Saturday, July 26, 2008

15 Weeks Old

The boys are now 15 weeks or 3 and a half months. I guess they are old enough to just report their ages in months and not weeks. It has been a few weeks since we posted but things have been going really well here for Team Darnell. Let's see what we have achieved.... a solid day time routine, Mommy's return to work, attended Daddy's company picnic and we are all sleeping through the night!!!

We have had a solid bedtime routine that we have been following since the boys were about 5 weeks old. However, we have continually been searching for a schedule/routine for the days that worked for everyone. We finally have it!! We use the eat, activity, sleep routine and it is working like a charm! The boys start waking up at 7:30am and then follow this routine all day while eating every three hours. So yes, they are taking three naps of about 1.5-2 hours at a time.

After their 4:30 bottle, they stay up until their bedtime bottle at 7:30pm. These last three hours can get a little rocky because their little bodies get tired. However, once they are in their jammies and eat their last bottle, they slip into a very peaceful nighttime slumber that lasts a full 12 hours!!! Yes, that is right.... they are sleeping a full 12 hours and sometimes we even have to wake them the next morning to start the day on time. I should also point out that the three boys are really starting to differentiate themselves with their three very distinct personalities. As I have explained before, Wesley is our little daredevil. In addition, he is our baby that does need much sleep (so he thinks). He is usually the first to wake up in the morning and he also takes the shortest naps and is somewhat ok with shorter naps. When he wakes from his nap, I will bring him out to the family room and he will hang out in the swing for "quiet time" until it is time to eat again. While in the swing, he will usually fall asleep for a couple more minutes. He is in his swing right now while the others are sleeping. It's almost like he thinks he is too "old" for all of these naps but can't resist the all powerful swing. He seems to act like napping is for the babies...not Wesley! Oh my, I am going to have my hands full with this one!

During the activity time, the boys love to spend their time in the activity gym and now they are strong enough to use the jumperoo and excersaucer. The boys are starting to hold up their weight on their legs. Andrew absolutely loves to stand. He can get a little fussy at times and if you hold him and let him stand, he is quickly distracted from whatever was upsetting him and he turns into a standing machine! He gets a very serious look on his face with intense concentration on the task at hand. Andrew has such a serious personality. We are confident that he will solve the world's problems one day!

Two weeks ago, I returned to work full time. While I love these boys and every minute that I spend with them, I was happy to flex my professional muscles again. Mike is now working Friday-Monday and is home (yes, alone) with the boys Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday while I am in the office. I am working from home on Mondays until 4pm and all day Friday. We have a management meeting on Monday evenings that I attend in person so the boys are with Ms. Illona, their babysitter, from 4p-7pm on Monday evenings. Everyone is doing very well with this routine and I am so proud of Mike for doing such a great job with three 3 month olds. Not too many men would step up to stay one with one child needless three... AND do such a great job with them. I also need to point out that the we had agreed the parent with the boys the next day would be on nighttime duty to get up with the boys. The first night that Daddy was on duty with the boys was the first night they slept through the night and they have done it every night since. If I had not prepared their bottles the night before, I would have sworn he gave them a little "night night juice" to get them to sleep all the way but I guess they knew their Daddy was on duty and decided to give him a treat! The bond between a Daddy and his boys is truly special!

Yesterday, we had a rare outing. Mike's company picnic was at Silver Lake State Park and we loaded up the boys for the big trip. We were there for a little over two hours and the boys were absolutely wonderful!!! They were awake when we arrived and were alert for about 30 minutes. Then it started to run into their nap time. So, we put down their activity gym on a picnic table and Wesley and Jared took their nap right in the middle of all the fun. I held Andrew and he nodded off in my arms until Jared got up to eat and then he took his spot. Just don't stand in the way of these boys taking their naps and they are a true joy to be around.

Yesterday when the boys hit 15 weeks, we did our weight check at home and here is where we are at.... Andrew is 12lbs, Wesley is 12.5lbs and Jared...... drum roll please.....is 15lbs! Yes, that is right, Jared has now more than tripled his weight since birth. He is in a larger size diapers than his brothers at this point and will probably end up in a larger size of clothes one day. In the video below, you see that Andrews outfit is almost hanging off his shoulder. This is because I have moved them all into 3-6 month clothes so they can fit Baby J. We love our Jared and he is our jolly baby!! He smiles so often and when he smiles, he smiles with his entire body and is so close to an actual giggle. When you hold him, he completely melts into you. I thought I would include a picture that Mike's mom sent us of Mike as a baby.....

So, we might as well call Jared, Baby Mike from now on!!

The boys have also been "cooing" much more lately, blowing bubbles, starting to reach for things and starting to have more awareness each and every day. Andrew has also started to "talk." I was able to catch him telling a story on video. Yes, this is again one of those videos only a mother will enjoy but I have included it anyway since I am keeping our memories on this blog!! I love to see the serious thought he appears to have as he is making these sounds. It's like he is really trying to form his mouth into words. Then there is that tongue, how does that thing work! I can't wait to hear what is on these little minds. I hope you enjoy this even a portion of as much as I do....


video

We tried to get pictures taken of the boys at a portrait studio but things did not go well. The air was out at the studio and the timing was bad... ran into nap time. So, we did not get any pictures. We have another attempt with a more reputable photographer that is closer to the house. They are also going to have several helpers there that can feed and hold the boys while they are waiting their turn. They have also scheduled us for two hours so if we need to take a break to let the boys nap, that will be fine. The appointment is August 1st so I am hoping for some professional photos of our boys very soon.

I think this brings everyone up to speed! I hope everyone is having a great summer, I know we are!

Take care,

Kellie

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Musical Slideshow of Our First Three Months

Today I present another video featuring who else...Team Darnell! It is a slide show of our first three months and it is set to "Miracle" by Celine Dion. The boys are currently resting in preparation for their first professional photo shoot this afternoon, and we will post those pics as they become available.

Mike

video

Friday, July 4, 2008

Our First 4th of July

Happy 4th of July!!!

Team Darnell has worked together as a team to survive our first 4th of July as a family. I truly mean it when I say survive. Our 4th of July did not go exactly as planned. Yesterday afternoon, the house seemed a little warm but this is somewhat normal during our hot summer afternoons here in Florida. However, it was not normal to remain hot once the sun started to go down. When I checked the thermostat, it read 82 degrees and while I was standing there it went up to 83 degrees. I turned the air off and then back on and heard nothing... the A/C was NOT running! We called out an A/C guy (at the emergency overtime rate) to tell us that our motor was burned up and the part would probably not be available until MONDAY!! That's right... four days away! We pulled out the triplet card in the hopes this may expedite something. He agreed to call around and try to find a motor today but as it is a holiday he was not hopeful. We heard from his early this morning and he would not be able to get the part until Monday.

After my minor melt down, Mike was able to save the day! He quickly ran out and purchased a window unit and installed it in our family room/kitchen. He then sealed off this room from the rest of the house with drop cloths covering the doorways and put aluminum foil on the windows to block the heat from entering. The window unit, in combination with a few box fans and he was able to get the temperature in this one portion of the house down to a level that we could survive. It is not the cool 73 degrees we are used to but it is also not the 93 degrees the house would have climbed to without his intervention. So, we will remain like this until Monday! Please send cool thoughts our way.

The boys enjoyed hanging out most of the day in their diapers but the heat could not stop their crazy mother from dressing them up in their All-American Boy outfits to celebrate their first 4th of July! The sunglasses are essential for anyone hanging out on a sunny afternoon and they say "All American" and "My First 4th" on them. The boys were troopers during this warm afternoon and sadly went to bed just a few minutes before the fireworks started.

The big fireworks display in Tallahassee is conducted at Tom Brown Park. This park is less than two miles from our house. As such, we have the best seats in town to watch the fireworks on our back patio. Here is a little video of the fireworks display as we see them from our home:


video

We are very much looking forward to next year when the boys are old enough to actually stay up and possibly enjoy the fireworks for the first time!!

In my prior post, I was able to include pictures of Andrew and Jared smiling. I was finally able to catch Mr. Wesley with a cheesy 4th of July grin!

The Darnell boys are wonderful children and bring us joy each and every day! In addition to the pictures, we recently started taking video of the boys and Mike has been diligently working on putting together some of this footage. Here is a brief video of Team Darnell that Mike finished today:


video

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July!!!

Take care,

Kellie

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

11 Weeks Old

Hello everyone! We are 11 weeks old and quickly approaching 12 weeks! I again mention that I can not believe how fast time is flying. It is so exciting to see these boys grow and change every day.

On June 11th, we packed up the family and took our first big road trip! After Mike got off of work, we loaded up the troops and hit the road for the 4 1/2 hour trip to my parent’s house in Brandon, right outside of Tampa. Did I say this was a 4 1/2 hour trip??? Well, that was before we had the new recruits. With the boys, the trip turned into a 6 hour trip. I previously mentioned that I hoped we would be able to do this without any stops... well, the boys did not agree with this plan. The boys are eating every 2 - 2 1/2 hours during the day and this did not change when we were on the road. We fed the boys prior to leaving the house and when we were 1 1/2 hours down the road, the boys could wait no longer and we needed to pull off to feed the boys. We were able to change and feed them all in about 45 minutes and we were back on the road. Then again, about 1 1/2 hours later we were stopping again. After feeding the boys again, we were back on the road for the home stretch. The boys are content in the car for about an hour at a time and then they become unhappy and want to change a position which is not possible. We spent a lot of the trip with the boys asking "are we there yet" in the only way they know how to communicate..... crying. Pacifiers would help for a few minutes and then the pacifier would drop and it was a challenge to keep them all satisfied. When we left Brandon, we kidnapped or grandma napped Grandma Sally and in the picture you can see that she assumed pacifier duty on the trip home, thank you Grandma.

While the trip was a challenge, the boys were wonderful and on their best behavior at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Grandpa said many times, "they sure are quiet." Way to go boys... we fooled them!!! Just kidding, they really are great children and usually only cry when hungry, dirty or requesting to change positions/activity. We were only at Grandma and Grandpa's house for one full day and two nights but the boys were lucky enough to meet many new relatives and visit with many other family members. Upon arrival, the boys were scooped up by Aunt Laurie, Aunt Pam and their cousin Zack. Aunt Laurie and Andrew created a very special bond right off the bat. He was very "excited" to meet her and she knew exactly what to do to keep him calm. Zack was thrilled to meet his new cousins and quickly jumped into the act. He really wanted to change a diaper so after watching me change two of the boys, Zack changed Andrew's diaper and did a very good job. Then, he did not stop there; he also proceeded to give Andrew his bedtime bottle. Zack was really gentle and caring with the boys.

Our one full day at Grandma and Grandpa's was packed full of visitors. The visits started with Great Grandma Pooka, Aunt Joan and Aunt Jeanette. Aunt Jeanette gave us three beautiful blankets that she hand made for the boys. During their visit, I have to mention that the boys were sleeping on the floor. While Pooka was offered a seat on the couch, she insisted on sitting on the floor with the boys. When Andrew woke up, Pooka picked him up and proceed to sing to him which kept him entertained!

After this crew left, we had a visit from cousin Susan and her children, also cousins, Elizabeth, Ryan and Rebecca. The crew was full of energy and eager to care for the babies. Elizabeth, Ryan and even Rebecca got into the act by feeding the boys. After feeding the babies, Andrew was a little fussy and Elizabeth picked him up and walked with him swaying until he calmed down. It was wonderful and the boys can't wait until they are a little older to play with their cousins. Once this trio is mobile, holidays with all the cousins will be a wild time! Later that evening, the boys were privileged to meet their multi-talented Aunt Kim. Aunt Kim's natural mother instincts were displayed as she continued to play (and even win) poker while feeding Jared... impressive Aunt Kim. So, when Jared has a gambling problem, we can thank Aunt Kim. Just kidding of course! All boys were introduced to a little friendly poker that evening.
While our trip was very short, the boys really enjoyed spending time with their family and spending time with their Grandpa Gary. Driving with the boys was a little bit of a challenge but we all proved that we were able to travel with the boys and they can adjust to a new setting for a few days. I look forward to our next trip to visit with family.

As I previously mentioned, we traveled home with Grandma to spend a week with us. It was wonderful to have the extra set of hands and the boys really love spending time with their Grandma. I also loved the visit because Grandma took morning duty with the boys and I was able to sleep late! Also, Grandma took care of the boys while Papa and I spent an afternoon out to lunch and a movie. We really appreciate you Grandma!! During this week, we also had a visit from Uncle Brian and their cousin Vivian. On their drive home, they stopped over for a night at the house and spent an evening hanging out with the boys.

While we were in Brandon, the boys turned two months old. As they are two months old, it was time for their two month doctor's appointment and their first shots. On June 26th, the boys visited the doctor. We were one of the last appointments of the day which we consider a lesson learned. We are going to try to get the first appointments either of the day or after lunch in the future. Since our appointment was late in the day, there was no room available for us so we spent a lot of time in the waiting room. To get us started, Papa took one baby back at a time to get weighed and measured. Then, he brought them back naked into the waiting room. We then waited for a little while longer until they had a room available for all of us. The pictures are of the boys hanging out without clothes. It's a good thing the waiting room was empty or these handsome boys would have driven the little girls crazy!!!

At the visit, the boys were given a clean bill of health and then it was time for their first shots. As previously mentioned, we were the last appointment and it was getting late. The nurses wanted to quickly get the shots done so Papa took Jared into another room, I stayed with Andrew and the nurses took Wesley into yet another room. It all happened so fast that I was not really prepared. Next time, when they ask to take one baby without their mother or father, I will be prepared to say no. While Wesley was probably ok, I was not happy that he had to experience this pain without his mother or father there. It was hard for me to be with Andrew and hear the screams of Jared and Wesley coming from another room. However, it was over very fast and the boys were calm again. They were a little fussy that evening but I actually expected it to be a lot worse. So, we all survived our first shots.

As this was our two month appointment, the boys were officially weiged and measured. Here is the update:

Andrew:
Weight - 11lbs 1oz - 35th percentile
Height - 22" - 20th percentile
Head Circumference - 37.4 cm - 9th percentile

Jared:
Weight - 11lbs 12oz - 50th percentile
Height - 22.5" - 50th percentile
Head Circumference - 39.8cm - 50th percentile

Wesley:
Weight - 10lbs 14oz - 30th percentile
Height - 22" - 20th percentile
Head Circumference - 37.7cm - 10th percentile

So... when I say these boys are growing fast, I really mean it! We knew that our preemies would not stay at the bottom of the growth chart forever but we did not realize it would happen that fast. Jared apparently wanted to shake the designation of "the Baby" and he has been packing on the pounds. Let's not forget that he was born at 4lbs 13oz and then lost some weight. At 2 weeks, he was back to his birth weight. Then, 8 weeks later he was 11lbs 12oz. This equates to about 7lbs gained in 8 weeks..... oh my is right! However, he has not been successful in shaking his nickname of "Baby J" but he has added "Chunky Monkey" to the nickname list.

We have finally settled into a daytime routine that is working very well for us. The boys wake up between 7:30 and 8:30am. They are awake for about 2 - 2.5 hours then they take a 3 hour nap. Then they are up again for another 2-2.5 hours and then take their afternoon nap. After this nap, they are up for another couple hours before we start our bedtime routine between 8:30 and 9:00pm. Then... the best part.... the boys are now sleeping anywhere between 6.5 - 7.5 hours before they wake to eat. This has been pretty consistent over the past week.

While the boys are awake during the day, they spend their time doing various activities. They enjoy their Activity Gym, their Swings, their Bouncer seats and doing Tummy Time with and without their boppys. Another exciting development over the past couple weeks has been the emergence of BEAUTIFUL smiles!!!! All three have started to smile with more regularity and they are becoming more interactive each and every day. I have not been able to capture Wesley's smile on film but I thought I would include this picture of him doing tummy time as he is so strong. I swear this kid will be literally running circles around his brothers before they are even crawling. Wesley is also our little dare devil! When Grandma was here, she put Wesley in the swing on the low speed. We love our very gentle Grandma but this really upset Wesley. When it was bumped up to the highest speed, he was finally happy and settled right down.

My maternity leave is quickly drawing to an end. On July 14th, I am heading back to work. I will be working from home on Mondays and Fridays so I can work and care for the boys (wish me luck). Then I will be in the office Tuesday - Thursday and Mike will be home with the boys. He will work Friday - Monday. While we will not have a day off together, we know this is not forever and is the best for the boys.

Well, I think this brings everyone up to speed on life with the Darnells. We are having a lot of fun!

Take care,

Kellie