Author: Lala
•Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Last night we took our girls to their first ever trick or treating. They dressed up as "Thing 1" and "Thing 2". Carl took them to the leasing office as soon as he got home from work and they got back with a piece of candy each and a $5.00 gift card for being one of the three best costumes - well, there were only three of them who showed up, so all were winners!

After giving them their evening milk, we decided to go around the neighborhood for their and their mom's first ever trick or treating! Yes, it was my first as well! We went to the townhouses adjacent to our apartment complex and started knocking on doors. There were a good number of trick or treaters and it was great being part of the fun. Our girls did not really know what was going on and were both shy picking from a bowl of candies in front of them, so their dad did it for them and he got to choose his favorite. Rianne was very excited to see a dog in one of the houses. Mikelle very much enjoyed carrying their candy bag. I showed her how to hold the handles but she preferred carrying it in the crook of her arm - so cute! After going through less than ten houses, Rianne was ready to head back home but Mikelle still had some energy and so we let her walk around for a while while Rianne enjoyed the comfort of the stroller. I am glad we went trick or treating - it was so much fun doing it with our two little "Thingies".

 Dad instructing the girls to be at their cutest for more candies
Mikelle in her costume
Posing with the pumpkins
The trick or treaters
Mikelle and her bag of candies
Dad showing Rianne some Christmas lights
 Rianne is done for the night and ready to go home
 Mikelle is ready for some more walking.

Many of you may not know that I am scared of worms. I actually hate worms, they give me goosebumps - and so what could be more scary than a worm cupcake for Halloween? I made these for our neighbors. Let's just hope I didn't scare them away.
 My worm cupcakes
 Creepy, right?
 I can now proudly tell the world that I ate a worm (gummy worm on a chocolate cupcake), or maybe not.
Author: Lala
•Sunday, October 30, 2011
Our girls are now 15.5 months old (from birth). They are a bit small for their age (esp. Rianne who is only 18 lbs.) but they are doing perfectly fine. The appointment with the follow along clinic last month went well, which they can go to every six months till they turn two because of their prematurity at birth. The Doctor said that they are doing great and that she did not see any reason for concern, developmentally, which we were happy about.

It has been quite busy for me these past weeks from moving into our new apartment and settling in, doctors appointments, never ending sewing projects - which I love to do!, preparation for our trip to the Philippines and of course - two toddlers. Our girls are definitely growing. They are now pro at walking and just started running. They love to climb everywhere. They love books, baths and of course going out. I try to take them out once or twice every day since they would be screaming if I don't. I love and enjoy our morning walks, normally up to an hour, to the neighborhood or to the park. I would let them walk around the park and then take them home. They dropped their morning nap about a month ago and they are now down to one-two hour nap at noon. By around three in the afternoon, they are again ready for another outing. I normally take them to the mall especially now that it is getting pretty cold outside. We normally do some outing on weekends. We have been to the National Zoo twice, National Aquarium, the Mall at DC, festivals, the coolest park on earth (or at least in VA) Clemyjontri park and a lot of stuff. Every outing is a little bit challenging but fun!

Being a stay-at-home mom was a challenge for me. I enjoyed working and loved being out. Adjusting to the responsibilities of a full-time homemaker in a place foreign to me was not easy. I've had a number of breakdowns and being so far away from my family, friends, culture, food and other stuff in and about the Philippines did not make it easier. I am thankful that I have been blessed with an understanding and supportive husband who tries to do his best to make me happy. Hard as it is, I am happy and thankful that I can stay home with my babies. It has been a blessing to witness their growth and development. They have come a long way and I am happy to be a part of it. I thought it was taking forever for them to learn how to crawl, then to walk, and I couldn't wait till they do those things but looking back, those times were preciously memorable and I missed my babies. Mikelle and Rianne are now little girls. They can now communicate better, understand and follow simple directions like get a book or put the ball in the box, recognize some words and what it means like book, bath, bus, airplane, kain (eat), bola (ball), squirrel, butterfly song, relo (clock), unggoy (monkey), ear, belly, nose, foot, sapatos (shoes), labas (out), and other stuff. It's fun stuff! I enjoy watching them play together - not so much biting each other though. I love their special relationship and let me share some of those special moments together:
 Riding together. Mikelle loves being in charge of the wheels.
Reading together
They love playing in the tub
Mikelle (left) managed to climb and fit herself in to join Rianne - she looked really happy!
 eating spaghetti
 Like what I said, Mikelle takes over the wheels while Rianne enjoys the ride.
 To them, anywhere is a good place to eat. They will often lie down wherever they are as soon as they get their bottle.
 Racing for the toy
 Love that face!
 Rianne love playing with her tongue
 Clemyjontri park

 flying together
Thing 1 and Thing 2 for Halloween. I made their skirts and headbands to complete their costumes.
Us at our ward Halloween party with our good friends, the Jensens.
Author: Lala
•Sunday, October 16, 2011
[From Carl]
I'm sitting here writing a blog post instead of attending church right now because we are basically all sick.  I'm not feeling much myself, but the kids have had a pretty rough few days, and now Lala's feeling it too.  The good thing is that the girls are mature enough to just try to get back to sleep at night, rather than simply crying all night about feeling crummy or having a clogged nose.  Once again, their being good sleepers makes things a lot better for us.

Mikelle got sick with a cold first and started coughing a lot, and now she seems to be getting better and Rianne is the one feeling really bad.  We make zero effort to keep infections from spreading between them.  They chew on the same toys anyway (and bottles, and spoons, and socks), and are always together (climbing on each other, often).

The kids are babbling up a storm lately.  This morning we were laughing because it looked like Mikelle was giving an animated speech, complete with hand-chops and standing on a soap box (actually, a diaper box, but close enough).  Lala thought that reminded her of me. Rianne has always been a few weeks behind on most development milestones, but she has been making the babbling far more intricate as well.

They keep changing.  When we decide one is shy and the other bossy, they change it up.  For a while it looked like Mikelle was taking over the role of "petitioner for redress of after-meal cleanup grievances", but now I'm not so sure.  Rianne still defends herself by biting Mikelle, but we usually stop it first.  Mikelle has the past few days gotten in Rianne's face a lot and thinks she's a cushion to bounce on, or lie on, or poke.  Of course they always follow each other (and us) around.  Both of them are really good at walking, and Mikelle especially likes to take off exploring when we let them out of the stroller.  They are no longer so obsessive about putting everything in their mouths, which makes outings far easier.

We got a lightweight folding side-by-side double stroller, which is really what we need now.  It's something practical for Lala to use (she couldn't even get the really big stroller we have into the car, so she couldn't really go places).  I, being rather stronger, can still take the kids and the stroller on the bus by myself, since it's really just a matter of arranging all the stuff to carry so I can do it with two arms (putting one kid in a harness makes this possible).  We have been going out basically every afternoon - the mall is our friend.  The kids get very bored if we try to just stay home.  We're pretty intimidated by winter - how will we get out so much? 

It's getting close to November, which means that the Philippines is coming up soon!  I'll be in Las Vegas for a conference the week before we leave, and Lala will stay with friends in Maryland while I'm gone.  Basically, nothing will be very routine for the rest of the year.  We got some "Peapod" tents for the girls to sleep in when they're not at home.  Lala had the girls successfully use them for the afternoon nap when she visited a friend last week, so I think that will work out.

It's been busy times, even with the move behind us.  It seems like every time we turn around someone sends us a bill saying we need to pay more money than we'd agreed on (Verizon internet, rental office (twice), doctors, yikes).  With the upcoming travel and the move, it's been kind of hard to make a budget that reflects reality.  We'll just have to see where we are come the new year I think.  I guess with a family "in flux" is kind of our normal state.
Author: Lala
•Monday, September 19, 2011
Our girls were pretty amazed and entertained when they saw fish for the first time at our family doctor's office a month ago. They both stared at the fish for a while and tried to grab them a number of times. Their excitement was definitely heard by the whole office. So the following Saturday, we decided to visit the National Aquarium at DC. When we got there, there were little kids looking at the aquarium. The girls were more interetsed watching those kids than looking at fish and alligators in front of them. They eventually got interested for a while with the fish but then got tired and mostly enjoyed walking around the dim room while pushing the stroller and making some cute sounds. A number of people enjoyed watching our girls like they were on exhibit.

 Rianne letting us know that she is tired of fish and is ready for something else. Oh, I wish could be as flexible as she is - that would help me in my yoga class!
 Mikelle got tired of pushing the strollers.
 Before heading home, we decided to get some food and hang out outside the Federal Triangle train station for some fresh air and music. The weather was perfect plus with music in the background - ah, it was awesome!
I love these girls!
Author: Lala
•Sunday, September 18, 2011
Mikelle cut her smallest toe on her right foot several weeks ago (August 4). We did not know when or how but I was a bit scared when I saw it while I changed her diaper.We thought it was deep and that a visit to an urgent care clinic was necessary. The nurses cleaned it, put a bandage on it, and wrapped her foot in pink tape. The doctor said that babies heal fast and she should be fine. She was given some antibiotic that she took for ten days and an ointment that we applied three times a day. Mikelle was definitely not happy about her bandage especially since she just started walking. It came off a number of times and we had her wear a stockings to keep her from taking it off - it worked! And for some pictures:

On the other note, my dearest friend from college, Mayet, and her husband Tom came to visit from Indiana. It was so good seeing her again! They visited some museums at the Mall and we all went out for dinner on their last evening here. It was so nice for Carl to volunteer to take the babies home so Mayet and I could have a girl's night after our dinner. A storm was already pouring when they got off from the bus with our babies (Carl said that they are almost not a baby anymore, oh well) and they got home soaking wet with two screaming babies! On a happy note, I had a great time visiting and talking with Mayet. Oh, how I missed our college years!

Mayet brought a birthday gift for Mikelle and Rianne - really cute dresses. It did not take long for the girls to become friends with Mayet. We took some pictures before they left to New York. Thanks, Mayet and Tom, for the visit!

 Rianne in pink and Mikelle in blue.
Nice to meet you Tita Mayet
Author: Lala
•Sunday, September 04, 2011

Disillusionment, the cruelest sensation,
Dreams dashed so gently.
I had my hope, my expectation,
And worked so diligently.

I wanted that yogurt in my hair,
The cracker crumbs stuck to my chest.
I smeared banana everywhere,
and tossed my food around: all the rest.

But oh! the pain. The wet cloth wipes.
I cannot say the thousandth part of what I feel.
But I try.  I cry to the heavens: hear my gripes!
Save me from this cleaning! On me should be my meal!

The cold, implacable Dad continues his heartless task,
To my entreaties he is deaf—he ignores my plea.
I can never get the thing for which I ask,
and am left to mourn for what will never be: a messier me.

Author: Lala
•Sunday, August 21, 2011
After taking eight Saturdays for my swim class, we finally have our Saturdays back and were able to go out for a bike outing at the Mall yesterday. The weather was really nice and it was a perfect day for an outing. We rented our bikes from the same place as last time, Bike and Roll, but got a trailer this time. We thought our babies are almost a year old, bigger, and will probably be able to fit on a trailer. Rianne did not like it the moment we put her in but Mikelle was fine for a while until Rianne cried. It was an exciting "first" that is worth documenting.

Carl and some paperwork
 Mikelle and Rianne did not like the idea.
 My hubby and babies.
The Capitol in the background

We think that it will work better next year when the kids are older and bigger.  This was an excursion to try it out and get some experience biking as a family. We had fun though.
Author: Lala
•Monday, July 25, 2011
Our Norfolk Beach trip (June 11-13) was a big thing for several reasons. One, it was our first three-day family trip away from any relative. Two, it was more than 6-hour total travel to our destination (4-hour train travel, 3 buses and more than 2 hours of travel by bus) plus layovers. Three, we had two 9-month old babies that were close to 16-lbs each - thus carrying them around could be a challenge. Four, we packed baby supplies for three days and packed for four people - meaning big luggage. But for family fun and togetherness, we thought it was worth a shot.

We woke up early, around 5am on Saturday, fed the babies and took an hour bus ride to the Alexandria Amtrak station. The train ride was fun and way more comfortable than driving a car. Mikelle and Rianne had so much fun in the cafe car were they could crawl, stand, play, and watch kids and the scenery outside. They had fun being able to go walk around with dad and crawl on the floor. I am glad we had a four-seater and enjoyed the space we all needed for feeding and changing our girls. Our babies were able to stick close to their feeding and napping schedules which made everybody happy. After taking two more buses we made it to our hotel at around 3 pm. We were amazed by how patient and happy our babies were during the whole trip! They were very entertained by a lot of things and did not have any crying episodes. I was so tired and we all took a nap after checking in our hotel. Then, after we fed our babies when they woke up, we then headed to the beach, which was just 20 meters away from our doorstep.

Everything was new to Mikelle and Rianne, and they were both very scared of the waves and the sand. We sat by the shore where the waves could hit us to help them get used to the water but it was not a success. They were more comfortable when Carl took them father out since the calmer water reminded them probably of pool water which they are used to.

I was frustrated to find our that I forgot to pack Mikelle's swimsuit I hanged to dry the night I packed. I felt bad that she had to go swimming in her onesie. I found a dollar store when I went out to find some food and bought two matching blue swimsuits for one dollar each. I thought it was a success.

Our first night was pretty stressful. The hotel did not have any cribs available for the babies and since they are both really good sleepers at night we thought they would do fine sleeping on the floor of the hotel - we were wrong. Mikelle slept pretty good for part of the time but Rianne woke up every 20-30 minutes, would sit up and cry that I have to hold her and put her back down. I ended up lying with them on the floor and was not able to get some sleep until Carl took over at around 4 a.m. I was in terrible shape the next morning. My head hurt and I could not think straight. Carl took the girls to the beach in the morning while I slept till a little after 8a.m.I felt a lot better when I joined them later.  Our second night, everyone slept like the dead all night.

On our last day, we decided to take our babies to their first zoo adventure at Virginia Zoological Park. It was a great idea to rent a cart for the babies. We took them out to see the animals and they enjoyed some of it. I think they mostly enjoyed looking at the young kids who were on a field trip that day. It was cute to see their amazement and curiosity. They got to see the prairie dogs up close, and it was fun to see baby and prairie dog staring at each other. They did really good, there was no complaining and crying. They fell asleep on our way to the train station. It was around 11p.m. when we got home. We were so tired but the trip was definitely worth it. It was a bit stressful but absolutely fun! We are looking forward to our next trip, to the Philippines probably.
 Waiting for bus on our way to the train station.
Mikelle and Dad
Our girls loved that they could play in the cafeteria while on the train.
 Mikelle admiring the sceneries.
 Our first day on the beach. It was a beautiful day!! Mikelle wearing her onesie because I forgot to bring her swimsuit.
 Dad playing with Mikelle so she would not be too scared of the wave, water and the sand.
 Rianne and Dad.
 Our girls liked the quilt Grandma Ellen gave us for Christmas.

 Rianne telling us how excited she was.
 Mikelle got really sick. This picture did not do justice how bad she was that day. Her eyes were swollen and very watery. Her nose was very stuffy and face was very red. I thought for a while she had really bad sunburn but then it went away the following day.
They were both scared of the sand and did not like it when we had them sit on it for some picture taking.
 They finally felt a little better after some encouragement and playing. We were able to take these cute pictures below.
 and Rianne.
Our girls talking about how tasty the sand was.
 At Virginia Zoological Park 

 Our girls enjoyed their first zoo trip.
 On our way to catch the bus from the zoo. Our girls were both tired and sleepy.
 On our way home.