Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Youth Lives on Hope--Happy (belated) Memorial Day

The photo challenge this week for Quotography is Memorial Day/Remembrance.

Honestly, I wasn't really sure what I was going to do, or even if I was going to participate. We don't have close friends or family currently serving in the military. Other than giving my daughters a little flag to play with, I wasn't sure how I was going to present a photo that was meaningful for the theme, as well as something that made sense and had meaning here.

Then I remembered.

My father-in-law served in the Vietnam War. He took this very large Polaroid camera over there with him. That camera captured the reality of war in that place--death, the faces those who served, soldiers' jocularity and beautiful countryside. 

I love the juxtaposition of my daughters playing with that camera. It holds many stories. It's seen many things. And they, in the innocence of their youth, examine it, knowing only peace.

Youth lives on hope, old age on remembrance. ~French Proverb

Happy (belated) Memorial Day. Thank you, to those of you who serve, so that my daughters can play on a blanket without a care in the world. Thank you to the mamas and papas who send your soldier-spouses to far off places and parent alone--I have no idea how you do it.

Quotography at {My}Perspective

10 Things to Love About Summer

The weather's heating up, and I'm remembering all the glorious things to love about summer. There's really way more than 10!

1. Dining outside.

2. Pedicured toes.

3. Wearing shoes that show off pedicured toes.

4. Cool drinks.

5. Sunflowers.

6. Is there anything cuter than babes in sunhats, sundresses and rompers?!

7. Food fresh off the grill.

8. Hangin out outside.

9. Sunshine that feels like a big, warm hug.

10. Watching our garden bloom and grow.

What do you love best about summer?


Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Thanks

691. Lounging after dinner

692. Adventures in climbing.

693. Giggles over a head-butting game with Papa.

694. Wrestling with Papa.

695. Itchiness and spots going away.

696. Ellyn's reassuring, gentle spirit.

697. Rashell's encouragement and prayers for our family.

698. Surviving my first solo trip to the pediatrician.

699. Beautiful Sunday evening on the back deck with my love.

700. Good music.

701. Painted toes.

702. Red.

holy experience

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sympathy Itch

Have you ever had a parenting moment when you just don't know what to do?

Let me tell you mine.

Two weeks ago the girls got two vaccines at the doctor's office, and subsequently both got mild rashes on their bellies.

(Before I go any further, for the love of sweet baby Jesus--let us not debate vaccinations here. Brad and I have chosen to delay some, to skip some, and to give some on time. These choices are nothing to be taken lightly. All us mamas are just doing the best we can for our babies. Let's respect our fellow mamas' choices. Thank you.).

Hadley's rash went away. Brynne's never did. A week later we were back at the doctor. They thought Brynne's rash might be a strep rash, and did a strep test. It was negative. They chalked her rash up to a viral rash left over from the terrible croup/cough/cold thing they'd had the previous week. Read: We really have no idea what this rash is.

Another week went by. Thursday night Brynne is yanking on her ears. The rash had spread up her neck and behind her ears. After her bath we lathered her in hydrocortisone cream and gave her some Benedryl.

Friday morning the girls wake, they nurse, and I go to change diapers.

My jaw just dropped as I'm changing Brynne.

Brynne is covered, COVERED in red angry hives. They.Were.Everywhere. Neck, back, belly, chest, behind her ears, in her scalp, behind her knees, on the tops of her feet and on her forehead.

Both my husband and my brother-in-law make fun of my sisters and I for our propensity to exaggerate or "catastrophize" things. Friends (especially Brad and Mital), this is no "catastrophization"--she was covered!

When I became a mom, I was sure that vomit was going to be the hardest thing for me to deal with. In the past, the smell alone has caused me to run away retching. Well, I did the vomit thing and, surprisingly, it was tolerable. So, I figured it couldn't get any worse.

I was wrong. This rash thing was way, way worse than vomit. It was impossibly difficult for me to look at Brynne. I never thought that "doing hard things" would involve looking at my daughter. I was suddenly itchy from head to toe. Sympathy itch.

I'm sympathy itching as I write this.

So, my mind is racing. What if this was caused by something she ate--do I let her eat breakfast? The doctor wasn't open for another hour. Do I take her to the emergency room?

I was supposed to babysit later that day. I called that mama to explain what was going on, in case it affected my availability to watch her child. You know those moments of:
I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm handling it, everything's going to be okay--then all of a sudden---bwahhhhhhhh---I'm not fine, I'm not fine, I'm not fine, I'm not handling it, everything is not okay, not even a little bit? 
Yeah. Poor Ellyn. She got an ear-full of sobbing about Brynne's rash, and me telling her how itchy I was.

I opted to wait till the doctor was open, so that I could leave a message for the nurse to get back with me. I might have "catastrophized" that message a bit.

I was so desperate for someone to do something to make my poor baby feel better, I took an appointment during the girls' morning nap, and took them all by myself. One of these alone is recipe for disaster. Two at once--let's just say the rest of the day wasn't very pretty.

I didn't care. I needed answers.

My answer = severe allergic reaction to something.

I could have told them that over the phone. Whatever. They gave us drugs.

Brynne is on a five day course of steroids.

Her spots are fading. My itchiness is slowly going away. It's still hard to look at her fading spots. There are just so many!

They have no idea what caused this, which is unsettling to me. I'm afraid if I give her a bite of something, or if she smells a flower in the garden she'll keel over in anaphylactic shock. I know, Mital and hubs, "catastrophization" at its finest.

So, we march on. Doing hard things.
Praying that "something" doesn't cause another allergic reaction.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hushed: True Beauty Conversations

My friend Melissa and I are continuing our conversation about Beauty this morning. We've been talking about True Beauty through a series of letters on Fridays: What is Beauty? What will we tell our daughters about Beauty? We're so glad you're joining us. We would love to hear from you!


My girls have an obsession with Goodnight Moon.
It's not what you'd expect. They're not excited about seeing the moon or the cow jumping over the moon. Not even the kittens who they'll meow for are the reason this book is so dearly loved.
As soon as they hear me say "And a bowl full of mush...", both girls are holding little fingers to their wide open mouth in joyful anticipation. They're waiting for the moment when they can say, "Hush!"

I feel hushed.

I've felt this way for a couple weeks now. I guess you can feel that a little from the my Living the Truth post and the silence on my blog.

Who am I (so fallible, so prideful, so weak!) to sit and write or speak of anything holy?
Who am I to have been invited into His Story?
And the Accuser darts in to make me feel guilty for this time of hush, for speaking what I can't manage to live, or even for putting myself out there at all. "Retreat!" he cries and perhaps I listen too often to the wrong voice. I find myself quickly buried under an avalanche of perceived expectations, failures, and criticism.

And there's only one way to get out from underneath an avalanche of this size:

To Count Truth.

To Count Grace.
To Count the Moments.
To Count Beauty Bestowed.

My gratitude journal lies empty this week, some little girl ran off with it and I have seen no need to hunt it down. And because it is missing, I haven't stopped to savor beauty. I haven't truly seen the things in my life that are truth.
Whatever is lovely... think on it.

Two girls are screaming now rather than napping... cutting these last 8 teeth between them has been hard work. The only truth that I can meditate on is:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heaven. ~Ecclesiastes 3:1
And that is a beautiful truth. A truth worth being repeated daily to myself.

Teething is a season, and it will soon pass. Savor those moments snuggling that poor baby.

Being hushed is a season, and it will soon pass. Savor those moments of having a quiet and broken spirit and use them to fill yourself with the beautiful truths found only in the word of God.

I Took Him By the Left Leg and Threw Him Down the Stairs

That is a line in a nursery rhyme in one of the books my girls have--no joke.

Goosey Goosey Gander whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs in my lady's chamber.
There I met an old man who would not say his prayers,
I took him by the left leg and threw him down the stairs.
We skip that one. Actually, we skip quite a few. The girls, occasionally, wave at the skipped pages as we pass them by--maybe they want those pictures to get a little attention too. Regardless, it's pretty cute.

Awhile back MandyE brought up the use of the "f" word in a lot of children's books. Since reading her post, I've found myself using the word "round" instead "fat".

What did you think the "f" word was?

Maybe you think that's crazy; as one of the commenters to MandyE's post pointed out, "fat" is just an adjective. Granted. It is. Still--it's an adjective that I'd prefer our girls not use, right along with "stupid" and "dumb".


In the same spirit as MandyE's post, I've found myself much more aware of the words and messages that are in the books I read to the girls. Among other things, I've noticed a lot of violence, namely, in nursery rhymes:
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
Down will come baby, cradle and all.

Jack fell down and broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King's horses and all the King's men

Could not put Humpty together again.
The King of Hearts
Called for the tarts,
And beat the Knave full sore.
The Knave of Hearts
Brought back the tarts,
And vowed he'd steal no more. 
The old woman living an a shoe beat her children and sent them to bed hungry.

We just change the the lyrics on that one:
She gave them some broth and pleny of bread,
Then kissed them all soundly and put them to bed.
While I realize, the girls just like the rhythm of the words, and aren't so much comprehending what the words mean. Still, I can't help but think about the day when they start asking questions about the words--I'd rather not have to explain some if it.

Has anyone else ever thought about this?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hello Marilyn!

In true Marilyn fashion, my Hadley decided that she loves dancing on the register when the air conditioning is blowing.

The car in her hands? Just her twist on the classic:

Marilyn Monroe's white dress

Project 52: Glimpse Into Motherhood

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Stopping a Moment From Running Away

I found this weekly photo photo challenge that works really well here. I love quotes, and I love taking pictures--Quotography! Perfect.

This week's topic: photography. I am not a photographer, but I like to pretend that I am, and I sure like to take lot of pictures of our girls.
A good snapshot stops moments from running away. ~Eudora Welty

I remember this day. The girls were starting to play together, and entertain each other--both giggling.


Quotography at {My}Perspective

Twinfatuation: Way Back When-nesday.

Boob Juice Cocktails

Yes, I did just use the word "boob" in a title.

Moving on.

So. On my facebook page last week, I recounted a conversation with our nurse at the girls’ 15 month well-check up that went like this:

Nurse: You’re not still doing that breastfeeding thing, are you?

Me: Ummm….yes.

Enter crickets and awkward silence.

Definitely know what her thoughts are on breastfeeding toddlers. Sheesh!

I was recounting this to my bestie, who's still nursing her 22 month old, and she said this—“Breastfeeding should become like a callous.”

She’s right. It should.

When a new mom reveals that she’s breastfeeding, we applaud her. Well done, you!

When that same mom with a 15 or 18 or 23 month old reveals that she’s still breastfeeding, it’s not so much applause anymore. It’s often this awkwardness of a person staring at you with, “Wow, isn’t he/she/they a little old to still be on the teat?” going on in his head.

Instead of people becoming accustomed and accepting of the fact that a mom has made the choice to breastfeed, it goes from being something worth cheering about, to being this uncomfortable thing we aren’t going to talk about. Instead of people becoming “calloused” to the idea of breastfeeding, the reverse happens, it goes from a no-big-deal-callous to a sore; an open sore right on your face where people awkwardly avoid looking at you.

Why is that?

Seriously, I'm asking.

I mean, we all have a value system, right? And when something bumps up against what we think is acceptable, we raise our eyebrows.

But. But, why is breastfeeding beyond a year seen as a negative thing by so many? Why is it one of those things that causes eyebrow raises?

Do people not know how cool breastmilk is?! Check it out:

So, Brad comes home from work and gives me a kiss. He also gives me the germs from that lady who coughed on him in the elevator. Yummy. My body takes elevator-lady's germs, and makes antibodies, which go right into my breastmilk. The girls gulp down the boob juice, as my husband calls it, full of all those antibodies, which helps them fight off elevator-lady's coughing germs, which they were exposed to when Brad kissed them. Follow?

Isn’t that so cool?! Nature’s perfect cocktail. Don’t you kinda want some, served up with one of those little umbrellas? It’s ever-changing, and perfectly adjusted. Don't you wish everything was like breastmilk? It makes me want to breastfeed, like, for forever (don’t worry, I won’t).

This isn’t a knock at women who aren’t/didn’t breastfeed. Seriously, no judgments. This breastfeeding thing is hard business! We’re all just trying to survive. You just do what works.

But—for those who have gutted it out one year and beyond—you deserve one big round of applause! No matter how many comments, or strange looks you get--you just keep on servin' up those boob juice cocktails!

Okay, I need to say this. Nursing twins is a completely differnt ball of wax. If you haven't done it, let me just go over a few of the challenges that twin mamas might deal with:

weak latch, or a baby that's too small to latch; NICU time, which inevitably leads to bottles, which can lead to nipple confusion; traumatic birth experiences, which affects milk coming in; supply issues to feed two infants---just to name a few.

That's to say nothing about caring for two infants at the same time. And, and--let's not forget those crazy hormones coursing through our bodies. It's all hard, exhausting business.

So--twin mamas may have some, or all of that to battle against in order to have a successful breastfeeding relationship. It is SO hard. Without lots of support, I would have never been able to do it. Truthfully, if I had had to go back to work, I would have never been able to do it either. I'm fortunate, I get to stay home, and for awhile, the ONLY thing I had to worry about was nursing the girls and working on my supply. There's no way I would have been able to do that with a job.

I'm so thankful that we're still nursing, but a whole lot of things were in place to make that possible.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

10 Things I've Learned About Toddlers (So Far)

1. Food tastes better when it's attached to a spoon or fork.

2. Toddlers want to do it themselves. That makes the food taste even better. 

3. Toddlers fall down. A lot. It's okay; don't freak out, even though you want to. Most of the time they just shake it off, but they will cry if they see that you're upset. Use your best p-p-p-p-poker face.

4. Toddlers will get lots of unexplainable scrapes and bruises (see #3).

5. Toddlers like to help pick up (and sometimes they even clean). "Go pick up the yellow stacking cup," or "What else belongs in this bag?" They're smart little whips---my girls get so excited when they figure out what toy I'm referring to, and quickly toddle over. My girls actually race to see who can pick up the toy first. I know, I'm milking this one for all it's worth!

Here is a picture of Hadley wiping down a board book with a dryer sheet, actually. I think she's seen me sterilize every page of every board book with antibacterial wipes a few too many times. Whatever. I'll take it!

6. Toddlers love, love, love to go outside. It's a great way for them to burn off energy!

7. Toddlers need baths more frequently. See #2 and #6.

8. Don't underestimate your toddler. Here's my husband's facebook status the other night:
Apparently Hadley did not like us using Eucerin on her dry skin. I found the jar of it floating in the toilet...with the toilet lid down...and the child proof safety latch in the locked position. She's good. Maybe too good.
9. Toddlers love to be praised! Everyone wants to hear that they're doing a good job. Praise a toddler, and you'll get more of a good thing. When we go outside, the rule is that the girls must hold my hand. Hadley likes to let go and venture off on her own. The other night when she was about to let go, I told her what a great job she was doing of holding my hand. You know what? She smiled at me and tightened her grip.

10. Jedi mind tricks work on your toddler.  If one of the girls is doing what they are supposed to, I heap on the praise. The other twin quickly follows suit (see #9).


Monday, May 23, 2011

Taking Time to Smell the Roses Thanks

682. Smelling the peonies.

683. Hangin in the garden with our girls.

684. Freshly painted deck furniture.

685. New toy.

686. Baby sign language. 

687. Successful three days of solo parenting while Brad was out of town.

688. Playdate with Becca and the Bain twins.

689. Negative strep test.

690. Stargazing.

holy experience

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Moments Like These

Awhile back Multiples and More posed the question, "Does it get easier?"

I wanted to respond, I really did. Every time I think about those early days with two itty bitty infants I seriously get tears in my eyes.

It. Was. SO. Hard.

I was incredibly overwhelmed.

I fought tears every day as my husband walked out the door to go to work. He plays in a baseball league every spring/summer/fall--I prayed like no body's business for rain last season.

Being by myself with two infants was incredibly hard. I was outnumbered and felt completely and totally unqualified to be a mama.

I couldn't figure out how to get them down for naps consistently.
It seemed like they cried if I left them for even a second.
I felt like all I did was nurse them.

Hardest thing I've ever done!

I think it does get easier. Some would disagree, and say it's always hard, just a different kind of hard.

It definitely gets more fun!

There are moments like these:


All the stress, all the tears, all the "overwhelmedness".

Totally worth it!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Real Cinderella: True Beauty Conversations

My friend Melissa and I are continuing our conversation about Beauty this morning. We've been talking about True Beauty through a series of letters on Fridays: What is Beauty? What will we tell our daughters about Beauty? We're so glad you're joining us. We would love to hear from you!


Hi, it's me again! In an effort to respond to both of your letters, Melissa, as I said I would, I'm back again this week, addressing these words.

I don't think Cinderella's life was all that glamorous. I mean--glass slippers?! Ouch!

Give me running shoes any day!

That's to say nothing about the dress:

I bet she just threw some coins in that fountain, and is peering at her reflection, wishing that cinched waistband felt more like yoga pants.

Extend yourself some grace, Melissa. Life isn't a fairytale. Marriage isn't a fairytale; not even close.

I think your words resonate with a lot of mamas; they sure resonated with me, and there is no baby cookin' in this oven!

Our princes walk in the door, and all we want is a break. We see them as our knights in shining armor, rescuing us from the constantness of motherhood--and we want that rescue to begin immediately!

Our princes want to rescue their lady, they really do, but they want to kiss their bride and all of that gushy stuff.
Read the rest at Melissa's.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ten Kitchen Tricks on Tuesday

1. Juicing a Lemon/Lime. Put the lemon in the microwave for 30 seconds. You'll get more juice out of it if it's heated up a bit.

2. Grating Cheese. Put the cheese and the grater in the freezer for 10 minutes before grating. This prevents the cheese from sticking to the grater.

3. Measuring sticky stuff. Before putting peanut butter, honey, corn syrup or molasses into a measuring cup/spoon, spray it with cooking spray. The contents of the measuring cup all slide right out.

4. Hard brown sugar. Instead of throwing it away, put a piece of bread in the bag. The sugar will absorb the dampness in the bread, and soften.

5. Calcium deposits in teapot. When you see calcium deposits floating in your teapot, pour in vinegar, bring to a boil, let it cool and soak. After a few hours, pour out and rinse.

6. Peeling peaches/nectarines/plums. Cut an X in the fruit then put them in boiling water for about 45 seconds (maybe a few seconds longer for firmer fruit). Then remove and put them in ice water. The skin peels right off. It's quick and easy!

7. Measuring herbs. If the recipe calls for fresh herbs, and all you have is dried, use half the amount it calls for. Contrarily, if you have fresh herbs, and the recipe calls for dried, use twice as much.

8. Separating coffee filters. Instead of fumbling with the coffee filters to get one separated out to make your early morning cup of joe, gently blow air onto them. It's silly, but they separate really easily that way.

9. Peeling garlic. Microwave garlic cloves for 15 seconds, and the peel slips right off.

10. Hard cheese. To prevent cheese from getting hard and crusty at the ends, rub a little bit of butter the exposed end.

Let's hear it! What are your kitchen tips?