Friday, May 31, 2013


This week I have had a reality check that I am pretty sure came from the Holy Spirit.  As I have mentioned before, the beginning of this week was a bit rocky.  And that is okay.  I know I don't have to be happy, skippy, sunshiney every single moment.  I know it is okay to be a tad bit overwhelmed at having four kids four and under, especially when I realize they are heavily weighted to the high-need category of two newborns.

But, in the midst of that, I had allowed myself to go to a slightly different place.  The place of feeling a little sorry for myself.  Sorry that we don't have family in town to help.  Sorry that loading and unloading all the kids in the car takes so long.  Sorry that I sleep in 2.5 hour increments.  Sorry that I have to make choices about whether to paint my nails or feed my children, and feeding the children almost always wins.

It is amazing how quickly the luster of all God has done for us can wear off in the monotony of the daily grind.  Whenever I read about the Israelites, I am continually amazed at how much they whine right after God brought them out of slavery in Egypt in such miraculous fashion as parting the Red Sea.  Our babies are almost a miraculous as the Red Sea having a path right through it, and my mind can still get lost in the shuffle of It's Time to Feed, There are Dirty Diapers Everywhere, and Everybody is Crying.

And so, I have to reorient my mind again.  I have to ask the Lord for his help to see life his way and not to focus on myself, which is my default mode.  I have to look for things to be thankful for, which are always always always all around me.  God's graciousness is all around me all the time.  When I think of the things that I could be facing, it makes what I am facing seem quite simple.  This is for a season - not an eternity.

Instead of being sorry that we have no family in town, I can be grateful that we have the resources to pay for babysitters when we need to.  Instead of being sorry that loading up the kids takes a long time, I can be grateful for the nice vehicle that I get to put them in and the fact that I can actually do it myself.  Instead of being sorry about the lack of sleep, I can be so grateful that our babies are healthy and wanting to eat and gaining weight.  Instead of being sad about my raggedy nails, I can ask John to hold the babies so that I can paint them again.  There is always a flip side, and I hope that God continues to help me see it.

One great blessing in this journey is our new Gran-Gran.  The twins' grandmother has visited us several times, and the girls are growing to love her just as we are.  We are creating an unusual, unique and God-orchestrated family over here, and it is really exciting!


Thursday, May 30, 2013


The beginning of this week left me a little dismal, but I am pleased to say that the end of this week is much rosier.  I was actually pretty sick on Tuesday, which found me in tears by Tuesday afternoon bemoaning all the needs around me.  But, after getting to Community Group on Tuesday night and getting out with play dates the last two mornings, my world feels like a different and much better place. I am seeing that getting out is doable, especially if you have friends that will help you feed your babies. (Thanks, friends!)

On Tuesday, we headed to the fabric store, because I am going to attempt to sew baby bedding for the mini-cribs that we just had delivered to our front steps.  Maybe I will do a nursery in-progress post soon.  The girls were fascinated by sitting on the cutting table while our choices were being cut.


That snack trap that Lily is grasping was then lost in the store, which was discovered after I had loaded all four kiddos into the car.  Thankfully, one of the kind ladies from the shop came out and watched the kiddos while I hunted down the renegade snack trap that was hiding in an antique baby pram.

On Wednesday, I seriously debated whether or not I should go to the pool.  I took the plunge (ha!), and got lunches packed and everyone loaded with wonderful John's help on his way out the door.  It ended up being the best choice.  Babies slept marvelously in the shade while we all frolicked in the water.  Poolside lunch with light clean-up makes moms and kids happy.


This morning was bittersweet.  It was the last play date with our community group girls before the Kosses officially move away.  Here's a picture of all but five of the kiddos from our group, all under 7 years old.  Love them all, though not all of them were happy about getting a picture taken.


We played until it started raining, then we had a picnic under the walkway to the pool.  This is how we roll.


Once the rain cleared off, we got to play some more.  One of my girls enjoyed riding these things more than the other one.


Being a kid is such hard, tiring work.  So is being a baby.


I'd say that being the parent is harder.


So nice to realize that life will keep going, and I will not be stuck in baby-land by myself.  I realized that all of my normal activities like mother's day out and Bible study quit right when I brought home the twins.  Now that I am planning activities and getting out, I definitely feel more normal.  I can see that God designed us to need other people, and I certainly do.  I'm so thankful to be getting my groove back, though I am quite certain that I could lose it again at any moment.  Grooves are such fickle things.  Here's hoping this one sticks.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I knew that having newborns would take me back to a rigorous schedule for feeding and pretty much everything else.  Thankfully, there's an app for that, and I keep track of feedings, diapers and baths on my phone for the twins.  It helps me to know what they might be upset about.


This is how it goes:  Oh - you are crying again.  Let's check the app.  It tells me that you haven't eaten in 1 hour and 45 minutes.  I can imagine that your stomach is probably eating itself right now, and I will find it in my heart to feed you again.  Your brother may not be crying right this second, but he won't be far behind, so we will go ahead and feed him too.

Or:  You seem to be fussing about something.  Has it really been 5 hours since your last diaper change?  I bet that is uncomfortable.  Let me take care of that.

Or:  You have curdled milk in your neck rolls again.  Really?  You weigh less than 6 lbs, how do you even have neck rolls?  Let's see how long it has been since your last bath.  Whoops!  It's been longer than it should be.  Why is your mother so terrible at baby baths?  Glad that you guys get wiped down really frequently.  Let's get out the baby tub and bubble you up.

I always, always, always feed the babies at the same time.  This has helped us keep some sense of order in the day and night.  And, they are growing like little champs.  I am excited to go back to the doctor next week and see what they weigh.  I am fairly confident that they are packing on the ounces, and since that is one of the major indicators of success at this stage, it feels good that they are doing so well.

But, the timer thing has got me a little tripped out.  It has made me realize that we are all on timers of sorts.  Each time I love on or cuddle Lily or Bella, it is like I am resetting the timer on that need for them.  They need that touch and affirmation regularly, and the time is always ticking on that need and many others.  Like eating.  They always seem to be hungry, as if I don't feed them regularly.

I have my own sets of timers, and since they have been thrown wildly out of whack since the arrival of twins in our home, I am having to adjust the ways I see my own.  I don't "need" as much down time as I would want.  I do need to stay in touch with John, and we will have to fight harder than ever to make that a reality in this season.  (That reminded me that I needed to text a sitter about a date night.  We need grown-up time together without all the little friends.)

And what I am grateful for above all else is that God will cover where I cannot.  I cannot do it all or be it all.  The onslaught of needs is a bit intense.  But, God knows what each of us needs, and he will continue to give us his grace and strength to press-on.  He has been so gracious to us, and I know that he won't stop now.

Monday, May 27, 2013


It's the official start to summer, and I am dumbfounded about how summer snuck up on us.  Maybe it's because I have been in a baby fog.  Maybe it's the fact that we sort of skipped spring in favor of our prolonged winter suddenly turned summer.  Whatever the reason, I can't believe it is officially summer time.  I looked back at my blog post about last Memorial Day.  We were in the thick of adoption paperwork, which felt never-ending at the time.  Wildly enough, we have babies this year and not from Ethiopia.  Oh, God - you have such a way of upending our plans!

Last night we had friends over to play games.  We have realized that slipping into a baby fog is a scary thing.  It feels like nothing is normal, and that life will never feel normal again.  The lack of solid sleep does funny things to our minds.  Having friends over for Settlers and leftovers made us feel like we do still have a life.  But, then we had a horrible night of sleep, and this morning I was left wondering what I will ever do besides take care of children round the clock.


This afternoon, I had a minor breakdown.  The reality is setting in, and it is beautiful, but draining.  I know it is for a short time (the incredibly high need stage), but this short time is pretty intense.  When John called on his way home from a very short work day asking if I was ready to go to the pool, I couldn't come up with a cohesive answer that didn't sound cranky and confused.  He took charge, thankfully, and we got everyone ready to go.

The pool is a magical place (especially when your husband is with you), and I am so glad we got out.  The girls had an amazing time, and it really was relaxing.  The babies slept almost the whole time.


Someone brought us dinner tonight (such a God-send during this time), and we picnicked at the pool in the gorgeous weather.


In times like these, when I am stretched beyond what I enjoy, I tend to want to withdraw a bit.  I forget to lean on the Lord, who is the source of all of my strength.  Tonight was a good reminder of everything that I have to be thankful for.  I am asking the Lord to reframe my perspective and help me to look at him instead of myself.

Happy Summer - may yours be filled with joy from the Lord!  I know that is what I need - don't we all?

Sunday, May 26, 2013


As mentioned before, this week was my first full week mostly on my own.  That is a little deceptive since Mom was here thru Monday afternoon, and John took Friday off of work for a little road trip.  So, it was my first full three days, that felt like a week.  Or two.  Here are the highs and lows.

High: I learned it is manageable to get out with all the kids, especially since the twins sleep most of the time.  One of our first trips out was Hobby Lobby, naturally.  The women there were so surprised to see me with more kids, and several remarked that they had never even seen me pregnant.  Awesome.

Low:  One employee said that I got the twins the easy way: adoption.  I decided right then and there that I have a choice about whether or not to take offense.  I know she just meant that I didn't have to carry them myself, but I would not call adoption the "easy way."

High:  The girls have continued to be incredibly sweet with the babies, and I am so grateful.


Low:  There have been many moments when I have been a bit overwhelmed by all the needs around me that I am responsible for.  All the kids are fairly high maintenance, though Lily is moving out of that phase a bit.

High:  We are figuring out the feedings and how to keep the twins content.  Mostly.  We are also both getting pretty good at feeding both kids at the same time.


High:  We checked out the new Little Rock Children's Library.  It is really well done, and we picked up a bunch of new books.  I am trying to keep track of them so that we can keep the library as a free program for us instead of having to pay for books that get ripped to shreds (Bella) or lost (Lily).


Low:  Getting Bella buckled into the car.  As John put it, "Bella cannot learn how to do her car seat soon enough."  I have to do it one-handed, because of the set up, and that means it is slightly dependent on Bella's cooperation.  So - a bit hit or miss.

High:  We took our first mini family road trip to NW Arkansas for newborn pictures and family pictures.  We like just getting out of town, and Luke does such a great job.  It is kind of crazy, because while the babies were in the hospital, I actually mourned the fact that I probably would not get those precious, sleepy newborn shots.  God gave me the unexpected gift this week of getting those.  Can't wait to see how they all come out!


Low:  We took the diapers off the twins to get some cute birthday suit shots.  Both babies took this as license to poop and/or pee on everything, including each other.  It was constant clean-up.  Oh the sacrifices you make for cute pictures.

High:  Many funny things and conversations have happened this week to help keep it light - things that are funny because they ended well.
- Bella managed to lock herself into our master bedroom.  It took me a while to figure out that our house key would unlock the porch door to our bedroom and free her.
- Having babies around has reminded Lily that she was a baby once.  She has constant questions about what she did and looked like as a baby.  We had a long talk about how her hair and Violet's hair are not and probably never will be the same.
- During our family picture shoot, we walked out of the studio to get some outdoor shots.  We had a couple of chairs in tow, and the twins in our arms.  As we were starting to cross the street, a ways down from the studio, I realized that Bella was not with us.  Luke and John went back to the studio that Luke had locked to find Bella hiding from everyone, not concerned at all that she was left there alone.  It was then that we realized keeping track of four kids, instead of just two, will be a challenge.  Especially with Bella in the mix.
- For reasons only known to them, Lily and Bella have been offering consequences to one another.  The most popular of which goes something like this.  "If you do not do _____, then you will not get candy from Mattie (a friend of ours)."  I have no idea why they think Mattie is always going to be giving them candy, or that their behavior at our house could somehow put that in jeopardy.  I giggle every time I hear it.

Basically, we are making it work.  There will be and have been some long days (and longer nights), but we are adjusting well, and I am so thankful.  Thanks for the prayers and encouragement - we really appreciate it!


Thursday, May 23, 2013


Yesterday the twins turned one month old.  In many ways it feels like they have been in our lives a lot longer, but it is crazy to see how quickly this month has passed.  I decided to do these little monthly pictures for them, and I grabbed the opportunity last night.  These are the sweet sleepers they came home from the hospital in that also coordinate, which I love.


Trying to get a picture with two one month olds is pretty hard, so I settled for whatever they gave me.  Then I realized that getting a picture of just one of them would also be hard.  They are just so floppy at this age.

Here's Miss Violet (she's the older of the two).  Violet is easy going and sweet almost all the time.  She is a great eater, and generally follows whatever schedule you want her to be on.  She is still wearing teeny, tiny premie clothes, though she is starting to fill them out, and will probably be into size newborn very soon.  She tolerates bath time well.  The one thing she hates for sure is having a dirty diaper.


Here's Little Man, William, our baby boy.  William is a bit harder to please in life, though we are realizing that giving him more to eat cures a world of ills.  He would prefer if food came in about every 30 minutes in small increments, so we are working together to get him to eat full feedings, which he is perfectly capable of.  He doesn't like baths.  He prefers to be tightly swaddled while still being able to get his hands out.  He is wearing size newborn clothing.


Here are a couple outtakes.  Very floppy and drowsy.  Being a baby is such hard work.


They both continue to be miraculously healthy, and we thank God for the work he has done in all of our lives in this area.  In the middle of the night, when one or both of them is fussing, I have had to remind myself to be grateful for all the good.  Given their circumstances, there are many other things we could have been facing.  Instead, we have normal, healthy babies who cry when they are hungry or have a dirty diaper.  We can fix those things, though we may not always feel like it at 3 a.m.

Having twins is the kind of crazy, novel, challenging fun that I thought it might be.  This blog post has taken much longer than usual to write, because I had to stop and feed the babies earlier than their scheduled time since they were both screaming.  Then there was a dirty diaper.  Then there was more fussing.  Then, it was time to give a paci to one baby and then the other.  Rinse and repeat.  I wouldn't say that it is doubly hard, but there certainly are unique challenges.  I am so thrilled to know that it is William and Violet, and I am excited to see the way the Lord continues to work in their lives.

Later last night, this is what they looked like.


And, the girls have started to want to be in pictures when I start taking them of the babies.


I will never complain about a group picture.  Happy One Month Birthday, Violet and William!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


So, I am almost two days in to having the four kiddos mostly by myself.  Since two of them sleep a majority of the time, this has proven to not be as difficult as you might imagine.  Things are logistically more challenging, i.e., the amount of time it takes to get in and out of the car is a bit obscene, but it has been better than I thought it might be.  Just like with anything else, I have to plan ahead more and prepare to be able to do stuff, but it is doable.  So far.  I'm just two days in and may be crying "Uncle!" by the end of the week.  We shall see.

Last night we gave the babies an extra feeding in the evening, and they slept like little baby rockstars between all of their feedings.  That will put a positive spin on any morning.  What I am realizing is that I will just have to let more stuff slide in life.  I was already pretty lax, but I that is already going to a new level.

For example, yesterday, I forgot to change Bella's diaper all day until in the evening, while we had people at our house, her diaper could hold no more, and there she was standing, confused, in a puddle of urine.  I regularly comfort myself with the fact that urine is sterile.  Also, the last few mornings, the girls have been helping themselves to breakfast.  This has meant they have been wandering around the house with bags of cereal in their hands.  This proves to be a crummy (get it?) breakfast all around.  I actually found a mostly empty bag of Lucky Charms behind my closet door.  All of the marshmallows were gone.

The girls have been mostly incredibly wonderful during this transition.  Bella has been more motherly than I had any reason to hope that she would be.  She sings over the babies when they fuss and gives them their pacis and claims them as "My Brother" and "My Sister" when she sees other children or adults coming to see them.  Lily continues to be an excellent big sister, and I am so grateful for her kind spirit with all of her siblings.

There have been a few rough patches with both girls.  Bella has been super clingy at drop off for any childcare.  Lily has been a bit more sensitive than normal to reprimands.  She told me the other day, "You are being 'dis-espectical' to me."  It took me a moment to realize she was saying "disrespectful."  So, we had a talk about what that means and that it is not an appropriate thing to say that Mommy is doing to her.  She went on to say that Bella had been being "dis-espectical" to her ALL DAY.  Which, I don't necessarily doubt.

So, for right this second, this feels like a fun challenge at best, and a screamy, but doable reality, at worst.  I think my personality and parenting style are suited to this, and I am so thankful for that fact.  I believe that God equips each of us for what he has for us, and I am so glad for that fact.  Also, I can see that when the twins are awake a lot more, this will get harder to manage.

Until then, I am reveling in the joy that the Lord put these children into my care.  What a privilege and blessing - one that I do not take for granted.  As I have hash-tagged on Instagram, I know my hands are full (as if I didn't know, people keep telling me at every turn), but my heart is fuller.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Last Wednesday night, we headed out to dinner with our whole community group for the last time.  I haven't written about it before now for many obvious reasons, but also, it just makes me sad.  We have been in our community group for several years now, and it has been made up of mostly the same people most of the time.  A few have come and gone and then come back, and we have added a few, but mostly, it has been consistent.  Which I love.


Having people to share the best and worst of yourself with is a true blessing, and this group of people always points us to the Lord.  We have fun, and we seek the Lord, and we look for ways to serve together.  I could not ask for anything better.

Wednesday night was a goodbye dinner for the Koss family.  They are heading to Franklin, TN, which I understand is not a shabby place to have to move to.  But, they will be missed.  Nothing replaces the years together, and we will always think of you fondly, look forward to visits and hope against hope for a transfer back to Little Rock!  (I know that is unlikely, but a girl can dream.)

Also - Lindsay - please start a blog.  I want to see your projects, hear your thoughts and see how God continues to work in your family.  Just wanted to put that out there publicly.  We love you, Koss family, and we already miss you.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Last week was a week for the ages.  As life would have it, we brought home the twins, had the biggest week in our restaurant's history and topped it off with the Walk for the Waiting on Saturday.  We were apprehensive going into it, but God was beyond gracious to us (as usual).  We both had more energy and grace than we deserved for the amount of sleep that we were getting.

Thankfully, my mom was here for a long weekend to help with everything we had going on, which was such a blessing.  We did fun stuff like "First Bath at Home" for the babies.


And I taught Mom how to wear a baby with the Moby wrap.  She was a natural.


Walk for the Waiting was Saturday morning, and it was amazing.  I had tears in my eyes much of the morning as I watched people arrive, register and walk.  The turn out was fantastic and more than we imagined possible as a first year event.  It was another example of seeing that with God, all things are possible.  So far, WFW has raised over $232,000, and the total continues to rise.  Unbelievable.  It was truly a privilege to work with the committee to help organize this event, and seeing the fruits of our labor was very sweet.


The girls had a blast with their friends that were there.  This pic was taken when they were all playing on top of John's car, since that is super fun.  Don't worry, there were Daddy spotters nearby, though they may have been taking pictures as well.


We got a family picture at WFW.  Bella was trying desperately to get away, and in most of the shots, she looks miserable.  But in this one, she just looks slightly ornery.


This is how she looked in most of the rest of them.  You win some, you lose some.  Or you lose most of them, but whatever.


On Sunday, I went to the shower of a dear friend who is adopting a girl that will be born in the next month!  I can't wait to meet her and help welcome her to their family!


After the whirlwind week we just had, this week looks like a walk in the park.  Except for the fact that my mom left, and I have four children in my charge.  Today was still out of the norm, since mom was here through this afternoon.  She finished up every last bit of our laundry, which makes her my own personal hero.  (She already was.)  We got a great laugh when Lily put this "hat" on our cat and was so proud of herself.  Poor kitty.


And then it was time to drive Mom to the airport, and I had to hold back tears.  Some of her parting words to me were, "You should get help if you need it.  You don't have to do everything yourself."  Mom - I just wish my help could always be you!


John stayed with the kiddos while I took Mom to the airport and went to a doctor's appointment.  He managed to take all four to Lily's gymnastics class, which impressed me to no end.  I am so thankful to be doing this all with John.  There is no one else I would rather wake up with at 1, 4, and 7.  It helps keep me sane to have him there and awake with me, especially when we have sleepy twins that don't feel like eating exactly at that moment.


We take turns on which one to feed, because Violet almost always eats better than William.  But then, all the sudden, they can switch it up on you.  We also regularly do twin swaps in the middle of feedings to help wake them up.  But, as is usually the case, they are not always as interested in sleeping when we want to sleep.  Especially William.  (Are you sensing a theme?  Cause we are.)

Tomorrow will be my first day on my own with all my little friends.  Praying for strength and patience and planning small outings to help keep me sane.  We shall see how this goes!

Friday, May 17, 2013


Our life has taken a trip on the crazy, sleep-deprived train.  Tomorrow, the twins will have been home a full week, and it already feels like forever.  Here's how it's been.

My sis Ellen and nephew True came to help.  Ellen was a ton of help, and True was slightly less help but really cute and fun to have around.

(That is dirt around his mouth, not Oreo.  Yum yum.)

John and I have the night-time routine down.  It includes lots of diaper changes.


And lots of little bottles.


It includes bleary-eyed feedings in our bed.


We feed them at 10 p.m., and then John sets his phone alarm for 1, 4, and 7 a.m.  It is really great to do it as a team, and I must say that I don't miss the nursing that I did with the girls.  Knowing how much they are eating each time brings a lot of peace of mind.

We went to their first pediatrician appointment and got great reports on them both.  They have both gained a lot since discharge and are doing so well.  Amazing to see the health the Lord has provided for them - we are so thankful.

Lily and Bella absolutely love having the babies home and are constantly doting on them.  I have actually caught Bella singing, "I love you so much.  I love you so much." to them, which did make me cry tears of joy.  Lily loves to call William "Little Man" and Violet "Miss Violet."  So, she will say, "What is wrong with Little Man?  I think he is telling us he is hungry."  They really like to help feed the babies - with adult supervision of course.


We are also trying to be intentional with the girls - here's John playing with them last night before bed.  He is super-dad.


And now my mom is here.  Currently she is folding laundry while I blog.  If only this were always the way the world worked.  I can see that laundry will become more my nemesis than ever with four little people who are virtually no help.

We ventured to the mall to do some clothes exchanging since William is growing so quickly.  That meant we had two double strollers and got asked constantly if I had two sets of twins.  That is my new world.  And then people look at me slightly askance and tell me how brave I am or how full my hands are and better me than them.  I smile and nod.

It's been a good week.  We are adjusting to the new normal of it taking twenty five years to get out the door and spending my life on a three hour schedule.

But it is so good, and though we are tired, we are so thankful.  Seeing what the Lord has done does not get old, and I continue to marvel at the gifts he has given us.