Fashion Help

Jeremy and I took the plunge and sent in an affirmative RSVP for a wedding in late April.  In Nashville.  In the evening, which means we will be spending the night.

It shouldn't be a big deal (hopefully!), but I can't get over the thought of how normal it seems.  We are taking off for a weekend trip, with the girls in tow, and I am not freaking out about it.  In fact, I am actually expecting (hoping) it to be rather pleasant.  We plan to head out sometime during the day on Saturday to make the two-hour drive and have time to rest and get settled before the wedding.  A & M will get to stay up past their bedtime to experience their first wedding and reception with family and friends.  I plan to just let them sleep in bed with us, since it's just for one night.  Sunday, before coming home, we plan to finally work in that trip to the zoo.

So now, the very important reason I am telling you all this, dear readers....I need wardrobe assistance!

A peek in my closet reveals mostly work clothes, with a few jeans and casual shirts thrown in here and there.  I have lots of dresses, but I am not sure any of them are party-appropriate anymore.  I don't want to feel like a stuffy old grown-up at an after-work function...it's a wedding!  A party!  It's here, at 6:30 in the evening...  What does that mean for my outfit??

I love this dress from Gap (pictured above), but I don't really want to pay $70 for it if I can find something else I love equally. 

This one from Target is also cute and more affordable, at $40. The slightly poufy skirt scares me a little.  One reviewer on the website said she had to remove some of the underlayer to make it a bit flatter.  Maybe a little pouf is good?

I can see myself in this maxi dress from Kohl's, but is it wedding attire?  This ruffled sheath is cute, but it looks like something I would definitely have to try on to be sure about, and for the price ($65), I might as well go with the first one from Gap.

Obviously, I am very conflicted. 

Do you have any suggestions for me?  What spring fashions are you coveting right now?


Identification, Please

When I was pregnant with Addison and Mackenzie, I remember the doctor telling me one time that quite often, one identical twin would have slightly rounder features than the other.  Usually, she said, it would be Baby B that was a bit rounder, though no one could really explain why.  Whatever the reason, it turned out to be true in our case.  Mackenzie, Baby B, has slightly rounder eyes and a rounder face than her sister.  

People would ask me how I planned to tell the girls apart after they were born.  I would answer, "By their hospital bracelets, of course!"  Jeremy joked that it wouldn't matter if we mixed them up at first...after all, they would never know the difference, right?  Though I knew he was kidding, it hurt to imagine that our girls might not have their own identity, that it wouldn't matter whether she was switched with her sister or not.  We had decided that Baby A would be Addison, and I felt that I knew something about her by her position in my womb, by her movements and her kicks.  Likewise with my sweet feet-down Baby B, Mackenzie, who liked to curl up on my left side and kicked her sister more than she kicked me so that I didn't feel her nearly as often.

Truth be told, I was a little scared about how we would tell them apart.  I have not had an easy time identifying who's who among the few sets of identical twins I know, and the thought bothered me...What if I couldn't tell my own children apart?  

There was so much overwhelming activity after their birth that I didn't have too much time to think about it at first.  Thank goodness for those hospital bracelets!  I did notice fairly quickly though, that the shape of their foreheads were different, giving Mackenzie the appearance of a much fuller set of cheeks than Addison.  And one of the first things I noticed was that Addison had my nose...like exactly.  What a strange feeling it was to see MY nose on another person and being reminded that she truly did come from me.  We finally took the bracelets off after a week or so at home, but painted one of Addison's thumbnails a light pink, just in case.  I still sometimes needed to see the girls together to be completely sure who was who, but I felt more sure that I would eventually be comfortable knowing my own children with some certainty.

Here's a picture when the girls were about three months old, where I think you can see Mackenzie's rounder features (particularly the eyes and head) and maybe the difference in their noses (Addison's is a bit sharper and ever-so-slightly crooked at the bottom, while Mackenzie's is more rounded):

3 months
Mackenzie is on the left; Addison the right

So, as the girls grew and changed and developed unique little personalities, we all realized that we would know them apart after all.  I even began to believe that old adage from twin parents, that "You just know who's who after awhile."  For the first few months, Jeremy still felt unsure of himself at times, so he was elated when we discovered that Mackenzie had developed a small brown freckle on her upper right hip, just under the leg of her diaper, so he could be confirm an identity when he needed to!

Of course, looking back at old pictures, there are still some I have to think about! 

Six Months!
Addison is on the right in this one...identified by her nose and the fact that her left eye crinkles up more when she smiles sometimes.

Around 4-6 months, we became aware that Addison's head was slightly flat on the back, caused by being the presenting Baby A (farther down in the uterus) and taking the brunt of all the pressure of her sister resting on top of her (Poor Addison!).  So for a time, the girls could be identified by the shape of their heads...until they grew enough hair to throw that theory out the window.

watching tv
Addison on the left.

Again, in looking back at old pictures, I can see how they could easily be confused for one another at times.  They look pretty alike in these pictures, even to a mama who "just knows" which is which!

finally, a smile
Addison on the left; Mackenzie on the right.

serious faces
That's Addison in the front in this one...though I had to think about it for a bit to be sure!

I identified these next pictures as the point where, even looking back months later, they have really started to take on unique personas and really look like themselves, not just my identical twins, if that makes sense.  I rarely have to think about who's who from this point on in our pictures; it's obvious that it's Addison on the left and Mackenzie on the right.  I stopped looking at features and just know.  It became much harder to tell people "what to look for" in telling them apart.

This is also the point where Addison's (L) hair began to grow quite a bit faster than Mackenzie's.


Here is another one where you can see how much longer Addison's (R) hair is.  You can probably also pick out Mackenzie's fuller cheeks and rounder nose:

sleepy heads

Several of you noticed that their hair parts differently.  It does, and it also swirls in opposite directions at the crown.  Mackenzie's part is on the left side of her head, while Addison's hair parts on her right.  Sometimes, as in the bed-head picture above, it can be difficult to tell where a part might be!  Mackenzie is still slightly fuller in the cheeks than Addison, and she has retained the perfectly round eyes, particularly when she's concentrating or watching something intently.  Though the girls have stayed almost exactly the same weight most of their lives, Mackenzie has now pulled ahead of Addison by nearly a pound.  You can feel the slight difference when holding them, but it's not obvious in looking at them.  Mackenzie may also be a hair taller than Addison; I'm curious to see for sure at their two-year appointment.

Christmas girls
Addison (L); Mackenzie (R)

So, in short, there is no magic feature to look for in identifying my girls, unless you can catch the hair part or check Mackenzie's upper thigh for a freckle!  It sounds so cliche and yet I was afraid I would never be able to say it, but I really have stopped thinking about how to identify them.  I really do just know that it's Addison or Mackenzie.  They have become such separate little people...which is a good thing, in terms of personality development, I think.  They each have such specific facial expressions and habits now.  Even my aunt, who struggled for a long time, can tell them apart now...at least, most of the time.

We are trying to teach them to tell people who they are, to make it a little easier at school and such.  You don't think much about this until you experience it with multiples (and particularly same-sex or identicals, perhaps?), but can you imagine how hard it would be to learn who you really are as a child when you nearly always hear your name in conjunction with someone else's?  Or when you look in the mirror (which is tricky for babies anyway!) and see a reflection that looks just like the person you share a bedroom with?  It's got to be hard on a little mind.  Addison is getting better at identifying herself.  Mackenzie can do it too, but she often points to her own chest and says, "Addison", with a little grin that makes me think she knows exactly what she is doing.  We could be in for a wild ride with these two!

So, after the lesson, can you identify who's who in this picture?

Happy Ballerinas


Want fries with that?

I gave up fast food for Lent this year.  Did I mention that here?  I am pretty sure I didn't.

It hasn't been nearly as hard as I feared it would be, though I haven't really lost any weight like I hoped I might, either.  To be fair, I haven't really been eating less or necessarily healthier, just no fast food.  This is really only a big deal for me because I eat out nearly every day for lunch.  I want to cut fast food out of that scenario, so that I either go somewhere and enjoy lunch, bring lunch to work, or come home and fix something quick.

(Obviously, my Lenten resolution is not necessarily related to worship or Biblical reasoning.  Fast food is not symbolic for sin or anything deep like that.  As Methodists, we don't place a lot of emphasis on the traditional "fasting" during Lent, but many of us choose to give up something anyway.  I am taking this opportunity for motivation to cut something unhealthy out of my life...that's my deep religious explanation!)

Anyway...the little experiment has been going well, and I have actually enjoyed eating at home more often.  It's kind of fun to challenge myself to find different things to eat.

Sundays are "feast days" during Lent, so it's considered a day to indulge in whatever you are foregoing.  Technically, that means I could have fast food on Sundays, but I find I still don't really want...which hopefully means I will be able to keep this up after Lent ends!

We typically have Sunday dinner with my best friend and her family, along with my mom and aunt.  This week, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful spring weather and our desire to be at home, and we grilled at our house after church.  We had a great time, and Addison and Mackenzie had a blast playing with Wyatt and Brenna.  I could get used to this at-home stuff!

Our cuties practicing their bubbles



Mackenzie, again...Addison doesn't like to stand still these days


Addison playing in Brenna's carrier...she's a little obsessed with it!


Sweet Brenna

Blurry...but look how excited Addison is to be "holding" Brenna

Mackenzie "sleeping" in the carrier

Mackenzie & Brenna

Couldn't resist a kiss

Addison & Brenna

Mackenzie and her tricycle

Addison, trying to get her blanket arranged just right


Question for you:  Can you tell my girls apart in the pictures I post?  I am going to do a post soon with some of the differences, but I'm curious if anyone already has it figured out?  (There's no obvious trick to look for, by the way!)


Baby Steps

I have stated several times that one of my goals for this year is to simplify.  At times, I am still not quite sure what that will mean for me and my family, though I have spent a lot of time thinking about it.  I am the type that often thinks quite a bit about an idea or project, then I never seem to get around to actually doing it.  I am determined, though, to actually put some of these ideas about simplifying our life into practice. 

As I mentioned, I can devote countless hours to the planning stages of a project--making lists, researching, and gathering supplies--and then never put any of it into action.  After many, many years of procrastinating and feeling overwhelmed by projects, papers, housework and other things I let get out of control, I have come to the realization that I work best in baby steps.

I am trying really hard to make some sort of progress on things I want to accomplish, even if it seems minor.  All the minor things will add up in the long run, right?  I am not expressing this idea well, so here's an example...

Instead of getting overwhelmed by the stacks and stacks of laundry and the entire house that needs to be cleaned, I make myself fold and put away one basket of clothes.  When I do that, I can stop and know that I did at least one thing that needed to be done for the night.  Usually what happens is that I don't want to go to the trouble of putting away just one load of clothes knowing there are more to be done, so I go ahead and empty the other baskets as well.  Then, I am free of laundry stress for a couple of days so I can devote my attention to something else.  If I stop with one basket of clothes, well, that's one less basket to do later.

I have been majorly inspired on this baby-step idea, especially on the housekeeping front, by the blog A Slob Comes Clean.  (Laura Beth, I think I may have first seen this link on your blog...if so, I am forever indebted!!)  If you struggle with being easily overwhelmed like I do, check out this blog.  It might change your life.

So, how does this new-found philosophy relate to my struggle to simplify our life?  Well, overhauling one's life to get rid of the excess, both physically and mentally, is no small task.  There are so many ideas floating around in my head, it's hard to know where to start.

At the top of my list is our stuff.  Physically, we just have too much stuff...too many clothes, too many books (maybe...though I still have room for them, so they may all stay!), excess everywhere.  How do I even begin paring down a house full of stuff?  Baby steps are the only feasible way for me to accomplish anything in this department.  Saturday night, I decided to go into the girls' playroom (that's the fancy word for "extra bedroom containing all the toys I don't want in the living room, you know...) and pack up at least one box of toys to be donated.  Two boxes and one trash bag later, the playroom began to resemble a functional space again.

The spur-of-the-moment project turned out to actually feel kind of fun, and Jeremy joined me to clean out his closet (which is in the playroom as well).  It took very little time, and Addison and Mackenzie spent a good bit of time in there Sunday afternoon, rediscovering toys they'd long forgotten.  My dad has been working on a shelving unit to go in there, then playroom will be ready for all the new playthings the upcoming birthday will undoubtedly bring.

It's not a lot, but it felt good to get something accomplished...one room decluttered and ready to go.  This weekend I plan to tackle my closet...which could take awhile.  But I'm ready; if it hasn't been worn in the last six months, if it's uncomfortable or just something that I don't feel great wearing, it goes! 

Any decluttering tips you'd like to share?  Are you tackling a spring project in your house?  How do you simplify when things get overwhelming? 

Here's my favorite way to relax...in a semi-clean house, with my two best girls:


(It's blurry, but pictures with all three of us in one spot are so rare, I'll take what I can get!)



It's really amazing, when I stop to think about it, how quickly we have gone from this:


to this:


Isn't nature (and God!) just amazing?

I mentioned a tulip tree last week, and though I have no idea what the actual name is, this is the one in our yard:





Spring has definitely sprung, and we are loving it!

And because I haven't posted any pictures in quite awhile, here are a few of A & M from this past weekend...


Mackenzie, looking all sweet and innocent

Addison trying to learn to blow bubbles


Mackenzie pretending to be asleep on the porch swing

Happy Wednesday!


Playground Etiquette

We are finally all feeling better, after a bout with the stomach virus for all of us last week.  I survived my first puke-in-the-middle-of-the-night episode and even managed to bathe Addison and change the crib sheets without waking Mackenzie.  Luckily, it was a relatively short-lived virus this time.

The weather was beautiful this weekend, and we spent most of Saturday outside.  I was supposed to walk a 5K with friends, but after being sick on Friday I was afraid I didn't have the strength to make it through the whole thing.  I needed to pick out birthday invitations for the girls, so Addison and I took a shopping trip while Mackenzie helped her daddy clean out his workshop.  It was nice for each of us to get some individual time with our girls, and Addison was a great shopping buddy!  We spent the afternoon riding cars, blowing bubbles, playing in the sandbox, swinging, and enjoying the sunshine.

Yesterday, after our Sunday afternoon naps, we decided to go to the park.  The one closest to our house has a nice playground, but it is usually pretty crowded on sunny weekend afternoons.  Jeremy and I favor one in town, where there is almost never anyone else playing.  It is nice having all the swings to ourselves!  I thought the girls could benefit from a little peer interaction, though, so we decided to go to the big one close to the house.

Now, I try very hard not to be a nervous, overprotective mother who is always hovering in the background to prevent my babies from getting into trouble, but at the playground, it's a different story.  A & M are fairly small for their age and can't manage the playground equipment very well.  Eventually, I am sure I will be one of those moms sitting in the shade, watching my girls play happily.  But right now, Jeremy and I hover nearby, making sure they don't step off the platform or fall off the stairs to the slide.

That's where my question comes in...when do you intervene if another child is being rude to your child?  I try to make A & M move on if there are other children waiting for the slide or the see saw, which doesn't happen often.  But sometimes kids want to play around them and get a little rough for my taste.  For instance, there was a little boy playing on the slide and jungle gym at the same time as the girls.  He was maybe four, but was easily three times their size.  I was moving Mackenzie from looking up the front of the tunnel slide and I asked the boy to wait before he slid so he wouldn't kick her.  The boy replied something to the effect of "I'll slide when I want to" and came barreling down the slide, just as I yanked M out of the way.  She narrowly missed being kicked in the face by the kid's cowboy boots (who the heck lets their kid wear cowboy boots to the park, anyway?).

We moved on to play with something else to escape the little punk (sorry, but that's how I felt about him!), but it really made me wonder about playground etiquette.  What are the accepted social behaviors there?  Was I okay in asking him to please not climb over my children to get to the slide?  Should we just stick to the empty park from now on?  What are your rules??


Around here

Lately, around here...
  • We have been battling the various sicknesses trying to take over our family.  Addison has had a cough for the last week and a fever and runny nose on and off for days.  Mackenzie started the coughing this weekend, so they both went to the doctor yesterday and came home with lots of prescriptions.  I am feeling pretty rough today, but I'm not out of commission yet!
  • My mom had to take them to the doctor because I was giving a midterm in the college course I teach and Jeremy was in bed with a stomach virus.  It was not the best of days, to say the least.
  • Thankfully, my sister has been in town and was able to help quite a bit.  (Thanks again, LJ!!)  Having her home for an unexpected long weekend has been fun, but it makes me even sadder that she won't be moving closer to home when she graduates in May.  She is doing something big and amazing with her life, though, and I am so, so proud of her.
  • Laura and I were able to get out Saturday night for a late movie and some girl time.  We saw The Adjustment Bureau, and we might both be a little in love with Matt Damon now.  : )  Before that, we enjoyed a yummy dinner and dessert with Jeremy, making Saturday a pretty great day, come to think of it!
  • I am trying hard to take note of all the glorious signs of spring popping up around us--buttercups, Bradford Pear trees, and tulip trees are all in bloom here in north Alabama--and even though we are in the middle of a rainy, cold snap, I am reminded that better days are on the way.
  • We are doing a bit of party planning for a certain birthday party coming up soon.  Can my baby girls really be only a few weeks away from TWO?  Crazy, I tell you.  I am not as on-the-ball with the party planning as I was last year, but I know we will have a great time celebrating with friends and family. 
So, what have you been up to lately??


Checking the List

I have thought a bit about my list of goals for 2011, but perhaps not as much as I had intended so far (particularly the housekeeping ones!).  I am bustling around this week, though, making preparations to cross two items off my list soon.

Which items am I checking off the list?

Item #1:  Take a Deanna & Jeremy trip, possibly to celebrate our fifth anniversary.
Item #2:  Renew my passport.

Yep, we are going on our first child-free vacation.  Although it is sort of a celebration for our anniversary, we are not waiting until August.  Jeremy and I, along with my sister and a friend, are going on a (relatively cheap) cruise to somewhere warm and tropical at the end of May.  I can hardly wait!

Laura (my sister) will be graduating from college in May and she has been wanting to take a cruise for years.  I found a pretty good deal, convinced Jeremy, and somehow managed to make it all work out.  It does also help that we are booking just as we expect a nice little tax refund...thank you, Addison and Mackenzie! 

This will be the third cruise for Jeremy and me, but we have not been since our honeymoon in 2006.  You can take children on this cruise line, but I not ABOUT to get in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico with two toddlers screaming to come home.  So, though I will miss them terribly and I might spend a fortune calling to check on them, I will also be taking advantage of all the child-free rest and relaxation.  Can you imagine all the books I can read in five days?  And my mouth is already watering in anticipation of all the delicious food I plan to consume.  Midnight Mexican buffet?  I'm in.  24-hour pizza?  Sign me up.  An extra appetizer with dinner?  Don't mind if I do!

Weight Watchers when I return?  I think so.