Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Child's Prayer

Last night we actually had a real Family Home Evening, complete with piano playing and a lesson AND treats. It was miraculous.

The even more miraculous thing though was what happened as we were getting ready to say the opening prayer. "Okay, it's time for prayer. Fold your arms." We look over and there is little 15-month-old Duke, sitting next to his sister on the couch, trying to fold his chubby little arms. I started helping him fold his arms during prayers in church a few weeks ago, but him doing it on his own was a first. As his mother, I was amazed at the language and physical development this seemingly small and insignificant action demonstrated. It was a magical moment for me, to watch my baby morph into a little man in a matter of seconds. Watching a child pray (or at least fold their arms) has to be one of the sweetest things on earth.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

First Soccer Game of the Season

I got before and after pictures, but no during pictures. I was too busy chasing around a toddler and catching up with other moms. I got glimpses every now and then of the game and what I saw made me smile. We'll be working on eye-foot coordination around here for the next few weeks.

Funny story. Our coach asked us to be early so the kids could get warmed up and be ready to start on time. We got there at 8:35, 25 minutes early. We were the only ones there. I wondered if perhaps the games had been cancelled due to yucky weather (it rained all day yesterday). No, the games were still on. We were just super early. I had to pinch myself.

What I Did Last Weekend

My mom brought back eight boxes of peaches from Utah with her last week, after driving my younger sister out to college.

Nothing compares to Utah peaches. Nothing. Don't believe me? Come to my house and try one. We've still got three boxes left.

The intense peach flavor is deliciously intoxicating. We worked like mad women to get them preserved. We made homemade peach ice cream, freezer jam, cooked jam, and good, old fashioned bottled peach slices. Near the end of the endeavor, I admit, I was tiring of the sweet smell, the stickiness, standing on my feet for hours at a time. But looking at them all neat in their rows, I can't but be proud of my "babies." All 40 of them.

Friday, August 19, 2011

First day of Kindergarten

Today was a monumental day for our little family. The girls went to their first day of kindergarten. They were so anxious this morning, they kept trying to hurry us up for fear we were going to make them miss it.

When we picked them up, I asked them what their favorite thing about kindergarten was.

Izzy: recess
Liza: eating lunch

Eliza also said her teacher had cool clothes.

The girls are in separate classes again this year. I think it's a good opportunity for them to develop independently of each other. It's good for both of them to take care of themselves rather than taking care (Eliza) or being taken care of (Isabelle).

When I picked them up from school, Eliza had a really sad face. I was worried she had had a hard day. It turns out she was disappointed she didn't get to ride the bus home. I told them I wanted to drop them off and pick them up the first two days and that I'd let them start riding the bus on Monday. Whoa, did I get an earful this morning! I think more than anything, these girls were excited for kindergarten because that meant they get to ride the bus. They talked about it all last year during Pre-k (when you're not allowed to ride the bus) and have been anxiously awaiting the chance. I'm not sure why they think the bus is so great. I wonder if they'll get tired of it once the newness wears off. We only live about a 3-minute car ride from their school, but if they take the bus, they have to be at the corner to catch the bus at 8:10am, 50 minutes before school actually starts. That will be a long day for them.

Today, I kept waiting to cry. It didn't happen. I did get emotional when I was upstairs by myself getting ready before breakfast. I thought about the girls at lunch having to open all these packages and drink boxes and wondered, who's going to do that for them? I'm not going to be there for them. Is anyone going to help my sweet, precious angels or are they going to sit there, with food in front of them, and starve? It was at this moment that my chin quivered. Kind of silly, I know. If Taber hadn't been around all day today (his day off), I'm sure it would've been worse. I would've been so lonely.

Showing a little sass

Liza with the sassy hands
Isabelle all ready to go

Outside their classrooms. Eliza was done with stupid
pictures and wanted to get inside her classroom.
That's where she's looking.

Eliza's face in this picture cracks me up. I know
exactly what she's saying without her saying a word.
Do you?

My babies are growing up.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sad day

My parents moved this afternoon. They loaded up the truck and headed to Missouri. My dad was offered a tenured professorship at the University of Missouri-Rolla. It has been a lifelong dream of his to teach at a university. They are letting us stay in their house for as long as we're here and they're there.

The house is very quiet tonight, too quiet.

We'll miss you. Good thing we're only 3 hours away.

My beautiful girls

Taken at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs
July 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Duke is 1!

Nothing more fun than celebrating a baby's 1st birthday.

Duke had lots of family around to join in celebrating his first year of life. He was hesitant at first when we sat his mini cake in front of him. He poked at it, and then looked around, as if asking permission. Once he got a taste of the sweet frosting, he let loose and dug in. The bakery went ahead and made him his own mini cake (at no charge) that matched the sheet cake I ordered. It was a nice surprise! Thanks, Reasor's! I tied balloons onto his high chair as part of the decorations (No birthday in my house is complete without helium balloons). He loved them - he batted at them, tried to eat them, wiped frosting all over them. Cheap entertainment. We finally had to take the cake away - you could tell he was feeling sick from all the sugar.

It is hard to believe that it's gone by so fast. Time is speeding up. I think back to last June and remember when Duke joined our family. I never wrote down my experiences giving birth to my girls and know I'll always regret not getting the details down when they were fresh in my mind. Even though this is a year later, I feel like I should record what I remember about Duke's arrival.

I was due June 21st, summer solstice. I had a feeling my whole pregnancy that I would deliver early. Then, when my doctor told me she thought so too, I got it in my head that there was no way I would still be pregnant on June 21st. Well, I was. And the next day too. I went in for my final doctor's appointment on Tuesday, June 22nd and I was fairly far along in dilation (I think I was at like a 4 or 5). My doctor asked if I wanted to go over to the hospital and have her induce labor right then. I asked if her if I could think about it and give her a call. I didn't want to make such a weighty decision sitting half-naked in the exam room. I was miserable and definitely done being pregnant, but my desire to have a natural, unmedicated birth outweighed those feelings. I was forced to get an epidural when I gave birth to my twins and I looked forward to having the right to choose for myself this time around. I talked to some people during my pregnancy (my mom, my mother-in-law and some other people) who encouraged me to try it without an epidural. My mother-in-law, bless her heart, gave birth to seven children without an epidural. My mom had one of her children naturally (i.e. unmedicated) and said it was the best experience of all five of her babies. If they could do it, so could I! I knew if my labor was induced, it could mean complications, more intense contractions, prolonged labor. My doctor however was nervous about me being as far dialated as I was and not being able to make it to the hospital in time. I talked to a friend that night who echoed the doctor's concerns and said she had a baby in the car one time. Not wanting me to have the same bad experience, she convinced me to go to the hospital the next day to be induced. I decided I would call and set it up in the morning. Miracle of miracles, labor started on its own just a few hours after I made that decision. I felt like heaven was smiling down on me, granting me this small desire of my heart. The other wish I had was that I could go to the hospital at night. Check, check. Contractions started around 12:30am, as soon as we had laid down to sleep. I think I just thought that going to the hospital in the middle of the night was more exciting than going in the daylight. I'm wiser now though and will not wish for this again. With no epidural, there was no napping. I didn't get any sleep prior to going through labor and didn't get to sleep until that afternoon, making me one exhausted chick. I actually dozed off a few times between contractions.

When I checked in (1:30am), they said I was dilated to a seven (!). Nice. I was thinking it would take about 45 minutes. Wham, bam, baby. Not quite so. Four hours later (5:17am), I finally had my baby boy. My doctor did not seem very happy to be woken up in the middle of the night. I forced myself not to feel guilty about it. My nurses were THE B-E-S-T. Seriously. And Taber was a champ. I rubbed his hand raw I think. He was right there by my side. Later, one of the nurses came up to us and told us she doesn't often see couples work together as well as we did.

It's funny, I can't really even recall how badly it hurt. The pain disappears so quickly (Thank you, Heavenly Father). It is so short in comparison to how long you have your child. I found out later the reason labor took so long was that Duke's hand was up by his head and the cord was wrapped loosely around his neck. I spent most of the four hours on my back, but just a few seconds after moving to my side, things started moving. I yelled and hollered (it did seem to help with the pain, or maybe it was just comforting to be able to share my pain with everyone around me). Ice chips were my friend. I'll never forget how Duke looked when I first saw him. All nasty and gunky looking, but so amazingly perfect. So wonderfully new. His little mouth open and crying. I was surprised when his cries died down when the nurses laid him in the warming tray. He struck me as such a laid back baby. He was much larger than we all expected. I exercised up until the very end of my pregnancy, dang it, hoping this would keep his size in the normal range. But I think in the back of my mind, I knew he was going to be over 9 lbs. My mom had all large babies. It's in the genes. But Duke ended up being a pound heavier than even my doctor predicted. The nurses all kept saying he was such a big baby (Um, hello. Heard of that 16 pound toddler that was born just a few weeks ago? My baby was a runt in comparison). He weighed 9 lbs. 8 oz. I got to hold him immediately after giving birth. This experience was so different from the twins.

One moment sticks out in my mind. It was just Duke and I, alone in my hospital room. Taber was away with the girls somewhere, the visitors had come and gone, and it was serenly quiet. I'm sure some of it was to blame on hormones, but I was so overwhelmed with love for my new little baby, that I just balled. With the girls, the whole experience seemed so clinical, so medical, so sterile. They were whisked away to the NICU within moments of birth and I didn't get to see them for hours. There were also two of them, so I didn't have the same opportunity for one-on-one time that I had with Duke. But with Duke, to be able to spend time with him, just the two of us, to form that bond, was an amazing blessing. I felt so incredibly blessed to be his mother. The ability to bear children is the sweetest gift I have ever been given. Some days I hate being a mom, to be frank. It's not all sunshine, rainbows and lollipops. But having a part in creating another living thing is the most amazing power. And every once in awhile, God gives us experiences like these to remind us.

One more thing I want to remember from Duke's first few days. This happened the morning we were scheduled to leave. One of my sweet nurses brought Duke in to eat. It was early morning, 4 or 5am. She rolled him in and I noticed that he had on a cute Carter's outfit. I thought to myself, hmm, since when do they dress babies in Carter's clothes at the hospital? But didn't think much more about it. I was so tired and had been woken up. I wasn't doing much thinking at all. I started to try to feed Duke, but he was having trouble. I thought, well that is strange. Duke usually has no trouble at all latching on. What is his problem? A few seconds later, reality finally caught up with me and a scene from the Office ran through my head. THIS IS NOT MY BABY! OH MY GOSH! The nurse had brought me the wrong baby. I was mortified. She was mortified. She neglected to check our i.d. bracelets. How could I not tell this was not my baby? Shame on me. I felt like a horrible mom. The babies actually looked very similar though. Poor baby. He was probably thinking YOU ARE NOT MY MOMMY! It makes for some good laughs now.

We came home from the hospital Friday morning. It's been a wild ride since then. Happy birthday, my boy. Our family would be incomplete without you. Thank you for all your kisses, cuddles, hugs, smiles, and laughs. They are more precious than gold.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My sweet bambinos

We had family visiting from out-of-town, so our kids bunked with us.

They are so sweet when they're sleeping.

Catching Frogs

When my girls were little(r), we took a camping trip. On this particular camping trip, I noticed something about one of my girls. Isabelle was not afraid of the bugs. At all. She had no qualms about picking up fuzzy caterpillars and squishing them around in her tiny, pudgy hands. She is still this way. So unlike her mother, who is not on the friendliest terms with any kind of creepy, crawly thing.

A few weeks ago, much to their delight, my girls discovered little baby frogs on the front sidewalk one morning while my parents were working in the flower beds. Isabelle had no problem plucking these innocent froggies up and cupping them in her hands. Eliza was not as comfortable, but still picked up her fair share. But then when she got spooked, she'd drop them, almost to their death.

Ahhh, summer time.

Summer Fun

We took a trip to Denver. Taber had to go take a test and we decided to turn it into a family vacation. Taber's mom and dad met us in Denver (I can't believe I didn't get any pictures of them!) and we had a fun weekend together. We discovered on the way out there that Duke is not a good road tripper. He confirmed this fact on the return trip.

We had a great time at the zoo.
Duke, Me and Isabelle
Part of the awesome bird show we saw

That is a whole watermelon he has in his paw

Izzy was determined to snap a picture of this peacock

I loved this metal sculpture at the zoo entrance

Liza, hot and sweaty

Izzy, also hot and sweaty
Duke, all tuckered out

Duke also went swimming for the first time. This is how he felt about it.
 Poor Liza got sick on vacation. This is how she felt about it.
It was fun to get away as a family, even with a baby who cried across state lines and another one who was miserably sick.

You know it's time to clean...

...when your daughter practices writing her name in your dust.
If you look hard you'll see the letters E, LI, ZA.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One day down, 78 more to go

Today marked the first day of Summer vacation. The day went fairly smoothly, despite perhaps a little too much time spent in front of various screens (computer, television, etc...) There was minimal fighting, healthy meals at appropriate mealtimes, household chores checked off the list, Duke got both (!) of his naps, and I even got to sneak in a few minutes of reading during the day (unheard of). Maybe this summer vacation stuff won't be as bad as I was expecting. Actually, it was nice not to have anywhere to be. No rushing around, searching frantically for the missing sandal, taming tangled hair, scarfing down a quick lunch before shuttling the girls to school.

Izzy used this picture of her and I for a
Mother's Day craft at school
Loved these two ladies!
Izzy's teacher, Mrs. McLoughlin, and her assistant, Mrs. Anderson.
I couldn't have hoped for better teachers.
Izzy "graduating." Notice her cap made out of red construction paper with a yarn tassle. The teacher called them all up, one by one, and had them answer a few simple questions. What's your full name, how old are you, when's your birthday, what do you want to be when you grow up? Izzy said she wants to be a cowgirl when she grows up. Love it! No boring princess or ballerina for my girl. There was another little boy in her class who said he wanted to be a cowboy. Hmmm. Should I be worried?

I filmed Eliza's class program instead of taking still shots, so when I figure out how to upload it here, I will. I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea that I favor one of my children over the others...I know this post is Izzy-heavy. That is one challenge with having twins - I have to be very careful to make sure things are equal and even. I think this is a challenge with any set of siblings, but I think it's magnified with twins because the comparisons are happening instantly, not years apart.

One day down. If you have any ideas of fun things to do during the next 78, I would love to hear them!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The end is near...

School is out for the summer on Friday. I won't even go into how this fact makes me anxious.

At the beginning of the school year, my girls complained that I was never the first car in the pick-up line. I promised them that before the end of the school year, I would be first. It seemed like an impossible goal, as there was always some van that rolled into the loop at least an hour early.

I will be at school Friday for Isabelle's end of the year program (Eliza's class had theirs on Tuesday), so today was my last chance. Nothing like leaving it to the last minute. Not wanting to risk it, I showed up at school over 2 hours early with a book, some Swedish Fish and a napping baby.

Eat my dust, fellow pre-k parents.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mortal angels

It's 99 degrees outside (or at least it feels like it). I can't seem to stop sweating, despite my ice cold shower, from my mid-afternoon jog around the neighborhood. I'm trying to squeeze in a few errands and make it to work on time, with all three kids in tow. Not going so well. I'm frustrated and rushing. It happens as I'm turning the corner. The last drop of gas used up. The car slows, and in reaction, I furiously stamp on the gas pedal, hoping somehow to use the last few vapors. I miraculously coast into a nearby parking lot, out of the way of the busy afternoon traffic.

I've made this mistake one other time in my life. Or was it two? The last time I ran out of gas I was fortunate enough to coast into the parking lot of the gas station. This time I was not so lucky.

I sat there, stunned for a second, in furious tears the next, sobbing on the phone to Taber, who was stuck at work. As soon as I could think clearly, I put on my brave mommy face and came up with a plan. We were all going to walk across the street to an auto parts store, buy a gas can, walk a little further to the closest gas station, get a couple gallons of gas and walk back to the suburban.

That's when my angel appeared. In the form of a good friend from church. She saw us all standing on the busy street corner - baby on hip, two little blond girls holding hands, melting in the afternoon sun, waiting to cross the street. I bet we were a pathetic sight. She honked and waved and turned. Not sure if she would rescue us or not, we continued on with our original plan. I had the gas can in hand when she found us. She offered to take us all to the Y, where she just happened to be heading, but not before Izzy blurted out, "My mommy was crying really hard in the car." Cover blown.

My good friend has now become my dear friend.

The story doesn't end there. She called her mom and had her bring a gas can into town. They found me at work and asked for the keys to the car. I handed them over, along with my debit card. A little while later, my special angel came back to give me the keys and card and told me that her mom had not only put a few gallons in to get us to a gas station, but they had taken the car and she had put $60 worth of gas in it. But not with my debit card - with hers. It was sitting out in the parking lot of the Y when I was done with work. Like nothing had ever happened.

It was a crappy day. But looking back on it all, I feel so incredibly blessed. God is aware of me and my struggles. He is watching out for me. He knows me. He loves me. What an amazing lesson that was for me to be taught today.

*    *    *    *    *

This experience reminded me of a talk given by
Here are a few fitting excerpts:

"...When we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods."

"...Heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind."

"My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face. '[N]or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man [or woman or child] upon the face thereof to be saved.' On occasions, global or personal, we may feel we are distanced from God, shut out from heaven, lost, alone in dark and dreary places. Often enough that distress can be of our own making, but even then the Father of us all is watching and assisting. And always there are those angels who come and go all around us, seen and unseen, known and unknown, mortal and immortal."

Monday, April 25, 2011

My budding pianist

He was really enjoying himself.

I fully intend on having all my kids take piano lessons, even, or especially, my boys.

Easter 2011

I took the girls to the Owasso Egg Drop Saturday morning. Not sure what an egg drop is? Check this video out. Keep your eyes open for two familiar faces.



After a feverish shopping trip to the mall later that evening, making our final purchase as they shut the doors to Children's Place (who knew it would be so hard to find a plain, white collared shirt for a little boy?) we finally had complete Easter outfits for all three kids. Not an easy task. Grandma had decided to make Easter dresses for the girls, letting them pick their own colors. Izzy ended up choosing red and Eliza went with the old standby - pink. The skirts of the dresses were my favorite part - they were the bubble-style skirts. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of them in the dresses. The dresses still needed work when we got home from the mall, so I pitched in and helped. We finally wrapped it up in the wee morning hours.

As if on cue, Duke woke up to eat just as I was lying down for the night. Seriously kid, when is this sleeping-through-the-night thing going to happen for you (and I)? After feeding him and laying out the Easter baskets and new dresses, I was finally ready to turn in. Duke woke up just a few hours later to eat (again!) and, too tired to do anything different, I went and slept in his room. With a few hours of sleep, I finally felt human again, and looking at the clock, I was surprised to see it was 9:48. I wondered how I was spared the early morning wake-up call and went in search of my two older children. They were in their bedroom watching a movie, with Taber. Bless his heart. He let me sleep in.

As soon as breakfast was cleaned up, we dyed eggs. It was a first for our family. Our eggs certainly weren't flawless or beautiful and we cracked quite a few of them, but we had fun doing it. I've always been too nervous to put dye and my girls in the same room before, but I felt like they could handle it this year. And they did a pretty good job.

My favorite is the blue one at top :)

We had to rush to get ready for church in time, but as we sat there all together and sang the opening song, "He Is Risen," I was filled with love, happiness, and gratitude. I sat a little straighter and sang a little louder.

My sweet baby boy on Easter Sunday
10 months old

All throughout the weekend, we'd periodically ask the girls, "Why do we really celebrate Easter?" And they'd answer, "Because He died for us." And then we'd talk a little bit about Jesus and the resurrection. We wanted to make sure they knew that Easter is more about eggs, candy, bunnies, and baskets.

Looking back on the weekend, I realize that I may have needed that reminder just as much as they did. Easter is not about new clothes, shiny shoes, creating the perfect Easter basket or an elaborate feast. It is a celebration of Him who gave us life and who has power to give us life again. If you see me next Easter, would you mind tapping me on the shoulder and reminding me of that?