Resolution Update

Since this year is already halfway over, I have been revisiting my goals for 2010 to see how I'm doing. 

In short, my goals for the year were...
---Better housekeeping, primarily laundry
---Cook more, focusing on healthier, well-balanced meals
---More reading
---Outings/special activities with the girls
---Get more exercise
---Strengthen my relationship with Jeremy and with God
---Have more patience

Not too bad, right?  And how have I done with these goals?  Well....some areas are going better than others.

The housekeeping is a definite improvement over what it was two or three years ago.  The clutter has been kept mostly under control since we moved in the new house.  (I'm sure it helps that there are several boxes of non-necessities in the storage room that have not even been unpacked.)  Laundry?  Ehhh....we did much better for awhile, but I am still not where I want to be in this area.  We have found ourselves falling back into the habit of washing four or five loads of laundry at a time, then living out of clothes baskets for weeks because we never can seem to get them put away.  The exception is the girls' laundry, which my mother-in-law takes care of on Wednesdays when she is here (awesome!).  In all honesty, here is a picture with my messy laundry room in the background (the kitchen counter is pretty cluttered in this picture, but it's really not like that most of the time). 

Two cool chicks

Aren't my girls some cool chicks??

On the cooking front, I have done LOTS more in 2010.  It wasn't really included in my resolutions post, but I have also made an effort to keep our grocery budget under control and to plan our meals so that we have what we need on hand and we actually use the things we are buying.  There is still room for improvement, but I'm pretty proud of the progress that has been made in these areas.  The grocery bill has been cut a lot by just not buying sweets/snack foods as much, and by actually thinking ahead about what we will eat during the week.  I also feel like Jeremy and I are eating better than we were, and Addison and Mackenzie get a pretty good range of healthy foods along with the fun stuff.

There's no question that I have read a ton more this year than I did last year.  It helps that the girls are at a much calmer age.  They are in bed early, by 6:30 or 7:00 every night, which gives me a couple of hours to myself to read, blog, watch tv, etc.  (Hmmm...could this be related to my piles and piles of laundry??)  My Kindle also makes it easier to read more often.  I stick it in my bag every morning, so if I have a few extra minutes during the day, I always have whatever I'm reading with me.  Also, if the girls are entertained, I can sometimes get a little reading in without them noticing.  I have read a few books this year that I would not have normally picked (thanks to a book club, free books on Kindle, etc.), and I've really enjoyed finding new favorites.

My bathing beauties!

We do a pretty good job getting Addison and Mackenzie out for adventures fairly often.  Of course there are still weekends like this last one, when we have nowhere to be and we don't leave the house except to go to church and out to lunch on Sunday.  Everyone needs weekends like that, but we also take them to do fun things when we have the chance.  The warm weather back in the spring encouraged us to get out to the playground or even to the swings in the backyard.  Now that it's blazing hot, it's hard to get out as much, but we do manage to squeeze in a little pool time every now and then.  My mom took the girls to their first storytime at the library today, and they really enjoyed it.  I just want them to get out and have a variety of fun experiences, and overall, I think that's happening.

Trying to escape...

Exercise?  Well, let's just say this will likely always be an area where I can use improvement.  With the healthier eating and more eating at home, I feel like I'm healthier overall.  Getting out with the girls does provide a form of exercise, so I'm counting that.  : )

My relationship with Jeremy is stable, comforting, and fun.  We haven't really had many date nights since the babies have been born, but again, the early bedtime allows us to spend time cooking or watching a movie together on the nights Jeremy is home.  I was saying earlier this week, though, that it's about time for us to have a nice dinner out together.  Hopefully that will happen in the next few weeks.  We may not be all that exciting, but we love each other and we have a comfortable, drama-free relationship.  For that, I am most grateful.

My relationship with God has always felt a little like an ebb and flow to me.  You know how sometimes you have those points where you just feel like everything is right spiritually, like you're walking with God and seeking Him on a deeper level....and then sometimes, no matter what you do, you just can't seem to get to that place, like it's all just going through the motions?  That's how it is for me, anyway.  I haven't had as much time to focus on the youth or some of the other aspects of church that keep me inspired, but I feel like I'm moving back in the right direction right now.  I'm looking for a good Bible study for my high school Sunday school class (suggestions welcome!), and hoping to find one that will encourage me as well.  I have been teaching for so long that sometimes I feel like I am ready to go back and be a student for awhile, but I know it's an important job to teach those kids...so I try to find lessons that are meaningful to me as well.  Multitasking!  Anyway, I feel like I am heading in a good direction right now, but there will always be room for more growth and a deeper relationship with my God.

Finally, patience...oh, the elusive patience.  This has been a big struggle for me in becoming a parent, and I am sure it probably always will be.  I do feel like I have come a long way in demonstrating more patience with the girls.  Of course, it helps that they are becoming more like little people, capable of basic communication and some understanding of what I'm saying.  I hope I can continue to increase my patience as some of the behavior issues associated with the toddler years start to show themselves.  Of course, when the smiles come out, the patiences a lot easier!


So, what about you??  Have you thought about your resolutions since January?  Looking back was a good reminder for me...I feel like I'm back on track for the second half of the year!


I intended to write a post today on some of the sleep issues going on in our house lately.  It's not been too bad, just lots of middle-of-the-night wakings from Mackenzie, who also manages to wind up in our bed around 5:00 a.m. every morning.  I don't know what is going on...molars?  Bad dreams?  Separation anxiety?

I read a story this morning, though, that puts all our daily issues (or non-issues) into true perspective.  I saw a link to a story about a little girl who just passed away from cancer.  I don't always click over to read more, because sometimes, I just can't handle the sad stories.  When I saw that this little girl has a twin sister, I knew I had to read. 

Little Ellie passed away on Wednesday this week, after a battle with a rare form of pediatric cancer.  She leaves behind a beautiful twin sister, Grace.  You can see her story and some sweet pictures that absolutely broke my heart on her CaringBridge site.  I am so sad for Ellie's parents and her sister, and I just can't imagine the pain they are feeling right now.  It just seems so unfair, so wrong, for a parent to have to explain to her 8-year-old daughter that she will be going to live with Jesus and wait for her family in Heaven.  Grace shouldn't have to live the rest of her life missing her twin.

I happened to notice on the site that tomorrow, just after the time of Ellie's memorial service, many people are planning to release pink and white balloons in honor of Ellie.  I think we may go find some balloons in the morning and send them up to this sweet little girl.  If you would like to join, the balloon release is planned for 1 p.m. Eastern time.

"He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart." --Isaiah 40:11

Tonight, I will remind myself to be thankful for my strong, healthy girls.  I will remember how quickly things can change, and that none of us are guaranteed another day on this Earth.  If my children were sick, or if I felt I didn't have much time left with them, would I care that they woke me up in the middle of the night?  Absolutely not!  I would gladly sit in that rocking chair with my babies nestled in my lap, rocking and singing, breathing in every ounce of them for as long as I was able.  When my Mackenzie-girl wakes me up tonight, as she surely will, I will grab those little outstretched arms and be glad that her lungs are healthy enough to stir me from a deep sleep.  I will be thankful that she is strong enough to cling to me and I will hold her and thank God for all the days He gives me with my sweet girls.

Sorry for the morose post today, but I just can't get this family off my mind this morning.  I am taking Addison and Mackenzie to McDonald's to play on the indoor playground (yay airconditioning!) this afternoon, so I'm sure that will brighten my mood some!  We haven't been to play since they started walking more steadily, so I'm excited to see how they like it.  I have so much fun watching those girls learn to walk...they lurch around like little drunks, but they are getting much better at it very quickly!  I have to get video soon, before they can run away.  : )


Sunday Morning: Then and Now

Sunday mning, after I got ready for church, the girls and I decided to watch a little Baby Einstein while we waited for Jeremy to get ready.  They looked like such big girls, sitting in their new chairs, enjoying their tv show.  After I saw the pictures I snapped, I happened to remember two other pictures I took on a Sunday morning when A & M were distracted with the tv while waiting for us to get ready...
Sunday morning collage

Don't they look grown up?!  Check out those little silver bracelets they are wearing in the new pictures.  Addison and Mackenzie got them for Christmas, but just wore them for the first time this week.  (We do good to get everyone out the door fully dressed; there is not always time for accessorizing!)  They LOVED them.  You could just tell they thought they were hot stuff with those bracelets on.  Funny little girls!

I'm playing along with Twinfatuation's Way Back When-esday this week.  Check out more posts here.


Are you KIDding me?

I have a confession to make.

Are you ready?

I absolutely LOVED being pregnant.

Do you think I'm crazy?  Many people do, I'm sure.  I really did love it though.  I loved the baby bump, the first little flutters of movement, my big belly, and the way you could see little knees and heels and elbows poking my stomach.  I even loved my maternity clothes (thanks to a good friend who gave me an entire wardrobe!).  Yes, even though there were two in there and it got a little crowded at times, I enjoyed just about all of it.

I am well aware that I may be in the minority on this, and I will admit that even my relatively easy pregnancy came with its share of discomforts and surprises.  (Do you remember how hard it was to take a deep breath once the baby-or babies-got up under your rib cage?  I remember laying in the hospital bed after my c-section, marvelling at how exciting it was to be able to breathe in all the way!)

I recently received a book that brought back several pregnancy memories I'd nearly forgotten.  Haley Greene's book Are You KIDing Me?  51 Things People Don't Tell You About Being Pregnant was a fast, fun read that makes light of some of the less-than-pleasant aspects of pregnancy.  The book is made up of humorous direct statements about pregnancy, along with a few sidenotes and illustrations (all in the hand-drawn style).

Some of my favorite lines...
You will never be SO HOT in all your life.  (So true!  My hospital visitors had to wear winter coats to sit with me for more than a few minutes at a time.)

If you have never had acid reflux before, you are in for a treat.  (I only wish I discovered Pepcid before the last week of my pregnancy.  Tums just couldn't cut it alone.)

You will never sleep through the night again.  With the peeing and the hot flashes, FORGET IT.  (And that's nothing compared to AFTER the baby comes!)

If you are modest and don't like to have anyone see you naked, pregnancy is not for you.  EVERYONE sees you naked.

DO NOT go online to self-diagnose.  YOU could DIE.  (True, Dr. Google is not a friend to an already over-anxious hormonal pregnant lady.)

Do not go to the grocery store hungry.  You will only come home with things covered in frosting.  (Wait, is that only supposed to happen during pregnancy?  Cause that applies to me all the time...)

This book was a fun walk down memory lane, and it would be a good 'congratulations' gift to a newly expectant mom...as long as she's not the type who scares easily!  I have a friend in mind who just might be receiving this book from me very soon.  : )

So tell me...am I the only one who loved being pregnant?  Sure I'm not completely alone!  What surprised you most about your pregnancy?


Wordless Wednesday: New Friends

Mackenzie & Logan

Mackenzie was fascinated by Logan.  Can you tell?


Growing Up

When the girls were born, my mom almost immediately called a local church to put them on the waiting list for a Mother's Day Out program.  My sister had attended this program as a child, and mom thought it would be a good opportunity for Addison and Mackenzie too, if we could swing it financially.  We laughed and joked with mom about wanting to give up her "new job" of keeping the girls so soon.  She wisely realized that she would be in need of a bit of a break by the time they were ready to attend, but for so long it seemed like it would be forever before they would be big enough to enroll in the program.

I officially registered them last week.

Addison and Mackenzie will start "school" in August.

How the heck did that happen so fast?!

A couple of months ago, I got a call saying there would be spots available for the girls in August.  At first I was thinking there was no way they would be ready by then.  They weren't even close to walking at the time, and they still seemed like babies in so many ways.  I could not imagine sending my babies off to nursery school to hold their own against much bigger toddlers who might push them down on the playground and steal their toys.  (Because no toy-stealing ever happens in this house.  Never.  HA!)  So, yes, I was a little carried away and being the over-protective-my-babies-can't-be-growing-up mama.

As I talked a little more with the director, I grew a more comfortable with the situation.  Realistically, I knew the girls wouldn't be running around with three-year-olds (I grew up in daycare; I know how these things work), but it helps to have a better idea of the setup and the way classes are run.  There will be 12 one-year-olds, who will then be divided into two even smaller groups.  They will basically do the same things they do now-music, playtime, projects, lunch, snack, and nap-but with the added benefit of the socialization with other kids. 

In my pre-registration panic mode, I also failed to estimate just how quickly the girls will change over these next few months.  They are both now taking steps and are getting stronger in their walking every day.  They are also quickly becoming more advanced in their play--sharing toys, playing rudimentary "games", etc.  I've noticed the last couple of weeks that leaving them in the nursery at church is getting slightly easier, particularly for Addison.  She is playing as soon as I put her down and hardly even notices I'm leaving.  Even more encouraging, at a birthday party this weekend, they were eager to play with the other kids and seemed to really have a good time.  They used to shy away and cling to us in social situations, so it excited me to see them joining in so easily. 

They're ready.

I am trying to be ready too.


Easy Money

I'm struggling to stay on the budgeting bandwagon and to improve our monthly spending habits.  It's summertime--when I long for a cute, comfortable dress, a good book, and a cute new bathing suit to hide my stretch marks.  Oh, and a white chocolate moccha frappucino from Starbucks to sip while I sit around reading that good book and wearing my new bathing suit.  (Hmm..that sounds strangely like what vacation used to be like before our two little munchkins came along!)

The point is, it's tough to keep my spending in control sometimes.  I am having to learn the value of waiting and saving my extra money for the bigger things I want.  For instance, I am using a birthday check from my dad to get the super-cute Kindle cover I've had my eye on for the last month or so.  I couldn't justify the cost just because I wanted it, but with that little additional "fun money", I can order it and not feel guilty. 

Another trick I'm using to pay for my extras without taking a chunk out of the budget is by using a couple of reward websites to earn gift cards.  My regular Visa credit card earns reward points for every dollar spent.  I don't make it a habit to charge on that card, but when we moved and bought new appliances, it was convenient to put them on the card, then pay the bill when we got our income tax refund.  That added up to quite a bit of points, which I just cashed in for a $25.00 Amazon gift card. 

I recently opened a Gap Visa account, which earns reward points toward Gap gift cards.  I found a great pair of jeans that were already on sale, plus I saved about $15 extra on my purchase by opening a card (don't worry...I am almost never talked into opening a store card.  It just worked out that I would save enough on that day that I considered it to be worth the investment).  I just earned my first $10 gift card, and I'm only 6 points away from earning another one.  The cool thing about the Gap Visa is that I can use it anywhere--not just at Gap stores.  So, for example, I can put my gas on it, pay it off each month, and earn points toward gift cards for something I would be buying anyway.  Good deal, right?  I also like that the Gap rewards can be used at Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Piperlime, so I'm not limited to Gap.

Search & Win

Another easy way I've been earning rewards online is by using Swagbucks.  You earn points by using their search engine for everyday internet searches, by taking surveys, answering poll questions, etc.  It's pretty easy and totally free.  I just earned my first Amazon gift card today, and it really took very little effort.  (yay!)  If you might be interested in Swagbucks, click the link above and you can sign up as a referral under my account...that means when you earn points, I will too!

The last "easy money" program I've been participating in is MyPoints.  This one is even easier than Swagbucks for me, and the points seem to accumulate a little faster overall.  There are a variety of ways to earn with MyPoints as well.  The easiest is by "reading" the email they send on a daily basis, then clicking the enclosed link to visit the website.  You earn more for signing up for the offer they're promoting, but you get points just for clicking to the site.  What could be easier than that?  There are also surveys, special offers, etc.  Oh, and with both MyPoints and Swagbucks, you can earn points shopping online.  You shop at the same places you normally do, but you click through their site first, and you can earn points for every dollar you spend.  MyPoints seems to have more participating retailers and offer more points per dollar, but I haven't earned by the shopping method yet.  I have only been doing MyPoints for a few weeks, and I'm well on my way to another gift card.  (I would suggest setting up a dedicated email for things like this...they can clog your inbox after awhile.)

With all the gift cards headed my way, it's shaping up to be a good month around here.  I like to get Amazon cards, because you can order SO much off the one website.  Of course, we all know what I'll most likely be using my gift cards for...books for my Kindle!  : )

What are your secrets for squeezing extra spending money out of your budget?  And what is your favorite thing to buy with that "fun money"?  Any other good rewards programs I am missing out on?


28 and 14 Months

I've been wanting to post for several days, but our internet has been very spotty at home, and I was just never able to get it done. I've been off work several days lately, and really, I've enjoyed spending time with my family and being extremely lazy after the girls go to bed. My Kindle has seen a lot of use lately, as I am very absorbed in Pride and Prejudice (free on Kindle!). Somehow I missed out on this one in school. It's much better than some of the other classics we read (for example- The House of Seven Gables). What is your favorite classic book? Least favorite?

Jeremy and I both turned 28 in the last couple of weeks.  We are pretty low-key birthday people, but we did do our favorite form of celebration--EAT!  We grilled with our families on Jeremy's birthday, then went to Red Lobster this weekend with my best friend for our birthdays.  Jeremy went to a class for work last week and got to be home at night, so at least I got to see him on my birthday.  We are more than ready for him to move to a day-shift position.

Last year around this time I wrote this post, describing our lives at the time.  I went back and read it to see how far we've come in a year, and whew!  Can I just say I'm so glad to be where we are now, as opposed to where we were then?  It's fun looking back at those pictures of my tiny, sweet babies and remembering how they loved to snuggle on my chest as we all three napped on the couch.  But then I can't help remembering the emotions and the stress and the exhaustion of those days, and I'm just thankful to be in the fun stage we're in now.

14 Months

These little girls turned 14 months old last week, and they are growing and changing every day.  They are constantly in action, so my monthly photos may get worse and worse as it gets harder to entice them to sit still for thirty seconds.

The big news this week is that Mackenzie is taking steps on her own!  Yep, before long I will have two official walkers.  (Lord, help us.)  Addison is taking steps too, but they are more like lunges because she hasn't really mastered the concept of balancing in a standing position yet.  She is getting there, though, and I have a feeling they will both be walking by 15 months.

We had our first biting incident a couple of weeks ago.  Addison leaned over in the bathtub to give Mackenzie "love" by kissing her on the arm.  Mackenzie's eyes got very big and she started wailing.  Addison sat up, and we saw a little round imprint on Mackenzie's upper arm.  And so it begins...

The only other incident was a bitten finger this weekend.  I sat Addison in the chair and said "No" very sternly.  I made her sit there for about a minute or so, and she seemed to understand that she was not allowed to get down. 

Any tips on disciplining one-year-olds?  I always take their arm and look them in the eye when I say "no", but sometimes we need something that makes a little more impact.  I have swatted a hand once or twice, but since one of the main discipline problems is going to be them hitting each other, I don't want to rely on that method.  How do you make a one-year-old understand that it's okay for Mama to swat your hand, but it's not okay to do it to your sister?  Oh, this parenting stuff...there just aren't any easy answers. 

I just have to tell y'all what I got from a sweet blogger friend this weekend.  She sent me a box of clothes that her twin girls have outgrown!  Thanks to them, Addison and Mackenzie have a great head start on their fall/winter wardrobe.  Thanks again, Ashley!

As you can see from the crappy cell phone picture, the girls had lots of fun "helping" me go through the clothes.

Don't forget to leave me your classic books suggestions!  They are mostly free on Kindle, and I will take all the FREE ones I can get!


All About Me

Back while I was on vacation, Marcia tagged me to post five pictures of myself and list five things I like about myself.  Like many of us, I am usually the one behind the camera (if there's a camera present at all--I'm very forgetful), so there are not a ton of pictures of me out there anymore.  If my scanner was set up, I would find some way-back-when pictures, but these swiped off Facebook will have to do!
(If I ever do share pictures of myself on here, it's usually Jeremy and me, so I found some different ones this time.)
This is my best friend Kelly and me, showing off our baby bellies at church one Sunday morning.  I'm pretty sure I talked about this picture in a previous post, but I just love it.  Kelly and I were actually born two days apart and nearly switched in the hospital (true story...they took me to her mom to be fed.  Luckily, her mom noticed quickly that something was not right.).  Do you see resemblance between us?  My mom still jokes sometimes that she's convinced she actually had twins and they gave one to Kelly's mom!  Anyway, Kelly and I had our babies 10 weeks apart, and I love that our kids will grow up a part of each other's families.


Okay, here's one with Jeremy...it's us and my sister at a Braves game about two years ago.  I like this one because you can tell he is faking a smile and pretending to care about all the random pictures we are taking.  He loves us, even when we are silly.


This is one of my most favorite pictures ever.  It was taken at Kelly's wedding in Las Vegas in December 2006.  Jeremy was not able to go, so my sister and I had a fun girls' trip to Vegas.  She was a senior in high school at the time, and I had just gotten married the previous August.  I have had mostly short hair for years, but for some reason the grown-out cut in this picture worked for awhile.  If I could duplicate it, I would totally keep my hair that way!  I was also still rocking the post-wedding body at the time, so that helps too.  : )

This is a picture Jeremy took of me on our honeymoon in 2006.  I like this one because it reminds me of the body I had once upon a time...when certain things stayed where they were supposed to.  Ahem.  It also reminds me of our honeymoon cruise, which was probably the most relaxing week of my entire life.

And finally, my mom and me on my wedding day.  This was taken just after I finished getting ready, while we relaxed for a few minutes before everything got started.  My mom and I don't take enough pictures together, but I certainly treasure them when we do.  I love my mama!  : )

Next, I'm supposed to list five things I like about myself.  (I'm going to leave off the aforementioned body parts that no longer stay where they are supposed to, but you should know they are in the top 10...even after babies.)
  1. I am smart.  It feels a little weird, saying it so bluntly like that, but it's true.  And since this is a list of things I like about myself, I'm including it.  I have always been naturally book-smart, and school was never too much of a challenge for me.  I still love to learn, and I hope I always will.
  2. I like my hair.  Okay, even if I don't always like it, I'm grateful for it.  I have a head full of very thick hair that's still fairly manageable.  I didn't realize until the last few years what a blessing that is.
  3. I've mentioned my body-that-isn't-quite-what-it-used-to-be several times already (tired of that yet?).  I have never had a tiny, perfect body, and I've never had much semblance of a waist (it's the genes).  Overall, though, I like the fact that I eat pretty much anything I want, exercise minimally, and still stay at a relatively small and comfortable size.  (I do realize that my metabolism will likely catch up with me one day and all of that will change!)
  4. I love that I'm super-close with my family.  Is that about me?  I'm including it anyway.  My mom, sister, and I have a pretty great relationship, and we are also very close to my mom's sister and her daughter.  (My parents divorced when I was 11, and though my dad lives nearby, we are not nearly as close as my mom and me.)
  5. I like that I am a relaxed and laid-back person.  I have not always been this way, but I have changed a lot in the last several years.  I don't stress about too much anymore, and I think that trait came in very, very handy during the first year with twins!  My house may not be in a presentable state, but quality time with my family will never be lacking...and you may even find us all still in our pajamas at 3:00 pm.
I don't know who to tag, but it was pretty fun and a little challenging to come up with all this.  If you haven't shared a picture of yourself on your blog lately, consider yourself tagged.  Leave a link to your post in the comments so I can check it out!