For my Mama

Today is my mom's birthday.  She has been such an amazing, supportive mother who taught me the most important things I know, including above all else, what it means to be love and be loved unconditionally.  She is my rock, my strength, my sounding board, and my best friend.

I know two little girls who happen to think she is a pretty wonderful Jen-Jen as well.

Happy birthday, Mom!  We love you and we are so incredibly blessed to have you!


Two going on Thirteen

My girls are super-excited about singing and dancing these days.  They loved "dancing" with the big kids at Vacation Bible School and even got up in front of the crowd at church last Sunday to perform with the other children.  We have also been watching The Wizard of Oz and other shows/movies with lots of music. 

Of course, like any good music-lovin' mama, I encourage my babies to sing and dance their little hearts out.  I sing their favorite songs so they can show off their dance moves, and I encourage them to wail out Somewhere Over the Rainbow, even though it currently only consists of "soooommmmeeerrrr overrrr booowww " over and over.  It's accompanied by the cutest little dramatic arm movements, which is just adorable.

But last week, the inevitable happened.  We were riding in the car, singing along to one of the kids' song CDs, when Mackenzie suddenly stopped and commanded me, "Stop singing, Mama!" 

Excuse me, what?! 

At first I laughed, sure that she was just being silly.  A few bars later, she said it again, more loudly this time:  "Stop singing, Mama!"

I pretended to be hurt, but I immediately called Jeremy to laugh with him about it.  I am by no means a good singer, but surely that can't matter to my two-year-old.  At least I get the words right, which is more than I can say for her (or her father, for that matter).

A few nights later, the girls and I were watching The Wizard of Oz before bedtime.  I, of course, was joining them in singing along to our favorite songs.  We had reached a point in the munchkin song when A & M felt the urge to jump up off the couch and perform along with the characters on tv.  I was laughing and singing along with them, when Mackenzie stopped, turned to look at me, and sternly said, "Don't sing it, Mama".  I tried again and was quickly admonished by both my children. 

Point taken, girls.  I will now ask politely if I can join in your singing and dancing fun.  I would hate to offend you, after all.

As many parents do, I'm sure, I spend a good deal of time trying to imagine what Addison and Mackenzie might be like in the future.  I wonder if they will like to play dress-up and princess or if they will prefer to be outside riding bicycles and playing in the dirt.  I wonder if they will love reading and school like I did, or if they will tolerate classes just to get to see their friends and participate in sports like their daddy did.  I wonder if they will be each other's best friend or if they will begin to prefer the company of others more often.

(For the record, any of those options will be fine with me.  I want my girls to know that they are free to be whoever they want to be, and that I will love them the same, no matter what!)

I also sometimes imagine, and yes, expect, that there will probably come a point in time when my girls don't think their mama is the greatest thing in the world.  They will not always want to hug and kiss me in public; they won't want me to run and pick them up when they fall, smothering their faces with kisses; and they won't always want to copy my every move.  I am prepared for the notion that one day, my girls will find me extremely uncool and maybe even embarrassing and annoying.

However, I am NOT ready for that time to come at age TWO.


Baby Steps

Yesterday afternoon, Addison, Mackenzie, and I met a group of friends for a summer playdate.  Four of my college friends and I got together to play, swim, and catch up on gossip.

The last time we were all together at this very same friend's pool, we were celebrating our sorority's Bid Day in August of 2003.  We were a group of mostly carefree, happy-go-lucky college kids, just having a good time and marking the beginning of a new semester.

Now, we are rapidly closing in on thirty, and though we are still in some ways the same happy, carefree girls we were back then, we are also very different.  We have jobs and responsibilities.  We have had life experiences that our 20-year-old selves would never have imagined.  Instead of discussing which sorority sister was 'shacking up' at her new boyfriend's apartment, we talked of marriage, babies, jobs, and sadly, a few divorces we have heard about recently.

We have seven children between us, all age two and under.  Not surprisingly, the conversation flows a little differently when you are keeping an eye on curious toddlers around a swimming pool (!), but we made the best of it...and a few of us made plans for a nice, relaxing, kid-free dinner and conversation next week.

I was pretty proud of my girls yesterday.  This is the second time this summer that I have taken them to a gathering with a swimming pool by myself, and they behaved amazingly well.  The only mishap was when Mackenzie peed on the porch by accident, but that was mostly my fault (I forgot the swim diapers), and at least it was just pee (but we're still sorry about that, Brandi!).  They backed away from the edge of the pool when I asked, they played well with the other kids, and they didn't whine too much when it was time to leave.  My girls were sweet to my friends and their children, and I couldn't be more proud. 

You other moms of multiples will probably understand the pride I feel that I was able to conquer a summertime swimming playdate without another adult along to provide an extra set of hands.  Of course, my friends and I all helped watch out for one another's children, but it was still a nice feeling to be able to do one more thing with both of my girls without feeling overwhelmed and outnumbered.

It's all about baby steps.


Funnies and Father's Day

As I mentioned, Addison and Mackenzie are pretty hilarious lately.  Their vocabulary is expanding  daily, and I think I am going to have to start carrying a notebook to record all the cuteness that comes out of their mouths.

Last week, Jeremy and I were discussing whether or not we were going to Vacation Bible School on Friday night.  I was calling it "VBS" so the girls wouldn't know what we were talking about.  Mackenzie picked up on some of the conversation and started saying, " I want to go to VBS!"...only it was coming out, "I want to go to baby's @ss!"  Jeremy and I lost it, and had her repeat it about 40 times.  Yep, we are totally mature parents.

Addison is on a "don't like it" kick.  Anything she doesn't want, she "doesn't like".  And now, this week, it's us she doesn't like.  A few nights ago, she didn't want Jeremy snuggling on her, so she said, "Don't touch me, daddy."  Is she a teenager already?!  Yesterday, when I called from work, J. asked the girls if they wanted to talk to me and Addison said no.  He asked why, and she responded, "I don't like her."  It's hard to have hurt feelings when she sounds so adorable saying it.

Yesterday afternoon I asked the girls if they were ready to go back to school and see Ms. Hope, their teacher.  Addison, of course, responded, "No, I don't like her."  Two minutes later, I asked who they liked to play with most at school.  Addison says, "Ms. Hope!"  Sure, kid, I enjoy hanging out with people I don't like too.

Sunday, while riding in the car, J. and I were having talking about Mother's Day/Father's Day/birthday gifts, which we chose to skip this year.  I might have been complaining a little though, saying that a nice little thoughtful surprise would have been nice.  (Am I right, ladies?  Even if we don't want a gift per say, a small token of affection is not necessarily off the table?)  Mackenzie pipes up from the backseat, demanding something.  After a couple of repeats, I finally understood what she was saying...Mackenzie wanted a thoughtful surprise.  How cute is that?!

More and more often, when I am on the phone or telling a story, I am catching both girls repeating entire conversations very softly just a beat or two behind me.  Not missing a word.  I don't have much of a dirty mouth, but I am definitely making an effort to double-check a few phrases here and there!


What kind of blogger/mother/wife would I be if I let Father's Day pass without a shout-out to my husband and babies' daddy?   We are pretty low-key on the gifts/holidays around here, but we know how very lucky we are to have this guy in our lives:

happy father's day!

Thank you, Jeremy, for all you do for our girls.  They love your silly games, tickles, snuggles, hugs, and kisses.  I love that you willingly and gladly share the parenting load with me.  There is no one I'd rather be sharing this adventure with!

We love you very, very much!

A Silly One


Just some things...

I love having two-year olds.  No, really, I do.  Even in the midst of a face-melting tantrum, I sometimes have to fight back a laugh, because to be honest, it can be pretty hilarious.

Addison has this face she puts on when she is being told not to do something (for example, not to dump water out of the bathtub), and it absolutely cracks me up.  She widens her eyes and holds her mouth open, like for some reason she thinks it makes her look more innocent.  Here's a pretty good approximation of the innocent face:

Addison's face
The oven is currently Mackenzie's favorite hiding place. 

All the while she is making this precious little "I don't understand what's wrong" face, she is continuing to do what I have asked her not to do.  That, or she is frozen in mid-action, waiting to see if I will really make her stop.

There are just so many fun things to love about this stage.  The girls' language is absolutely exploding, along with the beginnings of a sense of reasoning.  Mackenzie is particularly good at picking up phrases I say to her and turning them around on me.  It is so funny to hear her caution, "Be careful, Mama!" as I recline my lounge chair too close to the deck railing.  Also funny, but a little infuriating, is "Give you a spanking, Mama".


Yes, we have had to turn to spanking occasionally around here.  I try not to do it, but my girls love time-out, so what else can I do?  We have even tried time-out in their room with the door closed (they stay seated in the exact spot Jeremy places them in the middle of the room!), but to almost no avail.  They will do something wrong and put themselves in time out.  So when they are doing something blatantly wrong, such as hitting or hair-pulling--which is rare, thank goodness--they are now likely to get a light swat on the leg or hand.  It works for now, particularly in the bathtub, where much of our behavior issues occur and I can't really enforce time-out well.

As I said, thankfully the bad behavior is still minimal.  My girls are mostly sweet and playful, and they are full of love for their parents and each other.  The girly-drama is on the rise, of course, as I'm sure it will be for a very long time to come.  We have had the first of many, many fights over clothing, and phrases such as "It's my turn!" and "Me had it first!" are becoming more frequent.  Also?  "Me had it first"?  How cute is that?!

We are a singing and dancing group these days.  The girls' new favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz, which we watch parts of almost nightly.  They loooove to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", and Addison often jumps up from the couch to dance along with the munchkins.  We have been going to Vacation Bible School at church this week, and the girls can't wait to get there to sing and dance with the "boys and girls".  Of course, they stick close to me and do more watching than dancing while the entire group is together.  Once the other kids split off into their class, we have been hanging out with some of the teenagers in the main room, and the girls really come out of their shell for the smaller group.  They have had a blast dancing and showing off for their new friends.

Speaking of church, Addison and Mackenzie have gotten very good at saying their prayers before bed.  I have said the same prayer with them ("Now I lay me down to sleep....") since they were tiny, and they are finally beginning to say it with me!  I love to hear them quietly repeating my words, developing the beginning of their love for the Lord.  I have been so proud at Bible School this week, watching them fold their little hands and squeeze their eyes shut during the prayers.  They are very good at staying still and quiet, and last night, when we got to the end, Mackenzie shouted "AAAAmen!" right along with the leader.  Oh, my heart...

My sweet girls are growing and changing every single day, and I absolutely love to share all these new experiences with them.  I can't deny that some days are challenging, but as a whole, they are also more fulfilling than any other time so far.  It's like some of the things we have waited so long to share with our children are finally happening, and the feelings are just indescribable.  Addison and Mackenzie are becoming such amazing, fun little people, and I am just grateful that I get to be their mama.



And the pigtails?  Couldn't you just DIE from the CUTENESS??



The temperatures have topped 90 degrees for a couple of weeks now, kids are finally out of school, and the ice cream truck is making rounds in the neighborhood.  It's official:  summer is here. 

It's a long-standing fact that I wilt like a delicate flower in the heat, so we are almost always hiding in the house during the nearly-unbearable peak of the midday heat.  Luckily, the girls don't seem to mind right now. 

Hiding from the heat in the air-conditioning and watching The Wizard of Oz.

We bought a large inflatable pool for the backyard (big enough for mama to sit in too...yes, we are rednecks!), but so far it has provided more hassle than fun.  Why on earth would a pool of that size not have a drain hole in the bottom??  When it's full of water, it is impossible to move, and thus, impossible to empty the water.  Since the water doesn't last long here in mosquito paradise, the pool has not seen a lot of action.  Jeremy keeps suggesting we look at putting in an a real pool or a nice above-ground, but I'm not convinced yet.  Though I confess I did google prices on one of the hottest days last week!

We may hide from the heat of the day, but when the shadows grow longer and the sun starts to sink a little further in the sky, we are ready to get outside for a little action.  This past weekend, the girls and I went to a summer kickoff party at a friend's house, where they had a great time splashing in the pool (a real, inground one, hallelujah!), jumping on the trampoline, and being chauffeured around with their buddy, E.

Don't you love his fake smile?



Our town also opened a brand-new splash park last week, and it has been a huge hit with the kids around here.  We finally went last night, after I got off work so it wasn't quite as crowded or hot.  It took a few minutes to warm up, but Addison quickly decided she loved it.  She was all over the place, bravely sticking her head down in the cool spray of the water attractions.  Mackenzie was not as sure, darting on the outskirts of the mist before asking to go next door to the dry playground.  I am hopeful she will warm up a little more next time, and it will definitely be a place we frequent this summer!


My sister has been here since we got home from vacation a couple of weeks ago, and the girls have loved spending time with their Aunt Laura Jo.  We will be sad to see her go next week, but hope to see her again before she moves to Louisiana sometime in August.  I want to share all about what she will be doing next year, hopefully in an upcoming post.

So, has summer made it to you yet?  Do you love the sunshine and heat of the day, or do you thank the good Lord for air-conditioning like I do?  I am trying to plan some fun stuff for us this summer...what's on your must-do summer list?


Mark All as Read

My method of reading blogs has typically consisted of using either the blogroll on the sidebar of my blog or my Google Bookmarks to visit the actual sites.  Call me old-fashioned, but I like seeing a person's blog design, getting the total effect of the layout, pictures, and words.

Since I began the love affair with my iPhone a few weeks ago, I have rarely picked up my laptop at home, using my phone for pretty much all of my social networking and internet needs.  Thus, I have had a re-introduction to Google Reader.  I don't love it, but it does provide an easy method for reading most of my favorite blogs when I'm not at my computer.

Still, as fun as it is to log in and see new, unread material waiting for me, seeing that "unread" number can be overwhelming at times.  Like, say, when you went on vacation two weeks ago, then had a very busy summer weekend and aren't really feeling caught up on anything.  Then, perhaps, you might find your Google Reader looking a little something like this:

Faced with 247 unread items that I will never have the time to tackle, I am forced to succumb to the beauty of a little button labeled Mark All as Read

As a self-confessed perfectionist, I must admit, using this feature bothers me a little.  I feel like it's cheating.  I didn't really read all those posts, but I am claiming that I did.

Neurotic, right?

But refreshing nonetheless.  I do like to log in and see 0 unread items, or to know that there are just two or three truly new items there waiting for me.  It's a fresh start; a chance to do it over and not cheat this time.  I instantly feel like I have reset, put myself back on the starting line to begin again.

Now, if only there were a reset button to wipe away all those baskets of unfolded laundry...


Birthday Ramblings

Taking a cue from my friend MandyE, I decided to share a little bit about ME on this, my 29th birthday...

My family didn't make a huge deal out of birthdays, though I do remember having a party each year.  The most memorable ones are an early birthday party at McDonald's, back when they provided a cake, party hats, etc. (which must have been at least 25-26 years ago!) and the slumber parties that started around age 9 or 10 and lasted through junior high school and early high school.  Oh, those parties were so much fun, but so full of girly-drama.  Can you imagine the drama that will be involved with TWO girls sharing the spotlight?

We still don't make a very big deal out of birthdays (except for the girls, of course!), but I always get a good gift from my mother-in-law.  She's a very good gift-giver. 

Tonight, the girls are going to spend the night with NiNi again and Jeremy and I are going to dinner and a movie.  I feel a little bad about sending A & M off again, since we just got back a week ago, but I asked them last night if they wanted to go with mama and daddy or go to NiNi's house.  They enthusiastically answered "NiNi's house!", so I'm not spending too much time feeling guilty about it.

Since they are spending the night away, I plan to get up and go to yard sales in the morning.  I love to "yard-sale" (bet ya didn't know that was a verb too, huh?) and go to thrift stores, but it's hard to scour for bargains with two little helpers along.  And it's really hard to drag them out of carseats at every yard sale when there may not be anything of interest at all, so I plan to take full advantage of the morning alone.

Later on this weekend, I will probably treat myself to the new Sookie Stackhouse book for my birthday.  I have been slightly obsessed with these books, flying through all ten in less than three weeks, but they are light and entertaining...the perfect summer reads.  I am thinking True Blood, the HBO series based on the books, will be on my summer to-watch list.  I enjoy catching up with a series I have missed over the summer when there's nothing else on.

Now, tell me...what are you reading/watching this summer?  Anyone else share my Sookie love?  How are birthdays handled in your family?  Do you remember a favorite birthday?


Where I've Been

Last week was the highly anticipated vacation I first mentioned back in early March.  We went on a cruise to celebrate mine and Jeremy's fifth wedding anniversary (in August) and my sister's college graduation.

This was our first long trip together away from Addison and Mackenzie, and as the date neared, I will admit I was a little bit nervous.  (All the Rapture talk didn't help the nerves any, even when I rationalized that the guy was a quack because "no one knows the day or hour", except our Father in Heaven.)  We had been talking to the girls about mama and daddy's "vacation", telling them they would have lots of fun with both sets of grandparents while we were gone, so they didn't seem upset at all.  I knew they would have fun, but it's natural to worry a bit, right?  I just hoped they wouldn't think we had run away and left them for good!

We left very early Saturday morning to drive to Mobile to meet my sister and board our ship.  We had an uneventful drive down, unless you count Jeremy's various panic attacks about the possibility of our being late.  (We weren't.)


More Waiting

After a relatively short wait in the cruise terminal, we were on board and on our way.  We were determined to make this vacation as inexpensive as possible, so we booked the cheapest rooms on the interior of the ship.  Because Jeremy and I had sailed before, we were upgraded to porthole windows, but we were on the bottom floor of guest rooms...meaning we had a 6-floor walk to most of our activities.  Though the stairs were a little hard on my legs and we were further from the action than we have been in the past, it really wasn't a big deal.  The inconveniences were well worth the money we saved.

I even brought a case of Diet Cokes with me this time, so we literally paid for nothing onboard.  (Unsweet tea, water, and lemonade are free, but soft drinks are extra.)  Well, we did pay $7 (SEVEN DOLLARS!) for some crappy deodorant because Jeremy forgot his, but we had some sort of mysterious onboard credit that took care of that charge.

I told everyone that my goal for this cruise was to plant myself in a deck chair with a stack of books for the entire week, and that is pretty much exactly what I did!  I finally got around to starting the Sookie Stackhouse series the week before we left, and thanks to a friend who lent me books 1-9, I was well-prepared for a week of doing nothing.

Vacation reading

This was the view from our favorite chairs on the back of the boat.  We would head down after an afternoon nap and grab a spot in the last of the evening sunlight, where we read and dozed until dinner.

Even the days we were in port, we continued the trend of doing nothing and saving money.  We opted out of the expensive shore excursions this time and just walked around the port towns of Progreso and Cozumel.  I didn't even take my good camera out of our stateroom the entire trip, just snapping a few pictures with my new phone.



cruise2011 062

Toes in the sand!

We ate a ton of food, of course, though I neglected to get a picture of any of it except Jeremy with his beloved ice cream:

Ice Cream!

With the girls, I feel a constant pressure to take pictures.  They are growing and changing so unbelievably fast, and it feels like I need to capture all the moments so we will have a record of these days.  It was such a relief to put the camera down and just enjoy the day instead of trying to get a good shot.  

Laura and Brynn met some people their age at the dinner table, so they spent the days laying in the sun and the evenings dancing with new friends while Jeremy and I were completely and utterly lazy.  So, in summary, our first child-free vacation (and only one for many years, most likely) contained lots of food, afternoon naps, beautiful views, vampire novels (for me), a military memoir (for Jeremy), and all-around relaxation. 

It was a perfect vacation, exactly what we needed and wanted.  The girls had a blessedly uneventful week and seemed to enjoy their time with my family and Jeremy's.  We were told that they asked for us several times, but someone would just remind them that we were on vacation or "the big boat" and we would be back soon.  The only breakdown I heard of was when my mom couldn't get The Wizard of Oz (the current movie obsession) to play and Mackenzie cried and said "Mama dooooo itttt!"  

As wonderful as it was to be away, we were pushing the speed limit for the last few hours of our drive home, eager to see these precious faces:



We had no trouble settling back into our normal routine with the girls, with none of the clingy-ness or sleep interruptions I feared might happen when we got back.  They do intend to make sure they don't get left behind on the next vacation though!


How was your week?  Did I miss anything exciting while I was cut off from the online world??