On Sunday after we watched General Conference, we decided that it would be a good time to start a new annual tradition. I had been thinking about General Conference and traditions for a while. Since General Conference comes at a regular time each year (the first Sunday and preceding Saturday in both April and October) and it’s also a time that’s not quite as busy as New Year’s, we thought it would be a good time for a tradition that we had wanted to start for a while but hadn’t got around to yet. But that’s not why you’re here, you’re here to see a couple of cute girls!
After our evacuation down to Albuquerque (we arrived late Monday afternoon, June 27th), we stayed in our hotel until Thursday. Our first few nights with the twins were filled with several adventures, but I will share just a few in no particular order:
The twins had their first nights in a crib together! We brought our pack-and-play along for the trip, and they slept there together while we were in the hotel. We were pretty exhausted from getting up with them at night frequently, but they did great overall. They still sleep in this pack-and-play together today (six weeks later), but we’re not sure how long that will last since they like to huddle on top of each other now.
Explora! Emmy and Kaylee love this place; it’s like a little science museum for kids. We met up with a few fellow evacuees from church, which was nice for Emmy and Kaylee since they got to see some of their friends even though we were far away. As we had left Los Alamos, Emmy said “This is my town and I don’t want to leave!,” but she was finally convinced that all of her friends had to leave, too. Emmy and Kaylee had lots of fun cutting up paper that flies in the wind, playing in mirrors, and playing with Bubbles. I got to talk with my sister on the phone. The girls would have stayed all day, I’m sure, but pretty soon we were getting hungry and it was time to go to the airport to pick up …
Grandma Kath! She had planned on visiting us in Los Alamos, but since we were in Albuquerque we got to pick her up at the airport! We had fun with her at Fuddruckers where the girls got burgers and shakes, and I got an excellent green chile cheeseburger. Very good. It was nice to have a few extra hands to help with everything. When Emmy heard that Grandma Kath was coming, she said to make sure she brought her swimsuit (like you’d ever have to ask my mom to bring a swimsuit on a trip!).
The pool! The hotel had a pretty nice indoor swimming pool, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Uncle Christian, Grandma Kath, Emmy, Kaylee, and I (Alex) all enjoyed the swimming pool quite a few times. We had been to the swimming pool in Los Alamos the Saturday before and the girls were pretty scared about getting in the water, but once they remembered how much they loved the pool they wanted to go any free moment they had.
Target runs! Apparently pulling out everything in sight isn’t the greatest strategy when packing, but since that was done in a hurry a few things were forgotten. My mom went to Target with Emmy and Kaylee and I while we got a bunch of random stuff for the twins and everyone else. All throughout our time in Albuquerque we saw people we knew from Los Alamos, whether it was old neighbors (at Target) or former classmates and co-workers (in the hotel), as well as our previously-mentioned friends from church. Seeing them made things feel a little more like home, even though we were a hundred miles away from all our stuff.
Air conditioning! Sadly for Julia and the twins, they didn’t get to enjoy much of our adventures around town, but they did enjoy the air conditioning! I’m pretty sure she’d tell you that this was the best part of our evacuation. She and the twins (not to mention her parents) did an awesome job of keeping everything humming along as we all spent lots of time entertaining kids and planning out our next days of the evacuation.
Acts of kindness #1… Paul and Nicole Rhien, our friends from Los Alamos, had moved down to Rio Rancho (which is right next to Albuquerque). They were quick to check up on us as they had heard through Facebook that we had our twins, and that we were going to be in Albuquerque. Not only did they bring us a whole box of newborn-size diapers (they literally lasted us over a month!), but they also offered for us to stay in their recently-vacated apartment (they had purchased a home and still had a little time left in their rental apartment). Although the circumstances didn’t work out for us to stay in Albuquerque, we definitely appreciated the offer!
… and #2: For a second act of kindness, an unknown friend paid for a whole night’s stay in our hotel, and left us a well-loaded Target gift card! Talk about an act of kindness. Amid all of the stresses of evacuating and caring for newborn twins, we were definitely humbled that someone would do something like this for us. If that person happens to read this blog, I really want to say thank you. We saw many other acts of kindness on our trip, and it really touched me that amid all the chaos of life, there are lots of people who genuinely care not only enough to say they care, but they actually do things.
Doctors Visit! With our hurried evacuation, we worried a bit about how the twins were doing. They had slept really well on the way down to Albuquerque. In fact, they slept so long that I’m sure they missed their scheduled feeding. With all of the craziness and worrying about if their belly buttons looked right or were they jaundiced or anything, we were very impressed that Dr. Nichols made a house call! He and the other doctors from their practice had evacuated town as well, so he was covering the families that really needed a visit in Albuquerque. It was great that he could come and check the twins out and look at them. We joked with him that we rarely saw him under regular circumstances (our kids have been pretty healthy except for some big things – like this evacuation and Emmy’s birth). We joked with him that we wanted a reduced rate for the check-up since he wasn’t able to weigh the, but the joke was on us because the whole visit was free. Again, I’m very impressed with how they took care of us.
Moving on with our journey… Part of the reason to get the twins checked out was because we knew we might be headed north. My grandpa had been in hospice care for a little while, and things were starting to get worse. He passed away on Wednesday, June 29th, which was also the anniversary of his and my grandma’s marriage. He had been sick for quite a while, so we knew this was coming, but it wasn’t really easy to deal with this on top of everything else that was going on. The funeral would be the next Tuesday in Idaho, so we our big group (two twins, two girls under five, their uncle, mom, dad, a grandpa, and both grandmas) decided to make our way up to Utah, where we could stay with family.
Our trip to Utah will be continued in part three!
Twins are born! The mountains are on fire! Our family is evacuated! Read on for part one of the epic saga…
June 23rd was a Thursday. That night Julia’s parents came over for dinner and they ended up taking Emmy and Kaylee with them so that the girls could have a sleepover while Mommy and Daddy got ready for the hospital since the c-section was scheduled for the next morning.
We didn’t sleep great that night (Julia was pretty anxious for the c-section), but by the next morning we found ourselves at the local hospital here in Los Alamos, the same hospital where our other daughters had been born. They had each had interesting birth stories (Emmy was born during my student symposium at work and Kaylee was born in between two finals I had one snowy December day), but the twins had other plans. I think they wanted to have a pretty good story of their own.
Once we were in the hospital, we went upstairs to get ready. There were several nurses, an anesthesiologist, and others who came to ask Julia lots of questions. She got dressed in her gown and hair net, and I got to wear an interesting suit, hair net, and mask as well.
When they took her back into the operating room they said they would be right back to get me, but it seemed like forever when I saw a nurse that had been looking for me and I came into the O.R. to hear Dr. Combs say that they were almost ready. At this point it was almost exactly 9:00 and they had already made the primary incision. I quickly scanned the room and saw a bunch of people, but then the anesthesiologist (who had been making pretty good small talk with Julia) noted that I needed to look up and get a picture. I can’t say I was really prepared to see all that at that moment – things felt like they were happening a mile a minute – but I obeyed and took a picture, since I figured I didn’t have to look at it then anyway. It was 9:02 and Leah was born!
Mayzie wasn’t far behind. Dr. Combs reached right back in and grabbed her, and I didn’t expect it to be that fast. They asked for time of birth, which was given at 9:02 and 30 seconds. We took a few pictures after that, and within ten minutes or so the twins and I were off to the OB floor while they stitched Julia up, and then her mom came to wait with her in the recovery room.
Everything about the twins went great after this! There were the usual newborn concerns, and Leah was a little bit “stunned” from being pulled out of her comfy home into a strange new world, but within a couple of hours we got to hold both of them and have them in our room.
My brother Ray came to bring me lunch and see the twins, and Emmy and Kaylee were a little concerned when the twins weren’t in our room when they first arrived with Grandpa Bruce and Christian, but soon they got to hold them themselves!
Emmy and Kaylee stayed Friday night with Grandpa and Grandma Layman again, and I stayed with Julia at the hospital. We tried a different configuration Saturday night – I was home with Emmy and Kaylee, but Julia was at the hospital alone, which was a lot of work for someone who just had surgery, even though the nurses were around to help. For Emmy, Kaylee and I that would be our last night at home for a while (Julia hadn’t been home since early Friday morning)…
Sunday was a good day, too. We went to church and Emmy and Kaylee proudly shared a picture of their new baby sisters. We ate a quick lunch and home and then changed to go over to the hospital so that we could see the twins again! The Laymans took the big girls home again for a little bit, and then it was time to rest and relax with our twins. We got a phone call from Bruce at 2:06 saying to look out the window at a smoke cloud, which we didn’t think too much of at first. Later that smoke cloud would grow, and we would learn that it was the start of the Las Conchas fire, which had started about an hour before Bruce called us.
As the afternoon went on, we were starting to worry more about the fire. The sky became filled with smoke, and we decided that I should go home and pack a few things into our car in case we were evacuated. I did that around 6:00, grabbing as much as I could that the babies would need (Julia said I basically packed all of their clothes that they would need for the next six months). I grabbed a few things for us and the big girls, too, and a few other things like our photo albums and important documents and put gas in the van on the way back, just in case something were to happen. Just as I usually do, I reset the tripometer, which would read 2396 miles before we would be able to really “come home”.
When I got back the hospital had moved to “divert” status, which means that they weren’t taking any non-emergency patients. A few doctors came by and said that they would discharge us from the hospital early in case we had to be evacuated, and we also learned that Los Alamos was on a voluntary evacuation. I still wasn’t too worried about being evacuated at that point, thinking that the Cerro Grande fire that had come to Los Alamos back in May 2000 had taken its time to become a threat to the town (I was evacuated in that fire along with the rest of my family).
Everything was still going great with the twins. They gave us the option to stay at the hospital Sunday night, and we figured that we might as well try to stay there and get some rest in case we had to evacuate.
By Monday morning the fire was much bigger, but we kept hearing that we wouldn’t have to evacuate. Los Alamos National Laboratory was closed, so we all planned on going to our house. After filling out a lot of paperwork, we came home at around 11:30 AM to a smoky house and ash falling around us. I went to Sonic to satisfy Julia’s last pregnancy cravings, and I had definitely never seen Sonic so empty at noontime on a Monday.
We finished our Sonic meals and were settling in and planning to bunker down at home with small air conditioners and HEPA filters. I had ordered slushes and kids meals for the girls, who had arrived with the Laymans around 12:30 PM. They ate and played downstairs with dress-ups while their Grandpa and Christian watched a movie with them. At 1:43 PM our phone rang, this time with a recorded message stating that Los Alamos was now under a mandatory evacuation starting with Western Area (where we live). We packed up the rest of our gear (most of it was still in our van) and left our house within an hour. It had barely been two hours since we got home from the hospital, and already it was time to go.
Leaving town everything was busy. They shut down Canyon Road at Diamond, so we all took Trinity over to the Laymans house where they packed up a few things. The twins slept in their car seats in the car, and we made plans to leave the hill in three cars: Emmy, Kaylee, and Christian rode with Bruce in Cathie’s car (Bruce wanted to watch it in case it had a leak, and the girls always love driving with their Papa), Cathie drove Bruce’s car, and I drove the van with Julia, Leah, and Mayzie. At that point we only knew we were headed to Albuquerque – we didn’t want to stay in Santa Fe because of the smoke, which was already very bad in Los Alamos at this point. Julia called around to hotels, and we ended up at a hotel in Albuquerque where Julia and I had stayed last December with an “evacuation” rate.
On Monday, June 27th, the twins were the youngest Las Conchas fire evacuees at just three days old. It was another three weeks and over two thousand miles before we got back home.
So we’re thinking of names for our twin girls (at least they tell us they’re girls!), and here are some that we like best. Let us know your favorite!
Which girl name(s) do you like best? (up to 2)
- Lexi (34%, 11 Votes)
- Mayzie (25%, 8 Votes)
- Zoe (22%, 7 Votes)
- Alana (19%, 6 Votes)
Total Voters: 18
Hey, it’s me, Alex! Do you ever feel like a guest writer on your own family’s blog? Back in the day I was the only one who wrote here. Anyway, it’s time to get you all caught up.
You can probably tell that we’ve been up to no good. As some of you might know, we’re expecting twins at the end of June! That has meant that life has been super crazy. One of these days we’re going to catch up on this blog. Here are some of the exciting posts that you can look forward to:
- We took out our sauna to make a spot for our family room!
- We had a fun trip in December to Denver to see Beth & Nathan
- We all went to Annah & Richie’s wedding in Spokane right after Christmas
- We found out we were having twins!
- Emmy plays basketball!
- Everyone gets sick! No, I mean everyone! (We’ll save you from an actual post on this one)
- Beth and her kids came to visit us in New Mexico! (see Beth’s blog post for some great pictures)
- Spring Break!
Anyway, life has been busy, but we would regret it if we let everything pass by without writing it down so we can remember it better. There’s lots of fun coming up, too!