Sunday, December 26, 2010

2 + 1 = 3

We are expecting kid #3!!! Alisa is at 15 weeks right now with the baby due in mid June. In an odd twist of fate, the baby is due on the exact same day that Maya and Max were due (the twins were born 5 weeks early so we are hoping this baby is born much closer to due date). Apparently, we only know how to make babies on one day of the year.

We were pretty surprised to find out about the pregnancy because we didn't go through any infertility treatments (like we had to do the first time). After seeing many negative pregnancy tests during our marriage, it was a little surreal to see a positive one. (In fact, we didn't even see a positive home pregnancy test when we found out about the twins because Alisa did a pregnancy test at the fertility doctor's office.) Alisa has had an ultrasound that confirmed we are having just one baby, which admittedly we were relieved to know.

The first trimester was a little rough on Alisa (nausea, tiredness, etc.), but it's also been much better than the last pregnancy. At this point, she is starting to feel better, and she is hoping to have a more "normal" pregnancy than the last one.

Alisa is thrilled about the opportunity to deliver a baby in New Zealand. First of all, New Zealand health care system allows you to choose between a midwife, general practitioner doctor, or obstetrician for maternity care (about 80% choose a midwife and midwifery care is fully funded by the government health care system). Alisa has selected a midwife that she really likes and who also happens to be in our ward. Alisa and her midwife think that they had a feeling they were meant to go through something special together when they first met, which sounds a little too Saturday's Warrior for me. In any case, her midwife is great and provides excellent support, and Alisa is likely to have a much better chance at a VBAC than she would have had in the U.S.


our new zealand christmas

On Christmas eve our friends the Dimayas came over for lunch and festivities.  Calla and Bryn had made sugar cookies that the kids loved decorating and delivering to neighbors.  
We then acted out the nativity.  Max originally wanted to be baby Jesus but then decided on being an angel with Maya after he saw her wings.
Christmas morning the kids woke up to find their gifts from Santa.  They were thrilled with their train and doll house.
The gifts continued.....
Later in the morning we drove out to Piha beach for a BBQ with friends.  I was lucky enough to have my friend Cecily in town visiting her sister.  It was a great Christmas treat.
The weather was a little overcast with a breeze.  We gathered against the cliffs and ate sausage, shrimp, potato salad and fresh summer fruit.  Max and Maya (especially Max) also consumed quite a bit of sand.  

After they moved on from playing dinosaurs Max and Maya decided to embrace the fine sticky black sand...rolling around and getting it all over their bodies...
In the end Max won the covered-in-sand competition.  I didn't get a photo but his entire face was black, but at that point we decided it was time to try and shower off and head back home.

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family!
We are grateful for this time of year to help us remember and recognize our blessings.  We are thankful for the love we feel as a family, the support we receive from those close by and far away.  We are especially grateful for the sacrifice of our Savior and the comfort and joy that the gift of his life and atonement bring to our family.  
                                                        Much love,
                                                        The Mercer

Saturday, December 25, 2010

daddy time

Lonnie was quite busy with work while we were in Napier but thankfully we were still able to spend some quality time with him too.  
And proof I was there too.....

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Saturday morning while Lonnie was working the kids and I went to the local farmer's market and bough fresh blueberry ice cream, yum.
Max and Maya were trilled with the art-deco tribute sculpture....or maybe it was just the dog.

 Window shopping....
 Their first photo with the Kiwi tradition, barefoot.

tom parker fountain

Max really wanted to go swimming in the fountain.  I let him put his feet in, then I took off his shorts...he started working on his top.  Lately he really likes being naked.  The day before we left Napier we walked by the fountain and saw several other kids swimming so I grabbed the kids suits and they jumped in too.

napier part one

Lonnie had to go out of town again this week and instead of sitting at home and complaining about it we decided to go along with him.  We stayed in a great rental property with a beautiful view of the ocean.  The weather was wet and rainy they first couple of days and then turned amazingly beautiful and perfect.   We enjoyed meals on the deck and slept with the windows open so we could feel the breeze and hear the ocean.  

The only slightly tricky part about the place where we were staying was that it was located fifty steps up from the street.  The kids and I were on foot while Lonnie worked long hours so that meant that I had to carry the stroller up all the stairs and convince the kids to follow me.  Thankfully, at least most of the time, they were able to make it.
The house also didn't have a phone or internet (I haven't had a cell phone since we arrived here )which in someways was very relaxing.  I took a couple quick trips to an internet cafe but also spent a lot of time reading and enjoying the quite.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

kiwi christmas preparations

There are lots of great things about Christmas in New Zealand.  The weather is warm, Lonnie gets two weeks of mandated vacation, school is out for the summer, and flowers are in bloom.  New Zealand basically shuts down for Christmas, New Years, and even into mid-January.  Everyone goes on vacation and enjoys the school holiday and the warm weather.  We have some fun adventures planned for our Christmas break, and I am especially looking forward to having Lonnie with us all day long for a couple of weeks.  

Max and Maya are getting excited about Christmas for the first time...last year they were a little too young and Lonnie and I were a little too preoccupied with moving.  This year they are excited to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus.  They have loved opening the doors to their baby Jesus advent calender that Nana sent from London until Max decided to tear off all the doors.  A couple of weeks ago I talked with the kids about Santa Claus and they, of course, love the idea.  Every time they see Santa decorations, they squeal.  I asked Maya if she wanted a doll house and Max if he wanted a train (which is what I had already decided I was going to get for them) from Santa, to which they both replied an emphatic "YES!".  They haven't forgotten.  Whenever anyone asks them what they want for Christmas Maya replies with a firm "doll house!" and Max says "a train". 

I really wanted to decorate for Christmas, in part to help me from feeling homesick.  I found a cheap artificial tree, and we made Christmas ornaments out of shells we have collected for the past year.  I think it turned out pretty cute.  
Growing up in Southern California prepared me for Christmas without snow, but being in the Southern Hemisphere has its Christmas challenges.  I've decided that the strangest thing about Christmas in New Zealand is that it doesn't get dark until almost 9pm.  Less darkness means less Christmas lights.  Caroling in the daylight seems a little strange to me.

Because it doesn't get dark until late, people don't put up a lot of Christmas lights, which is one of my favorite things about Christmas.  Last night, I was coming home from a late Playcentre meeting.  No one on our street of about 12 houses had lights up.  I probably passed only half a dozen houses with lights on the 5 min drive home.  Even those that do make the effort seemed to put up a lighted sign or a single strand of lights....there were certainly no Griswolds in our neighborhood.  Even if people did put up a lot of lights, I probably won't see them as I don't get out often after 9pm anyways.  We usually don't even turn on our Christmas tree lights until after the kids are in bed.

For those of you who have made it to this point in the post here are some photos of our sleeping angels.    
Yes, those are Max's bite marks on Maya's shoulder....they aren't always angels.  She is also sleeping on the floor.
Max fell down and cut his head at church a week ago last Sunday.  Thankfully, one of my friends had medical tape, which kept Max from needing stitches.

There is almost nothing I enjoy more than watching my kids sleep.  They look so peaceful that I almost, for a moment, forget the chaos of when they are awake. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I really haven't started and serious potty training...although I know I should have started months ago.  We have a potty, with a seat that fits on the toilet and a stool to help the kids get up.  We also have potty charts on the bathroom door that we use occasionally.   We have a stash of M&M's.  Basically all we are doing so far is that whenever I happen to think of it I offer the kids the potty.  Some days I am consistent and offer every half an hour (while we are at home) other days when things get busy or I am worn out I don't offer at all.  Some days the kids take me up on the offer other days they can't be bothered.   Needless to say we haven't made much progress.

Ever since being introduced to M&M's Max is much more interested in toilet training. When offered the toilet he would jump on the toilet, dribble just a little bit and call it done, and ask for his treat.  So to encourage him to wait until he had a full bladder I started offering him two M&M's if he could make lots of pee.  He went for it.   He started Whenever I give him two M&M's he automatically gives one to his sister.  This morning he even asked to use the toilet before I even offered.   As soon as soon as I gave him the second M&M he he said "One for me and one for my sister".   It is very sweet and I don't want to do anything to discourage him from sharing.    Now Maya is no longer interested in using the potty.  Why make the effort when her brother provides  her all she really needs.

I am ready for potty training advice.  All of you out there who have gone through this already send me your advice.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I'm wondering what happened to the two lovely red-headed children who used to live with me who used to go to bed at 7:30pm with out a peep.  Those two lovely children also napped two hours a day.

Someone took those children and replaced them with kids who turn into crazy gremlins at bed time.  They get out of bed, climb the walls and windows, play with toys and see how long they can keep each other awake....and then the next day they are cranky.  They used to get 14 hours of sleep a day (yes, it was a lot) these days they are lucky if they get 11.  They are falling asleep sometimes as late as 9:30pm and waking up at 6:30am.  I've tired shortening naps to 1 hour hoping they will sleep longer at night.  It doesn't seem to help.

Back in the day, we used to take the kids in their room, kiss them hug them, put them in bed and say good-bye until morning.  I now spend sometimes more than 2 hours of my day trying to get those kids to go to sleep.  I'm the mother I never wanted to me.

I'll tell you what happened....

We took away the pacifiers
The kids learned to climb out of their porta cots (pack n play) so we transfered to toddler beds
Time change and longer summer day light hours

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

cheeky monkey

Max isn't quite as interested in being photographed as Maya is these days.  Yesterday she was outside with our neighbors and was quite entertained with herself while being photographed.  Thanks for the cute photos Paul.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

sleep transitions

I must admit there is almost nothing that stresses me out more as a mother than dealing with sleeping issues.    Thankfully Max and Maya have been pretty good sleepers and I really shouldn't complain about...although it doesn't stop me.

In the past few months the kids have dealt with several big changes at sleep time....

1. Getting rid of the pacifiers
2. Moving into toddler beds
3. Longer daylight hours
4. Getting older

After giving up the pacifers the kids had started having a hard time going to sleep at nap time.  So I started laying down with them to help them get to sleep.  For kids who had been put to bed awake, never rocked to sleep, I was surprised that they started to

About two or three weeks ago the kids also started having a hard time going to sleep at night.  Pre-sleep changes, on most days, we could put the kids in bed with a kiss and not see them again until morning.

I tried darkening the curtains.

We tried the Supernanny approach of entering the room and putting the kids back into their bed.  But it never seemed to help and it always seemed end with me getting upset and yelling (yes, I realize this is not part of the Suppernanny system)

A couple  of days ago I tried something new.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

flying fox

Maya is a big fan of the flying fox at one of our local parks.  A flying fox is like a zip line for kids.  They have them at parks all over New Zealand.  I don't remember ever seeing anything like this in the least not at a kid's park.   Here is our brave little Maya.
This photo gives you a better idea of the length of the zip line.  You can almost see the harbour bridge in the distance.  

Saturday, November 13, 2010

two friends

We finally installed a temporary fence to keep the kids in the back yard.  I'm not sure why we didn't do it months ago.  I love telling the kids to go play outside with out having to worry about them running around the house, down the drive way and out onto the street.  They love being able to ride their bikes all the time and I think they really like being able spend time alone without me in the room.  

Being a mother of twins can be hard at times (motherhood, any way you do it is hard work).  While it is so much easier now than it was having two premature infants not sleeping through the I am constantly worried about one of the kids letting go of my hand in a parking lot and running out in front of a car.  There are times that they keep each other awake at nap time or wake each other up too early.  The biting seems to have stopped only to be followed up by occasional hair pulling.  I can't even explain potty-training twins.  There are hours of chain screaming/crying....when one stops the other starts. 

Then there are moments like this......
I looked out the window yesterday afternoon and saw Max and Maya snuggled up next to each other happily eating apples.   A few minuets earlier Maya had come into the house and taken the apple I was eating.  I started another and within seconds she had taken that one too, so she could give it to her brother.  They then climbed on top of their play kitchen and perched themselves on the window sill together.

I am very lucky to be able to spend most of my time with these two beautiful children.  

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Since moving to Auckland, we've heard stories from various people about seeing orcas in the Auckland Harbour. Well, today was our lucky day to get our own sighting. On the ferry ride home from work, Lonnie saw a pod of orcas from within a few hundred feet of the boat. When he arrived home and told me, we threw the kids in the car and drove in the direction of where the orcas were heading.

Sure enough, the orcas stayed fairly close to the shoreline, and we were able to spot them first from the road along Torpedo Bay in Devonport. We then drove up North Head to get a view as they swam out toward Rangitoto, a small volcano in the bay.

This was the main pod, but there was at least one other whale following the group from behind.

There were at least two calves in the pod.

As you can see in this photo, Auckland Harbour is narrow between the city and Devonport (where we live). According to the New Zealand Herald, the orcas were spotted at various points through the harbour this afternoon.