12.30.2009

God is My Strength

Yesterday was "one of those days." Both of the boys had colds - Jack was worse than Ben - and I was absolutely exhausted. They were uncomfortable, fussy and had MANY more runny noses and diapers than normal. Jack's eyes were crusted shut in the morning and his cough was heartbreaking. Both boys automatically started moving away when they even saw a tissue or even worse, the nasal aspirator. I was by myself and felt very frustrated.

It was rough.

But all through the day, two thoughts kept running through my mind: "God is my strength" and "The Lord will never give me more than I can handle."

It's amazing how much our thoughts can control our attitude.

The only way I can get through any situation is knowing that my Savior has given me the strength to do it. Looking back on the past eight months, it is only because of the Lord that I made it through.

Those nights that I only got two hours of sleep, God was there. The days that I didn't think I'd manage until my husband got home, God was there. The times when two hands just doesn't seem like enough, God was there.

This is the same God that gave me these two beautiful blessings. He knit them together in my womb and made them unique from any other person on earth. He gave them hope for a future. And He entrusted them to me. Not to be care for by myself, though. With His help. He gives me the strength I need to scrape their eyes clean or the patience and wisdom to know how to react to each of their needs. That's the Lord.

And that strength is freely given; we just need to ask for it.

12.28.2009

The Best Present EVER


Ben and Jack: my two BEST presents EVER!

12.24.2009

Amazing Recipe

My friend, Mary, made this for a Christmas brunch at MOPS last week. It was AMAZING! If you haven't already made a casserole for Christmas morning, you should try this one. It'll be on our table tomorrow!

Creme Brulee French Toast

Ingredients:
1 loaf French bread (or any crusty bread), buttered then cubed
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons light Karo syrup
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Melt butter, brown sugar and Karo over medium heat in a small saucepan. Stir until smooth. Pour mixture in a 13x9 casserole dish. Place bread on top, squeezing it in if you need. Whisk eggs, half and half, vanilla, Grand Marnier and salt in a large bowl until combined. Pour mix evenly over bread. Chill in the fridge overnight. In the morning: Let casserole come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake uncovered 35-45 minutes. Edges will be puffed and golden.

12.22.2009

Letting Him Help

This idea came from a friend in my MOPS group.

She suggested that we allow our husbands to spend time with our kids every so often. I know. Doesn't sound difficult to do, especially when there are so many things our husbands do for us! But she pointed out the fact that many women don't allow their husbands to help care for the kids so when they need help, the husbands don't know what to do! We need to let them practice.

Go grocery shopping for an hour or walk around the block. Meet a friend for coffee or visit with your mom. You are the mother, wife and primary caretaker and that comes with great responsibilities. Your kids and your husband rely on you for everything - the cleaning, the cooking, moral and emotional support - everything. But before you can take care of your family, you need to take care of yourself first.

Now, I'm not saying that you should neglect everything and leave because "Gosh, I need to take care of ME!" That is unhealthy. That attitude is the beginning of a downward spiral that will only lead you to frustration and feelings of entrapment. When you give yourself little moments to breathe, however, you are better able to take care of those you love most.

It's alright if the house is trashed when you return, or there is maple syrup on your rug. It's okay if your kids have junk food and spend the majority of the time wrestling or playing video games with dad. While these may not be typical "mommy" activities, they will not have a negative impact on their development as a stable human being. What's more important is that your husband is spending time with his kids, getting to know them, and building lasting memories... and YOU can get out of the house.

The other 'side' benefit my friend mentioned is the fact that your husband may come to really appreciate what you do everyday. Not only do you care for the kids, but you also manage the laundry, prepare dinner, help with homework and write out your Christmas cards ALL AT THE SAME TIME! That can only happen if he's allowed the chance to see life through your lens.

So don't be afraid to get out the house every so often. Your whole family will thank you for it (and you'll be glad you did!)

12.21.2009

Letter from Jesus

Someone posted this on Facebook today and I thought it was worth sharing.

Letter from Jesus about Christmas

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival. Although I do appreciate being remembered anytime.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day, if you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that, let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santa’s and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, go look up John 15:1-8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up on your promise; it will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit-picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary-- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of Mine.

Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. and I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love, and remember: I LOVE YOU.

~JESUS

12.19.2009

Remember When

Christmastime is a time for reflection. Appreciation. Gratitude.

Take a moment and think about a favorite memory you have with your husband. When thirty-five of your relatives came to the restaurant to meet him. When your mom accidentally called herself his mother-in-law after you had only been dating four months. The awkwardness of your first kiss. The moment you first knew he was the man for you.

Then find a quiet moment alone with him. Perhaps it's in the car on the way to church, at the dinner table or in front of the glowing tree after the kids have gone to bed. Tell him your memory. Laugh. Reminisce. Chances are, the feelings will all come flooding in again, just as they did so many years ago.

We need to remember those little things, the stories that brought us together. It's another small way to keep the spark alive between a husband and a wife, especially when our focus is constantly being pulled in different directions.

12.18.2009

Remembering My Priorities

Christmas is a busy time. Presents, cookies, gift exchanges, parties... those things are fun, but they can also get very overwhelming.

This year, I'm making a conscious effort to enjoy the season with my family. Especially my boys, who will be experiening it for the first time this year! I don't want to be so busy trying to make cookies and wrap gifts so I neglect the very ones I'm doing it for.

I'm trying to remember my priorities... my husband, my kids, my family. If something gets in the way to challenge those top three spots, it's gone. It's not always easy - especially when there are so many things I WANT to do - but it's that important. That line between "want to" and "have to" is a lot bigger than we may realize.

12.17.2009

Enjoy the Moment


Enjoy the wonder of the season, as seeing it for the first time.

12.16.2009

Website

I was just introduced to a great website called Starfall:


It's an excellent source for kids learning to read using phonics! It has interactive games with letters (uppercase and lowercase) as well as TONS of different activities your child can do online for each holiday. Check it out!

12.15.2009

MOPS Cookie Exchange

We had a cookie exchange at MOPS today. Here are the delicious cookies and (some) of the recipes that were shared!


Orange Blossoms
2 sticks butter, softened
1 c. orange juice
1 c. sugar
4 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
1 tsp. almond
Mix all together. Drop by teaspoonfuls on cookie sheet. Bake at 350° for 9-11 minutes.
Frosting:
3 c. confectionery sugar
2 T. butter, melted
3 T. milk
½ orange rind, grated
1 tsp. almond
Mix and frost cookies when warm.



Peanut Toffee Chip Cookies
2 c. flour
2 c. cake flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1-1/2 c. butter (3 sticks,) room temperature
1 c. sugar
2/3 c. light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. toffee chips
2-1/2 c. chopped peanuts
     Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment. In small bowl, mix flours, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine sugars and butter, add eggs and vanilla, beat until combined. Add flour and mix just until combined. Stir in peanuts and toffee chips. Form 1-1/4” balls. Bake for 10-12 minutes.



Cherry Winks
1 c. sugar
¾ c. shortening
2 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
2-1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 c. chopped dates (optional)
1/3 c. chopped maraschino cherries, well drained
1-1/2 c. coarsely crushed cornflakes cereal
15 maraschino cherries, quartered
     Heat oven to 375°. Grease cookie sheets. In large bowl, combine sugar, shortening, milk, vanilla and eggs; beat well. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, dates and 1/3 cup chopped cherries; mix well. (If desired, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for easier handling.) Drop by teaspoonfuls into cereal; thoroughly coat. Form into balls; place 2” apart on greased cookie sheets. Lightly press maraschino cherry piece into top of each ball. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until light golden brown.



Jello Cookies
Step One:
Cream the following together in a small bowl:
¾ c. butter
½ c. sugar
1 and 3 oz. pkg. Jello
Step Two:
Add 2 eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla to the above mixture
Step Three:
Mix together in a separate bowl:
2-1/2 c. flour and 1 tsp. baking powder
     Mix flour into the creamy mixture and form into ball. Press with bottom of glass onto ungreased cookie sheet. Top with sprinkles, coconut, chocolate chips, cherry chips, etc. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes.


Peanut Butter Cookies
Mix together thoroughly:
½ c. shortening
½ c. peanut butter
½ c. sugar
½ c. brown sugar
1 egg
Sift together and stir in:
1-1/4 c. flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
     Chill dough. Roll into balls the size of large walnuts. Place 3” apart on lightly greased baking sheet. Flatten with fork dipped in flour. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until set.



Decadent Brownie Bars
Pastry Layer:
1-3/4 c. flour
½ c. sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ c. unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
1 egg
Brownie Layer:
½ c. unsalted butter
3 T. unsweetened cocoa
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 T. dark rum
¼ tsp. salt
¾ c. flour
-----
¾ c. raspberry preserves
¼ c. chopped pecans or hazelnuts
     Preheat oven to 375°. For the pastry layer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl and blend them together with a fork. Add the softened butter pieces and work them into the dry ingredients until the mixture represents small peas. Add one egg and stir with the fork until the pastry is well blended. Press the pastry into the bottom of an 8” square ungreased pan, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a cake-tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
     Meanwhile, prepare the brownie layer. First melt the butter in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over moderately low heat. Pour the butter into a mixing bowl. Add the cocoa to the butter and stir until blended. Stir in sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the rum, flour and salt.
     Remove the pastry from the oven briefly. Using a metal spatula, spread the pastry with raspberry preserves, then with brownie batter. Sprinkle the top evenly with hazelnuts and bake the confection for another 25-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Cut the brownies into bars before serving.


These shortbread cookies were delicious, but we could not find a recipe. Please email me (mindyjoy1999@yahoo.com) if you have the recipe for it. Thank you!


Buttery Spritz Cookies
1 c. sugar
1-½ c. butter (3 sticks,) softened
1 egg
4 c. flour
2 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. baking powder
Food coloring, optional
Colored sugar and decorating candies, optional
     In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and other ingredients. Gradually add to creamed mixture; mix well. Tint with food coloring if desired.
     Using a cookie press fitted with the disk of your choice, press dough 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Decorate as desired.
     Bake at 375° for 6-8 minutes or until set (do not brown). Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 7-1/2 dozen.


Thumbprint Cookies
1-1/3 c. margarine (2-3/4 sticks,) softened
2/3 c. brown sugar
2 egg yolks (save whites)
2-2/3 c. flour
2 tsp. almond
finely chopped nuts
strawberry/cherry preserves
     Cream margarine and brown sugar, egg yolk and almond extract. Gradually add flour until all ingredients are mixed well. Roll dough into balls. Dip in egg whites then finely chopped nuts. Put index finger in cookie and fill with favorite filling; options include strawberry, cherry, black berry and green jelly. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until set (do not brown.) Remove to wire racks to cool.



Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
2 c. butter, softened
1-1/2 c. sugar
1-1/2 c. packed brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. water
4-1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 tsp. salt
3 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. chopped walnuts
     In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, vanilla and water; beat until smooth. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Press into three greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pans. Bake at 375° for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

12.14.2009

Why Jesus is better than Santa

Santa lives at the North Pole.
JESUS is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh.
JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year.
JESUS is an ever present help.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies.
JESUS supplies all your needs.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited.
JESUS stands at your door and knocks.. and then enters your heart.

You have to stand in line to see Santa.
JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap.
JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is "Hi little boy or girl, What's your name?"
JESUS knew our name before we did. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future and He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly.
JESUS has a heart full of love.

All Santa can offer is HO HO HO.
JESUS offers health, help and hope.

Santa says "You better not cry."
JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you..."

Santa's little helpers make toys.
JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mansions.

Santa may make you chuckle but
JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

While Santa puts gifts under your tree.
JESUS became our gift and died on the tree.


It's obvious there is really no comparison. We need to remember WHO Christmas is all about. Jesus is still the reason for the season! :)

Taken from http://www.share-christmas.com/poems/santa_jesus/

12.13.2009

Meaning of the Candy Cane

The birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ are signified through the elements of the candy cane.



JESUS CHRIST is...
our Good Shepherd (staff shape) ~ 1 Pt. 5:4
our Rock (hard candy) ~ 1 Cor. 10:4
our Sinless Savior (white) ~ 2 Cor. 5:21
our Sacrifical Lamb (red) ~ Eph. 1:7

The STRIPES symbolize pain inflicted upon Jesus before his death on the cross and a bold stripe to represent the blood he shed for mankind. The three stripes can also represent the power and presence of the Trinity (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

The smell and taste of PEPPERMINT relate to the herb hyssop. Psalm 51:7 states, "Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean, wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."

The candy cane is meant to be shared -- broken into pieces for all to share. That reminds us of Jesus' words, "This is my body which is broken for you" (1 Cor. 11:24).

What a sweet way to share the Gospel!

Taken from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fourplusadragon/3098847287/

12.11.2009

Sarcasm Cuts Deep

My husband and I love to laugh. I think that's one of the healthiest things about our relationship. You have to be able to poke fun at the silly parts of your day to help you maintain sanity! But we have to be careful to be sure that sarcasm does not enter our jokes.

Wikipedia defines sarcasm as "a form of humor that uses sharp, cutting remarks or language intended to mock, wound, or subject to contempt or ridicule, generally saying the opposite of what the statement really is."

Ouch. Sarcasm may be funny, but not to everyone. It's very purpose is to make someone sound ridiculous in an effort to make ourselves sound better. Imagine if someone made a sarcastic comment after everything you said.

"I'm going to try and wake up a little earlier tomorrow." Yeah, like that's gonna happen.

"What would you like for dinner?" Oh, you're actually going to cook?

"Thank you for taking out the garbage." I'm surprised you even noticed.

It's like having Dr. Greg House (from the show, "House") following you around all day! Those little comments - no matter how innocent they may seem - do a lot in damaging someone's very being. It spreads negativity and could easily discourage anyone. Especially our family. Even an eye roll communicates idiocrisy and boredom.

I encourage you to laugh with your husband and kids, but be careful of the messages you may be sending. We want to build up our families, not tear them down.

12.09.2009

Spritz Cookies

Spritz Cookies are among my favorite for the holidays! You do need a hand-held cookie press for it, but it is SO easy!


Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Food coloring, optional
Colored sugar and decorating candies, optional
 
Directions:
     In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts. Combine flour and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture; mix well. Tint with food coloring if desired.
     Using a cookie press fitted with the disk of your choice, press dough 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Decorate as desired.
     Bake at 375° for 6-8 minutes or until set (do not brown). Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 7-1/2 dozen.

12.08.2009

Love, Jack and Ben

Dear Mr. Santa Claus,

This is our first Christmas, so we're not really sure how this whole thing works, but we're willing to give this whole Letter to Santa thing a try.

We do have a fireplace, but it's just for show. You may want to use another method to drop off our presents. Just do whatever you do for kids who don't have a fireplace, like make yourself liquid and slide in through the cracks in the window. Whatever you decide to do is fine with us. Dad won't mind.

Please keep your reindeer quiet while they're waiting for you on the roof. Mommy is a really light sleeper and would probably wake up if she heard them. We really need her to be happy on Christmas morning and getting sleep seems to make her happy.

We will leave cookies and milk for you, but please act fast. Daddy likes cookies and might eat them if you're not here before he goes to sleep. He usually doses off after he watches Fox News.

We don't mean to be picky, but please get both of us the same exact gifts. The same color, everything. We always want the toy my brother is playing with anyway. Mommy also asked us to say that she prefers toys that have an "off" button. And don't worry about spending a lot of money on us. We usually prefer playing  Tupperware, spoons and empty water bottles anyway.

If it matters, we are now sleeping through the night. This seems to make mommy and daddy insanely happy, so we thought we should mention it. We also eat solid food, roll over and can sit up (mostly) by ourselves. We make some good diapers and enjoy our baths, too. We do pull eachother's hair sometimes, but not in a naughty way. We're just getting used to the fact that our limbs are connected to us and they move! (Plus, have you SEEN how much hair my brother has?!?)

Thank you for reading our letter. We'll probably see you at the mall sometime, but please don't be offended when we burst into tears. That beard and jolly laugh can be very intimidating to us infants! We're sure to get used to it over the years.

Love your friends,
Jack and Ben
7 months old

12.07.2009

Believing the Best

How much would your attitude change if you always believed the best in people? Not to be naive, but optimistic. You'd be surprised by how much it affected your day!

Rather than getting mad at the guy that cut you off in traffic, be understanding. Maybe he was on his way to the hospital to see his dying mom. Maybe he was worried he'd be late for work because his 4-month old spit up all over his shirt. Perhaps you were in his blind spot and he sincerely never saw you. Rather than getting angry (and taking it out on the next person you see,) be grateful you and your loved ones are safe.

This way of thinking is especially important to do toward your husband.

Don't get mad at him for being home late for dinner until you've heard his side of the story. Maybe his boss kept him late for work, or he stopped for gas. Maybe his cell phone battery died and he couldn't call to tell you where he was! There are multiple things that could have happened. It's so easy to get ourselves so twisted that we fail to give the other person the benefit-of-the-doubt. We know our husbands love us and would never do anything to hurt us. So why do we always jump to conclusions? We can at least give him a smile and a "welcome home" before assuming the worst.

When we were dating, my (now) husband said he would call me later in the evening. I waited and waited for his call and became extremely frustrated when I heard nothing. The later it got, the more mad I became. Uh, how inconsiderate! I had my whole speech outlined when I talked to him the next day, but let him talk first. Come to find out, he fell asleep! How innocent is that!? That was when I realized how important it would be to always believe the best when it came to the most important man in my life.

Sometimes, it helps to have a good imagination!

12.05.2009

Validating the Quiet Ones

Do you have a child that doesn't require much attention? Quiet? Reserved? Introverted? Content?

Don't make the mistake of thinking they don't need you as much as your other kids. If anything, they may need you more.

Introverts have a tendency to internalize everything. (Believe me, I'm one of them.) If there's a fight, they *feel* it. They try to figure out what they did wrong. If a parent invests in the more demanding siblings, the reserved, "low maintenance" child may feel as though they are not as important. That they need to be a certain way to obtain their parents' approval and time. They may feel that who they are isn't as interesting and in order to obtain their parents' approval is to be different. More demanding. More difficult. They may act out and cause trouble, all in an effort to gain attention.

Every youngster craves for acceptance from their parents. One of the biggest gifts we can give our kids is the gift of time. (That's the most valuable thing we have most days!) Time to talk, time to play, time to do things we enjoy. When we know that our parents love us enough to invest in our development, real maturity happens.

I am so grateful that my parents invested time into me - time to validate who I was - even though I wasn't as vocal about needing it. Because my parents showed me that I was just as valuable as my other siblings, I feel confident in who I am. I feel comfortable in my own skin. And I think there is nothing more powerful we could give to our children.

Even the quiet ones. :)

12.04.2009

A Day in the Life


Here's a funny picture from this afternoon. Ben's asleep and Jack continues to play around him.
A day in the life with twins. :)

12.03.2009

Long Lost Love

I used to be a huge Diet Coke fan. Then I married my husband, another HUGE Diet Coke drinker, and I was forever hooked. Getting pregnant with twins, however, changed things a bit.

Caffeine did not sit well with my boys. Well, I'm sure my boys loved it in utero, but mommy did not. It felt like they were doing jumping jacks! Woh. Very uncomfortable. I had to sit down when they both moved around because I felt like they were going to tip me over! So I gave up my beloved drink for the good of... well, me. I'd crave it every now and then, have a sip of Andy's, and I was fine.

My boys are now almost seven months old and I have not had any Good Stuff in quite some time. My boys are still drinking breastmilk and so I try to stay away from the caffeine, but I also need to be drinking more water anyway. After all, I'm providing for TWO! So it's been a year since I enjoyed a nice cold can of Diet Coke.

This afternoon, a cold drink of my long lost love sounded really good to me, so I grabbed one of Andy's caffeinated drinks from the refrigerator. I took a few sips and surprised myself with how little I enjoyed it. It tasted different to me. Not the same. Apparently, my time away had altered my tastes and now it didn't seem as appealing.

I drank the whole can anyway (I didn't want to waste it) and although it did improve as I continued, I felt like I had satisfied my need for this tasty beverage for some time. I'll stick with my water. It's better for me anyway, right?

But here's the thing: I cannot stop BURPING! My boys think this is hilarious (especially since I have seemingly forgot how to do it quietly) but I'm not sure my husband will be as entertained. Let's hope I'm all burped-out by the time Andy comes home!

12.02.2009

Appreciation

Think of something you appreciate most about your husband.

Now... tell him.

12.01.2009

Finding Simplicity

The holidays are always such a busy time. Today at MOPS, however, we talked about ways to simplify during this Christmas. Here are some ideas our table came up with:
  • Bake cookies ahead of time and freeze them
  • Organize/participate in a cookie exchange to get a greater variety of treats
  • Read the Christmas story the night before
  • Give your kids only 3 gifts (reasoning: that's how many gifts Jesus received)
  • If you set up a manger scene, don't put baby Jesus inside until right before you open presents
  • Make a birthday cake for Jesus and sing happy birthday
  • Celebrate the advent season with a daily devotional and other activities
  • Buy any gift cards for mailmen, delivery persons, bus drivers and teachers ahead of time
  • Use the US Postal Service's partner website to create your Christmas postcards - upload your address book and photo, choose the design and they do they rest!
  • Use Kodak, Shutterfly or Walmart.com to create your own personalized ornaments, calendars, mugs, blankets or bags for friends and teachers
  • Exchange names among the adults in your family so each person is only buying one thoughtful $50 gift
Be sure to include your husband in your planning. Ask what things "make" the holiday for him and then try your hardest to accomodate his wishes. It's a lot less stressful when your spouse is on your side!

And if all else fails, plan a vacation and getaway to escape it all!

11.30.2009

Nursing Cover for only $8.95

I came across a deal for a free $32 nursing cover at uddercovers.com. Get one nursing cover - regular price $32 - just pay $8.95 for shipping. The code is "planning." If you're not currently breastfeeding they make great baby shower and Christmas gifts!





Go to uddercovers.com, click on "Shop Now", select the product you would like (they also have 3 piece gift sets available with this promotion) and you will automatically be directed to the center of the page where you can enter in the promo code! Type in planning and it will pull up the ones available. They are selling out fast. You can use the code more than once - you just have to open a new browser/window to do so.

This promotion gives you a $32.00 discount off your total order no matter what you put in your cart. This promotion code is valid once per transaction, so you can order as many times as you would like!

11.29.2009

Touch of the Master's Hand

Being with family this weekend reminded me to appreciate just how important family is. It is a treasure. Valuable beyond any dollar amount. It cannot be bought, traded, or sold. However, it is the single most important thing we can invest in on this side of heaven.

These thoughts reminded me of a little story I heard a few years ago about an old violin. On its own, it was not worth very much money at all. But with the touch of a Master, its beauty shown through and its value increased exponentially.

"The Touch of the Master's Hand"
by Myra B. Welch

"Twas battered and scared, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But he held it up with a smile.
"What am I bidden, good folks," he cried,
"Who'll start bidding for me?
A dollar, a dollar - now who"ll make it two _
Two dollars, and who"ll make it three?

"Three dollars once, three dollars twice,
Going for three". . . but no!
From the room far back a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet,
As sweet as an angel sings.

The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: "What am I bidden for the old violin?"
And he held it up with the bow;
"A thousand dollars - and who'll make it two?
Two thousand - and who'll make it three?
Three thousand once, three thousand twice
And going - and gone," said he.

The people cheered, but some of them cried,
"We do not quite understand -
What changed its worth?" The man replied:
"The touch of the masters hand."

And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and torn with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd.
Much like the old violin.

A "mess of pottage," a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on,
He's going once, and going twice -
He's going - and almost gone!
But the MASTER comes, and the foolish crowd,
Never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul, and the change that's wrought
By the touch of the MASTER'S hand.

"Touch of the Master's Hand"

11.28.2009

Our Christmas Card Photo

As a first-time mom, I am now a true appreciator of Christmas card photos. The people that year after year, send us greetings along with an updated picture of their family. People without kids have no idea how much effort this tradition involves. But now with two almost-seven-month olds, I completely understand.

Some of my friends on Facebook today were complaining about getting those pictures with just the kids, not the parents. They say it's 'impersonal' and lacks that extra thought or acknowlegment of the parents. I don't mean to be nasty, but I wonder if those people ever had to organize a photo shoot with a baby (or two.)

My chance took place around 10:30am a few days ago, just as the boys woke up from a nap. I was in my pajamas (or Mommy Clothes, as I have come to know them because I wear them all through the day) and my hair was in a ponytail. Makeup was long gone. My husband was at work and so it was just the three of us attempting to get that one photo that out-of-town family would see since the photo I sent when they were first born and less than ten pounds!

Jack and Ben love the camera, but not to smile at it. They are fascinated by the flash and want to grab this expensive piece of technology and put it in their mouths. It takes every ounce of energy to make them smile while also keeping them from falling over on the couch and away from the camera. After ten minutes and 107 pictures later, I was exhausted and sweating.

I am very proud of the photo my loved ones will be receiving for the holidays and I apologize ahead of time that it will not include me and Andy. If you'd like, visit our family blog to see what these two (tired but joyful) parents look like. In the meantime, enjoy the picture I took. Just for you.

I'll look forward to your picture in the mail. Even if it's just your kids. Believe me, I won't judge.

11.25.2009

Definition of Gratitude

Babies don't need to be taught what selfishness is. Their whole world revolves around them. When they're hungry, they get fed. When they're dirty, they are cleaned. When they want to play, they are pleasantly appeased. And that's okay - that's what's supposed to happen! They're babies!

We were all born as imperfect beings, demanding and egotistical. That's why parenting is such an important job. It is OUR responsibility to teach our children - in a very gradual process - that the world is much larger than they are. That sometimes, we must wait our turn. Say thank you when someome does something nice. Not hit our brother in return. Those things go against our very nature and therefore, must be taught.

Gratitude is one of those skills.

Because the majority of kids get their most basic needs met, being grateful isn't as obvious. 'Of course, I'm going to eat dinner tonight. Why would I have to say thank you for something I would have gotten anyway?' They may have no idea how many children in the world would give everything they had to be able to make a statement like that. Gratitude is about perspective. And an understanding of what someone had to sacrifice to make that possible.

My boys don't know that I gave up six years in the classroom to be home and care for them. They don't how much I would rather sleep through their cries at 4am than drag myself out of bed to comfort them. They'll never know what my husband and I had to do to restructure almost everything in our lives when we found out we would be welcoming TWO babies into our two-bedroom apartment. But I don't expect them to. They're babies. All they know is that they are loved, they are clean, and they are fed.

The only reason I'm able to do these things is because of the sacrifices other people have made on my behalf.

My husband works full-time, so I can be home. My mom gives up at least one day a week to help me with the boys so I can go grocery shopping and have some time to myself. Our families support our children and help give what we need to be successful parents. My boys have, because we have given to them; I have because many others sacrificed to give it to me.

Gratitude. Such a small word, but such a huge concept. Happy Thanksgiving!

11.24.2009

Things I've Learned

Things I’ve Learned from Parenting Twins
A Reflection of the Past Six Months

1. Do not challenge a baby to a staring contest. You will lose.

2. Learn to think positive. Rather than being frustrated about the incessant crying, think about being empathetic. Perhaps your baby has gas. Perhaps they’re uncomfortable. This perspective changes the way you react in stressful moments. Believe it or not, your baby’s purpose is not to make your life miserable.

3. Do what you can to clean your house only when your babies are awake. Naptime is your time – do what relaxes you!

4. When people say, “Oh, he looks just like your husband,” and then someone else not two seconds later says, “Oh, he looks just like YOU!” just smile and nod. Either way, they’re giving you a compliment.

5. If you have twins out in public and people ask if they’re identical, say yes, even if they aren’t. This will save you much precious time in explaining.

6. When grocery shopping, see if you can get someone else to walk your twins around in the stroller so you can do your shopping. Otherwise, your 20-minute trip will easily become 2 hours.

7. Take your shower at night, after the kids have gone to bed. It’ll be the most relaxing ten minutes of your day (plus, then, you’re guaranteed to get a shower!)

8. Pack your diaper bag the night before. That will give you time to think about anything else you might have forgotten. Keep an extra stock of diapers, wipes and onesies in the car for emergencies.

9. Take pictures, even more than you think is normal. Keep a digital camera in your diaper bag so you always have it on hand - you can’t get those moments back!

10. When you’re pregnant (and still mobile) try buying as many birthday presents for specific people who’ll have a birthday during the first 3-4 months of your babies being born. You’ll be glad you did.

11. Things I couldn’t have lived without: our double jogging stroller, two Fisher-Price Papasan swings, my digital cameras, our minivan, the Medela Pump in Style Advanced double electric pump, humidifier, two Boppys, two Bumbo seats, my husband and my mom. The last two you can’t buy in stores.

12. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re not perfect and neither is your husband. Cut yourselves some slack and enjoy the learning curve! Your babies don’t know any different!

11.23.2009

Multiplied by Two

Having kids is a lot of work. It's a 24-hour job that requires every ounce of patience and wisdom someone can muster after sleeping only a few hours each night. It demands our very best, even when we're not in the mood or extremely frustrated. It is constantly requiring us to think selflessly and do whatever we can to keep everything going smoothly. It is exhausting, tiring work that makes us question if we are capable enough to handle it.

Now multiply all of that by two.

I knew twins would be a lot of work, but there's no real way to anticipate just how much more work one more baby would be. Now, my boys are phenomenal babies. I love them like crazy. In my eyes, they are the smartest, most cute, most lovable boys on the planet. I could not feel more blessed to have them in my life. But I guess I'm having one of those days where I question everything I know and wonder if I'm doing it right. Ever have one of those?

My issues started with naptime. You see, with twins, I have found sanity in keeping them on the same schedule. When they're both sleeping, mommy has a break. I can clean the bottles, express milk, start dinner, fold laundry and maybe even blog. :) But I could sense this becoming a problem today.

Jack was extremely tired, so I put him down for a nap. Ben, however, wanted to stay up and play. I changed his dirty diaper (second one so far today) and expected him to get tired shortly after that. I desperately needed at least 15 minutes to express milk. But he didn't show any signs of tiredness. I slowly watched my visions of being able to have that break slip away. Here's an insight into my brain, wondering and second-guessing myself as to the best course of action:

Should I wake Jack up to keep them on schedule? I don't know, he seemed pretty exhausted. Should I force Ben to go down? Eeeeh, I'm not looking for a headache. I've got to be productive today! Or should I just wait for Ben to get tired and hope that Jack stays asleep a bit longer? Ah man, I remember hearing that identical twins naturally have similar sleeping/eating patterns... just more proof that my boys are fraternal...

As it turned out, Ben did get tired about an hour later and (thankfully) Jack stayed asleep for a little longer, giving me enough time to express AND blog! Hooray! But these situations are not unusual for us moms.

It is rare that things go the way I had planned. Very rare. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's never happened. But do you know what? It always works out. Even if I hadn't been able to get a break today (which is also very common) it would have been alright. In the whole grand scheme of things, it's a good day. We're all healthy, we're safe. We have enough food to eat and clothes to wear. Our van is running and the roof holds out the water. My husband loves me and he's coming home in just a few hours. Thank God, we're doing alright.

I get a lot of strength knowing that God never gives us more than we can handle. And with twins, I'll take that as a compliment!

Gotta go... Jack's awake!

11.21.2009

Keeping Your Friendship First

Everything changes when you have kids. Especially our relationships with other people. But even when our kids seem to take the best of us each day, it is imperative that we keep the friendship with our husbands strong, even above motherhood.

Here are some simple ideas, most of which won't cost you a penny:

Eat dinner by candlelight
Text him while he's at work to say I Love You
Tell him he's your hero
Put a note in his lunch
Post a message on the inside of the bathroom cupboard
Reminisce about your dating period
Talk about your dreams in life
Remember little stories he told you and bring them up again
Remind him how much you LIKE him
Relive an embarrassing moment
Hide a note in his wallet
Ask what his goals are
Drive around to look at Christmas lights
Laugh about your favorite memory as a kid
Make his favorite dessert 'just because'
Bring breakfast in bed
Watch a movie together

It's important to stay connected with our husbands. Our marriage - and our kids - depend on it.

11.20.2009

Slowing my Expectations

At the boys' four month check-up, our pediatrician said it was a good time to start solid foods. She recommended starting once a day and then increasing it to twice, then three times a day.

We got home and were thrilled to start! We weren't discouraged by their seemingly distaste for the plain cereal and loved watching the food smeared all over their face. I gladly washed their bibs (and usually, their entire outfits) and eventually, started stripping them down to their diaper to feed. Then it got really discouraging.

The boys didn't seem to improve, preferring their bottle to a spoon with food on it. More food ended up on their bodies than in their mouth. I tried forcing them, but they pursed their lips closed so we couldn't even get the spoon inside. I worried that I was trying too hard. I didn't want to frustrate them to the point of refusal, so I gradually gave up.

I felt like a failure. Why can I not get their babies to enjoy solids? Was I doing something wrong? Were my babies slow? The simple answer: NO.

Every baby is different. Some take to solids quickly, while others prefer to go the slower route. My pediatrician wasn't worried, so I decided that I shouldn't be either. I stopped kicking myself about it and braved through the routine every night with my husband, watching the boys spit out each bite. We let them play with the spoon, flavored the cereal and allowed them enjoy the new tastes (even if only a little was being swallowed!)

The boys are six and a half months old now and I am happy to report that they are *now* starting to swallow some of their food! It's not perfect, but they now seem to look forward to it. I gave the boys peaches this afternoon and Ben practically inhaled the whole jar; he opens his mouth in anticipation and barely gets any on his bib! Jack is doing well, though his method is a little different... he seems to lick the food like a dog, opening his mouth just a few times. But we're making progress!!

There's no need to rush my boys into anything. The majority of their diet comes from milk, so why was I so set on getting them to eat solids? They're doing just fine. Was I worried that my boys would never eat solid food? Did I picture them drinking bottles of breastmilk at their high school graduation? When you think about it that way, it really is silly that I put so much pressure for them to perform when I wanted them to.

This episode made me wonder how many other things in my life I am forcing down and with no results? If it's me pushing it, it won't amount to anything. It will only slow the process down. I need to be more patient and wait for the right time. It'll come. It always does.

11.19.2009

Lesson in Forgiveness

Here is a beautiful example of forgiveness-in-action: Charlie Bit Me

11.18.2009

God's Workmanship

                      "For we are God's workmanship,
                             created in Christ Jesus
                   to do good works,
                        which God prepared
                                  in advance for us to do."

                                                      Ephesians 2:10

11.17.2009

When Things Don't Go Our Way

Today at MOPS, a mother shared her story. Her son, now 8 months old, was originally a twin but lost his sibling in the womb; weeks later, they discovered that her surviving child would be born with one less leg and hip (but was otherwise completely healthy!) She talked about her experience in expecting one thing and then being shocked to learn that it was something completely different. She likened it to this poem below, planning for a trip to Italy and then arriving in Holland.

----------------------------------------------------------


WELCOME TO HOLLAND


by Emily Perl Kingsley
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley - All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

----------------------------------------------------------

What a beautiful perspective.

11.16.2009

Anti-Theft Lunch Bags

Here's a great idea that was probably invented by a mom: Anti-Theft Lunch Bags.

These bags have "mold" printed on them, so when your sandwich is inside, it doesn't look appetizing to the person that might want to steal it! Where do these people gets these ideas from?





Taking Care of Mom

Motherhood is a full-time job. There are no coffee breaks, down time, or vacations. You don't get holidays or summers off. There is no such thing as calling in sick. Even when your kids are asleep, at a friend's house or at school, you are on-call.



But everyone knows that even moms need a break. If you don't take care of yourself first, you will not have anything to give to your family. Here are some ideas of how you can take care of yourself*:
  • girls' night out
  • gym time with childcare
  • hot showers/bubble baths
  • crafts
  • reading
  • eating right
  • book club
  • sleep!
  • hair appointments
  • coffee dates with friends
  • Bible study
  • shopping alone
  • Mom's Morning Out
  • drop-in preschool
  • surfing the Web
  • vitamins
  • kids to bed by 8pm
  • naptime freedom
  • women's retreats
  • daily devotional
  • pedicures
  • TV
  • rising an hour before kids do
  • walking with friends
A friend in my MOPS group pointed out the fact that even on an airplane, they tell you to put your breathing apparatus on before assisting the children. Kids naturally take a lot of energy out of us. Let's be sure to take care of ourselves first so we can give them our best.

*Ideas taken from "Life on Planet Mom: a down-to-earth guide to your changing relationships" by Lisa T. Bergren (2009,) pages 35-36

11.15.2009

The Kind of Home

What kind of home does your husband come home to?

If your days are anything like mine, you're exhausted by the time your husband arrives. You've looked forward to his presence for relief, a break, and appreciation. You want to dump all of the day's stress on him - vent - and him make it all better. But close your eyes for a moment and think about how you would like to be greeted. Chances are it has nothing to do with a Honey-Do List or nagging about taking the garbage out.

Your coming home party might include a pleasant and smiling spouse, a glass of wine, and a sympathetic ear to listen about your day. You'd expect the kids to be glad you were home and plans for dinner already started. You may even want a few minutes of mindless TV-watching to help clear your head. I would imagine that your husband would want something similar.

I try really hard to make my home a safe haven for my husband, a place where he longs to be and hates every moment he's away. With two infants who depend on me for everything during the day, this can be very very difficult. But I'm learning that it's always worth the effort. I love watching the stress leave his face and he relaxes and says, "Ahh, it's good to be home."

A red carpet isn't necessary, but making him feel like a celebrity isn't such a bad idea.

11.14.2009

Use for a Good Memory

Women are classic historians. We never forget a thing.

Birthdays, anniversaries and each of our children's birth weights and heights. Our grandma's middle name, our husband's social security number and your high school locker combination. (Alright, that one was a bit of a stretch.) Sadly, however, this excellent memory also applies to each little offense our husband may have incurred during our time together. We log all of this useless information away to use at just the right moment. We may not always bring it up, but we save it all up for the times we REALLY wanna stick it to him!

There are so many better uses for a good memory.

Remember your first date. The rustic smell of his cologne, the scenic view to the restaurant and your sweaty palms. Remember your wedding day and seeing the Man of Your Dreams at the end of that long aisle, beaming with excitement (or was it nervousness?) Remember the butterflies and struggling with wanting to enjoy the day, but also being anxious for it to be over. Remember the moment you found out you were pregnant, wondering if you read it correctly and hoping you did. Remember telling family and those that beamed, "I knew it would happen." Remember how your heart sank to see him tear up when they wheeled you away for the c-section, scared for you and hoping everything would be alright.

Those are the times when having a good memory is a good thing. Forget everything else. When you think about it, each of those offenses weren't done on purpose and were done only with the best of intentions. It really doesn't matter anyway. (You can be sure HE'S already forgotten!)

11.13.2009

Cranberry Cookies

I made these cookies for my brother-in-law's birthday yesterday and they were a hit! They're great for a fall day or even a nice taste to add to your Thanksgiving table.

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies



INGREDIENTS:
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 6-ounce package Ocean Spray® Craisins® Original Dried Cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

11.12.2009

How to Give a Compliment

Do you know how to give a compliment? I mean, really give a compliment? It's a lot more than just saying, "You're neat," or "I think you're cool." While those can be nice, they're not very meaningful to the other person. Here's a trick I learned while teaching: if you want to be sincere, be specific.

You want to be specific in your praise. Affirm the skill, act, or deed that you admired. It's extremely effective for building kids' self-esteem because they can OWN that skill in themselves, rather than finding their excellence in someone else.

Here's what I mean. Rather than saying, "I like your outfit," when someone's dressed well, say, "Red looks great on you," or "You always coordinate so well."

Rather than saying, "You're awesome," when someone offers their seat, say, "You're always so kind to other people."

Rather than saying, "Thanks. You're the best," when your daughter sets the table, say, "Thank you for doing that. You're such a great help to me."

It's such a small change, but it really makes a HUGE difference! (Hint: it works really well on your husbands, too! When he knows exactly what blesses you, he'd be much more likely to do it for you again!)

11.11.2009

An Emotional Process

My husband and I watched Pixar's "Up" last night after we put the boys to bed. Adorable. But do you know what surprised me? I cried like crazy. I went through at least four tissues, the first one after only ten minutes! I don't mean to spoil the plot for anyone, but the story involves an old man who is on a journey to keep a promise he had made to his wife. On the way, he meets a little boy who needs him and the two become friends. I really enjoyed it (and my husband was a good sport, as always, to support my love of those movies!)

I have always been pretty emotional, but I haven't cried as many times as I have since having children. It could be anything... television commercials, movies, seeing someone else cry - especially a grown man - or even THINKING about someone else crying. I think there's just something about kids that makes a person more soft. Maybe it's the thought of raising up another generation that forces you to reevaulate what's really important in life. When you realize just how fragile each life is and what a miracle that we could be part of such an amazing process. That you are responsible for teaching them about what's important and hoping they go farther than you have. Ahh, the satisfaction in such a job is overwhelming.

The very thought makes me emotional. But don't worry, I'm not gonna cry. At least not right now.

11.09.2009

Knowing Our Strength

Here's a thought that kept popping into my mind today:

A woman is like a tea bag... you don't know her strength until you drop her in hot water.


We were made for a purpose. We were created to do things. While we don't necessarily live for stressful situations, they do happen. We must endure through them - find a way to enjoy them, if at all possible. Because only then will we know our true strength.

11.08.2009

Priorities

I love to see people happy. I like helping others and get great satisfaction out of knowing that something I did helped another person. But caring for two babies at the same time by myself, I'm learning a lot. Namely, I can't please everyone at the same time.

My boys are usually good in allowing me to spend equal time with their brother. Normally, when one needs attention, the other is content to be near us and wait his turn. But there are, believe it or not, days when things don't go as smooth. If Ben is hungry, but Jack would rather have mommy play with him in that moment, then I must let Jack cry while I care for his brother. I am only one person. I can't do it all. When I try to appease both of their needs at the same time, I end up unsuccessful and ultimately, frustrate them both.

My priorities are God, my husband, my kids, my family and everyone else. I suppose there's a sort of hierarchy within the 'everyone else' group, but for the sake of my *short* entry, I'll stick with that generality for now. With everything I do, it is important that I check it against those priorities. I can't make everyone happy, but I can do what I can within my circle.

When I was breastfeeding in the hospital and people graciously came to visit us, we had to politely ask them to leave when my boys needed to eat; they are my priority. If something comes in the way of my boys and it's not God or my husband (which are higher 'ranking' people,) then something's got to change. And as much as I adore my sons, it is important that I remember that my husband comes first. That's why I make such an effort to make him dinners every night and create a home that he wants to come home to. This can be difficult when our babies take so much energy out of us on a daily basis, when they depend on us for every single one of their most basic needs. Believe me, my boys are LOVED. But Andy was my boyfriend before he was my children's father. Reminding eachother of that truth helps us get through the tough times. Because we're a team. And we need to stick together.

I still do what I can for others, but it is imperative that I remember where my priorities are. After all, it is impossible for me to do it all. Believe me. I've tried.

11.07.2009

The Best Medicine

I remember thinking that my mom made the best grilled cheese ever. It was the one thing we'd ask for when we were sick and surprisingly, always made us feel better. She'd serve it to us on a fancy tray with tomato soup, crackers, a can of 7-Up and a small cup of flowers. (When we were feeling nauseous, her display also included a large pot.) I felt so special that she would go out of her way to make even something as ordinary as lunch... well, special.

Although my mom's grilled cheese really is the best, I think my memory of it had more to do with the ACT of my mom caring for us rather than the actual sandwich. When we weren't feeling well, no matter the circumstances, she'd drop everything to give us the care we needed. She never said, "Tough luck, kid. I've got better things to do." She went out of her way to see that we recovered well, even if that meant forgoing sleep,a lunch date with a friend or getting stuff done around the house.

Fast forward to MY life as a mom. My son has a dry cough and seems to be uncomfortable yesterday and today. It sounds like his throat is sore and he is losing his voice. (I hope he didn't catch anything at the doctor's office the other day!) Poor little guy. It hurts to see him hurt. All he wants is to be held. By his mommy. He loves his daddy like crazy, but today, only Mommy will do.

I know how he feels.

I've got a bizzilion things I'd love to get done today, but nothing that can't wait. My son needs me. I can't make him grilled cheese and serve it to him on a nice tray but I can hold him. After all, love is always the best medicine.

11.06.2009

A Grateful Heart

I am so grateful. For the big things, yes... my husband, my boys, my family, good food and a warm home. The fact that I could choose my own husband, go to college, vote, and worship. The fact that we have health insurance and a reliable minivan. I have SO much to be thankful for. But tonight, I'm feeling especially grateful. For the little things.

For my warm North Face jacket. The surprisingly comfortable pajama pants I have warm almost every day since I was pregnant. The humidifier. Oreos. Bologna sandwiches. The Office. Bumbo seats and baby giggles. A working cell phone. Oatmeal raisin cookies. Going grocery shopping. Our computer. Pictures and that little frame for each of my boys with a space for each month in their first year. Weekends. The Internet. Facebook. Coupons. Sunshine. Dimples.

I know that I didn't do anything to deserve all of these blessings, but I don't want for them to be taken away from me before I realize how much I have been given. I am very blessed indeed.

11.05.2009

Better Perspective

I saw another mom with twins at the doctor's office today. She was a small girl with a tiny frame and her dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. Her girls were two months old, so tiny and so fragile. Their little arms and legs were scrunched toward their body and they were shivering against the cold of the doctor scale. She had her mother there with her, too, and looked overwhelmed and absolutely exhausted.

Then everything came back to me.

I remembered all of the sleepless nights, the frustration of not knowing how much milk they were consuming, the joy of seeing their faces for the first time. I wanted to assure her of the fact that she was doing a good job. That no matter how much she and her husband may (and WILL) doubt their abilities, they are the perfect parents for those two little girls. I wanted to convince her of the fact that there's no greater sacrifice than that of having children, even when that seems like a hefty price to pay in exchange for not being able to think straight because of the loss of sleep. That no matter how many diapers she changes within the first few months, there is no way to capture the feeling you get when your babies explode into laughter when their daddy comes through the door. The fact that I knew how it would feel like you're packing to go on vacation just for a trip to Grandma's. That a 10-minute shower now felt like a luxury. I wanted her to know that it's alright to NOT cook, clean your kitchen counters or give your babies breastmilk. I wanted to tell her not to compare her girls to other babies the same age. To enjoy each moment, but know that 'easier' days aren't too far away.

I looked at my two muchkins in my arms, now weighing about 19 pounds each. (Well, I was holding one but my mom was holding the other - they're way too big and curious to be carrying both!) They have grown so much in the past six months that they don't even seem like those same babies we took home from the hospital this past spring. They're smiling a lot, grabbing their feet and interested in the smallest things in the room. They are SO interactive and so enjoyable. I couldn't imagine my life now without them in it.

I wanted to say everything at once, but didn't. Instead, I just said, "Congratulations. It does get easier."

It's amazing how perspective changes things. Many people have given me adivce on twins - some welcomed and some unsolicited - but you never really *know* until you've gone through it. That new mom will do just fine. All she needs to know is that she's doing well... she'll get through it... and it does get easier. She did ask how long my boys were sleeping through the night now and was pleasantly surprised when I told her 8-9 hours. "And they're six months? Okay. I can do that."

Yes. You can.

11.04.2009

SDWSC

"She Did What She Could"

A friend from my M.O.P.S. group reminded us of that truth yesterday. When our kids are grown up, we don't need them to admit our flawlessness or even nominate us for the Mother of the Century Award. We want them to be confident adults, able to deal with the things life throws at them because they have learned from our example. We'll make mistakes, for sure, but our family will know they were only done in our quest to do the best we could.

I want my boys to be able to reflect on my role as a mother someday and say with confidence, "She did what she could." I couldn't ask for anything more.