Monday, May 22, 2017

Weekend Getaway :: Oklahoma

This weekend, we took Eli and Maddie on their first road trip! We wanted to try out a somewhat close-to-home trip, sort of as a practice run before we attempt the trek to San Antonio. Mike's brother's in-laws have a cabin in Oklahoma, and they were sweet enough to let us use it for our experiment.

We loaded up and headed out on Friday after Eli and Maddie woke up from their morning nap. We decided to grab a quick lunch on the way out of town, so we made a stop at Rudy's for some BBQ. 

First family road trip!

Eli was SUPER excited about Rudy's. And really wanted the BBQ sauce.

The drive was only a couple of hours, and babies did great! We weren't sure how they would do in the car, but they napped on and off and were generally pretty happy. We had timed it just right to arrive in time for them to eat again and go down for an afternoon nap. Which allowed Mike and I some time to read and relax.

Happy to be at the cabin with full bellies :)

Probably the only "down" time we had the whole weekend

We knew it was supposed to rain overnight, but we had NO idea that we were going to get crazy storms. It was unreal. The lightening alone was something that neither one of us had experienced. Mike said it was like all the lightening he had every seen in his entire life was condensed into a few hours. There was more lightening than not; it was almost like a strobe light was on. We were also really worried about tornadoes. But that's where the lightening came in handy, because it allowed us to watch the trees and how bad the wind was. We had spotty cell phone service, so we were able to get a few texts out on my phone, but couldn't get our phones to update the weather. I got a bag packed with the basic essentials for babies, in case we had to grab them and head to the basement for shelter. I wasn't feeling great, so that didn't help things either.

Needless to was a rough night, and we didn't sleep much. Mike and I were trying our best to monitor the storms, and we are so thankful to Ben and Bryan for staying up and keeping us updated. And babies? Slept through it all. Seriously. Not a peep the whole night! We are so thankful that they slept well, but we were so tired that we decided we would make it a one night trip and head home in the morning.

But when the sun came up, we were met with a surprise. The river behind the cabin had flooded, and the water level had risen really high. It was so crazy how fast the water had risen. The night before, Bryan had told us that if there was any water running over a concrete bridge that we passed over to get to the cabin {our only way in/out}, we shouldn't try to cross. Mike went to check on it and came back with the sad news that we were not going anywhere that day.

So we spent the morning on the porch just watching the water rush by. Thankfully we weren't due any more rain or crazy weather, so we just had to wait for the waters to recede.

The dock {out by that second tree} was completely submerged.

Watching the water carry a bunch of tree logs and debris by...

Front porch sittin'

Later in the day, we decided to take a walk out to the bridge to see if the water was receding at all. It was a good distraction for babies, and it helped us gauge how long we might be staying at the cabin. It was definitely receding, but it was going to be awhile.

That light patch at the top is the other side of the road

Loving our family walk...not loving that we are stuck.

Eli's face when we told him we would have to stay another night haha {and sister's hand trying to comfort him}

There definitely could have been worse places to be stuck. We had power and our babies were still as happy as ever. So we just went about our day, spending a lot of time checking the water levels. After babies ate, we would make the walk down to the river to sit and watch the water go by.

Super tired, but making the best of things!

The water actually receded fairly quickly, considering how much it was and that we were being told to expect to stay until Monday. The sun came out in the afternoon, so we were all happy and hopeful we would get to head home Sunday.

Back down to a normal level and speed, but we discovered that part of the dock had washed away

Saturday night was uneventful weather-wise, but babies woke up a couple of times for random reasons {go figure}. It was certainly an adventure of a weekend, and we were so glad that babies did so well outside of their normal routine. But Mike and I talked about how it was just hard to be somewhere other than home with little ones. It was all the hard parts of having two babies, only magnified because they were out of their routine. They were fine, but mama and daddy were exhausted. I definitely understand now when my mama friends would tell me that they are called family trips, not family vacations...because there's still so much work :)

So our experiment was successful, just with a little bit of an adventurous twist. And now we have our first family road trip memories in the books! :)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Day in the Life :: 6.5 Month Old Twins

Life is busy and full. And we're so grateful. I thought it would be fun to do a typical day for us with 6.5 month old twins. I am already amazed at how far we have come in just 1/2 a year! It will be interesting to see what our days look like as Eli and Maddie get older. Just a different kind of crazy, I'm sure :)

And yes. Our days are fairly scheduled. Have been since we brought them home from the hospital. 
  1. I am type A, so of course we have a schedule. No surprise there. 
  2. We have twins y'all. In order to keep them fed, clean, and safe, there has to be a schedule. Or this twin mama wouldn't survive.

And yes. I am a Nap Nazi mom. My babies are going to get their naps, and everything else will be put on hold for it. They might grab a nap on the go in the middle of the day, but otherwise, we are home, and they are napping in their cribs. Because that's how they sleep best. Trust me, everyone is much happier {babies and adults} when babies get good naps :)

So here we go. A day in the life of a mama with 6.5 month old twins...

I am up and getting "set up" for the day. This includes preparing bottles, getting solid foods ready, pulling out laundry from the night before, and mentally preparing a game plan for our day {what needs to be prepped if we are going out? what do I need to get done while babies are awake vs. during nap time?} I will usually grab a breakfast bar or an apple to eat before the twins wake up.

Babies are up! I change them out of their sleeping attire, change their diapers, and then we head to the kitchen for their breakfast bottle. We usually listen to the audio Bible while we have breakfast :)

We do solids after their bottle. Eli and Maddie have done really well with Baby Led Weaning, and I love watching them enjoy new foods. It's messy for sure {lots of extra clean up for this mama}, but babies seem to love it!

Most days we head to the nursery to read some books to wind down for nap. Some days, babies will play in the nursery while I put their laundry away {since I can't do that while they're sleeping}. If it's a cleaning day, babies play in the play room while I vacuum the house. A lot of times I will have one {usually Maddie} on my hip while I'm vacuuming. 

Babies are down for their first nap. For every nap, I turn on the sound machine, we sing Jesus Loves Me while I put them into their footed pajamas, and then they both get kisses and are put in their cribs. I turn off the lamp and close the door, and they both go to sleep. Usually :)  I take this time to clean up from breakfast, pick up the house, fold laundry {every day because y''s NEVER. ending}, grab a shower. If it's a cleaning day, I sweep and dust. And if there's time...grab a cup of coffee.  {Side Note: I can't have caffeine because of Crohn's, so don't be fooled. It's decaf coffee. Which is very sad, but such is life}.

Babies are up from their nap, so they get a diaper change and another bottle. I sit on the floor and have babies in their bouncy seats while I feed them both at the same time. I have to stop and burp one at a time, and sometimes that's easier than others to wait on each other, depending on how hungry babies are. Today was not so bad :)  {Side Note: Some people say you don't need 2 of everything with twins. I have yet to figure out how said people function. Because we definitely have 2 car seats, 2 cribs, 2 high chairs, 2 bouncy seats, 2 exersaucers, 2 bottle drying racks, 2 baby carriers. I guess we only used 1 swing and 1 Rock 'n Play...??}

If we're going to make it out of the house to meet someone for lunch or run errands, this is the best time for us to go. So that means, changing clothes {unless it's Walmart, because then we wear pajamas haha}, packing the diaper bag, and loading the babies in the car.  We're getting better, but it's no simple task to get out the door with two babies in tow, especially when they want to "help" me get each other ready haha. If we are staying home, then we use this time to play, do tummy time, read books, sing songs, etc. {Side Note: Babies are rolling now and grabbing for everything, so this makes every task 10x more difficult. When I'm changing Baby 1's diaper, Baby 2 is rolling away. When I retrieve Baby 2, Baby 1 is rolling away in the opposite direction. And both are reaching for diapers, wipes, the dog, each other. Hence the reason we have to start the process to leave the house WAY in advance}.

Today, one baby decided to poop before we left, so that means another diaper change {but at least it was only one this time!} So NOW we're ready to load up the car and head out :)  {Side Note: having 2 babies increases the chances of diaper blowouts, spit ups, wardrobe changes, etc. So with twins, it's almost guaranteed that one- or all- of those things will happen at inopportune times}.

Running errands! Since babies are still not sitting up super well on their own, I usually clip one into the stroller, and I wear the other. That way I can fit more under the stroller and use that as my shopping cart. Today I decided to ditch the stroller and tried putting one in the shopping lasted about 5 minutes after this then I was carrying both babies through the store. And yes, people stare haha. {Side Note: I cannot go out in public without someone stopping us, making a comment, asking a question, oohing and ahhing, staring with incredulity. I'm still getting used to that, as I tend to want to get in, get out, and go unnoticed. But I am learning that this is just part of life with twins}. {Second Side Note: Yes, they are twins. No, they are not identical (Boy/Girl, people...can't be identical). No, twins do not run in our family. No, they were not a surprise}.

Back home to change back into our pajamas, change diapers, and have another bottle.

one-thirty to two.
Babies are down for their second nap. I usually use this time to do my work for the bank, put away laundry, check email, blog, etc. 

Babies are up from their nap, so they get a diaper change and another bottle. {Side Note: We go through A LOT of diapers, y'all. A LOT. Also, my children are drool machines, so they live in bibs}.

Play time! We sing songs, do tummy time, etc. If the weather is nice and not too hot {which is becoming less frequent}, we will go for a walk around the neighborhood. 

Babies still take a short nap before dinner and bath time. I use this time to clean up a bit from the day, get prepped for bedtime, and get any last minute things ready for dinner. {Side Note: We survived on people bringing us meals and takeout the first 2 months, and then all of our freezer meals and takeout for the next 3 months. I am just now starting to cook again, within the last month. And I'm still trying to figure that out because timing is weird. I try to prep stuff while babies are sleeping, but am still figuring out cook times. Thankful for a patient hubby and my crock pot!}

Babies are up from their catnap and get a bottle for dinner. On Mike's long days, I start feeding them, and then he usually makes it home in time to help finish up bottles. We are ALL happy to see Daddy when he walks through the door. #becausereinforcements 

Bath and bed time routine! Babies get a bath every night, though we only use soap every few days. We have done this pretty much since they were born, and it helps relax them both. They both LOVE bath time! Our Routine {Mike and I switch off}: Baby 1 gets a bath with Parent 1, while Baby 2 gets one-on-one time with Parent 2 as Parent 2 gets night cap bottles ready. Then it's time for Baby 2 to get a bath with Parent 1, while Parent 2 gets Baby 1 dried off, changed into pajamas, and started on their night cap bottle. Baby 2 follows with Parent 2. And then it's off to bed! We do the same routine for bed time as we do for naps {singing, kisses, and in crib}, except we have Daddy there to help put them to bed. 

seven-fifteen to seven-thirty.
After babies are in bed, we clean up from bath time and start a load of laundry {because, like I said, it's NEVER ENDING}. Then Mike and I get to have our time together.. We are actually able to sit down and eat dinner, talk about the day, watch a show, eat cookies, etc. I am really glad that we get this time together! {Side Note: Sleep training our twins was THE BEST thing we could have done}.

eight-thirty to nine.
This twin mama is TIRED and usually in bed. No joke haha. I used to go to bed early before babies, so is anyone surprised that I go to bed early now with babies? Mike puts babies to bed, me to bed, and then goes off to hang out with friends and grab some exercise. But I gotta sleep. Because we wake up and do it ALL over again tomorrow :)  {Side Note: My alarm is set for 7am so I can be sure to be up before babies are awake. That's so I'm not waking up to babies crying and rushing to get their bottles ready. I don't always get 10 hours of sleep, but sometimes I do. Because I need sleep in order to stay healthy. And I am convinced my body is still trying to recover from not sleeping for 3 months. #becausetwins #dontjudge}.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother's Day 2017 :: Baby Dedication

There was also a lot of excitement and anticipation for this Mother's Day. After all the years of waiting to celebrate with babies in my arms, this was a special day for us. It had finally come, and both my mama heart and hands were full. I was able to celebrate with my two precious snowflakes, so I will forever be grateful for the gift of Embryo Adoption and how the Lord led us to grow our family.


Mike had given me my Mother's Day present early, so the {happy} tears started early in the weekend :)  He made me a photo book of our babies, and I absolutely LOVE it!

My parents came into town, so we got to spent time with them this weekend as well. Eli and Maddie got to soak up some good time with Grandma and Grandpa, and Uncle Michael made an appearance as well.

Mother's Day was extra special this year, because we stood before our church and promised to raise our little ones in the knowledge and love of Christ, to the best of our ability. We dedicated Eli and Maddie on Mother's Day morning, and it took all my strength not to bawl the whole time. Standing on that stage with my babies in my arms was such a huge moment for us. For years I had watched other mamas dedicate their babies to Jesus and longed for the day when it could be me. And all of a sudden, that day was here. There were no words to express my gratitude, my joy, and my love for these precious gifts.

We were so grateful that Pastor Bill was able to facilitate the dedication. He has been such a sweet encouragement to us throughout our journey, so it was special to have him there to celebrate with us. Ben and Lindsay took photos for us, but until we get those from them, we are thankful for the photos some of our sweet Community Group members took for us!

It was also special to dedicate Eli and Maddie at the same time that Clint and Kelly dedicated Gioia and Becca and Drew dedicated Lettie. Sweet friends and even sweeter babies.

Thank you, Jesus for these precious baby loves. We pray that You would give us grace as we parent them, and we ask for your wisdom as we teach them about You. We want more than anything for them to know and follow You. We want their adoption story to point them to the adoption we have through Jesus. We love You Jesus, and we are so thankful for how You walked with us in the valley, took care of us through the heartache, and turned our mourning into dancing. 

They were WAY more interested in the sign than a photo, but oh well :)

"I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live." (Psalm 116:1-2)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

To the Mama Hearts

"Hannah's heart pounded with a mother's love 
long before she was blessed with a child to mother."
- Jennifer Saake, Hannah's Hope

Today is a day for which I have longed, prayed, and waited: celebrating Mother's Day as a mother with babies in her arms. I "celebrated" Mother's Day for the past 2 years in a different way...the first as an adoptive mother to 6 tiny embryos, and the second as a pregnant mama of twins. Both times I was still waiting to hold my babies in my arms, but my mama heart still beat with a love for the babies we adopted, the ones we lost, and the ones we were still waiting to meet. Because motherhood starts and grows in the heart, not the womb.

There were a lot of emotions that went into today. During our infertility journey, Mother's Day was incredibly difficult to face. For someone waiting to hold a baby in their arms, an entire day devoted to honoring and celebrating the women who already have that gift can be so...well, hard. Infertility is hard other days of the year, but this one day in particular is just salt in an open wound. My mama heart grieved the babies that would never be mine, the babies that should have been in my arms but were lost too soon.

Today is so different, because I get to hold my sweet babies in my arms. My mama heart is overwhelmed with the precious gifts that squirm in and fill my arms, and I can hardly stop the tears {this time of joy}. But it's a strange joy, because there has been so much grief that led to it. It's hard to believe that I am finally here. After so many prayers, so much waiting, so many just doesn't seem real. And yet, this Mother's Day, I am blessed to celebrate with {not one but} TWO children in my arms. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Despite our joy, I just can't forget all that we have walked through. Those scars still remain, and they will always slightly sober these days of celebration. Not in a bad way, but in a way that makes me pause and remember all that God has done. In a way that reminds me not to take these precious moments for granted. In a way that reminds me to remember where we have been, and not forget those who are still in the trenches. And for that, I am grateful. Today I am holding my babies in my arms, I am "on the other side." But I know that there are so many still hurting, still waiting. 

In our journey, we have met so many others whose hearts have been broken by infertility and loss. And I can't help but grieve alongside those other mama hearts who are still waiting for their miracles. My heart grieves for the friend whose embryo transfer failed. For the friend whose pregnancy test will be negative {again} this morning and whose period will start today {which definitely happened to me one year and it SUCKED}. For the friend who is bravely carrying the long-prayed for child who will only live for minutes after birth. For the friend who is facing this Mother's day without her beloved child{ren}, gone too soon...

Today, I praise God for the blessing of celebrating with my two baby loves. It's a day I wasn't sure I would ever see. I humbly join the ranks of mamas who will be honored and celebrated today. But I will forever have the mama heart that knew the heartache and struggle to get here. And I am fervently praying for the mama hearts who are still waiting, crying out to God, struggling to face this hard day. 

So to the mama hearts who desperately want it to be "their turn," I know how hard this day is for you, and I pray that you receive the strength you need to make it through. If you need to hide away and grab a pint of ice cream, I understand {and say, don't forget the comfy pajamas}. I know your tears, but more than that, Jesus keeps track of them. Lean into Him and trust His good plan for you. Because I promise He hasn't forgotten you.

To the mama hearts who are missing their beautiful babies today {however old}, I'm sorry for your loss {es} and that you are missing your baby {or babies} today. There is nothing quite like losing a child. I have felt a similar grief, and I pray that God comforts you in ways that only He can. I'm sending you lots of hugs on this hard day.

To the mama hearts who are faithfully loving their sweet ones with all they have, be encouraged that you are serving the least of these and that Jesus notices and receives all the glory for that. I pray you feel honored and loved today. I pray that you receive encouragement for the sacrifices you make for your family. Don't forget to hold your babies close and praise God for every moment you have with them.

And to those who are missing their own sweet mamas today, due to distance, broken relationships, or loss, I personally don't know your sadness and hurt, but I am praying that you also are comforted today. Part of my own desire to be a mother was because of how amazingly loving and wonderful my mama is. I cannot even begin to imagine losing her or having a fractured relationship with her, so forgive me that I don't have all the right words for you. But I recognize that today must be a hard day for you too, and I am praying for you on this Mother's Day.

Friday, May 12, 2017

High Five for Friday!

{one} The Merlin's Magic Sleep Suit was indeed magical...but alas, the magic has come to an end. Eli started rolling over in the suit, so we had to stop using it. I was really nervous about it, but he didn't do too bad. The first few naps were rough, as he seemed a bit confused about being laid down in his crib without the suit. But the first night, he only woke up once. This week he has been battling the 45 minute intruder during naps, but overall he has done really well with the transition. And he just looks so stinkin' adorable in his footie pajamas :)

{two} After 13 wonderful and faithful years, I said goodbye to Peabody. It was such a good little car! Through college, starting a new life in DFW, and marriage, this little Mazda was an awesome SUV. But it was definitely time for something else. It has been through a lot and was starting to show quite a bit of wear and tear. And we're pretty sure it was going to die any day haha. I asked Mike to take one last photo before he traded it in...

Adios Peabody! You were a fantastic car.

{three} We had already introduced Eli and Maddie to solid foods in the form of purees. But I knew we would want to use more of the Baby Led Weaning principles as they got older. So when they hit 6 months, we decided to go ahead and start. We're starting slow, but it's all just introduction and practice at this point anyway. Maddie took to it right away, and Eli was a little wary of it, but I think they're going to do just fine.

{four} We got a recommendation to take Eli to the chiropractor to see if they could help even out his flat head from the torticollis {neck muscles cause him to turn to one side only} and subsequent plagiocephaly {flat head}. It's our last attempt to try avoiding a helmet for our little guy. So we'll so how it goes. It meant that I got some one on one time with this sweet boy :)

{five} My parents are coming into town this weekend, and we are looking forward to spending time with them, celebrating Mother's Day, and dedicating our sweet babies at church!