everywhere, as usual.

After a very late night the kids went to bed and Micheal and I stayed up two more hours assembling toys and getting the living room ready for Christmas morning. We were so excited this would be the first Christmas that would be truly fun for the kids.

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007
to be continued....

Saturday, December 22, 2007

18 months

Today my babies are 18 months old. They are one year and a half, exactly. Where did the time go? They have grown and changed so quickly. It has literally been right before Michael and my eyes. Even a year ago they were completely different babies than they are today.

They had their 18 month doctor visit today. They received a clean bill of health and received three vaccinations. I delayed a few of their vaccines for a bit until I knew they were safe and I felt comfortable with them receiving them. I didn't want them to have their MMR shot on their 12th month birthday. Austism. Today I was assured that my children are not showing signs of autism and encouraged to get them vaccinated. They received their MMR shot, their varicella shot (chicken pox) and a boost of prevnar. They were such little troopers with their vaccines. Maxy hardly cried and Madeleine only for a second. Michael and I then dragged them to Target where they continued to be in high spirits- greeting all the passers by.

Maxy hasn't gained much weight lately but the doctor isn't worried. He now weighs 23 lbs and 9 oz (20th percentile). He is 32.5 inches high (50th percentile).

Madeleine weighs 22 lbs 8 oz. (30th percentile) and is 31 inches high (25th percentile).

Neither kid is showing any signs of delays and is right on track in all aspects (including their toddler tantrums!).

Thanks Dr. Passloff, we appreciate your continued care of our babies!


Sometimes we get so caught up in the fact that Madeleine is an amputee. I'm talking about myself here. I think about my child with a disability all the time. Madeleine's leg came off in the supermarket yesterday. That wouldn't have been a big deal except that a woman was walking by at the same time telling Max how cute he is.

"Oh," she said.
I laughed.
"She has an artificial leg." I said, as if it wasn't obvious!
"It comes off sometimes if the cart hits it just right."
The lady laughed a bit and said, "Well, she looks happy."

Why wouldn't she be happy? She isn't in pain, I thought.

And then I have people telling me how well she is doing walking. Yes, she is. They tell me she is amazing. Yep, she is.

Amputee will always define Madeleine. Just like her other labels of "twin" and "female". It doesn't have to be all she is though.

If you don't know who Sarah Reinertsen is you should. She gives "amputee" a whole new name.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Madeleine went to her post-op appointment on Wednesday. It has been almost six months exactly since her surgery and I cannot believe how well she is doing! We went to see the entire team at Children's: the nurse, the surgeon, the prosthetist and the physical therapist. We were there a long time, three hours.

Two toddlers + Three hours in an exam room = Chaos

Here is what we learned in a nutshell:
  • No, she is not in pain. There is no phantom limb pain/sensation in small children
  • Her leg may be itchy after we take off the prosthesis because it gets very hot in there. Also, she has a little crease on the top of her shin where the dimple was and the incision was made- that can get squeezed together and get a little uncomfortable if the prosthesis is tight and hot.
  • She is doing well.
  • She has grown and we raised her leg up one more centimeter.
  • She has slimmed down on the top of her leg a big so we brought in the foam liner.
  • Max likes to color on walls, much to my embarrassment.
  • If I notice that she can move her heel pad (the bottom of her leg) I should call and get her seen as Dr. Mosca will have to take out a chunk of her achilles tendon. Ouch.
  • Her scar tissue looks good.
  • We met another Madeleine there who also needs lots of surgeries but is doing well and very cute.

All and all, we are happy with the appointment and glad to be all done.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

From one of those emails about what kids say

I got this from a friend who knows first hand about the crazy things that kids say. I thought it was pretty funny too!

A 1st grade school teacher had twenty-six students in her class. She presented each child in her classroom the 1st half of a well-known proverb and asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb. It's hard to believe these were actually done by first graders. Their insight may surprise you. While reading, keep in mind that these are first-graders, 6-year-olds, because the last one is a classic!

Don't change horses
until they stop running.
Strike while the
bug is close.
It's always darkest before
Daylight Saving Time.
Never underestimate the power of
You can lead a horse to water but
Don't bite the hand that
looks dirty.
No news is
A miss is as good as a
You can't teach an old dog new
If you lie down with dogs, you'll
stink in the morning.
Love all, trust
The pen is mightier than the
An idle mind is
the best way to relax.
Where there's smoke there's
Happy the bride who
gets all the presents.
A penny saved is
not much.
Two's company, three's
the Musketeers.
Don't put off till tomorrow what
you put on to go to bed.
Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and
You have to blow your nose.
There are none so blind as
Stevie Wonder.
Children should be seen and not
spanked or grounded.
If at first you don't succeed
get new batteries.
You get out of something only what you
See in the picture on the box
When the blind lead the blind
get out of the way.
A bird in the hand
is going to poop on you.
Better late than

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

what to do?

I didn't sleep last night. I haven't slept in a year and a half. But I really didn't sleep last night. I think I actually snoozed for about 3 hours, but not three consecutive hours. What am I to do? I cannot do "cry it out", not when I think that my child is in pain and that is why they are waking up. What am I to do at this point?

I yelled at the kids last night. I feel so so badly about that. I have literally cried about it all day long. I yelled at them to lie down and go to sleep. The worst thing is that it worked, for a while. They did lie down. They were frightened by my voice. OH the guilt in that!

Something has to change. I cannot do this much longer.

I emailed Ann Keppler. I didn't really know where else to turn. I also emailed Dr. Mosca's nurse in case Madeleine is feeling pain and that is why she is waking up.

Here is my email to Ann:
Hi Ann,I hope it is okay that I am emailing you. I don't know if you remember me, I attended First Weeks (and next months) with my twins, Max and Madeleine. We talked extensively about how to help with sleep issues. Well, the twins are now 18 months old (almost) and still terrible sleepers. I thought we would just manage until they were developmentally ready to 'sleep through the proverbial night' but now it is getting really problematic. They wake up from 2-4 times a night each. I'm still nursing them and do so in the middle of the night when needed. I have tried to night wean (send in the daddy, tell them milk is no more etc.) much to no avail- they scream, pull, bite, fight- it is awful! I'm not totally ready to wean them but I am starting to feel resentful toward them, which makes me feel terrible. Last night I yelled at them and I feel so horrible about that. It has come clear that it is probably time for an intervention. They attend the infant/toddler program at the Experimental Education Unit at the UW and their teacher there has encouraged me to contact you.

There is a catch with all of this. Madeleine underwent major surgery about 6 months ago. She was born with an orthopedic birth defect and had her foot amputated and two osteotomies. Sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night crying and holding her leg and I cannot be sure that she is not in pain (they tell me kids do not experience phantom limb pain but I'm not too sure). We live in a small two bedroom in an apartment building so I am conscious of our neighbors. They share a room now but usually end up sleeping with my husband and I at some point in the night.

I know you do sleep consults but I'm not sure if we could afford you. I wanted to check in and see if you had some quick advice or if you feel like the problem is big enough that we should scrape the money together and have you intervene.

Thank you for anything you have!

And her response:

Hello Niki,

Of course I remember you and your twins - happily. You are a wonderful mother.

It sounds as though you have experienced a lot of difficult decisions and adjustments to Madeline's surgeries. And, I would trust your intuition about whether or not Madeline is experience pain in her leg by her behavior. Does the rubbing of her leg help her? That would be a way to override the pain sensations by sending other sensory sensations to her brain in the same way rubbing the lower abdomen in labor reduces the pain sensations of the contractions.

Probably the best place to start is to look at their food/milk consumption during the day and try as hard as you can to pack the calories in during the day with foods like avocado, and other calorie dense foods. If you know that are getting a lot of milk (which at this stage of lactation has more fat than whole milk) and lots of dense calories, then you could begin to try anything to soothe them at night except nursing.

I would suggest you have a look at Ferber's newest book for some ideas (I don't support all he suggests) and I really like Elizbeth Pantley's book The No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers. I think it is much better than her book for infants.

Right now I am taking a sabbatical from parent consultations to work on the revision of Pregnancy Childbirth and the Newborn. Barb Orcutt, a colleague and wonderful nurse is covering from me. She directs the Breastfeeding Center at the Birth Center, is practical, thoughtful and smart. She joined me for several sleep consultations last month. You could contact her at if the other options didn't provide you with enough new ideas. I hope this helps. Great acknowledgment to your sensitive and thoughtful approach to parenting. ~ Ann

Yes, good ideas to try. In the mean time I will be a bad friend, an emotionally fragile mother and a complete basket case wife. My apologies to everyone this affects.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chanuka Hanukah Hanukka Khanukkah

Whatever way you wish to spell it Hanukka has come and gone. This year we were fortunate to be invited to a candle lighting celebration. Thank you to the Goldberg/Resnik family for having us and serving delicious egg-free latkes! Madeleine loved them but not as much as she liked the peppermint truffles!

Mosaic: A Playdate

The twins and I just discovered this fantastic new coffee house in Seattle called Mosaic. If you live in or around Seattle and you haven't been to Mosaic Coffee House you better high tail your butt there, pronto! Not only is it conveniently located in the U-District (off of 45th, kind of behind Dicks) but it is a big, friendly space with free Wi-Fi, nice music and a kid play room (cutely called "demi tasse"). Yes, you heard me, a kid play room, that although it is lacking a bit in toys, it is a spacious room with tables and chairs on one side and mats and toys (including a big play house and kitchen) on the other.

Okay, so this isn't your ordinary coffee house, did I mention it is non-profit? And run by donations?

As a local, nonprofit coffee house, Mosaic exists to allow neighbors an
opportunity to come together while encouraging the building of healthy community through conversation, exciting events, and excellent coffee drinks. At
Mosaic, we believe that each guest who walks through our door is worth more than a labeled price, so we serve our food and beverages with no fixed price.
What does this mean? You decide what it is worth.
The name Mosaic came about by looking at our lives, which often resemble mosaics—filled with broken pieces. We believe a mosaic is only a mosaic when it is formed with many pieces. Here at Mosaic, when our lives are joined with others in our neighborhood and community, we have the opportunity to be part of something truly beautiful.

I know, cool eh? So, this morning I bought a latte, a small hot chocolate to split between the babes (ps, the only way they will drink milk :/) and a croissant. How much is that worth? I gave them $7. I love love love the idea of them donating extra profit to charities. I love the idea that they are all about community. For this reason, you have to go because if you don't they won't stay in business and this fantastic idea will fail.

Better idea, let's meet for a playdate! My kids loved running around like maniacs, noses running, hair stuck to their heads in a bed head kind of way! You get the idea. We scared off two other moms with a toddler each that were there when we arrived. Max was stealing snack traps and Madeleine was putting her germ laden mouth around someone elses sippy cup! Egad! Heathens!

Why is it that my kids want any sippy cup that is not their own? They can have the same exact cup with something better in it and they will still want the other kids'.

I know those other moms would have stayed longer if we hadn't arrived. Was it the runny noses? Was it my conversation?* Hhhhmmmmmm, I'll just have to go back to Mosaic when the noses aren't runny and see.

*The Mom Rule: when you are a mom and you see another mom of a child that is about the same age as your child you must converse. You must find out what you have in common, what your kids are doing that is similar, if you are a stay at home or working mother etc. Sometimes the conversation is strained and lame, sometimes it is fascinating and you are instant friends.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Phantom Limb Pain

You have heard of this. Everyone knows about phantom limb pain. I knew about it even before my daughter had her foot amputated. The idea conjures up images of war veterans without legs, lying and crying in their hospital beds. I'm reminiscing about old M*A*S*H episodes now.

I thought about phantom limb pain and how they may affect Madeleine. I was assured that this would not happen to someone so young. Dr. Mosca told us that if we amputate young (under 2) she would not have phantom pain. He said there was no known research that showed babies to have pain after an amputation. This was one reason to do the surgery while she was young. Another reason is that she would not have attachment to that body part. Granted.

I'm not sure that I believe this now. I think that maybe children do experience phantom limb pain but cannot tell us about it therefore we think it doesn't exist. However, even without words Madeleine is a great communicator. For instance, if she wants to read more books (as a way of delaying bed time) she points to the books, the rocking chair and whines a bit. So, why then, when she cries in the middle of the night and points to the bottom of her leggie should I not assume that she is experiencing pain? She will often hold or grab the bottom of her leg at night. Once, I came in to answer her drowsy cries and she was biting at the end of her leg.

In the article highlighted above the author writes:
Phantom limb pain – pain appearing to come from where an amputated limb used to be – is often excruciating and almost impossible to treat.

He then goes on to say:
After amputation of a limb, an amputee continues to have an awareness of it and to experience sensations from it. These phantom limb sensations are also present in children born without a limb, suggesting that perception of our limbs is 'hard-wired' into our brain and that sensations from the limbs become mapped onto these brain networks as we develop.
If phantom limb sensations are normal then so too, alas, is phantom limb pain. This occurs in a majority of those who lose their limbs. (1) In fact, limbs do not need to be lost; it also occurs in conditions in which the brain is disconnected from the body, such as peripheral nerve injuries and after spinal cord injury, when an area becomes insentient (and usually paralysed).

The pain is described in various ways: burning, aching, 'as if the hand is being crushed in a vice,' etc. Such words, however, cannot fully encompass the experience of living with such a pain.

If this article is true than I can assume that Madeleine is experiencing some sensation. To ease this I rub her leg, I talk to her about it and reassure her that all is okay and she is not in a painful situation. Of course I worry about this. It makes me sad. But still, I do not regret our decision to ampute. If we had lengthened I'm assuming the pain would be greater.

Madeleine wakes up more than Max, usually. This is why I could never let her "cry it out".

FH: Our Forever Label

Just as parents and kids with Autism will always be in the world of autism we will always be in the world of Fibular Hemimelia. My daughter will always be associated with it- I will always be a mother of a child with Fibular Hemimelia.

I am called back to the day when I first heard this label. It was February 20th, 2006. At the time I don't know if I could have identified a fibula on a map if I tried (thinking of those high school students now who don't know where Georgia is). Dr. Saliman said, "Let me tell you what it is called and then I will discuss the treatment..." I grabbed a pen and paper to write it down. Geez, now it is part of my daily vocabulary!

My daughter has one fibula. She now only has one foot. 5 toes. "Madeleine, how many fingers am I holding up?" "Count your toes!" Woops, we are missing some.

When Dr. S told us that many children with FH have missing toes I was horrified. Such a silly thing to be horrified about! I remember my friends, Megan and Serena, who worked in a hospital telling me about a man who had only four toes. I thought about how my child would be the one that the nurses talked about. How kids would notice she only had four toes (or three) and make fun of her in her little sandals.

When Madeleine was born with five toes I saw it as a victory. Ha, you doctors! I made a child with all ten toes! Her foot is perfect! FH, my ass.

We amputated. We took off her perfect five toed foot. I never, well almost never, regret this. I see my daughter walking around, I see her climbing stairs, I see her squatting and standing back up, bending over, lifting her leg and I never regret taking off her foot.

When I am rocking her to sleep in the middle of the night, which happens more than I'd like to admit, I am reminded of that perfect little foot. Sometimes I am surprised that that her foot is gone. Crazy. In the middle of the night in my sleepy haze I will see that short leg sans foot and for a quick moment I will be surprised. I will wonder where that foot is. I will be horrified. And then I remember and still there is little regret.

I miss it though.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Calling our blogging friends...

Since I have just added a link list to our blog I want to invite you to be one of our links. If you are our friend and you have a blog (you know who you are--- wink wink) let me know if you want me to link you to us. I don't want to do it without your permission.

Thanks friends!

Bah Humbug?

As Max and Madeleine were busy being elves Daddy turned into Scrooge!

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

In case you haven't heard... Seattle got snow last weekend. Here are some shots from the babies first snow fall.

Maxy clearly enjoyed the snow more than Madeleine.
Trying to get them to pose and look at the camera- not an easy feat when dealing with twin toddlers.
I love Max's face in this one!

Although it was pretty and fun for a bit it melted about as fast as it came. Mom is certainly happy to not have snow in her life. If I liked snow I would have stayed in Michigan!!!!

Tis the Season

The season has sprung in the Northwest. Not only did we get TONS of snow over the weekend we have begun to decorate the house for Christmas. Much to Michael's chagrin we have left the snow village and our big Christmas tree in storage. As faux Christmas trees contain lead (as do the lights) we have decided to fore go the big tree this year. We knew that we would not be able to effectively keep the babes from touching (read destroying) the tree and all its decorations this year.

We do, however, have a little bitty tree sitting up on our side board that the M's are welcome to look at and not touch.

Christmas cards have been ordered. After many a photo shoot I think we have the pictures we will use this year. It took a bit to get both kids looking at the camera. It sure was easier last year when they didn't move! No previews- you will have to wait for your card in the mail!

Christmas shopping has also begun. Don't tell Max but we got him some kid cleaning supplies! My boy loves to sweep! Really a chip off the ol' block, if you know Michael you also know about his cleanliness habit. I'm still working on Madeleine's main gift. She is a little trickier to shop quickly for.

Michael is working on this as a main present from Santa:

We have already picked up some fake food along the way and now that the kids are into 'pretend play' more I think this will be a hit.