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. 


Thursday, October 23, 2014

TBT: A special wedding weekend

Throw back Thursday! Remember that time when... 

Our friends Adam and Becca got married! We do - and always will! Cary and Adam grew up together. Adam was a groomsman in our wedding, and he's a near-famous rocket scientist now. Cary was delighted to be at his side in the wedding and to be a part of his big weekend. I was happy for them to have an excuse for guy-time and reminiscing, and left blinking and befuddled when all of a sudden my other half disappeared for 48 hours on a very exciting weekend.... Just Mom and her 2/3 of her boys!

48 hours of Mom and Boys, including get-ready-for-wedding time. WE DID IT! 
Spiffed up: head to TOE

*Things no one tells you*
I have no pictures of the actual wedding event. Turns out, this is a pattern in my adventures in parenting/photography. I ALWAYS miss the main event! (Kids are so darn distracting; when you add wedding attire, bouquets and adoring bridesmaids to the mix, what's a Mom to do?! Not to mention the fact that they fill your photographer arms, unless they are not in your arms in which case they need your undivided attention, and they're just so cute, you have to snap photos.) *Read on to find out how I missed most of the ceremony* Maybe this is how wedding photography first came about... Luckily, there was a super photography team there, and tons of beautiful photos of our friends to enjoy later. Now... on to MY photos of the day.

Smelling the roses

Cute little cabbie

 *We spotted Daddy!*
Sweet Daddy moment: After a long wedding weekend, we were all missing Daddy. During the ceremony, the boys lit up when they saw their Daddy walk out behind the groom. They tapped everyone beside them to point him out - so very proud of their celebri-dad. A few minutes later after the entrance of the bride, everyone was engrossed in the ceremony -except for Gabe who was looking around for someone he could point out Cary to. "Daddy!" Yes! I nodded. The serious nature of his face made me nervous, and that's when I caught the slightest quiver in his cheek. He was overwhelmed with emotion at seeing his spiffy Daddy up front, but not being able to get to him, and the emotion appeared to be growing. An unsuspecting Uncle Pete was holding him, and I leaned in close: Gabe, it's ok! It's ok! No use. He was sucking air, so I clamped my hand over his mouth and mouthed to Pete, Run! Poor little Gabe went off like a siren as we cleared the sanctuary doors. I explained to him we'd be with Daddy very soon. He put on a brave face and I wiped his tears, but when I asked him if we could go back into the sanctuary where he could see Daddy without him crying, each time he'd shake his head, no. *Precious thing!* And so, we waited outside for the rest of the ceremony, and when the twins finally spotted Cary they went running.

Special Mommy moment: Watching my son watch the father-daughter, and mother-son dances, I thought of how many times I've been warned of just how fast the rest of his life would fly by. I believed that all too soon I'd be looking into that precious face, a full grown man on his wedding day. (Would I be remembering this moment? Could I ever love him more than right now?) I bawled.

Time to lighten up, Mom. Photo spree!

It was a fun day to celebrate Adam and Becca, and a special day with each of my boys:

*Highest of Gabe compliments to the cupcake chef*

Happy Thursday!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Back Seat: Occupied

My facebook newsfeed has lit up recently with friends who are traveling to Ethiopia to meet/bring their children HOME. I am flooded with appreciation for the way God places orphans in families, for all I've learned about Him since He called us to adopt (pure gold!), and for the joy that it is to have my little ones with me every day.

Over a year ago now, while we were waiting (and WAITING) for "the call" to go and get our boys, I wrote THIS post: Empty Back Seat. Now, here we are - our whole lives whirring by - doing it together, Hill Family of 4.

I'm taking pause today to give thanks and beyond for the following, recognizing how much beauty there is in the present. Lifting up all the moms out there with hearts that are swollen today with the vision God has given them while they still have to wait, and THANK YOU Lord, for my sisters who today get to GO!

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." - James 1:17

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Things I love...

There just isn't time to sit down and document all the things I appreciate in a day. (I give up.) But here again, I blinked and before me are two older, amazing toddler people with sharp minds and hilarious personality. Here's a rambling list of all the little things that are common smile catalysts around this place, but may change by the time I next blink. Things Mommy loves:

I love...

...the beginning of our days: I hit my snooze once around 7:30 (on glorious mornings, twice!) and wait to be beckoned out of bed by this chorus. "Mommmy... MOMMM-yyyyyyyy.... MOOOMMMMMMM-yyyyyyy.... Up! Peeeeez...... UP! Peeeeeez." It's pretty sweet. ((Exception days go like this: Gabe gets us up between 6 and 6:30, or sometimes, if one twin is standing up in his crib, and the other would have as soon enjoyed a few more winks, I hear "MOMMM-yyyyyy," interrupted by the other twins' 'NO!" which normally ends in twin tears over this difference of opinion. Then I open the door, and tell you boys to try getting our day off to a better start.)
...prayer. During the day, you pray with Mommy before breakfast and lunch and for random things. You repeat the prayer Mommy begins, and then fill in with your own ideas (usually thanking God for each individual family member by name, and baby cows, choo-choo-trains, motorcycles and helmets.) Every night, the whole fam (of 8) is seated round the table, we hold hands to, "Pray?! Pray?!" (from your 2-year-old voices). Sometimes you boys make a quick charade of being undecided about how ready you are to hold brother's hand. We all pretend not to be amused while we wait for you to decide in your own time to hold hands after all, and Daddy begins to pray. Gabe lowers his head and squints his eyes, sometimes checking to make sure that's what everyone else is doing. Zeke unabashedly looks around, eyes wide open, not even apologizing if your peek meets his stare. (After all, aren't YOU supposed to be closing your eyes?)
...hearing you name each other. "Z-Z?" is normally what Gabe sounds like when he's calling Zeke. Oddly enough, Zeke calling Gabe also sounds a lot like "Z-Z?" -It's a strange consonnant that's pretty close to "Gt!" ...But also sounds like a fast, "Zete!" Maybe my vocalist friends can help me IPA it.
...cyclic conversation, mostly with Zeke. It goes like this: "Mo-mma! Momma!!" Yes, Zeke? "Mo-mo-mo!" Did you see a motorcyle? "No. Mo-mo-mo!" Does Daddy have a motorcycle? "Ya." Does- "'el-met! 'elmet!" Does Daddy wear a helmet? "Ya. 'Elmet!" That's good. That keeps him safe. "Ya. Momma?! Mo-mo-mo!" ...And we're off for round two of a very similar discussion.
...that Gabe walks around beatboxing the rhythm to his apparent theme song. It seems to follow him around most when he's playing outside.
...hearing, "Yes, ma'am." On an ordinary day in the middle of our ordinary lunch, I asked Gabe if he wanted a (I don't remember - insert food item here)... Seconds later, I stopped and realized he'd answered me, "Yeh-eh." (Translation: Yes ma'am.) I was shocked! We have modeled this for the boys many times, but never thought to make it an expectation yet - it seems so early! But Gabe has kept up the use of his finest manners, and Zeke has begun answering that way too. Of course no one else would know that's what the boys are saying, but it's the unprompted gesture of two tender little hearts that swept this mommy off her feet. Mommy LOVES...
...common toddler words. They're just cuter when your kids say 'em! "O-tay!" "No-uh-uh" (No thank you) "Outside?!" "Play?!" "Wa-wa?!" "Wa-won" (Wagon) "Hum?" (Help?)
...that we finish every meal-time with our version of the "clean-up" song. When I taught the twins, they didn't talk! So instead they sang, "A-ta, A-ta, eh, eh, eh, eh." And while I sing "Clean-up, clean-up, everybody everywhere," those are the words they sing to this day.
...that when Gabe is running around the room, he banks his turns - literally tucking one elbow, tilting and extending the other. Maybe he's got a natural feel for aviation. Regardless, it's impressive. 
...Echoes. You have to appreciate the days you hear your OWN words come out of your kids' mouth. To avoid an overly harsh sounding "No," I sometimes gesture to what the boys are getting into and say, "Att-at-at-at-at..." I don't know where I got this. It might be odd, but it's effective. I gained new perspective on the phrase, though, about 2 weeks ago when Zeke picked something else and asked me, "Ya?!" and I shook my head, no. He nodded confidently, wagged his little finger, and said, "Att-att-at-at-at. No-no-no-no-no."
...Twin reading. We were floored this week when Gabe pulled out "Brown Bear, Brown Bear," but unprompted, HE started reading it to us! It went precisely like this. "Ba-ti! Ba-ti! Wa, too, ahh?!" On every page. :)

...Twin SINGING! It was amazing and unexpected when you started filling in words at the ends of phrases during your ni-night lullabies, but now you are singing along with us on most of our songs. "Da Lord (is my shepherd), I'll "Wat" (with Him) always! Always, always, I'll wat, always." "If you were a boat my darlin', a boat my darlin', I'd be the wind at your Bok!" "Amen, Amen, Amen..." (+ clapping).... The list goes on, but I love it. you can dub over the facial expressions Zeke is making and he'll keep his facials going to match your story.
...Time out. Sounds strange as a "Mommy love," item, but this is how it goes. "Z/G, was that a good choice?" (Shake of the head, no.) "Ok, time out." (And you go sit your cute little self down for the next 45 seconds, quietly assuming responsibility.) "Ok, stand up!" (You bounce to your feet, when necessary, you go give your brother a "Sorry" and a hug, we talk about how bad choices have been forgiven by God, and you bounce off to play!) It's precious to see you boys take ownership for the things you know in your heart are wrong, and sit yourselves down in the sweetest pitiful posture I've ever seen. It's taught Mommy so much about the joy of redemption, and I value the reminder in our daily routine!

Friday, May 16, 2014

10 Years Today

May 16, 2014

On this day 10 years ago I started dating Cary Hill. We were 17. He made a very gallant gesture of asking me out on a sunny Sunday afternoon. (There were crutches and bare-feet and gravel...) We didn't know for sure on that day - but kind of did - that the joy of being together would only increase with time. Once we realized we were running after the same things in this life, we'd never want to do it apart.

 Last night we stole a couple of hours away to celebrate all God has done in the past 10 years (THANKS P&A!),  revisit some of our favorite dating spots, continue an old photo tradition, and then to play in the rain. (We'll opt for more sophisticated dates someday- give us 10 more years.)

Year 10! Having just as much fun celebrating at the VT Pylons as we did...

Year 5
and Year 4

and Year 3

 and Year 2

and Year 1

Cary, what a blessing it has been to walk beside you, to love you and be loved by you these past 10 years. I could never have imagined the joy God had in store for us.

 Here's to many more...