Good evening, and welcome to another edition of Baby Talk! [1]

“Pampers or Huggies? Surely one of the most controversial subjects of our time. Tonight we bring you a distinguished panel of renowned nappy soilers to discuss the hot button topic that has set off waves of baby on baby violence across the nation…”

Hao jiu bu jian (long time no see)

With the best of intentions (I even prepared the photos a couple of weeks ago) I failed to write any news here for ages – sorry about that. It has been challenging getting time to do it, with the traveling and all manner of other things we need to do before we leave for China (May 15).

We had a marvelous time, but with the tiredness of travel and babycare, this blog is less frequent, less witty and less organised than I would like. Still, hope you enjoy what we’ve got for you today!

2 1/2 weeks in London

Despite the fact we spent more time in London so we could see more people, with a limited amount of parental energy and a limited number of meals per day, there was a limit to the people we could see, even doubling up. We should have had a party like last time, what were we thinking?

It was great to see all of you that we did; and for those we missed this time around, we very much hope to see you soon.


Welcome to London, girls!

Uncle Andre introduces Ilse to cafe life

Auntie Kook & Faye meet Ilse


Ilse tearfully tells Paul that she doesn’t want to play anymore

Auntie Lisa has breakfast with Ilse in Chorleywood…

…while Uncle Alasdair wrangles Edie.


Ilse lounges on the windowsill at the Cricketers Pub…

…and savours the delights of Virgin Upper Class.

Ilse and Rodrigo the caterpillar

Ilse & Edie cavort on the sofa


Auntie Nailya feeds Ilse

Ilse lays down the law

Cuddles with Auntie Anne

Edie peeps out from her car seat

Uncle Raymond and Ilse

Rachelle, Bibi and the girls in Golders Green

Tummy time

Ilse meets Uncle Dave

Auntie Elena coos at Edie

Maddie cuddles Edie in Odiham

Uncle Martin finds himself holding one of several baby girls

Auntie Rae with Ilse

Auntie Ros with Edie

Mama teaches Ilse the delights of the Blackberry

Edie and Mr B

Edie and Mrs B

Edie on Chorleywood common

Lunch with Auntie Fiona

Uncle Yuen lunches with Ilse

Edie really enjoys her bath.

Justin and Ilse at the Cricketers

Babies enjoying the Virgin Lounge

Poppy and Ilse in CT

Auntie Ali & Ilse

Cousin Sophia cuddles Ilse

Cousin Catie and Cousin Charlotte

Ilse in her new sunhat

Auntie Jessica with Edie and Mama

Cousin Bella with Ilse

Cousin Deanne Mencher with Edie

Auntie Amy and Nick meet Ilse in Boulder, CO

Auntie Julie and Edie

Uncle Nic and Edie

Uncle Steve and Edie

Cousin Bella feeds Ilse in Malibu

Auntie Jessica and cousin Daisy with Edie in Malibu

Auntie Jess and Bella lead the pram convory through Malibu Canyon

Auntie Pam with Ilse on the beach

The girls return from their world trip…

Edie and Ilse returned triumphantly from their world trip, completing a circuit around the globe before their 5th month. We arrived back in the US and spent a couple of days with Mum & Dad Mencher and the Richmonds before our 2-day drive back to Indiana. Thankfully the cat was less highly strung this time.

…only to leave again for the coast.

We had only been home for a week when we left to see the Isles in LA, as they had thoughtlessly moved to America before we arrived in London. We thought we should introduce the cousins – and the prospect of a few days in gorgeous Malibu didn’t hurt. Keeping it simple would have been boring so, since we had to travel through Denver anyway, we stopped off to see Amy and her family in beautiful Boulder (Mama was bribed with a session in the local spa)

Malibu was wonderful – it was marvelous to see Bella, Gabe, Alex, little Daisy, Jessica and Steve and Pam Mencher came down for a couple of days to meet the girls, too. We had a very relaxing time and visited Santa Monica only a couple of times to see Nic (Elvis) and Julie, Auntie Mickie and Uncle Mike for dinner and to see cousin Deanne Mencher.

Great memories of the US to take to China. It would have been difficult to take them from here in the midwest!

Now we’re back in Indiana and Mum and Dad Mencher are here helping out with the babies. Sharon has started back at work and I’ve got a million things to do before we leave, so it’s a huge help to have them here. Luckily the weather is very pleasant.

Developments

The girls are growing in leaps and bounds. They have a door-hanging jumper chair that Edie loves and Ilse enjoys. Both are growing quickly and are now around 15-16lbs, with Edie ahead by at least a half pound.

We’ve just started feeding them some solids (rice cereal) on a test basis this week. Edie is crazy for it, while Ilse is slowly getting used to it. I’m sure they will be more interested when we move on to more tasty vegetables.

They also started going to the creche for a few hours occasionally. I must confess that I was slightly sceptical about it until I saw the facilities and the people – it’s very nice, extremely stimulating for them and the first time they went, they slept as deeply as they ever have.

Thank yous

If I thank people here on a public blog, is it the courtesy of modern times or sheer laziness on my part? (Keep in mind that you might not get thanked if I didn’t do it here – answers on a postcard, please. )

There are so many people to thank for gifts, help and advice and I’m sure I’ll miss many. To them, I say, “thank you!” Here’s a start.

Thanks to:

  • Mum and Dad Lim for helping in the very beginning, for putting us up for so long, for lending us Siti and for everything else.
  • Mum and Dad Mencher for showing up to help at a critical moment and for everything else.
  • Arthur and Iling
  • Ko Ko and Ah Pek Lim
  • Nat, Ollie and Francesca
  • Auntie Oon Geok
  • Auntie Lucy
  • Auntie Bina
  • The Kwee Families
  • Ms Chua
  • Elaine and Rob
  • Auntie Rosa and Uncle Aaron
  • Melissa and Auntie Yiulin
  • Michael and Tanya
  • Dave and Chelsea
  • Jessica S
  • Simon
  • Yuen
  • Ali and Mike
  • Tim and Nailya for their exceptional hospitality and Nailya’s outstanding meals (all five types!) during our stay in London.
  • Mr & Mrs B
  • Toks & Mogens
  • Auntie Anne for her generous offer to help and her hospitality while we stayed
  • Auntie Barbara and Uncle Raymond for a lovely lunch and afternoon
  • JJ & Anya
  • Masako & Paul for the excellent party that we had to leave early from.
  • Dave, Kook, Mike, Alessandro, Elena, Christian & Venessa for your understanding as we left.
  • Auntie Rae, Uncle Michael, Ros and Niamh for preparing a fantastic lunch and Nick for a lovely welcome.
  • Frances and Don
  • Auntie Molly
  • Anne and Patrick
  • Hector and Rosemary
  • Celina and Dapo
  • Larry and Erin
  • Daniel and Liz
  • Roberta
  • Tanisha
  • Marsha
  • Byron and his wife
  • Mila
  • Sunita
  • Wayne and Lisa, for whom I have bought several thank you cards over the last 3 months, none of which have been sent.
  • Amy and Jackie
  • Jessica and Steve for having us to stay and for everything else
  • Auntie Pam
  • Everyone else I haven’t mentioned because I’m too sleep-deprived to think straight!

Thank you all so much for your gifts, hospitality and advice, for which we and our girls are very grateful.

30 days? Lazy blogger! [4]

Yes, it’s been a shockingly long while since you’ve heard from us. Sorry!

Since my last post we’ve been to Shanghai on a househunting trip (we found a house!) and made the long flight from Singapore to London.

We’re now staying with Tim & Nailya in the lovely rural environs north of London. There are loads of people to see and we hope that you’ll be one of them. We’re back to America on 20th March, pausing for a couple of days in CT to see Mum & Dad Mencher and to meet brand new cousin Charlotte Richmond before heading back to Indianapolis.

Edie and Ilse are very busy being extremely cute. Edie has come out of her shell and is now much more talkative and interactive. She likes nothing better than to stand up and look around the room with a cheeky expression. Ilse has cheeks that look like miniature radar domes and beautiful brown eyes, and offers a massive smile to most anyone, but not much conversation.

They’ve been swimming several times in Singapore and enjoyed huge amounts of attention during Chinese New Year, when they received many gifts of clothes and Ang Pao (red money packets) from many admirers.

The sleeping through the night thing hasn’t quite developed, despite my hopeful report last post. We’re getting more regular sleep, but it’s still not enough and we’re constantly tired. The jet lag may have something to do with it.

We have been taking pictures. Here are some of the ones we like the best.


The girls wrapped up warmly in their snow suits in Shanghai.

Ilse is cheerful even though it’s cold out.

The girls prepared to going swimming in Singapore

Edie in a pensive moment at Sentosa

Edie in her new red dress.

Ilse tastes Por-por’s watch, yummy.

Edie dances on the table.


Chinese New Year portaits with Uncle Arthur, Auntie Eileen…

…Ah Kong and Por-por…

…Sumitri and Siti…

…and Mummy and Daddy.

Ko-ko with the girls and their New Year’s Ang Pao.

The girls get a cuddle from Ko-ko.

Ah Pek & Edie.

Ko-ko and Ilse, Ah Pek and Edie.

Auntie Eileen cuddles Ilse

Edie smiling at her sister

Ah Kong and Por-por attend to Edie

Ah Kong takes care of Edie during lunchtime at Raffles Cafe.

Edie loves what she sees in the mirror.

Edie’s beauty snap

The girls excited to get their New Year’s red packets. Thank you! They say in Babyese.

Treats laid out for New Year’s visitors.

Edie snacks on her left fist.

Ilse’s been working on the“Cheek Look”.

Mummy and Ilse.

Mrs Kwee and Edie

Stephanie and Chee Yuen see what’s shortly in store for them.

Auntie Elaine gives Ilse a cuddle.

Franky supervises Edie’s ‘sprawl everywhere’ sleeping style.

All my girls sleeping!

Ilse looking a bit different.

Nicole and Marten meet Ilse at Sentosa.

Ilse & Edie kicking around in Shanghai

Ilse and her cheeks

Ilse demonstrating her sitting skills in the Bumbo.

Enjoying the tropics – and sleeping 7 hrs straight, hooray! [1]

Sleeping more

Yes, the girls are now sleeping 5-7 hrs straight at night and that’s a huge relief to Mama and Papa, although we seem to be still catching up from the sleep deprivation of the last three months.

Continuing Celebrity Madness

Papa is starting to get used to the stir we cause going out in public. It’s still very disconcerting (small crowds gather) but quite heartwarming. Judging by the smiles we get, it seems to brighten everyone’s day. Most women and a large number of men, spot the pram from afar and their faces soften as they approach.

For groups of young women of a child-bearing age, it is necessary to speed up slightly and prepare for evasive action from the squeals of excitement.

Here are some stats:

% of women noticing the babies that look at them: 99
% of men noticing the babies that look at them: 60 (quite high I feel)
% women looking at babies that say “So cute”: 80
% people looking at babies that say “Look, twins”: 60

Stating the bleeding obvious

People feel a strong need to confirm the state of affairs in front of their eyes with questions such as “One boy and one girl?” (both were wearing flowery dresses) or “Twins?” Several responses to this one pop into my head, such as:

“No, this one’s a week older.”
“No, they have different mothers, just happen to be born at the same time.”
“No, they’re clones”
“No, we got the 2 for 1 special at the orphanage.”

But I just say “Yes, 2 girls” and smile.

Ilse tries out a high chair and looks mischievous


Mama’s shoulder is the best place to nap

Mama, Por-por and Auntie Eileen tend to the girls

Kong-kong and Ilse discuss the daily papers
Edie caught by surprise

Ilse looking serious

Singapore update – and lots more pics [1]

Smiles, everyone, Smiles!

Edie Ilse

Chickadees commence hand sucking

Our little chickadees are growing fast and changing almost every day. They’ve just discovered their hands and find them irresistible to suck on when not actually drinking milk, sleeping or cooing adorably.

Ilse has started to sleep 5-6 hours straight each night and Edie is following close behind. As we’re in Singapore, we have the luxury of masses of help from Mum and Dad Lim and don’t really have any appointments to keep.

The girls have adjusted well to the time zone and reasonably well to the heat, although we have to be careful during the heat of the day. They’ve been out with us shopping, eating and for regular trips to the Botanic Gardens, where at least one of them stares pie-eyed at the scenery.

Steady Stream

Visitors have been many and varied, starting with family, and then lots and lots of friends. We have also taken them out to lunch, dinner and BBQs to get them used to socialising.

Auntie Oon Geok & Ilse

Auntie Lucy & Edie


Auntie Bina & Ilse

Ms Chua & Ilse

Auntie Tanya & Ilse

Auntie Nat & Ilse


Uncle Simon & Ilse

Uncle Arthur & Edie

The Irresistible Twosome

Did I mention that we get quite a lot of attention in public? It’s taking some getting used to. I mean they are very cute. And there are two of them. Round these parts I guess it’s more common to allow other people to touch your baby – at least everyone who sees Edie & Ilse seems to think so.

Here’s what the public sees.
Could you resist?!?

No sooner do we enter a store, sit down in a restaurant or food court, and at least 3 women start to hover around, pointing and cooing. It’s as if everything else in their universe goes dark and there’s a tunnel vision around these babies. Table clearing ceases, waitresses covering other tables gravitate towards us and hostesses neglect to seat hungry diners.

I haven’t had to tackle anyone yet, but I have used body blocks and a kind of pram Jiu-Jitsu to reduce contact with the unwashed masses.

Am I paranoid for wanting to keep the germs away? This afternoon a little girl sneezed into her hand and I had to swat her arm away as she reached into the pram to touch Ilse’s face. Her Dad wasn’t much bothered as he offered a mild rebuke from across the store.

Even men stop and look, sometimes muttering “cute babies” under their breath. Many use a sideways glance like they’re looking at pretty girls, slowing as they walk past. The first phrase that pops into my head is one that many a well-endowed woman has probably used: “Hey! Stop staring at my babies!”

Bathtime

Both little chickens like their baths and enjoy having a good splash. Here are some pics from a recent bath time.

Edie enjoys a splash

Finished already?


Ilse relaxes with a sponge for a pillow

Ilse airing the underarms

Onward and upward

It’s certainly upward, as both girls and especially Edie, love standing up now. She is getting very strong and will support her own weight as she looks around and starts to take charge. Learning to speak first is a useful but not necessary precondition.

Ilse is more of a talker and will spend ages exchanging coos and ooos with you. Edie is less verbose, but is following close behind and now occasionally offers very lovely smiles.

Edie in a pensive moment

Edie beats the heat


Ilse finds the surprising pleasure of thumbsucking

Edie enjoys the view from Uncle Arthur’s shoulder

Ilse gazes up at Uncle Arthur adoringly

More smiles


Even more smiles

The end of a busy day

That’s all for this time. Hope I’ve made up for the delay in posting by the large quantity of high quality cuteness in this one. Until next time!

Happy New Year from Ilse & Edie, Sharon & Justin

Ilse & Edith wish you a very Happy New Year!

(And so do their parents) Hope to see you in 2010.

We’re off to Singapore tonight on the next stop of the twins first world tour. We’ll be there until mid-Feb and then on to London. Please let us know where you’ll be so we can be sure to catch up!

Here are some photos from Christmas in CT with Nanna, Poppy, Auntie Anne and the Richmonds.


Ilse meets Auntie Anne and cousin Zach

…while Edie meets her Poppy

Edie in a quiet moment

Mama & Ilse at Cooper’s in Scranton, PA


Kissing Ilse’s irresistible cheeks

Ilse is fed by cousin Catie

Edie lays down the law to Uncle Mike

So she can smile…;-)

Please Give Generously… [4]

A picture of Ilse after her op last week, looking very woeful and definitely a candidate for a charity donation drive.

Donate now – to something, anything.

I can see I will need to build up my resistance. Can you imagine the will required to resist that face and the words, “But Daddy, I really, really want a pony…”??

Seriously, though, it’s very good news

We had a check up yesterday (Monday 21st Dec) and her heart is looking about as good as we could hope for. There is still a slight murmur, but it’s well within normal limits and the echocardiogram indicated that the pressure gradient and velocities were fine.

She’s been absolutely fine since, and despite the heart-rending photo is in very good spirits these days and practicing a very fetching smile – see below.


Ilse’s really in good spirits…

…when she’s not sleeping

Edie’s perking up

Sisters 1
Sisters 2

Ilse’s heart procedure went well

Ilse had her angioplasty this morning and it was a complete success. Doc says that she probably won’t need any further operations as he was able to open the valve fully and measured a normal pressure gradient and flow velocity afterwards. Baby is dozing gently and quite relaxed, but Mummy and Daddy are exhausted from the stress! She’ll come home with us tomorrow with no more than a pinprick on her groin.

In which Ilse has her ticker fixed. Video AND bonus photos

Ilse’s heart

Ilse has a pulmonary stenosis, in which the valve between the heart and the lungs doesn’t open fully. We had been hoping that it would open up as she grew, but as the echocardiogram on Thursday showed, it has been getting worse and she will need to have a procedure to try and correct it. There are no outward signs of her condition.

She is scheduled for a balloon angioplasty at 11am Monday morning 14 Dec. This is a relatively routine procedure and is being done in one of the best cardiac hospitals in the country. A very tiny catheter is threaded up into her heart through her femoral artery and a small balloon introduced to the valve. As it inflates, the valve hopefully is forced to open fully.

Her doctor is an experienced pediatric cardiologist and does this procedure on babies regularly. There is a high degree (95%) chance of success. Thanks to our medical friends, and their friends, who offered advice and support as we confirmed our decision.

We are obviously concerned about the risks, but felt that the indications that it needed to be done were unambiguous and that there were no reasons to wait. We hope that this will be a one-off procedure that will set her off on a completely normal life.

Thriving

Other than that, both babies are thriving, starting to smile at us and are even more cute that we thought possible. They are about 9 1/2 lbs now and growing out of their second sets (newborn) of clothes.

We have taken them out to the season’s Xmas parties and, showing incredibly poor party stamina, they sleep right through them. In fact, the louder the party, the deeper the sleep. Wonder how long that will last…?

Mum Mencher visiting

Nanna has come to help for a few days and is in the thick of feeding, changing, burping and cuddling her 2 new granddaughters. She’s only staying for a few days as we hope to be going to Mum & Dad’s in CT for Xmas, if Ilse’s op goes well.

As these are her 8th and 9th grandchildren, and seeing as she has done pediatric nursing, it took her no time at all to comfort and calm the babies, both at once. Oh and she’s been rewarded by getting the first unambiguous smiles from each of them.

I have put recent video clips of the babies together so you can see what they look like now.

YouTube links

Some people have reported that their provider does not show the embedded video in the these pages, so I have included a link to the film on YouTube so you can view it there (previous videos also).

Video

If you can’t see the video above, you can view it on YouTube here.

Photos too!


Sisters

Nanna & Edie


Mama & Ilse 1

Mama & Ilse 2
Mama & Ilse 3
Nanna & Edie

Ilse’s tootsies

Tummy time for Edie

Eating toast from a bowl, the play-doh factory, and other unlikelyhoods… [3]

A While

Yes, yes, I know I haven’t posted in a while – sorry about that! These ladies are high-maintenance, let me tell you. Eating, burping, sleeping, and now playing – it all takes time you see.

Babies Bouncing Better

Girls are gaining weight smoothly and are probably approaching 9lbs by now. Edie has really filled out from her skinny little bag-o-bones newborn self to a healthy chubby little baby. They’re just starting to look us in the eye more directly (it’s apparently too intense to very young babies so they look away!) and we’re just starting to see smiles from Ilse (see pic!).

Tales of the Unexpected

Yes, it’s great being a Dad, and I can tell you that I’m experiencing the unexpected all the time. Besides the early morning delirium after a 40 minute feed that went on for 3 hours, I have enjoyed eating toast from a soup bowl (it’s hard to spread the butter without fracturing the toast) and have learned to pick up 2 wriggling babies at the same time, one in each hand.

I have also experienced the Play-Doh factory at least twice while changing nappies. I did not expect that.

The Fans at the Mall

We’ve taken them shopping a couple of times and there is invariably a string of admirers as we pass through the mall. “Oh my gosh! They’re soooooooo cute!”, “Is it a boy and a girl, or, girl…? Two girls? They’re sooooooo cute!” I took them for a stroll as Sharon shopped and got more attention from the ladies than I’d had for years. Well, I pretended the attention was for me…

Changing of the Guard

Mum & Dad Lim are heading home tomorrow after a heroic 4 weeks helping us feed, hold, burp, comfort and cuddle the girls. AND, as importantly, Mum Lim has been feeding us with delicious home-cooked Asian food. There has been a lot of TV watched, and I’m afraid we’ve not taken them out to see much – but they’ve been a marvelous help and lovely to have with us.

Mum Mencher is coming tomorrow in a grandparental ‘changing of the guard’ she’s here only for a few days, but we’ll be heading over to CT for Christmas, all things being well with Ilse. Ilse’s next heart check up is on Thursday and we’ll see how she has progressed.

I am trying to get some video up and will do that sometime this week. Here are the pics (taken in the last 2 days, so a pretty good idea of what they look like now):


Por-por & Ah Kong taking good care of the twins

Edie is hungry

Edie in a thoughtful mood

A rare shot of Edie being quiet


Playtime!

More playtime

O yes, Ilse knows your secrets

A smile from Ilse!

In’t she luvly?!?

Those cheeks, O those cheeks.