Beating the Winter Blahs

Today was a gorgeous day, with a bit of sun (finally!) and highs around 50 degrees. It was a much-needed break from the winter weather, and it did a lot to improve my mood. 

In between all the snow we have seen here in Alabama this year, it's pretty easy to get in a bit of a funk.  In the midst of the cold, dark, and dreary days, here are a few things that are lifting my mid-winter spirits:

  • Peppermint Mocha creamer.  I have been drinking a hot cup of peppermint-flavored coffee every morning when I get to work.  It's not quite the same as a Starbucks mocha, but it's a good substitute, since Starbucks is not exactly an option here in our small town.
  • Comfy, cozy sweats and socks.  If it's going to be 20 degrees outside, I might as well embrace it and enjoy being warm and toasty inside.
Snuggly Addison
  • Babies in soft fleece footed pajamas...is there anything more snuggly?
  • Crockpot meals, warm and waiting when I get home from work.  There is a pot of white chicken chili just waiting to be pulled out of the fridge and dumped in the crockpot tomorrow morning.  Yum!
  • Making plans to go through the girls' clothes during these cold winter days, so I can start listing some of their old stuff on Craigslist and Ebay.  Extra cash and more drawer space will always lift my spirits.
  • Mentally rearranging my living room over and over, trying to decide exactly what furniture we will buy with our tax refund
  •  Cute little ballerinas in tutus handmade by a sweet friend (and little girls who have learned to say "cheese!" for the camera):
Happy Ballerinas
  •  Netflix instant-streaming tv and movies...old Grey's Anatomy episodes, enough movies to keep me busy for months, and Thomas the Tank Engine on demand for the girls
  • Harry's Law--the new show on ABC starring Kathy Bates.  It's hilarious, and one of the few shows that Jeremy and I are enjoying together.  If you were a Boston Legal fan, I highly recommend it!
  • The stack of books I snagged at Barnes & Noble's after-Christmas clearance sale...after all, I still maintain that the very best way to pass a cold and dreary afternoon is snuggled in with a good book.
How are YOU beating the winter blahs this year?


Who doesn't love pigtails?


Especially when they are this cute?!

Happy Wednesday!



Mackenzie was sick with a fever this weekend, and sometime Saturday night, Addison decided to join in the fun as well.  It was obvious that Addison did not feel as bad as Mackenzie did, but nonetheless, she was up and down all night with the rest of us. 

Around three a.m., as Jeremy and I sat on the couch, each holding a fidgeting, unhappy baby, I thought, There is absolutely no way we are ever having another baby.  Yes, I think it's safe to say that we had flashbacks to the worst of our first few weeks home with the girls. 

After a night of maybe three cumulative hours of restless sleep, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself on Sunday.  All four of us dragged around in the morning, doing the best we could with what sleep we had.  Mackenzie still seemed to feel awful (no idea what was wrong, other than a fever hovering around 100-102), but Addison was not quite as puny so she went to my mom's for awhile.  With the parent-child ratio at 2:1, Jeremy and I were both able to squeeze in a decent nap.

Still feeling like we had been through a night of sleep-deprivation torture, I voiced my no more children platform to Jeremy, who quickly agreed.  (We aren't completely serious, by the way, and I do plan to address our thoughts on future children one of these days...)

Although Mackenzie is still weak and drained from her whatever-it-was illness, last night was blissfully near normal.  With a much clearer head, I was thinking how spoiled we are with our good-sleeping babies that just a couple of nights of broken sleep left us feeling all out of sorts. 

Today I read this article, about a lady whose two-year-old quite literally doesn't sleep, and I felt downright silly for complaining about a coupld of nights.  My girls are pretty awesome, and their sleeping patterns are just one tiny part of what makes them so downright amazing.

What was your worst night of sleep with your kids?  Saturday night was probably the closest to our first night home from the hospital, which still holds the title of WORST NIGHT of (no) sleep ever.  Seriously, think about your worst sleep experience, then go read the article above and count your blessings.  : )


For 2011

Now that we are about three weeks into 2011, I am finally ready to talk about my goals for the year.  Like many, I am choosing to think of it not as a list of resolutions, but as a list of goals to make this year better than the last.  Not that 2010 was a bad year; it was actually a pretty great year, but I have made myself a good list of small things I want to accomplish in 2011.

A few weeks ago, Marcia asked about a "word for the year", and after some thought, I decided my word is Simplify.  I have come to the not-so-shocking realization that we have entirely too much stuff, and I am ready to get back to the basics in many ways.  So you might see that most of the items on my list are fairly simple things...simple pleasures, simple tasks to make life more enojoyable, and goals that will take us, as a family, in the direction of a more simplified existence.  I don't know how far I will get with all this simplifying, but that's where my thoughts are going right now.  (More to come on the details of simplifying later, as I straighten my own ideas out a bit.)

So, without further ado, I present my great big list of 2011 to-dos:

(first, the mundane...)
---Clean out my closet and sell/donate everything I don't love

---Sell/donate the million baby clothes and other items that are still taking up space

---Organize the laundry room into a more functional space

---Do laundry more often...make sure every laundry basket in the house is empty at least once a week.

---Agree on new living room furniture and rearrange the living room to the way we really want it.

---Cook at home more

---Specifically, try one new recipe per month (January was white chicken chili, and it was awesome!)

---Reduce the monthly grocery bill (coupons, stocking the basics, etc.)

---Create a budget of some sort...basically, get a grip on spending and where we can make changes

---Use my calendar...write down every important date/task, and check it every day

---Change my Social Security card into my married name...before our five-year anniversary in August

(now to the more fun part of the list...)
---Send more handwritten notes/cards, especially birthday cards

---Take the girls to the zoo (I don't know why this is so important to me; it seems like a milestone, I guess.  It was on the list last year, but didn't happen.  This is the year!)

---Take a (short) Deanna & Jeremy trip, possibly for our anniversary...possibly to Vegas

---Have dinner with friends more often

---Get a new passport (mine expired last year), in case of a travel opportunity too good to pass up

---Do something continuing-education-related (not sure what exactly this means yet, but possibly look into completing an M.A. in History...or maybe just a fun extracurricular class of some sort...who knows?)

---Complete at least one personal Bible study/devotional (anyone interested in maybe reading through a women's study together?)

---Random acts of kindness:  Make a conscious effort to do unsolicited favors for people who least expect it.  Nothing major...but I want to do that drive-thru thing where you pay for the next person's food as well (Note to self:  make sure there are not five adults in the car behind you...that could get expensive!)

SO, there we go...a starting point for 2011.  I am off to print a copy of this list to keep in my calendar as a reminder of what I hope to accomplish this year (after all, I should see it every day when I check my calendar, right?  Ha! )

What is your most fun goal in 2011??  Any big plans you look forward to this year?

**Added 2/8/11:  Learn to use my sewing machine.


Deal of the Day

If you have never heard of the website Living Social, you should really check it out.  If it's available for your city, they offer certain 'deals' every day...they range from half-off gift certificates to local restaurants to great discounts on spa services or local retailers.

I just had to mention today's deal, which is a particularly good one for my fellow Kindle readers...

The deal for today is a $20 Amazon gift card for only $10.  That's $20 worth of Kindle books for half price!  (Or whatever else you might want...we all know Amazon has everything.)

If you want to purchase, do me a favor and use my link:


If three people purchase through my link, I will get another gift card free.  My Kindle and I will thank you profusely.  : )


Beyond Survival

As many parents of multiples will tell you, a good routine can go a long way in easing some of the struggles of raising twins, triplets, etc.  I am a firm believer in routine/scheduling, and it has worked very well for our family.

Naturally, our routine has changed a lot over the last twenty-one months.  From a beginning schedule of eat/play/sleep repeating every three hours, we now have little girls who sleep 11-12 hours a night, eat normal meals with us grown-ups, and take one nap every afternoon. 

Still, many things about our daily routine look much like they did eighteen months ago.  The bedtime routine in particular has seen little change.  Until recently, Addison & Mackenzie had a bath nearly every single night.  It was just a part of the routine from the time their umbilical cords fell off at a few weeks of age.  After bath, they get to play quietly for about a half hour, then they come sit in my lap to drink their milk while we read a few books and sing songs before bed.  (Remember, Jeremy works evenings so I am the only one home during bedtime most of the week.)  From a very early age, A & M were put in their beds awake, to fall asleep on their own while 'talking' and watching their rainforest mobiles....and that process continues today.

Due to their dry skin issues, we now skip bath some nights, but everything else about the bedtime routine is pretty much the same.  The reason is simple:  it works.

But there is also another reason our routine, especially the nighttime one, has seen so little change... I am SCARED TO DEATH to change things around.  I am terrified that if we don't go through the same bedtime routine, saying 'night-night' in just the same way, singing the same songs before bed, my kids might not go to sleep.  It feels good to admit it.  : )

A strange thing has happened lately, though...I have felt myself beginning to ease up ever so slightly.  A month or so ago, A & M started staying up past 7:00 p.m., which had been their preferred bedtime for over a year.  While the early bedtime made it hard to participate in many things outside the house, it worked out well for giving me some time to myself in the evenings.  We have had some periods where they stayed up later for a few nights here and there, but this time, I am thinking the 7:00 bedtime may be a thing of the past. 

And guess what?  I am dealing with it.  I am even looking on the bright side:  we have more time together in the evenings; I can cook dinner for all of us to eat together instead of feeding them at 5:30 and myself at 7:30; and the later bedtime means they sleep a little later in the mornings.

Look at me, all go-with-the-flow, huh?

I am finding myself loosening up in some other ways too.  Addison & Mackenzie have spent the night away from me very few times so far, and only with my mom or Jeremy's parents.  The first couple of times they went to Jeremy's parents' house, I was a bit of a paranoid wreck.  I worried about how they would sleep, if it would throw off their schedule for the next few days, and if they would be glad to see me when they came home.  (Spoiler alert:  we all survived just fine!)

This past Saturday, we went to visit family in the morning, and Jeremy mentioned on the way there that his mom had asked if A & M could spend the night.  He told her no, as we are generally very protective of our weekend family time.  As we drove, though, I started thinking about all the things we could do with an afternoon and evening to ourselves.  To NiNi's (Jeremy's mom) great surprise, we told her when we got there that A & M were headed home with her.  I couldn't believe I decided spur-of-the-moment to let them go spend the night...they didn't even have pajamas!  I decided to let the worries go and remember that she loves my babies nearly as much as I do and she would take good care of them. 

So it ended up working out quite well, despite the short notice.  A & M got to go to a baby shower with their NiNi and see lots of family, and Jeremy and I got to go to Olive Garden and enjoy a meal by ourselves.  We had a good night together, and even got a second kid-free meal on Sunday after church.  My best friend's daughter was baptized and it is our tradition to go to Top o' the River for a big family meal after a special occasion.  (So, Addison & Mackenzie missed Brenna's baptism, but maybe she will forgive them!)  Jeremy went to pick the girls up Sunday afternoon while I went to a funeral--my second of 2011, by the way, and I'd be fine if it were the last.  I was so excited to see their little faces when I got home, and they were glad to see us as well. 

To wrap up a long story, I am learning that sometimes it is okay to let go of our everyday routine and embrace things as they come along. 

Could it be that we are finally moving beyond survival??


My First Say What?! Wednesday

Missy hosts Say What?! Wednesday every week to highlight the funny and memorable things our kids say.  I love reading the hilarious things kids come up with, but until now, the 'sayings' in our house have been limited to 'mama', 'daddy', 'poo-poo', 'pee-pee', and other standard early words.

Well, as I mentioned in my last post, Addison & Mackenzie are starting to put things together much more clearly and are picking up on things at an astonishing rate.  So while reading through this week's posts, I realized I could finally add a couple of recent sayings from my house.  (My girls are really growing up!) 

One day earlier this week, I mentioned to Jeremy that I need to start thinking about the girls' second (!!) birthday party, which is coming up in April.  I said we might have a Thomas the Tank Engine birthday, since they (Mackenzie especially) are obsessed with 'choo-choos' right now.

Me to the girls:  What kind of birthday party do you want to have this year?
Mackenzie:  Cake.

Hey, at least she knows the most important element of any party...the food!

As I have mentioned, Addison doesn't talk as clearly or as often yet as Mackenzie does, but she managed to throw a funny of her own in the conversation tonight.  My mom was here while the girls were finishing their supper, and I said they might not have a bath tonight (darn that itchy, dry winter skin...). 

Me to A & M:  Do you want to take a bath tonight or not?
Addison, plain as day and including a little head shake:  Not.

Oh, these girls...even after three and a half days of being snowbound with little outside contact, they can still make me smile!

Even though my driveway is still a solid sheet of ice, it's back to work for me tomorrow.  I am not too sad about it, especially since we are delayed two hours.  I can only take so much quality time at home in one week!  : )


We're not in Alabama anymore

Actually, we are still in Alabama, but it doesn't feel like it right now!  Remember the few inches of snow we got on Christmas day?  That snow is but a distant memory since we woke up to this today:



We have around six inches on the ground, which in Alabama, means that we are homebound for the time being.  I have no experience driving in the snow and no desire to learn the proper technique.  Early on, you couldn't even tell where the yards ended and our street began, but my cousin Lindsey braved it to come visit her favorite little snow-loving girls.  After her vehicle and a couple of others, along with several four-wheelers, you could at least find the road.


All that slush should re-freeze tonight into a nice thick sheet of ice, meaning I am certainly not leaving the house tomorrow...even if I am beginning to get a little stir crazy, which I am.

After a hard week including the loss of a very sweet friend, it is pretty nice to just be at home with my family.  I am feeling a bit on edge, emotionally speaking, so home is probably a good place for me right now.

We spent the day playing in the snow, napping, coloring, making snow cream, reading books, and riding toys around the house.  Now, the girls are tucked in their warm beds, Jeremy is watching some silly football game (you Bama fans know the one I mean!  : )  ), and I am about to head to my bed with a book.  Today was exactly what a snow day should look like, and I will be glad for another one tomorrow. 

After that, though, I will either need some company, a babysitter, or a strong drink!


Do you see how ill-prepared we are for snow?  My children are wearing:  fleece pajamas, plastic bags wrapped around their feet to keep them dry, leg warmers over the bags and pajamas, snow boots, coats, hats, and gloves that will barely stay on their hands.  Since this snow was predicted ahead of time (and was correctly predicted to be more than we have had in many years), there was a run on bread and milk at the local grocery stores.  It's an old joke in the South...when it snows, you better go get your bread and milk.  I never really understood the bread part, and I only care about the milk since I have little kids.  But for me?  I need to make sure we have a good stock of Diet Dr. Pepper and peanut butter and crackers...I can live on that for awhile if the power goes out! 

I tried to find the picture our local news showed of a nearby grocery store that was WIPED OUT of both bread and milk, but I couldn't find it.  Craziness, I tell you.

So, for you people who deal with more frequent winter weather, any good snowy-day activities for almost-two-year-olds?  Tips for keeping our sanity while stuck at home?


Moving Along

Several times lately, I have looked at my girls and realized that they are becoming more 'big girl' than 'baby'.  It's the little things that make it hit home the most...those things that I almost don't even notice, or that sneak up on me unexpectedly.

At 21 months, Addison and Mackenzie are doing new things constantly.  They are loving their new 'big-girl' toys from Christmas and are playing on their own for longer periods of time (hallelujah!).  I am a bit amazed at the level of pretend they already understand, as they spend a lot of time cooking and stirring and feeding us concoctions from their kitchen.

The other day, Mackenzie grabbed the little potholder and picked up a plate with it to go in her oven.  I was shocked to see her mimicking that act so well...I don't cook all that much when they're around, particularly using the oven, since it can sometimes be hard to keep four little hands away from the heat.  It was a stark reminder that these girls are watching and soaking in everything we do, whether we realize it or not.

Mackenzie's vocabulary is growing at an astounding rate.  She will try to repeat anything and everything we say, and she remembers many words for later use.  The other day, she was pointing at a chair, telling someone to "sit, sit, sit", only it sounded like...well, you can guess what it sounded like.  Oh, the fun of listening to children pronounce quasi-dirty-words.

Addison is trying to say more and more as well.  She gets the rhythm of most words down, even if her pronunciation is not quite worked out yet, and she can match the tune of just about any song.  She's my little music lover, and she loves singing and dancing along to her favorite songs.  That girl is a pro at "Itsy Bitsy Spider", and she recently learned how to do the little "Here is the church/Here is the steeple/Open the doors/And see all the people" rhyme.  She will hold up her little hands and wiggle those baby fingers to tell me she's ready to do the rhyme for the 100th time this week.

Another thing I am amazed they have learned already, without my even trying to teach it, is the use of possessives.  We have had only a few instances of "mine" from Mackenzie, and even those have not really been directed at taking something from her sister, as I am sure they will be eventually.  What cracks me up is that they have started naming the owners of different objects around the house.  They point to the iron and say "daddy's"  (which, ha!  How funny is that?  He actually does a LOT more ironing than I do, since he has to iron a uniform for work every day.)  The coffee pot is "daddy's", the Diet Dr. Peppers and the Kindle are "mama's", and so forth.  It's so cute to see them putting these concepts together in their little heads.

The girls got new potty chairs for Christmas, and I was encouraging them to sit on the potties before bath a few nights ago.  What do my crazy children do?  They bend over, stick their heads in the potties and stick their tongues to begin spitting and slobbering.  I would say they are imitating someone puking, but I don't think they have ever seen that before.  Who knows where these crazy ideas come from?  They think it's hilarious and they remembered it the next night, so there was a nice little buildup of spit in the potty chairs.  At least they're being put to good use for something, right?

They are still using their sign language very well (which I don't think I ever posted much about, but I am so, SO glad we used, even though we didn't start until about 14-15 months), but I have noticed that all of a sudden, they are saying the word along with the sign.  They tap their hands together and say, "Moh, moh" (more), or bring a hand to their mouth and say, "eat".  We are working on using "please" and "thank you" appropriately.  The challenge comes, for instance, in teaching Mackenzie that sweetly saying "thank you" does NOT make it okay to snatch a toy out of Addison's hands.

They are demanding little girls, these kids of mine, constantly asking to "see", "play" or needing "more".  But I love, love, love how our level of interaction increases at each new stage of development.  I feel like I can actually make them understand some things now, and we can have primitive but real conversations.  We are relating, and compared to the months and months of stress, little to no actual communication, and not understanding at all what they needed from me, it is just amazing.  I feel like I am finally getting to know my children, and maybe, just maybe, finally becoming the kind of mother I hoped I would eventually be.

Edited to add:  I mentioned the potty-spitting, but tonight before bath, Addison PEED IN THE POTTY!!!  We may have scarred her for life by all the exclaiming we did, and at first she said "uh-ohhhh" like she had done something wrong, but I think she finally understood that we were happy about it.  I am not getting my hopes up about how our potty-training experience might go, but still, I'm excited.  She peed.  In the potty.  : )


What'cha Reading? Wednesday (or Thursday...)

Joining Rebecca today yesterday for a little update on what I've been reading lately.

The best thing I have read lately is The Thirteenth Tale.  A friend recommended it, saying she knew I would love the twin aspect of the book (which I did).  From the description, I knew it wasn't something I would normally pick out for myself, but I am glad I took her advice and tried it out.

It takes a bit of suspended disbelief to digest the story in places.  Much of the book is told by a storyteller/author, and it reads as a good personal story.  I am finding myself very much looking for a good story right now; one that will transport me to another time and place.  You know, one of those books that just sucks you in so that you forget everything going on around you.  Those are the books I find most worth my time lately.

One interesting thing about this book is that I couldn't place the time period of the story.  There is really no mention of modern technology at all, and a main character is writing down the story using pencil and paper.  The characters write letters to obtain information, with no mention of conducting a Google search (my gosh, do you remember what life was like before we just Googled everything we wanted to find??).

Anyway, it's a fun read, with lots of little secrets to figure out along the way.  You don't realize until the end that there's a larger mystery tying them all together, and as a friend said, it would be interesting to go back and read again after knowing the ending.

Other than The Thirteenth Tale, I have been mainly reading some free Kindle books.  The one I am currently reading is INFURIATING.  It's not a bad story, but it keeps going back to tell the same things from different characters' perspectives.  I am only about 65% of the way through, and I feel like the story should have been over a long time ago.  With a paper-and-ink book, I would have long ago flipped ahead to figure out the ending...but that's a lot harder to do with Kindle (which I alternately love and hate).  I have been reading long enough to feel invested in the story and I want to see how it ends, so I guess I will keep on reading; maybe I will just skim the boring parts. 

(The book, by the way, is called The Year She Fell, so don't start it if you don't want to be in for a LONG read.)

I also finally read Abigail Pogrebin's My Life as an Identical Twin back before Christmas.  I am going to save my thoughts on it for a separate post though.  It was an interesting read, especially for those with identical or same-sex multiples.

So, what have YOU been reading lately?  Head over to Rebecca's post for more Whatcha Reading? Wednesday.


Pray for Robb

New Year's post coming soon...and one of my goals is to blog more regularly this year!  I always mean to write more often, then I need this picture or that picture, and the post just never makes it up. 

Anyway!  In the meantime, can you please say some prayers for a good friend and church member, Robb?  He has been in ICU since last Tuesday, when he went into the hospital because he just wasn't feeling well at all.  The doctors have no idea what is wrong; they say it must be something viral, but cannot find anything on any of the tests they have run.  This weekend, Robb's kidneys and liver stopped functioning, and though we had some signs of improvement over the last 24 hours, I have just received word that he is bleeding internally and the doctors are giving no more hope.

My heart is just heavy for my friend and his family right now.  He is only 47, and is one of the kindest, gentlest, most giving people I know.  I just can't imagine that two weeks ago he was fine, and now he is slipping away from us for absolutely no known reason.

Prayers for his family and our church family are appreciated.  We are still hoping for a miracle for our friend.