Wednesday morning my friend called to see if the twins and I wanted to go to Fantasy of Trees with her that morning. So we all jumped out of bed and hurried to the coliseum. Children’s Hospital of East Tennessee has a fundraiser every year to raise money for their hospital. It is always such a wonder to see all the different trees people have decorated that are for sale. The event also has face painting, princess manicures, reindeer decorating, stocking hand prints and many, many other activities to entertain adults and most of all the children. My children enjoyed it all so much. We took them their first Christmas and I have to say they enjoyed it so much more this year. It only lasts a few days so you do not have long to work it into your schedule. I am glad we rushed out and got to see it this year.

Thursday morning we cooked a few things and then drove two hours to Brian’s twin brother, Eric’s, house. His parents were there along with Eric’s parent-in-laws. We were the first to arrive and the last to leave. We may have worn out our welcome! It is just so nice to have the children play together and for me to have adult time. Brian and Eric’s birthday is Nov. 27th, so we celebrated their special day as well. Kim made a delicious Milky Way Cake that was a hit! Julian has talked about how he wanted to blow out Daddy’s candles, so he got to join Brian and Eric in blowing them out.

We got home about 9:45pm and I headed to Toys-R-Us for the big sale at 10pm. I saw that the line was around the strip mall and decided not to tackle that store and headed to Wal-Mart for the sale that started at midnight. I arrived at Wal-Mart around 10:15pm, scoped out the store and started standing in line for the steam mop around 10:45pm. At midnight the ripping began and one person tried to snatch mine right out of my hands and I was first in line! I took one for myself and one for my mother-in-law and off I was to find a few other deals. By 12:30 I was in line. I waited, and waited, and waited until, are you ready for this, yes 3:15AM I was checked out! I thought my legs were going to fall off and I was not sure how I was going to make it to my car. A Wal-Mart employee was handing out 5 hour energy drinks for free and I took one. I do not drink caffeine, so I just had a few sips of the drink. I have to say it gave me the energy not only to make it to the car, but to Kohl’s, with 45min in line and then to Belk as well. I am not sure how good of “deals” I got but one thing is for sure I am not doing this again next year! I finally arrived home at 7:30AM, yes you read that correct, 7:30AM! I was so tired when I arrived home, but I knew I had to hide many of the gifts, so I did that and then heard Natalie moving around so I made her breakfast and put her in bed with us. I asked Dad not to wake me for at least six hours and that is the last thing I remember until 3pm. Dad was so good to not have the kids or the dogs bother me, but I was still exhausted when I got up. My legs just throbbed. My friend Susan, told me I put a new meaning to the term “Shop till you drop!”


PhotobucketFor the sake of our many new readers, I’m re-posting this introduction to Hannah Dowling, student at Elon University, in North Carolina.




My name is Hannah Dowling. I am a Women/Gender Studies major at Elon University in NC and am pursuing research on women’s experiences with embryo adoption, particularly within their larger experiences with infertility. My research is interview based, and I would really like for my work to speak to the issues and experiences that actual women who have been or are currently involved with embryo adoption–both as donors and as adoptive mothers– find to be most important and significant. I am looking for women who would be interested in speaking with me about their embryo-adoption experiences (either as donors or adoptive mothers). I have already spoken with many women in various stages of involvement with the embryo-adoption process (i.e. those who are still waiting to be matched with an adopting or placing family, those who are currently pregnant with embryo-adopted children, those who were involved with embryo adoption many years ago, etc.), but I would like to include every woman who has the desire to participate in this research effort.

Participation in this research is entirely voluntary, and you will always have the option to not answer any questions with which you feel uncomfortable or would otherwise prefer to leave unanswered. You will have the option to complete interviews by phone or through email and can spend as little or as much time as you would like on the completion of interviews.

If you think that you might be interested in speaking with me about your experience or if you have any questions before you decide to participate, please do not hesitate to contact me at Additionally, I would be more than happy to speak with you over the phone.

I look forward to speaking with you,
Hannah Dowling


WARNING. The following may be disturbing to some readers. It represents the clear and present danger of raising children. Reader discretion is advised.

It was a biohazardous Thanksgiving weekend at the Wilson house. It actually started on Wednesday with a series of text messages from Jeremy. They went like this:

“Oi – it finally happened. One of them poo’d ALL over themselves to the point of having to have a bath. And it wasn’t the one I’ve been expecting to perform such a feat. They’re full of surprises…I hate surprises.”

“Do we have spare crib sheets?”

“You can tell your Poo-caso lady we have a little Jackson Poo-llick.” (In reference to the abstract nature of Maria’s poo art.)

“I gave her a quick bath. Wash clothes were not enough. She got some on G’s crib sheet before I realized the extent of the catastrophe that ushered forth from her butt.”

Now, I found this quite hilarious and looking back on it, my enjoyment of the situation is probably what got me in trouble later on in the weekend.

On Friday, we were on poo watch for Grant. It was day four with no action. A day or two is one thing, but I put a limit at four days. The last time he did this, just the threat of a glycerin suppository did the trick. By the evening, we still had no action, so I had to intervene. I apologized in advance and did the deed. Within ten minutes, he made his signature poo face, which is a mix of embarrassment and surprise. Yep, the plumbing was now working and that diaper was quite the treat!

Saturday, we had another adventure. Maria has had a little bit of a cold and slight cough. After nursing, she started to cough, then gag, and before I knew it, she threw up all over the couch and me. Now, this wasn’t the normal baby spit up that we’re all used to. Nope. It was vomit. And it was plentiful. It was at this point that I realized she swallowed more of her bananas that morning than I thought and I was thankful that our couch is treated with Scotchgard and cleans easily. I actually weathered this better than expected. I don’t do puke and have previously declared that unless he wants to clean up mine and theirs that Jeremy will be on puke duty when the kids get sick.

So there you have it. I guess you could say we asked for it.


This Thanksgiving we have so much to be thankful for and I am reminded of that every day when I look into Julian and Natalie’s eyes. At church yesterday, I had two different women say to me, so you are the mother of the twins that we prayed and prayed for and I replied YES! It is such a miracle that from week 15 of my pregnancy, when I had started bleeding and was put on restricted bed rest, that I had so many people praying for my twins to live. Even though 15 weeks later is a much better time for them to be born, 30 weeks is still too early. It is a blessing from God that they only had to stay in the NICU for 46 days and did not have to come home with tubes and monitors, but most of all that they are healthy toddlers without any medical issues.

What a blessing our church was during such a difficult time. People started bringing food for us from the time my bed rest started and through many weeks when they got home. Now that was a long time! It was such a stressful time, not knowing if your children are going to live or not, so knowing that our meals were provided was such a blessing. God provided for us through our church family and now I pray that I can be a blessing to others as they were to me and my family.

My mother always told me what a blessing I was to her and that gives me joy knowing that I brought her some happiness through her last six years of struggling with cancer. I have to say, that nothing brought her greater joy than all her grandchildren. My twins were the last of her eight and they were the last ones she saw before she died. On the second to her last day here on earth, she opened her eyes (she was not doing much of that by then) and saw the twins. She exclaimed, “Babies, babies!” with such delight I will never forget. The Bible tells us that family is a blessing. Even though my father and mother are not here with me now, I am so incredibly blessed to have them in my heart as well as the rest of my family here on earth!


It’s been a bit of a raw weekend for me. Saturday morning I saw a post from a new twin mom on the Louisville Mother of Twins Club forum about her babies who were born eight weeks early and are now residents of the Kosair NICU. She was asking for feedback and support, to which I responded giving her my contact information and shared a little about our NICU experience. I cannot hear a story about preemies without crying. It’s something that I’ve noticed over the past seven months and I wonder if that’ll ever change. I told Jeremy that I wasn’t sure if I was now just that empathetic to the circumstances or if I had some sort of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or a little of both. He thinks it’s a little of both and said that we were both opened up to an experience that can’t truly be understood unless someone has been there. He commented that for him that experience was the most trying time he’d ever been through. Neither one of us are the type to wear our emotions on our sleeves and aren’t overly dramatic about the events in our lives, so I think only a few people really knew how hard it was for us. I remember one of my good friends commenting on my voice and that it had an anxiety about it that she’d never heard in me. I can completely relate to how this new mom feels, which she described as joyful sadness, and I hope that I can be of support to her during their tour of duty in the NICU.

Another reason it’s been raw is that we got our bill for our frozen embryo storage for the next year and a decision needs to be made. I have to say I was relieved by getting this bill. I knew it was about that time of year and had a fear that some sort of mistake had occurred and our embryos were accidentally given up to someone else. I didn’t anticipate the burden I would feel regarding these additional 10 frozen embryos with which we’ve been entrusted. Between this decision and the new NICU mom, I was quite weepy during church. It’s the one place where I will readily cry publicly and it was made worse when we sang “Our God” by Chris Tomlin, which I’ve dubbed my NICU survival song. I left church with no makeup left on my face and Jeremy and I had a lengthy conversation about our frozen embryos. He has a way of putting things into perspective and asked me if I thought of the embryos as mine…yes, was my immediate answer and I knew it was the wrong one and a selfish one. These embryos are God’s and I need to think of them that way. I told him that I do think of them as our children and I want to honor both God and their biological family in our decision to either keep them for another year or give them back up for adoption. He did agree that we are so much in the thick of baby land that to say we’re never going to have any more probably isn’t fair. Since we didn’t have to make a decision that second, we haven’t made a definitive decision yet. However, I suspect I’ll be sending in a check in the next few days and we’ll have this conversation again next year. For now, we have to give this decision to God and hope that we get direction on making the right decision for the right reasons.


Last month I received a call from my physician’s office informing me it had been 3 yrs since my last visit, and they suggested I schedule an appointment for a physical. My doctor decided to send me for routine blood work even though my check up was fine, I guess so he would have a baseline to compare it to when I actually do start to fall apart. Since I needed to fast for the blood test, I decided to wait until I wouldn’t have to take everyone with me in the morning. I decided to go over Veteran’s day weekend, because we had that time off from school, and Ryan could stay with the younger boys.

I anticipated a wait, so of course I brought something to do to keep my hands busy. I usually always travel with my knitting or cross stitch, whether it is waiting for the school bus or a car ride (don’t worry, not when I’m driving!). I brought a cross stitch project for a Christmas present, and set to work. There were four men ahead of me, and shortly after I arrived an older women in her late 80’s sat next to me. She was admiring my work and we struck up a conversation. She was amazed at the fact I could work in such fine detail without using glasses. I told her my eyes were just at the point that they only bother me when they are tired. She recommended I get those cheap magnifying glasses they sell in CVS or Ocean State Job Lots. I laughed and told her my sister wears those, and has multiple pairs of them. I was joking that I could use her hand me downs.

Our conversation turned to family after she asked me who the project I was currently working on was for. (I told her I give away most to the items I make as gifts for family and friends.) She asked how many children I have and their ages. She also has 3 (2 boys and a girl), over a 10 year period (my span is 8 yrs). I asked her if she found it to be easy or hard with the age difference. She said it was difficult, because she felt she always had to “drag a baby or two along”. I tend to agree with her; I find it difficult at times to switch gears between the different needs of each age group and their schedules.

I talked with this lady until I was called, and before I went in told her how much I had enjoyed our chat. It wasn’t until I was driving home, listening to my favorite radio station, silence, that I realized this lady had filled a void in my life that was created with Auntie’s death. I really miss being able to pick up the phone and talk to her about what the kids are doing and what is happening in my life, whether good or bad. Auntie had filled the void in my life that was created when my Mom had died, and now it is back. I miss the maternal advice from their life experiences and lessons learned that is given out freely, but at the time I didn’t always want to hear .

This realization was confirmed when a few days later I read Marti’s blog entry about how she misses her Mom, and is honoring her memory by decorating and carrying on family traditions as her mother did. I think I would like to do the same for my Aunt’s memory.


Today Patty called to see if we would meet them in Disney World in February. I called Brian right away to see if he thought that would be possible. I am excited to say that he thought it would be a great time! I was so excited that the twins and I put up their Christmas tree in their room.

The most important thing that I neglected to tell about in my last blog about putting up the tree is that with each ornament I pray for the person and their family who gave it to me. This year I had to do a different kind of prayer for many of the ornaments. While hanging the ornaments Mom gave me, I just thanked God for giving me such a wonderful Mother! I think that prayer is a wonderful way to start the holiday season. It is a tradition I hope my children will continue when they have their own home.

Since today’s tree was for the twins we had several prayers for the Cassidy family, which was nice since I just heard from her today. I have already wrapped the sweat shirt she got for Julian when we went to visit them in March and a little tutu outfit for Natalie. While putting the ornaments on the tree it reminded me that she also got them each one for this year that I need to wrap as well. What a blessing to have the Cassidy family involved in our lives.

Our first Christmas party is this Friday with a few of my Mother’s friends, who have also become my friends as well. We are going to make sugar cookies to take and I got them a special ornament for their tree that we will have to wrap. I have to say that the holiday season is off to a very good start even if it will be one of the most challenging ones I have ever had.


Grant and Maria were frozen for 7 years. On the 17th of September, they were transferred into me where they spent the next 7 months cooking and were born on the 17th of April. Today, on the 17th of November, they are 7 months old. I feel like a broken record, but it seems crazy to me that they are over half way to their first birthday. This song by Darius Rucker (formerly known as “Hootie” from Hootie and the Blowfish) reminds me to cherish each and every stage.

I think the world we live in prevents us from being “in the moment” and I often hear parents talk about how they can’t wait for this or that milestone. I try not to fall into that trap. Each stage has its advantages and disadvantages and I already find myself wishing we could go back and have some of those early days back again. As new parents we were in such a fog, that I don’t know that we enjoyed things as much as we could. Thankfully, we have TONS of pictures. (I also hear expectant moms complain about how they feel and how much they want their babies to come early. As a mom to preemies, this is difficult to hear; NICU life stinks and babies are meant to cook for 40 weeks for a reason.) Remember, it won’t be like this for long. Enjoy each day.

So, in honor of their seven month birthday, here are seven things that I chose to enjoy about this stage in our lives.

1. I enjoy the fact that Maria will sing herself to sleep as she experiments with different sounds.
2. I enjoy the fact that sometimes she prefers Jeremy to me and will spread her arms across his broad chest and rest her head on him.
3. I enjoy the fact that Grant seems to have a multi-chambered stomach – one used for nourishment and one that appears to be a reserve tank utilized for spit up.
4. I enjoy the fact that we have to create a fort around Grant and must secure his Wubbanub paci to him so it doesn’t fall out of his mouth resulting in panic.
5. I enjoy the fact that dual nursing is creating its own challenges now as they reach out and poke one another in the eyes if I don’t get their bottom arms properly secured.
6. I enjoy the fact that they aren’t yet mobile and that the dog bowl and litter boxes are safe for now.
7. I enjoy the fact that even though we might not always sleep the whole night and we change approximately 480 diapers a month we have two healthy babies who are growing like weeds and are always pumped to see their mom or dad.

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On Thursday we went to DollyWood and it got us all in the mood for Christmas. So this weekend we put up four Christmas trees. Brian helped me put up the largest one which I decorated it while the children had a nap. Then the twins assisted me with two others when they woke-up. They loved putting on the ornaments and taking them off again to put on another tree. I tried to explain the “themed” trees to them, but they still wanted to put the Mickey Mouse ornaments on the Victorian tree. We all had a great time and I am quite tired. The last tree is for their room for all their ornaments and I hope to get to that by next weekend.

This morning the twins and I went to the mall. On the way home we were going over the letters of the alphabet along with the sound they make and a word as well. When we got to the letter “J” I said the sound along with the word “Jeannie.” Julian then said the sound and “JESUS!” I was so very proud of him we had to call and leave a message with Dad and then call and tell Grammy.

These are the times I miss my Mom the most, when the twins do something great—this is almost every day. And with the holidays fast approaching I decided to do things that would make her smile. I used Christmas balls and put them in glass bowls like she used to do and I have come up with several other ways to honor my Mother. This I am hoping will help me to get through our first holiday season without her.


A few weeks ago, Joel had come home with math homework that needed to be signed.  He had one correct out of six.  A grade this low is highly unusual for him; for the most part everything comes easily to him.  When I looked at the examples he had gotten wrong, I saw that they were simple mistakes, i.e. not looking at the sign, not completing all parts of the question, etc.  I reviewed it with him before signing, and I noticed that as we took the time to look at it, he was catching the mistake before I could point it out.  He corrected everything on his own, I signed it, and decided to take it one step further.  I contacted his teacher to discuss this matter, and we determined it was as I suspected, he’s rushing to complete his work.  I bet you’ll never guess the reason why.  He wants to finish his seat work so he can read his book.  It could be worse, at least he’s not disrupting the others by fooling around. (I can’t say too much about this, I used to do the same thing.  I would take my book out for recess and find a quiet spot to read.)  His teacher and I both agreed to speak to him about this, and if it continues he won’t be allowed to keep his book in his desk, it will have to stay in his backpack until SSR (sustained silent reading) time.  I know, we are such meanies!!!

Just when I get one kid straightened out and think everything is fine, I see that Ryan has an F in Science when I check his grades which are emailed to me daily.  Apparently he had 3 F’s on assignments that weren’t handed in, but I thought he had earned the failing grades.  I emailed the teacher, and questioned Ryan later that day after school.  Two of the F’s were from assignments that he had missed when we were in CA, and one he had just handed in a packet for.  Ryan told me he had made arrangements to complete the first two assignments during Study Halls, but the teacher never showed.  Who does he think he’s kidding?  Does he think I never attended High School, or that I’m so old I don’t remember it?  I told him that was no excuse, he had until the end of the week to complete everything and hand it in.

When I talked to my husband about these things, and told him we need to review Joel’s homework with him each night, and look at Ryan’s assignments, he agreed.  Things have been going better with them, and I’m once again starting to think all is well, when Ryan spends the entire weekend completing an English assignment.  Not just the assignment, but READING the book as well!!!  His reasoning was that he doesn’t like to read, and has trouble remembering what he has read, so he saved it to do at once.  I told him that is all the more reason to do a little at a time, start as soon as the work is assigned and take notes as he goes.  He worked ALL weekend on it, and managed to complete everything for Monday.  When I said something to Jim, he questioned me if I had never waited until the last minute to do my school work.  I told him no, I started as soon as it was assigned.  (His motto had been to wait, so he can relate to Ryan’s way of thinking).  He once again called me a geek, and that was the end of the discussion.

It may be true that I’m a geek, but I think it is clear to see that they are chips off the old blocks!  Conferences are this week, I can just imagine what will be said.  I think I’m going to send in a note saying my dog ate my slip with my conference date!  Do you think it will work?