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Sick again

Madison was not herself yesterday and seemed a little warm that afternoon. We check her temp around 4 p.m. and she had a fever of 102. She started vomiting around 8 p.m. We gave her some baby Motrin and that seemed to break the fever for a few hours. She didn't seem much better this morning so we took her in to the doctor. They did some chest x-rays because they suspected pneumonia. Fortunately it is only Bronchitis and we are getting her some antibiotics this evening. She has been a bear all day and isn't eating much. I hope that she gets over this quickly and no one else gets infected. I really don't know where she got it. Nobody else is sick and we try to be very careful about washing the hands. I figure that it must be me, coming into contact with all those filthy people at work.

She is up again. Got to go.

No, No, No, No, Nooooo! Bad! Bad! Bad! Bad! No! No!

This I heard coming from the bedroom yesterday morning. At least I think it was yesterday. From the bedroom where Kari was supposed to be sleeping late, so that I could get a nap before the red eye flight that I was going to have to do that evening.

We had stayed up later than usual and celebrated more than usual. Our good friends, Scott and Stella, along with their two kids just returned from Singapore and stopped by for a visit. Scott worked as a pilot out there, flying an Airbus, and we had not seen them in about four years. Not to mention, this was really our first social contact, other than family, since Reagan was born. So we stayed up later than we should have.

At any rate I was moving slowly at 6 a.m. when both twins started shrieking. The night nanny, Mary Ellen, was getting ready to leave at seven so there was little point trying to go back to sleep. Rylee and Reagan were already stirring as well. So Mary Ellen left, it was Hilda's day off, and Kari was still sleeping (for the moment). I was on my own.

Things were actually going pretty smooth, for a little while. I had the twins playing on the floor, the big girls in their high chairs, and decided that coffee was a priority. This is the day that the coffee machine decided to quit working. I spent about twenty minutes fooling with it before the kids demanded my attention. Reagan is cutting more teeth, so she has been a bear. And the crying is contagious, once Reagan got going the twins joined in with volumes set to high. I was doing the best I could to settle them down without waking Kari up, but I was feeling a little out numbered. I guess that it is good that Kari woke up when she did. Otherwise the stains might have set.

Yes stains. The dogs rarely have trouble controlling themselves in the house and they had been out not more than nine hours ago. But this day one or both had a BIG problem. I am pretty sure that is was Bunker who emptied his bowels at the foot of our bed, but I am not sure who vomited and who urinated. It was quite a mess.

You know when you are at a restaurant and someone offers to pay the check, but you reach for your wallet anyway, just to be polite? Well, Kari didn't even give me the equivalent of a "wallet reach" as far as cleaning up was concerned. I knew that the clean up was going to be all me. Not that I blame her, she didn't look to be in any condition to deal with that.

So there I was, about as tired as I have ever been. No caffeine in my system. Gazing in to the disaster area that had been our bedroom. The smell of feces, urine, and vomit wafting to my nostrils and the shrieks of two babies and one toddler assaulting my ears. I was vaguely aware of Kari gagging behind me. And I was thinking that this must be some kind of cosmic joke. Do you ever feel like the universe is conspiring against you?

So I spent the rest of the morning with a bucket, a scrub brush, and a shop vac. Try to make our only real sanctuary a livable space again. I did get my nap and was fit to fly when departure time rolled around at nine o'clock. All in all it was a long day.

In other news:

Madison is rolling over pretty regularly now. Jordan is moments away from crawling, she rolls across the room.

Madison is sick again. This evening she had a fever of 102.2 and we are a little concerned. We gave her some Motrin and that brought it down, but she has spiked again and her nose is getting stuffy. Kari is thinking about taking her in to the hospital if she doesn't improve tonight. I guess at this point, as long as she isn't dehydrated and the Motrin is breaking the fever, there is not much they can do at the hospital.

It is hard to accept that we are really dealing with normal babies now. We have spent so much time worrying about them when they were premature that it is hard not to overreact.

Thanks to those who post comments. I really like to hear from all of you.

We are still working on more discipline with the big girls. Or maybe I should say that Kari is working on me. I guess that I am a push over. Even when I think that I am being pretty tough on them, I am told that I am not. I am redoubling my efforts to conform and the struggle continues.

Rylee continues to be amused by the twins and really enjoys helping out.

She was getting a little frustrated here because Madison kept moving her head. (And I know how she feels.) So she finally just held her head in place so that she had a stationary target.

It has been really fun to watch all the girls develop. I especially like watching how they problem solve, like trying to feed a baby who won't be still.

They are definitely individuals, all of them and I feel blessed just to be able to experience them.

While the twins are eating better, they are still being difficult. They are not screaming in pain like they were, but they are not as excited by the bottle as they used to be and it makes for some long days. I sometimes feel that when we start the day we are only waiting for it to be over. Just get through it and this will get easier eventually.

It was Hilda's day off today, but she still came downstairs and helped out several times during the most chaotic portions of the day. I tried to let Kari sleep in for a bit, but it is difficult to keep all four of them quiet for any length of time. Kari stumbled out to see what all the screaming was about when I was trying to give the twins their Prevacid. It is not easy to administer. We have tried mixing it with formula, with oatmeal cereal, with water, mashing them to powder, and we have finally just started to stick bits of the pills into their mouths and hold it against their cheeks till it dissolves. We have wasted a lot of medicine figuring this out. We can now give it pretty regularly without making them gag and vomit.

So I am not worried about them losing weight any more. I am sure that they are getting enough food to grow. However, they are very needy. We did get them to nap for a couple of hours this afternoon, but aside from that one or both have been held all day long and Jordan was up all last night. I keep thinking that we are soon going to come to the point that we will just let them cry it out, like we did with Rylee and Reagan, to get them to sleep through the night. It is going to be tough for all of us. We have been conditioned since the day they arrived to cater to their every whim. And they have been trained that the slightest whimper will summon at least one, if not more, people to sooth them.

It is going to be interesting.

I think that the big girls have been getting a little stir crazy. The weather has been pretty rainy lately and they have not been out of the house for awhile. So today we went to McDonald's to play on the jungle gym and eat some ice cream. Don't you wish that was all it took to entertain you?

That is all for now.

Things are going much better. Kari says that they both ate 31 oz the other day. That is great news. They seem to be sleeping a little better too.

Jordan is rolling over at will, from front to back and back to front. Madison continues to be a little lazy in that respect. She seems perfectly happy to lay on her back and suck on her fingers.

Kari?

Kari, are you up? I thought that by chance you might be up late and read the blog.

I dropped my phone and it bounced off my knee. I thought nothing of it, because I have dropped it many times and it still works. Only this time I didn't hear the "clunk" of it hitting the floor. Instead, I looked over and found that it had landed in my steaming hot coffee.

Needless to say, it is not working at the moment. Also, did you know that our home phone will not take collect calls? I didn't. But it won't.

Check your email for the hotel number.

I will go and try to dry out my phone with the hair dryer.

Happy Valentine's Day.

I Love You.

M

Habla Espanol?

Kari's Spanish has been improving. I know that Hilda has been working to improve her English also, but what results in their exchanges is not really English or Spanish, hence Spanglish.

We are so American.

When I spent time in Europe I noticed that all the Americans stuck out like a sore thumb. Not just from our clothing, but our language skills are abysmal compared to the rest of the worlds population. We, as Americans tend to go for the "just say it louder and slower" method of communication as opposed to trying to learn anything. "If they want to talk to us, they should learn English." right?

Well, we are trying to actually learn something, but the louder and slower actually does serve a purpose. At least the slower does, and it seems hard to speak slower without dialing up the volume. I figured that since Hilda wanted to improve her English, I would speak in complete sentences and have her do the same for me. That has not worked for us very well. There remains a huge communication gap between Hilda and me. Kari on the other hand uses the broken English. She and Hilda understand each other very well. I often have to have Kari translate for us, even though she really doesn't speak Spanish all that well yet. The only down side to this is that Kari has gotten so used to speaking in broken English that she speaks it to people who understand English. She is now often speaking to me in broken English or broken Spanish as a matter of course. That is just what comes out if she isn't thinking about it.

Kari and Hilda were at the grocery store the other day. Kari was picking out tortillas and the lady working behind the counter ask her if she would like butter flavored tortillas. Kari didn't understand what she said, so the lady said "mantequilla?" and Kari answered "Si." They both know English as a primary language and here they are speaking Spanish to each other.

Kari has always been more expressive with her body language than I am and I think that helps too. Most exchanges between Kari and Hilda are accompanied by wild gestures. I think that if you saw them with out hearing the conversation, you might think that my wife was epileptic. Obviously, I am over stating that, but her father used to joke that if you held her hands down she would be unable to speak. And it sure is fun to tease her about it.

Good news. In the last 24 hours Jordan and Madison have both consumed more than 26 oz. of formula. Given that over the last six weeks we have not been able to get them to eat more than about 10 to 15 oz. This is big news. I was very distraught when they started to lose weight and can not find the word to express my relief. I was honestly expecting another hospital stay the way things were going.

Other news on the home front: This evening I moved Reagan's crib back into the twins room so that Madison could use it. Madison and Jordan have now both moved from the bassinet to the cribs because they where starting to crawl forward and smoosh their faces in the the end of it.

Reagan is spending her first night in a big girl bed, and she was not too pleased about it. She has been sleeping in her crib in Rylee's room for a few weeks. Tonight Rylee fell asleep in front of the TV and we waited a bit for Reagan to get good and tired, we were expecting some resistance to the change. Reagan gathered up her plush toys, she has so many that she looked like she was off to do a load of laundry, and started trudging up the stairs ahead of Rylee and I. I notice that her pajamas were a few sizes too big, her feet were about where the knees were supposed to be and the footies were dragging behind her on the floor. So after I watched her struggle up three steps I scooped her up and carried both girls to the top of the stairs. I set Reagan down and she shuffled toward the bed room with a pleasant smile on her face. I stepped past her to lay Rylee, still sleeping, in the bed. When I turned around Reagan was standing just inside the door, the smile was gone, replaced by a bewildered look. She was staring at the spot where her crib used to sit. It was priceless, she looked at the empty spot where her crib was then she looked at me with a blank expression, back to the empty spot, back to me with her bottom lip stuck out. I picked her up which was fine with her, but then I put her on the bed and that was not fine. She was not happy with that at all. I tried, unsuccessfully, to get her to lay down and after about five minutes of soothing tones and petting her head, I gave up and left her in a sitting position at the head of the bed, hollering quite loudly. I am amazed that Rylee slept through it all. After I shut the door, she squawked for about a minute and then accepted her fate and went to sleep.

I win.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the morning, now that she will be free to move about when she wakes up. I half expect to find her sleeping on the floor.

Ahhh, Thats better.

I just got done feeding Madison and she is eating much better, no screaming. Both twins are eating better. They are still not 100%, but are doing much better. I again see light at the end of the tunnel. They are still not eating as much as we would like, but feeding them without the cries of pain is really nice.

Kari and I just returned home from Papa's birthday party. We had a great time and Papa was quite surprised to see us. It took a bit of planning to get Kari's Mom and Papa Wayne down from Dallas and shifting the nanny's schedules around, but we pulled it off. There was a little separation anxiety on Kari's part but she survived. That was the first time that she has been away from the twins for more than a few hours and she was a little worried.

We managed to keep our plans a secret from Papa. There were a few times that the cat was almost let loose from the bag, but Papa ended up being none the wiser until our arrival. Thanks to all involved in that operation. Mission accomplished!

I got home late on the 8th and Kari and I were up till around 2a.m. getting the twins situated and the packing done. We were up at 4a.m to make the seven o'clock flight. We did get a short nap before the festivities began at 6 p.m on the 9th. The party was a success, the food was fantastic and the company was very pleasant. Unfortunately, Chad was working and missed the party and so we felt obligated to stay up late to play with him after he got off work. We finally got to bed about 3 a.m. and we were up again at 6 a.m. to get to Tampa and fly back to Houston. June and Wayne hung around for a bit after our return, but had to head back to prepare for work tomorrow. So it was right back into baby care mode for us. It did make for a long couple of days for us, but it was worth it.

I got some pretty good pictures at the party. They can be viewed on Phanfare. Just click on the photo album link to the right, toward the top of the page. I have also uploaded some new pictures of the twins. You will have to sign up for Phanfare to view the pictures and get an email confirmations from Kari, but she assures me that it is easy to do and there is no cost involved.

I think I will go pass out now.

That is what we keep telling the twins, but they just don't listen.

We are terribly frustrated, they still won't eat. I was hoping that the new medication would have helped by now. The twins are starting to lose weight, which causes me immense concern. We are going to give them another week. If they have not improved significantly we will take them back to the doctor and likely insist on a referral to a gastric specialist. We are pretty certain that reflux is the culprit, we (Kari) have been doing a lot of research on the subject and they have all the symptoms. If they continue to lose weight they are likely looking at a gavage tube down their noses or a stay in the hospital. I sure hope that it doesn't come to that. It will also be nice to have happy babies for a change. The last month has been trying. Since the twins are always hungry and in pain when they try to eat, we spend a large amount of time pacing the house, bouncing the little malcontents until we can barely stand. Fourteen pounds doesn't sound like much weight, but after several hours of carrying it around you will be fatigued.

On the positive side, we are much happier now that we at least know what we are dealing with. Kari seems to be in the highest spirits that I have seen since we began this chapter of our lives. And while this chapter has been infinitely interesting, I am ready to move on to the next one.

Laying Down the Law

Well, we have heard (from several sources) that our girls are not the most well behaved and that we are not the most strict parents in the world.

That is the trouble with having nannies that feel at home with you and your family. While it is wonderful that they have become like family, just like family, they feel free to voice their thoughts on our parenting techniques. Sometimes that is not easy to swallow criticism, even the constructive kind. Even if you know that they are right.

In their defense, they have been fairly gentle about the "suggestions" and they do have to deal with our spawn on a regular basis. We do realize that this advice is coming from people with much more experience rearing children than we have and we are open to advice to an extent.

And thus we are cracking the whip on our older girls. (The poor twins are going to miss out on the whole lax, overwhelmed parents, so I can run amok and do as I please stage.) There will be no more back talk. (Reagan's favorite word is "NO!") There will be no more whining. (At least not without consequences.) There will be no more getting up at five and wandering about the house and playing. There will be no throwing food on the floor, hitting, pushing, throwing toys, changing the diner menu, and no candy before eating good food. There will be picking up of toys. There will be breakfast at nine, lunch at one, nap at two, diner at six, pick up toys at eight, brush teeth, get jammies on, read bedtime story and be in bed by eight-thirty.

We have been slowly easing into this (because it is harder for us than for them) and we hit them hard today with the full regime. By the end of the day I didn't get past the count of two before the behavior changed. However, there were MANY timeouts today. Kari has been sticking to the pickup toys, read a story and go to bed by eight-thirty for several days and it seems to be working pretty well.

I guess that we decided on this mostly because Hilda was getting a little frustrated. That and we know that now is the time to correct the behavior before its too late. It had been easier sometimes to let them get away with less than stellar behavior just to avoid a fight. With all that has been going on, the less crying the better. Hopefully, after a short period of time this will make life easier for all of us. If they know that there are repercussions for bad behavior there should be less bad behavior, right? We will see.

The twins have been a real bear today. I got home close to noon and not long after that Kari and Hilda went to the store, leaving me with all four. They left while all of them were napping and it was fine for a little while. Then Jordan woke up and it was still ok. I got Jordan to eat about four onces, which is quite a lot these days, before she burst into tears. Then Rylee got up and it was still ok, then Rylee woke Reagan up and it was still ok, then Madison woke up and I was still doing pretty well. But after that, things started to go down hill. I put Jordan down in front of the TV and tried to feed Madison. She would have none of it. I think she has only eaten six ounces all day. There were many tears and I don't know if it was sympathy for her sibling or what, but Jordan joined in and then Reagan and then Rylee. I got the big girls calmed and Madison semi pacified then switch Madison to the floor and held Jordan. The rest of the time that the women folk were gone was spent swapping back and forth between crying babies. Whichever was crying loudest got to be held.

I hope that the new reflux medication starts working soon.

There are a few issues with that. The medication takes about a week to start working (that is about where we are now) but the inflammation that the reflux causes can take two to three weeks to heal. So we won't really know if this has done the trick for about two more weeks. Also, the medication is in pill form. Well, the twins can't really swig them down with a glass of water and we have wasted about half of our supply just trying to get them to take the medication without vomiting.

The pills are supposed to dissolve in the mouth, but really they become a thick grainy paste after several minutes. I have learned that putting the pills into solution in a nipple doesn't work. Putting the pills into solution into a syringe doesn't work. Holding the pill under their tongue sort of works, but boy does it make them mad. And if any significant portion of the pill ends up on top of their tongue they will gag until they vomit and there goes another dose of expensive medicine onto the floor.

So it is still far from tranquil at the Spencer household, but maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

And Kari deals with this pretty much all day every day, so I could imagine why she might want to run away at times.

We are glad that we went to a new doctor. We were feeling like Mckillip was not listening to our concerns. Dr. Vaughn we thought was speaking our language. She listened to our sob story and the symptoms and put the twins on a different type of reflux medication and a new, hypo-allergenic, formula. The reflux medication can take anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks to become effective, so we are still waiting to see what that will do. However, the twins are already eating a little better on the new formula. They are still are not eating as much as we would like, but they are doing a little better.

We have reclaimed our dinning room. The twins have been relocated upstairs, into Reagan's old room and Reagan has moved in with Rylee. I was concerned that they would keep each other awake, but it seems to be working out ok.

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