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I can't recall the last time I posted this much in such a short time, but the holidays seen fitting for jotting down fond memories.

We actually got out as a whole family. We took the kids to see Santa at the mall. It went better than I imagined it would. I was ready to give up on the idea, but I am glad that Kari insisted on going. I figured that we would stand in line for hours (we did) and the kids would all be crying (but they didn't) and we would have a photo of all four kids screaming in terror, sitting on Santa's lap. I was impressed with their behavior. They must have excellent parents.

I especially enjoyed watching Jordan and Madison holding hands in the stroller. They were making eachother giggle much of the time we where waiting. I don't want to forget that. I asked Reagan to stand next to Rylee for a photo and she instead gave her a big hug. I want to remember that too.

The house isn't as clean as we would like for family showing up, but we are done with the cleaning for today. Done for a couple of days, probably.

All the kids are totally buying the big Santa lie. I really wonder how long that will last.

Merry Christmas!

Even though I was feeling exhausted, as usual, when I got out of bed, I decided this is going to be a great day. I am still smiling even though it has not been going really smooth.

I got up with the girls to give Kari some much needed rest. Rylee asked for French toast, so I started clearing a space on the counter and getting out the eggs. Reagan needed some help going potty, so I paused to give her a hand. Then she wanted to play with Play Dough and I thought that would be a good distraction while I finished preparing breakfast. Then she needed some help opening the cans of dough. I finally got back to the French toast. Rylee wanted to "help." So I let her stir the eggs and dip the first couple of slices of bread. It was going a little slow so I took over the rest of the bread dipping. This set Rylee off, which maybe what set the twins to crying and then Reagan started in, due to Play Dough related difficulties. Then I sneezed.

Ever since I got my nose broken in college I am prone to ocational nose bleeds. I may not have one for years, but they never occur at a convienient time. So now I have French toast burning, all four kids crying and blood gushing out of my nose. (Sigh.) I got Rylee calmed down and gave Reagan a three count to shape up. She opted for the timeout. I mollified the twins with cups of milk and tried to staunch the bleeding. I was wondering if a toriquet would help, it might have.

So with a Kleenex suffed up one nostril I continued to serve up the breakfast. As I set the plates on the table I had to clear away the Play Dough debris. All of the Play Dough is the same color. If you mix every can you end up with a purplish brown color. Anyway, as I was packing the hemoginized Play Dough back into the little yellow cans I came across a hard pice that had an unusual shape. As I picked it up to examine it I noticed that the color was a little different from the rest. My heart sank as I realised that this was not Play Dough. Without thinking I gave it the smell test. You would think that I would know better by now. But that confirmed without a doubt that I was not holding Play Dough. I am not even going to pretend that you need an explanation of what it was.

So after lots of scrubing of all hands and table we got back to breakfast. The only lingering question is:

Did Reagan go into the litter box and bring that to the table? Or was the cat leaving us a little Christmas presant? I have launched a full scale investigation and will do everything in my power to get to the bottom of this mistery.

Later today Kari and I are considering standing in line for hours to get some pictures of our kids screaming on Santa's lap. Should be fun. You can almost count on another blog update after that adventure.

Merry Christmas.

No, I was not involved in the incident involving a Continental 737 that departed the runway at the Denver international airport. Thanks for all the calls and texts inquiring about my safety. I don't have any information regarding that mishap that isn't pure speculation or what I have heard on the news, which I find quite vexing.

I just got home from a trip. I had a long layover in Fort Myers and got a chance to play a round of golf with my brother and see my parents. It was very pleasant and I think I may have played the best round of golf that I ever played, but I will never know because I didn't keep score. I find the game much more enjoyable if I don't keep track. After Florida I spent a night in Canada where the temperature was -27 degrees. I can't imagine why people live there on purpose. It was so cold that I could feel the moisture in my eyes starting to freeze as I waited for the van to take us to the hotel.

I still maintain that coming home after a four day trip is like Christmas for me, every time. When I walked in this evening I came through the garage. Madison heard the door open and came out of the dinning room into the kitchen to investigate. She stopped when she saw me, a blank look on her face. I could see the wheels turning. "Who is this large man, dressed all in black? Should I be scared? Wait a second, he looks familiar." Then a smile spread across her face with the recognition of who I was. I could see the light come on. She beamed. She ran to me as fast as her little legs would carry her. I melted. There is no feeling like it, I am blessed.

Kari and I sat and watched "In The Womb: Identical Twins." You can imagine why we might be interested in a show like that. However, it did bring back some memories, not all of them good. So Kari and I spent awhile discussing our experiences of the birth of the twins. I was amazed by the difference in our perspectives. We were talking about what we recalled, how we felt, and what we thought would happen after they were born. The most interesting to me was the differences in our outlook and when those outlooks changed. I was sure everything was going to be okay until I saw the twins for the first time in the NICU. Kari was sure everything was going to be okay after she was able to touch them in the NICU. I thought that it was odd that her optimism went up just as mine took a nose dive. She said God would not do this to her now.

During the C section Kari was in a panic, she was having trouble breathing, fearing the worst. She did not hear the babies cry (because they couldn't), she did not see them when they were taken out and removed from the OR. She didn't have her contacts in and could see almost nothing. The kids were taken from the OR immediately so they could be put on ventilators. Kari didn't recall much else until she was in the recovery room.

I on the other hand remember feeling fairly calm, given the gravity of the situation. I may have been in shock. I remember waiting in the waiting room for them to come get me. It was difficult to sit, I may have paced. I remember walking into the OR, after waiting for what seemed like months. Kari was stretched out on the table. The OR was crowded with people. There were at least five nurses, two doctors, and the anesthetist. Probably many more, but I can't recall. I was guided to a seat near Kari's head. The anesthetist was speaking with her. I recalled wondering if he was high, after the article that I had just read about drug abuse with people in his profession. He did seem very happy to be there. Maybe he was just trying to ease her mind. I remember that Doctor Reiter had already made the first incision and was telling the nurses to hurry up and get me in there, just as I walked in. He wasted no time, going right to work as soon as I sat next to Kari. I couldn't see exactly what he was doing because of the sheets that they had draped over my wife, but what I could see I remember vividly. With a scalpel he punctured the amniotic sack and Kari's belly began to deflate rapidly, like a huge water balloon. I could hear the rush of fluid as it drained of the table and into plastic collection bags. It sounded like pouring a whole bucket of water into a trash bag. I was torn between wanting to see what he was up to and comforting my wife, who could see nothing. I knew that the doctors didn't waste any time doing these procedures and were not gentle, but I was shocked to actually see what went on. It was brutal. They were stretching and pulling at my wife, like they were trying to tear open a really tough trash bag, they were almost up to their elbows in her abdomen as they rooted around for the first baby. I remember the doctors talking, but I don't recall what they were saying. I found their tone odd, speaking like they were out for a nice round of golf or maybe sharing a jigsaw puzzle. I didn't have much time to ponder that, because out came Madison. He held her up for just a moment and then she was whisked away by the nurses. I don't think I even had time to bring the camera up before she was gone. She was very small. As shocked as I had been at the operation thus far, nothing prepared me for Jordan's arrival. She must have been stuck somehow. I figured that once you cut open the uterus it wouldn't be too hard to remove the kids, but I was wrong. After rooting around for what seemed like a long time, it may have only been seconds, the doctor remarked on having difficulty. A foot appeared and I watched him wrap a towel around my youngest daughter's leg and tug with all his weight. I could see my wife's whole body shift on the table, like someone was dragging her by her feet.
"You are going to pull her leg off!" I remember thinking to myself. After one good tug, out Jordan came. Even smaller than the first, she was minuscule. I could have easily cradled her in one hand, supporting her head with my finger tips, her rump wouldn't have even reached my wrist. I was ready this time and snapped a photo. The nurses whisked this child away too. Dr. Reiter, with his task nearly complete, paused to show me the two umbilical cords. I knew one would be larger, but I was amazed to see the difference side by side. Jordan's was probably less than half the size of Madison's. The mood in the OR settled some with the babies out and I know that at some point we took a photo of the doctor giving a thumbs up. Now I was torn by the urge to be with the children and urge to be by my wife's side. I got to do neither. I was escorted back to the waiting room while the doctors closed up my wife. After about three days I was allowed into the recovery room with Kari. She was awake, sort of. Lights on with nobody home kind of thing. After several more days, it seemed, they wheeled the twins into the room in portable incubators. I got a few pictures with my phone and Kari got to see nothing, since she still had no contacts. After about 3 seconds the twins where taken away again. Then somehow, after another two or three years, we were in Kari's hospital room. I have no idea how we got there. I may have walked, but I just don't know.

As soon as Kari was tucked in I went to find my kids. I remember my heart feeling like it might just beat out of my chest. I could hear the blood coarsing near my ears as I wandered the halls trying to recall the directions to the NICU. I know there was a conversation with a nurse over a phone outside a locked door, lots of hand scrubbing, more nurses, florescent lights, a sterile smell, but it is all pretty blurry. What remains vivid in my mind was seeing the twins all cleaned up for the first time. I saw Madison first. Even though she was the one having the most trouble at the moment, she looked better than Jordan. She was bright pink, almost red, due to the large amount of blood that she had stolen from her sister. There was no movement other that the rise and fall of her chest as the ventilator took breath after breath for her. I didn't linger long before inquiring about the whereabouts of my other daughter. I was lead over to another area of the NICU for my first really good look at Jordan. I was shocked again and had to fight off the wave of emotion that hit me like a pysical force. I choked up and just shivered for a few moments. Jordan was as white as a sheet. I will never forget watching her ribs rise and fall, with what looked like terrific effort. Her skin was stretched so tight over her chest that it looked as if it might tear with each breath. She looked almost translucent. Even though I knew the machine was doing all the work, I could see her fighting. She was going to have to work to make it out of this. Her eyes were shut, of course, but looked like they would be unable to open. Like a new born puppy's eyes. Her mouth couldn't be seen, covered with tape that was holding the vent tube in place. Her forhead was marred with a terrible bruise from her scuffle with doctor Reiter. His thumb print extended the top of her forehead all the way to the bridge of her nose. Her limbs were tiny, her legs much smaller than my pinky finger. I was choking up and wondering how she could possibly live. I prayed, I prayed a lot. I had up to this point had no doubts that the kids would be fine. Nothing bad could really happen to me, to them, it just couldn't, not possible. Now I had doubt and I was really scared. I felt totally helpless.

I was allowed to wheel Kari down to the NICU later that evening, I think. I think there was a struggle to put in contacts, but I don't really recall. While it was killing us not to be able to hold them, Kari was allowed to touch them for the first time. That is when she says she was sure that they would be okay. It took much longer for me to feel reassured and it wasn't a sudden change, like when I first saw them on those warming tables. The terror slowly ebbed away over the months that we watched them grow and improve. Moving from the vent to the CPAP. From the tube feeding to the bottle. Watching them slowly gain weight. It wasn't till months after we got them home that I really started to relax.

I am so glad that we are past that stage. I don't think I will ever be the same.

On to more uplifting subjects.

I was wondering when kids learn to lie. Its around four. Kari walked into the kitchen and found Reagan with hand full of chocolate covered peppermint sticks. Rylee was right there by her side.
"Reagan, did you get into Mama's chocolate?" Kari asked
Reagan nodded her head.
"Rylee, did you eat Mama's chocolates without asking, too?" Kari asked our oldest.
With chocolate smeared all over her face, my oldest replied, "No, Mama." without batting an eye.
"Mama knows that you are not telling the truth, because you have chocolate all over your face." Kari said. There was a long talk and timeouts were assigned. I don't know how Kari did that with a straight face.

People are always on the lookout for a new diet. The trouble with most diets is that you don't get enough to eat (the starvation diet), you don't get enough variation (the liquid diet) or you go broke (the all-meat diet). Consequently, people tend to cheat on their diets, or quit after 3 days. Well, now there's the new Toddler Miracle Diet.
Over the years you may have noticed that most two year olds are trim. Now the formula to their success is available to all in this new diet. You may want to consult your doctor before embarking on this diet, otherwise, you may be seeing him afterwards. Good Luck !!!


Breakfast: One scrambled egg, one piece of toast with grape jelly.

Eat 2 bites of egg, using your fingers; dump the rest on the floor.

Take 1 bite of toast, then smear the jelly over your face and clothes.

Lunch: Four crayons (any color), a handful of potato chips, and a glass of milk (3 sips only, then spill the rest).

Dinner: A dry stick, two pennies and a nickel, 4 sips of flat Sprite.

Bedtime snack: Throw a piece of toast on the kitchen floor.


Breakfast: Pick up stale toast from kitchen floor and eat it.

Drink half bottle of vanilla extract or one vial of vegetable dye.

Lunch: Half tube of "Pulsating Pink" lipstick and a handful of Purina Dog Chow (any flavor). One ice cube, if desired.

Afternoon snack: Lick an all-day sucker until sticky, take outside, drop in dirt. Retrieve and continue slurping until it is clean again.

Then bring inside and drop on rug.

Dinner: A rock or an uncooked bean, which should be thrust up your left nostril. Pour Grape Kool-Aid over mashed potatoes; eat with spoon.


Breakfast: Two pancakes with plenty of syrup, eat one with fingers, rub in hair. Glass of milk; drink half, stuff other pancake in glass.

After breakfast, pick up yesterdays sucker from rug, lick off fuzz, put it on the cushion of best chair.

Lunch: Three matches, peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Spit several bites onto the floor. Pour glass of milk on table and slurp up.

Dinner: Dish of ice cream, handful of potato chips, some red punch.

Try to laugh some punch through your nose, if possible.


Breakfast: A quarter tube of toothpaste (any flavor), bit of soap, an olive. Pour a glass of milk over bowl of cornflakes, add half a cup of sugar. Once cereal is soggy, drink milk and feed cereal to dog.

Lunch: Eat bread crumbs off kitchen floor and dining room carpet. Find that sucker and finish eating it.

Dinner: A glass of spaghetti and chocolate milk. Leave meatball on plate. Stick of mascara for dessert.

Today I gagged. I pondered whether to include this in the blog due to the grossness of it all, but I figure I should chronicle this as well. So read on at your own risk. Having said that, I know most of you will be unable to tear yourself away now.

I was on the phone with my father. We were discussing the most recent family photos that Chad took while we were on a forced vacation, due to hurricane Ike. There was not one picture with all the kids smiling. In fact all of them were crying in most of the frames. Rylee was particularly put out by the whole affair and is sitting with her arms crossed, eyes closed, lower lip jutted out, and head defiantly turned away from the camera in many of the photos. It will be used to blackmail her at a later date.

Papa and I were having a pretty good laugh when Reagan walked in and muttered something unintelligible to me. She was naked, which is nothing new, since we are working on the potty training and many times the clothes get misplaced and it is just too much work to keep locating them and redressing the child. She held her left hand up, palm down, with her finger tips and thumb all pinched together, as if she wanted to put something in my hand. Again this is not unusual behavior. Toddlers are always putting something in your hand. It is rarely something you want in your hand, but it is generally not anything to worry about. She again "said" something that I didn't quite understand, a little louder this time. So, while continuing my phone conversation, I extended my right hand, palm up, to recieve what ever little treasure she had brought to me. She grabbed my hand just above the wrist with her right hand and proceeded to wipe her left hand up and down my exposed palm. She paused to inspect her left hand, gave one more wipe and released my hand. Up to this point I had not been paying too much attention. She turned and began to leave the room. Then turned back and indicated that she would like me to follow her. I looked at the substance on my hands. I wondered for a moment if I should smell it. I concluded that there was really no other option, so I did. Yep, that is what it was. It looked like peanut butter. As my eyes darted back to her retreating form I noticed that she had not attempted to wipe at all and a significant amount of that offensive matterial was still clinging to her. I looked down and saw that she was leaving a trail. "I GOTTA GO!" I said into the phone and without listening for a response, hung up. "STOP!!! DON'T MOVE" I told Reagan
"Poo poo." she said. Now I understood what she was saying.
"No kidding?" I didn't say. "Do not move. I need to wipe you." Now she breaks into tears, but at least she stopped running and leaving a trail.

It got all over, obviously. Most of it was in the the potty, which was good, but the rest was on the seat, the carpet, the tile, her legs, her feet and MY HAND.

I am just glad that the twins were taking a nap. It could have been much worse.

This was pretty much the highlight of my day.

They grow up so fast

I am really impressed with how fast Reagan has caught on to the potty training, once we got around to working with her full time. We had been dragging our feet on that. The thought of taking her to sit on the potty every 20 minutes, while three other kids get into who knows what, and the inevitable messes seemed just too much to deal with at the time. We started the training in earnest the day we ran out of pull-ups. We had forgotten to pick some up and she would have nothing to do with wearing a diaper. I reasoned that they were essentially the same thing, just the pull-ups don't have the Velcro straps. When I tried to strap a diaper on her she LOST IT.
"BABIES, BABIES, BABIES!!! NO! BABIES!" She screamed with tears running down her face. I did finally get one affixed around her waist despite her verbal and physical protests. As soon as I let her up she took off like a shot, wailing at the top of her lungs, tearing at the offending garment, looking for Mama.
Kari came out of the bedroom, paused in the doorway, looked at Reagan and then gave me one of her "looks." Not quite a withering stare, but definitely not good look. It was a cross between pity and minor annoyance. That "You are such a man and just don't get it" look or maybe it was a "How could you do such a thing to your daughter?" look.
Reagan plead her case to Mama.
"BABIES, BABIES, BABIES!" she said pulling at the adhesive straps.
Kari looked back at me "You can't make her where that." she said in a persuading tone, maybe slightly exasperated. "She doesn't want to be like the babies, it is humiliating for her."
"I know, but what do you want to do? Its too late to go to the store." I reasoned. I was not feeling ready to start the process. It is hard enough to keep up with laundry and dishes.
"You can't make her wear the diaper..." Kari continued, obviously full of sympathy for our clearly distraught daughter.
So we started the potty training and she is doing great. She was ready.

They are all growing up so fast. Rylee is really maturing and her vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds. The twins especially are amazing to me. They are changing so fast that it boggles the mind. Just a few months ago they were wobbling around on unsteady legs, taking a few furtive steps here and there. Now they are climbing on furniture like a couple of monkeys.

Kari was emptying Reagan's potty the other day. She had spent several minutes encouraging and praising her and, after emptying it, was returning the waste bowl back to the potty, which happened to be in the dinning room at the time. As she rounded the corner and looked up she stopped dead in her tracks. At the dinning room table, perched atop the chairs, were Madison and Jordan. It doesn't sound all that extraordinary, unless you have seen our dinning table and chairs. They are enormous, the chairs are at least as tall as any bar stool. I would never have thought the twins would be able to scale them. They can barley reach the seats with their arms stretched way over their heads. But, there they were, playing with some blocks that the big girls had left on the table (where the babies couldn't topple them.)
"No, No, No!" Kari said. They glanced over their shoulders at her, grinned, and returned their attention to the blocks. Kari was torn between the urge to get the camera and her motherly instinct to protect her young. She got them down. They cried.

We celebrated Rylee's 4th birthday today. Reagan and Ry both helped Mama bake the cake and of course they enjoyed licking the bowl. Rylee showed amazing restraint when Reagan insisted on helping her unwrap the gifts, but a little less restraint when Reagan wanted to help her play with her new toy train. There is only so much a big sister of four years can take. I wasn't a huge party but I count it as a success.

Now its one in the morning and Kari and I are still trying to do a few things that just can't be done with all the kids awake.

We are well into the second potty training cycle and are seeing promising results. One perk of waiting till the parents are ready seems to be that the child is very ready. Reagan's potty training, while there have still been a few accidents, is going much smoother than Rylee's. M&Ms are the driving force for our brand of potty training and it seems to be working well. The were a couple of "Oh oh's" today, but not as many as the successful eliminations. I am thrilled. I can actually imagine a day without diapers. And Reagan seems very pleased with herself, or maybe she is just happy to be able to run around naked for the majority of the day. Going without clothing seems appealing to me too, as long as its not too chilly. Clothes are so confining, aren't they?

The twins are doing great. Both are well over 19 lbs. Still small for normal kids, but all our kids have been on the small side. Still not a day goes by that I don't recall seeing their little bodies in the NICU and I am amazed at their progress.

Rylee noticed the other day, when I was getting out of the shower, that Dad was "different" from her.
"What's that?" She asked, with her head tilted to one side and pointing with her right hand as she stuck her left thumb in her mouth.
"Whats what?" I asked, trying to cover myslef with the towle and turning around.
"Whazthat?" she continued, walking around me and pointing agian.
She stares up at me, one thumb in her mouth and twirling her hair with her index finger.
"Dad is getting dressed. What do you want for lunch?" Fortunately 3 year olds are easily distracted. What am I going to do when I have to have the real talk with her?
I had not thought that would happen this soon. Now I keep the bathroom door locked.

Rylee has also learned that it is easy to cast the bame on her sisters.
"Who took all the toilet paper off the roll?"
"Reagan did it." she replies. Even though Reagan was taking a nap.
"Who threw all the play dough on the floor?"
"Reagan did it."
So she has the fibbing down, but she needs to work on making it more plausable.

Rylee is especially excited about Christmas. She asks almost every day when Santa is going to come. Does anyone else feel a little guilty about that national mind job to witch we all expose our children? I wonder how it came about that an entire nation, maybe the majority of the world, decided to teach their kids that a fat man, in a red suit, will show up and bring gifts if you have been good.

On the the not so bright side...

The insurance adjuster showed up to tell us "Good luck with that mold problem." Not quite said with a smile, but almost. On top of that he pointed out some roof damage (that I had not noticed) that they would not be able to help us with either. Remind me to opt for the lower deductable next time.

Kari met with a surgeon today. He advised her that he only does ablominal hernia surgery if it is accompanied by cosmetic surgery. She would like to have some nips and tucks (even though I think she looks great), but that is not covered, and so we are having to look for another surgeon. We were hopping to have this done before the end of the year. Our insurance company is changing and the doctor says that this might be considered a "pre existing condition" and not be covered by the new insurance company. That would be bad.

Our renters... I am seriously loosing my patientes. If I thought I could sell the place and get what I paid for it I would very well consider it.

We are finally getting over the colds that have been such a burden. I actually slept for more that a few minutes last night. Don't forget to be thankful for sleep.

Over all we are all doing well and looking forward to the holidays. We are thankful for all the blessings that we have, but are hoping for a smoother year next year.

Ho ho ho Cough!

I suspect Jordan sampled some cat vomit this morning. I don't know for sure, but as I changed her diaper first, then Madi's diaper, and then found Jordan standing over a semi disturbed pile of, partially digested, cat chow... Yuck!

For the last week the whole family has been battling a nasty cold. Rylee and Reagan seem to have bounced back fairly quickly, the twins seem to be on the mend, but Kari and I are still feeling pretty rough. I can't recall feeling worse since the flu I got just after we brought the twins home from the hospital. So we have gotten even less done around here than normal.

My parents were able to come into town the weekend before my birthday. It was really nice to see them and I got to open my presents a few days early. Mom was a huge help with the laundry and Papa helped me get some other projects done around the house that would have lingered for quite some time. I feel bad that we immeadiately put them to work when they show up for a visit, but it sure was nice to have a little help.

We did get the truck picked up from the dealership finally. I am still shocked that a new starter for the thing cost me just shy of $1000. It is nice to have two cars running.

The people from ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) showed up for an introduction regarding Reagan's speech. They suggested that we have her hearing checked and they are sending a speech specialist to meet with her on the 15th. I thought that they would be doing a full evaluation at the first meeting, but I guess that is not how it works.

Kari spoke to the doctor after he looked at he CT scan results. She does in fact have a half inch hernia in her abdominal wall that will require surgery. She is suposed to call the surgen tomorrow to set that up.

We fortunately got the Christmas lights and tree up just before the colds hit us. However, we have to keep moving ornaments up higher on the tree due to inquisitive little people, who are attracted to all things fragile and shiny. The gate that we placed around the tree is only a slight deterant. I watch Madison stick her toes into the laticework of the fence and hoist herself up to get at a nice shiny glass bulb. I wasn't sure wheather to congratulate her or scold her.

Our renters continue to frustate us with more broken promises and no rent. "Sigh."

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