Thursday, December 30, 2010

There Was One in the Bed...

Since day one our girls have slept together in the same crib. It made for some pretty precious photo ops, wouldn't you agree?

Tomorrow, the days of girls snuggling in their crib will come to an end. We're dividing up the binks and giving them each their own crib. Honestly, I'm a little choked up about it. We gave it a good run--almost 11 months.

The need for this transition became very clear to us the other night as Brynne's muffled screams erupted from their bedroom. As Hadley fought sleep, she apparently thought smashing her sister's face into the mattress, in order to practice standing up, seemed like a swell idea. Poor Brynne. As we rescued her from being smothered for the second time, Brad and I looked at each other, and said, "I think it might be time...." Sad!

Later that same night when we went in their room to make sure they were alright, we saw just about the funniest thing ever--I wish we'd taken a picture, but we didn't want to wake them up. Brynne was laying on her back, and Hadley was on her stomach, laying across Brynne with her bottom sticking up in the air, so that their bodies made an X. I have no idea how in the world they could have fallen asleep that way! We did move Hadley off of Brynne--that just shows you how used to each other they are.

Hadley is a snuggle bug, always has been--I think she would crawl inside her sister's sleep sack, if that was possible. I worry about how she will adapt to not having Brynne's warm body there to cuddle with. We are hopeful that they (and I) will weather this transition well. 

If anyone has any tips on how to make this easier on them (or me), I'm all ears! 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Here I Raise My Ebenezer

No, I'm not talking about Ebenezer Scrooge.

I read somewhere that someone was picking a single word to be "their" word for the upcoming year. I love words; when I first read that, I thought, the prospect of picking one word for an entire year seemed impossible. I wondered, too, if at the end of the year, could that individual say they had chosen appropriately, and really "lived" that word? Well, this girl loves a challenge, so in the face of something that seems impossible, I am choosing one word for my upcoming year. My word for 2011? Ebenezer.

So what does Ebenezer have to do with anything? In the Bible (I Samuel 7:12), Samuel took a stone and named it, Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the Lord has helped us."  An Ebenezer, or "stone of help" is anything or anyone that is a reminder of God's presence, love and assistance.

Many of you have been Ebenezers to me over the past year. It's no secret that the whole twin thing was overwhelming to me (still is some days). I've done an abysmal job of keeping up with thank you cards. I'm sure more than one person failed to receive an official "thank you" from me. If you held me up in prayer, made my family a meal, came over to visit and/or hold a baby, encouraged me with words, offered opportunities for me to sleep, showered our babies with gifts, gave me the opportunity to shower, listened to me worry, helped me take the girls to the doctor, offered wisdom and guidance---you are an Ebenezer to me. Through each of those acts, whether I know you or not, you showed me the face of God.

This blog is my Ebenezer, a physical sign of God's presence, love and assistance to me, with the help of all of you, throughout this past year. When I think about it I am overwhelmed and (hand on chest) faklempt. Talk amongst yourselves--I'll give you a topic. Chickpea is neither a chick nor a pea--discuss.

Sorry, I was starting to cry, and needed to laugh. In all seriousness, I am so blessed--my cup runneth over. I pray that you each meet God with many Ebenezers in 2011.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Thankfulness

250. Meditating on the beautiful truth in this post as we celebrate Christmas.

251. Listening to "thunks" through the monitor as the girls throw binks out of their crib when they are supposed to be napping.

252. Dinner and drinks out with Laila and Ellyn.

253. Being able to laugh in an uncomfortable situation.

254. The kind of snow that sticks to the trees.

255. Introducing the girls to playing in the snow.

257. Hadley getting her two front teeth for Christmas.

258. Playing Santa for the first time.

259. Two girls most excited about the toothbrush in their stocking.

260. Safe travels in less than favorable driving conditions. 

261. Meeting baby Landon.

262. Hadley and Brynne taking a nap at their grandparents' house.

263. Family time at the Jenkins'.

264. Fun with grandparents.

265. Two girls going for rides in their new wagon.

266. Hadley waving "night night" to the puppy dogs.

holy experience

Friday, December 24, 2010





My loves

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Neosporin to the Soul

Words are powerful. Words matter.

They can be a piercing dagger to the heart or a soothing salve to the aching soul.

I have been working on a post for over a week that you will never see. It chronicled my meandering journey through the thorny thicket of forgiveness. It was raw. Real. I thoughtfully weighed each word. It took me forever to get out what I wanted to say. It was emotional, excruciating even, like tearing out a piece of my soul and putting it down on paper (virtually speaking). Some of it was ugly, some of it was harsh, some of it espoused hope---all of it was authentic. After I'd written it all down and had my husband read it over, I opted not to publish it. Some times it is better to leave things unsaid. Words are powerful.

On forgiveness, I pray to one day be able to forgive a la Corrie ten Boom. Most of you have probably heard of her; she forgave a cruel Nazi prison guard who held her captive during the Holocaust. Describing that experience here are her words:

For a long moment we grasped each other's hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then.

Nothing, NOTHING I will ever experience comes close to the atrocities she forgave. Humbling, isn't it? Her words are powerful.

I will say this too. A sweet sister reminded me that my experiences, however disappointing, are the experiences that my wild, dangerous, unfettered, good God wants for me. Another Corrie quote:

God does not have problems. Only plans.

How, then, can I continue to wallow in unforgivingness when this is what my God wants for me? I can't, it is incongruous.

I must be careful. This platform I have to write is powerful, because words are powerful. As I was writing my unpublished (soon to be deleted) work, I read this:

Only speak words that make souls stronger.

I want my words to be authentic, genuine, and real. I also want them to be encouraging, full of grace and love. I pray I can do both. I pray that the words that dance off my lips and the words that flow from my heart into my fingers onto my keyboard, make souls stronger. I want to be the Neosporin, not the dagger.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Masa and Masi Thankfulness

231. Sleeping in in the middle of the week.

232. Brad having time off work.

233. Brad's job, which allows me to stay home and care for our daughters--we are so blessed!

234. Fun with presents.

235. Getting the hang of sippy cups.

236. Seeing the ice sparkle in the sunshine.

237. Sunshine after some long, dreary, cold days.

238. Chats with my sisters.

239. Sushi.

240. Listening to the snow fall in the quiet of the morning.

241. Mital Masa and Amanda Masi reading stories to Hadley and Brynne.

242. Brynne showing her Mital Masa how well she can drive her car.

243. A tower of sisters.

244. Hadley playing puzzles with her Aunt Ab.

245. Brynne having fun with her Amanda Masi.

246. Hanging out by the fire with Miss Brynne.

247. Watching Hadley and Brynne roll the ball back and forth to each other. 

248. Hadley's fever just being teething related.

249. Hadley's third tooth emerging.

holy experience

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

We're gonna have the hap hap happiest Christmas...

We're kicking off our fun old fashion family Christmas by heading out into the country in the old front-wheel drive sleigh to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select that most important of Christmas symbols. ~Clark Griswold

Holiday tradition. It's been on my mind a lot lately. Even though the girls are so young, and won't remember anything about this Christmas, we want to establish our own meaningful traditions now, so we can put them into practice. We're not looking for our home to be mistakenly thought to be ablaze due to mass quantities of Christmas lights, nor do we want our girls to be frozen from the waist down all for the sake of the experience of uprooting our Christmas tree from a forest--we just want the girls to have fond memories of our family Christmas that authentically celebrates the birth of Jesus, and isn't wrapped up in scoring loot.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Brad and I decided that, even though we will, most likely, always be out of town on Thanksgiving, we would prepare our own Thanksgiving feast for just our family. I love cooking, and trying out new recipes--this tradition is right up my alley. I very much look forward to when the girls can get in on the action! Check. We've got that holiday all wrapped up. Next up--Christmas.

This morning I was reading over here about memories. If you ask someone to remember a bad memory, it's almost always a specific instance. Contrarily, if you ask someone to recall a good memory, it is most often wrapped up in a tradition.

Thinking back to my childhood, I have so many wonderful Christmas memories wrapped up in the five senses, and many of them were indeed part of our family traditions--the cinnamon taste of my mama's warm, gooey bubble bread (monkey bread to many of you) on Christmas morning, the sparkle of the lights that we drove around to look at every Christmas eve, the feeling of swelling in my chest of pure joy at the wonder of this special time, the sound of my papa praying and reading from the Bible, and the smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, citrus, mint and chocolate swirling around in the air.

I love that my most vivid memories of Christmas are not about stuff. Yes, we did receive presents. Santa did come to our house. As the oldest of five kids, and my youngest sister 11 years my junior, Santa made appearances in our house for many years. I admit, I did get gleeful when I saw my bulging stocking hanging from our stair banister, even long after Santa morphed into my parents. But our Christmas wasn't all about the presents. We didn't mail letters to Santa. It was never about making a list of wants. Our Christmas was about family. It was about enjoying good food together. It was about spending time with my brother and sisters in our pajamas until well after noon. It was about bundling up and going outside to play in the snow. It was about worshiping our Father by loving one another and spending a good day together.

My prayer is that my daughters cherish the time we spend together as a family and the gift of that day, because of Jesus' birth. I pray that they learn the gift of charity, and have a heart for giving to others. I recently learned of an organization that would be perfect for kids to contribute to called The Dinner Garden. It buys seeds to give to families, so that they can plant gardens. You can feed a family for five dollars! That's completely doable for a kid with an allowance! Not the  point of this, but I'm thrilled to know things like that are available.

When I started out writing this, my intention was to write about Christmas ornaments, and then I saw this lovely lady's post, and thought I'd link up my finished product there. I even took pictures of some of my Christmas ornaments. I might still have another post to write, but this is what I came up with for now. These are my meandering thoughts. How do you make Christmas special in your home? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snowy Thankfulness

215. Brynne laughing and chatting to her reflection in the mirror.

216. Wipes.

217. Great neighbors.

218. Summar walking over in the freezing cold to bring me a tub of wipes.

219. First fire in the fireplace of the season.

220. Hadley emptying her first bookshelf.

221. The girls learning rhythm with their new drum.

222. Brad preparing two meals for us to freeze.

223. Baby gate arriving just in time.

224. Girls taking a bath together.

225. Brynne helping to shampoo her sister's hair.

226. Brad grilling us a yummy steak in the cold wind.

227. A snowy Sunday with nowhere to be. 

228. Brad discovering Hadley's second tooth poking through.

229. The girls trying all sorts of new finger foods.

230. Elliptical.

holy experience

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Love Shutterfly!

We love Shutterfly here in this house! You need only step inside our home to see just how much. We have pictures everywhere! This Christmas, Shutterfly is offering 50 free Christmas cards to bloggers who do a blog entry about their 2010 holiday cards. I just couldn't pass this deal up! If you're a blogger, and interested, you can get more information here.

As I go back over all my saved projects, Shutterfly has sort of watched our family grow. It preserves memories. I have saved albums of travels to Italy, Mexico and Costa Rica. We have a photo canvas of a very cool shot of the Colosseum! I have more saved albums of important life events--our wedding and the birth of our daughters. We've used those pictures to create photo Save the Date cards for our wedding using this style (with three photos instead of one):

Then again for photo Christmas cards for our first Christmas. We chose a 5 x 7 stationary card, which you can browse here--they come either folded, or a flat card like this one. The style we chose three Christmases ago has been discontinued, but here it is:

And, now, I'm in the process of creating a photo Christmas card to show off our beautiful twin daughters. I don't want to give away which of the millions of pictures we have of them we will be using, but I really like these styles:

Since it is the girls' first Christmas, I would love to commemorate that somehow with an ornament. Shutterfly has this one, which I really like a lot! It might just end up in their stockings on Christmas morning.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Life Is Difficult

Life is difficult. Dr. M. Scott Peck writes in his book, The Road Less Traveled. Some of you might say, duh, but I definitely need the reminder, so I appreciate Dr. Peck for putting it out there.

It was a year ago today that I went into preterm labor. My only responsibility in the whole world, from that day until the day the girls were born, two months later, was to sit on my rump and gestate. Sound easy? It wasn't. Up until the middle of November I had been doing boot camp workouts. Me and my belly did sprints, jumping jacks, burpees, squats--you  name it. I was active, I enjoyed being active. Then, suddenly, I wasn't. Life is difficult.

My life has changed so monumentally since that day a year ago.

Sunday, I reached the end of my rope, wits--you name it, I was at the end of it. I needed a break. For whatever reason, that day, the constantness of motherhood engulfed me, and I couldn't seem to figure out how to surface to catch my breath. The ever-present need the girls have for me when they are awake, and the infinite list of chores that need to be accomplished when the girls are not awake. I was tired, physically, spiritually, emotionally--just drained. I was completely cognizant of the selfish, joyless hole I was sitting in, but I couldn't seem to figure out how to climb out of it. Life is difficult.

A Starbucks coffee and an hour trip to the grocery store by myself later, I was in a much happier place.

Today, I look around our home and see spider webs glistening in the sun shining through our dingy windows. I see a collection of dust on most all of our furniture. The battle to keep dog hair off the floor is a daunting, win-less war. There is laundry to be done, dishes to be washed, babyfood to be made, and it took a blow out diaper this morning to remind me that we are all out of wipes--guess I need to get to the store today too. All those feelings from Sunday suddenly threaten to rear their ugly head again, or maybe they never really left--simmering below the surface, waiting for an overwhelming moment to pounce. Life is difficult.

I know I am not the only mama to ever feel this way. And, really, truly, most of the time I'm okay with the craziness of my life. I laugh at it, I celebrate it. Today, my daughter was rolling all over the place smearing poop all over herself and the changing table as I scrambled around looking for the wipes that we did not have. Soon, her sister began scooting over to play in her sister's poop, because it just looked like so much fun. I laughed, the complete insanity of it all was hilarious to me. And it makes me ever so grateful for the handiness of wipes when I remember to buy them, and refill the dispenser.

Dr. Peck goes on to write, Once we truly know that life is difficult--once we truly understand and accept it--then life is no longer difficult. Because, once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.
That resonated with me today. My life is what it is, and most days, I don't realize the difficultness of it. That very pregnant girl sitting on the couch a year ago would have been completely overwhelmed jumping into this life, and she might have thought it impossible to manage. But, here I am, dancing through each day doing the best I can, seeking to see the levity of most situations (at least those that involve poop), and praying that God will give me the patience, grace, energy and strength to care for the girls, myself, my husband and my home. Some days are better than others, because, let's face it, Life is difficult.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mirror and Yoga Thankfulness

198. First playdate with sweet baby Jude.

199. Drinking coffee out of a Christmas mug from Zambia. (Apparently the elephants really party it up over there!)

200. First playdate with Nori.

201. Sushi for dinner.

202. Overalls.

203. Playdate with Ellyn and Ben.

204. Hadley's first tooth.

205. Blooming Christmas cactus.

206. Walk with Laila and Nori.

207. A warm place to walk with little ones.

208. Hadley's determination to learn how to spin the top.

209. Watching Brynne discover how to pull the car back and let it go.

210. Hadley's fascination with her reflection in the mirror. 

211. First snowflakes of the season. 

212. A husband who makes runs to Trader Joe's on his lunch hour.

213. My aspiring yogi, Brynne. Check out her awesome downward facing dog.

214. An hour to go grocery shopping by myself. 

holy experience

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Artist

My daughter, Brynne, is an artist.

Her canvas--our second crib, currently being used as a changing table.

Her medium--teeth.

I have to laugh--she comes by it honestly.

When I was ready to transition from my crib to a bed, my papa made my bed, crafted it out of beautiful cherry wood. I still have it, ironically, it sits in the same room as the masterpiece Brynne has created.

 As a toddler, I made my papa's labor of love into my own work of art.

I'm pretty sure I was punished for that. I would have punished me for that.

My mama had us take naps every day. She would tell us where the hands on the clock needed to be before we were allowed to leave our rooms. After my imagination wore out, and sleep wouldn't come, I got into all kinds of mischief--not on purpose, mind you. I would absently pick at a seam in the wallpaper by my bed, or pull fur out of a stuffed animal, or--I would etch teeth marks in the headboard of my bed. All while watching for the hands of my Disney clock to point to the right numbers, so that I could be released from my nap.

The wallpaper was patched, the stuffed animal has long since been thrown away, but I still have the bed. Beyond the amusing story, I see the teeth marks as an engraved memory. That bed stands in the girls' changing room quietly holding on to that memory for me. As I look down at permanent indents that Brynne's chompers have done to the crib, I glance up and smile at the work my teeth did on my own childhood bed so many years ago.

The cribs we purchased convert into beds, so Brynne will have her artwork to take with her someday. Maybe she, too, will have children who enjoy gnawing on wood, and she will have her own engraved memory to remind her to laugh.