Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cookie Boobs


Christmas cookies are a long-standing tradition for us Stephenson-Smith's... Sweet buttercream frosting (my mom's recipe!), sprinkles, red and green sugar, red hots, and lots and lots of love.  Santa usually gets the creme of the crop, hand picked by everyone and laid on a special plate.  Rudolph's plate has a special place next to Santa's, filled with peanut butter and carrots.  But oh, the cookies...

Last year's cookies took an interesting twist.  Maybe it's because I had 2 month old twins and was pumping about 50 to 60 ounces of milk a day for the little sweeties.  Maybe it's because it was all I could think about and every hour of my life revolved around hooking myself up to that blessed little machine.  It doesn't really matter WHY it happened... I didn't even recognize that I was doing it until I took a closer look at the finished products later that day.  It was then I realized...  It was true.


I'd made cookie boobs.


No joke.  Can you spot them below?


Yeah.  And by some strange series of decorating events, I just happened to make them in sets of 2.  Whenever we use sprinkles on anything, I always lay down a plate for each of us in order to minimize the mess.  It just so happened that the plates I chose that fateful day were big enough to hold 2 freshly frosted cookies at one time and I always try to keep them coming so Noah doesn't get bored.  So I also ended up with 2 freshly frosted cookies on MY plate and decorated them together.

Kind of feel like you should look away, right?


...... (HEAVY SIGH).....

I didn't point out the obvious to Noah, although the look on his face does imply that he knew.

Outstanding.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Reason #1110

So... It only took me a year, but I've finally given our blog a makeover.  Now all 3 of my kiddos' smiling faces are here. :)  Much better.

And here's Reason #1110 why Noah is the BEST big brother.  EVER.

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I love the look on Xiomara's face...  Pretty much the same look that the babes have whenever Noah comes into the room.

Enjoy.

Nicole
@>->--


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Coming Home...

One year ago this Tuesday, November 6th, Liam and Xiomara left the hospital for good and came home to their family.  :)

They were 4 weeks old, and technically only 35 weeks gestation.  We were soooooo ready!  The neonatologist suggested that I do a full 24 hour shift at the hospital before the babes came home.  It was such a good thing, because I was so afraid for the babies to not have their alarms on anymore.  So when I stayed with them overnight and the next day, the nurses actually turned off the visual and audio for the alarms inside their room.  The nurses, of course, could still hear and see the alarms at their stations just in case.  But it gave me the chance to just WATCH my babes, monitor their coloring around their mouths and observe their breathing with my own eyes.  I felt very confident after doing that with them.  I was still very nervous about bringing Xiomara home, however.  She was so fragile, still needing us to "side feed" her.  We needed to cradle her little head and lay her on her side as we gave her a bottle.  She had only gained 0.1 ounce in the two days before she was discharged, and I wasn't sure it was the right thing to bring her home.  But her doctor was confident and told us that we would be surprised just how much she would thrive when she's home with her family.  He was very right, of course.  

But we were still cautious.  Mom, Kevin, and I made sure that the babies were not left alone in a room. EVER.  It was kind of the unspoken rule.  We learned very quickly after coming home that it was not enough just to be in the same room with them.  We needed to WATCH them.  The babes had been home for a few hours and we had them in their bouncy seats in the living room.  I was moving a few things around in the kitchen and just happened to look over at Xio and saw that she was blue around her mouth.  I was over to her in two steps, picked her up, and patted her back to stimulate her.  Up came a huge bubble and her color immediately returned.  If she'd been in the NICU, her alarms would have been singing.  I just looked over at Kevin and Mom and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

Looking back, I remember thinking that I may never sleep very deeply ever again.  I didn't want to take my eyes off of them that first night.  But we didn't get much rest anyway from all the feedings. :)  Maybe it was a blessing until they grew a little stronger.  Liam weighed 5 lbs 6.6 oz at discharge, and Xiomara just BARELY made it to the "5 pound club" before she left, weighing 5 lbs 0.9 oz.  What little munchkins they were!!!!!

Taking pictures at the NICU just before leaving...

Proud moment for us...
Kevin getting them all strapped in for the ride home.  They both passed their "car seat" tests the day before.  The NICU staff put the babies in their car seats and monitored their vitals for about 90 minutes, just to make sure that the sitting position didn't put stress on their heart or lungs.

This is the white board in the NICU room.  It was a lot of fun for us to see the sweet messages left by each nurse as she came on shift.  
Just some of the AMAZING nurses that watched over our darlings while they were in the hospital.  This is Mary, "Original Sarah," and Jennifer.  Mary always seemed to know when I needed a hug.  When Kevin and our friend Mike went to give the babies their first priesthood blessings at 1 week old, Mary was on duty and was so supportive.  I mentioned that Kevin and Mike were going to anoint the babies with consecrated oil, wondering if that would be okay.  She just smiled warmly, pointed to the cross around her neck, and said, "How wonderful."  Sarah is known as "Original Sarah" because she was in the operating room during my c-section and they handed Xiomara to her.  I remember she winked at me when she stopped just long enough for me to blow Xio a kiss before she was whisked away to the waiting NICU team.  And Jennifer is a true angel.  One day while I was in Xiomara's room, I heard Liam start to fuss in his isolette.  Before I could go to check on him, Jennifer was right there next to him, gently patting his back and singing to him.  I don't think she knew I was there, but I had tears in my eyes when I saw it.  These women and all the others that watched over my little ones are the ONLY reason that I had the strength to leave them there at the hospital every night.  I knew they were among angels. :)
Leaving for good!
Look who greeted us at the door... :)
  Gram with her hands full :)
This is quite the familiar scene from the babies' first months of life.  They slept in these WONDERFUL rock n' sleepers, which glided easily over carpet and kept their little heads elevated perfectly.  They were so easy to move from our bedroom to the nursery and back, depending on who was taking the midnight, 2:00am, and 4:30am feedings.  Man, good times, but such a blur...
 This is the sign that our good friends had made for my baby shower, and Mom put it out front for the babies' homecoming.
I'll leave you with a few videos.  This is Noah greeting the babes as they came home, and Kevin and I in the car on the ride home from the hospital.  I think I sound giddy!

Enjoy today.  It is a gift.

Love,
Nicole
@>->--

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

O-N-E...

My babies are officially ONE YEAR OLD!  Actually, they are now just a few days away from being 13 months.  They prove to me in new ways everyday just how big they are and how much they want to grow and conquer new things.  Liam is ready to take off and walk at any time.  I'm doing my best to try to capture this and many other major moments on camera if possible.  But honestly, I'm so content to just sit back and soak it all in... I find myself just sitting on the floor with them and smiling as they play.  I don't want to rush any of this.

The babies' birthday was everything I'd hoped for!  It was laid back and really just all about them.  And it was about Noah... Helping them open presents, singing to them, reading to them, playing with their new toys when he thought we weren't looking, helping to decorate their cakes, and loving that he's the BEST big brother the world has ever known.

The waiting presents and decorating the house...
 Noah read the Babes a story while they enjoyed a birthday breakfast of Cheerios and yogurt.
"Why is everybody smiling and taking our pictures today?  What's going on????"
 Opening the gifts!!!  Noah was there to help them figure it all out.
 

Playing with all the new goods...
After a nice long nap, the birthday babies got dressed and continued to play right where they'd left off.  Then it was time to party!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Proud Big Brother...
Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaake.....  The babies each had their own little cake of course, and we just did matching cupcakes.  'Course we had to choose if we were on "Team Liam" or "Team Xio." :)




 Big Kids :)
 
 
 
 Daddy introducing Liam to the fine art of candle-lighting.

 Liam did NOT disappoint when it came to demolishing his cake... It ended up on the floor. :)
 
 
 
 Miss Dainty... One little finger full of frosting at a time!  Until Daddy shoved both of her hands in at once.  She was shocked at first, but then thought it was pretty good stuff.
 
 
 
 SOOOOO glad that Grandpa and Gram could be here to help us celebrate!
 Xio and Gram...
 Liam and Grandpa...
Can't wait to see what the munchkins will do tomorrow.  In the meantime, I'm going to try to take advantage of the extra hour of sleep that we supposedly gained last night.  The children rose bright and early, but were also ready for bed by 5:00pm tonight.  Hence, the reason why this blog post is happening. :)

Be good, K?

Love,
One Proud Momma
@>->--