Friday, May 10, 2013

12 month update

A little behind getting this up, but better late than never!  Reaching the 12 month milestone just seems huge for me.  A couple of fellow high order multiple moms told me when I was pregnant that if we could make it through the first year then we'd be ok.  Well, we made it!  So, we're going to be ok, right?

Before I get into their individual 12 month stats, I'll recap other appointments we took on as a group.  First, we visited the developmental pediatrician with Ben, Andrew, Allison, and Levi (other 2 had already been).  Just as with the first appointment, no surprises.  Everyone's behind in language.  The doc was most concerned with Ben's gross motor skills and Andrew's tendency to go up on his toes.  Both of those issues have gotten better since the appointment.

We also went to the dentist for the first time!  It went way better than I expected.  The dentist and her staff were fantastic- even got on the floor to play with my kids and entertain them and came out to help load the stroller and babies.  The actual dentist did this!  And she specializes in special needs kids and is excited to get started with Leah this early.  They all handled the first teeth brushing with ease and got the thumbs up from the dentist.  I have started brushing their teeth now, they don't protest so it's not so bad yet.

12 mo. well checks also went well.  Everyone except Leah and Levi are now on whole milk and we are using sippy cups only- no bottles!!  They had to get 4 shots each and were definitely little troopers.  Andrew was first and he was the only one to really cry.  We did get a few "how can you let them do this to me?!" looks.

Ok, here we go, in birth order...

Andrew Noah

Andrew is a busy boy.  He is a super crawler and goes from crawling to standing like it's nothing.  He has stood independently a few times for a few seconds.  He pulls up on anything and everything- whether it's a good idea or not.  He cruises around and picks things up off the floor while standing.  He is very curious and gets into everything.  He also figured out how to escape the baby pen; he doesn't always escape, but if he wants to he will find a way.  I have to keep my eye on this one all the time!  I've caught him going for the dog food, dog toys, Leah's medical equipment, guitar stands, you name it.  Andrew likes to steal his siblings' cups at the table, drop his behind the table, and pull off his bib.  He also likes to hillbilly laugh (he thinks everything is hilarious), follow me if I say "come here", get hugs, follow and watch Maggie, squeal loudly, and stand in his crib and peer into Ben's and Levi's.  He is a great eater, especially with finger foods.  He is also very flexible and we call him Yoga Baby sometimes.  At birth he was 2 lb 13 oz and 15 in long.  At 1 year he is 22 lb 15 oz and 28.5 in long.  He has 2 teeth in and more on the brink.  He's in 12 mo size clothes and size 3, almost size 4 diapers.  

Benjamin Luke

Everyone loves those cheeks!  My big Benny boo brings joy to everyone with his big smiles, silly sounds, and funny faces.  He is by far the most vocal.  He says "mama" all the time, but he says it to everyone, so I'm not convinced it's really his first word.  He comes up with a new silly sound about once a week and does it constantly- usually loudly too.  The last one we call his mating call because he does it while staring at lady volunteers.  Obviously, Ben is a good eater.  He's not always keen on new foods, but he comes around.  He has started self feeding finger foods and holds his own cup.  Also, Ben has finally started moving!!!  This is huge for him.  He can roll (though not often), can go from sitting to all 4s, rock on his knees, and stand independently every now and then.  He is also cruising furniture.  Ben doesn't like to bend at the waist, so when he falls, he falls straight back.  He doesn't like to share his toys either.  He has 4 teeth.  He's in size 12 mo clothing and size 3, almost size 4 diapers.  At birth he was 2 lb 15 oz and 15 in long.  At 1 year he is 23 lb 5 oz and 27.75 in long.  

Caroline Grace

Sweet girl Caroline.  Her smile lights up her whole face while she shows off her 4 teeth and crinkles her nose.  She has a deep belly laugh that we love to hear.  Caroline is a morning person; always pops up her head with a big grin and wiggles with excitement when she sees you coming to get her.  She says "dada" all the time, but like Ben, we're not convinced she knows what she's saying.  She loves blowing raspberries and will do it reciprocally.  She also likes to dance and will sway with any music and clap.  Her very favorite thing is to walk with assistance; she grabs on to your hands and takes off- really, she's pretty fast and she knows exactly where she wants to go.  She can army crawl, but prefers not to.  She can cruise along furniture and pick up something off the floor while standing.  This girl loves her sleep!  She can last about 2 hours awake and she is done- you know when she gets those 2 fingers in her mouth that it's over.  She also likes to "read" books (i.e. hold and turn pages).  Caroline is in size 9-12 mo clothes and size 3 diapers.  At birth she was 2 lb 11 oz and 14 in long.  At a year she is 20 lb 10 oz and 28.25 in long.

Leah Michelle

Little Leah Peah.  She makes everyone stop with her smiles.  She is the sweetest, cuddliest little thing!  She loves music- especially If you're happy and you know it, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes.  She likes when you clap her hands for her and stretch her and move her around.  She can sit independently for a few seconds, and a full minute with a boppy for support.  She continues to make more noises/sounds for us and show progress with all her therapy.  Her eating has a long way to go, but we keep on truckin.  A young girl was over recently and told me, "Leah is probably my favorite.  She doesn't do much, but that's ok.  She's a baby.  And she's special."  I love that her therapists stay longer to play and love on her too.  She has come a long way this year and we hope to see just as much improvement in years to come.  Leah wears size 6 mo clothes and size 2 diapers.  She has 2 teeth.  At birth she was 1 lb 11 oz and 13 in long and at a year is 14 lb 12 oz and 25.25 in long.

Allison Kate
4/23/12- only one I had!

Allison, Alli, Alli Kate, Alli Cat, Allikins, Smidgeon, Smidge, Smidgie, Stinkerina- I think she needs a few more nicknames.  I've said it before, but this girl's got spunk!  Don't mess with her (that includes you Andrew and Benjamin!) because she'll push you out of her way and maybe even bite you.  She is a drama queen for sure.  She loves to eat and is the quickest finger feeder.  She will act like she's dying while waiting for her turn for food or for her cup to make it to the table.  She likes to bang her cup on the table while looking at you for a reaction, but will not put the cup to her mouth.  She has just started nodding her head for more food and anything else she wants.  It's so cute!  She is a great crawler now and loves to follow Andrew around while they laugh at each other.  She's a super cruiser and puller upper too.  She just started clapping.  She says "mama" like Ben does and likes to smack her lips; she also makes silly sounds.  She sucks her thumb to sleep and has been the only one to show some separation anxiety.  She has recently become my little shadow.  She is amazing at finding the tiniest particle on the table, floor, etc and picking it up and getting it into her mouth.  Allison has 2 teeth with 2 more on the brink.  She wears size 6 mo clothes and size 2 diapers.  At birth she was 2 lb 6 oz and 14 in long.  At a year she is 15 lb 5 oz and 26 in long.
Levi Thomas

LL Cool L- Ladies Love Cool Levi!  Not sure if it's the helmet, the grin, or the cute tiny body, but this guy gets all the girls' attention.  When Levi came home from the NICU I was worried.  He cried all the time, look terrified all the time, and stayed up all night crying and spitting up.  He is totally opposite now.  He's always happy, easy-going, great at entertaining himself and gets along the best with his siblings.  He loves to play peek-a-boo with you and initiates it.  He deliberately will put balls into a toy and watch for them to roll out.  He is still a rolly polly, but now is a super fast army crawler.  He loves to bounce and clap on his knees and just figured out how to pull to a stand.  He can cruise around toys too. He has picked up the finger feeding and is just getting the hang of holding his own sippy cup.  He still doesn't like new food items, but has gotten used to everything within a few days.  With the most rashes and ointments, Levi has some sensitive skin.  He has also started "talking" more.  Levi has 2 teeth and wears size 6 mo clothing and size 2 diapers.  At birth he was 1 lb 10 oz and 12 in long.  Now he is 15 lb 2 oz and 24.5 in.  

As you can see they have changed tremendously in a year's time!!  We are loving watching them grow and change as each week passes.  Our family photographer, Brandi Smith, put together a short video showing clips of the photo shoots she's done at 5 mo and 12 mo.  Hope you enjoy it!  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

1st Birthday!

I'm sure I'll feel the same way every year, but this year has flown by and taken forever all at the same time.  For instance, when I look at them, I can't believe I have 6 1-year-olds who are looking more and more like little boys and girls (as opposed to babies) everyday- when did this happen?!  Then on the other hand, the days of visiting the NICU, 2 am feedings, endless crying, 6 in one room seem like so long ago.  They have changed so much in a year's time and have definitely started growing into 6 individuals with their own personalities.

This past year has been challenging in every aspect of our lives.  It has also been the most rewarding.  When the babies were born there were so many uncertainties and God has provided for us in every way.  From baby supplies to man power, it's always been taken care of.  Our support system has been incredible from day 1 and we are forever grateful to everyone who has been a part of the babies' lives.  Our extended family has grown and now includes quite a few people we didn't even know a year ago.  It continues to amaze me how far our babies' influence reaches and how loved they are all over the world.  Some people even call them the little missionaries.  And, for the record, we received so many meals I've yet to cook dinner, we have not bought a single diaper, and I can count the canisters of formula I've paid for with my fingers.  I've never been alone for a feeding or a bath night.  Dave and I have been on at least 1 date each month, attend church regularly, and we're involved in our small group.  All of these things would not be possible without our friends, family, and church.  The best part is that all of these people say they are blessed to be a part of our lives just as much as we're blessed by their help.  Also, for the record, the Perkins Pack is the first set of sextuplets born in Texas to survive the first year.  God is truly great!  People ask how I do it all the time.  Here's what gets me through... faith, determination, sense of humor, positive attitude, organization, diet soda, daily walks/runs, dessert, my amazing support system (that includes the husband), and the ability to function on little sleep.  Not necessarily in that order :)

Ok, back to the original reason for the post- celebrating the 1st birthday!

As per the suggestion of Leah's OT, we had been practicing for weeks eating muffins to get them used to the texture of cake so they wouldn't freak out at their party.  On their actual birthday (several days before their party) we practiced singing Happy Birthday as I had planned for their party and let them smash some cupcakes.  We also opened a gift a day their whole birthday week.  I'm very glad we had the practice because they LOVED the cake; it also showed us that I needed to give tutorials on my rendition of Happy Birthday x6 and that we needed to strip down the babies for cake smashing (what a mess!).  On this occasion, Ben and Levi only ate the icing, Caroline ate and covered herself with hers and stole some of Ben's, Andrew and Allison devoured theirs, and Leah was mad we made her sit at the table for a long period of time.  I ended up unwrapping their gifts because they were too easily distracted by tags and paper.

The actual party happened the Saturday after their birthday.  The theme was circus and it seemed to be appropriate for many reasons.  The threat of rain loomed over us and our outdoor party in the park.  Luckily, it stopped raining just long enough for us to set up, enjoy 2 hours of the party, and have the quickest clean up I've ever seen.  The torrential downpour began as soon as the party ended and made getting home a disaster (for others, not so bad for us).  Despite the weather, the party was perfect!!  It took 3 months of planning, 5 shoppers, and 3 teams of people (set up, team baby, and clean up) to pull this shingdig off, but we did it!  Our simple party in the park grew to 100 guests including volunteers and medical staff we've kept in touch with.  As much as we wanted to celebrate the babies, we also wanted to extend our gratitude to those who have helped us make it through this year.  Obviously, we had a lot of people to thank!  I would also like to note that the cake (provided by Cakes by Gina) was the most incredible cake!!  I almost didn't want to mess it up, but it was worth it because that cake was delicious and I ate waaaayyy too much of it last week.

Here are some pics and videos of the birthday week events:

Ben opening his gift

Andrew during cake tasting practice

Can you believe all these cards?!

Allison literally smashing her cake

Caroline wanted to try the chocolate cake too

Smash Time!

I like frosting!

My aunt got a great video of the cake smashing at the party.  To view click here.

As many Houston residents know, we also did a media update for the 1st birthday.  My "publicist" friend was awesome and took care of everything.  She interviewed us and got some footage of the babies at home and of the party and sent it out to local media so we didn't have to do individual interviews.  Overall, all the stories came out well with minimal mistakes.  I even got to do my first call in radio interview on a morning show.  It was quick and easy (about 5 min); not sure if I hate watching myself on TV or listening to myself on the radio more.  This time around I felt KHOU did the best job, so here's the link:  Sextuplets First Birthday

Our First Parade

Since the day the babies were born, my grandmother and great aunt have been strongly suggesting that the babies be in their town's San Jacinto Day parade because it's the weekend closest to their birthday.  I was not a fan of this idea, but as the year wore on, they broke me down and I agreed to do it.  Of course I called on my trusty adventurous friends to join us!

Mama and Jeanie were in charge of decorations.  They really outdid themselves!  The stroller was smothered in red, white, and blue wheel covers, streamers, flowers, balloons, and even a wreath.  Our whole group was instructed to wear red, white, and blue clothing only.  Luckily, the babies already had cute red, white, and blue rompers!  They had the local high school art teacher make us a banner for the parade saying "Happy Birthday Perkins Sextuplets".  They even practiced pushing the babies in the parade by walking them around our block waving and saying hello to whomever looked their way.

Walking in the parade was actually quite fun.  That morning was COLD so we had to layer the babies up with undershirt onesies, tights, and pants (red, white, and blue of course).  Aunt Jeanie knew the parade manager so she got us a prime spot in the line up behind the high school band and in front of all the fume producing vehicles.  The mile long course took maybe 30 minutes and there weren't too many people watching, but the babies were perfect and we had a great time watching Mama and Jeanie's excitement- and bickering.  There are already plans for next year!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Pack at the Park

Before I begin this post I will say that the past few weeks have been insanely busy!  I've gotten behind on my blogging and updating, so my plan is to do several posts this week to catch up.

About a month ago (told ya I was behind!)  our church small group planned an afternoon at the park for our semiannual croquet match!  We even have a trophy we pass around to whoever wins.  For the record, I was the original winner and since then the same couple has won every time.  Dave and I wanted to get the trophy back, so we decided to haul the kiddos to the park and take turns playing and watching the babies.  We assumed it'd be easy enough to recruit more baby help when we got there :)  Luckily, a friend brought her three baby loving daughters and all the kids had a grand time.  We even fit in a little time on the swings and slides!  Ben was the only one who really enjoyed it all.  The best part was that Dave and I won!!!  The Croquet Champ trophy is back where it belongs- on a shelf everyone can see when they enter our home :)

The youngest of the baby loving girls really cracked me up, here are some examples:

(in regards to Ben):  "He's even more chubbier in person!"
(when someone asked her to do something): "I'm trying to take care of 2 babies here! It's hard!"
(when all were fussing/crying): "I think I'm going to cry too!"

Here are some pics:

Ben's swinging

Levi and Andrew swinging

Levi sliding

We are the champions!!