I spend a lot of time imagining what my girls might be like in the future.  I dream about the days when they start playing games together...I can just hear them bossing each other around while playing 'school', arguing over who gets to be the teacher.  I think about all the things they will do together: first day of school, gymnastics classes, learning to ride bikes.

Looking a little further down the road, I think about the secrets they will share.  I imagine whispered conversations about friends and boys and giggles over inside jokes.  Obviously, it won't be fun and happiness all the time...how can it be with two girls the same age living under the same roof and sharing so many things?  I am sure there will be fights over toys, then clothes and shoes, and probably over those same friends and boys they'll whisper about in the night.  Yes, mama and daddy might need a drink a little stronger than Diet Dr. Pepper to get through those times!

Beyond imagining what Addison and Mackenzie might be like, I also spend quite a bit of time praying for them.  I pray they will be strong, happy, smart, and independent girls.  I pray they will be confident in who they are, and that they will achieve whatever it is they might want in this life.  I pray they will make good choices and have good hearts.  I pray they will love God and want to follow Him.  I am still learning exactly how to pray for my girls, but basically, I want the things we all want for our kids...  Good, happy lives, with as little pain as possible.

One thing I spend a lot of time thinking/worrying/praying about has surprised me a little bit...  I desperately hope that Addison and Mackenzie want to be friends.  That may sound a little strange, as I think we tend to assume our twins (maybe especially twins of the same sex?) will love each other dearly and probably always be the best of buddies.  But that could very easily not be the case. 

I grew up with a set of twin boys who were about as different as boys could be.  One was loud and uninhibited, a class clown who was on the football team and was always in the middle of the action.  His brother was quiet and more studious, a nice boy that was hard to know much about because he kept to himself a lot.  They were so different, you would almost never guess they were twins unless you knew them personally.  I was pretty good friends with one of these boys in high school, and I can safely say that they did not spend a lot of time sharing secrets and hanging out together.  If I recall correctly, they spent very little time together and may not have had much of a "friendship" at all beyond their sibling relationship.  Now, as adults, these twins are much closer and have a (seemingly) great relationship...but I still remember thinking how hard it would be having a twin in the same class and hardly speaking to them at all.

The 10-year-old identical twin girls who live across the street from us seem to be going through a distant period right now.  The girls are often found with another girl in the neighborhood, although it often seems one of the twins is tagging behind the other two or off doing her own thing.  She's a little quieter lately, and I just wonder if she's feeling left out.

I realize this is all going to be part of the experience of raising twins, but I just really, really want my girls to love each other, be nice to each other,  be there for each other, and hopefully, genuinely like each other.  Even with all the things they are going to have to share in their lives, I hope they never, ever resent being twins.  More than that, I hope they like it and feel lucky to have a friend/sister who is always there.

Am I being too idealistic in these hopes for my girls?  Do you think about these stages with your twins?  Is there anything we can do to foster their relationship?  I realize there are likely no clear answers to these questions, and that most of us here are figuring these things out as we go, but I'm interested to hear what you think.  Kristi, I am particularly interested in hearing your thoughts on this subject, as a twin yourself.  Anything you're doing differently with your girls?  Enlighten us!


A Fall Milestone

Pumpkin Patch

We didn't make it to the pumpkin patch last fall.  Addison and Mackenzie were just six months old, and though life was getting much easier, it was still a pretty major ordeal to get out and about for very long at a time.  There are three nice pumpkin patches around us, but they are all 30-45 minutes away, so it just seemed too overwhelming last year.  Priorities were a lot different a year ago, for sure.

So, yes, the girls missed out on the pumpkin patch for their first fall/Halloween season.  (Sorry about that, kiddos!)  Hey, at least we had a pumpkin last year.  At least, I think we did.  It's still kind of a blur.


Anyway, I was not completely sure we were going to make it this year either, but since we had a free weekend this week, I decided it was a good time to go.  (Jeremy did not exactly agree, since we left home around the time the Auburn/LSU game started, but he was a good sport about missing the game.)  So on Saturday afternoon, we headed out for the girls' first trip to the pumpkin patch.


Can I just take a minute and say how awesome this age is??  It was so much fun to watch Addison and Mackenzie take in all the sights at the farm.  At first, it was like they almost couldn't believe their eyes...they would literally take off running toward whatever caught their eye.  It was just the coolest thing ever. 

They had a blast playing in the corn bins, driving the tractor, petting kittens, and watching the cows.  The donkey?  Not so much.  We were standing in front of the young donkey when one of the nearby calves let out a little moo for some of the kids on that end of the barn.  Well, that little donkey threw her head back and let out the biggest series of hee-haws you've ever heard from such a cute little animal.  Addison was absolutely FROZEN, with her tiny lower lip stuck out in a pitiful, quivering pout.  She was about to burst into tears and all Jeremy and I could do was laugh.  My poor Addison!  She stayed in her daddy's arms for awhile after that. 


I don't have any pictures of it, but Mackenzie's favorite activity was a huge combine (that's a piece of farm equipment for you city folks!) that had been turned into a slide.  It was a big slide, and apparently pretty steep, because my girls came flying down it.  I barely had time to catch Mackenzie before she hit the ground, and I just knew they would be scared and not want to do it again.  Wrong!  Mackenzie's feet had hardly touched the ground before she was taking off to the stairs again.  HOW did my girls get so big and fearless?!  I was so, so proud of them this weekend.


The rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful, except for Mackenzie's tumble in the driveway Saturday morning.  Did you notice her nose in the pictures?  Yeah, it looks worse now...all scabbed over and dark red.  She was pushing a truck and fell face-first onto the concrete.  It looks bad, but she hardly cried at all.  I have some tough girls...I'm thinking they might be little tomboys.

Sunday, we had a wonderful southern Sunday dinner buffet (baked chicken, catfish, mashed potatoes, turnip greens, peas, corn on the cob, and the best friend okra EVER.  Oh, and peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream.  Yum...  Even the girls must have been full after that, because they let mama and daddy take a full two-hour nap!  As in, we woke up before they did.  SO nice.

How was YOUR weekend? 


The Enforcer

The Enforcer...it sounds like a pro wrestler, right?  Actually, it's my new nickname for Mackenzie. 


She is so funny right now, repeating everything we say.  Even if the words don't come out right, she has the tone perfected.  In the bathtub tonight, I kept telling Addison, "No, no, no", and shaking my finger at her for letting the water out of the tub.  Mackenzie, my little helper, mimicked everything I did...down to shaking her own finger and saying "no, no, noooo" to her sister.  (Addison blocked us both out completely, by the way.)

It was pretty freaking cute, until I had to pop Addison's hand because she would not stop draining the water.  What did my little enforcer do?  She started hitting Addison's back!  Oops...

This scenario actually brings up a problem I have been going over in my head for quite sometime.  How exactly am I going to discipline these girls??


The way I see it, there are a few general methods of discipline at this age:  spanking, time-outs, and redirection are the main three that come to mind for me.  I am not necessarily opposed to any of these methods in theory, but I'm not sure what is going to work for our family either.  Discipline, like so many other parenting decisions, is definitely a personal family choice.  What works for one family may not suffice for another.

I have tried a very basic form of time-outs on occasion with the girls.  Last weekend, when Mackenzie was pushing Addison down in the front yard (!), I made Mackenzie sit beside me on the ground for a minute or so.  Eventually, she stopped pushing Addison and  moved on to scooping handfuls of mulch out of the flower beds...so I guess it was really a combination time-out/redirection.  At this stage, I think that's the method I lean toward most often.  Sometimes it works better than others, and as they get a little bigger and can better understand some simple reasoning, I will do more of the time-out, with an explanation of why they're having to sit out.

At times, though, distraction or time-outs are just NOT going to work.  Those are the times I tend to turn to spanking (in the form of a light swat on the hand or leg, or sometimes a pinch on the inner leg).  When they are touching something they are not supposed to be (the stove!), or when they have repeatedly been told to stop doing something (usually getting in the dvd cabinet), I use the swat or pinch to make it clear that it has to stop. 

However, the incident in the tub tonight reinforced my hesitancy to use spanking at this young stage for the girls.  I know that with two toddlers, hitting and fighting between themselves is going to be an issue at times.  How do I teach them that it's not okay to hit, if I'm spanking them to reinforce it??  The experts say that whatever you do, just be consistent, which we am not doing very well.  I have sort of been picking a method on a case-by-case basis, varying according to the situation, and I think that will probably continue until we figure out what works best for the girls (and us).  Maybe I won't warp them too badly before we figure it out!  : )

What works for your family?  Have you figured out your method of discipline yet?  I am especially curious about discipline if you have young toddlers, or what you did when your kids were this age.

Please share, and rest assured.... I think there is a pretty non-judgmental group of readers here, so don't be afraid to tell us what works for you!

sleepy heads



I think Addison might be a little confused about the approaching holidays...


Mackenzie says, No, sissy...it's Halloween...the one with all the candy!



Welcome to this World

A week ago today, we welcomed the newest little member of our extended 'family'. 


Brenna Faith belongs to my best friend Kelly, who is also the mom of Wyatt, Addison and Mackenzie's best friend... the three amigos who are occasionally mistaken for triplets.  Wyatt has had a lot of practice dealing with my feisty girls, so I am sure he will deal with his new sister just fine!


It's hard to believe that it wasn't that long ago that our babies looked like this:

Best Friends

And now, one of them is a proud big brother!

Big Brother

I am really excited about having a tiny, sweet newborn around again.  This time, I am not walking around in my own newborn-induced haze, so I can enjoy holding my friend's little-bitty, cuddly baby...and then happily send it home with her.  Ha! 

Looking at the perfect little 6 lb., 11 oz. bundle that Brenna is makes me stop and think about how quickly time really does pass.  She seems so tiny and fragile, and yet, just 18 months ago my girls were smaller than that.  Now they are walking, talking, opinion-expressing little girls.  Crazy.

The title of my post comes from a song by Renee & Jeremy (they make kids' music that I actually want to listen to...yes, really!) that always makes me a bit emotional about little ones growing up so quickly. 

Welcome to this world,
Whether you're ready or not;
Welcome to this world,
Come give it all that you've got;
Welcome to this world,
Before you know it you'll be,
Singing right back to me,
Welcome to this world.

Welcome to this world, Brenna!  We love you already!

 Ellis family

So, what about it, moms?  Got any tips for Kelly on managing life with a newborn and a 16-month old?  I sympathize, because I think some things about it will be harder than having multiples.  Of course, I can say that now that I am 18 months out from that emotional wreck of a woman who was up every other hour with one baby or the other.  (And, um, thank God for that!)  What do you think?  Would you prefer two at once or a toddler and a baby?


Still Me

One of the issues I often hear discussed among new parents is how to retain a sense of self after becoming a mom.  I can relate to that worry.  Once I became a mom, nearly everything about my life changed immediately.  Life was no longer about what I wanted or the plans I made...it became all about my two girls.

I often think back to the days before Addison and Mackenzie came along and wonder what the heck I did with all the extra time I must have had.  I have come to realize that I wasted an awful lot of time napping, watching mindless tv, and bumming around town just to fill the time.  After the girls were born, time became a much more precious commodity, particularly "me time".

I remember feeling like my life had spun out of control in those early days with the girls.  I could barely function enough to get a shower and get dressed, much less manage to do any of the things I enjoyed doing.  Feeling out of control was probably the absolute hardest part of those first few weeks, and that was partly related to the way my life changed SO drastically seemingly overnight.  In many ways, I really did feel like I had lost a big part of my self for awhile.

Eventually, I realized that if I wanted to do the things I had done before, I was going to have to specifically carve out the time to do them.  One of the first things I remember doing is picking up a book, Christine Coppa's Rattled, and starting to read it a few minutes at a time.  I kept it close by so I could pick it up during those precious few minutes when the girls fell asleep for their fifth or sixth short nap of the day.  As I became more comfortable maneuvering tiny babies, I began to take advantage of the hours upon hours when it seemed I could do nothing to please my girls except sit and hold them.  And what do you know...looking back, I regard those quiet times on the couch with two babies sprawled across my lap and a book in my hands as some of the most precious moments of early life with my girls.  (Oh, what I would give now for them to snuggle with me on the couch and let me read a few chapters!)

One afternoon while the girls were still too young to be mobile enough to get into anything, I spread out my craft supplies in the living room floor and painted some canvases for their room (which still have yet to be hung, but that's beside the point).  I let the laundry go during naptime, and instead focused on doing something for me, something that reminded me that I could still do the things I enjoyed.  Even if it had to be compressed into short bursts of time while the girls were sleeping or otherwise engaged, I could find ways to get some time for myself.  I felt some of the 'old me' coming back.

Still, I had to wonder in the back of my mind if I was still the same person I was before April 2009.  In many ways, of course, I'm not...none of us truly are after we are blessed with these children who so completely change our lives. 

But in many ways, I AM still the same person.  I still like nothing more than curling up on the couch with a good book.  When the girls go to bed (ok, sometimes before), the tv switches to my same favorite shows.  I still go stir-crazy if I am at home too long, so sometimes we go to the store just to get out for awhile.  I still love to eat out, even if it is a lot harder right now.  We make time to do it, and make sure we invite family along to eat with us (or run after children, whichever the case may be).  I still love dinner with girlfriends, even if it happens less frequently than before and our conversations are now 85% kids and 15% everything else.  We are the same girls after all, just busier and with different priorities now.  My house is still messy...becoming a mom didn't enhance my cleaning skills much, and I'd still choose a nap over a clean kitchen any day of the week.

The few days I had to myself away from home last week looked eerily similar to the many trips I took before having kids.  I found I didn't want to waste the day by staying in bed too long, but other than that, most things were the same.  It was a bit surprising, but what did I really expect?  That I would sit around and not know what to do with myself without work or two babies dictating my day? 

The point is, even though my daily life looks a little different than it used to, and even though my heart is much, much fuller than it was two years ago, I am still me.  A lot of things are different, but most of the basics are the same.  Same friends, same interests, same personality...just with two little sidekicks and a lot more love!

What about you?  Do you feel like you lost a bit of yourself when you became a parent?  What do you do that brings back some of those 'old me' feelings?


Eighteen Months

First of all, I never posted the girls' 17-month picture, so here it is (courtesy of my mom one morning before school)...

17 Months

Addison's hair is not quite as long or full as it appears in the picture, but both girls are sporting nice little mullets these days.  I am hoping the front will eventually catch up with the back, and if those beautiful curls want to hang around, I will be totally fine with that also.

They weren't feeling like cooperating for the 18-month picture, but it sure does capture their personalities at this stage...uncontainable! 

18 Months
One version with Addison looking at the camera...

18 Months, take two
and one with Mackenzie looking.

So, what is going on at 18 months?  LOTS.  A & M are busy, busy bees from the time they get up in the mornings until their heads hit the pillow at night.  They are into absolutely everything, so my house is almost always a wreck if we have been home for any length of time...you wouldn't want to see the state it's in today after being home for a long weekend.  And yet, we have so much fun together at this stage. 

A typical day goes something like this right now...
The girls get up somewhere between 6:30 and 7:15, though it's not uncommon for one or the other to wake up around 6:00 and come to our bed to go back to sleep.  Immediately after they wake up, we go on a hunt for snack cups (filled with Cheerios or Teddy Grahams) and milk.  They hang out in my bedroom while I get ready, either screaming and holding onto my legs or playing with their daddy and watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, depending on what kind of a day it is.  Around the time I leave for work, the girls settle in for breakfast, provided by either my mom or Jeremy.

If it's a school day, my mom comes to our house to finish getting A & M ready, then she takes them to school at 9:00 and picks them up at 2:00.  Otherwise, they spend the day at her house while I work.  Days are consumed with exploring kitchen cabinets, eating lots of good snacks, playing with balls, baby dolls, and other various toys, climbing up and down in different chairs, jumping on the bed, and playing outside--which consists of eating rocks, leaves, and any other bits of nature they can get their hands on.

After I get off work, the girls and I come home to either play outside or otherwise entertain ourselves until dinnertime.  Then it's time for bath, always a favorite in our house.  A & M usually have a good time running around naked for a few minutes after bath, burning off the last of the day's energy.  We read a few books and wrestle into pajamas, then settle in with sippy cups of milk to wind down.  Even if Jeremy is home, this is the time of day when the girls absolutely insist on having me.  We sit in the big recliner, rocking, reading Goodnight Moon, singing bedtime songs, and saying prayers until I take them to bed (which is usually around 7:00 most nights...school wears them out!).  No matter how tired they are, Mackenzie vigorously shakes her head "no" when I ask if they are ready for bed.  Yet, when I put them down, she is usually the one who goes right to sleep with little or no protest.  Addison, on the other hand, stands up before I get out of the room to shriek her protest.  That usually doesn't last long, but I can hear her humming and thrashing around in her bed for up to a half hour some nights.  She doesn't cry or anything...we just call it her 'quiet time'. 

As exhausting as the days can be, I love this stage.  It's like we are learning to understand each other and communicate a little better what we all need and want from each other.  Mackenzie is talking some, trying to repeat anything we ask her to say.  Her favorite saying right now is "Uh-oh, spaghettio"...which comes out all jumbled, but it's absolutely precious.  Naturally, we hear it 1,000 times a day, followed about 800 of those times by me saying, "That was NOT an uh-oh".  She also says daddy, mama (rarely, and only when I'm not here), keys, seat, pee-pee, poo-poo (classy, right?), baby, NiNi, bye-bye, mum-mum, rock, and can repeat a variety of other jumbled words or phrases.

Addison has not had much to say up until this point, except for long, nonsensical babbling.  She seems to really be getting the hang of it this month though, and her babbling is sounding more and more like words.  She has said uh-oh, rock, daddy, and mama lately.  Oh, how I love to hear their sweet little voices and imagine the conversations we will have one day!

I guess this has turned into a baby-book style update...but since I haven't updated their baby books since we moved into this house more than six months ago, I guess that's okay, right?

It's hard to believe my girls are halfway through their second year, closer now to two years old than to one.  The days are long, but the years are short... I have heard that multiple times during difficult times over the last year and a half, but it's not until I stopped to really take stock of how far we have come that I realize how very true those words are.  I try to remind myself of that fact a little more often, and make every effort to enjoy these days, with all the jumbled words, curious little hands, and footed pajamas...  In the grand scheme of things, they will only be here for such a short time before we move on to more serious conversations, homework, fights over clothes and boys... oh my.  Can't they stay little awhile longer??



I took most of last week 'off' from technology, and I feel a bit like I am returning from a trip to a foreign country and am trying to get reacquainted with my old familiar territory.  Does that make sense?  If not, just ignore me.  : )  Anyway, I'm glad to be back, and I am slowly catching up on all my favorite blogs. 

Jeremy had his work trip to Memphis last week, and I tagged along for the first part of the week.  It was a nice and much-needed break.  I had the opportunity to sleep in as late as I wanted, which has only happened about twice in the last eighteen months.  I found that I still woke up around 7:30 or so, but the really nice part was being able to just stay in the bed and be lazy all morning.  I lounged around watching tv and reading for awhile, catching up on the morning news, before finally dragging myself out of bed to enjoy a nice, long shower. 

I had lunch delivered on Tuesday and just spent the day hanging around the hotel, reading and people-watching.  It was nice to just spend the day enjoying the quiet and doing what I wanted to do.  Jeremy and I got to have a couple of peaceful dinners together...without rushing through the meal or holding a toddler in our laps.  Although I have learned how to shove my food in quickly when I have to, I really love to take my time over a good meal.  It was fun to remember what it was like when Jeremy was the only one rushing me to hurry up and finish!  We talked and ate and walked around downtown and Beale St., remembering what it was like to appreciate each other's company. 

D & J




After a few relaxing days away and a long drive home, it was great to see these two little faces! 

Messy girls

I left on Monday morning and didn't get back until after they went to bed Wednesday night.  We all three ended up on the couch after they woke up way too early on Thursday morning, so they were a bit confused and didn't really register that I was back after being gone for a couple of nights.  Addison was pretty clingy though, and she cried just a little when I dropped them off at school, which hasn't happened in awhile.  When I picked them up from school, they both started pointing and giggling when they saw me.  They ran to the door and put their little arms up for hugs.  It was awesome.  A few days away are made even better when you get a homecoming like that!


Crockpot Potato Soup

Ah, fall...  Crisp, cool weather...  boots, jeans, and sweaters... pumpkins and mums on front porches...and the smell of a good meal in a warm and toasty kitchen.  It's that time of year, even if it the fall temperatures have not quite made it to Alabama yet.  I love the change of seasons, and one thing I particularly look forward to is a new selection of seasonal meals.  I freely admit I am not much of a cook, but I have a rotation of a few good recipes that Jeremy and I both enjoy.  One of our favorites during the colder months is potato soup.  I put it in the crockpot on Saturday morning, and we eat soup all weekend. 

We have already had potato soup once this year, and as soon as the weather drops below 80 degrees (which doesn't seem to be happening any time soon...), it will likely be making a weekly appearance.

I am a little picky about my potato soup...it can't be too creamy, but not too watery.  After searching many, many recipe sites, I put together a basic recipe that can be tweaked any way your family likes it.  And of course, it's super easy...a requirement if I am going to be cooking it!

Here is my basic recipe:

6-7 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cans (about 28 oz.) chicken broth
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. parsley flakes
4-8 oz. cream cheese (Sometimes I use more; sometimes it's less.  It just depends on how thick and creamy you want the soup.)

Combine all ingredients except the cream cheese in crockpot.  Cook on high for about 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours, until potatoes are very tender.  Add cream cheese and blend well into the soup mixture.  (I use a potato masher, but leave some chunks of potato.)

We like to top ours with cheddar cheese and turkey bacon, with cornbread on the side.  Yummmm!


After writing about this delicious soup, I think I will be making a trip to the grocery store so we can have a big pot of soup tomorrow....