Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Mother's Day Prayer



Dear Heavenly Father,
What a wonderful privilege it is to look at these two beautiful faces each day and to know that you have entrusted their lives to Jason's and my care. The role of motherhood is certainly demanding, overwhelming, and humbling, but above all, it is a tremendous honor and blessing!

So many days I feel vastly unqualified for the job. It's easy to become frustrated with excessive whining (times 2!), difficult to stay patient when food is flying off the high chair tray or when I'm moving one of the boys away from a "no-zone" for the millionth time, and a challenge to stay energetic after long days of chasing after these busy little boys. I often second-guess my parenting decisions and over-analyze every problem ... Please, dear Father, grant me the wisdom and the endurance that you know I need as a mommy. It is impossible to fulfill this role without your guidance and strength. 

Thank you for the remarkable young boys that you have put into my life. Their smiles, giggles, and hugs warm my heart each day. It is such a miracle to watch them grow and develop from helpless infants to independent little toddlers. What a joy it is to see their unique personalities begin to emerge! Guide these boys as they continue to mature, and strengthen their hearts with a deep love for you as their Savior.

Most of all, thank you for your example of unconditional love and forgiveness. Help me to daily learn from your example as I love and raise my own children. Make me a mommy after your own heart! Thank you for the gift that these precious boys are from your hand.

In Jesus' name. Amen.



Friday, May 17, 2013

A Few "Graduations"

Graduation season is upon us! It's a time of year for celebrating growth and marking changes. Thankfully, our family is still years away from having any kind of official graduation ceremony. However, as Jaden and Cody draw ever nearer to their 1st birthday, they continue to grow and change, "graduating" on to new and bigger things.

With the coming of more regular spring-like weather, Jaden and Cody have graduated away from their winter hats into these newer ones.

Jaden

Cody

Mommy & Daddy most enjoy our jogging stroller for outdoor walks, but this narrower stroller is perfect for shopping and other errands. Mommy was very sad to let go of her super-convenient Snap 'n Go stroller! Since the twin in the back always had to sit with his legs bent to his chest, however, we knew it was time to say good-bye to convenience and graduate up to our new garage-sale find stroller.



Sorry, Jaden, for not noticing your backwards hat!

Cody, taking in the warm sunshine

Probably the biggest "graduation" was moving out of our infant car seats into convertible ones. Our growing boys love the extra room! Mommy & Daddy LOVED the fact that our community has monthly services to help parents check & install their car seats for free. Hooray for a fast & easy, no-hassle install!


Doesn't Cody look like his Uncle Andrew in this picture??

Jaden getting used to his new ride

For better or worse, we have also graduated on to more together-playtime. Better-- the boys can keep themselves occupied for longer periods, and we often hear lots of giggles. Worse-- We're already seeing a lot more pushing, shoving, tackling, etc., and both boys now become REALLY upset when their brother steals away their chosen toy-for-the-moment. Cody particularly loves to steal something away from Jaden and then literally RUN into the other room. Ha! Here they are, team-pushing their rider across the floor.


These next two video clips show Cody giving his brother a ride! Yes, we realize we still need to work on his steering...

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Jaden has become our little reader! Frequently, he will sit down next to a book or two and flip through the pages, one by one.

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Finally, both boys are making lots of progress with their walking! They now love to carry anything (from books to toys to couch cushions) along with them as they walk around the house. These days, it's not uncommon for us to find socks from the bedroom by the front door or a sippy cup in the bathroom. This video shows you the boys' growing confidence with walking, as well as one of their new favorite play sites, pounding on the kitchen garbage can!

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Our little boys continue to grow and grow! We've been trying for some time to capture a good picture of their mouthful of teeth. This picture of Jaden is the best we could get for now. Both boys officially have 4 up top and 3 on bottom.



Other funny/interesting Jaden & Cody stories:

With Cody more often being the toy-stealer, Jaden has learned that he has to be proactive. Sometimes, we'll find him carrying multiple pacifiers around, just in case one gets taken away!


We've mentioned before that our boys love playing on the piano. Lately, their method of playing has been so funny to watch. What a lot it tells us about their personalities! Cody loves to pound on the keys, putting his whole self into making the loudest sound possible, often even getting on his tiptoes to do so. That's our all-in, charismatic little guy! Jaden, on the other hand, frequently approaches the piano keys gently as he calmly and softly plays us a little tune. He's most often our gentle, "take time to think about it" little man. (Sorry the video is sideways. Enjoy!)

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We absolutely LOVE watching our boys graduate into new things and are excited for the many more changes yet to come!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

11 Months Old!


Happy 11 Months, Cody & Jaden!

What a wild ride this month was! Not only were the boys walking all over the place and increasing their speed in doing so, we basically covered the whole spectrum of sicknesses (ear infections, diarrhea, rash/possible yeast infection, vomiting, fever, sneezing, runny noses, coughs). Thankfully not all of these illnesses came at once, but, still... (whew!) we are glad to have most of those symptoms behind us! We are also thankful to have spent time with some dear family members (Grandma & Grandpa and Jonathan & Chelsea) to give us some GOOD memories to remember for the month. Here are some updates for our almost 1 year old boys.

SLEEPING HABITS
  • Not the greatest nighttime sleep, due to all the sicknesses
  • Take 2 daily naps, between 1-1.5 hours
  • Enjoy wearing their sleep sacks
  • Favorite sleeping position is on their tummy
  • Still waking up way too early for Mommy & Daddy's liking (usu. 4:00 or 4:30), so we rest with them until 6ish
EATING HABITS
  • Both boys have now mastered the pincer grasp, so we've seen a lot of progress with self-feeding.
  • To teach Cody self-feeding, Daddy would give Cody a high-five after every successful food pick-up. Eventually, Cody started giving us a high five after every bite, sometimes even after being spoon-fed!
  • Favorite finger foods: cheese, bread, peas, yogurt melts, Cheerios
  • Accidental "foods" (at least the ones we know about!): cat food (Cody) and a piece of mulch/bark (Jaden) -- Oops! 
  • Both enjoy sampling larger food chunks in their mesh feeding bags
  • Eat some fruit & veggie purees at every meal to ensure sufficient nutrition
  • Nurse 4-5 times each day
  • Jaden hasn't been as interested in drinking from his bottle following the nursing times.
  • Cody has started to throw just about everything over the side of his high chair.

DEVELOPMENT
  • Walking is their preferred method of transportation.
  • Both have gained a lot of confidence and fall much less frequently.
  • Can purposefully walk around toys, change direction, or slow their walking speed when approaching our laminate floor
  • We can tell that both are understanding more of what we say. Cody will clap whenever we say "Yay!" "Good job!" or "clap." He also waves whenever we say "hi" or "good-bye." He especially loves the page in our opposites book that reads "High and Low." He starts waving like crazy! :)
  • Jaden is usually more verbal and likes to try to imitate our sounds. He especially tries to repeat any word starting with "b" that Daddy says.


BOTH BOYS

Jaden, Cody

Cody & Jaden having a twin "meeting."

It's a common sight nowadays to see the boys "wrestling."
Unlike this picture, Cody is usually the one initiating.

Both boys have started sitting still on the floor while Mommy
reads to them. They like to help turn the pages.

This favorite chew-toy football was a gift from Uncle Jon.
(Cody is on the L.)

Both boys laughing at Daddy. (Jaden is standing.)


One of their rare moments sitting still. (Cody on L.)

  • Occasionally get stuck underneath the kitchen table after standing up underneath it
  • Learned how to climb up the entire flight of stairs on their own!
  • Got first pair of rubber-soled shoes this month
  • Transitioned into some 12-month clothes 
  • Consistently know how & when to wave to others


CODY








  • Currently 19 lbs. 13 oz. (overpassed Jaden)
  • Started to cut tooth #7! 
  • Seemed to be more of the "bully" this month, stealing toys & pacifiers from his brother, often first grabbing Jaden by the collar
  • Usually just laughs if Jaden pulls on him
  • Successfully pushes his push-car toy from the back or the front (Mommy & Daddy no longer have to turn it around for him. He can independently push it back and forth across the room.)
  • Likes waving with just one finger


JADEN

This is Jaden's favorite walking stance-- arms bent  up!








  • Currently 19 lbs. 5 oz. (lost weight this month after his bout with the flu and his recent disinterest in the bottle)
  • GREATLY dislikes when Cody tugs or pulls on him
  • Started to cut tooth #7 midway through the month
  • Often whacks himself in the head with an open palm while nursing or drinking a bottle


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

To Missouri or Bust!

When I (Amy) was young, signs on cars that read "To New York or Bust!" always intrigued me. How would a journey end in a "bust"? What kinds of events constituted such a disaster in which the final destination could never be reached?

Unfortunately, on the way home from our recent family vacation, I could've hung a sign in the back of our van that read "Bust!" Because, sad to say, our journey was able to answer both of my childhood questions for me in a very clear way. I learned what events would cause a turnaround for our family. We never made it to our final destination.

Even so, was our "busted" vacation a disaster? No. Was it a waste of time? Certainly not. Was it still enjoyable? Perhaps not in the way we had planned, but it was most definitely memorable!

Our plan was to road trip to Seward, Nebraska, to visit Concordia University, spend a few days with Jon and Chelsea in Lincoln, and then finally journey on to Missouri to meet Great-Grandma Walquist before heading back home. Certainly do-able, don't you think?

The first "crack" in our journey developed even before we took off. Both boys came down with ear infections and were on antibiotic treatments. Of course, the antibiotics didn't sit well with either boy. (Try changing 6 dirty diapers within a 2 hour time frame!) Our next dilemma was the wintry weather. On the day of our scheduled departure, more snow, ice, and cold temperatures were predicted. 

So, we forged ahead and decided to leave a day later-- armed with medicine for the boys and a Costco-sized box of diapers. Despite being sick, Jaden and Cody traveled relatively well. Of course, since they are now quite fond of moving around (read "long periods of time in the carseat are not pleasant"), we stopped often for wiggle breaks.



These pictures below show more rest-area stops on our return journey. Can you tell we had a pleasant weather change on the way back?



Jaden & Cody, taking in the sunshine


On Day 2 of our trip (after traveling across the LONG state of Wyoming during Day 1), we arrived safely in Seward, NE. We enjoyed talking with several of our old professors or connections on campus, including Mark Meehl, Marty Kohlwey, Mark Blanke, Brenda Topil, Shawna Opfer, and Amy Harms. We spent some extra time with our dear friends, Chuck Blanco and his wife June. This special couple continues to be such an inspiration to us!


Taking a tour of the campus was also a highlight for our family. Amy & the boys had not yet seen Concordia's (relatively) new athletic center. We were especially proud to see Andrew Walquist's name featured THREE times on the all-time track record boards. Way to go, studly runner!

Cody and Jaden particularly liked the bulldog statue. Perhaps they're already aspiring to be a CUNE bulldog someday?



Finally, we visited with two of Jason's former Billings youth group members who now attend Concordia, Derek (sorry, no pics taken!) and Liz (below).


Then, we were off to Jon and Chelsea's place. What a beautiful home they have! We loved seeing their new place in person and being welcomed so warmly into their home. It was funny to see the boys interacting with Jon & Chelsea's dog, Ace.


Jaden, typically our more cautious twin, had no qualms about approaching Ace and patting him on the head or grabbing his fur. Good thing Ace is a patient dog!


Cody, on the other hand, would usually steer to the opposite direction when Ace came near. He warmed up to Ace a little more by the end of our visit. We enjoyed seeing the twins giggle and play with Jon and Chelsea.


But alas, the giggling and playing didn't last for long. Over dinner, Jaden took the first downward turn and got sick. Uncle Jon stepped up and took over the duty of feeding Cody.


Both Uncle Jon and Aunt Chelsea played with Cody while poor Jaden continued to get sick.





Being the loving godparents they are, Uncle Jon & Aunt Chelsea didn't let Jaden's sickness hold them back from showing their care. Uncle Jon comforts sickly Jaden below.


And Aunt Chelsea cuddles with Jaden while they all read stories together.


Unfortunately, through the night, Cody followed suit and got sick as well. So, the next day was spent relaxing at Jon and Chelsea's place while the twins slept and tried to knock their fevers and flu symptoms.

Everyone looked a bit brighter the following day, so we headed out to visit Aunt Chelsea at her school. We brought her lunch and took a tour of the building.


We saw all kinds of creative ideas in Aunt Chelsea's classroom. What fun it was to meet some of her students and to see her in action! She is obviously a loved teacher and coach.



Uncle Jon then took us on a tour of their church. We are so impressed with all that Jon & Chelsea do within their congregation-- leading their active Young Roads group, teaching a Financial Peace class, and helping with the capital fund drives. They are certainly wonderful servants for our Savior!


The next day was supposed to begin the second leg of our journey to Missouri. Instead, we ALL followed the twins into the unfortunate land of sickness... Blah! One by one, we seemed to drop like flies as we all caught the flu. What a bummer to end our time this way! We felt horrible for bringing the sickness to Jon & Chelsea and certainly were not willing (or even able, for that matter!) to bring our sickly family to see anyone else. Great-Grandma Walquist was very understanding about our change of plan, and Jon and Chelsea were very forgiving and gracious, even amidst their sickness.

Our altered plans allowed us to spend a few more days in Lincoln, as we attempted to heal. We joked that this trip allowed us to bond in a very unique way, sharing a home while ALL being so sick. Overall, we were so thankful for Jon & Chelsea's hospitality and patience with us during our stay. Whether we were playing a competitive Stone Age game before the sickness hit, or mumbling a sickly greeting as we shuffled past one another to the bathroom, we were still creating funny memories. 




On our way home, a Bible verse kept returning to my mind. Ironically, the verse was one that hung on Jon & Chelsea's wall: "In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9" We may have all kinds of grandiose plans for our travels, our family, or our life, but ultimately God is in charge. He is our true leader and our guide. This trip was a humbling reminder that we, as humans, are not in control.

Thankfully, the God we serve is a loving God. Even when our plans are "busted," our heavenly Father is still holding us tightly. He can help us to find joy even when our lives follow a different pathway than what we intend. He is our peace amidst the busted pieces!