Sunday, January 30, 2011


I must admit that the big surprise has totally thrown me off my game. There are so many new thoughts and questions running through my mind that I am having a hard time getting it together.


This is my poor Caleb. Yes, he is wearing Dora pull ups. Don't judge. He wasn't too excited about it either.



Fortunately, I still had a few of these in the closet from Eveley's potty training days. Otherwise, it could have been really bad.

Yes, I ran out of diapers. I never do that. I like to stockpile and usually have another box in storage ready for emergencies like this. But not now. I have been jolted out of my routine and things are starting to go to pot.

I did spend the weekend cleaning out my upstairs closets, organizing underneath the vanities, and deep cleaning the bathrooms. I hate cleaning bathrooms.

And even though I can hardly move right now -- thanks to this beautiful back -- I do feel much better.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Sudden Reality

We are still getting used to the phrase "when the babies come" or speaking of "the twins," but we are honestly still in shock! A good shock. But shock nonetheless.

After spending a few days in a true daze, my Type A personality took over and I began the research and planning phase of this new stage --

What new baby equipment would I need?

How do I feed these little ones? Can I nurse them both? Do I want to nurse them both?

Where will everyone sit in the van?

How will we rearrange bedrooms and sleeping arrangements?

Will I have to undergo a C-section?

Am I prepared to go without sleep until 2013?

What about all of my outside commitments? Do I need to clear my plate of a few responsibilities?

Eek. These are just a few of the millions of questions running through my mind right now.

I began google-ing these questions to find some "expert" advice. As I began searching for helpful tips on raising twins, I came across a whole section on twin-carrying mothers' bellies. Now I am plain skeered. Don't expect to see any belly pics of me on this blog.

I have found the stroller/travel system that I would love to get for these babies. But who knew that a twin system would cost more than my first car!!

When they outgrow the carseats, it will turn to this (among 16 other possible positions).

Craigslist, don't let me down now!

But I am reminded how God answers prayers. Even those that seem insignificant or petty. Eveley was born only 3 months after Robbie went to heaven. Needless to say, I was not in the best frame of mind. But I had many friends who vowed to pray that she would sleep for me. Knowing how desperately I would need rest, they asked God that Eveley would be a champion sleeper. And God answered that prayer completely. She slept through the night at 4 weeks. And not just 8 hours, but she would sleep until 10 in the morning (over 12 hours a night). I do not take their prayers and God's answer for granted. It was invaluable. In fact, that is why we call her Peeps today. We began calling her "Sleeper Peepers" because of her wondrous sleeping ability.

So I am now asking God to also give these babies calm and peaceful spirits that love to sleep!

Thank you so much for all of your warm wishes. We really are ecstatic! And those of you who have twin-experience, I would gladly welcome your suggestions and advice. This is a whole new ball game for me.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Surprise #2

Well, as you remember, we announced our big Surprise here. I am 22-weeks pregnant, feeling great, and ready to begin preparing for the new addition. My due date is May 22, the same date I was due with Robbie.

This was an emotional few days as we reflected on Robbie's homegoing and celebrated our HOPE in Christ. {And much thanks to all of you who contacted us with love and encouragement. We deeply appreciate you!}

Yesterday was our ultrasound. The big reveal. This would be my first ultrasound and I was very excited to "see" the little babe! Of course the major excitement was finding out whether this would be a girl or boy. Eveley was adamant that she was having a sister.

We prepared the kids, brought snacks, sippies, and iPhones for entertainment, and waited patiently for the doc to call our name.

It was finally our turn. I revealed my big belly for the doc. I have complained that I felt much bigger this pregnancy and seemed to "pop out" earlier than with the others. My mom reassured me that it was just "loss of muscle tone." Thanks, mom.

So...without further ado...


Surprise! We are having twins. That is the first time I have written that statement and I am honestly still in shock.

As soon as she began the procedure, the tech asked us if this was our first ultrasound. When I said yes, she said, "Well, I guess you're going to be surprised that there are 2 babies in there."

And surprised we are!

There is much to tell you about this beautiful gift. I am overwhelmed at this news because I have prayed for twins for several years. Call me crazy, but I have truly asked the Lord to bless us in that specific way.

To answer the much-asked question, NO, we do not have twins in our family. The closest set of twins that we know about is Jacob and Esau. So I'm not sure any of us are prepared for this reality -- but definitely excited!

This pregnancy was different than before. I felt bigger and I was much more sick during the first 14 weeks. And it looks like this was just the beginning of differences this time around. There will surely be much to learn.

I will be having regular ultrasounds from this point forward and will hopefully acquire some better photos to pass on. The babies were not cooperating for their first portraits. Baby boy's face was squished as baby girl is sitting on his head. (foreshadowing, I'm sure)

Thanks be to God for this beautiful gift. It is so wonderful to watch God answering prayers and performing miracles...

and, to know that my muscle tone wasn't the problem.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

4 Years Home

Today is our beautiful Robbie's 4th Heavenly Anniversary. I cannot believe it has been 4 years since he was in our arms. And it is difficult, almost impossible, to find any words to express the depths of our feelings.

I have written about the Respite Retreat that Bob and I attended awhile back. This was a weekend gathering of couples who had lost children, hosted by David and Nancy Guthrie.

There, we met Greg and Nicol Sponberg whose little boy had gone to heaven very suddenly. Nicol was a former member of the Christian music group Selah and had begun a solo career. The last night of the retreat, Nicol shared a song she had recently recorded after the homegoing of her son Luke. I thought the words of the song were perfect. They helped me picture the true awesomeness of our son's new Home and expressed our gratitude for the time we had with him and the gift he left us behind -- the ache for Home.

The song has now been released, so I can share it with you all. It is a perfect way to sum up my aching heart 4 years later.

What is it like to be held in the same arms that hold the universe?
What is it like to sleep on the chest of the King of heaven and earth?
When you open your eyes and look on the face of the Giver of life, the Author of grace, do you know?

That your days here changed everything
You're missed here and will always be
But you left here the greatest gift of all
Cause our hearts ache for Home

What is it like to breathe in and breathe out heaven's glorious light
What is it like to be robed in perfection, no reason to cry?
When you feel on your face, your Father's kiss, his welcomed embrace, we prayed for this, you should know

That your days here changed everything
You're missed here and will always be
But you left here the greatest gift of all
Cause our hearts ache for Home

Twinkle twinkle little star
We will keep you in our hearts
Twinkle twinkle little star
We will meet you where you are

Your days here changed everything
You're missed here and will always be
But you left here the greatest gift of all
Cause our hearts ache for Home

This song, and the rest of Nicol's new album, is available on iTunes.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Diet Update

I kinda hate to even call it a diet because that always messes with my mind. But I thought I would update you on this week's progress with our new eating plan (sound better than diet?).

First of all, thanks so much for all of your feedback. I very much enjoy hearing advice and tips from others who have experimented with the different health options out there.

I know that you are not coming to this blog for health or nutritional information. Sorry. For you, here are a few pics of the monkeys from Sunday morning.

Project 52 - 2011 is underway!

See how much they are loving this diet!

My main goal in this endeavor is to purposefully try to eliminate sugar and white flour by focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and natural foods. In doing this, however, I want to stick with budget- and schedule-friendly meal and snack options.

And it was a great first week! Here are some of my favorite finds:

Natural fruit spread. We have always eaten natural peanut butter (no sugar, just peanuts) but I bought some natural blueberry jelly at WF and it is great. This will definitely stay on the master grocery list as we all love a PB&J.

Whole wheat flour. I finally read up on the differences between white flour and the other options and now understand what all the hype is about. So I purchased some whole wheat flour at WF to have in the pantry just in case.

When I decide to cut out white flour and sugar, the first thought that goes through my head is NO MORE PANCAKES. This is heartbreaking for me. If you've been reading this blog very long, then you have recognized the overabundance of IHOP references. I love pancakes. Love them. So I thought I was going to have to end this love relationship for ever.

Not so. I purchased a "healthy" cookbook at Walmart and found several whole wheat pancake recipes. Expecting them to taste like bricks, I nevertheless made a batch this Saturday morning. They were stinkin awesome!

3 cups whole wheat flour
3 eggs
3 cups milk
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons baking powder
Serves 7

I did make them in an iron skillet, used butter, and topped them with some honey. They definitely did the trick and gave me a whole new excitement for this lifestyle change. I know there are other recipes that use applesauce instead of oil or make other substitutions, and I will try them out in the future. But these are a keeper. My kids devoured them too after turning their nose up at the WF frozen whole grain waffles I served them earlier in the week.

So our week's dinner menu consisted

MONDAY: chicken and broccoli casserole; wild rice; fruit

TUESDAY: Italian chicken breasts, baked sweet potatoes, salad

WEDNESDAY: white chicken chili (recipe here)

THURSDAY: turkey meatloaf, polenta, green beans (I made up this recipe for the meatloaf and it was delicious. Simply added chopped fresh mushrooms, onions, green pepper, herbs and seasonings, and one egg. Topped it with some mozzarella cheese and salsa [no sugar as compared to ketchup]). And polenta was also a new thing for us to try, but it will become a regular side.

FRIDAY: taco salad (black beans, corn, avocadoes, salsa, served on greens)

SATURDAY: gingered chicken stir fry and long grain rice; fresh pineapple

SUNDAY: roast, potatoes, carrots, onions and mushrooms cooked in crockpot while we were at church

For my weekend "treat", I had some sugar-free vanilla ice cream with fresh fruit. Yummy!

The main struggle this week will be continuing to find meal options without making a major grocery store run. My bill last week was equal to 2-weeks worth. I'm hoping to stretch it for another week so we can achieve the budget-friendly requirement!

I'm not watching my weight, for obvious reasons. But I have been able to tell a great difference in how I feel and have even noticed some changes in my waistline (minus the baby bump!).

Thanks again for all the tips, and please keep them coming!

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Friday, January 7, 2011

What to do?

Ever since I joined the hated "club" -- a mom who has actually had to bury her child -- I am often asked for advice or suggestions for dealing with another who is just beginning this difficult journey.

These requests for help often get me thinking back to those early days. What was helpful? What was not helpful? What was comforting? What was depressing?

Over the past several months, I have been posed this question too many times: What should we do? How do we reach out to this family?

Let me begin by acknowledging that all stories are different. And I do not dare presume I know what is best for another mom. But I can share my experience and offer a few bits of advice.

Without a doubt, the thing that brought the most comfort was Scripture. Reading God's promises and focusing on the Truth literally removed the phyical pressure we were feeling on our chests. I had several friends who sent over 3x5 cards with different verses written on them. These were very helpful as it was critical to keep God's Word on the forefront of our minds. A few of them still remain stuck to my dresser and bathroom mirrors.

But I do remember one evening in particular. It had only been two weeks since the funeral and Bob and I had gone out to dinner alone. It was terrible. We barely knew what to say to eachother and encountering the public was painful. On our way home I remember wishing I could read a book about someone else who had experienced something similar ... and survived. But it couldn't be a story about butterflies and rainbows. It had be the story of Hope because of Christ. When I got home, there was a UPS package on our front porch with a book sent from a friend. Reading about someone else's journey -- someone who is surviving this journey because of Christ and their recognition of the HOPE He offers -- really helped encourage and inspire me to lean on Jesus and keep on taking the difficult steps.

Here are some of my recommendations:

This was the book I found on my front porch that evening. In one car accident, the author lost his wife, his mother, and his young daughter. It is deep but so full of great insight and thought-provoking perspectives. The author presented his sincere questions on faith and God that arose after the accident, and then explained his journey to the hope-filled answers he found. Both Bob and I were really helped by this book.

I would recommend anything written by Nancy Guthrie. She has such a gentle way of encouraging others through their devastation by pointing out the grand promises God has given us in His Word. As I have written about earlier, her books (and later herself personally) played a big role in my initial response to our tragic loss of Robbie.

Holding on to Hope, her first book, helps give you a look into her family's tragedy and their journey through it. A friend sent me this one just a few weeks after Robbie went to heaven.

Then I ordered the One Year Book of Hope, a devotional based on her story. It was a lifesaver! The book guided me through a dark and difficult year, focused on topics that were at the forefront of my mind each day that year, and gave me wonderful perspective on the Hope and Joy we have in Christ. I told Nancy that when I was finished with the book, I could barely believe we had survived an entire year. This is definitely one that I would send someone going through a similar loss.

And this other book by Guthrie is a great resource as well and is full of Scripture!

I just read Mary Beth Chapman's new book a few months ago. Mary Beth wrote so honestly about going through the tragedy of losing their daughter all in the public eye. And since I was a MAJOR follower of Steven Curtis Chapman and his music throughout high school and college, it was very cool to learn the stories behind some of his great songs.

One last bit of advice. Even if you have no idea what to do, just do something. Don't fear saying or doing the wrong thing. If you express your sincere sadness and make an effort to reach out, it will be a blessing. This could be in the form of cards, phone calls, or meals.

And don't forget the ministry of presence! Sometimes you don't need to say anything. Just stopping by to offer a hug, or hanging out during the day, can really be invaluable. I remember several girlfriends inviting me over or stopping over in the morning, bringing coffee and bagels, and just sitting. We didn't have to speak deeply about the pain, but having their presence was so meaningful.

You could offer to help with some needs - caring for other children, grocery shopping, cleaning, addressing thank you notes. Any bit of sincere effort will surely be appreciated. And I will say that there is a lot of financial burdens that come with death -- unexpected, unplanned-for, and difficult-to-face bills are hard reminders of the loss. Helping financially can be a great blessing as well.

Hopefully this will give you a little bit of guidance if you are ever asking this question of what to do to encourage a family going through such a deep loss. There are so many ways in which people showed their love and concern for us. Family, friends, friends of friends, and strangers continued (and continue) to encourage us in a variety of ways. We are so thankful.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The "Whole" Experience

New Years often brings with it several resolutions. And, as has been the case for many of my new years, this one brought with it a resolution to eat better. Not just eating more fruits and veggies -- we do that already -- but I really want to educate myself about different eating options and plans that will benefit me and my family. As you all know, we moms control the eating habits of our children (and, to some extent, our husbands). If there are no oreos or honey buns in the house, guess what, we won't eat any. (That made me hungry just typing that...)

I honestly have a small aversion to these health nuts conscious people. But when I stopped and thought about it, my aversion was simply because it is a whole area that I know very little about. And (probably even more so), it is expensive and really messes with my efficiency disorder.

But I have never felt as good as this summer when I completely gave up sugar and white flour. Cutting out these ingredients seemed to allow my body to really target my body's fat pockets that like to linger. Sugar was gone, and I stuck to whole grains. I kept this strict routine for nearly 3 months but fell off the wagon when I got pregnant. I definitely don't feel bad about that. Every pregnant lady will tell you that during that first trimester, you just eat whatever you need to eat. I was so sick and nauseous that a diet without flour and sugar or Chick-fil-A breaks would have surely put me over the edge. So, as you can see, I take a balanced and realistic approach to this "diet". If you catch me eating a piece of pizza or sneaking a donut at MOPS, please don't judge me.

Today began this New Year's resolution. No better place to start than a trip to Whole Foods.

Here's my confession: I have only been to Whole Foods one time in my life. I went a few months ago to sample their offerings of coffee. And I technically did not buy anything because the "coffee guy" gave me a complimentary pound of organic coffee.

But I spent the past few days with my grocery list, recipe books, and nutrition blogs trying to figure out the best, easiest, and cheapest way to eat well.

Whole Foods is a whole 'nother world. First of all, people there weren't as forgiving of my screaming children. Just sayin.

Secondly, I was pretty overwhelmed by all the offerings of beans, grains, and flours. And the price on most of the groceries was much more than I am used to paying. No matter how health conscious I become, I just can't imagine paying $10 for a bottle of salad dressing.

Thirdly, the high point, is that I left there with 4 bags of groceries. I bought a ton of food and, at my other regular grocery store, would have ended up hauling 40 bags to my car. So I was a great fan of their bagging skills.

I would love to hear any recommendations that any of you may have as to some helpful blogs or websites. Right now, my plan is to try and cut out the majority of our processed foods and stick with the real stuff. Fortunately, we do not have food allergies and I am not trying to combat anything specific. But I would love to be able to finish out the last half of this pregnancy feeling energized and healthy. (And losing the flanks wouldn't be so bad either.)

This week's meal plan is full of avocadoes, blueberries, fresh pineapple, tomatoes, quinoa, Ezekiel tortillas (new one for me), and Greek yogurt. I'll let you know how it goes.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Project 52 Complete

I will admit that I had to fudge a little bit around the late fall months, thanks to the first trimester lovelies. And it isn't that easy to get a usable picture of both children, so I did have to create a few collages. Nevertheless, Project 52 was a success. We had a fun time looking back over the collection and seeing how much our monkeys have changed.

I hope to continue Project 52 this year and look forward to adding another little face to the collection in May.

Happy New Year!


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Christmas Reflections

One thing you think I would have learned by now is that life is unpredictable. Especially with young children. You can schedule, plan, and organize every minute of the day. But with one whim of your little one, you will often be required to throw the paperwork out the window and roll with it, baby.

Case in point. I bought matching pajamas for Caleb and Eveley -- cute Christmas monkey pjs which I let them open Christmas Eve night. They would be so cute on Christmas morning - Eveley in pink and Caleb in green - and the pictures look great. Well, Eveley decided she "wants her feet to be cold" so she refused to wear the footy pajamas. No matter how much I begged or fake cried. So I will have to remember "No footy pjs" if we are to carry on this tradition.

We had a sweet Christmas Eve service at church and then Bob and I stayed up late putting all the finishing touches on the gifts.

I woke up at 5:30 on Christmas morning. I was too excited. So I went downstairs, made some coffee, and did some laundry. Festive.

Bob finally got up around 6:45 and we were able to have our own quiet Christmas time together and exchange gifts. Eveley came downstairs after 7 but Caleb was still sound asleep. Bob and I both tried to wake him up, but he wouldn't budge. So we decided to let Eveley go ahead and open up several of her presents. Bob led us in a prayer and then asked Eveley if she would like to pray. She bowed her head and said, "Dear Jesus, thank you for saving us from our sins." Bob and I almost cried. What a sweet gift.

Caleb finally joined us and we finished up the gifts.

Caleb's main gift was a train table filled with Thomas characters. I don't know what the big deal is about this show, but my Caleb is absolutely obsessed with it. He screams "My Thomas" as soon as he wakes up and loves to play with the trains and watch the cartoons. I think this gift was a pretty smart choice!

After we had a Christmas brunch, we hurriedly packed the car and headed to "The Sweetest Place on Earth," Hershey, PA.

The kids already have chocolate mustaches.

We met Bob's parents and aunt and uncle there and had a great few days together. "Vacations" take on a totally different meaning when you have a strong-willed 3 year old and a stronger-willed 2 year old. Nevertheless, it was a fun time.

We stayed at the Hershey Lodge where the Hershey characters make periodic appearances. Our kids went nuts when they would see the Kit Kat or Peppermint Patty walking around the hotel. Caleb would scream "Waaaiiittt!!' and chase them all through the lobby. I couldn't count how many family pictures Caleb interrupted. And Eveley was stalking them either giving them a spanking or kicking them in the shins.

We had our fill of chocolate. If that's possible. They had hidden Hershey kisses all throughout our suite, chocolate butter at breakfast, frozen hot chocolates, and chocolate shampoo and conditioner in the bathrooms. Pretty great for a pregnant woman.

I haven't blogged about this much, but my sweet Caleb is an iPhone addict. He absolutely loves it and would play on it for hours...literally. I really try to strategically plan his iPhone time -- waiting for a table at a restaurant, grocery shopping, my bath time. He will not move. While on vacation, I did let him play it during the afternoon so we could just sit by the fire and read or talk.

When he would see a character walking by, he would jump up from his seat and yell for it to stop. But as soon as it would stop and turn to look at him, he would resume his game. It was pretty rude, but hilarious.

Like father, like son.

After returning from Hershey on Monday night, the kids and I repacked and headed to Tennessee to spend a few days with my family celebrating a late Christmas together.

The kids were making memories with the cousins.

I was spending time getting to know the new brothers in law.

We had a wonderful Christmas 2010. But we are glad to be home and are spending the day un-decking the halls and reflecting on our family's purpose for the new year.