Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ben Update

It's been about a month since I've posted an update on Ben. He is now 7.5 weeks post surgery. As I posted in January, he had quite the set back to his recovery when he contracted a serious staph infection. We are currently on week 5 of his 6 weeks of intravenous antibiotics via his PICC line (I say "we" because it takes both of us- mainly me- to administer the antibiotic every day).

Ben is very anxious to get the PICC line removed next week, mainly because of this:

After just a few days of having the PICC placed, Ben developed an annoying and very painful skin irritation to the adhesive. It literally burned his skin.

A close up of a cluster of blisters caused by the adhesive and bandage.

With his skin being so sensitive to the sticky adhesive they used to make the bandage stick, they had to discontinue its use. It got tricky after that, trying to find ways to make his bandage stick. With a PICC line, it is very important to keep the area sterile, which is why it is so critical that the bandage stays put. Without the trouble causing adhesive, Ben's bandages didn't stick as well and instead of going in to the doctor once a week to get his bandage changed, he was going in 3-4 times a week sometimes.

Then the blisters all popped, oozed and crusted over. It looks terrible and it is so uncomfortable for him. It itches like crazy and keeps him awake at night often. He has found that ice packs help alleviate some of the itching and pain, but for the most part he's had to endure nearly 6 weeks of itching and blisters.

A few weeks ago, Ben's parents came to town. When it came time to infuse Ben for the day, his parents wanted to watch, but Ben's dad is quite squeamish about medical things and could barely watch. To help him get over his aversion, Ben made him help.

Notice the bandage on his dad's hand? Just 2 days after Ben's surgery, his dad accidentally cut his hand severely and had to get surgery of his own to repair damage done to his tendons. We think he did it to show sympathy for Ben's surgery. We love sympathy, but didn't expect him to go quite to that extreme. :) They both had fun being cripples together for a few days and each enjoyed watching their wives take care of them. While Ben can't lift much or bend or twist, his dad can't cut his own meat, needs help brushing and flossing this teeth, and can't lift much with just one hand. Those two are quite the injured duo, I tell you what.

Due to the infection, Ben extended his medical leave of absence from work by another 2.5 weeks. With his parents in town and still off work, this gave him the perfect opportunity to smoke some baby back ribs for them. He is always looking for an excuse to cook meat.

Most people I talk to tell me they would go crazy having their husbands home for any extended period of time. I'll have to admit that the first 2 weeks or so was a bit challenging. Ben was on pain medicine that made him sleepy, and he couldn't stand or sit for long so he spent 95% of his time lying in bed. Trying to keep the kids quiet all the time while he rested was exhausting at times. And if Ben was ever up and moving around he couldn't help with anything.

But the last 3 weeks of his home stay was wonderful. He had lots of energy and no longer needed to be in bed. In fact, I think I spent more time lounging around and laying down then he did. I'll also admit that when he works from home (which is rare), it's challenging because he has work to do and the kids want to be with him constantly. But this medical leave at home was different because he had no work to do. He was home and the only thing on his agenda was doing nothing, or doing whatever he wanted. There was no deadlines, no bosses (except me!), nothing. With the stress from work gone, the pressure to have to get stuff done was gone as well and he actually became incredibally productive with his time. It was truly amazing to watch. He got more done in his last 2 weeks home than we ever have in "nesting mode" before a baby is born. Nice for me- I didn't have to endure a hard pregnancy or get any more stretch marks for so many things to get done! :)

Ben is also wonderful in the fact that he likes being home. I've heard so many men and women talk saying that they themselves or their husbands would go crazy with that much time on their hands, especially at home. Ben is proud to be our breadwinner and finds great satisfaction in the knowledge that he possesses to do the line of work that he does, but he goes to work truly because he has to- he has said more times than I can count that he would truly much rather be at home with us than at work.

Some of the high lights of him being home:

He walked Chloe to school and walked to pick her up almost every single day that he was home (walking was doctor's orders). It was something he's never been able to do and it was a really special thing that the two of them got to enjoy for 6 weeks. (And can I add fabulous for me too- I didn't have to wake babies up from naps or load everyone in the car to go get her).

He's had lots of doctor appointments over the past month and a half, and one day he took Mitch with him. Afterwards, they stopped at McDonald's for lunch.

Ben and I got to go out for a lunch date (with two 2 year olds) while he was home. Our only regret was that we didn't do it more than once!

Once he was feeling better and able to be out of bed most of the time, I was able to leave him alone with the kids for short periods of time during the day. I didn't think that would ever happen, since he can't lift the kids, but with the babies being 2 and pretty independent, I could slip away to run errands or go visiting teaching if I was close to home. I've always wanted a live-in nanny!

He got to play with the kids- a lot! So he couldn't "play" with them like he's used to- no wrestling on the ground, no throwing them in the air, no chasing them up the stairs. But being able to spend all day, every day with them doing daily activities was awesome for all of us. Mitch especially loved having his buddy home with him all the time, and the two boys spent plenty of time playing Mitch's current obsession- Mario Kart Wii.

We relived our kidless days and had a lot of fun staying up late every night. Ben said it was so nice knowing that he didn't have to wake up early every morning to go to work (he usually gets up around 5:45 a.m.). On his break, he would sleep until 8:00 a.m. and even later sometimes on weekends. With a very responsible and helpful 7 year old daughter, I was able to sleep in with him often as well.

It was so fun to have him along when I ran my weekly errands. I really hate grocery shopping, even if I'm alone with no kids, but having Ben along was a lot of fun. Although I'm pretty sure we got a lot of weird looks when we were at Costco and everyone watched as Ben made his wife struggle to put the 40 lb bag of dog food in the bottom of the cart. We should have made him a sign to wear that says "I'm not heartless, I'm crippled." Or even "My wife is stronger than your wife" would have made me feel better about doing all the lifting! :)

We got to go clothes shopping one day and when we were done, we stopped into a cowboy/western shop. We tried on cowboy boots, just for fun. I really should have been a cowboy, right?

Like I mentioned earlier, Ben was my little project fanatic the last 2 weeks home. Repainting, caulking and fixing cracks in the wall in this bathroom was just one of the projects he tackled (don't worry, I helped.) He was literally running circles around me getting things done. It was amazing. I would say I would lend him out to you, but I'm quite fond of my handy man. He does good work around here!

During his abscence at work, his team/group at work won a very prestigious award- Boeing Engineering team of the year for 2011. Ben was able to join his team for an celebratory breakfast last Monday, February 20. They also got a team picture (minus 2 guys) and no, the names are not in order.

Each team member also received a pin as well. Very proud of Ben- I have been told more than once what a wonderful engineer that he is.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Last Wednesday, February 22nd, Ben had an appointment with the surgeon. He was cleared by the doctor to return to work, with a list of limitations (no heavy lifting, no sitting for prolonged periods of time, etc).

We took the twins and Mitch with us to the appointment and the girls were fascinated by the nurse taking Ben's blood pressure.

To celebrate his return to work (although none of us were happy about it), we went shopping and bought Ben some new dress work clothes.

He started his first day back last Thursday, February 23rd. It was really weird not having him home that day. When the babies woke up in the morning, the first thing Lexi said was, "Daddy sleeping?", as she pointed to his bedroom door.

I failed to get a picture of him on his first day back, but here he is on his second day back, sporting his new dress shirt and sweater vest. Wouldn't you want to buy an airplane that has had the electrical work done by this man? I would.

Presented by his sister, Ben and I accepted a challenge to do a 3 day green smoothie detox challenge this past week. The challenge is just like it sounds- drink nothing but green smoothies for 3 days. The smoothies are made from nothing but fruit and leafy green veggies (spinach, kale, chard, parsley, etc).

Ben was a trooper to do it with me, especially since he had to take nothing but green smoothies to work for 2 days (our first day was on a Sunday).

Yes, they really were green. We both survived the challenge, and may now never eat a smoothie again.

Ben's boss has been very kind to us during Ben's leave from work. On 3 different occasions over the past 6 weeks, he brought/gave us flower and gardening supplies for our yard. The first time, he came and planted the bulbs/flowers in our yard himself. Last Saturday, the kids helped Ben plant these beautiful, colorful flowers in the big planter, all courtesy of his boss.

These flowers definitely help brighten up a dreary winter.

We were so glad to have Ben home with us for 6.5 weeks. We are missing him at home during the day, but are so glad that he is recovering and healthy enough to be working again. (And if you are interested in some awesome pictures of his incision, we have 7 weeks worth of almost daily pictures tracking it's progress from right after surgery, infected looking, really infected looking, split wide open, oozing, and finally started to close up, etc.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Twin Update 2: Picture Edition

Well, we've officially reached the terrible two's at our house. The terrible two's times TWO (although the hardest age, at least for us, is 3). These two can definitely be double trouble. I've said it before- this dynamic duo is definitely naughtier than my other two kids ever were. But when they aren't making mischief, they sure are cute and pretty darn funny.

A good friend of mine from high school is due to have twin girls in a few weeks and we have been emailing back and forth about all things twins. I love talking twin- my sister in law has 2 year old twins as well and we have lots of fun swapping stories about the naughty and cute things our twins do. In a recent phone call with my sis-in-law, we were talking about the times we've had people ask us if we'd ever want twins again. As we discussed this, I commented that although twins are super hard at time, there is something magical about them and really special. My SIL replied "I think anything that is hard is more than worth doing." I've had so many people tell me (kindly and very rudely) that they would NEVER want twins or could never handle twins. I have loved every minute of having twins. I totally agree with my SIL that although all the messes and tantrums times two are super hard on certain days, it makes it even more rewarding and more fun. The hard is what makes it even more rewarding.

Here's what my little beasts have been up to lately:

They love making up games together. This night, they decided to play a game where one would stand on the rocking horse and the other one would catch the jumper.

Here's the catch!

The catch, while falling down.

Once they'd fall down, they'd jump back up and start all over again. My previous video post shows this game on video, where Leah falls back flat and smashes Lexi. It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt. But it was pretty funny to watch.

It's also all fun and games until someone does something really, really, really naughty. About a month ago, Lexi got on my black list- or brown list, if you will. I put her down for a nap and Ben heard her talking in her room about an hour after I put her down, and he could smell a bad, bad smell- so he went into her room to investigate. He called me in immediately. She had pooped and taken off her diaper, then proceeded to decorate with her new found "brown paint".

She smeared poop all over on the inside of her crib and crib tent. Then she stuck her hand through the two holes she has made in her crib tent (talk about extra naughty) and painted her dresser as well.

To top it off, she dropped a whole poop chunk into an open drawer of clean clothes below. Are you kidding me??

Here is the mischievous little monster in the tub- she had smeared it all over her naked body and in her hair. It was beyond disgusting and it took me, and my big kids who very sweetly offered to help, at least 40 minutes to clean everything up. Cleaning up included scrubbing and disinfecting the crib, washing the crib tent, all her blankets and clothes, and the chunk of clothes that were soiled in the dresser, and airing out the room for the rest of the day. It was awful. And can you believe it- the little stinker did the same thing the next day at nap time!! When I found it, I almost cried. Ahh, the joys of motherhood.

One night at bedtime, I put both babies in the same crib just to see how they'd fit. Leah freaked out at first, since it was her crib and she did NOT want to share with Lexi. When I told her it was just for a minute, she calmed down and posed for a few pictures.

They both still fit!
It feels like prison in bed sometimes, doesn't it?

Lexi gave her a kiss before getting in to her own bed.

They girls haven't shared a bed since they were 5 months old.

January 2010- 3 months old. So little!

March 2010- 5 months old. This is the day I decided to put them in separate cribs. Once they learned how to roll over and move, they got twisted up and got in each other's way. Lexi (on bottom) is crying because Leah woke her up and was kicking her.

The Andros' are known for bald babies. My kids are born bald and stay bald- for years. Fortunately and unfortunately, that means my kids don't get hair cuts until well after their 2nd birthday. The twins are just getting a good chunk of hair and I didn't want to take any length off (we work hard for hair), but it was getting really uneven and wispy in a few places.

A friend and very sweet lady in our ward cuts hair, so I took the girls for their first haircut to her in-home salon.

Lexi, my braver, less emotional girl went first.

She did fantastic- it was kind of hard for her to hold still, but no crying and no complaining.

BEFORE- front

AFTER- front
(You can't really tell much from the front shot. She only had length taken off the back).

BEFORE- back
Lexi was growing a little tail in the back. The middle of her hair was growing down in a V-shape. It doesn't look terrible in this picture, but it was starting to look quite hideous.

AFTER- back
Tail be gone, but kept the length. Next up- a touch up on her dark roots! Just kidding.

Leah went last. As expected, she was a little apprehensive (see her reaching out to me?) But, in her new and improved way, she handled it pretty well. She whimpered for a few seconds but then did great.

She sat much more still than Lexi did.

BEFORE- front

FRONT- after
Leah had wispy wisps in the front and back and we cut off the thin, scraggly parts.

BEFORE- back


Much better! Neither one was a huge transformation by any means- no one could even tell they'd had a haircut that didn't know- but they looked much more put together and a little less homeless.

Don't let this picture fool you- no, we are not currently potty training. The girls are both slightly interested and if we are changing diapers or getting in or out of the tub, I will put them on the potty at their request. They have both peed in the toilet numerous times. What is the hold up, you ask? ME! I have no desire right now to potty train two little monkeys. Being potty trained is not easier than diapers until you are past of the stage of accidents in the pants and until they can hold it longer than 30 seconds. To be honest, I am not looking forward to potty training these two at all. Not because I don't think they will be successful, but because there are two of them! Two kids means twice the accidents to clean up. It means having 2 kids in the middle of the grocery store with a full cart that need to go potty- sometimes at the same time, sometimes 10 minutes apart (probably every 10 minutes for the entire length of the trip). It means 2 very competitive little girls who will insist that they need to go potty every time her sister says she has to go- which means I'll be rushing 2 kids to two different toilets all day long until they can wait their turn (or buying a potty to sit on the floor, which I don't really want to do).

Let's just say that I am enjoying these last few months in diapers. It's so much easier changing poop in a diaper than smeared into the carpet. When will we start? No earlier than April, and no later than Kindergarten. :)

Having a built in buddy is so much fun- they almost always insist on being in the bathroom with me when I get ready every day. This day they took turns brushing each other's hair.

They still fit in their adorable hand made jackets from Aunt Meredith- I will be so sad when these are too small.

We had a few weeks where it was warm and sunny here (close to 60 degrees). It was the best 2 weeks. We spent lots of time outside. Lexi is getting really good on her balance bike.

Leah prefers the wiggle car. She can go really fast- it's fun to watch her rocket down our sloped driveway!

Lexi is our poor head bump girl- this is the second time in 2 months that she's fallen- hard- and gotten a BIG goose egg on her head.

Please don't call CPS on us. Luckily, both falls have amounted to nothing more than some big protruding bumps and some nasty bruises to follow- and a headache, I'm sure. Poor Lexi.

With thicker, longer hair I finally got to try some braids on the girls. It's a fun variation to the normal stick straight up pony tail on top of the head.

All ready for church! These two are nursery pros. A dad of one of the other nursery kids commented to me yesterday, "Your girls just give you a high five when you drop them off and then they're fine!" First of all, they have to give me a hug, kiss and then a high five before I can leave and then they truly are fine- no tears, nothing. They do wonderful, and truly love nursery. But we had to put up with 3 or 4 good months of crying to get to where we are today. And boy am I glad we are at the stage we are at now.

Some of my favorite things about the twins at this age:

When I can smell a poopy diaper and ask "Who's stinky?", they both accuse the other one of being poopy.

They are learning to tattle. They will often come up to me and say "Leah/Lexi naughty!" and grab my hand to show me the naughty thing the other one has done. One of their favorite tattling phrases is "Mitchell bothering me!" (and he does).

They love to scold and discipline each other. They'll tell each other not to do something and tell the other one what she is doing is naughty. My all time favorite scolding line was when Lexi was writing on the wall one day and Leah shouted, "NO NO Lucky Duck! (Lexi's nick name). That naughty!!"

If one of them is in timeout and the other one isn't, the "good" daughter will come up and ask me, "Is she naughty?"

Their favorite cereal is raisin bran. They will eat bowl after bowl and request it all throughout the day.

They are still obsessed with their baby dolls. Leah's baby is named Tina and Lexi's is Ali. Leah literally cannot sleep at night without it and carries hers around almost every minute of the day.

If they can hear a dog barking outside, they will yell, "No, no dogs" and tell me, "Dogs are ruffing."

They both have recently woken up from sleeping lately crying out about scary/sad things. We realized they are having bad dreams and it's so sad to see them so upset. Lexi woke up from a "bad" dream crying and told me "Mitchell took my fruit snack!" That is a bad dream to a 2 year old. Leah's recent bad dreams have been about spiders. She woke crying just last night saying, "Spider bite my head!" She finally calmed down when Ben pretended to gather up spiders from around the room and throw them away. Poor baby- I hated spiders more than anything as a child, so I can totally relate.

They are both so friendly in public. Whenever we go out, they are constantly waving and shouting "Hi!" to perfect strangers. My favorite was when they both flirted and entertained a lonely old man while we waited in line at a store.

Sadly, they are starting to get opinions about what they want to wear each day. Lexi prefers jeans to any other kind of pants. Sometimes she will sneak upstairs during the day and change out of her leggings into a pair of jeans. I have given up some control and have started letting them pick out their own pajamas at night, even if they aren't matching. That works out great- both girls get what they want- until they recently realized that the girl who picks the footless jammies gets to wear socks and the one with the footed pj's gets mad because she wants socks too!

They are still pretty good little helpers, but have recently started to say "no" when I ask them to put things away. Leah's newest trick is when I ask her to put something away, she will take the object to Lexi and in a whiny, sad little voice say, "Lexi, put it away!" And Lexi will actually do it for her most of the time.

These two girls have always had very different and distinct personalities. The newest way to describe their weaknesses is Leah is loud and Lexi is sly and sneaky. Lexi will do stuff she knows will drive Leah crazy, but she does it very quietly and without a lot of show. Leah is very, very loud. If some one takes something of hers, if she wants something and doesn't get it right away, if she is told no, etc., she'll scream and cry and whine for hours. Example: Leah was using a chair one day and turned away from the chair for 2 seconds to grab something and Lexi quietly and quickly snuck into the chair. When Leah turned back around and saw Lexi in her chair, she immediately started screaming "Mine! Mine" and began to cry and scream and carry on like she'd just been shot. Lexi laid back in the chair very limp and still as can be, acting as if she had no idea why Leah was so upset. Leah over reacts and is LOUD and Lexi is a sly little dog. Leah has always been the one to need more attention- she was the fussier baby, always needed to be held more, etc. We always felt bad that Leah seemed to get more attention as babies because Lexi was so mellow and patient to wait her turn. But as Ben used to say, "The squeaky wheel gets the oil." It hasn't changed much- the loud one usually gets in trouble first, (I do not do noise well), which isn't always fair if it's the quiet one who is causing the trouble, so we've tried to be better about punishing Alexis first for being mean, and then getting after Leah for being so darn loud.

Love, love, love these baby girls of mine.