The Name Game

I am not a namer of things.

I have never named my car, household items, or other possessions.  I used to deliberate for weeks over naming a pet, and that name was quite likely to change multiple times over the animal's life span.  (We had a lot of barn cats, so they came and went fairly often.) 

The names I remember from childhood?  I had a cat named "Kiss" (who turned out to be a boy, by the way, and is also responsible for the small scar on my chin), an indoor cat named "Smokey", and imaginary friends named, I kid you not, "Gartserts" and "Sitserts"...pronounced like they sound. 

So, yeah, not a champion namer here.  It's a miracle Jeremy and I decided on the girls' names with relatively little argument.

What's the point of all my rambling about names?  I need a name for my Kindle!  The poor thing is still going by the boring, corporate-bestowed name of "Deanna's Kindle".  (If you don't know...the name of your Kindle shows in the top of the screen and is used when managing your Kindle online.)

I would kind of like a literary or pop-culture name for my Kindle.  A few I've thought of so far include:  Darcy (from Pride and Prejudice), Harper (as in To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee), and McDreamy (Grey's Anatomy).  Obviously, I am not completely sure if my Kindle is male or female.

Are you a namer?  What strange names have you used in the past?  Do you have any suggestions for my beloved Kindle's name??

Also, speaking of reading, if anyone else is interested in joining Marcia and I in reading Crazy Love, we are starting on Tuesday.  Visit our book blog for more details.  We would love to have you join us! 



I like to say that my next birthday (in June) will be my first 29th birthday, but in actuality, I don't think about my age much at all.  I don't mind the looming prospect of 30; it's just hard to imagine that I will really be there in just about 15 months.  Most of the time, I don't feel old at all.  Truth be told, sometimes I feel like a teenager playing house...when did I get old enough to have a mortgage, life insurance, and children??

In the last week, though, I have come to realize that I may not be as young and up-to-date as I feel.

I have never claimed to be trendy or stylish when it comes to fashion.  I usually stick to fairly reserved clothes that are comfortable and make me feel good about myself.  I realize that I have become much more conservative in my attire as I have gotten older (and gained several pounds)...I cringe a bit when I think about those short shorts and tight shirts I used to pull off, and I am also envious of that body that could get away with it!

Jeremy and I went out for a real, grown-up date Friday night, and after watching the hipster crowd milling around the theater, I came to a few conclusions:

--My standard, beloved bootcut jeans from Gap now make me look old and dated.  Every cute, semi-fashionable female I saw had on skinny jeans or leggings.

--While I love a good pair of leggings with a casual dress or tunic, even a tiny 80-lb. teenager should not wear leggings (or jeggings, for that matter) with a shirt that does not cover her butt.  Believe it or not, some things actually should be left to the imagination.  Even worse, the girl I saw committing this offense was with her parents...I feel strongly that our girls will not be let out of the house in such attire.  (Now that I think about, I have to wonder if she was wearing jeggings or if her jeans were just that tight?  I'm guessing that may be the case, actually.)  (Either way, ewww...)

--Apparently, long hair with a deep side-part is very fashionable here right now.  I must look positively middle-aged with my short, relatively conservative and boring hair.

--I already knew this, but it was reinforced that by not having an iPhone, Droid, or other smartphone, I am SO 2008.  Seriously, there were PRE-TEENS checking Facebook on their phones while waiting for the movie.  Can't anyone just have a face-to-face conversation anymore?  Are you missing breaking news by being disconnected from FB for two hours?

(Never mind what I said at the beginning of this post.  I just re-read it and it has become glaringly obvious that I AM old and boring.  At least we are all clear on that now!)

Despite being a pair of old, stick-in-the-mud, parents, Jeremy and I did have a very nice evening out.  We had a relaxed, leisurely dinner, then saw Just Go With It, which was funny enough that it wasn't a waste of money.  All that and we were still home by 11:00, with plenty of time to get our full 8 hours of sleep in preparation for a big Costco excursion on Saturday.  Who says we don't know how to party??



You know how the day after a holiday feels like the longest day ever?  Isn't that unfair?  At the end of this long day, I realized I need a good rant to get some things out of my system.  So, bear with me if you would like to commiserate; if not, check back tomorrow.

A brief list of my current rants:
--Our lovely new Alabama governor is on the top of my list today.  I realize that, as a state employee, I have a great job, and I am very appreciative of it.  However, I went into my job knowing that I would make less money than I would in the private sector (the state of Alabama is not known for paying high salaries, you know).  I decided to stay with my current job, despite the earning potential I was giving up, because of the great benefits:  a very good health insurance plan, great retirement, several paid holidays, and flexibility to be off when I need to.  After the girls came along, those benefits became even more important to me. 

Now, it seems our super governor would like to take most of those benefits from state employees.  He mentioned earlier this week that he wants to reduce the number of paid holidays for state employees, and I have seen mention of replacing our excellent health insurance with a high-deductible healthcare savings account (at the same time health coverage is supposed to be more accessible, of course...we are always backward here, it seems).  That's just for starters...there is almost a guarantee that he will attack the retirement system next, and who knows what else we may lose before he is out of office.

My anger is not all about the paid holidays, of course.  And I will even readily admit that the Mardi Gras holiday is a little superfluous (it's given for those counties where Mardi Gras is celebrated; the rest of us can take that day whenever we choose), but many of those holidays were added in past years after several years without raises for state employees.  So really, Governor?  You choose to attack state employees as one of your first orders of business after taking office? 

I understand we are in a budget crisis in Alabama, and I am all for reductions where they need to happen.  But I also think there is wisdom is attempting to retain some of the qualified and experienced workers in the state system, and cutting benefits without raising pay is not the way to do it.  Am I overqualified for my job?  Yes, by far.  It has always been worth it to me to sacrifice that pay, but if my benefits are taken away, the situation may start to look very different.

End rant #1.

--Despite my wonderful health insurance, we got stuck with a big, fat bill from our dentist recently.  Isn't it sickening to watch that huge check come out of your account when you don't think you should be paying it at all?  I found this new dentist last winter when I needed some quick pain relief after avoiding the dentist for too long.  I had a root canal, followed by more work to get my mouth back in proper condition.  I was given a treatment plan, with an estimate of my cost after insurance.  I have a common insurance plan, you would think these people would be familiar with what is covered, right?  Apparently not.  After I paid the estimated cost after every visit (totalling several hundred dollars, not even including my root canal, which was done at another facility), we were surprised by a $450.00 bill.  That is NOT a simple underestimation, in my book.

No one seemed particularly interested in explaining how that happened, and yet, they kept demanding their money.  I caved and sent a check last week, along with a not-so-nice note to cancel our standing appointments.  Now, we are on the hunt for a new dentist...again.

--I should just stop using the drive-through at McDonald's.  Every time I go there, my blood pressure must rise to dangerous levels.  See, our small town upgraded to the big-city version of McD's a few months ago, and we now have the double-lane drive through.  Trouble is, people don't understand how to use it and someone always cuts out of line behind me to go to the far line, when you're supposed to form one line until you get to the point it splits.  (That probably only makes sense if you have one of these types of drive-throughs.  Does it happen to you too?) 

Basically, people are cutting in front of me, and I am nearly as bad as a third-grader when it comes to people breaking line.  Petty, I know...but when Addison & Mackenzie are exhausted from an afternoon at the park and want their "hambooger", we don't have a lot of time to spare.

(No, they don't get McDonald's very often, but when we are all worn out at the end of the day, sometimes it's the best option available!)

Well, I sure feel better now...blogging is definitely therapeutic!  If you're still reading, thanks.  : )


Now & Then

I was looking through pictures on Facebook last night, and I came across these pictures my BFF Kelly took at church during Christmas.  It's hard to believe how quickly our babies have grown! 

Here are Addison, Wyatt, and Mackenzie this past Christmas:

Addison, Wyatt (obviously), Mackenzie

And from Christmas 2009:
Mackenzie, Wyatt, Addison

I know we mothers say it all the time, but oh my gracious, how does time go so quickly?  Sometimes I feel like I can hardly remember the babies in that picture; at other times, it seems like they should still be babies, not the tiny little toddler-people running around my house.

Also, how funny is it that all three basically have the same expression in both pictures?  Wyatt is excited to be sitting between two girls, and A & M look like they're in time out.

Happy Wednesday!


Almost Two

As Addison and Mackenzie near their second birthday, I can't help but think about those trying times often referred to as the terrible twos.  Now, from many mothers ahead of me in this parenting game, I am hearing that age three can be even worse, but let's cross that bridge when we get there, shall we?

My sister was a very strong-willed (okay, stubborn) child.  She still is, but it has become a much more flattering trait as she has matured into a convicted and determined young lady.  Being six years older, I can remember much of her toddler stages.  I remember many of the tantrums, the sassiness, and seeing my mom have her patience tried day after day.  My family used to say that Laura hit the terrible twos at a year old and didn't outgrow them until kindergarten.  (We joke, of course...my sister may have been a handful, but she was never what you might call a problem child.  Our issues as children were very mild compared to what many families experience.  We still tease Laura about things she did as a child, but she knows we love her beyond measure.)

I have found myself wondering more and more what these upcoming stages might hold for my own girls. 

I would be lying if I said I wasn't at least a bit fearful of the tantrums, attitude, and drama that might be awaiting us in the next couple of years.  My children come from two admittedly strong-willed parents and have already made it quite clear that they will have their own opinions about every detail of life...which they should.  I am quite glad to be raising tiny girls with big personalities who are clear about what they want in this world. 

I might just need to remind myself of this fact when we are in the middle of a face-melting tantrum over which room we will play in for the next thirty minutes.  (Example from yesterday afternoon:  one child wants to slide in the playroom while the other wants to cook in the living room.  They both want me in the room at all times.  Clearly, one child will be disappointed in this scenario.  Wailing ensues.)

For now, I am enjoying the stage my girls are in...talking more and more without knowing how to talk back to me yet, learning new things without causing too much mischief, and still able to be deterred by a coloring project or blowing bubbles.  I have this lingering feeling that things could change any day!

Have you dealt with the terrible twos yet?  Do you fear them like I do?



When Jeremy and I met over eight years ago, I knew he was going to play a big part in my life.  We were dating by the second week of my junior year of college, and we never looked back.

Back then, my list of reasons why I loved Jeremy would look something like this:
He's cute and dresses well (important stuff, you know?)... He loves sports, but loves me more and will always choose me... We have a lot of things in common... I can be my true self around him and he loves me anyway... He has a kind heart and loves to make people laugh... He doesn't do things to make me jealous like so many other college boys... and so on.  You know, the usual early-adulthood relationship stuff.

Eight and a half years and two kids later, my list looks quite different in ways I never even imagined. 

Now, I love my husband because:

With his girls, he shows a side I never even imagined he had.  While I lose my patience far too easily (especially in the middle of the night), Jeremy has a near-limitless supply of patience with them.  When I speak too harshly, he scoops them up and gently explains that it's bedtime and we all need to get some sleep so we can play the next day. 

He plays with a pink dollhouse without complaint.

Jeremy lets the girls help with every single task, even when it would be ten times quicker to distract them and finish quickly.  One of A & M's favorite activities is 'helping' their daddy make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Just this weekend we noticed they were licking their play knife after making a sandwich in their little kitchen...just the way he lets them lick the jelly off when they make sandwiches.

He willingly spends his weekday off at home with the girls, so my mom can have a break.  Even after working all night, he gets up early to give the girls breakfast and get them dressed on school days, just to spend a little extra time with them.

He tries hard to match their clothes...even if he forgets to match the socks sometimes. 

When Jeremy can sense I am nearing the end of my (admittedly short) rope, he encourages me to escape to the bedroom for some rest or get out for awhile.

He is currently learning to do A & M's hair in pigtails...now that's love!

He is my partner through everything we face in life. We are young; we have a long way to go and I know it won't always be easy. It's a comfort to know that there is someone supporting me and our family 110%. We survived the days of newborn twins, so we ought to be able to do just about anything together!

Happy Valentine's Day, Jeremy!  Addison, Mackenzie, and I are so blessed to have you in our lives.  We love you!


Sunday Senses

Hey, look...I'm online on the weekend.  It's been awhile since that has happened!  Finally joining Rebecca for some Sunday Senses...

Sight:  A messy, messy living room.  It has been a long, rough week, and it will likely look this way through most of this week too.  Just keeping it honest.  : )

Sound:  Jeremy playing an MLB game on PlayStation and talking about going to a Braves game this year.  Spring training starts this week...baseball season is almost here!

Touch:  My big comfy armchair and one of the girls' cute little pillows tucked under my arm.

Taste:  Sunflower seeds and Diet Dr. Pepper...my usual way to end the night.

Smell:  Um, that would be nothing, since my nose is so stuffy.  I have been sick since yesterday afternoon, but I'm hoping we all sleep a little more soundly tonight than we did last night.

Today was another beautiful, spring-like day and I spent most of it under the covers in bed.  Thanks to my sweet husband and awesome family, the girls were well cared for and got to spend some time outside enjoying the weather.  It's supposed to be nice here pretty much all week, and I must say, I am looking forward to ditching the socks and sweaters.  I might even be in the mood to do a little spring clothes shopping.

So, how was your weekend?  Be sure to check out Rebecca's blog for more Sunday Senses!


No-Sew Applique

Back in the fall, I mentioned that I have a love affair with pretty, bold-printed fabrics.  However, I am pretty clueless when it comes to sewing machines...or sewing in general, as evidenced by the fact that my poor husband has to repair his own shirt buttons when they fall off!  But hey, you gotta love a man who is capable enough to do it, right?

I am now the proud owner of my very own sewing machine, thanks to my mom's yard-sale-browsing skills.  It is an older model and I haven't a clue how to go about even getting thread in the darn thing, but I will learn.  In fact, I am going right now to add that to my list of goals for this year.  (I suppose I should start scouring eBay for a user's manual that might tell me how to get started.)

In the meantime, I have found a way of exhibiting my love of fabric and my desire to make cute, crafty things for my girls to wear without the need for a sewing machine.  No-sew appliques are a cheap and easy project, and I thought I would pass the idea on to anyone who might be interested.

This week, I made Valentine's shirts for the girls.  Here are the step-by-step directions, complete with pictures...

First, the materials....


You will need:
-- fabric (a quarter-yard or less should be more than plenty for most projects)
-- the item you will be applying your applique to (I used a $3.50 red shirt from Wal Mart)
-- a good pair of scissors (I did not realize how important these were to fabric projects, but I now love my Fiskars scissors!)
-- double-stick iron-on transfer paper (I used Steam-a-Seam, but there are several brands available at craft stores or Wal Mart, etc.)
-- Fray Check or other liquid fray guard (also available at craft stores or the craft section of Wal Mart)
-- The design you want to applique, unless you can draw it freehand (see below)

For my last project, I did the girls' initials and a double layer of fabric (the initial and circle in contrasting fabric).  For that project, I printed the "A" and "M" in a font I liked, then used a copy maching to enlarge it to the size I wanted the letters to be on the shirt.  You could use the same process for any simple design you can find a picture of online.  This time, since I decided to just do a simple heart, so I drew it myself.

Step 1:  Trace (or draw) your design onto the transfer paper. 
One side of the paper will peel away from the sticky webbing easily...you want to draw on the section that is more securely stuck to the webbing. 

Step 2:  Cut out your design.


Step 3:  Peel away one side of the paper from the sticky webbing (the side that comes away easily) and stick your fabric to your design.  Using your iron-on paper as a guide, cut your design into the fabric.  This is where the good scissors come in handy!
*Note--You can combine steps 1-3 by sticking the fabric to the transfer paper first, then cutting both together.  I prefer to cut the paper first, where I can more easily make adjustments to the shape before I start working with the fabric.

You are now left with fabric attached to the iron-on transfer paper in the shape of your design:

Step 4:  Apply a coating of Fray-Check liquid fray guard to the outer edge of the fabric.  It will turn the outside edge a little darker for awhile (you can probably tell in the picture below), but this won't be noticed once it dries.


Step 5:  Allow the fray guard to dry for about 15-20 minutes, then trim any stray fibers so you are left with a fairly smooth edge to your applique.  If I trim more in a certain area, I might apply a second coat of fray guard to that spot.

The hardest part is done now!  : )

Step 6:  Arrange your applique on the shirt to get the placement the way you want it.  When you have it in the right spot, peel away the remaining side of the transfer paper and stick the applique to the shirt.  (It will be sticky enough to hold its place, but can still be easily moved if you need to adjust.)



Step 7:  Iron!  After making sure your applique is positioned exactly as you want it, press firmly over the design with a steam iron for about 30 seconds. 


And...ta-daaa!  There you have it.  Easy-peasy, right?

In fact, you just might find that the hardest part of the whole project


is getting a good picture


of your models.


Or maybe that's just me.


Monday Evening Musings

A jumble of thoughts from the weekend...
  • At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we had another pretty great weekend.  While the weather was not as beautiful as last weekend, it was fairly nice for February, and we made the most of it.  Jeremy's work schedule changed this week, so for the first time in several years, he was home with us on Friday night.  The new schedule will be great because we won't have to wait on him to sleep in on Saturday mornings (to catch up from working until 1 a.m. the night before). 
  • We went to breakfast Saturday morning, the stopped in to browse at a local furniture store (new living room furniture coming soon--hooray!).  We kept asking the girls if they liked this couch or that one, etc.  I guess it was sinking in, because as I was buckling Mackenzie in her carseat, she started signing "more" and saying, "more couches, more couches!".  I promised her we could come back to look again soon.
  • The girls fell asleep on the way home from Sunday lunch, as usual.  Mackenzie, however, kept waking up when Jeremy tried to put her in bed, so she came to bed with me.  (I hadn't slept well Saturday night, so I was desparate for a good afternoon nap!)  She laid quietly for awhile, then started humming and talking to herself.  She tried sticking her finger up my nose, then when she realized I was trying to sleep, she kept putting her finger up and saying "shhhhh".  She ended up in the living room with her daddy after that!  (Wise choice...she never did go back to sleep.)
  • Despite Mackenzie's 15 minute nap, both girls were in a great mood in the afternoon and thanks to nice weather, we were able to get a bit more outside playtime.  My cousin Lindsey brought her dogs over to visit, and Addison & Mackenzie had a blast playing in the yard with them. 
  • Watching my girls run and laugh in beautiful sunshine restores my soul like nothing else can.  I vow right now to enjoy every second of spring weather we might be lucky enough to have. 
  • We caught up with 21st-century technology last week when we broke down and got a DVR.  Now, I realize this is by no means a necessity and probably doesn't fit with my theme of simplifying this year.  I must say, though, we are LOVING it.  Totally worth the small extra fee we are paying for it.  And in all actuality, if simplifying means cutting down to only the things you really love, tv definitely stays on my list.  : ) 
  • I have been feeling the urge to get back to some of my languishing craft projects lately.  I completed Valentine's shirts for Addison & Mackenzie last night, and I am pretty proud of the finished product, especially considering the entire project only took about an hour.  Several people asked about these shirts when I mentioned them awhile back, so this time I took step-by-step pictures.  I plan to post a tutorial tomorrow, so be sure to check back and learn how to make your own. 
How was your weekend?  Are you as glad as I am that Monday is over??


What'cha Reading? Wednesday

Joining Rebecca today for What'cha Reading? Wednesday!

I set a goal for myself on Goodreads to read 30 books this year.  Counting the books I read is not something I normally do, but after keeping track of my reading last year, I decided I could bump it up at least a little this year.  Reviewing my list at the end of January, I see that I have read four books already, so 30 seems like a very attainable goal.

After Christmas, I snagged several books for $3.00 or less at Barnes & Noble's clearance sale.  I have read two of them so far, and while not outstanding, they were definitely worth the small price I paid for them.

Anna McPartlin's Pack up the Moon is the best book I have read so far in 2011.  It is a story of love and grief, but not in a sappy, overdone way.  The characters are Irish, which was fun, but I had to adjust to their tone of speaking.  The tragedy occurs very early on in the book, so you don't have a lot of time to get much of a feel for the characters before the action happens, but it is the characters' reactions to the tragedy that makes up the bulk of the story.  I knew (or guessed, I suppose) what was coming from the first few chapters, but that did not make the story less enjoyable.  Overall, it's a relatively well-written story with a satisfying conclusion.

The Center of Everything is another of my bargain books that turned out to be well worth the money.  When I bought it, I thought it might actually be a young adult novel, but after reading it, I'm not quite sure (and I am too lazy to find out for sure either way).  It is told from the point of view of a young girl, Evelyn, spanning from ages 11-17, I believe.  I am not always a fan of the child narrator, but it was done well even in the sections of the book where Evelyn is young.  The book is set in the 1980s, so it was fun for this '80s baby' to catch some of the references.  Touching on everything from death and depression to love and religion, this one was a bit heavy at times, but enjoyable.

I saw the trailer for this movie awhile back and thought it sounded interesting.  I came across the book in my browsing recently and when I realized it was just $5.00 on Kindle, I went for it.  I don't want to give the key plot point away, for that is the most interesting part of an otherwise boring story.  Never Let Me Go is interesting as a discussion starter for some morality issues, but there is not much else to redeem this book.  The writing is very conversational, like the narrator is chatting with an old friend, but it takes too many tangents and includes too many details about unimportant events from the characters' childhoods.  For what should be an emotional story, I found I had a surprising lack of empathy for the characters, mostly because I didn't feel I knew enought to care about any of them personally.  The whole book is written in sort of a detached tone, which seems odd for a first-person narration.  I sort of wanted to shake the characters for not trying harder, for just accepting things the way they are.  If there had been more explanation as to why they didn't do more to escape their fate, I might have been a bit more pleased with the novel.  I don't exactly consider this book a waste of time, but it certainly could have been much better.  I might see the movie eventually, just to see if I am as frustrated as I was with the book.

If you're looking for something to read in the next few weeks, Marcia and I are getting ready to read through Francis Chan's Crazy Love.  I am feeling a need to spend a little quiet time getting back to what's important in my life in this new year, and I think this might be just what I need.  If anyone else would like to join us in reading Crazy Love, we would love to have you!  I think we will just read through it a bit at a time and discuss our ideas on the book.  Just leave a comment here if you want to join us and we will figure out the details.


Now I Remember...

For awhile there, I was struggling to remember what a normal Alabama winter looks like.  This weekend was a good reminder, with surprisingly beautiful weather for a few days in a row. 

Saturday was full of sunshine and temperatures in the mid- to upper-60s.  It would have felt very wrong to let weather like that go to waste, so we headed off to the big city (about an hour away) to spend some time at the downtown park before meeting family for dinner.

Thankfully, it's a large park, because it seems everyone within a 50-mile radius had the same idea! 



Addison and Mackenzie were SO excited to be outside, running free for the first time in several weeks.


Best Friends

We saw lots of fish, ducks, and dogs.  I actually loved that it was bustling with people...I enjoyed watching the kids chasing one another, families lounging on quilts, and dogs playing fetch.




Later in the afternoon, we were meeting my family for an early dinner to celebrate my aunt's birthday.  There was a long wait, but thanks to the beautiful weather, we were able to pass the time without any fussing from the girls.  They even made a new friend in the outdoor waiting area. 

new friend

Isn't he a cutie?  The best part was when A & M decided to start sharing sweet hugs with their new friend, completely unprompted.  It was the cutest thing...they just kept taking turns hugging on him, and he didn't seem to mind at all!


I just love this picture of Mackenzie and the birthday lady, her "Nonnie" (Connie):


It's a bit hard to explain, but Saturday was such a wonderful day...it felt like one of those days I have been waiting for as a parent.  Like I have this idea of a life with toddlers that involves lovely weekend afternoons running off energy in the park and an enjoyable (if slightly crazy) family dinner, and it happened...  it actually happened. 

Dinner in a nice restaurant with the girls is always a bit of a gamble, but I came prepared with backpacks full of crayons, coloring books, stickers, and play-doh (sorry about the play-doh crumbs in the carpet, Red Lobster!).  The girls ate decently and sat in their high chairs for a large portion of the meal.  We all got to eat in relative peace and no one had to eat one-handed while wrestling a clingy, whining child.  Basically, it was about as successful as we dare hope for a restaurant meal to be at this point!

We have spent fun afternoons in the park before, of course, and the girls always enjoy playing.  But then we would get home and someone would be overtired or whiny...or I forgot to pack a drink and everyone was thirsty and hungry, and it just kind of put a damper on the experience, you know?  Like it should be easier to go out and have a great afternoon with your family. 

As I have learned, though, nothing about life with small twins is easy and usually doesn't work exactly as it seems it should... except that for this one day, it did.