Christmastime Means Reindeer Food

Lewis, acting as a big brother should, made certain that Santa and his reindeer knew exactly where to stop this evening by sprinkling reindeer food outside. He wanted to make sure Audrey and Aiden would be covered. I know several hunters that would love to get their hands in this stuff. I think it’s the glitter that does it. If it works as advertised, we’re sure to hear hoofs on our rooftop tonight. I wonder if insurance covers hoof prints in shingles?

Time for Santa tracking and hope that Homeland Security doesn’t have Santa on a do not fly list.

The Twins: They are HOME!

On December 8th you two were born to us. On December 23rd, we signed you out of the hospital. For the first time ever in your lives you are totally in the care of your two loving parents and older brother. Tonight our prayers are answered and our household and heart makes room for two more.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.


The Twins: An N.I.C.U. Update 6

Aiden is now strutting ahead of the herd. He’s scheduled to go home actually before Audrey. Not sure what to think about that. Marijo is going to the “take home” class tomorrow. If memory serves, it shows folks how to make sure the kids have air, water, food, and have their diapers changed. I wonder if they tell you how to stay sane with twins. Probably not. Lewis is very proud of the twins even asking to hold them and help feed them. Marijo has been spending lots of time at the hospital with the kids.

I’ve been trying to keep Lew going and happy even taking him and Cameron to see the Hobbit last night before the weather got bad. Lew sat through the whole darned thing. Sure we had to take a potty break, but heck, name another 3 year old kid that gets excited to see “Gandalf the Grey” or Gollum. Lew is also fitting in as a big brother well. He lights up when he gets to hold Aiden or Audrey and wants to help as much as we’ll let him. They all three have growing to do.

We have been making Christmas plans and trying to figure out how Christmas morning is going to be. Hectic I’m sure…that’s how we’ll know it’s Christmas. We still think both of them will be home for Christmas though. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

The Twins: An N.I.C.U. Update 5

Marijo has been going to see the babies every chance she gets.  I’ve been keeping Lew and working on the house or going in to work when I can.  It’s so very hard to be at home with Lew, at the hospital with the kids, at work and with Marijo at the same time.  I now see why even God is three persons!  Aiden is eating very well and taking to the bottle like a champ.  He’s actually eating too much too quickly and forgetting to breathe so his heart stops.  That’s my boy.  Audrey hasn’t mastered the suckling thing down yet but is getting close.  She tries but still pushes forward a bit too much pushing the nipple out of her mouth.  Aiden is doing so well that he may get his NG tube out today.  They didn’t gavage him any in the last 24 hours.  Both have lost weight back to where they were when they were born but are both putting it back on quickly.  Marijo has been keeping them BOTH in full supply of breast milk (hallelujah).

Lewis got his new bed put together last night and couldn’t wait to go lay in it (with Dad of course). I can’t tell you how both uncomfortable and comforted I was last night when my 3 year old asked me to lay with him in a twin bed (I’m still sore). Lewis played on his Kindle with me, and when I said it was time, he reached up, turned his lamp off, shut his Kindle down, reached over and kissed me goodnight and went straight to sleep. Me being the pessimist, I picked him up and put him in our bed later last evening. When he woke up, he was angry he wasn’t still in his bed. Go figure.

Marijo is worried about going back to school already even though it isn’t until March. I’m sure leaving the kids is tough even if it’s for an hour much less 8 a day but you know what they say…

If you worry, don’t pray. If you pray, don’t worry.

Hobbit Seedcake And Cacen Goch Cake

So many of you Tolkieners may have read in the Hobbit or LOTR about seed cake or “second breakfast” and the many times Hobbits stop to eat. Well, I couldn’t stand it. I had to make both a cacen goch and a seed cake. Both are AMAZING!! If you want the recipes, they are below.


Recipe Ingredients:

300g Plain Flour

100g butter (softened and cut up)

180g of mixed dried fruit

3 tbsp of black treacle (molasses)

80g brown sugar (demerara)

1 tsp of ground mixed spice

100ml of milk

Recipe Method:

First grease an 18cm cake tin

Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl, then rub the butter into the flour with your fingers to make a ‘breadcumb’ texture. Add in the fruit, spice, and sugar. Mix these in with a wooden spoon, then add in the treacle and mix further. Add in a little of the milk until the mixture becomes easy to stir, but not too ‘wet’, add more if a little dry.

Preheat the oven to 180C

Pour this mixture into the prepared cake tin –Cacen Goch will not rise much, so you can safely fill a small cake tin or individual cake tins almost to the top without worry – and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Check it is done after 45 minutes by pushing a skewer into the centre and see if it comes out clean and hot. Leave to cool for ten minutes and transfer to a cooling rack. This Cacen Goch treacle cake can be eaten on the day but also can be stored in an air tight container for a week.

Serve warm, with a dollop of whipped cream, or cold as a slice of cake on its own, or with apple preserve.


Recipe Ingredients:

240g butter (soft)

240g caster sugar

4 large eggs (beaten)

320g self raising flour (sieved)

4-6 tbsp milk (or single cream)

2 tbsp of demerara (natural brown) sugar

30g caraway seeds

3 tbsp of brandy

1/2 tsp of ground mace

1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg

Recipe Method:

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350F, 180C

Prepare a cake tin – You will also need a greased, 18 cm round cake tin – with the base lined with greaseproof or silicone paper (if it needs it) good quality cake tins just need to be greased.

Beat the eggs in a medium sized bowl with a whisk. Then in another larger bowl cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is pale and fluffy, then gradually whisk in the beaten eggs a little at a time. When all the egg , sugar and butter has been mixed, whisk in the caraway seeds, ground mace and ground nutmeg, then lightly fold in the sieved flour. Then add in the brandy, stirring it in.

Lastly add just enough milk (or single cream) to loosen the mixture and give the cake batter a good ‘dropping’ consistency (this means the mixture is neither wet nor dry, but will drop off a spoon when tipped). Once at this point, spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Level off the surface with the back of a spoon and then finally sprinkle the demerara (natural brown) sugar all over the top.

Bake the seed cake in the centre of the oven for about 40 to 50 minutes, or until a metal skewer comes out clean and hot. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool further. This seed cake will taste even better after a day or two, so wrap it in foil or baking parchment and keep it in an air tight tin. It will keep for several days.

Congratulations to Brother Stephen Brian Loftin 3rd Degree Master Mason

Congratulation to Brother Stephen Brian Loftin on being raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason Friday night, December 14th, during a special communication. I know he is just as proud to receive this degree as Joppa was to raise him. He joins just under 2 million of his brethren in the United States as Master Mason and plans on continued fellowship and esoterica at Joppa Lodge #362.

Brother Troy J. Jones
Junior Steward 2013
Joppa Lodge #362 F&AM.

The Twins: An N.I.C.U. Update 4

Marijo, Lewis and I went up this morning and evening to visit the twins. They came off the bilirubin light and don’t have to wear those darned glasses anymore.

They went from bottle feeding once a day to once a shift to now, once every other feeding. Both are snuggling each other in their bundles even though Audrey wants to be uncovered and Aiden loves to be swaddled. He takes after me and Lew and she takes after Marijo.

We took them some more clothes and let Lewis see his brother and sister. He asked why they couldn’t come home with us tonight. Me and Marijo want that too.

Marijo has been having bouts of missing them something fierce, which we both expected. She continues to pump and bring them milk which their Neonatologist says is helping them tons.

Lew got a haircut and we picked up parts for his bed today. Just the three of us at home right now. Cozy, but still missing something. They will be here soon. As of right now, they should be home sometime a week from now.

That would give us a pair and three of a kind. Sounds like a full house to me.

Babies home for Christmas…now that’s a heck of a gift.

The Twins: An N.I.C.U. Update 3

They are up to 45 mls a feeding now. Depending how they do on the bilirubin light, they may come off the light tomorrow. Both of them are keeping everything down with very little gas. They are giving them 25 mls with a bottle twice a day now. They are snuggling together in their bed and keeping their temperature up. Lacey and I ran to drop off socks and blankets to them last night. They are sleeping and growing and staying warm. Their last feeding was almost entirely breast milk. Marijo is a proud mom, knowing her milk is good for them. Lacey also brought over some lactation cookies for Marijo. They are delicious…and now I may need to start pumping.

Lewis’s room is coming together with the delivery of his new (recycled family) bed from Aunt Sonia and Uncle Dale. Thank goodness they kept it! The NWO references written into the frame to Scott Steiner and Lex Luger give me insight into Joseph and Scott’s childhood. The burn marks and cuts in the bed give me insight into Toni and Joe’s hard work at parenting.

I still don’t know how either of our parents turned out three of us each. I guess me and Marijo will find out soon.

The Twins: An N.I.C.U Update 2

Babies are wonderful. Marijo finished feeding and I will return for 11:00 feeding. They are so sweet. Audrey did not want blankets Aiden woke up to greet Marijo. NO SPITTING UP through out night or morning. We got their nursery ready…finished no…but ready yes. They are taking feedings well but still need the N.G. tube. Lew is ready to have them and his mommy home. Marijo should come home this evening.

The Twins: An N.I.C.U. Update

The twins are doing really well. Better than expected. They are totally off IVs as they no longer require antibiotics or glucose. They also are beginning to take to the bottle. Marijo is breast feeding via pump right now but hopes to move to true breast feeding soon. They are co-bedding tonight without heat to see if they can regulate their body temps themselves. They may also require the bilirubin light for a short time. They are still being fed mainly with the N.G. tubes in their nose. They are breathing room air and didn’t need respiratory therapy. They both have gained weight. Audrey is now 5.4 and Aiden is 4.75. Marijo is up and walking and was able to hold them for the first night tonight.

Lewis came up and had lunch with us. He was nervous at first, but just like me, after playing with the gadgets and pushing the buttons on the bed he felt better about the whole ordeal. He also got a bracelet as a gift from the lady in the gift shop that says Big Brother on it. The title fits him well. Doctor Manchandia (the Doctor for NICU) also met Lewis today and commented on what a large head he had and that he qualified to be a part of the Manchandia family. I got to go home and spend time with Lewis thanks to Toni and Alicia. Maybe tomorrow I can get the rooms in better shape.

There is so much information to deal with. Packets for feeding, for insurance, paternity, for waivers, for birth certificates. Videos for pumping and hospital care and hygeine. Whole 24 hour channels dedicated to care of babies. With all the handwashing, nurse calling, worrying, feeding, praying, cleaning, reading, helping, and yes even milking, it’s good to know that Marijo and I have got loving down pat already.