Wednesday, July 31, 2013


We rented a boat and headed out on the lake on the only day of this trip that didn't rain - what a blessing!  Boat day had some major highs and lows, just like all of life.

Low:  Bella woke up with a serious crick in the neck, which caused her to not be herself most of the day.  She actually laid on the seat of the boat most of the time.  She was sweet almost the whole day, which was really pleasant.  (Very different from the last time we went out on the lake all day.)


High:  Having helpers to get our crew loaded.  Here's Mom wheeling the twins to the boat via wagon.


Low:  As it turns out, we think Lily was a bit traumatized from our last canoe trip, and she was very nervous/anxious to get back out on the water.  Even in a pontoon boat.  This extreme fear came out several times throughout the day, unfortunately.  At one point as the boat was rocking, she was yelling, "We are going to tip!  Turn on the motor!  We need to leave now and go home."  Poor thing.  It was sad, but I think boat day was therapeutic in the end.  She also managed to fall asleep in John's arms, which is almost unheard of for her.


High:  All being together.  Boating was a great way to enjoy one another.  My siblings are just the best.  Fact.


High: Tubing fun with the fam.  Our girls were not up for it, but John and I sneaked in a mini-tubing date.  So romantic.


High:  The lake provides all kinds of entertainment, like cliff jumping for John.  He's got great jumping form.


Low:  My kids were a bit needy at times, and I sat right in the midst of them for quite a while.  (Bella is laid out next to me.)


High:  Both girls perked up in the afternoon and even began to enjoy things.  We managed to get them both out into the water, though Lily had to be bribed with a sugar cookie and wanted back onto the boat almost immediately.  Bella had a blast.


High:  The twins had a great day out on the water.  The combination of the loud motor and constant rocking had them soothed most of the day.  Also, William looks awesome in his cousin's sunglasses.


Low:  All good things must come to an end, and Bella in particular was quite vocal about her displeasure when it was time to get out of the water and go back to the marina.  This picture is right before that.


All in all, the boat day was a great success!  I heart time away with family.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Being with family is really just the best.  You can totally be yourself and not worry one bit about anyone thinking you are nuts.  They already know that you are, and they love you anyway.  This trip has been pretty low-key, which is definitely what we need right now.  With family around, we have extra baby feeders.


We have Uncles that want to watch 3D movies with us.


We have extra sweet babies around.


Plus our usual sweet babies.


Some of us headed to the Butterfly Palace, which was a definite hit with my girls.  Except for the crazy mirror maze - it creeped the girls out a bit, but Mom and I liked it.


But the actual room with the butterflies was a big hit.


Then a butterfly landed on my arm, which sent Lily into a sort of tail-spin.  You know those mutant butterflies are super dangerous.


A little butterfly face-painting helped perk things up for Lily, but once Bella saw Lily have her face painted, she wanted nothing to do with it.  Two year olds can be so fickle.


I'm so sad this picture was so over-exposed, because her smile is so precious.


After the Butterfly Palace, we battled through Branson strip traffic (so much worse in the summer than I remembered!) and ate lunch at a pizza buffet that claims the World's Largest Banjo.  Our family has gone there since growing up, so it was fun to be there all together again.

And, this picture pretty much sums up what our family feels like right now.


The other great thing about being with family is that you can lay down and nap whenever you want.  If your children will allow it or if your sister will carry your children away from you after she takes a picture of it all, like what happened here.


We've also had lots of fun late night gaming after most children are asleep.  Family game nights never get old.


Good times, great memories.  Branson is treating us well!

Sunday, July 28, 2013


It's no secret that I am borderline obsessed with cookies.  I am currently considering starting a small cookie business on the side, so I have been head first into research about stuff like cottage laws and shipping methods.  We shall see.  This week our friend Becci came back to help me pack up and get out of the house for the family trip that we are currently on.  Because she came to help, I had the extra time to make vacation cookies.


The girls had a blast playing with all the frostings containers.  Whatever keeps them entertained.


I got a new order of cookie cutters in the mail that Lily was happy to unpack and the lay out on the counter for me.


Now we are enjoying Branson with my family, and the gang's all here!  We are making memories at every turn.  Cookies are always a fun part of that.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I'm sitting on my couch Indian style with my computer in my lap as I type away.  Empty bottles that need to be washed and a Diet Dr. Pepper waiting to be finished are to my right, along with my ever-present iPhone.  On my left lay sweetly slumbering babes who just finished the aforementioned bottles and are snuggled under blankets.  I can hear Lily downstairs in our playroom where she "naps" as she talks to her Lambie, the play horse and the puppy dog.  Bella is strangely quiet, but I can be almost certain she is not sleeping, but instead wrecking some kind of silent destruction that I will encounter in about an hour.  William is stirring, because he does that more often, but he loves his paci, and he is making sweet cooing noises.  The applique crab on his outfit is grinning up at me, and every so often, I catch a glimpse of a grin on his face as well.

I am often surprised at my life.  I'm not sure what I expected, but I don't think I got it.  I got so much more.  I never expected to adopt - it was not in my plan at all.  I never expected to have a husband who owned a restaurant.  I didn't fully expect to be a stay-at-home mom.  So many wonderful surprises and gifts that God has graciously given to me.


Every June in Arkansas, just as it is starting to get hot, the mimosa trees start blooming.  (Truth be told, I had to Google what they were called just to write this post about them.  I have been mesmerized by them since I was a child, but I am no botanist.  My thumbs are black.)  What always amazes me about these trees is the fact that they are everywhere here.  I mean everywhere.  And I never notice them at all until they are blooming their delicate fuzzy pink flowers that seem to love the heat and soak up the sun.


I feel like it is a wonderful God surprise every summer.  Most trees have flowered out and lost their luster that gives way to their normal green leaves.  But out of seemingly nowhere, the mimosa trees start to shine.  They remind me what a creative God we have to give the gift of flowering trees in the middle of the hot summer in places you wouldn't expect them.  When I researched them a bit, they are apparently a bit of a weed of a tree.  They grow just about anywhere and drop a ton of seeds in the fall and even into the winter, so their proliferation around the South especially is not a surprise to anyone who understands how these things work.

I feel like those vivid pink blossoms wave to me out of a mass of other plain green trees and say, "Just wait!  You never know what God will do and when!  He will surprise you when you least expect it!"  And this has been true all along.  I am so thankful.

But you and I both know that not all surprises seem good at the time or good in light of our finite human vision.  I've experienced those already enough to know that bad surprises come along.  Sometimes I can get fretful, especially when I think about my children's futures and what surprises that I will never be able to control or predict.

It all comes back to whether or not I trust God.  Do I trust his character?  Do I trust that his ways are good and always better than my own?  The answer is a resounding yes, but that doesn't mean that I don't keep asking the questions.  I have to ask the questions in the face of everything we see and experience here on Earth.  So many hardships.  So much pain.

But, God is good.  All the time.  And he brings good God surprises that shake up our lives and draw us to himself.  As I look ahead, I wonder what other surprises are in store.  As I look ahead, I am so glad to follow a God who knows what is ahead and promises to walk with me.  Following a God who brings the delights of unexpected summer blooms will never be boring.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


When I started this post, I was going to call it "Almost Wordless Wednesday," but since I clearly can't write a post without rambling, that is how this post got its clever title.  First off, here is a really cute recent picture of all my kids.  And by recent, I mean in the last hour, right after we got home from a play date and lunch with friends.  Man, when they are willing to pose, they can certainly turn on the charm.  They then asked for me to text this to John.  My kids are growing up in a different world than I did.


They are just so cute.  I am regularly grateful that I have cute children.  I know there are much more important things in life, especially as they get older.  But, it does help that they are so stinking adorable.  Especially since they do stink fairly often, and they act like little stinkers sometimes.

I've been thinking of doing an FAQ post for a while.  I think I will sometime soon - so, if you have any burning questions that you would like for me to answer, fire away.  I am sure there are some things I will forget.  However, one thing I would like to address in this post is a question that I get pretty frequently.

"How do you do it all?"

You may or may not be surprised by how often this question is posed to me, but I really do hear it a lot.  (Along with "Do you really have two sets of twins?  That's amazing!)  So, I feel the need to come clean out in this public forum about all the things I don't do, and my thoughts about "doing it all."

Let me start by saying that I am flattered by this question, and since I am an achiever type personality who loves to be admired, the fleshly side of me would like to say something like, "Oh - it's not hard.  My kids always listen and obey, and I'm great at time management."  However, that would be a flat out lie.  I do have good kiddos who self-entertain very well, and for that I am grateful.  But, they are normal kids, and the babies are normal babies.  They require a lot of time and energy, and I am constantly having to remind myself that they are my priority.  I stay at home to be with them, not to make their rooms look cute, not to blog and not to document their every moment with a photograph.  God has allowed us this time, and I don't take that for granted, but I do screw it up regularly by wanting to pursue my own agenda, sometimes at their expense.  I am continually having to re-evaulate how I spend my time and energy and asking the Lord to direct me appropriately.

Here's a list of a lot of things that I don't do at all, or that I don't do well.
- I don't clean my house.  As soon as the twins came home, I hired someone to come every other week. I rarely clean in between those times.  As in, about the most I ever do is wipe down our kitchen and sweep under the table.
- I don't bathe my kids super often.  I honestly forget to, and then it seems so cumbersome, and before I know it, it has been a week, and the babies' neck rolls reek of curdled formula every time they lift their heads and even then, I sometimes wait another day or two.  I use a lot of wipes.
- I don't watch much TV.  Though, the girls and I have been pounding recorded episodes of Cupcake Wars in the afternoons when I am feeding the twins.  So much so that I have heard Lily "making cupcakes" during nap time saying things like, "It's a chocolate cupcake topped with a strawberry frosting."  Awesome.
- I don't change our sheets super often.  That will probably gross out a bunch of you, and I do change them at least once a month, but sometimes not more than that.
- This is something that I should just confess though it doesn't necessarily fall into this list - one side of my purse has a CFA sauce that burst inside of it.  I have yet to clean it out.  I have just been avoiding that side of the purse, and I am only reminded of it when I catch a whiff of that sweet smell that is sadly starting to ferment in this July heat.  I need to just get a new purse, since this is the same purse that I have poured Diet Dr. Pepper into on three separate occasions.
- I don't wash and dry my hair that often (like 2-3 times a week max).  Dry shampoo is totally a good friend of mine.
- My meal calendar stops the week after we found out about the babies.  It's like when a tornado comes through and the clock stops at just that time.  We have had a lot of meals brought to us in the last several months, and we eat CFA for lunch probably 3-4 times a week.  The new salads are just about the best things that have happened to me.

As for the stuff I do do.  Well, I think that people's perception of what I do and what I actually do are two different things.  Everything looks like more when you also take pictures and blog about it, which I happen to like doing and have gotten pretty quick at since I have done it for quite a while now.  I love being able to share about our lives, and it has been an amazing outlet for me, but it has the dark side of being able to project a more put together reality than is really the case.  I try to balance this out with heart-felt posts that dive deeper into what is going on behind the scenes.  Because just like everybody else, we have a lot of mess around our house and in our hearts.  Life is messy.  People are messy.  Living in a family is messy.

My ultimate goal and desire in life is to glorify God and be a faithful steward of all he has entrusted to me.  (side note, as I was writing this, I realized that is almost verbatim the CFA corporate purpose statement.  I must have really taken it to heart.)  I like to use my gifts that God has given me , and hopefully, I am using them to glorify God and not further my own name and agenda.  I don't want to succeed in the wrong areas and miss the mark, which I know would happen without the Lord's direction in my life.  I have a long way to go, but I am thankful to know that I don't have to do it on my own.  Nor could I ever.  And there is a lot of stuff that I don't have to do at all.