Thursday, June 30, 2011

Surefire Way to Wear Toddlers Out

  1. Find an open field.
  2. Give everyone a ball.
  3. Run as much as possible.
The End.

Project 52: Glimpse Into Motherhood

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I Am Beautiful. Just Thought You Should Know

True Beauty Conversations have been quiet for two weeks now. 110% my fault.

We'd talked about getting some guest writers. Melissa got one, and then I dropped the ball. In my own lame defense, I did send out a couple emails, but people are busy. So--I've got nothin'.

Still, the issue of beauty, and what "beauty" means, and how to do a good job of raising two little girls in a world that focuses on what we look like, rather than what is on the inside, presents itself to me over and over again (how's that for a run-on sentence?). In short, I find myself reeling with the task of raising two little girls.

Lisa Bloom wrote this amazing article about how to talk to little girls (I can't wait to read her book, Think: Strait Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World) . Mandy wrote a beautiful post about what makes her feel beautiful.

It's all around me, and I feel it necessary to be constantly vigilant to the cultural influences that my daughters will inevitably be exposed to at some point. I want them to know that they don't need to be a princess to be beautiful.

Ms. Bloom is so right, telling little girls they are beautiful doesn't boost their self-esteem. I can tell you first hand, praising Hadley for completing a puzzle goes much further. Mandy is right too, reading a story to Brynne certainly makes me feel beautiful, and I know she loves to read and make connections.

So, reading all this good writing and all my thoughts swirling--it inspires me to write.


This morning's boot camp was yoga.

For once, the St. Louis humidity took it's swampyness to Louisiana, or some other state where they actually have swamps.

It was the perfect morning.  As we yogaed, the rising sun warmed my face and the cool breeze caressed my skin. Body strong, arms stretched to the sky, breathing in God.

In that moment, I felt beautiful. I was beautiful.

That's pretty bold, you might say. It is. My toes are twitching with uncomfortableness to tell you, I'm beautiful.

I am beautiful, because I am strong. I can hold both my daughters in my the same time.

I am beautiful, because I breathe in God every day.

I am beautiful, because I love and am loved.
To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides. ~David Viscott

Sharing this here. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Orange and Green

So. The other day I learned what Brad's favorite color is.

Yup, it's orange and green, equally (in case you were wondering).

I have no idea how I failed to know this until now. It's one of those things I'd think I would have thought to know about the person I'm married to. It's not life-changing, or perspective-changing, really. Just one of those random facts that I feel like I should know about the person who fathered my children.

Yesterday I learned something new about God. Don't you love it when that happens? It's invigorating and exciting! It's like:
Wow! Really?! He does that?!
Yesterday I heard a sermon from the book of Luke (excellent sermon--I highly suggest you check it out!). I enjoy reading Luke, I think it's my favorite gospel to read. Luke was a doctor. He wrote with great compassion, sensitivity, and used a lot of women to make some great points. In the parable I want to talk about, The Parable of the Lost Coin, the woman is God.

I love that. I love thinking about God as a woman. A mother, who opens her arms and draws me in close to her bosom, strokes my hair, kisses my head, loves me so much it aches, and smells like home cookin'. I can relate to that.

Truly, God is neither man, nor woman--he created both, and is both, but we call him, Him all the time, so I think it's easy to forget about the motherly, nurturing, gentle characteristics that He possesses. The strong, fatherly, Savior, Deliverer, Creator, stuff sort of over-shadows the gentleness (for me, at least).

The The Parable of the Lost Coin is short, (Luke 15:8-10):
Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of angels of God over one sinner who repents.
So, remember, the woman is God. She rejoices. She rejoices.

When I ask for forgiveness, God rejoices!

God dances and rejoices in the presence of his angels, because I've sought forgiveness.

I'd never realized before yesterday that it isn't the angels that are rejoicing (they're already praising him all the time), it's God. God's doing the rejoicing!

Doesn't that just fill your heart with joy?! God, the creator of the whole world, throws his hands in the air, waves them around like he just don't care, when you seek forgiveness.

In short, you seek forgiveness, he boogies down! He celebrates!

I wonder if it would be effective for me to start dancing jigs and cheering every time Hadley gives Brynne back the toy she yanks away, or if Brynne would decide to share one of the two soccer balls we have with Hadley.

God knows and loves each of us deeper and wider and fuller be than I have the capacity to love my daughters, and he dances when we seek him. He cares that much.
Wow! Really?! He does that?! 
Yes. Yes he does.


Counting my gifts today:

728. Watermelon faces.

729. Black raspberry face.

730. Hadley helping her mama stuff diapers.

731. Two naps.

732. Watching my parents interact with the girls.

733. Hadley puzzling with her grandma.

734. Brynne getting lessons on how to propel herself on the car from her grandma.

735. Hadley being taught by her grandma how to swing her leg over to get on and off the car. 

736. Pigtails.

737. Brynne walking backwards with her grandpa.

738. Girls playing in a field.

739. Brynne picking yellow flowers and handing them to her mama. 

holy experience

Thursday, June 23, 2011


On facebook the other day, a fellow twin mama commented that,
"Herding wet cats would have to be easier than getting the girls' hair into pigtails."
I quite agree, so I stopped with one. For all the wrangling it took to get it done, the results are pretty cute:

Project 52: Glimpse Into Motherhood

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why I Will Never Live in Texas Again

A snake. A potty. And lots of screaming.

Sounds like a horror movie, or just a bad movie. Snakes on a Plane, without the plane or Samuel L. Jackson?

Nope. Sorry to disappoint. Snake/potty/screaming = my first memory.

Maybe this revelation clears a few things up for you.


I grew up in Texas, just outside of Dallas. We lived next to a big cattle ranch. We had an orchard full of pear trees, a few chickens, and got our milk at a local dairy. It sounds quite lovely doesn't it? Don't be fooled.

I have memories of going to get my papa, and his thick-soled shoes, to step on a scorpion that was scurrying across our kitchen floor *shudder*. This alone is a good reason never to live in Texas. You just never know where those suckers might hiding.

One day, little me, barely potty trained, was sitting on the toilet minding (and doing) my business. When suddenly a snake came out from behind the sink. It was a big snake, and I was little, and on the potty. Two factors that fostered pure helplessness. So, I let out a blood-curdling scream, to which my parents came running. I'm  pretty sure my bladder emptied too.

I remember that my papa picked the snake up with a wire hanger, and dropped it in the bathtub. We watched all four feet of it, hissing angrily and writhing around on the white porcelain while he determined the best way to go about killing the beast.

After it's demise, Papa fed it to our chickens. I think maybe he thought it would be therapeutic to watch something so terrifying being pecked into nothingness. I'm not sure it was....

So, Texas, you can have your mild winters, The Alamo, your scorpions, your snakes and your obsession with high school football. You grow everything bigger there, and that's great, but I'll take the Midwest with our puny, pencil-sized grass snakes any day.

A few weeks back Natalie from Mommy of a Monster & Twins wrote a post about how her poor dog was attacked by a rattlesnake in their backyard. I sent her an email commiserating about just how much I hated snakes too, briefly gave a description of my first memory as to why, and sent her a picture of this Gary Larson cartoon:


I think Gary might be on to something.

Anyway, Natalie replied that I should write about my memory. I didn't think much of it. I mean--it was hazy, since I was probably two-ish. Still, the idea has stuck with me, because I've been thinking a lot about memories lately.

The girls will soon be at an age where something they experience will be significant enough to stick with them for the rest of their lives. Someday, we'll be kicking back drinking wine, and the girls will tell tales of remembering their mama standing naked in the bathroom or something.

Gasp, I know. Time to invest in a robe! Hopefully it won't be that traumatic.

Do you remember your first memory?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Permission to Fail

Sometimes Brad and I sit around and talk about the Bible. What we've read, what we're learning, what God is showing us. Those times are precious. Some of my favorite conversations with him.

Recently, we were talking about the book of Ecclesiastes. We'd both recently read it.

Eugene Peterson describes Ecclesiastes as a bath. It scrubs us clean of the illusion that:
...we can live our lives by ourselves on our own terms.
Once we read Ecclesiastes, we are ready for Jesus.

It certainly was no coincidence that Ecclesiastes had come up more than one time recently.

For the past two weeks we'd been in the throes of transitioning the girls to one nap. I came up with a master plan, and we'd been executing that plan, bwahahaaaaa. Well, mostly, I'd been executing the master plan. Brad has been traveling a lot this month, so I've dealt with two tired, fussy, toddlers on my own.

Tired, fussy toddlers--the product of my master plan.

You see, sometimes I forget to have a chat with Jesus about all of this parenting business. I mean Jesus never had any children with nap schedules. Yikes, right? My arrogant heart needed the "bath" that is Ecclesiastes. My spirit needed to be scrubbed of the idea that I was in control, and that my "master plan" was somehow superior to anything that Jesus could help me out with.

So, on day three of Brad's most recent business trip, I just didn't know what do to. I felt like a fish flopping around on the sandy beach.

What the cuss? I had a master plan? (Have you seen the movie, Fantastic Mr. Fox? If you haven't, you should). Why wasn't my master plan working?

In that miserable, flopping place, that is where I met Jesus. Funny how sometimes I have to get to that point of utter and complete failure and "I-just-don't-know-what-to-do-ness" to realize that Jesus is right there, waiting for me.

So, after talking with Jesus, and having him remind me that, while he didn't actually parent any children while he was here on earth, he did create nap schedules, so I could consider him a reliable source for nap consultation. And, after talking with Brad, we decided that we'd surrender, wave the white flag, and fail.  

Jesus, Brad, me---we all decided we'd go ahead and go back to two naps a day. I've never felt more peace about failure before in my life. It feels good. The girls are back to their happy-toddler selves, and the angst of "I-just-don't-know-what-to-do-ness" is gone.

Sometimes, we just need permission to fail.


Counting my gifts today:

717. Northside Dairy Haven.

718. Nap encouragement from friends.

719. Email from Melissa suggesting that it was okay to go back to two naps a day.

720. Lots of fun outings with the girls!

721. The girls making connections from the things they learn in books to the real world.

722. Gardenin' shoes.

723. The girls' awesome papa!

725. Sunshine.

726. Hydrangeas.

727. Gladiolas

holy experience

Saturday, June 18, 2011


It's actually the title of a book. Have you read it?

In my quest to sidle up alongside Jesus to do a good job of raising my girls, I thought I should do a little reading, so I'd know what to do. I thought this was a good idea, since I'm the enforcer, and Jesus isn't the one telling the girls to, "Sit on your bottom on the couch," 27 times a day. Although, I really wish he would. I bet they'd listen him.

Anyway. We all come to parenting with "stuff", right?

The therapist in me thinks it's a good idea to know what your "stuff" is and to stare it right in the face, maybe smack it around when it tries to get cheeky.

The wife/mama/sister/daughter in me really wants to do that, but it's really hard to face your "cheeky stuff" sometimes; it's much easier to run away and deny plausibility.

Well, the therapist in me won. I don't want to let Jesus down, after all. So, a friend lent me the book, and I've read it (I know, an amazing feat with twins--tell me about it!).

So, here's what I've learned about myself and my boundaries: I often feel responsible for other people's feelings. Mostly, the negative ones.

It's crazy. It's actually really difficult for me to be around people when they are quietly upset/angry/frustrated, because I feel like it must, somehow, be my fault. So, when my husband seems upset, he has to hear me ask, "Is everything alright? Did I do something?" about 43 times (which is even more times than I ask the girls to sit down on the couch). Good thing he's such a patient guy.

Boundaries are not walls. And boundaries are a good thing!
Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that's where life starts. ~Proverbs 4:23
So, our quest, me and Jesus, is to help our girls not to inherit this "cheeky stuff" of mine.

Feelings are each person's own responsibility, no one else's.

I've had the chance to practice this recently, and I can't tell you how freeing it is to be around someone who is upset, and not feel responsible. The twisting in my stomach, the worry, the anxiety---gone! Ah! Thank you, Jesus!

I try hard to practice this in parenting. I don't want my girls to feel responsible for my, or anyone else's feelings.

One example the book gave of inadvertently teaching this was: a relative of a little boy asked a him sit on their lap, because they were sad, and told the him that if he would sit there for a bit, it would make person happy. Thus, teaching the child that he was responsible for his relative's happiness.

This played out for me the other day. I was going out of town for the day, and as I was getting ready to leave, the girls were playing, and having a good time with their papa. They were uninterested in saying goodbye to me, and said no to hugs and kisses that would interrupt their fun with Papa.

You know what? I was okay with that! If my girls don't want to be hugged or kissed or picked up or to sit on my lap, that's 100% okay. That's their boundary.

Truth be told, I was actually kind of proud. It means that, so far, Jesus and I are doing our job.

I want to teach Brynne and Hadley that they are responsible for their own bodies and their own feelings. They can say "no" to anyone, anytime if it's not something that they are comfortable or even just interested in doing (exceptions are when it's a discipline or a safety issue).

Conversely, my prayer is that those around them will respect their "nos". Whether it's boys when the girls are 22 and finally allowed to date (okay, okay, maybe 21), or relatives who come to visit them at 16.5 months.

When I left for the day, and didn't give or receive hugs and kisses, that was okay, because--It's not about me. It was about the girls, and their right, their boundary to say "no". I'm not responsible for their "no"---they are. What I am responsible, is for the way I handle their "no". I took a deep breath, smiled, waved and walked out the door.

When I got home? I was showered with hugs and kisses! Best. Homecoming. Ever.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Duck Tales

A couple weeks ago we took the girls to the zoo.

They loved it! They would point at the animals, and babble excitedly. (Hadley is looking beyond the camera at a monstrous black rhinoceros--man, those things are big!).

I love that the girls can read about animals in books, and then see them in real life too!  

I have no idea if they made the connection that they were seeing the live version of what they've seen in books, or not, but it was fun to see all the animals. I pointed the animals out, and referenced lines from our books all along the way, anyway.

So, fast forward to today. We're transitioning to one nap. They are so very tired in the mornings, so I've been trying to get them out after breakfast, before the heat of the day, to take a walk or run an errand, so that they can rest in their carseat or the stroller.

One place we visit a couple times a week is a nature reserve, comprised of wetlands, prairie and forest. Much of the path is shaded and cool and it is teeming with wildlife.

Part of the path goes out over the marsh. I'm so thankful that the path is wide enough to accommodate the double stroller. On the path we: hear frogs singing, see dragonflies dancing, ducks floating, turtles sunning themselves, fish tails flicking, snakes slithering *shudder*, and one day we even saw a beaver carrying a log to his dam!

Today, as we went along, I was pointing out the dragonflies and the sounds of the frogs singing, as usual. Just ahead of us I saw something moving in the reeds. Suddenly, five startled ducks were madly flapping their wings, one of which flew up on the path right in front of us! It waddled along in front of the stroller for a few moments before hopping back in the water.

The girls got so excited, exclaiming, "Duck, duck! And making their duck noises. All the way home Brynne was repeating the word "duck" and then making her duck noise, which actually sounds like a siren, "Aawha aawha aawha."

When we got home, we had lunch and then settled down to read a few stories before naptime. I asked the girls to pick out books to read. Brynne very excitedly brought me Little Quack Counts, full of dragonflies, fish, frogs, turtles and ducks.

She made the connection. Be still my heart!

Sleepy Babies

So. We're transitioning to one nap.

It's been rough.

We're tired. 

Project 52: Glimpse Into Motherhood

Monday, June 13, 2011



Inhale; belly rises.
Exhale; belly falls.

Sometimes I just need to breathe.

It's so simple, breathing. It's involuntary. Constant. 

When I think about it though; breathe with my belly instead of my chest, I imagine God pouring himself into me. Pouring calm, pouring peace--till I feel full up to the brim.

I've needed his pouring this week; I've needed to do lots of breathing. It's been a hard week. Full of fussy toddlers, difficult situations and spilled milk.

So, I breathe.

Inhale; belly rises.
Exhale; belly falls.
Thy fishes breathe but where thy waters roll; thy birds fly but within thy airy sea,
My soul breathes only in thy infinite soul; I breathe, I think, I love, I live but thee.
Oh breathe, oh sink--O Love, live into me...
~George MacDonald.
Counting my gifts amidst the hard stuff:

712. Hadley trying on mama's shoes.

713. Cute way to keep hair out of eyes.

714. Sunday finest.

715. Orange.

716. Daylilies.

holy experience

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Mom Pledge: I'll Meet You in the Field

My bloggy friend, MandyE wrote this great post the other day about being supportive to mamas, whether we agree with one another or not--avoiding the "mama wars" that are out there.

This led to me Holly's post about The Mom Pledge (see below).

BWS tips button

The Mom Pledge

I am proud to be a mom. I will conduct myself with integrity in all my online activities. I can lead by example.

I pledge to treat my fellow moms with respect. I will acknowledge that there is no one, "right" way to be a good mom. Each woman makes the choices best for her family.

I believe a healthy dialogue on important issues is a good thing. I will welcome differing opinions when offered in a respectful, non-judgmental manner. And will treat those who do so in kind.

I stand up against cyber-bullying. My online space reflects who I am and what I believe in. I will not tolerate comments that are rude, condescending or disrespectful.

I refuse to give those who attack a platform. I will remove their remarks with no mention or response. I can take control.

I want to see moms work together to build one another up, not tear each other down. Words can be used as weapons. I will not engage in that behavior.

I affirm that we are a community. As a member, I will strive to foster goodwill among moms. Together, we can make a difference.

Isn't that lovely?

So, I have to admit. When I first read it, I was pumped and enthusiastic. Mama cheerleader. I quickly tucked my pompoms away in shame when I realized that I had broken this:

I refuse to give those who attack a platform. I will remove their remarks with no mention or response. I can take control.

I've written two separate posts calling out my anonymous commenters. I, not only gave them a platform, I gave them my time, my emotional energy, and I added negativity to my niche of the Internet and just to the world in general.

Don't get me wrong. I believe everything I said about saying negative, hurtful things under the guise of anonymity. Those people are bullies and jerks.  

But--fighting negativity with negativity is wrong. I was a jerk. I was wrong.

So--I am pledging. All negative comments will be deleted without acknowledgement or blog post :)

I pledge to be kind.
I pledge to do no harm.
I pledge to love.
I pledge to try super hard not to be a jerk.

Whether I agree with you or not.

We all share in a common experience: mothering.

Cloth diapers vs. Disposable
Breastmilk vs. Formula
Sleep training

There are so many things to think about when you're a mama. It's overwhelming and exhausting. But--we all, every one of us, is doing the best we can for our families. We're all connected by strands in this big web of mothering; we belong to each other.
Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there. ~Rumi
Will you join me, and take the pledge too?

Friday, June 10, 2011

True Beauty Conversations: New Perspectives

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!


Julia and I are starting to feel that we've covered most everything we set out to cover from the beginning, not exhaustively by any means.  However, we've done the best we can with our God-given abilities.

But we're not sure this is finished.


Because there are millions of women on this planet all with their own experiences and God-granted insights on beauty.

Today I'm going to feature one of them, but first I wanted to ask you, beautiful readers, if you would like to contribute to our conversation? 

Have the truths in this series changed the way you've thought about yourself or beauty in general?

Did we miss something important that you'd like to cover?

Do you have older girls than ours and want to give us few tips on parenting daughters who embody and know what true beauty is?

Are you a husband or father (I know there are a few of you who drop by... don't be shy!) who wants to say something to the wives and daughters?

If so, we want to hear your thoughts.  Please drop us a line through either a comment or an email (you can find our emails on our blogger profiles) and let us know that you have a new perspective on this conversation.  We'll be honored to feature you.

Now, let's hear a little from my friend Jen.

I've known Jen since our junior year in college.  My roommate and I had moved in and so had most of the other new students, but our transfer student from San Diego had not arrived.  We were all anticipating her arrival.  Seriously, how did a sophisticated city girl from the west coast end up at a tiny Christian college in the foothills of South Carolina?

After hearing that very question approximately 4 million times, quirky Jen began to respond with: "I stood with my back to a map of the US and I threw a dart.  Where ever it landed I looked for the closest school!"

Her humor and gentle care won over the whole dorm.  Soon she was ringleader for mattress surfing in the hallways and had encouraged all the girls to open shops in their room with their hidden talents.  Jen served up coffee, hot cocoa, laughter, and honest conversation in her dorm room.
Jen and her future husband Abel in 2005
And not much has changed in all the years I've known her.  She may have married sweet Abel the woodsman,  she may have traveled the world, and she may be suffering from a mysterious neurological disorder that leaves her thoughts scattered and sometimes irretrievable-- but when you're with Jen you feel like you're the only thing that matters to her and that your conversation is the most important thing in her life.

I hope you'll catch a little bit of that spirit in this letter she wrote me.
True beauty?

I had been reading your blogs over the last few weeks and had been truly
intrigued with your conversation about beauty. I, like every other girl in the world,
struggles with the idea of beauty, who has it and doesn’t? Why some are seen as
beautiful on the outside but are secretly dying on the inside?

I feel as though I have never reached the beauty standards of our world, most
days I am okay with that. Then there are the moments when my confidence and
security in God’s love comes crashing down, and I see myself as the ugly duck
and the tsunami wave of insults overtake my mind and body.

In those moments of darkness, because that is what they are, I saw myself
without God (light), and without HIS beauty. I fooled myself into thinking that if
I just had the right clothing then I would be beautiful. And when that didn’t work, maybe, if I loose a few pounds... and anorexia was my solution. Surely, I thought after loosing 45 pounds
I could find beauty in myself and so would others. But I was wrong once again.
Only after a moving 3,000 miles away from home, pouring myself into God’s
word to find comfort, and new found friends would my image of beauty change.

I still struggle daily to find God’s love when I look in the mirror. I am tempted
when I see something that I do not like, to starve myself again, to start throwing
insults at myself.

But only by God’s amazing GRACE am I able to see a beautiful
daughter who was made in HIS image. That HE carved out each curve and
dimple, and made an incredible man to LOVE each wrinkle, gray hair, and hairy

I feel as though, as long as we live in a sinful world we will always struggle with
the image of beauty. Although, we as HIS daughters, have one advantage:

HIS gracious and amazing LOVE.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Afternoon Delight

Rising temperatures have made it challenging for us to be outside for very long. Our solution? A $9 pool from Target.

Worth. Every. Penny.

Project 52: Glimpse Into Motherhood

Monday, June 6, 2011

Everything's a Miracle

703. This beautiful post.

So a bit more on it, in case you don't want to click over. I started reading Momastery months ago after reading this hillarious post about her toddler's meltdown in Target. Since that time I've continued to read. Glennon has such a passion for women---women struggling with recovery, with divorce, with heartache, or just with motherhood in general. We, the readers of her blog, adopt these philosophies: We Can Do Hard Things (sound familiar?), Love Wins, and We Belong to Each Other.

Her blog, Momastery, came about, because there are so many parallels between mothering and being a monk. It's holy work, this mothering business--molding and shaping little people, working alongside God, teaching them to love.

One thing at a time. Pay attention. Listen while you work. Everything’s a miracle.

Monks work to live that out. Wouldn't we all be better mothers, better people, if we approached everything this way?

I love this last one. Everything is a miracle. That's what I celebrate here--thanks = miracles.

All is grace = Everything's a miracle

Counting the rest of my miracles today:

704. The girls' first trip to the zoo.

705. A visit from their masi and masa.

706. Swimming in the backyard.

707. Smelling asiatic lilies.

708. Hollyhocks.

709. Pollen-covered noses.

710. Drinking wine from Barossa Valley.

711. New art.

holy experience