Saturday, December 17, 2011

and every mother's child....

is gonna spy... to see if reindeer really know how to fly!!
 Guess who we saw for the first time today? (It was not Miss W's first time, though!!)
 The babies were so well behaved and such sweet little darling sitting there with Mr. Claus.  I was so proud of them. (Belle on the left, Li Li on the right)

Poor C missed his nap and was not pleased that his Daddy abandoned him at the moment to a stranger. W asked for "silver shoes" C didn't really specify what he wanted and the girls (via W) asked for baby toys!!
Thanks Santa!! We hope you remember us on Christmas Eve!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

5 Months

Can't believe it's been five months. I say that every month, don't I? Well, it's true.
Today on my brother's birthday the girls turned 5 months.
This month they have been busy...
I now officially have thumb suckers, one belly sleeper (MB) and two very active movers and rollers!!
The girls are loving their rice cereal and oatmeal!!
My little babesters are getting cuter and cuter with every day and they are SO stinkin' funny.  They're starting to babble and really start talking!!
We are really loving them. What sweet babies!
Tomorrow they meet two out of three of their Uncles, Aunts and 2/3's of their cousins.
We fly to Denver tomorrow. Let the Christmas celebrating begin!
Yahoo!!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The 3 C's

I alluded to "the 3 c's" in this post here and wanted to dig deeper into the three different (very general) sins that seem to plague most women.  I won't assume that all women struggle with all three of these but in most cases I think you can find a little bit of each of these in a conversation that isn't being guarded.

Take a minute to sit at Starbucks and listen to some women talking... or perhaps you don't even have to eavesdrop on someone else's conversation.  I know for me, I don't have to look any further than at myself to find "the 3 c's" being casually tossed about like they were a penny a piece and no harm to anyone.  My tongue gets me into so much trouble and before I know it I've complained, compared and competed myself with another person and most often times that person wasn't even present to "rise to the challenge".  In thinking and praying over these little c's... I've come to realize several things about them.

First, they are very intricately connected.  It's hard to have one and not the other.  When I complain about my hair and how awful it is and how I hate the cut and how it makes me look I realized that I am complaining because my hair doesn't look like "so and so's" hair which is always immaculate and never a strand out of place. And to go a step further, the reason I want my hair to look like "so and so's" is so that I could possibly "out-beautify" her and thereby enters in competition.  It's easy to see how one leads to another before I've even recognized that I have done one.

Second, "the 3 c's" are a "slippery slope".  What I mean by that is observe how easy it is for us as women to get caught up in each of these and often times we don't even know it's happened.  Have you ever walked away from a conversation feeling a bit uneasy?  I know I have.  I have walked away from well-meaning times with my own sisters in Christ and felt a bit... "um, Lord, was that honoring?" brewing in my stomach.  I don't even know it's happening as I sit and catch up with some of my girlfriends but later as I am reflecting on my time spent I realize I could have held my tongue more. 

Third, at the root of all three of these is a voice saying, "God, what you have given me, whether it be beauty, money, talents, etc. is not enough." Think about it.  When you complain, you are saying, "I don't like this circumstance."  When you compare, it's "why didn't you make me this way" and when you compete you say to God, "this person is better than me".... it's an insatiable monster that will not only eat you up but convince you to "eat up" those who are around you.  As I write this I wanna ask, "Why do I give others the permission to tell me how much I am worth?" and it's true.  We give others the permission to tell us if we are beautiful, successful or worth very much. 

Last, you are not the master of these three though you think you are... they are and will always be the master of you until you take them to Jesus.  For instance, I don't like the verse in James that says that "no man" can tame their tongue because I like to think I can tame my tongue.  I like to think I can stop gossiping, putting down other women and degrading my own self.  I like to think that I can but in reality, I can't.  We are no longer slaves to sin, the bible tells us, and yet, we allow ourselves to be slaves when we give in to these petty three c's.  There is no life in speaking and believing these three c's.  Whether we believe and speak them about others or ourselves.  No life.  There can only be death.  Death of friendships, death of us finding our true identity and death to a fruitful spiritual life.

I can easily relate to James' words about how "with (the tongue) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God".  Whenever I read that I cry out, "Really God?!? Is there no hope for someone like me?" and of course there is hope.

Our hope comes from the Bible which teaches us that God shows His love for us that while we were still sinners Christ, God's son, died for us.  (Romans 5:8)  There is nothing we can do, now or ever, to earn this gift which God freely gives us.  Yet, while we are in this life we should not waste this gift of grace but use it to continue on towards righteousness and holiness.  So for example, even though I have trouble with these "3 c's" I should not shrug my shoulders and say, "Well, there's grace to cover that" and continue on my merry way. No, I should strive to live a godly life and strive to rid my habits of such sinful tendencies.  I love Philippians 1:6 which says, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion..." and Proverbs 24:16, "for the righteous falls seven times and rises again...".  It's nice to know that even the righteous fall but the key is to get up and "rise above" that which would bring us down.

Hope.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

the heart of it

This picture represents simplicity to me.  The simple life. I long for a simple life but not only that but thankfulness in a simple life.  I wish I was more simplistic in my desires and values.  But I do desire recognition and acclamation.  Lord, help me to desire the things you do.
Do you  know how easy it is for me to complain?
Ugh. Why is it so easy to complain?
Is there anyone here with me?  Sitting like Jonah under a tree that is wilted, pouting?!?
Anyone? Anyone?
I was thinking about my heart and how easy it is to think of all that isn't where I want it to be and mourn the loss of things that I used to count so dear to me.  Like time! And independence! And a waistline.
ha ha
No seriously.
But then I stopped because I am realizing that my girls are starting to watch me.  I mean, really focus in on me and watch me.  Oh, I love how they turn to me after nursing, milk dripping down their chubby little chins, and they smile up at me.  Melts my rotten complainy heart right down to little complainy pieces.
I realized that my attitude and outlook on life will be passed on to my girls.  Either they will "itch" to get out of my presence because complainers are no fun to be around or worse, they'll become complainers themselves.
And can I just tell y'all something?!
Complaining is one of the ugliest things.  Seriously, it can strip a woman of all her beauty. I know this, I warn other women about it and yet, it is one of my faults.
I learned about the three c's in college that plague women:
comparison
competition
complaining
and I can't help but think of those lessons learned even now.
Sooo... whats a girl to do about her complaining heart?
Well, I decided to continue counting my blessings and putting them on my blog so that I would be somewhat accountable to whoever is reading this.
Along time ago I read a book that challenged me and encouraged me to live fully right where I am in life.  The challenge is to try and find 1000 things you are thankful for in your every day life.  I loved this book and loved the challenge but I will confess I am super bad at this.  Not bad at being thankful in a "I'm-trying-to-be-modest-and-make-you-feel-good" kind of bad.  I am sincerely bad at being thankful.  I have to think and think and think about what I am thankful for in my every day life. It's humbling to say the least because sometimes Hubs will ask me and I will stammer out some sort of response while he is naturally more observant of all that we are blessed with. So I started my adventure down this path but never developed the habit and so I soon forgot to keep up with it.
Well, starting today I am going to continue on with counting my thousand gifts... and don't worry. I'm only on #46, so you didn't miss much.  And while I'm thinking about lessons learned I think I'll finish december off with some of my thoughts about the 3 c's and encourage you ladies to not fall into a rut as I have often done.  We need to proactively fight off the things that diminish our beauty and threaten our joy. 
If you want more info about the book (a definite must-read and a good gift for someone in your life this holiday season) click here.
So without further ado, I give you some of my blessings...
46. the tree trimmers who come and make our apartment complex look beautiful and let more sunlight in onto our patio and into our house to keep it warm.
47. babies who sleep at night, allowing me and hubs some much needed rest
48.  snail mail which warms my heart from friends and family who I am far from
49. the kind lady at the grocery store who helped me juggle a double stroller, two crying babies, half of my grocery list (oh well, i guess i'll have to get the other half later), my credit card and shopping bag.  Super thankful for her kindness and patience with me. (my first time out alone and my excursion lasted about 2 minutes before baby 1 melted down) :P
50. beautiful flowers from a wonderful man I like to call Hubs. *sigh*

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

the best medicine

I have officially become that woman... You know, that crazy woman you see muttering to herself dragging a shopping cart down the sidewalk. Ai yai yai! Let me explain...
First, I haven't showered in 2-3 days. I can't really remember when I showered last time but that's ok, I don't even know for sure what day it is.  It isn't entirely my fault that I haven't showered because our piping is busted again and so we had Quinn the maintenance man come over to fix our leaking pipes.  Did I mention the shower was leaking into our pantry? Yeah, not the best situation and he could have fixed it late last night but alas, sleeping babies wins over fixing (cutting) pipes and mommy taking a shower.
So he agreed to come today and while he was here I decided to go grocery shopping. While out I was thoroughly enjoying myself.  I even purchased a peppermint mocha because I was "out" and the girls were (hopefully) sleeping peacefully at home with Hubs.  The sun was shining and I was feeling pretty good... the best I've felt in a long time.  It's been too long since I've felt ambitious or even like myself but today was a small glimpse of me feeling more like me.
I was walking up and down aisles, filling my shopping cart, drinking my latte and daydreaming about all the delicious dishes I was going to make.  I love feeling like myself. I have high hopes that I'll be in the kitchen more now that I'm starting to feel better.  There I was, checking out, when I realized I had filled four pretty big bags and had a ten pound of potatoes on top of that (i know, what am i going to do with ten pounds of potatoes? i have no idea but like I said, ambitious and it was cheaper to buy in bulk... yeesh!) so I wondered how I was going to get all that stuff home since I didn't have the car.
Hmmmm... thought I, "I'll just walk the cart two blocks to my house and then return the cart." So I was strolling down the sidewalk and out of the parking lot when all of a sudden I felt it stop.  I looked down and the wheels had turned sideways....
...and my heart filled with dread.  I was on the phone with my girl Jen when I realized. Ohmygosh, the wheels.... they won't go past a certain point.  No problem, thought I, I'll just return the cart to the store and take the bags home.
Ohhhh Joanna. If only.
Because as I tried to turn the cart around I realized the wheels had actually LOCKED and couldn't be unlocked. So I wrestled the cart back up on the sidewalk and lovingly told Jen, "Gotta go! My wheels! I gotta call Hubs" then proceeded to call Hubs. Not once but three times while the lovely people eating in Panda Express watched me dragging the cart up onto the sidewalk, clutching the phone in between my ear and my shoulder and muttering to myself about stupid college students who steal shopping carts in our area.
I explained to Hubs my predicament and he...laughed at me.  What were we to do? I was literally a block from my home but he was with the girls.  Would Quinn the maintenance man watch our girls who were sleeping and didn't need anything while Hubs ran over to rescue me from the judging eyes at Panda Express? And yes for all you worried mamas, we know our maintenance man and trust him and again literally a block away I was waiting... so Hubs runs over with the little "go cart" thing that Quinn loaned him to rescue me.
And rescue me he did.
"Oh wait, Hubs" said I at this point, "I forgot dried mustard at the store". So I ran back to the store, told someone what I had done with their cart (see I am a nice person. I was gonna return it, I promise) and proceeded to get my mustard and get in line.  I got up to check-out, forgot I had put my wallet in the bags which were now at home with Hubs, put the mustard down and just walked out the store.

I really shouldn't be allowed outside by myself yet.

Monday, November 14, 2011

oh for grace

 'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!” 

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
 
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.
 
I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

4 Months Old

I can't resist these pants, even though they are a tad bit too big for the girls.  They are just so cute with ruffles on their bottoms.  They're very Dr. Seuss-esque and Dr. Seuss is very fashion forward in our home these days. :)

(Belly B & Li Li)
 Happy 4 months to my beautiful daughters.


(Li Li)
To celebrate we tried some rice cereal... it was overall a small step forward.  The girls have had a wonderful month.  We're still learning about their habits and preferences.  They're getting so close to rolling over and have gone back to breastfeeding.  After 2 1/2 months of pumping milk and then bottle feeding I decided I had had enough of pumping and pumping and pumping.  It was all I ever did.  No bueno! The best way to describe it was how my sister put it when she said I was basically bottle feeding and breastfeeding.
So we gave breastfeeding one more try since the girls are older and could (Lord willing) latch on better.  And they did! Praise God! Feeding the girls this way saves me oodles of time and so long to the pump.  I will only be using you for girls nights out.
Lots of small steps this month but Lord willing they all add up...

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

honest motherhood

Motherhood is different than I was expecting.  I'm not sure what I was expecting but I just know that becoming a mother has knocked the wind out of me and I am barely getting back on my feet again.

I didn't think I would feel so emotionally raw for so long.  I still struggle with emotions and don't know what to do with them after so long.  I guess I thought I would have a few rough days or weeks and then bounce back to my normal, upbeat and crazy self.  But my normal, upbeat and crazy self has stayed in hibernation and I am left with this weepy pessimistic person who has replaced her.

I didn't expect to be who I am today.  I'm not sure if this is a "new" me or if this is just the me that is in transition.  I know I may never get back to my "old" self.  I know a lot has changed; some forever and some just for now but I am still slowly adjusting.

I still have sad days.  Days where I feel lonely and confused about life.  The highlight of my days are when my daughters smile at me and they seem to tell me, "Mama, everything's gonna be alright" and I realize that I am learning from my girls and not just them from me. 

I didn't expect to be so homesick. Holding my girls makes me think of my Grandmothers holding their babies and my mother holding my brothers and I.  I think about my mother a lot as I mother.

I think a lot about God and how He parents and Fathers us.  I wonder about Him a lot in the little things in my days... like when I pick my girls up from their naps and they have tears (real tears) in their eyes and down their cheeks because I took too long to come to them and I wonder, "Does God see our real tears, when we cry & feel like He has taken too long and feel sad like I feel sad for my girls?"  I know their napping is for their best and I am giving them what is best, even if it makes them cry... and I hear them and I know they just need to learn to go back to sleep because sleeping is what is best.  So I'm giving them what's best even when they cry and they want me to come to them.... is that like what God is doing when I cry and I wonder where He is in all of this confusion.

I think about God a lot in the moments.  My quiet times may be short and scatter-brained and sometimes I spend half of the time thinking of my laundry list of to-dos but it's the other moments of time, when I'm not necessarily sitting with a bible or a journal in my lap but holding a baby with her bottle or wiping snot from a nose or drool from that stubborn part of the chin that melts into the neck and everything from drool to lint gets caught in.  It's in those moments that I think about God and I don't have to wonder if He loves me....

I just know He does.  Even when I'm crying, sad and confused. I just know He does.

Friday, October 14, 2011

three. months. later.

(Annalie and Maribelle)
 I can hardly believe it's been three months.
Part of me wants to say, "only three months" but it has truly flown by.
Maribelle and Annalie or Belle and Li Li are truly a blessing in our lives.  I can't imagine my life without them and I don't even want to try.
This month we spent the entire time in Illinois with my family getting some r&r and help with the girls.  It's been such a HUGE blessing that I thank God for every day and tell Him how undeserving I am to have had it.  It's not quite over though we are in the final week and a half.
It's going to be crazy going home to California.  I know I will still need lots of help because it's quite exhausting caring for them.  We want to get to a place where Hubs isn't Mr. Mom any longer but right now that is a role he is in.
If you want to help us out and are in the area, let me know.  I could use help every day!
This month the girls discovered their hands, love to suck on them and are soooo close to getting their thumbs. They are talking and interacting more which is so much fun.  They smile and love when you coo back at them. They're little flirts with their Daddy and their Grandpa but they're not too scared of strangers.  They'll flash you a smile if you're good to them.
They've started sleeping through the night (10:30-7AM ish) sporadically and actually not the same night. ha ha
Maribelle slept through the night for the first time on October 9th (yes, I remember! I was thrilled) and then again the next night but Annalie didn't. Then Maribelle and Annalie both woke up together the 11th.  Both girls slept through the night 12th but that was because we had a long day traveling to visit family and then Annalie slept through the night last night (13th) but not Maribelle.
Small steps, I guess.
But I'm thankful for any rest we can get.
This month I've officially thrown out "the book" which is to say that struggling to get my girls to follow a book and do what the book says wasn't working and was stressing me out.  I'm realizing that all advice from books and people must be taken, evaluated to what I think is best and then either discarded or tried. And if something doesn't work, then "cest le vie"!
I need to stress less and enjoy more.  This will be easier when I have more rest in my daily life but for now I am reminded constantly that stress is no good!!

(Belle and Li Li)
Please continue to pray for us and pray for my transition back to California.
What sweet little babies! My heart melts!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

questions

Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger; and whoever believes in me shall never thirst... This is the bread that came down from heaven, not as the fathers ate and died.  Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever."
John 6: 35, 58

What does it look like to "come to" Jesus?
 Is it getting a good quiet time in or is there more to it than that?  Is it physical?  Is it spiritual or is it both?  Can you have something on your heart or is it better to be open?
Can you be surrendered to His will but also have a question you want answered?
Can I be open to any outcome?

What does it mean to no longer hunger?  And for what do I hunger for?  Have I ever felt satisfied?  Is there a satisfaction this side of heaven?  Do I come to you, hungry, longing? Or do I come to you already full?

Am I longing for the wrong desire?  Am I longing to feel full rather than to feel You?

I remember feeling lost after the season ended so long ago and how it's been hard to regain a passion and vision since then.  Is that because the season was my desire and my longing instead of You?
I will never feel lost or unsettled if I long for and find my satisfaction in You...

Friday, September 30, 2011

eucharisteo

Well, I got close... I started the list on my birthday and worked on it till now... not too shabby for a mama of two! Just a couple days late. :)

the new list is one I can easily finish today *hopefully*.... it won't take me all year to complete it. I'm hoping to chop away at it between feedings, diaper changes and naps

the 29 things i am most thankful for... (in no particular order)

1. Hubs.  I can't imagine doing life without my best friend by my side. I can't imagine raising our daughters without this man next to me encouraging and challenging me.  We've tested some rough waters these last two and a half months.  I wasn't prepared for how unstable I would be emotionally after delivering our daughters and Hubs just never waivered in his support for me.  He has sacrificed for me time and time again the past two years and especially the past two months.  I really believe he is my "better half".  We've been tested in our patience and understanding towards one another yet, I'm never afraid to approach my husband and express my heart.  He is a safe place for me to be myself.  I love him more today than ever before.

2. my daughters. They are so full of life and yet, I am just getting to know them.  There is so much to discover about each of them and experience with them.  I love that they are mine and I get to spend my life learning about them.  They are the most precious gift I have been entrusted with.

3. my mother. I can't express to you how much I love and appreciate my mother.  She has held me and comforted me through many tearful moments in these 29 years.  She has rarely missed an event in my life that I would deem "important" and has always stood on the sidelines cheering me on towards my hopes and dreams.  I have never loved her or appreciated her more than I do after having my own daughters.  It makes me want to apologize, throw my arms around her neck and thank her for the sacrificial love she poured onto me and my brothers.  Seriously, mothers work hard and receive very little thanks.  I'm not saying that because I'm a Mom. I'm saying it because I know realize how much my mother has done for me... even after two months.  It's hard work!

4. my dad.  I love watching my father love his grandbabies.  It warms my very heart to see them respond to him and to know that they are getting their "love cups" filled by the man I love and admire so ardently.  He challenges my thinking, encourages my learning and supports my dreams and desires fully.  He is such a great man and I appreciate him.

5. my brothers and my sister-in-laws.  i'm beyond thankful for the family God has given me and the way that they have reached out to me (long distance) during my life.  I have always been supported and encouraged to live life to the fullest from my brothers and their wives.  In fact, I have a box of letters my brothers had written to me while we were growing up.  I was still at home and they were off on their many adventures in college or the Air Force.  I have a huge respect for and admiration as well for my brothers who are godly men with protective hearts.  They have always loved me to the fullest and given me a platform to jump from.  On all my adventures in life, I knew that I was able to do those because my brothers had gone before me paving the way so that I could follow and then go beyond what they had done.  I always knew I would have a home with my brothers and a place where I would be accepted.  My sister-in-laws have become real sisters to me and have encouraged me to become the woman, mother and wife that I am.  I have enjoyed texts, skype and phone calls throughout these years to talk and relate with one another on a deep level.  I can't imagine my brothers without their wives nor my life without my sisters.

6. my nieces and my nephews. laughter shared, chubby hands being held, milky mustaches, giggles, questions asked, dirty faces... these are some of the precious memories and moments I've shared with my nieces and nephews.  From the moment I became an aunt~ a proud moment for me since it's my only natural delivery experience to date (not my own, but i was there)~ I knew that there was almost nothing better (i imagined and now know that becoming a mother is much better).  being an auntie has been a thrill.  I've laughed harder than ever before and thought about life in new ways as little ones ask me questions I'd never thought of.  Now that they are getting older I am also receiving advice.  For instance, today my sweet Waveland advised me on the type of cake I should have and what it should look like.  I can't wait to continue learning from and passing on my own life's experiences to my sweet nieces and nephews.  I am also grateful that my children will have such awesome cousins to play with and learn from as well.

7. this might seem random but here goes~ I am honestly very very thankful that I live in a country where I was able to deliver my daughters in a healthy way.  50 years ago (or maybe not even that long ago) I would not have been able to deliver my daughters via a c-section and there could have been many many complications with their delivery and their health.  God is sovereign and as much as people like to have opinions about c-sections (don't worry, I was one of them. Remember? I prayed and prayed and prayed that I would NOT have one) I am now thankful that I live in a country where they are available if you should need/want one.  One thing delivering taught me? Not to form opinions or judgements on what people choose/don't choose.... sometimes you don't have any options and every person's story is different.

ok, i gotta make this quicker or i'll never finish...
8. friends who brought us meals when we weren't functioning the first two months of baby life.
9. texts from LMSN who kept me going when I was struggling and feeling alone.
10. my doctor who saw me as more than just a patient
11. the friend who came to see me and set aside time each week to serve me. (I will take you up on it, soon, I promise!)
12. little moments I've been given to "take time for myself"
13. other twin mommys
14. JK and all the texts I sent her way with multiple multiple questions (get it? ha ha)
15. the Word and how it has met me in the quick 5 minutes I have to read here and there
16. being able to provide food for my babies
17. the warmth of a fireplace on a chilly fall day
18. getting to experience a midwestern fall
19. all the women who shared their own struggles and hard lessons learned
20. pumpkin spice lattes... is it bad that i have one almost every day? eek!
21. LT and all the bottle questions she answered.  I'm also very thankful for the way you and your hubby have loved on my little girls.  Thanks for already babysitting once and doing it with excitement.
22. warm showers, blow dried hair, and a little dab of make-up.... sometimes it's nice just to feel like a woman again and not have spit-up or poop on me for an hour.
23. salvation, grace and the knowledge that I will never be perfect but that's exactly the way I am accepted and expected to be.
24. hot coffee with my bible and journal in the mornings... hope to etch out some time like that again someday
25. family time, grace from our npo that we needed to focus on family first and adjust to life... no pressure to perform for them or get back in the grind before we were ready...
26. freedom to cry and be myself with so many people
27. fall leaves, nature, a slower pace to breath deep and let my shoulders release their tension
28. tender mid-night feedings. part of me wants these to go away and wants my daughters to sleep through the night, but another part of me enjoys holding them and having a quiet moment of "just us" 
29. especially for the Lord and the way He has shown me how I am never alone nor will I be.  He continues to meet with me and speak to me through His Word and through others encouragement.  He has given me identity when I felt lost and given me purpose and desire in the midst of wandering/wondering if I would ever meet with Him passionately again.  Don't ever take for granted if you have the time to sit for an hour or more and meet with God.  It might not always be so.

Monday, September 26, 2011

the. list.


About a year ago, I dreamed up and asked close friends for ideas to formalize a list.
the. list. thee list.
The list was to challenge me out of my comfort zone and into trying new things.  I enjoyed tackling many things on my list and didn't even get close to others.  It was a good year and I am so thankful I tried some new things.  I tried a new cookbook and realized though new recipes are good, sometimes the goldie oldies are better.  There's a reason why they are your favorites... so here are my excuses... i mean, my thoughts on the list and look out for tomorrow... a new list of sorts will be appearing (if I have time and if not tomorrow, soon!).

  • 1. Write more letters and less emails
I think I did this. I definitely wrote a ton of letters. Not sure if they outnumbered my emails but I tried to send handwritten letters to people more often.
  • 2. Take a floral arrangement class
  • 3. Take a writing class
Instead of these two classes, Hubs surprised me with the gift of a sewing class. LOVED IT and look forward to taking another one soon.
  • 4. Surf more frequently
Yeah, didn't even get close to this one. I don't think I even surfed once after setting this as a goal.  Cest le vie!
  • *5. Buy a drink/groceries for person behind you in line
This is one I want to do more and make it a habit of sorts.  I love doing this. 
  • 6. Deep sea fish
Nope. I got close to completing this one but was advised not to try it while pregnant.  If I got seasick, there was nowhere to go and no way to avoid it for the eight hours on the boat.  Boo.  Still a lifelong goal of mine.
  • 7. Write a children's book
Still a goal.  Hoping to do this someday.  I daydream about my future book, what the story will be, what will happen....
  • 8. Go sailing
Nope, another lifelong goal. Someday.
  • 9. Go to another new country
Nope.
  • 10. Visit a Redwood forest
Nope. Maybe this year?
  • 11. Try a new recipe each week
I got really close.  I love trying new recipes.  Once a week is a bit ambitious for me but it's fun to keep things fresh in the kitchen.
  • **12. Work through a cookbook**
Yup, tried this one and was disappointed with my cookbook choice.  If I try this one again I'll research my cookbook choice more thoroughly.
  • *13. Small gift for a neighbor
Love Roger and Alicia our neighbors.  Hope to continue getting to know them and gifting them with little goodies from our kitchen.
  • 14. Go on more nature walks
I went on more walks.... in the naturous neighborhood behind ours in LB. Does that count?
  • 15. Get all dressed up and eat at a fancy restaurant
Shame on Hubs and I for not doing this.
  • *16. Write an article for a magazine
Submitted an article/story to a magazine... did not get published.  I'm considering this completed.
  • *17. Read "My Life in France"
Fabulous book
  • 18. take a cross country road trip
With gas prices as high as they are, I could not convince Hubs to even seriously consider this.  Though we always play with the idea and hopefully can accomplish this someday.  I think it would be extraordinary.  It might have to wait till the kiddos are older now.  I can't imagine pulling over every 3 hours to feed.
  • 19. climb a 14-er w/ family
Always, ALWAYS a goal of mine.
  • 20. fun exercise every day
Spinning, pilates, yoga, walking and now pushing a stroller... I'd say I had a lot of fun working out this year.
  • 21. finish Malcolm
Poor "Letters to Malcolm"... you continue to sit by my bedside.
  • *22. Go kayaking
Completed with Hubs for our two year anniversary. Woo hoo!!
  • *23. Host more dinner parties
Had some fun people over for dinner parties. Completed.
  • 24. Get a tattoo
Za nen or in english, too bad.  I'd still like to get a tattoo but we'll have to wait and see.
  • *25. Develop my sewing/crocheting more
Took the sewing class and worked on a couple crocheting projects.  Was it this year I tackled mittens? I can't remember. But I sure do love to crochet.
  • 26. Write and memorize 28 verses
Another lifelong goal.
  • 27. Jordan's suggestion
This suggestion was "Send flowers to Mom more often" and I had a lot of fun sending flowers to my mom sporadically throughout the year.  For no reason but just to say "I love you"... another lifelong goal I want to accomplish and keep up with. Hmmm I should go get flowers...
  • *28. Becca's suggestion
This was "get pregnant" and I think I did this one with gusto.  Twins!?!  I'm giving this one a double completed!!

It was fun to have the list but I'm also glad to be done.  We'll see how ambitious I am with this next year.  I might make my next list more along the lines of "shower", "clip your fingernails" "change diapers" "take a nap" etc.  Ha ha!! How life has changed so much more for the better but change nonetheless.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have babies that need to be fed and loved on.

Friday, September 16, 2011

four years ago

 four years ago a boy walked into my life and made me feel different from any other boy in the whole world.  i came home from japan and told my mom & sister-in-law, "I met a boy"... never before had a boy had such an affect on me and I was completely smitten.
I liked him almost right away and hoped that he felt the same way.
and he did.
september 16 he asked me to be his girlfriend.
What precious memories and what an awesome journey this has been.

then september 6 2009 we got married and we just celebrated our two year anniversary. 
I love you Hubs.

Hubs gave me the best gift ever... my daughters.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

2 months and a day change


I am the mother of two month old twins.... where has the time gone?
Oh yeah, in late night feedings, pumping every three hours, bottles, dirty diapers, kisses right on the lips, crusty drool on their sweet cheeks and so many other sweet moments.

I have been writing a blog in my head for several days, weeks... but always starting over and not quite sure what to say.  I know that we are all being transformed into the likeness of Christ more and more every day but these past months I feel like the transformation has become more physical, more tangible than I've ever known it to be in the past.

I am being changed.  Or I am already changed and I'm catching up to the change... either way it's good.
I am a mother.  I am a mother to twins and I love it.
LOVE IT!!
I would never trade this change, these moments, the sleeplessness for anything.  Oh, sure! I wish I could get more sleep.  But I know that's coming... I know that soon my girls will grow out of their clothes/diapers and I'll be in the next size and then they'll eat more and sleep more and before I know it I'll miss these sweet snuggles.

It hasn't always been this way though. I've struggled and I am sure there will be plenty of struggles ahead.  I want to be honest with you because I have been ministered to by others who have shared their hard transitions into motherhood and yet, I'm trying to find the balance of "how much" to share.
So until I can find the balance just know that I'm here and I'm excited to get back to writing down my thoughts, experiences and OF COURSE providing lots of pictures of my little sugar britches!
Britches'?!?
Hmmm...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

hard to believe

Can't hardly believe my sweet babies are a month already...
Aslan spending time with Maribelle and Annalie (r-l)

Saturday, August 06, 2011

for my daughters

My dearest daughters, I could never fully express to you the joy, the wonder and the total dependence on the Lord you have brought to my life.  From the day we first learned about your existence your Daddy and I would pause, give thanks to God and long with our whole hearts to meet you both.  We often wondered what the two of you would look like, how you would act and how we would provide for you.
From the first day you  have been an answer to prayer.  Mommy prayed that she would get pregnant before her and Daddy's big move to Japan.  She wanted to have her first baby (little did she know it would be babies) in America so that she could share her experience and the first days with family.  Growing up she had always admired the way her Grandparents sisters and brothers had gathered regularly and stayed together as a source of encouragement and friendship.  Mommy longed for this encouragement and friendship for you two.  To know and to feel the love of a family that prays for each other, checks in with and just has fun with one another.  As Mommy's Great Grandma would tell her children "stick together" so I am encouraging and telling you.  Stick together, be each other's biggest fans, love one another... and don't forget to have a lot of fun with each other.

On July 12th, your Daddy and I went to the doctor's for a regular check-up.  I was feeling pretty miserable because I was stretched to what I thought was "the limits" and had started swelling about a month prior.  When I stepped on the scale I was shocked to learn I had gained nine pounds in one week because of the swelling and I also had higher blood pressure from all of the fluid that was remaining in my lower half.  My body screamed, "I'm done." but God had not opened the door yet.
I met with my favorite doctor, Dr. Noesen and he teased me that I had "mega-swelling".  Even though I was miserable and cried a lot I was thankful that the doctor said I was looking healthy.
July 12th I journaled
I am thankful today!
You are good, God.  Thank You for helping my body through this time.  I am thankful for You and the way You know me better than anyone else!  Thank You for my pregnancy, for the health of my twin girls and good doctors.  Thank You for an ability to laugh at my enormous belly, my swollen body and my aching back! I know that laughter is a gift from You!
Thank You!
Later that night, your Daddy and I were watching t.v. in our room.  Since I put myself on bed rest (I was in no mood to be up and on my feet) Daddy had moved the t.v. up to our room so that I could watch t.v. during the day and pass the time.  It wasn't my favorite thing to do but it helped me to relax.
At 11:30PM we said goodnight and went to bed.  I had a really bad headache but imagined I was just tired and it would soon go away with sleep.
By 3:30AM I still had my headache and was not able to sleep.
"Great," thought I sarcastically, "now my brain is swelling!!"
I was nervous though that something was wrong and my body was SO uncomfortable.  I told your Daddy I was going to call the doctor.  Dr. Endo was on call and she told me to come into the hospital because they didn't want to take any risks with twins.
When we arrived at the hospital, Daddy and I waited while the nurse checked my vitals.  I was having some pain and thought it was Baby B pushing on me from her position horizontally laying across my ribs.  The nurse checked and said, "Nope! Those are contractions!" I had been having contractions for who knows how long but I always thought it was you or your sister pushing on me. My stomach was so tight that I never really knew what was making me hurt.
The nurse called Dr. Endo and at 4-4:30AM came back to our room with the news, "Dr. Endo reserved a room and we're going to prep you for a c-section."
The doctors decided to go ahead with a c-section because I was already advancing with contractions and the pressure of my swelling was giving me a painful headache.  Isn't this funny, my sweet daughters? This was certainly not the way I imagined going into labor, but then again, this whole pregnancy had been one adventure after another so why have a "by the book" labor?
Although they began to prep me for a c-section I asked Dr. Endo if she would do one last ultrasound to make sure Baby A (Annalie) hadn't flipped head down.  If Baby A was head down I wanted to labor on my own and go naturally or vaginally.  Dr. Endo was so kind.  She completely understood my desire and did one last ultrasound.  It was confirmed that both babies were still breech and so we decided to go ahead with the c-section.
They wheeled me into the room while your Daddy waited for me to get prepped.  I was moved onto the table and they sat me up to receive my epidural.  Dr. Endo kept speaking to me quietly and calmly.  She put her hand on my arm and told me to relax when the shot was going in.  I felt very comfortable and was very excited when she told me that Dr. Noesen would be assisting her in the delivery.  It was so cold in the delivery room that I had shivers and the drugs that were helping me for surgery made me shake even more.  Pretty soon though I was relaxed and laying down, waiting for surgery to begin.  Your Daddy was allowed in the room and he sat down by my head.
They put up a small curtain so that I couldn't see anything and the surgery began.  I never once felt any pain or awkward pressure.  I thought I might get sick with them "pulling" or "tugging" on my body but I didn't feel any pain at all and I didn't feel too nervous.  Daddy spoke really calmly to me and we could hardly believe that you two were going to be born that day.  It seemed so surreal!!
Dr. Endo said one thing that I remember distinctly and that was, "Call so and so and let them know we've reached the uterus." My guess is that they were calling the pediatricians because with twins I had double the amount of people in the room.  Double the doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, and pediatricians to help with my two baby girls.
At 6:45 AM on July 13th, 2011 the doctors said something and then I heard you cry Annalie, it immediately made me weep and makes me cry just thinking about that first instance when my heart leaped out of my chest and was attached to another human being.  A human being from my very body.  I couldn't hardly believe it.
Dr. Endo held you over the curtain so I could see you, Annalie and you were beautiful.  You were crying and red but you looked so wonderful that I could hardly breathe.  God really opened my heart to see His wondrous grace and mercy in giving you to me.  I am in awe of His perfect plan making me your Mommy.
At 6:46 AM you were joined by your sister Maribelle and I rejoiced that you were crying and healthy.  I wanted to hold you in my arms so badly but I knew I had to be patient.
Dr. Endo asked for your names and we gave them although we hadn't decided who was going to have which name.
Then Dr. Endo insisted that we all sing "Happy Birthday" to you girls and it was hilarious because she botched up your names and called you "Maribelle" and "Annabelle".... I didn't mind though because I was feeling really good and was just excited to hold you.
While they finished my surgery Daddy came over to me and was holding both of you.  The first words out of my mouth were, "Don't drop them," which Dr. Endo and Noesen thought was hilarious that I said that.  Little did I know how naturally being a father has come to your Daddy.  He has not had a hiccup or misstep in caring for and sacrificing for you sweet angels.  From the first moment you two came along your Daddy has been all about giving you the very best.  I'm not surprised by this because he has always served and loved me well in our marriage.
You two and your Daddy went to the nursery to be weighed, measured, cleaned and checked while I finished up in surgery.  Then you each joined me, separately at this time, in the recovery room where I nursed you both for the first time.
All the lactation consultants, nurses and hospital personnel kept "oohhing" and "ahhing" over what beautiful babies you were (are) and really helped set me up for success.

Although your birth story is not how I pictured it, I am 100% thankful that God always knows what He is doing and has been writing your story (far better than I ever could) from before the beginning of time.  Your days were ordained and written for you before even one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16

There are no words to describe my love for you. There is not enough memory or storage on this blog to begin to tell you how you have changed and opened my eyes to all that God is.
He has filled my heart with joy and gladness.
I have always been cheered on and encouraged to be all that I can be by my family and my parents.  Now it is my turn to overflow the blessings that have been given to me onto you.
I am ready for the adventure of raising you....
God be with me, enable me to love my sweet daughters and give me strength to pour out the Spirit You've given into their lives.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

wanna snuggle?

we found our girls snuggling one morning and couldn't resist sneaking this picture.

Friday, July 22, 2011

some kids....

 will believe in Santa Claus.... my girls will believe in Herky.
Go Hawkeyes!!
"Hey Mama, when's the game?!"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

celebrate

Aslan keeping watch over Maribelle and Annalie (l-r)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Season..

Thanks everyone for your sweet notes and messages around email, facebook, phone calls and texts.  I really wanted you to know how much I love hearing from you and having my Mom or Hubs read the messages to me.  I feel so loved by everyone.

Please don't feel hurt or ignored if it takes me a little while to respond to all the love I've been receiving.  I am just having a little hiatus from internet so that I can rest when I find the time.  (I'd rather be reading facebook and updating my blog but I better listen to my Mother and "take care of myself".)

I am humbled by your kind words and praises for our daughters.

Here are some fun facts to "tide you over" until I can give a full report and the birth story....

**Annalie's name is from the last half of my name "joANNA" and the last half of my mother's name "lesLIE"... Eleanor is my maternal Grandmother's name.  Maribelle originally came from my Grandpa Icenogle.  His Grandma's name was Isabella and he suggested we use that for our daughters.  Hubs liked the "belle" portion of her name but wanted something different.  Through him just thinking through different names he discovered Maribelle and we fell insta-in-love with her name.  Eunice is my paternal Grandmother's name.
**if we do nicknames we're going to call Maribelle "belle" and Annalie "lie lie" (pronounced lee lee)
**we're feeding on a 3 hour schedule and it takes us about an hour and a half to an hour and 45 minutes to complete one feeding.  We feed them at the same time or "tandem nursing".
**when the girls are sleeping they almost always turn their heads and face each other.  This is consistent with when they were in the womb because they almost always had their heads together.

Love you all.
Now! I am off to take a nap! :)

Sunday, July 03, 2011

June 2011

June has come and gone, I still can't believe it.
While the days went by quickly, it's still hard to remember how I passed the time.  You'd think sitting with my feet propped up on the couch would cause a day to go by slowly but somehow, it didn't and still does not.  Somehow the days slip through my finger tips and are gone before I know it.

June was a good month for reading, cooking and visiting.friends.  It was a month filled with laughter, crazy dreams and yet also a bittersweet ending to the month.

Reading this month included:
If you are confused about the title and what the book could possibly be about then I can freely share that I was too.  I don't know if I would have picked up the book by the title, but awhile back I asked you all, my beloved blog friends, to share your favorite books and I believe this book was recommended 3 times by 3 different friends.  Anyway, you three lovelies were right.  The book was incredible.  I was so drawn into the story, I laughed, I cheered for the underdog and I was completely surprised by one storyline.  It was so touching that I made my friend Alissa borrow it for her plane ride.  We both fell in love with the characters.
GOOD BOOK!!

I also read "Tender Victory" by Taylor Caldwell which was phenomenal.  I really can't say enough good about this book.  It was triumphant and redemptive.  It had romance and action.  It was surprising, witty, and above all else just reminded me that there are good people out there in life and how important it is to be one of those "good people" in my own life.  It's a good book. Thanks KF for sending it.

And finally, I finished the month off by reading "Silence" by Shusaku Endo.  Hubs recommended that I read it and I was glad that I did.  Wow, three out of three for good books this month. :)  Silence actually took me by surprise and was more of a "thinker" than I was expecting.  It's a book about Christian influence in the Japanese culture in the 1600's.  It's fiction though the stories, I believe, are based on some truth that actually happened to people at this time.  Really good book that will have you thinking long after you turn the last page, in my opinion.

Cooking this month has been interesting, to say the least.  Since my feet now remind me of stuffed Chipotle burritos, I am forced to spend most of my day on the couch.  Even sitting in a chair with my legs downward will lead to swollen feet.  Swollen.  I have the energy and desire to bake to my heart's content but alas, my feet prevent me from doing just about anything.
So when I finally get around to making something, it's gotta be quick, it's gotta be good and it's gotta be made with ingredients I have on hand and don't include a quick "oops I forgot this" trip to the store.
So here goes....
first, if you don't know about this blog
can you please pause for one moment, click over and peruse the yumminess that is Liz's cooking.  I haven't found a recipe that hasn't agreed with Hubs and I.  In fact, I made the
quite apologetically because Hubs doesn't really like bbq... actually not at all but I had all the ingredients and threw in some of my own (and selfishly it sounded good to me) while making it and when Hubs took his first bite he was hooked. Literally, we sat there wide-eyed, mouths chewing, sauce around our lips and were shocked at how GOOD these sandwiches were.  Try them. You won't regret them.  The one thing I would do differently is poaching the chicken a bit longer.  I'm not sure if that would dry the chicken out (does anyone know) but my chicken was hard to shred and so I would have softened/cooked it a little bit longer.
We've enjoyed Liz's chicken devan, her blueberry coffee cake and Hubs' personal favorite of Liz's~ her blueberry muffins.  We've tried more, enjoyed more but those are my "yagottatrythis" recommendations. Seriously!!

This month I also revisited an old friend, the Pioneer Woman and was reminded why I love her so.  She tickled our taste buds with her pesto pasta and cobbler recipe.  I made peach cobbler which came out of the pan looking like junk but tasted like heaven.  

 Put a little ice cream right on top and no one can even tell that you scraped those little cobblers out of their pan and had to piece them together.  Actually serve anything with this much butter and sugar and pretty much no one cares what they look like. :)

In June, I also made two of the hardest recipes I've ever attempted.  I made homemade strawberry shortcake and doubled the recipe. (why oh why did I do that?!)  It also made me realize that I am not a perfectionist (duh) and will try to scimp where I can.  Point in case~ I made my own whipped cream and of course the recipe called for "whipping cream"... but I figured whole milk is the next best thing and since I already had whole milk I just used that.  Needless to say, after staring at my kitchenaid on high speed for ten minutes and nothing literally nothing happening, I figured there was a difference to whipping cream.
Ten seconds of using whipping cream and voila! I had whipped cream.
Anyway, the recipe was just incredibly hard. Not sure why but I made a huge mess that Hubs came home too but the shortcake was amazing and even better... I have some frozen to bake later when the babies arrive and I need something totally unhealthy in a pinch.
The second dish Hubs and I made together was chilis rellanos.  Cry me a river.  It was a recipe that my brother and sister-in-law "passed down" to us when Hubs and I got married.  They said it would be hard work. I believe the recipe is three-pages single-spaced but I thought, "Hey, if I don't do this now, when will I ever do this recipe?" and so we gave it a shot.
It was right around the part where the recipe says, "Freeze for an hour" that I looked at the clock which said, "7:00PM" and I told Hubs, "let's pause here, make it tomorrow, and eat leftovers".... luckily the recipe told you what to do if you wanted to stop mid-way through.
I finished the chilis the next day while Hubs was out and we thoroughly enjoyed the hard work it took to make them.  They were incredibly tasty. I did not get a picture, sadly, because I was too hungry by the time they came along, that I forgot.  And truth be told, they were, also, ugly as sin.  And if you can believe it, uglier than the cobbler pieced together.

Needless to say, June was a fun and busy month with friends coming through our door.  Welcoming baby Esperanza into the world and my college roomies surprising me with a weekend visit.  It was a great month.

Sadly, my family and I said goodbye to my Grandpa Icenogle.  Honestly, it feels a bit surreal to me because I was not able to be with my family and "say my goodbye" with everyone else.  So although I can acknowledge the fact that my Grandpa is gone with my head, my heart just doesn't accept it yet.  I know when I walk into my Grandparents home and his chair is empty that it will feel more real and I will be faced with the reality that I will no longer enjoy his company this side of heaven.  If you didn't see the link I put up on facebook here's my dad's tribute to my Grandpa which I thought was perfectly written.

July 1st was a huge sigh of relief for me.  I feel like I can see the finish line with pregnancy.  And although I am forever grateful for these nine months and having my little ones play inside of me, I am eagerly anticipating their arrival.  They're about five pounds a piece, I measured (2 weeks ago) at 44 cm and I now am the proud owner of a back brace.  I wear my brace like a badge of honor...
Twins arrive (on average) between 34-36 weeks and I am at 35 weeks.
Our next doctor's appointment is in two days and I am sure we'll do our best to keep everyone informed of their arrival.

With love....

Friday, June 24, 2011

34 Weeks

 34 Weeks ladies and gents!! 34 weeks of pregnancy have passed me by. Crazy!! And two remain till it's "safe" for the girls to make their debut and 6 remain till my due date (which no one thinks I'll last til then).  So we shall see.  It's a bit surreal that Hubs and I will have two little ones in our arms in a couple of weeks or more.  Seems like another world... to go from couple to family in a moment.
I can't quite wrap my head around it yet. :)
The girls are doing really good.  I'm so proud of them for staying inside and growing so big.  They were around 4 pounds two weeks ago and are probably 4.5-5 lbs by now.  We got to see them again this past Tuesday and they continue to be the cutest fetuses ever. :)  They are definitely movers and shakers.  They love music and spicy food.  Baby B (furthest from cervix) continues to lie horizontally on the upper part of my uterus or closest to my heart. (awwwww....)
Baby A was still breech last we saw.  She sits with her little legs out, bottom in my pelvis and head up near her sister.  It's kind of cute that she's reclining but it's kind of also time for her to move. ha ha!!  She's been moving and wiggling a lot recently.  I am feeling really encouraged that she will decide to go head down once the time comes for her to do so.  I have been praying fervently for my sweet daughter to do some flips and I am met with a lot of peace and encouragement when I do so.  In my head is the image of the widow who knocked on the Judge's door (Luke 18).  Even though I'm not crying out for justice in this case, I am praying to not lose heart and Jesus said to pray without ceasing. :)

In other news, my feet and hands have puffed up quite nicely in the last 4 weeks or so.  It was kind of sudden and today is the fattest they've been for awhile.  I included a picture from my honeymoon (ahhh sweet bliss) and a picture from today (ahhh sweet pumpkin feet)... can you see a difference?

And just for a fun... a collage to see where I've come from these past 34 weeks.  
 I love how big I thought I looked in the pink pants picture and again in the tank top picture.  Oh sweet naivety! (p.s. i'm holding up a "3" and a "4" in the last picture for 34~ kind of hard to see)
Keep praying for us and we'll keep you posted on sweet babies' progress, position and delivery!!
With love....