Thursday, February 26, 2015

January in a flash (One Second Every Day)

Hello February-

Your arrival was a bit unexpected, and yet we welcome you always with your "Love" emphasis and four family birthdays and all... I know you're the short month, but could you...? Would you? Slow down a teency bit?


January, In a Flash
(One Second Every Day)

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Very THREE Birthday

Zeke and Gabe,

How fabulous that you are such tall 40-inch, 34 and 32 lb boys, on to the adventures, mischief, and joys of being three. Mommy has accepted that the baby stage is behind us, although I'm still holding on to little glimpses of my once-babes, like the way that Gabe still bounces vertically, walking or running, on his way from room to room, and how Zeke still delays his answer to ANY question (an imitation of Mom's infamous deliberation about everything) with, "Ummmm, hmmmmmmn...." even when you've already decided what you will say. But I also welcome the new habits. As you are taking in so many new things -and understanding them- Zeke's way of processing is to say, "Mommy! Mommy!" and then to point out or explain out loud what he sees. Gabe is always saying, "What happened, Mama?" and then phrasing in a question the observation he has made. I love it. (We can have full conversations about EVERYTHING now!)

Everyone has been out of school this week due to the loads of snow we got! We celebrated Daddy's birthday on Tuesday night after Mommy finished teaching. We all went over to Grandmarmy's house for a wonderful Greek dinner and good times all around. After cake, playtime, and long goodbyes, we began the trek *haha* home. Half way up the driveway, Daddy asked me to give him back the key. (That's when Mommy remembered laying the keys down in the house on her quick errand before locking up to run back across the street.) It was really cold, so straight back into Grandmarmy's house we went, with pitiful *locked out* faces, and after Daddy decided our locked house is impenetrable, Grandmarmy fixed us up on her futons and we had a very fun sleepover at her house. (A birthday Daddy will never forget.)

On Thursday, the forecast was high of 9 deg, low of -7. You both walked into our room whispering, "Me, birthday?" It absolutely was, and Mommy and Daddy were ready! Gabe spotted the new book we'd hidden behind our headboard before we could attempt a reveal, so we snuggled in and read what used to be one of your favorite library books, "Hickory Dickory Dock." Then we went downstairs and had Daddy's smoothies while Mommy made you funfetti pancakes, which you loved. After breakfast your gifts magically appeared in front of the fireplace: bright red balance bikes, and a tee-ball set! The rest of the morning was spent on those bikes. It was a blast. After your nap, Katherine and Cam, Grandpoppy, Grandmarmy, Addie, and Eli came over for your birthday dinner, and we ate, laughed, played, and enjoyed several twin performances.

We had big plans for a birthday party on Saturday, but more snow shut down the possibility of out-of-towners making it in. For awhile, we thought the icy forecast might mean no one could come, but our across-the-street crew and Pete and Astleigh were not going to miss it, so the party went on, and we had a lovely relaxed party-day together.

One of my favorite moments of the week was right before family arrived that morning. After making peace with the fact that we had not cleaned for a party (since the forecast indicated all humans might hibernate that day) and that our local family would soon arrived to a non-picked up house, the weather also delayed said family members, at which time Mommy flew into a frenzy to clean it all up. Daddy was cleaning the kitchen, and you boys were riding your new bikes. Then Gabe spotted his Bible, opened up to the page where Jesus is on the cross, Zeke came over and you both asked Daddy to tell you about it. So Daddy stopped what he was doing and sat down on the kitchen floor with you, and together you poured over every page of the gospel message, so many great questions, so many beautiful answers. Stopping to watch it was way better than the last minute cover-up mission Mom had been on. I don't have any photos of it - just the mental picture that will never leave me.

Here's to a great year of new explorations, and deeper understandings of SO MANY THINGS! Daddy and I love you so much, always!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Valentine...

(Disclaimer: It's Valentine's Day, so I reserve the right to max out the sweet and sappy lingo I might otherwise curb.)

Baby Z, Baby G, and Daddy-O, you are the best valentines a Mama could wish for. I woke up at 9:15 this morning. THE END. I woke up at 9:15 - an hour I haven't seen from my bed in a very long time. I was served chocolate-chip pancakes, "YOU, Mommy!" and told it was my morning to stay in my room reading or pinning or blogging, and since have enjoyed the sounds of twin giggles and 100% Daddy effort in the background the whole time. All of my favorite things. Thank you boys for knowing and loving your Mommy so well.

So here's my Valentine to you... One more page of our little treasure that I hope will bring you much joy in coming years. I try to tuck away words or pictures or videos here on our little family corner of cyberspace that will someday bring back the feelings and smells and WONDER that are your childhood. My goodness, these years are my favorite. So for today... I'm sharing some of Mommy's favorite videos right off of my phone. How I love you.

Cookies for You!
We love that you boys are so eager to help these days. Passing things out is a special privilege - check out Gabe's charm in process, and especially his reaction to realizing my camera is out.

Practice Time
You guys are still hanging with wonderful practice habits. Last week, Zeke had one of his best lessons yet. One item in Zeke's new routine is role reversal - he loves to be the teacher! And you'll note, he's pretty strict.

Pasta Salad for Daddy
This was an attempt at a video message alerting Daddy to the tasty pasta salad the boys helped make for him.

Pretend Comes to the Table
The boys are just a week away from turning three, and we see it in the way they are talking, and the new games they are playing. Gabe in particular takes the pretend wherever he goes. Broccoli, unfinished pieces of clementine... all fair subjects.

Raise 'Em Right
We all look forward to the one night a week that Addie and Eli come spend with us. Last week when we got out of the car, everyone had Shai Linne's "Taste and See" stuck in our heads, which resulted in this kid dance party. That's the way we like it.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Dear 2 1/2 year olds... What things do you love?

The answers you get from kids when you ask good questions never cease to be splendid. As I was cleaning up my room today I came across the transcription of this gem of a convo the boys and I once had over lunch. Since the conversation dates back to *ahem* August, draw whatever conclusions you want about the state of my room. So glad that I stopped that day to scribble our conversation out on a post-it. And now, saved forever on my personal cyberspace, I can never lose it!

M: Boys, what things do you love?
Z: Jesus!
M: Awww, really?
(Z just nods and keeps chewing.) :)
M: Gabe, what things do you love?
G: Jesus, Light o' World!
M: :) What else?
G: Don't bonk 'a head! Don't bonk 'a head... (This is an original Z and G song they sing a lot.)
M: So you guys love Jesus, and your song. What else do you love?
G: Blocks. G-Pop blocks, a' G-Ma's house.
M: I know. Playing at G-Pop and G-Ma's house is fun. What else?
G: Outside. Outside a' eat!
M: Aw, I love our lunches on the porch, too. Anything else?
Z: Jesus!
G: Swim.
Z: Swim!
G: 'a you, poot!
M: Yes, the funniest joke of all. Is that all?
Z: Shhhh (he pretends to whisper in someone's ear which is a game we play, pretending to tell the boys a secret and then zerberting them instead.)
M: What things do you love, Zeke?
Z: Play and Ni-night.

And there you have it. The great conclusions about life from my toddlers. (Funny how a few sentences can take you back to days that were so different just a few months ago!) These are some special two-year-olds I get to raise.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Snowed in with my faves.

The magic of a snowy morning: cancelled alarms, wintery white light coming through the window, little feet plodding toward your room. I woke up making room in bed for Gabe's stuffed hippo who he'd rolled into a taco (that's a Hill family practice - rolling babes into "tacos"), followed by Elmo, Giraffe, and then Gabe. Before he was ready to snuggle, Zeke started his morning with a fashion show of Mommy's shoes. (That is also a thing around here these days.) And then, there were two parents, two boys, two extra blankets, some shoes, animals, and toys, all snuggled under the winter morning light.

Snow days = time to choose what I want to do with the time that was previously scheduled somewhere else, and today I want to stop and take note of my blessings; I'm so aware that they are abundant. (Be forewarned, this is a Mommy post.)

Here's a little piece of the millions of things I wish I could capture forever... Just listen to all the things that make my heart want to explode around here:

-The boys are recognizing letters - all of a sudden they see them everywhere: "Mama, A!!!" (And they're right!) "D for Daddy!" Zeke is often heard saying, "G for Gabe! Where's a me?" There is a definite shortage of Z's in the world. I'm sure a p.c. group will take up this cause before he's reached adulthood though.

-Cary built us an armoire. (It's beautiful.) We have been waiting to put the doors on until we find the perfect strap hinges to complete the aesthetic (and function), but in the meantime, it's completely set up in our room, minus the doors. The boys have found the floor of it to be the perfect perch for reading, coloring, playing... It feels so classical to see them creating their own magical little spaces. Takes me back to my "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," days.

-Language Explosion: Little echoes of everything I've ever said... This morning when the yogurt spoon flipped out of my hand, Gabe got the word "Whoopsie!!" out of his mouth before I could. (And that's exactly what would have come out of mine.) But even crazier than that, is hearing the boys construct brand NEW sentences all day long. We're weeks past Cary and I looking at each other with the *did you know they knew that word?* faces. All words are fair game, and it's so much fun to hear these two express themselves so well.

-I'm not always the targeted audience anymore. Sometimes, when I am not engaged, the twins still do stunts or funny faces or tell stories that Gabe explains afterwards were "funny," cuing laughter and applause, and even egg each other on with ridiculous giggling or the dramatic clapping of hands or thigh slapping. *does someone else in this house do that?* I don't know how I feel about this. I hadn't realized the egocentric role they let me play for so long - all stories, impressions, and stunts were previously for my benefit.

-Inversely, a new phrase entered the household about a week ago, and I'm afraid it's here to stay. "He did it." That's right- just what you're thinking. (Mom turns around to get a towel and hears a splash in the potty. M: "Gabe, did you just drop that in the potty?!" G: No, Zeke did it. M: Zeke, did you drop that in the potty?!" Z: No, Gabe did it. *blink, blink*) What's a mom to do?! (We have known all along these were Mischievous Mighty Men.) :)

-Good and Evil is characterized by "the mean giant." I posted at Halloween about our Light the Night encounter with Goliath. He dropped in for a game of *here kid, you be David and after I make burly giant noises you can throw a stone at me, and I will fall over for old times' sake.* The boys were terrified mystified panicked entranced.... Needless to say, we've been talking about David and "the mean giant" ever since. The boys seem to recognize the same evil across the board (in every movie villain, storybook, pretend play, and even negative kid interactions. It all boils down to this: "the mean giant."

The list goes on and on...

-They brush their own teeth!  

-Gabe loves to go to the top of the stairs quickly so he can turn around and help the people coming up behind him.

-Zeke spends quite a bit of free time rehearsing his favorite musical numbers (namely the "Ice" song from "Frozen"), or taking orders and cooking muffins and chicken nuggets in his imaginary kitchen.

-Both boys are spending 20 minutes of meaningful practice on their instruments every day. It astounds me. 

-And, perhaps the best for last: the unexpected, "Mommy, I love you." "Hug Mommy!" The wet, mushy, or otherwise well-loved object being held up to me as a gift, "Mommy, yoo-oou!!" Or the seventh goodbye plus the sign for "I love you" before leaving to go to the store with Daddy, or on an imaginary journey... Those may still be the best. Could anyone love their people more? Thankful for a magical day *stuck* at home to enjoy it. <3

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Goodbye December, and Onward

Cheers! Here's to a beautiful 2015. In the spirit of fresh starts and moving forward, I'm letting go of countless painfully unfinished and unnamed posts that have filled this Mama's heart for the past 6 months. While those precious memories haven't been preserved here the way I'd like, something tells me this rich season is one that will stick with me.

The end of 2014 was full. While Cary pushes to see those three magic letters in his robe and hood, we are both spending more hours than we'd like on work so that we can, ya know, afford to eat and live in our house at the same time. At the end of 2014, twin milestones were abundant, personal sacrifices were made, our family of four grew tighter, work was fruitful, exhausted parents burned out, new dreams flickered, and all the while, God was near.

A friend introduced me to the app "1 Second Everyday." Over the month of December it captured one second of our life each day. At a time when I couldn't give more than one second to documenting our life, I'm thankful for the teeny picture of this season the compilation turned out to be.

And now, to being present and refusing to be bogged down by photos not posted and tasks not done, to seeing more of what is lasting in each moment, and trusting the Lord from whom all good things flow... Bring on the new year!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Favorite Christmas Photos

They don't come often - in fact, for us it may be the only night of this year, but some nights are for sitting around, indulging sentiment, and being thankful. After laughing over most of our Christmas photos, I chose to (peruse over the family photo bloopers and unbelievable Christmas morning aftermath and...) pick out the ones that reflect the beauty that the gift of Christ has inspired in me tonight. *Note, I found 6 photos out of approx. 300. **Also note: This is real life, and sometimes that's the proportion of beauty to mess.**
Thank you, Lord, for the depth and beauty found only in and because of You.