Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mornings Worth Stopping For


You are in the next room just falling into deep sleep for your late morning nap. We woke up a little late this morning (Mom and Gabe have colds), had a nice breakfast in front of the window, enjoyed some floor time, and then sooner than expected you started giving me your sleepy signs (eye rubbing, yawning, sucking on those sweet little fingers, and Gabe now lays down on the floor sucking those fingers for short intervals before picking up where he left off playing). It's pretty typical for you to crash at the same time, but since I can't get up with all 40 sleeping pounds of you after you've both fallen asleep on me at the same time, I try to rock one of you at a time these days. I picked up Gabe who usually falls asleep fastest, but after playing our "nose, eyes, mouth..." game, Gabe was still pretty curious about what Zeke was playing with on the floor. I set Gabe back down and picked up a warm-smiley Zeke bug. But after cuddling a little, Zeke kept reaching for Gabe. So I set Zeke back down, and you both just sat there on the floor sucking those fingers and looking up at me expectantly. (So darn cute, you are.) So... everybody got to rock in the chair together, even though you both wanted to cuddle - and play - and then cuddle - and then play. Some days I start to stress over delayed naps or not knowing what I'll do with you when you're passed out on me for 2 hours, but today I felt the Lord remind me that this is my only real job; to rock you both when you want to be rocked together, to soak in our time together. There's nothing more important than that today, and how thankful I am that He silenced all the other voices in my head this morning.

I just rocked you and breathed in your sweet baby smell, those soft chunky thighs, the wiggly toes under the adorable little socks that match your orange onesies and overall shorts this morning. I prayed that I will remember the shapes of your full little faces at this stage, your sweetest expressions... There's no feeling like two of the sweetest babies I've ever seen relaxed and sprawled out across me. Nothing seems as funny as when one of you starts a subtle kicking of the other, or little love-pats to make sure no one falls asleep yet. The sound of your little giggles being passed back and forth, your little sighs... it's too much. This Mama is more blessed than she deserves. As I realized that this morning, the same song came on our playlist as the first time I felt overwhelmed with how much I don't deserve you, how I couldn't love you more, how glad I am that your Creator does, and that I can trust Him to be for you the things I can't. (The first time this all sank in was on our ride home from the airport as I stared at your beautiful selves in your carseats, as I cried over the fever little Gabe had spiked, as I knew I'd never loved anyone the way I love the two of you, and realized I still couldn't be all that I want to be for you.) Luckily that time, I had my Mama by my side to stroke my hair as tears of joy and fear flowed. This time, it was just the three of us, and I got to stroke your little heads while Matt Hammit's, "I Couldn't Love You More" played over us and the same emotions surged. Sweet babies, nothing is as precious to me as you are.

Sleep well, but wake up soon.

Love always,
Your Mommy

Friday, May 24, 2013

And, again.

So, in the midst of our last night to pack up everything in our house, we're finishing a dessert break (because I have to eat something like chocolate pie every night, even in the middle of a messy final round of packing - don't judge me). As we've house hunted for rentals (and come up dry), then accepted an offer to live in the home of a cool Blacksburg family who will be traveling for 2 months, I've had visions for future blog posts about the empowerment of living out God's will. The whimsical rush that it is to live in utter dependence on the Lord. (Insert other inspirations and sugar plum fairies here.) But recently, (ok, this morning) I had a breakdown. There's something to the smack of reality - especially when reality is that you have no place of permanence, no roof that belongs to you, no evidence of your own financial responsibility... that brings you to a whole new realization of helpless powerlessness. Or maybe that's just me. Somewhere in the middle of pulling everything off of shelves and out of closets just to wonder at how much we have, preparing to squeeze it all into a 5x10 storage unit (at which point I contemplated changing my mind about our excess) and then replaying the reality that our next residence (when this cool family comes back) is still an unknown, so we must secure one in the next 2 weeks, I took a fresh perspective on just how airy and unpredictable this season of over a year now has been for us. It freaked me out. I started grasping for some control, throwing questions at an unsuspecting husband who had no idea I'd taken an emotional side-road... that I was going down, and ready to take him with me.

How did we get here? When did we as a couple decide to step out on financial non-logic, to trust we'd be given things WE didn't have a means to get, and just keep on paddlin'? We are SO not people who make faulty non-logical decisions! I am so not a girl who lives without a plan! Crazy thing is, in each of these decisions, we've had total peace. And up until this point, everything we've needed has been provided, but we all know there's an end to every rope, and I sensed threads...

The thing about being at home all the time now, is there is no other reality for me to snap in and out of. So when things feel amuck, and I can't control them, I find myself with much more time to cycle through them than I've had in the past, which makes my perception of the looming problem a little more suffocating. Talking to Cary made me realize that being the guy who is balancing work and home life, and who does feel reponsible for calling the shots doesn't feel so hot, either. Oi.

After confessing that all things considered, we both were feeling a little over our heads, we agreed that we were listening to God's call, still trusted Him, hugged it out, Cary went back to work, and I stopped crying.

Then, the Lord did what the Lord always does. I opened my email, and had a note from a church member offering a truck for our move (that we never thought to ask for but could definitely use). I was so encouraged, and called Cary to share the good news. While on the phone, an unknown number was beeping in. I told Cary I should take it in case it was more help- (haha). But it was. Another sweet member of the body of Christ was at my door with boxes. After some packing, I opened my email and read the church bylines that had just popped in. At the top was a verse that read, "And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:19)

Heard enough? That's how He rolls, yall. All the time. Even after raising $38,000 for you to get your twin boys home, providing a home for that fundraising stint, providing a short-term home when that stint is over but you're still houseless, knowing you'll just turn around and need one again. Even when you appear to have forgotten that He just carried you, so you really have no reason to doubt His provision. (When will I stop being surprised by His unmeasurable goodness?) Our God has not be worn down by our need. He is faithful. Again and again.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Twinsie Tuesday

It's Twinsie Tuesday!


Thanks for stoppin' by!

I love trying to figure out what's going through the heads of these two almost all of the time, but today it's your turn...

Caption Contest: What do YOU think the twins are thinking in the following three pictures? 


Click "comment" at the bottom of the post, and label your captions 1, 2, and 3.  (Cary will pick the winner on Friday. His judicial credentials: he was voted "most-witty" in our high school graduating class. But don't be intimidated.) :)

Caption 1:

Caption 2:

Caption 3:

Hats off to you for trying to get inside of these two beautiful heads. Have a great week!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Man Post

First let me say, I don't do "man posts" often enough. Many times I've started to, but when I feel like I'm not doing something justice, I quit. (That's the perfectionist in me... I mean, the artist in me... I mean, the... Ok, it's amazing I finish anything.)

Recently, the boys and I had occasion to take notice of the main man in our lives. We were sitting around talking, and realized there was reason for celebration.

For one: my husband is a full time doctoral student. For many that means unpredictable hours, long nights of research, stress and unhealthy coffee habits, etc. But my man prioritizes the three of us before school. He maps out his projects and plans his work far in advance (this is not his preference or nature), and organizes his time so that 9 days out of 10 he can keep a regular 6am-5pm work schedule. We're pretty lucky he wants to do that.

Second: When Dad walks through the door, my babies stop in their tracks to make their cute little wheezey noises and giggles while Gabe flaps his arms in his happiest of greetings. Then they beeline for him, and he's ready to play.

Third: At the end of each evening, my husband does the dishes.

No, you cannot have him.

Cary is really good at what he does. He has a research mind, he has experience in his field, and in his graduate work and research, he kind of rocks. Recently, he applied for a few fellowships, one we felt he was the perfect candidate for. The fellowship would have been a financial blessing to our family, but it would have also freed Cary to do the exact research he's interested in and always dabbling in. I kind of feel like Car is the guy who always seems so right, he rarely gets picked. (Kind of like you figure the good-looking kid already gets plenty of opportunities to model, so you choose someone else!) He was notified that although he'd been hand-picked out of thousands to be reviewed in the final cut, he had not been awarded the fellowship. I felt for him. Z and G felt for him. It's hard to imagine anyone more perfect for the award. WE know he's the researcher they'll wish they had. WE know he's pulling off more every day than most graduate students accomplish in a week. -And that's when it hit us! Dad needed a pick-up, and WE should celebrate!

So we came up with a little surprise. Z and G wanted to wear their special super-dad clothes. We surprised him in the parking lot, so when he thought he was headed home, we met him with a visual presentation of how proud of him we are, stole him away and took him out to eat at one of his favorite restaurants. Z and G promised to be on their best dinner behavior, and they delivered! I think Dad got the message: he's super loved, and celebrated. As my guy might say.... fellowship, smellowship. We've got it pretty good.

Parking Lot Surprise

Super Dad shirts

Off to Dinner (with entertainment by the Mighty Men)

I think he got our message.

Now... How do I get this cape to work?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Twinsie Tuesday

Hey y'all -   It's Twinsie Tuesday! (Which means our Mom has created a name to disguise her need to share our cuteness.) 



Symmetry up in the hood:

 We're pretty much of the same mind. Except sometimes...




"Do you believe this guy?"





Yeah, yeah... Everyone's a winner. (But...) 


Sometimes I feel like you're not listening to me.

We let the good times roll...


 ...Until we drop.

Until next time!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Update - Dear Zeke: This is the Week

Zeke has significantly increased his mobility - even since this video in the middle of last week. He's learning to get up on those knees, but he's way too creative to just straight out crawl. Zeke, I'm proud of your progress, buddy! Also, thanks for the adorable entertainment you've provided your Daddy and I over the last week. Check out the latest -

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Z and G,

Today was your baby dedication at church. We stood before the congregation with Sandy, promising to raise you to know the Lord, and asking them to help us show you how to know and love Him. Daddy thanked them for helping us get you home, and told them why he first called you "Mighty Men." He shared Psalm 29, your first Bible verse that teaches you about who God is.

After church we went out to lunch with Grandmarmy, Addie, Eli, Grandad, Uncle Pete and Astleigh, Aunt Katherine, and two of her friends to celebrate with a big lunch at El Mariachi (after all, it's Cinco de Mayo!) and now while all the family is on their long drive home, you and Daddy are sleeping. (I decided to get up and write down these thoughts - Mommy has never been good at taking naps since she can always think of something she'd rather do.)

Things you should know:

1) We dedicated you to God before we ever held you. It was pretty clear to Mommy and Daddy right away that getting to be your parents was the greatest privilege we might ever know, and we also knew pretty fast that we'd better not try to do it on our own. So we gave you right back to God. Hard as it is to imagine, we know He loves you even more than we can. We trust Him to shepherd you, and to show us how He wants you to grow up. It's very exciting, and a big relief - you are His!

2) There are many things that Mommy and Daddy pray for you every day, but this is the biggest: that one day, when you're old enough to understand, you know your God, and give your life to Him. Since today's dedication has been on my mind all week, I've been listening to songs that voice all those dreams we have for you. I like to listen to them and cry with joy and anticipation of you experiencing them all. Mommies are weird like that. This is one of my favorites, by a song artist my Mommy used to listen to (while she cried). :)

"Your Whole Life Long," Twila Paris

I pray the Lord will hold you close and keep you through the night,
That you will wake up smiling in the early morning light,
That He will always comfort you and make you brave and strong,
I pray that you will follow Him your whole life long.

I pray that you will grow up to be wise and good and true,
I pray that you will please the Lord in everything you do,
I pray that you will hear His voice and learn to sing His song,
I pray that you will follow Him your whole life long.

I pray that you will follow Him,
I pray that you will follow Him,
I pray that you will follow Him your whole life long.

I pray the Lord will bless you with His presence every day,
I pray he will protect you every step along the way,
Help you love what's right and lead you far away from wrong,
I pray that you will follow Him your whole life long.

I pray that you will follow Him,
I pray that you will follow Him,
I pray that you will follow Him your whole life long.


We love you, we're so proud of you already, and we feel blessed to have a church body that feels the same way. They join us in loving you before you do anything to earn it, wanting you to know your Creator and Savior, and laughing when you make faces and pull off your adorable hat.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Career Girl or Stay-at-Home Mom?

Career Girl or Stay-at-Home Mom:

They're both harsh boxes to get inside of if you ask me. Yes, I had thought about it before the boys came home. Before we had kids, I'd been in separate conversations that favored each side. (Gotta love the strong sentiments that get raised in the debate: "Who works and pays for a college degree, just to not use it?" "Who has kids just to let someone else raise them?") Since preparing for Zeke and Gabe to come home, I'd thought about it, and muddled feelings and thoughts usually ended up pushed to the box in the back of my head labeled, "Annoying Things I'll Deal With Later."

Here's the thing: I support and respect women who have chosen to stay home, and women who have chosen to go to work. I'm allowed to do that. Every woman, every family, every situation is different. I don't believe there's a right/wrong here, and my decision doesn't affect the way I see any other woman or her decision. So please believe me when I say, there's no condemnation here. -Not even for myself, anymore. I made my decision. I am free. Hallelujah.

I was born a teacher. (Ask my little sister. Bless her.) If I learn something exciting, the first thing I want to do is enlighten someone else. I have a clear call to teach music, a thirst for excellence in the education of young musicians, and I feel fulfilled when I'm doing it. I've taught middle school band at CMS for four years, this last one being my first year as a full time employee, and my favorite. I LOVE my students. I have also imagined since I was a teenager that I would stay home with my kids (probably because that's what my mom did with me, and I want to be just like her). The thing is, our adoption happened 2 years before we thought it would. My band program was just getting cranked up to where I wanted it. I was JUST getting established. And I was LOVING it. Not to mention the whole out of college for four years and we-have-no-money factor. Things looked different at this stage of life than I'd imagined. Not to mention, my role-model is now raising two young kids in her home, and working, and rocking it. All factors considered, the thought of walking away from my band director position at this point created these fears for me: I'd lose respect from my colleagues. My hard work would be wasted. I'd let my students down. Without the continued accomplishments I was making every day, I'd feel unfilled. And, in a land where music teaching positions are harder and harder to secure, I sensed the vultures circling, which also made me more reluctant to consider walking away. So, when I thought of Ezekiel and Gabriel being home, I imagined myself home with them. And when I thought of the future of the band students at CMS, I imagined myself with them. And I left it to someone else to work out the kinks.

When the time came for us to go get the boys, I felt no qualms about taking maternity leave. Even my students were all about me going to get and be with my boys. And I'm not kidding when I say, I didn't think past that. I didn't want to.

Which brings us to now. Last week I got a letter from HR. It said that the deadline for exercising my choice to take "Extended Parental Leave" for one year, was this week. Oi. (Extended Parental Leave means you don't get paid or benefits, but your position is safe should you want it after that year is up.) It was time to do the hard thinking... but lo and behold, I was ready.

While I wasn't really thinking about it, the decision had been becoming clearer and clearer to me. For starters, I'm a "Type A." I'm happy when I'm pouring all my energy into something, feeling I'm giving it my best. Since my personality doesn't lend itself to divvy-ing things up, my reality is, I don't cut off teacher mode well at a given time, or if I do, I don't feel good about it. My teacher-self used to stay at work late, because I wanted to. I liked having all lesson plans done, room clean and prepped every day so I could just walk in and be about teaching and my students during the day. That requires way more time than a school day allows. There's no mixing family life with that schedule, and who wants to? Meanwhile, I've discovered the schedule that works best for my boys at home, and how to make it flex when they need it to. My favorite times are when they wake up smiley and sweet in the morning or from naps, the games we play while they're eating in their high chairs, thinking of new games that will bring fresh giggles, and those moments they play with each other and don't know I'm watching, ready to explode with enjoyment. They're becoming more of who they were created to be every day. I just can't miss these moments. I'm sure.

So today we went to CMS to visit the kids and introduce the boys to my teacher friends (many of whom I didn't get to see, but we tried), and to tell my principal about my decision. As I anticipated, I was flooded with emotion - especially for the precious kids I've built relationships with. They had so much to tell me, (new haircuts and dating relationships and the invention of hallway swimming, which is pretty impressive), and I melted when a 7th grade boy dubbed himself my children's Godfather. (Then his sidekick, also a boy, volunteered to be the Godmother.) But the tug to jump back on the podium and do music together wasn't as scary as I'd feared, even when the kids asked sweetly for me to stay and do their warm-ups. Not gonna lie - lots of tears over the sweet faces I SO enjoyed interacting with again today. I do care about them, and love having a little place in their lives, but my past fears were more than I realized about proving how much I could teach them, what a respectable program I could build... Lots of that was about myself, and tears of joy today as I let go.

As we drove away from school, Z and G falling asleep in the back of the car, I laughed about how some of my teacher friends only got to see the twins' tranquil, this-is-not-my-scene, (#whyarewesurroundedbyloudkids) posture. I thought about their different qualities or reactions that different people get to see depending on the circumstance, the time of day... and I KNEW as I heard the sound of a just-about-to-fall-asleep Zeke chucking the toy he was ready to relinquish for dreamland, I want to be the one who knows all of those personality sides and behaviors. More than I want to interact with chirpy sweet middle schoolers every day, more than I want to be a constant in their lives and pass on a love for good music, I want to enjoy every bit of and be all of those things for my boys. That's what feels right.

I can't believe how much changed the day these boys entered our lives. (And I get the feeling it will never be the same.) They are only mine for a moment. This is where I want to be.