Wednesday, April 22, 2015

TWINS TURN TWO

Today is Violet and William's birthday.  We have TWO TWO year olds!  It feels like every bit of two years, but it has also gone quickly.  They are our miracle babies, and it also feels like a miracle to get to the two year mark with twins.  I'm told that the three year mark will feel even better, and I can definitely understand that sentiment.

Violet is the older twin and loves cats, pushing the washing machine and dryer buttons, writing on the walls with markers and carrying around her special blanket.  She is a born dancer and loves to "shake it" anytime music comes on.  She's also become quite proficient at calling the Hogs, because WPS.  She's a little beauty who insists on wearing her daily bows, but it is also amazing to watch her develop an inner beauty as an empathetic little person who loves babies and really does care when someone else seems upset.

That's not to say that she can't throw down a decent fit at a moment's notice for no apparent reason, because she has a full range of that within her arsenal.  She does not often love riding in the car, though I've found that opening the windows and talking about the trees helps distract her.  She would eat carbs continually if allowed to do so.  Sadly, she's allergic to peanuts and eggs and has some level of milk intolerance - all of which are major bummers to this cookie craving girl.  I'm learning a lot about egg substitutes in baking.

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William loves cats, his Tonka Truck, pushing anything around in his Tonka Truck or a laundry basket, writing on the walls with markers and yogurt raisins, which he wishes he could eat at the exclusion of all other food.  Being two is hard.  He is full of giggly laughter that bubbles out and spills over onto anyone around him.  He says "Hi" and blows kisses to strangers drawing them into his William glow. He loves to be thrown in the air by John or be chased by Lily and Bella.

Just like Violet, he can "fall out" at any time, though he often throws silent fits, which I appreciate.  He lays himself gently onto the floor, so as not to injure his head, and stares sullenly at you, which is really pretty funny.  Except when it is in the middle of a crowded hallway and he refuses to get up.

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For the most part, they really, really love each other.  They love to blow raspberries at each other in the car and think they are so funny.  It is pretty hilarious when they do fight, because it sounds a little like birds squawking at one another.

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Both William and Violet are in six hours of therapy a week - Physical, Occupational, Speech and Developmental.  We have been blessed with a wonderful group of therapists who pour into them and give constant encouragement.  Both twins walk and run and say a hand full of words and are learning more all the time.  It is amazing to watch them start to understand the world around them.  I think it's one of the greatest privileges of being a parent when you get to see things start to fall into place in their minds and be able to communicate more all the time.

Violet wears braces (AFOs) in her shoes all the time and still continues to have her liquids thickened. While I don't find either one delightful, it is amazing how normal things become once they are just part of the drill.  Violet also drools like a faucet much of the time.  William's "medical" quirk is that he has massive reactions to most bug bites and swells hugely.  I've never seen anything like it, so we have to be really careful with him when we are outdoors and diligent about bug spray.  (You can see a bump on his forward in a picture below - that's from a bug bite last week.)

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We are so thankful for these two precious children.  We can't imagine life without them.  When walking the adoption road, we never could have imagined this scenario, and it has been such a blessing.  It's been hard, too - no denying it.  But, it's all worth it.  We love William and Violet so very much and can't wait to see what all God has in store for their lives!

Click here to see their First Birthday Post that has links to some of their adoption story if your interested.  We look forward to celebrating with friends this weekend!

Monday, April 20, 2015

ADDICTED TO PRODUCTIVITY

I know I've said it before on this here blog, but this past year has been a doozy.  At times, we have felt like we were limping, then crawling and then being dragged along with it.  We are the kind of tired that most of a week in Belize did not completely fix.

Most of the time, when someone asks how we are doing, I say, "fine" or "okay" or "we're tired, but we're making it."  And all of those things are true in some measure.  We are fine.  I could tick the good things in our life one after another and be blown away by how much grace surrounds us.  Healthy children, a good job, rich friendships, and loving family are the tip of the iceberg.

I feel we walk a fine balance between screaming WE ARE SO THANKFUL and simultaneously screaming WE ARE SO TIRED.  And when you're tired, everything feels harder.  It takes more work, and quite frankly, I look around and regularly think about how many tasks stand between me and anything else.  There is endless work.

There's a saying that rings true right now - "Work expands to fill the time allowed."  There is always, always, always something else that could be done, could be organized, could be planned for.  There is always someone with needs to meet and holes to fill.  In the past year, we have allowed work to fill much of the time.  Some of this has been necessary and seasonal, but it is amazing how easy it is to fall into unhealthy patterns of constant activity and work.  We've become slightly addicted to the productivity and list checking.  We unintentionally measure our worth by our tasks accomplished.

I think living in our culture is a tricky thing.  We are plugged in with one another in many ways, and this creeping busyness is not unique to our family.  Sometimes, it feels like we are in some sort of weirdo competition with who can feel the most swamped and have the most going.  Who can keep the most plates spinning while still smiling?

I don't want to be in competition, and for the most part, I don't feel like I am.  But there can be a nagging whisper that looks around and pats myself on the back for all that I can do in a day.  Selfishly, I have always wanted to make life look easy - and having any level of performance like that is not loving those around me well or being truthful about reality.   I don't want to feel all martyrish about the things that I am doing while comparing them to others and wondering what must be filling their time.  We all have different gifts, capacities, seasons and needs.  Nothing is apples to apples, so playing any sort of comparison game in my mind only hurts me.

I am hopeful that it will not always feel like this, but I think I will need more of God's grace in each season to walk in a way that is pleasing to him and not addicted to productivity.  We are also actively taking things off our plate to provide more margin and downtime in general.  It's not a good sign when your daughter fractures her elbow and you are most upset about the time lost.  We feel like we have done our best to follow the Lord's leading, and when that is combined with our performer/achiever personalities, life is over flowingly full.

Right now, it feels like we are sprinting through a marathon, and at this pace, we will run out of steam around mile 13, if not before.  As with most things in life, it would be easier to do everything or do nothing.  Listening to the Lord and doing the right things that he has for us is the hardest road and requires the most intentionality.  BUT - I believe that is what he's asking from us.  To rest in him.  To rest in general and to follow His lead, not our own.  To God be the glory.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

OUR 10TH ANNIVERSARY!

Today marks 10 years of wedded bliss.  (For pics from that special day, click here!)  I don't know that there are words that can fully describe what all the last 10 years have contained.  Any married person can tell you that there are always ups and downs, and that is definitely true for us.  This past year has been more testing than most, and we feel like we've earned survival badges just to be here and still be liking each other.

Was today a faint echo of the joyful day of our wedding?

Not in the slightest.  The sim card in my phone died around 7:45 a.m. for no reasons to kick things off.  We did go car shopping this morning sans kiddos which was really fun.

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But, I think the rest of the day got the better of both of us in different ways.  Sometimes it feels like everything and everyone is demanding our attention, and we answer to a lot of things and people.  Instead of chocolate covered strawberries, this is what the strawberries looked like at dinner.  I had basically given up, and John was at a meeting, and the kids were eating them straight from the carton.  And putting them back in, gnawed on.  It's a glamorous existence here.

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Then I ate the ones that had been partially chewed, because I couldn't let perfectly good strawberry go to waste, and I couldn't stick them back in the fridge like that either.  If you ever labor under the impression that things are running smoothly here, rest assured, they are not.  We are off the tracks in so many ways.

But, John is winging his way home at this moment with a Chocolate Sack for us to eat so we can wrap this evening up right.  10 years.

It's been so rich.  It's been so good.  It feels like longer and shorter all at the same time.  I do feel blessed beyond measure to do life with John.  He makes me laugh, and he points me to Christ.  I couldn't ask for anything more from a partner.   And while we are certainly not thrilled with one another in every moment - the good moments far outweigh the bad ones, and I'm so grateful.

The last 10 years have held so many surprises, and we NEVER could have dreamed what all our life would hold.  I'm excited to see what God has in store for the next 10 years.  I can only hope it involves a bit more sleep, but I'm guessing that God will keep us on our toes.  I'm thankful to be doing this adventure with John.

In honor of our anniversary and #ThrowBackThursday, I'm posting just a few pics from our Hawaiian honeymoon.  We rocked Maui and Oahu and had a splendid time.  We look young and carefree - though we felt like we really needed a vacation from wedding planning, full-time jobs and grad school.  If only I could go back and tell 10 year younger John and Carol how simple things actually were.  You only get that perspective with time.

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(I'm standing at the base of that tree!)
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And even knowing what I know and having the perspective that 10 years gives me, I would do it all again.  With John.  He's my very favorite.

Here's to the next 10 years and beyond!

Past Anniversary Posts:
{2011} {2012} {2013} {2014}

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

RE-ENTRY HIGHS & LOWS

Coming home from a delightful trip always has its highs and lows.  We call it re-entry.  I wish I could say that this re-entry has been without major event, but alas, that is not the way we roll.

High:  Our children and my parents had a wonderful week together.  Now- our kiddos were still their relatively high maintenance selves, but there were no illnesses, hospital trips or any other unseemly dramas.  We were all so thankful for this.

They read books.

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Braved the Zoo.



Enjoyed spring in Arkansas.


And generally played outside any chance they got.  A great week for all involved.

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Thanks so much, Mom and Wes.  You guys get the MVPs for our Belize trip, and we could not have done it without you.  We are so grateful.

High:  Our children were excited to see us when we got home, and we had a good Sunday together before heading back to life full force on Monday.

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Low:  Lily tripped while starting to run at gymnastics.  She came out wailing, and I totally dismissed the pain, because nothing was swollen, and she could move everything.  However, she continued to cry off and on through dinner, and then woke up in pain.  I knew at that point that it was serious.  Tuesday morning we headed to the pediatrician's office and got x-rayed.  Basically, there has been some kind of trauma to the elbow, but they can't be certain exactly what it is, because of where the injury is located.

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This injury has cost a lot of time out of school and several treats to make everything "feel" better.  Today, we headed to the orthopedic clinic, and after looking at her x-rays, they decided to put her in a cast for a couple of weeks.  Without a moment's hesitation, Lily chose purple, and within 15 minutes, the cast was hardening onto her arm.  It's the first cast for our family, but I am guessing it won't be the last.

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Lily has done pretty great through the whole ordeal, and on the whole, it could be much worse.  We will be in the cast for two weeks, and then they will re-evalutate to see if she still needs it.

Low:  We lost John's wallet for about 24 hours.  There was that moment of panic when we thought we might have to cancel all cards and hope to high heaven that John's identity hadn't been stolen.

High:  We did find John's wallet.  Thank the Lord.

Low:  Taxes.  Ours were mostly all done by March, because we totally outsource that major job.  However, I still had to write the checks, transfer the money and mail it all in.  It is not rocket science, but it felt like it last night.

High:  We remembered to do our taxes, unlike two years ago, when we totally forgot to mail money in, because we were on pins and needles waiting on twinsies.

Low:  I have generally over-committed myself for the next several weeks.  It's like I totally over-estimated the amount of time and energy that I possess, and so I am stretched a bit thinnish at the moment.  Who needs sleep anyway?

We are back, and I am glad.  Home is where the heart is, though I am always glad when we get to fly the coop for a bit.  Makes the coop that much sweeter.