adventures in Bredowland

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Andrew, Carrie, Ellery, and Alexis

Halloween festivities!

Andrew and I have never really been that into Halloween, but I have to say, Halloween is more fun with kids – even when those kids have no idea what is going on!  This was Ellery and Alexis’ first Halloween, so I really wanted to find them cute costumes to wear … somewhere.  I had thought about planning a little “baby Halloween party” so we could show off their cuteness, but Halloween is really close to their birthday (which is in just over a week!!) and there is no way I had time to plan two parties that close together.  So I figured we would just have to find some other Halloween festivities so that I could justify spending (too much) money on Halloween costumes for two 11-month olds who probably would not even want to wear them! :)

Our first Halloween excursion was on Saturday, when we decided to take the girls to the pumpkin patch for the afternoon. We went to Sweet Berry Farm in Marble Falls and had a lot of fun! The weather was beautiful and Ellery and Alexis had a great time looking at the animals, climbing on the pumpkins, and even going for a hay ride.

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We brought their costumes along in hope of getting some cute outdoor pictures of them, but they were not really interested in posing for pictures. Or holding still long enough to even be in the same frame as each other. But we did get a couple of cute ones.

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After buying some pumpkins from the farm, on Sunday we launched our second attempt to get a cute Halloween picture that included both of them actually looking at the camera.  Surely, without all the distractions of the farm, we could get a couple of good pictures.  We figured we would put a couple pumpkins in the middle of the floor, the girls would crawl over to see them (because pumpkins are interesting, right?), and then we could get their attention, make them smile, and voila … adorable picture of the two of them! Well here are the pumpkins …

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But where are Ellery and Alexis?

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Oh, there they are. Apparently pumpkins pale in comparison to cabinet locks and remote controls. But we did manage to get a cute picture of Ellery (by plopping her down in the pile of pumpkins and taking a picture really fast!).

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After another failed attempt to get a “picture perfect” pose of the two of them this morning, I gave up and accepted the fact that I was never going to get them both to sit still, look at the camera, and look happy simultaneously. Maybe next year when I can bribe them. :) In the meantime, we got some adorable “candid” shots and had a fun day!  We skipped out on the trick-or-treating this year, but Ellery and Alexis got to crawl around in their costumes at the Halloween cookout down the street and then “helped” us hand out (aka. attempted to eat) candy before bed.

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Afternoon at Grand Haven

While we were in Michigan last week for Joey’s wedding, we were able to take an afternoon and head over to Grand Haven to see Lake Michigan and the pier. This was the first time that the girls had seen a big body of water or played in the sand, so I think they really enjoyed it! Carrie and I also enjoyed the opportunity to go back and visit some of our high school stomping grounds. We only had one fatality on the trip: Sophie, one of the twin giraffes that the girls love. I’m sure that somewhere she is making a little dog very happy.

The pier at Grand Haven

We weren’t really sure how the girls would react to the sand. Based on our past experience with grass (and other strange surfaces), we expected Alexis to hate it and Ellery to be o.k. It turned out that we were correct. Ellery dove right in and within minutes was trying to eat the sand! Alexis, on the other hand, tried desperately to get back to the blanket where things were more predictable!

Sarah and Ellery

Alexis

There was a little girl playing nearby. After much petitioning on her part, we carried the girls over to play with her. Ellery started playing in the sand with a completely satisfied look on her face. Alexis, on the other hand, clung to mommy, but was still interested in the little girl.

Playing in the sand

In all, we spent a couple of hours out there before the girls got too tired and we had to drive home. We’ll no look forward to taking them up there when they are big enough to swim in the ice cold water!

Toy Thieving

A recent report on crime statistics in the Bredow household demonstrates a rather large increase in petty theft, particularly involving children’s toys, over the last couple of months. It isn’t due to scarcity of resources that these thefts occur. We have many more toys than can be physically played with at the same time. The problem runs even deeper than that. I think it can best be modeled by the following algorithm: the most interesting toy in the room at a given time is the toy being held by another equally scrawny person.

It is really pretty amusing to watch this play out. For example, Ellery picks up the plastic ring, Alexis picks up the rubber giraffe, Ellery sees said giraffe and makes a move toward it, Alexis tries to get away, but gets steamrolled in the process, Ellery takes the toy, Alexis screams and then finally picks up a plastic cup instead, Ellery sees said cup and…

This cycle continues almost constantly, and in both directions. The role of heartless kleptomaniac can be swapped for hyper-emotional victim almost effortlessly. It gets old, but it is really pretty funny.

I can imagine that we are going to be spending a lot of time dealing with this issue over the next three 17 years!

Cute Picture

Stealing...

Stolen!

Drama!

A very messy pasta experience

I’m not sure why it took so long, but we finally gave the girls pasta with sauce today. As predicted, they loved it.

It is hard to describe how quickly Ellery slurped the noodles down. I’m fairly certain she didn’t actually chew any of them. She blew through 3 bowls of pasta in about 5 minutes, at which point Carrie and I decided it was time to cut her off before she made herself sick!

Ellery after Spaghetti

Alexis took a slightly different approach. She enjoyed eating the noodles and all, but she was far more interested in the fact that we actually let her take the noodles from the bowl herself. Her first instinct was to pick up the bowl and dump the pasta all over her lap – not sure about that one. Then, she realized that bowls are very similar to cups. And what do you do with cups? That’s right, you drink from them!

Alexis after Spaghetti

These girls crack me up, and it makes me really happy to find out that the love good food almost as much as I do!

Alexis and Ellery after Spaghetti

Have I mentioned …?

… that I totally adore these two little girls?!

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They get more and more beautiful (and smart, of course :)) everyday!

10 Months

It’s hard to believe that Ellery and Alexis are 10 months old! It seems like yesterday that they were just sleeping all day long. Now, we spend our days chasing them around the house, desperately trying to keep them from breaking something, or each other! We have definitely had some big changes of the the last month.

Most notably, they are even more mobile than ever! Not only can they crawl wherever they want, they are fully capable of climbing stairs, scooting along furniture to our end tables (where they somehow usually end up hurting themselves). Alexis also like pushing things along the floor. Since we are not quite ready to give them toys with wheels, she improvises! Her most common vehicle is the rolling high chairs. She’ll even push Ellery around when she has the chance.

They have also really blossomed socially recently. Both girls’ eye contact is better than ever, and we are often treated with big smiles, squeals, and screams for the smallest reasons. They also interact with each other quite a bit now – not always for the better, but usually so! We sometimes find them laughing at each other for no apparent reason. For now, they are best friends!

It has been hilarious to see their personalities emerge even more. Alexis tends to be the child with the biggest attitude. In fact, I’d say the attitude under our roof has more than doubled. She can be extremely happy, and then at the drop of a hat become very angry (especially when Ellery touches her in pretty much any way). Ellery, on the other hand, is generally easy-going, with periods of incredibly strong emotion mixed in for variety. They are hilarious, and I hope to get some video of them playing together uploaded soon.

Happy 10 months Alexis and Ellery!

10 Months!

10 Months!

10 Months!

Labor Day (outdoor!) fun

We generally try to bring the girls on some sort of an “outing” every weekend. Given that Austin has had the hottest summer on record this year, our outing options have been somewhat limited. Okay, very limited. There is honestly not a lot of indoor activities that you can do with 7-10 month old twins. So we have taken lots of trips to the mall, Ikea, or any other indoor place with enough room to walk around for awhile. Probably not really that exciting for them, but at least it gives them something new to look at!

But today it was beautiful! The high was only in the upper eighties (maybe lower nineties during the peak of the day) and we were actually able to bring the girls to the park and spend some quality time outdoors. We packed the girls’ lunch and went down to Zilker, which turned out to be strangely green (presumably in preparation for ACL) and not as busy as I had feared it would be. We found a spot under some trees, spread out a couple of blankets, and let the girls crawl around. They loved it! They really liked being outdoors and even ventured onto the grass a little. Well, Ellery did … Alexis would crawl along the perimeter, getting as close to the grass as possible without having to touch it. Except for when she was trying to acquire my coke, which was apparently worth risking grass exposure for! :)

Getting ready to play

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Playing

Our friends Dana and Hal met us there with their daughter Eliza and we had a really fun afternoon. Complete with ice cream -which we shared with Alexis and Ellery … they were so excited they were shaking. Literally :) We totally skipped afternoon naps and had two VERY overtired babies at bedtime, but it was well worth it!

Better late than never!

So clearly I am not very good at this blogging thing. I love the idea of having a family blog – of keeping a written record of our girls growing up, learning new things, and exploring the world. I am even okay with the notion of sharing my thoughts about these things with whomever happens to stumble across our site. But at the end of the day, when the girls are finally in bed, and we have finally eaten dinner (or at least eaten something!), and I have worked on whatever else is on my list for the day, writing blog posts does not tend to happen. Clearly.

But I am going to attempt to actually start writing some posts. Better late than never, right? It is crazy how quickly the girls are growing up and I need to start writing things down. Plus it is fun to share a little piece of our lives with our friends and family. Hypothetically someone might actually read our blog if we actually write posts once in awhile. :)

So I figured I would start by posting a couple of long overdue pictures. A few months ago (when the girls were about 7 months) we had their “6-month” pictures taken. Tara Shreeve, who also took our newborn pictures, took them for us and did a great job. Unfortunately, it was about a bazillion degrees outside (I was quite literally dripping sweat) and the girls were not in a very good mood. Alexis basically decided that she was NOT going to smile during the entire photo shoot … although I think we got a couple of smirks out of her eventually. But we did still get some cute pictures. Here are a couple of my favorites.

And, we’re mobile!

Ellery has been mobile for about a month. She doesn’t like to crawl on all fours very much, but she can army crawl like she went to boot camp. For the last couple of weeks Alexis has also been mobile. She decided to skip the typical army crawling stage, and move right to “real” crawling.

Needless to say, our life has been kind of crazy! Gone are the days of setting the girls on a blanket, leaving the room, and finding them in the same place upon our return. Now, instead, we put them on the blanket, turn our head for a second, and find that they are across the room chewing on a cord or end table (they really like chewing on end tables… not sure that this is normal 😉 ).

About a week ago, I left Alexis downstairs while I went to get Ellery up after her nap. On my way down, I found Alexis at the foot of the stairs, trying to figure out how pull herself up on the first step. I laughed it off, thinking to myself that it would be challenging when the girls started climbing the stairs. Two days later, Carrie had left the room, and returned to find Alexis on the 3rd step! It is just crazy how fast they learn.

However, this mobility provides us with endless entertainment. The girls frequently caravan through our house – when one leaves the room, the other follows. They also love it when we get down on our hands and knees and join them. It almost always leads to smiles and giggles. They also like following us around the kitchen while we are making food or doing dishes. They love to watch what we are doing, but we are usually forced to make them take turns by picking them up one at a time. The poor lonely soul who gets left on the floor usually tries to make us feel guilty by grabbing our ankles and trying to pull herself up!

I have some video of them crawling, but it is going to take me a while to sort through it all and get it posted. Stay tuned for updates!

Sleep training

The girls have always been pretty good sleepers. We read many horror stories of sleepless nights, and we haven’t really had that so far. For the last few months, Ellery has been sleeping in the nursery while Alexis sleeps next to our bed in the co-sleeper. As long as they have their swaddles and we wake them up when we go to bed for a feeding they sleep through the night. However, we knew we would have to change a few things eventually – 6 months seemed like the right time.

Carrie did an excellent job researching various sleep training methodologies. About a week ago we started. We had 3 goals. First, we wanted them to sleep at least 11 hours without any feedings. Second, we wanted them to be able to sleep without their swaddles. Finally, we wanted them to sleep in the same room. We don’t think that twins always have to sleep in the same room, but it makes a lot of sense for us since we only have 1 room other than ours!

We decided to adopt the cry-it-out method because it is the fastest way to extinguish the behaviors as long as parents don’t give in and rush to their children. It was definitely difficult to hear them scream at various times in the night, but it helped a lot to be able to see them on the video monitor.

Our first step was to takle the first 2 goals. After several nights, they started sleeping through the night without their swaddles and without any feedings! We are so proud of how fast they progressed. We now have the added bonus of seeing the crazy positions they get themselves into at night. Ellery likes to push herself toward the top of the crib until she has no room for her head. Alexis likes to get her limbs stuck in the slots in the crib (we ordered some breathable bumpers to prevent this). They are both very much tummy-sleeprs now that they can turn themselves over.

Once they girls were able to make it through the night we put them both in the nursery at bedtime. The first night, they cried a for about 30 minutes at bedtime and then made it through the night with only a little noise. By the second night they slept through the night again! It is really awesome to have them sleeping in the same room. It is even more awesome to have our room back to ourselves for the first time since they were born!