Friday, March 31, 2017

{iPhone Rewind} :: March

deb-o-nair, adj. (of a man) confident, stylish, and charming

Those big beautiful eyes! Daddy is in trouble...

Saturday morning Theology 101 class with Daddy :)

A boy and his dog :)

I'm so thankful these 2 wake up so happy!

A fun {and fitting} memory popped up on Facebook. I remember that we were talking about and planning to attend a church planting conference. It has been my joy and privilege to walk in faith alongside Mike the last 6 years :)

This girlie has crazy hair after bath time haha.

This little man moves ALL over his crib. Already.

The cuteness. I just can't.

When you just have so much to tell Grandma :)

I hope they become the best of friends!

Hanging out with Grumpz!

Maddie loved playing with PK!

I got the quintessential "mom break" :: mom haircut, Starbucks, walk around Target sans kiddos, the wonderful husband that made it was just as awesome as all the mamas said it was :)

He's such a daddy's boy

All of the currently birthed McCullough grandkids

Sleeping babies in the back seat...such a sweet gift #itsthelittlethings

So excited this arrived in the mail...can't wait to dive in!

Taking all the babies out for a walk #twinmama #twintank #puppiescounttoo #thosebabyblues

Buddies for life :)

There were some hard concepts, but they eventually got there #storytimewithdaddy

Love being mama to these 2!

Has anyone ever seen one of these? I'm pretty excited about mine!

Spring is in full bloom! The roses outside our front door are HUGE!

Eli was having a rough day so Maddie tried her best to comfort him.

We got baby gates...and Sasha is NOT a fan. Poor puppy. But she just sheds TOO much haha.

Play time! We have some happy babies now that they don't have to share an activity center haha

<3 p="">

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Baby Firsts :: Solid Foods

This weekend we introduced Eli and Maddie to their first "solid" food! We had received the green light from our pediatrician at their 4 month check up, but I wanted to wait a little bit to see if their appetites increased before we dove into solids. They definitely seem ready now, so we decided to give it a try!

I use the term "solids" loosely, because let's be honest...everything is mush right now and will be for awhile. We will spoon feed fruits and vegetables that we puree, but we hope to use more of the Baby Led Weaning principles when they are a bit older. Right now, it's just a fun practice exercise for babies to get used to something other than their bottle. And we're only doing one meal a day for now. Slow and steady :)

First up on the list? Avocado!

I have to say that I was pretty surprised with their reactions. There were no tears or frustrations, but definitely a lot of confusion and grossed out faces haha. I expected Maddie to dive right in and love the avocado, and I expected Eli to be more hesitant. It turns out that Maddie was definitely wary of the whole process and never once showed any enjoyment of the taste. She did reach for the spoon and want to hold it on her own, but not because she was interested in eating the avocado :)

Eli seemed to do a little better. He took to the spoon really quickly, easily pulling it into his mouth. What to do with the avocado once it was off the spoon was another story :) I am pretty sure he liked the spoon itself more than the actual avocado.

I don't think that much was actually swallowed, but we'll keep at it and let babies have more practice. It is now going to be a brand new task built into my day. As with anything with twins, it can be quite an event {and this one will be a messy one for sure!}, but I think it will be fun to actually start eating with our babies.

Next up? Sweet potatoes. Yum!

Friday, March 24, 2017

High Five for Friday!

{one} This week I got to introduce babies to my work family. I am constantly reminded of God's goodness and grace and how He has provided for us through this job. I miss working every day with these amazing people, but I am so thankful that I still get to work with them on a part time basis. There is something incredibly special about having a boss that loves Jesus, who prays for you and your babies, and who just wants to be a blessing to everyone around him. He usually sends out a gift {lovingly embroidered by his precious wife} to the new babies at the bank, so I was really excited to receive our blankets for Eli and Maddie. Such a special gift! 

{two} I mentioned back in October that my dad had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He had surgery in December, which went well, but we have been waiting for his follow-up blood work to get the final answer on whether or not he was cancer free. And I am so glad to report that all of his tests came black clear, and he is officially cancer free! He will have to continue going in for routine testing to be sure he stays cancer free, but for now, he is all clear. Such a huge praise!

{three} Even though we are taking a break from full time vocational ministry, Mike has still had several opportunities to preach at a couple of churches. Because of bed rest and babies, it has been a LONG time since I have actually been able to go with him to hear him preach. So I catch his sermons online after the fact. This past week, I finally caught up on the last couple of sermons I had missed, and I was reminded of how amazing my hubby is. Jesus has truly gifted him with the ability to effectively communicate biblical truths, and I am constantly amazed at how he carefully and diligently crafts his sermons. I am so proud of him!

{four} Babies are officially sleeping through the night! WAHOO!! We put them to bed by 7:15 or 7:30pm, and they are sleeping until 7:30am. And it is absolutely glorious. I cannot tell you how amazing this really is. After months of not sleeping, and babies waking each other up....we finally are getting some real sleep. Thank you, Jesus!

{five} Babies are starting solids this weekend! Our pediatrician gave us the green light at their 4 month check-up, but I wanted to wait a little bit to see if their appetites increased a bit more before we jumped into solid foods. And we feel they are ready now! We will start with avocados and sweet potatoes, and see how it goes. We will spoon feed for a little bit, but eventually want to follow more of the Baby Led Weaning principles. Let the real mess begin! :)

Monday, March 20, 2017

What is a Rainbow Baby?

So I have talked about our babies being Snowflake Babies. But they also happen to be Rainbow Babies. A Rainbow Baby is one that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss. 

I just love the imagery behind this term. When a beautiful and bright rainbow appears after a storm, it gives hope of things getting better. We appreciate rainbows more after experiencing the storm in comparison. Even as I think about the story of Noah, and God's gift of the rainbow, I am reminded that a rainbow is a promise of sunshine after the rain, of calm after storms, of joy after sadness, of love after loss. After experiencing the heartbreak of losing a child, the beauty of new life is such an incredible blessing, absolutely a rainbow after the storm.

People think that once your Rainbow Baby {or Babies} arrives you are somehow all better after your loss{es}. There is an assumption that you finally got the baby you wanted, as if your Rainbow Baby is somehow a replacement for the one who is gone. While there is an incredible joy that helps in the process of healing your broken heart, there will always be an empty space in your heart for the one{s} you lost. Your heart will always wonder who they would have been, what they would have looked like {in the case of miscarriage}, how they would have fit into your family. 

So while a Rainbow Baby is not a replacement, he or she is still an incredible reminder of God's faithfulness. While we may never understand why we had to lose 6 babies before we were able to hold our 2 Rainbow Babies, we know that God is good. After experiencing so much heartache and pain through infertility and loss, we rejoice in the beauty of God's rainbows.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Living with Crohn's :: A Health Update

I was really blessed to see a decrease in all Crohn's symptoms during my pregnancy. I felt the best I have felt since I was diagnosed, and I was so thankful that the Lord protected my health while I was carrying our babies. It is actually pretty common to see a decrease in Crohn's symptoms during pregnancy, and I was thankful that was the case for me. Pregnancy is also supposed to help lower the chances of surgery for Crohn's patients, so I am also thankful for the blessing of Embryo Adoption, which allowed me to experience pregnancy!

Since babies arrived, I have seen a return of some symptoms and have struggled a little bit, but nothing major. I haven't experienced a full flare, which is a HUGE praise! The one thing I have struggled with the most is low energy. My B-12 prescription expired, but I knew I would be seeing my GI pretty soon, so I just decided to wait it out. Probably not my smartest move, though my B-12 stores were not as bad as I thought they would be. I am also still iron deficient from delivery, and I think that is probably the biggest contributing factor to my low energy. The combination of those deficiencies with having 2 babies....well, let's just say I have been one tired mama! I am working on building back up my B-12 and iron levels, so I am hoping to feel better soon. But otherwise, I am not feeling terrible regarding Crohn's {endometriosis is another story...silly broken body}. 

Last month when I went for my yearly check up with my GI, I thought I would get my check in the healthy box for another year...except I didn't. Since it has been 7 years since the onset of my symptoms {5 since my actual diagnosis}, I am now required to see my GI every 6 months. It's around this time that Crohn's patients can start to see regressions, particularly a rejection of the medications they are taking {your body can build antibodies and start rejecting the medication}. So I will have to go in for additional monitoring, just to be sure that I stay in remission, and that my body is still responding to Humira. 

It also means that I am due for another colonoscopy. Ugh. Because that's what every 32 year old wants to hear...BOO. So I have to figure out a time to get that done before the end of the year. Good. Times.

So that's where I am with my Crohn's. I am still very thankful for being in remission, and I pray that continues for many years to come.

Friday, March 10, 2017

High Five for Friday!

{one} I am really excited to be a part of the launch team for Christine Hoover's new book Messy Beautiful Friendship! I have been a part of her launch teams in the past {here and here}, and so I was really happy when I got the email that I was chosen again for this one! She is full of so much wisdom, and I am looking forward to reading her thoughts on both the messiness and beauty of friendship.

{two} Finding ways to spend intentional time with the Lord has been a bit of a challenge. The first couple of months when the babies arrived, it was nearly impossible to find time for anything except for feeding babies and catching sleep when I could. I remember praying repeatedly, "Lord, you know I love you. Please forgive me, but I am going to sleep right now." {which, by the way, I do believe sleep can be the most honoring thing to the Lord at times}. Anyway, everything was such a blur as we learned to navigate life with 2 newborns, and I am just thankful for grace in those crazy seasons. But now that the babies are actually sleeping at night and seem to have a little bit more of a schedule, I am settling into a new routine in the mornings. I have been listening to the Bible {I am reading chronologically this year} while I feed babies breakfast, but now I spend a little more intentional time when they go down for their morning nap. And my soul is just soaking up every bit of the Word that I can. 

{three} I am absolutely LOVING my new RIVI vintage inspired felt letter board! I used some of the birthday money I was given to get it, and I am so glad I did. It's just a fun way to be creative, and it's also getting me to practice my photography skills {which still leave a lot to be desired ha!} I definitely look forward to using it to display some fun quotes :)

{four} Speaking of being creative juices have been flowing, and I have been looking for a fun new project {because I have SO much time on my hands these days. right.} Anyway, I have been doodling here and there and wanting to practice my hand lettering a bit more. So I decided to take some online classes, practice a little each day, and follow some monthly prompts. And I am enjoying it so much! Once I get in some more practice, I might post some of my work. But either way, I think I may have found my newest creative outlet...

{five} So I have really been enjoying listening to podcasts. The babies and I listen to episodes during feeding times, and it's a nice way to redeem some of that time, since I feel like that's ALL I do {feed babies}, all day long. There are 2 in particular that I have been working my way through:
  • The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey: I am SUPER late to the party on this one, but I have been enjoying it so much! It's light and fun, and I have learned so much about varying ministries. I now also have an even longer list of books to read :)  I started at the beginning {from 2-3 years ago} and have been making my way through each of her guests.
  • Undisclosed: I really enjoyed the Serial podcast, and season 1 of Undisclosed is a spin-off {of sorts} of that. This podcast is definitely more serious, but I am fascinated by the whole true crime, pick apart the case thing. It is definitely more biased than Serial {which they admit}, but it has been interesting to see their perspective on the case. 

Happy Friday! We're looking forward to Grandma coming in this weekend for her spring break!

Monday, March 6, 2017

What is a Snowflake Baby?

Before I dive into my post, I just want to say that this is going to be about Embryo Adoption, which uses the term "Snowflake Children." This post is NOT about Generation Snowflake, which is a newer term used to describe the over-protected, entitled generation of young adults of the 2010s. I absolutely hate that this term is now being used in a derogatory way, because I love how it was first coined for Embryo Adoption. I get the negative connotation; I just hate that the term itself is being ruined. So when I refer to my Snowflake Babies, please know that I'm not raising my kids to have a self-inflated view of themselves...they were just frozen for a bit :)

That being said...

I just love this quote...and I feel like it perfectly describes our infertility {standing out in the cold} and embryo adoption {snowflakes} journey :)

When we started pursuing Embryo Adoption, and I started seeing the term "snowflake baby," I absolutely loved the affectionate term. In the EA world, the term "snowflakes" is used to describe the sweet babies who were once frozen through IVF. They are affectionately called this because, just like actual snowflakes, they are frozen, unique, and a beautiful gift from heaven. Our agency is the one who coined the term Snowflakes, which is why they call their program Snowflakes Embryo Adoption

Obviously, we are huge fans of Embryo Adoption. It has been such an incredible gift to our family, and it has been an amazing way to see the beauty and handiwork of God. We look forward to sharing with Eli and Maddie how the Lord brought them into our family, and we hope they will always understand how much they were loved and wanted and prayed for. And we hope that it is a tangible way for them to understand their invitation to adoption into God's family through faith. 

I came across this "make your own snowflake" generator, and so I just HAD to make one for our snowflakes :) {it basically takes your name and creates a snowflake unique to you}.

Elijah Winn

Madeline Grace

We love our snowflake babies, and we pray we get to meet our remaining two this side of heaven! :)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Eli + Maddie :: 4 Months

Eli & Maddie, 

Sweet ones, how did you get to be 4 months old already? You are just growing up so fast; all of a sudden, we don't have tiny babies anymore! Every day you seem to be learning new things and a little bit more of your little personalities comes out. You both "talk" up a storm all day long; our house will never be quiet again {and we wouldn't have it any other way!} You just seem to be the happiest of babies, which makes you both such a joy to both me and your daddy. You are starting to notice each other a little more, too, which is also really fun. Your daddy and I pray that you just become the best of friends. We know that there are a lot of developmental milestones on the horizon, and we are excited to continue watching you grow!


E L I J A H      W I N N

Stats :: 13.8 pounds, 25.5 inches

Loves :: making spit bubbles, when mama kisses your toes, smiling

Dislikes :: wearing pants

Eat :: you are eating so much better! you still haven't caught up to your sister, but you are eating so much more consistently, which makes us so happy. you are still on your reflux medicine, so we haven't had any problems with that, and we're hoping you are growing out of it altogether. you are actually enjoying eating now, and you will roll your eyes back in your head while you're eating, indicating how much you are loving your meal! you are eating 6 times a day, 4-5 ounces each time.

Sleep :: we started sleep training at the beginning of this month, and you did SO well! you are still waking for 1 night feed, but you let mama and daddy get long stretches of sleep, which makes ALL the difference in the world! naps were a little bit of a challenge at first, but you are doing so well now.

Play/Development :: you are grasping for toys a lot better now, but usually still use only one hand at a time. but everything goes in your mouth these days. you do really well at tummy time, but have started getting frustrated when you can't roll from your tummy to your back, so we're working on that. you are also drooling all. the. time.

Unique to You :: sweet boy, you are just so fun and happy all the time. you have started giggling, and it's just the cutest sound. we have nicknamed you "buddy" or "brother." you started making these funny little grunting noises; I call them your tough guy grunts, and daddy calls them your dino roars :)

M A D E L I N E      G R A C E

Stats :: 16 pounds, 25.5 inches

Loves :: sticking out your tongue, snuggles with mama at 5pm {you tend to get sleepy and grumpy around this time and just need a little extra snuggle time to make it to bed time}

Dislikes :: missing out on the fun!

Eat :: you are still our eating champ! you are eating 6 times a day, 5-6 ounces each time.

Sleep :: we started sleep training at the beginning of this month, and you did SO well! you are still waking for 1 night feed, but you let mama and daddy get long stretches of sleep, which makes ALL the difference in the world! naps were a little bit of a challenge at first, but you are doing so well now. you still struggle to go down, just because you are usually having so much fun and don't want to miss anything! but once you are asleep, you sleep so soundly and we usually have to wake you up :)

Play/Development :: you are grasping toys now, using both hands to play with your toys. you have started to figure out how to shake them, and everything goes in your mouth. you still do well at tummy time, but immediately roll to your back. you have even started showing signs of rolling from your back to your tummy, but haven't done it quite yet. you are also drooling all. the. time.

Unique to You :: sweet girl, you are just so fun and happy all the time. you started giggling some recently, but all we have to do is smile at you, and you break out into your big full mouth, tongue-out smile! daddy calls you "sweetie" and I call you "girlie" or "sister." your hands are in your mouth constantly. you love hearing the sound of your high-pitched voice :)