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Jake & Josh -- 18 months; almost home a year
Dear Jake & Josh fan club,

Zac asked the other day when Jake & Josh turn 1½. When we realized it was this past Tuesday, we figured that was the excuse we needed to finally send an update e-mail (and pictures).

Gosh, so much has happened since we last wrote. The biggest news is that the boys have become mobile - Jake is crawling! And Josh is walking ... and climbing!

There's still only been minimal progress with their feeding, but that's the last remaining hurdle. Amazing. We realize literally every day how truly blessed we are, and appreciate every milestone more than you can imagine.

Josh is more willing to eat than Jake is; his favorites are cheese puffs and whipped cream cheese. Problem is, he loses interest quickly.

Physically, both boys are capable of eating. Although the wait is tedious and frustrating, we also know that it's just a matter of time.

Now that the boys are ... well, boys ... we've been able to do so much more. They've been to most of Zac's soccer practices and games, plus to big events such as the State Fair, a big carnival at Zac's school and Halloween. We basically try taking them with us everywhere we go.

Another way we've improved our quality of life is by changing the boys' feeding schedule. They now go from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., which means more zzzzzzs for us (usually).

And, starting Thursday, life will get even better for the five of us as we've hired an au pair. Her name is Claire. She's from England and she'll be moving in Thursday. We're extremely excited, and she is, too.

We've told her all about what she's getting into and she's ready for the challenge. She's also given us the perfect description for Josh - "Little monster." That may soon replace "Bruiser," which already has replaced "Tubby." (In fact, Jake is now the tubby one - he weighs about 24 pounds and Josh is closer to 21. Josh burns more calories, and for a while we skipped a feeding to increase his hunger in hopes of getting him to eat more. We've given up on that plan because it didn't really work and he needed to bulk up heading into cold and flu season.)

Josh is endlessly, wonderfully curious. He bangs and bashes everything he can, including his noggin. He'll cry for about 10 seconds, then get up and either do it again or try getting into some other mischief: He crawled onto the field during one of Zac's soccer games. Lori caught him trying to climb over the toy gate in the den. (Most of us would call it a "play pen," but Zac has renamed it the "play pit.") He's also climbed into a play table, onto the sofa, into a car seat ... you get the picture. He's also got a sneaky streak. When we say "No," such as when he's repeatedly high-fiving the television, he'll look at us, smile and do it again. He moves so fast that it's tough to get good pictures of him. The images we have, however, clearly show how much he resembles Zac at the same age.

As for Jake, getting mobile was a huge development. Not only is he able to get around, he's also gained an entirely new personality - happier, more confident.

He smiles a lot, laughs loudly and loves to be scared. And, he's no longer as laid back as he used to be when Josh demands attention. For example, Jake now cries when he's jealous of Josh being held - good for him! Jake also talks a lot (he began clearly saying "Mommy" and "Daddy" on Saturday), and even sings "e-l, e-l, e-l, e-l" on Old McDonald.

Jake's slower progress can be attributed to something called "sensory integration disorder." It basically means there's a bit of a barrier when it comes to seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and (of course) tasting. The walls are slowly but surely coming down, though, sometimes in fun ways. He got an "applesauce bath" and was smeared with chocolate pudding to try breaking down his defenses - the textures of the food on him, the smells and, as he got used to them, the tastes.

Probably our favorite change is that the boys are starting to interact with each other. Both are huge peek-a-boo players, and Josh recently did it to Jake by leaning in and out of a doorway. Jake laughed so hard we had to vent him (let trapped air out of his feeding tube).

With all the changes, their differences are even more pronounced. They look nothing alike. What's really funny are the opposite ways they do things - Jake waves by moving his hand side to side; Josh does it by moving his wrist up and down. When concentrating, Jake sticks his tongue out to the right; Josh keeps his mouth open. Jake likes to play with soft toy; Josh prefers hard ones.

There was one unfortunate similarity - both had their first emergency room visit on the same day, which was Saturday. Luckily, both were for relatively harmless reasons.

Jake pulled out his feeding tube in the middle of the night and by the time we realized it, his hole had started to close. We couldn't get it back in so we went to the ER for them to do it. Four hours later, they did. Most of it was waiting - partly the typical ER delays, and partly because they searched the entire hospital for a smaller-sized tube (to fit the smaller, closed-up hole) but couldn't. Then, when we got home, Josh looked awful. He'd been showing signs of various minor ailments off and on the last few days, but now it was obvious he needed a doctor's attention. It was noon on Saturday and the pediatrician's office was closed, so we were sent to a referral care clinic at Children's Medical Center. It doesn't seem like an ER, but technically it is - he even got a hospital ID badge on his ankle. The diagnosis: ear infection on both sides.

In going from Medical City's ER to Children's, we did the opposite of the Egyptian twins, who recently were moved back to Medical City from Children's.

We've obviously followed their case closely; Lori feels a personal connection because she's met the boys and spent time with their nurses. They also spent the year leading up to their surgery at the same rehab clinic that Jake goes to. Now that they're back at Medical City, they'll be returning to the clinic soon.

It's impossible to compare our journey with theirs, but we can all be thankful the prognosis is so encouraging for all four twins.

We also have some anniversaries to celebrate. A week from Tuesday (Nov. 25) marks one year since Jake came home from the hospital. Josh's 1-year date is the Wednesday after that (Dec. 3).

Thanks again for all your love, support and encouragement throughout our saga. We consider spreading the joy of their progress the best way to show our appreciation.

Attached below is a photo taken today, plus a link to more photos.

Lori and Jaime