Monday, January 31, 2011

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...

So, I won a major awardThankfully Sadly, there will be no "...soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window," at our house.

BUT--someone thinks I'm Stylish!

Umm...I have only won something once in my entire life; I entered a give-away put on by this lovely lady, and won! Even though we played volleyball together in college, I promise it was legit. I won fair and square!

Thank you, Annissa, for the award. I'm humbled, and flattered.

There are conditions to this award, and if you don't follow through, your hair will turn grey and your teeth will fall out. No, really, follow through if you want to--OR, just bask in the glow of winning your major award, and do absolutely none of the following:

  1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.
  2. Share seven things about yourself.
  3. Award 15 other bloggers.
  4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.  
Seven things you get to know about me:
  1. I am 5'10", and I really like being tall. I was done growing in 6th grade. My nickname in grade school was "Jolly Green Giant". I blame my mom for buying me a green winter coat that year.
  2. I love to sweat (when it's appropriate). The feel of sweat dripping from my body gives me a feeling of accomplishment, and sweating along with other people gives me a feeling of camaraderie.
  3. I like to smell my daughters' heads--I wish someone could bottle that smell (except when they smear food in their hair--that's a whole different story). 
  4. My husband was my investment advisor--that's how we met. He thought social workers made a lot of $$$$. Boy, did I had him buffaloed!
  5. I am, along with approximately 10% of the world's population and Oprah, Left-handed. I really like being left-handed.
  6. For my birthday, the first year we were dating, my husband, then boyfriend, got me a left-handed wine key and can opener. I knew right then and there he was a keeper.
  7. My favorite song to sing to my girls is Que Sera, Sera, from the Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Man Who Knew Too Much. I LOVE Doris Day---I think she was gorgeous!
And the awards go to (in no particular order):
  1. Melissa @ Bumblebee Grace. Melissa is one of the craftiest people I know--she can make just about everything. I love her photography, and I know you will too. Her twin daughters are a few months older than mine; the girls have MPI (Milk Protein Intolerance), so Melissa was dairy free for almost an entire year while she breastfed them. You know that ooey, gooey cheese on pizza? Cream in your coffee? Yeah, she gave that up--that is love, people! She has some great dairy-free recipes on her blog, even if you can have dairy, they are pretty darn tasty! She and I are getting ready to have a blog conversation about beauty--stay tuned, it's going to be very cool!
  2. Alice @ The Journey Home. Alice is the mama to two beautiful little boys. She is such a wise woman, who talks about her faith vulnerably, and honestly.
  3. Shell @ Taking a Chance on My Passion. Shell is an artist and a poet, with a heart as big as the ocean. She loves with all of her might, and gives of herself fully and tirelessly. I am humbled to be part of this piece of art she did for Mother's Day.
  4. Valerie @ Sunshine Beyond the Clouds. Valerie's twin boys are one year old today! Congrats, you made it, Mama! She records all the precious moments of her boys' lives with lots of great pictures.
  5. Jessica @ Our Front Porch Looking In. Jessica is the mama to boy/girl twins just a couple months younger than my girls. She is very savvy, and is quick to tell you when she's found a kid product worth buying.
  6. MandyE @ My Life as Described By Twin Trials and Triumphs. Mandy's twin girls just turned two. She has been so helpful and encouraging to me since we connected in blogland a few months ago. Mandy is witty, and a great writer!
  7. Sara @ Family Organic. Sara parallels her life as the mama of twins with finding different ways to go green.
  8. Kendra @ Miracle of the Moment. Kendra is a genuine, bubbly and passionate woman--you can't help but love her, and her adorable twins, Abbey and Luke.
  9. Glennon @ Momastery. So, I feel a little silly doing this one. Glennon has a large following, and I am just another followee (is that even a word?!). She's just real--a real mama, a real Jesus lover, a real sinner, a real friend. Seriously, people, you need to read her stuff--she is spunky, passionate, hilarious, and a gifted writer. After spending any amount of time reading her blog, you will want to be her BFF.
  10. Julia @ My Crazy Journey to Joy. Because I love her name. Just kidding, I mean, I'm a little partial to the name Julia. Anyway, Julia seeks joy. Shouldn't we all? Stop in an encourage her on her journey. 
  11. Jodi @ Curious Acorn. Jodi is an artist with great taste in shoes and an awesome love for her Creator. Her encouragement is a blessing to me.
  12. Jessica @ Haines Hollow. Jessica celebrates her life as the mama to two year old boy/girl twins. She's honest and funny--I really like her a lot!
  13. Angela @ Cherry Blossom Runs. So, Angela decided that she wanted to live a healthier lifestyle, and decided to become a runner. She started out running small races, and in October ran her first marathon. Reading her journey makes it seem possible for anyone to become a marathoner. She also does a great job of reviewing running gear.
  14. Kelley @ Blue is a Circle. Kelley is witty, clever, and a fabulous writer! I love reading her wisdom and perspective on life.
  15. Katie @ Once Upon a Time. Katie has chronicled her long journey through infertility, and now shares the joy of her twins, Sam and Anna. Katie has been so encouraging to me as a fellow twin mama. Reading her blog is refreshing, because she's honest and real.
Okay. That's my list of some of the blogs I enjoy reading most. I guess I'll post this, and then contact everyone? It might take awhile. Sorry if you read this before I get to email you. I'm feeling a bit bashful about the whole thing.

If nothing else, I hope you enjoy seeing some new blogs. Happy reading!

Blizzard Prep Thankfulness

308. Brad feeding the girls dinner and giving them both a bath, so that I could have a break.

309. Seeing Brynne's first steps.

310. Brynne climbing all the way up the basement steps.

311. The girls getting excited about reading books together.

312. Hadley pointing out the bees on the Burt's Bees tube of diaper ointment.

313. Hadley pointing to the mouse in every Usborne Touchy-Feely book.

314. Good conversation with Brad.

315. The conception of True Beauty Conversations with Melissa.

316. 45 degree weather.

317. Being able to go for a walk outside with Laila and Nori.

318. New books! (thank you Nori)

319. Ovaltine.

320. Visiting with Alice.

321. Ibuprofen for teething babies.

322. The girls pretending to brush their hair with their mama's big brush.

323. Round one of birthday celebrations.

324. The girls sitting quietly in church.

325. Feasting on the Lord's Supper.

326. Fellowship lunch after church.

327. Hadley getting back to sleep quickly at 3:28 this morning.

328. Having a wonderful husband who does an awesome job of taking care of his family.

holy experience

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Our Most Loved Toys 0-12 Months

Our girls are going to turn one next week--I can hardly believe it! Having come a year (almost), I've been compiling mental lists of baby stuff that I found most useful and invaluable to us. I stared out making it into one post, but quickly realized it was going to be WAY too long. So, I've split it up into a series of posts, starting with Our Favorite Books. I hope someone finds these helpful, I know I would have loved to have had it spelled out for me---I was so completely overwhelmed with everything. I'm sure if you have little ones, you probably have your favorite toys too. Feel free to add to my list!

I included pictures, so that you don't have click on all the links, unless you want to.

Toys 0-6 months

Infantino Barn Babies. This is a set of three--chicken, pig and cow (not pictured). They hook on to stroller or carseat straps, so they can't fall off. They have multiple textures, bright colors, and they make (quiet) noises.

Ring-a-Links. We used a lot of these. They were attached to just about everything--stroller, carseat, jumperoo, playmat. The girls still chew on them--they are excellent for teething too!

Play Mat. We didn't have this exact one (in the link), we borrowed one from a friend. Really, any sort of mat that lets things dangle in your babies' line of sight is great. Before we borrowed ours, I made one with ribbons--babies love to look and bat at things that dangle and move, so you can be creative.

My Barnyard Friends. My mom got this for the girls when they were five months old. I wish we'd gotten it sooner--they love it! Each animal makes their animal noise when you squeeze it, and the little barn carrying case makes it perfect to take to playdates.

Bright Starts Tug Tunes Pink Elephant. This is probably our most loved toy. As you can see, the ring sewn around the elephant's trunk needs to be mended. The girls absolutely loved this thing! You pull the tail, and it plays four different tunes. It worked like a charm, from the time the girls were very little, to calm them when they were fussy. To this day, if they are fussing, we can pull the elephant's tail for a tune, and they stop fussing.

Jumperoo and Exersaucer. Initially we just got the jumperoo. We began sitting the girls in it when they were 3-4 months old. They really didn't start to enjoy it for very long until they were more like 5-6 months old. We borrowed the exersaucer from a friend when the girls were 10 months. Each morning, to this day, one girl is in the jumperoo, one is in the exersaucer. It gives this mama a moment to make coffee and eat breakfast before feeding them. They are also a safe, fun spot to put them if I am not able to supervise for a few moments. They are a bigger investment, so maybe borrow, or try Craigslist, but have certainly been worth it for us.

Stacking Rings. The girls still love them! They are big enough for them to grab onto at an early age, and soft enough for them to chew on. For Christmas we got them these, which they love also. A great investment, because as they grow, they can learn different skills with them.

Toys 7-12+ months

Once the girls could scoot around we got these Wheeee-Is Cars, so that they could push them around while they scooted. Now that they are a bit older, they love pulling them back and letting them go. They get super excited as the car comes towards them. The perfect toy if you have wood floors!

B. Parum Pum Pum Drum. The girls love music, and really enjoy jam sessions with this toy.

Stacking cups. These were meant to be bath toys for the girls, but we've never actually used them in the bath. They love to knock them over when they are stacked up, and they often clap them together to make noise. They are beginning to get the concept of putting things in, and taking things out of them, and sometimes successfully can get them cups to nest. The cups also come in really handy to dole out puffs.

Leap Frog Learn and Groove Music Table. Our girls really love music. We borrowed this at first to see if it was something we wanted to purchase. My daughter, Brynne, seeks this thing out every day, and shakes her groove thing to all songs. It has definitely been worth the money!

Sort, Peek and Roll Activity Shape Sorter. The girls love to put the shapes in and out of this thing. I actually used this toy to teach them how to put things in and take things out of something. There is a mirror on one side; they are fascinated with mirrors, and love to look at themselves in the mirror. When they get a little older, they can figure out the puzzle part of this toy, so it should stick around for awhile. Also, there is room to put lots of other toys inside this toy, which makes it great to take to playdates.

Garanimals natural wood blocks (I could not find these online, but Garanimals brand is sold at Walmart). These are fantastic--they are colorful, two inch blocks that come as a set of 16. Every block has an animal, a shape, a pattern/design, and an object on it. My girls love to sit and point to the different things on the blocks--we go through all the blocks, identifying everything that is pictured on each block. They love it, and will sit for a good 15 minutes while we go through each block a few times. And, of course, they love to knock down any towers that get built.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Two Quick Things

  1. I logged my first bootcamp workout this morning and got a shower all before 8AM. It feels pretty great!
  2. Apparently not all Target stores have double shopping carts. While we still do not use the double carts (we sling or carry the girls), I'm sure we will at some point, just as soon as I get over the fear of the germs that lurk in those carts *shudder*. A woman, from a twin message board I belong to, is on a crusade to get Target to have double shopping carts available at all Target stores. This attorney, turned stay-at-home-mama, is passionate about this, and I want to help her spread the word. So please, if you have a moment, join us bugging the heck out of someone over at Target in this important email writing campaign to get double shopping carts at all Target locations. The link to do that is here. It's quick, it's easy, and twin mamas everywhere will thank you.
That is all. Have a glorious day!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Winter Doldrums

I've been feeling really lonely and disconnected from people lately. It's cold, it's cloudy, and I just feel blah.

What no one tells you, is that being a stay-at-home-mama can be very isolating. This truth has been an incredibly hard realization for me.

Before you skip the end of this and leave a comment pleading with me to seek therapy and/or medication, rest assured, I am not in that place--yet. I love my daughters, and recognize them for the blessing they are, which leads me to the place of knowing that I need to change. Brynne and Hadley deserve an emotionally healthy mama!

For those of you who have or do feel the same way, I think it's normal--becoming a mother is a huge, life-altering event. Couple that with all kinds of crazy hormones and lack of sleep--well, sometimes it's not pretty. I don't think people talk about this very much. I'm standing up to talk about it, because it's real for me. I'm struggling, and from a few conversations I've had with friends recently, I know I'm not the only one.

I knew that having children was the ultimate "dying to yourself", so I accepted and embraced that the girls' needs trump my own. While it is true that I have two, pretty cute, babies to take care of, that doesn't mean that I stop taking care of myself. Being a mama has become part of my identity, but should not define me. There's a careful balance there, and I need a bit of "rebalancing".

Confession time. Most weeks I only get in two or three showers (ew, I know). My workout routine really can't be called a "routine" since it's sporadic, at best. Sometimes I go days without brushing my hair--a messy bun is my go-to hairstyle. Speaking of hair, I haven't had it cut or trimmed in over a year---can you say split ends?! My crusty feet haven't had a pedicure since May. I usually don't change out of my yoga/pajama pants unless I have to go somewhere or see someone. Sometimes I forget to put on deodorant until my pits feel sticky, or worse--when I start to stink.

All of this was fine in the beginning, when the girls were little, and I was a tired, overwhelmed new mama. Some of it is still okay, sometimes. I mean, who doesn't love comfy yoga pants?! My girls are almost a year old, though, and are aware of their world. I want them to see their mama taking time to take care of herself, so that they will learn to do the same.

So--I have a plan!
  1. Tomorrow, I'm starting bootcamp again. Two mornings a week I'm going to get my sweat on. I'm actually pretty giddy about it--hopefully I'll feel the same way tomorrow at 5:30 A.M.
  2. I'm going to try to schedule at least one playdate a week. Let's face it, playdates are usually more about the mamas socializing than the kids playing together.
  3. Once a week I'm going to get out of the house by myself. To run errands, get a cup of coffee, meet up with a friend--something.
Okay, there it is. Seems simple enough. Friends, you have permission to ask me how this is going--call me out on the carpet. I need to do this for me, and for everyone else in my house. Hold me accountable!

Big Snow Thankfulness

298. Playdate with the Bain twins.

299. Chatting with Becca.

300. 12 inches of snow!

301. Extended morning as a family.

302. The girls trying oranges for the first time.

303. Hanging out with Laila and Nori.

304. Going running.

305. Meeting baby Jacob.

306. Chatting with Erin over lunch.  

307. Playing in the snow.

holy experience

Friday, January 21, 2011

Our Favorite Books

A house without books is like a room without windows. ~Heinrich Mann

If that's true, Mr. Mann, then my house is like a fishbowl. Most days my living room is strewn with books.

I've read to my girls since they were itty bitty. I have such an affinity for books and reading; it's a love that I hope they share too. I want my girls to pine for puffed sleeves, lose themselves in enchanted wardrobes, and get excited about seeing a papoose on the prairie.

When they were tiny, I usually read to them one at a time, or Brad would read to one, and I would read to the other. Recently, though, it's been really fun, because they are interactive, and you better believe they have their favorite books! They will actually sit and listen to me read for about 20 minutes. Most of what we read right now are board books. This is because, they have a thing for paper. "Thing", as in, they like to tear, eat and destroy paper.

What melts this mama's heart, is to see them on the floor paging through books on their own. They jabber away, pouring over the colorful pages--maybe making up their own stories.

Here are some of our favorites, in no particular order:

First Words

Little Quack Counts, by Lauren Thompson.

Usborne Touchy-Feely Books by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells. We have several of the That's Not My... series. The girls' favorites are That's Not My Dragon and That's Not My Pirate. These books are great! They have lots of textures. My girls know where all the "feely" parts are in each of the books we own.

The Real Mother Goose Board Book. We pause and hand-clap Pat-A-Cake and Pease Porridge while reading this book--the girls love it!
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? Dr. Seuss's Book of Wonderful Noises, by Dr. Seuss.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

BIG Little, by Leslie Patricelli

Itsy Bitsy Spider, by Kate Toms

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear, by Don and Audrey Wood

1, 2, 3 to the Zoo, Eric Carle

I'd love for you to add to the list. What books do your kids love to read?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Cup

3:30 AM, my alarm sounds. The alarm is a rooster crowing. Cock-a-doodle doo--over and over and over. At that point I have two choices; I can hit "snooze" to delay the inevitable, and invite the rooster back into my bedroom in 10 minutes, or I can hit the "off" button, which silences that squawking bird for the next 24 hours, but means that I need to get up. Arguably, the most annoying alarm ever, but that's the point.

Why am I setting my alarm before the real roosters start crowing? I need to pump. My goal is to get the job done while remaining drowsy, so that I can drift off again once my 20 minutes of "milking" are over.

I get up, and grab my empty cup off the nightstand. I always get so thirsty pumping. I fill the cup with water, then use the chamber pot toilet--I have this thing about flushing in the middle of the night. It disrupts the quiet too much for my liking. As I sit there, I force my foggy brain to think, "Cup. Cup. Cup. Don't forget the cup."

I go back to bed, prop pillows up, and hook up to the pump. After a few minutes I reach for the cup. It's not there. It's 10 feet away from me on the bathroom counter. Really? Ugh! I unhook myself, grab the cup and commence being a Guernsey.

Ah--the sweet relief of water to my parched throat. You would think that such a feeling would help me to remember the cup full of that refreshing water on the bathroom counter. But, no. I forget it every. single. night. Amazing! I think I'm going crazy. Or, maybe it's just that I haven't slept through the night in approximately 18 months. Either way, I definitely need a new system, because clearly my memory is sleeping at 3:30 along with the roosters.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Charming Gardeners

What is your favorite parenting quote?

Multiples & More recently posed this question, and challenged their readers to share theirs.

I love quotes, and have quite a collection written in a journal for moments such as these. I was eager to participate, but quickly realized that I haven't really collected any parenting quotes. 

Truly though, I don't need a quote about actual parenting. Here is my selection:

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
~Marcel Proust
My girls are definitely some of my "charming gardeners". Oh, how these pictures make me long for spring (and gardening).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snowdrift Thankfulness

291. The beauty of drifting snow.

(photos edited by the talented Melissa--check out her stuff over here)

292. Playdate with Oliver.

293. Visit with Kate and Thomas. 

294. Brynne fogging up the windows.

295. Talking to Rashell on the phone. 

296. Hadley's first steps.

297. Photo shoot fun with two chairs and two babies.

holy experience

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Word Resolution

I don't really put much stock in New Year's resolutions. I've attended exercise classes for too many years to know how quickly the enthusiasm fizzles.

I have; however, thought a lot about words lately. I want to amend my words--how I speak, what I speak. It's not a New Year's resolution necessarily, the fact that we've rolled over to a new year is not perpetuating my desire to change. I have different "motivators".

Hadley loves our dogs, I mean--LOVES them. She asks to see her "da" all the time, she waves to them, she tells them goodnight before bed, she dangles food from her tiny hand during mealtimes to get their attention, and some days they get more kisses than I do.

I often get frustrated with Hadley's beloved "da". They get underfoot while I'm rushing about the kitchen, back and forth getting meals ready. My patience with them dwindles, and I speak sharply and unkindly at them. The jabbering coming from the high chairs abruptly stops, and the girls stare at me in wonderment; their mama who just uttered harsh words at their puppies. My daughters' soul-searching eyes cut me to the quick.

I said a few weeks ago  that I wanted my words to be gentle, kind and full of grace.  Only speak words that make souls stronger. I want to be able to show my daughters what this looks like when speaking to all kinds of creatures.

In my kitchen, I have a quote taped to my cabinets, so that I see it when the dogs are tripping me up and impeding my progress towards dinner.

Before you speak ask yourself: Is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence? ~Shirdi Sai Baba, an Indian Saint 
 Enough said.